Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Friday, December 30, 2016

2016: The Year of The Donut

This year will go down in my mind as The Year of The Donut. It's a good way to put a sweeter spin on a year that rather sucked, in many ways, but also had a lot of good and great moments and was full of learning and experiences.

Death and History

In popular culture, of course, there was the fact that we lost many well-respected and loved celebrities in the entertainment business, David Bowie, Prince, Gene Wilder, George Michael, and Carrie Fisher, followed by Debbie Reynolds, among many others. I happened to like Prince, but David Bowie was an important icon in my life, I wrote about that in an earlier post.

It's a weird coincidence that I recently re-connected with my junior high friend on Facebook, the one with whom I went to the David Bowie concert in 1978 in Philadelphia.

Death has been nearby around here too, having said goodbye or in the process of saying goodbye to people who have been important in my life. Death is part of life, as I was telling a friend this morning on the run. We don't get to choose our time to exit this world, not most of us, anyway. But we can be happy when the person gets to choose comfort at the end of their life, because not everyone does. You can have a quality death as part of a quality life.

Donuts Saved Me

One of the things I struggled with this past year was getting back into a running routine, and I have to admit, if it were not for the Donut Friday runs, I wouldn't have gotten any momentum going. I also met new people or got to know several people better from the running community, and that would not have happened if I didn't start attending the Donut runs. Now I am being more consistent, although not running as often as I'd like, I am making progress.

The Dumpers

My friend Emma is training for her first ultra early in 2017 and I'm doing long runs with her. We had a couple of great runs at the bacon strip, I'll share some pics. We have done a 16 mile run and a 20 mile run in the past two weeks out at the Bacon Strip and got to see some interesting sights along the way. Namely, a TV, and a fridge.

The story behind the TV and fridge is that on our first long run, we found the TV that had been dumped on the roadside, it was screen down in the snow, and we turned it upright, there was dirt and grass stuck to the front of it.

We wondered how it got there, and as we ran that day, we fabricated elaborate stories about how it arrived at its dumping place. I guess you could say we found the remote.

Toward the end of our 16 miles that day, we were passed by a pickup truck hauling a fridge in the back of it. We joked about how they should dump the fridge next to the TV so it would be there for the Superbowl. Then all we'd need is some beer and a couch, and maybe a grill.

The next week we headed out there for a 20 miler. As we climbed the first hill, the TV was still there, with some fresh bullet holes! We laughed that it was still out there, no one had picked it up. As we proceeded on our run, we made a turn to do a small 4 mile loop before we went out for our big 10 mile loop.

When we made the turn at 2 miles, we were about the same distance into the road headed west, parallel to the road with the TV on it, and we saw a fridge lying at the roadside, in the snow. We went that way the previous week and there had been no fridge out there, so we're pretty certain that the people we saw driving with the fridge dumped it there, and were probably the same dumpers of the TV.

Trumpocalypse- The Gift That Keeps On Giving

OMG. I am freaking out daily on the Cabinet appointee recommendations coming out of Trump Tower, or from wherever he is making his edicts. I am trying not to think about it and just breathe for now. I am hoping this whole debacle sheds light on the mess that is Washington, and the mess that lies outside of Washington, namely the great masses of the uninformed, misinformed, and generally clueless.

I cannot go into a rant about that, too upsetting. I value the outdoors, the environment, peace, justice and equality and it's countering everything I value. If someone had some common sense, they would create a giant orange wind turbine, because we have a giant windbag about to run the country. Now that would be environmental stewardship.

The Reluctant Entrepreneur

Let me just say when it comes to the commonly accepted ways of doing things, I am not cut out for this business shit. I don't have the burning desire in the pit of my stomach to go balls out (okay, ovaries) and go after money. I am not motivated by the stuff. Especially when it takes me further away from who I am and I have to deal with people I'd rather not deal with, namely, people who are motivated by greed and/or function in that world that expects 24/7 focus on business and money.

It's not that I don't want to make money, I really do want to, but it is not the reason that drives me in what I love to do, and that conflicts with how the world of business operates. I like to do things at my pace, when it appeals to me, and what appeals to me, otherwise, I'm not happy. And I certainly have re-discovered that quality in myself, confirmed it, again. The lessons will be repeated until they are learned.

The online program for Cancer Harbors did not go as planned. And that's fine, you have to try things and they don't always work. I did learn a lot though, from the many people I've talked with and the clients I have. As a result I am redirecting my energies around my project, Cancer Harbors, into the publication of a book this coming year. It's going to be aimed not just at people with cancer, but everyone who has any dealing with cancer and healthcare. Namely, all of us.

Now THAT's something I can get excited about.

Returning to My Creative Roots

I am going to go back to where I feel happiest and most comfortable, which is, where I can write, paint, and create as the ideas come to me. That is where I belong. If you wipe clean the messy slate of all of the "career"-type pursuits: education, business, nursing, and look underneath, dig a little into the dirt and look at my roots, they harbor unlimited creative energy.

I've learned a lot, and I have a great collection of knowledge and skills to share if I allow myself to be creative and unencumbered by day-to-day bullshit that being in the business world dumps on top of you. Getting past the old wounds and traumas and moving forward. I see things differently, I do things differently, and I'm not going to make any more attempts to "fit" anywhere.

I just am. Alene. Gone Bad.

Allowing that energy to come back into my life and relieving myself of the burden of feeling tied to a business model has allowed some great opportunities to come along: a paid writing gig, an opportunity to get my artwork out there again, and putting a workshop together for runners, women runners, that a couple of friends suggested was needed. I will have a separate blogpost about that within the next week, and I'll post a link to allow people to sign up in the right-hand column of the blog. It's in Fort Collins, so you have to be local, or willing to travel to the Fort for it. If it goes well, I'll do more.

And running, dammit.

And did I mention running? I want to get back to doing long runs again. I miss them. Now that I got my ipod to work again, I'm loving the tunes, miles, and fresh air.

Despite Struggle, Gratitude

I am so fortunate to have experienced some great things this past year, my dad's improvement with his cancer, that is in remission now. He does have some other health problems, but he is doing well in terms of being able to stay active and busy and enjoying life. I am also thankful for our little family that has grown over the past two months with Velcro, and Gypsy, the newest member of The Buffalo Family.

I am healthy enough to be increasing the amount of running I'm doing, and have been able to take the time to do the necessary soul-searching to get myself back on track again with what I do with my energy when I'm not running.

Being a Stay-At-Home-Dogmom is pretty damn great.

And I'm thankful for donuts. Even though I can't eat them anymore because I'm trying to bring my cholesterol down again. Last time I quit eating wheat I dropped my cholesterol by 65 points and now it's creeping back up again, probably because I've been indulging in various wheat-containing foods too often. Menopause has a way of messing with every part of your body. Things you would never even imagine are related to hormones are affected. I just take one thing at a time. personal mission statement over the coming year as I write my book and move forward with reclaiming my enjoyment of life again will be something along the lines of fostering creativity, respect, authenticity and empathy and showing people the value of those qualities. Which are sorely missing from many things...

Let's see what 2017 has in store for us. I'm not sure I want to know, but some things like the earth's rotation are unavoidable.

And donuts are round too, sort of like the earth's path around the sun. Donuts revolve around the donut hole, like the earth revolves around the sun.

Even my puppy understands that, along with other concepts in physics, like gravity. She's not an elitist, she just values science and facts more than faith.

Someone needs to tell a certain orange windbag to share these small facts with his Cabinet. They might be small details, but they should prove helpful in 2017.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Longevity: Body, Mind & Spirit in Ultrarunning

This morning I had a conversation with another woman ultrarunner and she asked me the question, "What do you think is your biggest accomplishment, what are most proud of in your running career?"

I would have to say my longevity (33 years of running and still going) and how I've been able to run well, and be satisfied with so many of my performances and enjoy them, all these years, and have set lifetime PRs in every decade: my 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. While I am taking an extended break right now and my motivation isn't really there, I still love it and enjoy it and look forward to future runs.

We talked about many things in our conversation, about the sport of ultrarunning and what drives people to do extreme endurance events, and what happens to them, physically, mentally, and spiritually after doing this for so long. Many of the top performers only last for a few short years until their bodies and/or minds give out.

If you're like most people, falling into the middle of the pack to back of the pack runners, you might be aspiring to run longer or faster, accomplish some goal, stay fit, have a social life around running, or prove something to yourself. Running ultraendurance events is a popular activity, much more than it used to be. However, it comes with a price, that can get awfully steep.

I'm not just talking about the cost or entry fees, gear, and travel. I'm talking about the personal cost: the physical, mental, spiritual costs of this sport.

We've seen a lot of people who struggle with addiction and substance use, who have turned to running, people with eating disorders, unresolved psychological injuries, and some people who have exhibitionistic or narcissistic tendencies, where social media is used as a tool.

This is not to point fingers or assign blame. None of us are perfect, and none of us make it through this life unscathed, especially psychologically. I think if most of us took the time to think about it, we could find elements of these behaviors to be more common than not.

The cost of "doing ultras" is much more than people dare to think about or delve into very deeply.

We talked about my strategy for avoiding burnout, and my longtime practice of running a lot of ultras for a few years, followed by time away from hard training. Also, about how I have kept my weight at a higher level than most ultrarunners, not completely by choice, and only very rarely depleted myself of calories.

The only time I have actually done any kind of carb restriction or special "diet" that was high protein and moderate fat, with low carbs, resulted in a dramatic and quick weight loss, quick results in running, but were short-term and resulted in a vitamin deficiency and poor performance soon thereafter.

People are looking for the holy grail, they are looking for ways to set themselves apart from the crowd, they are looking for some sort of satisfaction that is missing from their everyday lives. They think if they follow a strict training regimen, a strict diet, or use the right supplements, equipment, shoes, or coach, that they will reach that nirvana in their simple goals, but it does little to complete their life. It actually takes more away from their lives.

I wrote my running philosophy here: eight years ago. I've done a lot of things in my life, not just in running, in those eight years. I've been meaning to update it, but lately I've been busy with other things. I'm planning to do it, and in this current post, is some of what I'd say.

I have never been able to just focus on running. It throws my other interests off balance, and I miss being a whole person.

I also see what this type of intense focus in mind, body and spirit, on running to the exclusion of most other things, does to many people's mindsets. They feel somehow immune to the realities of being mortal, human, fragile, subject to fate and mishaps and everyday life experiences.

We are so shallow in our culture: we are always looking outside ourselves to feel complete, and we think that when we do things that set us apart, it somehow earns us points, for superiority. We can be as smug as we want to about it, throw the lingo around, or dress according to our own little subculture of activity. However, the forces of nature demand that we come back to equilibrium and the reality is that we are all connected. One person using more resources will eventually affect someone else. And because we engage in certain activities does not make us immune, immortal, or superior.

The spiritual shallowness of feeling apart, feeling disconnected, is hurting us, no matter how much we think running is going to heal us. We ARE all connected. Everything is.

One example, which I've written about before, is when someone who has been living what they believe to be a healthy lifestyle- eating "right", exercising, and doing what they think will protect them from health problems, suddenly is diagnosed with cancer or some other serious or chronic illness. They say, I don't understand, I did this, this, and did I end up with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, fill in the blank.

All that has happened is life itself. Full of unexpected twists, randomness, heredity, or some other vulnerability due to habit, exposure, behavior, or who knows what. It's called being mortal, a human being.

Guess what? There is no holy grail. It's not kale, apple cider vinegar, or juicing, yoga, sensory deprivation, or mindfulness; as delicious or appealing as any of those things might seem to be on their own.

My two cents, advice, recommendation, or just babble, how ever you want to look at it, is this: find the parts of yourself that make you whole. No one is unidimensional. Expand your efforts into those other parts of yourself. There's more to life than obsessing about something as shallow as your own athletic performance, vanity, physical health or nutritional practice. If it takes time away from your training, that's even better.

Ask yourself what gives your life richness, instead of building accomplishments. It's not about building a resume in your t-shirt, hat, or plastic bracelet collection to wear in public.

Ask yourself who you are, rather than what you do or have.

We can all do better and live longer with less. And it might just help someone else who needs more.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Dogs Smell Like Popcorn, Let's Keep It That Way

It's been a while since I've posted a good rant. One is overdue.

I have written before about my aversion to things that stink, like perfumes, colognes, and all the other overly scented crap that people put on their bodies trying to smell like a, I'm not sure, anything other than a human being. Note number two, which is exactly how it smells to me...way at the top of the list, of Fifteen random facts about me.

When you come near me, I can smell you. If you're on the trail and you run by, I can smell you then too. You've already fouled my air, albeit temporarily. At least you didn't physically contact me with that crap, and it will eventually dissipate in the wind.

If you want to stink up your own space, that's fine. You probably can't even smell yourself because you've overloaded your scent receptors.

But don't put it on my dog!!

People stink. If they would just allow themselves to smell like human beings without trying to cover something up- what, I'm not sure, but whatever odor comes from body cannot possibly be as offensive or obtrusive as something you buy and put on yourself for the scent.

It drives me absolutely insane when I want to inhale the perfectly intoxicating puppy scent of my little girl, her popcorn scented feet and all, sometimes she smells like maple syrup, sometimes like popcorn, sometimes like dog food farts. But all of these are preferable than the scent of some human who patted her on the head and in doing so, wiped their scent onto my dog's fur, and I can't get rid of it.

If I wanted to smell YOU on my dog, I would send her over to visit you, to take showers with you, while you soap her up and shampoo her with your disgusting fragrances, your deodorants, your dryer sheets, your sprays and lotions and detergents and who knows what else you smear in, on, and around your body and home.

Yesterday I was at the vet and this bozo in front of me checking out at the front desk came over and without asking, started patting Velcro on her head. I could smell the wafting stench when he reached for her and I pulled back. Instead of respecting that I didn't want him to touch her, instead, he moved closer, as if SHE had moved away. "It's okay, I'm just going to pet you, you're so cute."

No, dude. I moved back to keep your foul fragrance off of my dog so she doesn't have to suffer through it and I don't either. We'll both have to deal with that smell until I can find some way to get it off of her. And that shit stinks! The oils in that crap don't come off easily with soap and water, and I don't want to torture my puppy with a bath just so I can breathe!

This guy needs to go back to kindergarten and learn not to touch strange dogs and to keep his hands to himself.

I think I might have to make some kind of a service dog-looking vest with a sign on it that says, please do not touch me without asking my mom if you pass the scent test.

That's another pet peeve of mine (love the pun), when you go to the vet and one of the staff has something stinky on them and it stays on your dog. Fortunately yesterday they were scent-free as far as I could tell.

At the vet it's always a crapshoot. Usually it's one of the vet techs and I need to ask them to please wash their hands because they have some holy hell awful flowery smelling garbage on that lingers for days on your puppy's ears or somewhere, not what you want to smell when you want a face full of puppy.

And I'm not the only one... here and here and here.

My dear friends, I might love you very much and tolerate your fragrance, but I can't take it anymore. If you want to come see Velcro, please, as much as I love you, don't assume I want her to smell like you.

What about you? Do you find some scents offensive and what do you do about it, or do you suffer in silence?

Monday, December 5, 2016

2016 Goal: Attained

I did it. I reached my goal for the year this weekend. Dennis photographed it for the record. I can now bite my toenails on each foot. Thought you'd enjoy reading about that. I actually have 10 toenails right now, well, 9.25 to be accurate. There's that one that never will grow back past the cuticle.

That means I have to think about setting some goals for 2017. Right now I am completely absorbed in being a puppy mom. Velcro is 11 weeks old today and next Thursday we'll be bringing Gypsy home. Photos to follow, of course. Velcro is getting so big! She's still a little puppy but she thinks she's a big dog, and she has a BIG personality. She goes for walks and is surprisingly good on the leash. She can be very sweet but she isn't into cuddling for too long. She'll turn into the Tasmanian Devil Dog in seconds.

Other than being a stay at home dog mom (SAHDM), I've been moving forward with my plans to make changes to my service, Cancer Harbors, and to start working on my book. The break has been good for me.

Last night we were able to leave Velcro in the crate to go out to dinner at the Rio and have margaritas. It's going to be a repeat for the next several weeks until Gypsy gets to this point, but it sure felt like a luxury to be able to leave the house and do something for ourselves!

Biting the left side. That took a long time. I was a lot tighter on this side.

I've been doing a lot more trail running, my ankle has been cooperating with no pain. I'm still only running 30 to 40 miles a week but I feel good when I do it, since I'm only running 4 or 5 days a week.

This morning I had to get up and get one of my tires checked because it keeps losing air, so I parked at Discount Tire and went for a run before they opened. The sunrise was awesome. I'll share some pictures here.