Name Change

Why did I change my name to “Ultra Monk?”

1. I have been a Course in Miracles student for 3 years. Had these three years been under a monastic authority, I’d be making monastic profession; and I’d get a new name.

2. I am one hearted with God. The word “monos” from which monk derives is one. Monks are one hearted, they attend God. Though I don’t live in a monastery, I am a monk. God is the focus of my life and has been for umpteen years.

3. Yesterday, I went to lunch with my boss. He asked me about friendships. I had to mumble through some cover up story. Add that to the way people tell me, “you need to get out more.” I can’t explain to a non-monk what it is like for God to be my entertainment, Friend and Advisor. As a monk, I really don’t spend my time as most people spend their time. I have not much to converse about and little relationship to the typical conversation most people would have about their lives. To a non-contemplative, spending time with God is nonsense. If you haven\’t done it, I can\’t explain.

4. I have a dream of fitness. Yesterday, reflecting on an incident with my trainer, I realized how much more there is for me to do in the arena of stretching and strength training in order to realize peak performance. I can do it. It means an even greater time commitment. Truly being an athlete is a monumental job, monumental beyond belief. As much as I currently do, it is not enough. And I intend to keep growing in the ethos of an athlete. I even ordered the foam tube she recommended for me.

5. A monk has few possessions. I possess little. No people, property, pets, plants, privileges, pride, prerogatives or posterities. I have no fat (really). I do have the holy instant, the real relationship, forgiveness (ACIM style), Christ vision and inner peace. I live in silence.

Today:
-Got up at 5:30 with alarm.
-Read in the ACIM Text 20.VIII.1: “Open the holy place that you closed off by valuing the “Something Else,” and What was never lost will quietly return.”
-ACIM workbook lesson: “I will be still an instant and go Home.
-I worked out for an hour on the machines. “Only A Game” had a story about ultra-marathoners.
-Got to the park at 7:30 and ran very well even if it was hot. I was going about 10.2 min/mile the first 10.8 miles. I would have slowed down after that, but Yvette joined me on the fifth and sixth laps; and she is a tad fast. I ended up doing about 20 miles, 7+ laps, 3h22.
-Yvette is God’s gift of a friend to me. She just came along and decided to run with me. I don’t really have any friends. My conversation with her today is the longest I’ve talked since I went to Canada in May.

In July, I did 86 hours of aerobics plus 18 strength workouts.

LIFE vs life

I feel the need to clarify something. Or just express my happiness for the clarity I have.

LIFE is divine. It is in each of us and everywhere; except the body/material world because that is an illusion. life is the tiny mad idea which wanted to be special so left God and made this illusion. life is ego-life and material world life. life is a delusion.

When I celebrate LIFE, I am looking beyond the physical, beyond the illusion to the truth. The truth is that we are love, God is love and there is nothing else. Love is constant, benign, peaceful quiet, unchanging, eternal.

This idea explains to me why I feel like adult life is so much play acting. Making chemicals and being responsible for systems to prevent them from killing us is still play acting. Earning money and paying taxes and taking care of the car are play acting. Now I know why my career has never been of that much interest to me. Deep down, I know it is meaningless in comparison to LIFE.

life is an illusion, a dream and not real. The ego is the emperor of the illusion. The emperor has no clothes. Look at the ego and realize how meaningless it\’s dream is. The reality of love is much more attractive as soon as you realize it is even there.

Others don\’t really want to hear that life is not real. This is why I don\’t associate with others very much (outside of work). People want me to believe their lives are real, real important, really bad, really worth prayer. But life is just entertainment; or more accurately, a distraction from LIFE.

LIFE exists quietly beyond the illusion. We are one in LIFE. Laying quietly on my bed, I enter the part of my mind which is beyond the body. The true existance of my mind, as an idea in the Mind of God, is not in a physical brain. As a solitary athlete, I can also expand my mind beyond the physical. During exercise, my body seems to be the focal point, but actually, endurance is a way to disengage from it. Truely, endurance takes me out beyond, especially if it has no goal, no award to win, no time to beat.

Today is the anniversary of my entry into A Course in Miracles. I am on chapter 20 of my fifth reading of the Text and lesson 180 on my third working of the workbook.

As I do every morning. I got up at 3:30 and spent an hour in spiritual study and meditation. Then I worked out on ex-machines for 50 minutes. Then I ran for 50 minutes. Today I ran in my new UA reflective hat. Tonight I go to the torture of my massage therapist.

Pondering Anniversaries

I got to thinking about anniversaries because 7/29/07 is the day I first picked up A Course in Miracles and started reading it. I thought at the time that I would need to study the material for at least five years in order to have a small grasp on its meaning. I have read it 5 times and am still plowing my way through it, although I\’ve slowed down. Now it takes me about 10 months to finish it as I ponder each passage and listen to the Voice for God as I read.

August 8 is another important day in my life. I quit drinking on that day in \’85. I got kicked out of the monastery on that day in \’03.

All three of these events have dramatically impacted my life. Other things about me have been the same forever. I\’ve been a runner since age 13. I\’ve been an engineer since I graduated with my MS at the age of 23 (well except for 4 years as a nun). I\’ve been a vegetarian for decades. I\’ve practiced contemplative prayer for decades.

Some things come and go. Harley-Davidson came and went. Men came and went. Roman Catholicism came and went. Employers come and go. The roof over my head comes and goes. Cars come and go.

My early morning spiritual practice has been unshakable since I was 23. I spend the first hour of my day pondering a spiritual text. I read it slowly and then let God speak to me about it. I never take a vacation from this as it is the most enjoyable activity I do. It is also the time that I design my life. Whatever happens to me on any given day is always framed in the spiritual text. I never look at anything without the lense of the spiritual text.

My big race was last Saturday. My next big race is August 14 (Fallsburg Marathon). In between, I return to daily workouts. After my spiritual study, I do about 90 minutes of exercise (both ex-machines and running). In the evening, I usually do either a free weight or core workout and another 20 min on the ex-machines. What seems odd is that I exercise now more than ever; even more than when I lived in the country and had a two minute commute! On the weekend, I usually fit in ten or twelve hours of workout.

Did you ever grow up? I think of my parents and they seem like such \”adults\” to me. I think of the nuns and they seem like such \”adults\” too. I think of my self as a girl with a job who works out. I have a responsible job, but I don\’t feel like that is a weight on me. I just come in and do the job and then go run.

I might need a cyber-cake for my 3rd ACIM anniversary.

This Ultra Life

Friday evening I drove 200 miles and began a 31 mile race, finishing around 7 am Saturday morning. Then, I downed a glass of protein, rinsed off in the shower, went commando style in my clean clothes, and drove the 200 miles home.

Yesterday afternoon, I ordered some new socks. The smartwool socks work great as far as preventing blisters, but they were too tight around the ankle; preventing good fluid flow and causing heat rash on my legs. Get this: the Lunar Trek night was barely over and I am planning the next race? I have run 2 ultra-marathons and 2 marathons this year; and plan on at least one more marathon and two ultras. What cheek?

I slept a good hard 10 hours last night. I woke up with the usual stiffness but no injuries. Am I too old for all nighters? Many people my age say that. It is an excuse. All but a few are tired after 7 hours of jogging, no matter what their age. I may or may not like staying up all night, but don\’t blame quitting on age. Blaming anything on age is a self sabotaging event and guarantees you get more of the deterioration. You\’ll continue to think you are powerless over \”aging\” yet it is your own thoughts which are creating and accelerating the process. I got my period today: a nice flow of bright red blood to remind me of youth!

I did a stretching/legs/core/free weight workout and 90 easy minutes on the ex-machines.

I worked on my diet spreadsheet to incorporate my trainer\’s latest suggestions.

My obsession with training and racing is not sick. It is an embrace of the Life, the Spark Which Enlivens All Beings. We all have it. For many it remains dormant and life is a drudge. Some find ways to embrace the energy and bring it forth in various ways. Mine happens to be fitness and endurance.

Lunar Trek – An Ultra Dark Night

Here I am in Scandia High School before the start of the race.

How could a dirt road in northern Kansas be so tough? The Lunar Trek kicked my butt. 50K done in 7h14. A night of sweat and bugs and footing that was just a tad difficult or a tad up or down.

Mostly it was a night. It was the type of thing I yearn for as an ultra-marathoner and contemplative: a dark night of the soul. The type of night where crap is about all you can think of to say.
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On a dark road in Kansas, I got to find out how to be frustrated and patient, to keep going even though it hurts. I got to find out what I am made of, nothing really. I ran on through 7 hours of Kansas night, basically alone. For 4 hours, I breezed along. Its not like I suddenly hit a wall, but the last ten miles were hang in there time.
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A 50k should be easy, right? Its only 50k. Its not on technical trails. Its not on mountains. I don\’t even have any blisters. It shouldn\’t of kicked my butt but it did. Little miss work-out queen, I can run forever everyday, had to work for this one.
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After 4h30, passing the 20 mile aid station, I went on into the night. 30 minutes later, I knew I hurt and I wondered why I was doing this. Most of all, I thought if it didn\’t get light soon, I\’d die. I\’d wanted it to be light for two hours at least. Maybe most of my energy went into struggling with the dark, or wishing it wasn\’t dark, or just fumbling forward in the dark. I lived in a narrow petzyl world, able only to see that small circle of illumination in front of me.
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In the dark night of the soul, the place I like to get to in ultra-marathoning, I reach the end of my human resources. I can\’t get to this place, so far at least, without being in a race. At home in the park, I just make a rational decision to stop because I\’ve had enough for the day. In the middle of a dark night in Kansas, the only option is to go on.
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As I approached the aid station which was about 25 min from the end, I teared up I was so happy to see it. A man there wore a t-shirt which said, \”Recovery is an inside job.\” I knew what he was from his shirt. I told him I had 25 years. He related.
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Finishing dark nights is an inside job. Going through a dark night is what recovery is all about. Egos have no authority in the dark night. Inside jobs are usually messy, but they leave you with joy. When I finally did get to the finish, I teared up again, so happy I finished. I\’m an old fart. I run slow. I finish. The race director checked his list. \”Oh,\” he said, \”you get to pick one of these.\” He pointed to several beautiful slices of tree branch which had been lacquered and labeled, \”1st Place.\” I was over whelmed to get a beautiful piece of wood.
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Haha, I was the only one in my age group. I won!
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(Contemplate that!)

Lunar Trek – Prelude

Yesterday, my plan was to get up this morning, work a half day, come home, eat and pack and nap, drive 200 miles, run 40 miles, drive 200 miles, and collapse at home.

Last night, I thought about starting a 40 mile race at 11 pm in temperatures still in the high 80s; and then wondering how I would stay awake for a boring drive across Kansas. What about that plan sounds like fun? I got my mind quiet and spoke my spiritual lesson, \”Into His Presence would I enter now.\”

And then a quiet voice said, \”Why don\’t you drop down to the 50k?\”

Immediately, I knew that running 50k (31 miles) plus a 4 hour drive was much more do-able than running 40 miles plus a 4 hour drive. Ahem.

Many people never run at all. Many people never even run one marathon. Here I\’m thinking how 31 miles is easy and 40 miles is beyond my capability given all the other circumstances. I have a long term plan for fitness. 40 miles could curtail or delay the next step. 31 miles adds to the next step.

Last night, after I contacted the race director and made the switch, I again entered my meditation. This thought came to me, \”My fitness is for me.\” I love the time I spend everyday \”training.\” Even if I never entered a race, I\’d \”train.\” No one but me has ever seen my abs, or pinched the thin skin of my stomach. I\’m the one who likes me, no one else. In the quiet thought of my fitness, I realize that I don\’t yet know what I am building and developing. But the purpose of my fitness is beyond the material world and its shiney finisher\’s medals.

The question this morning was, \”Why go in a race at all?\” I go in races to get to some place in body, mind and spirit which I can\’t do under normal circumstances. In the case of today, I will be spending the night on a dirt road in rural Kansas, mainly alone. 31 miles is not my mileage limit. 6+ hours of movement is in my enjoyment zone. Running is a contemplation, not nirvana or the holy grail. It is time to connect with Heaven, not break your way in. We are already in the Kingdom. The Kingdom is already within. Contemplative running is just a way to spend time knowing that consciously. Contemplative running is my gift to Heaven and Heaven\’s gift to me.

So, I hope to stand at a starting line tonight at 11 pm, and see what the evening holds.

Merely Being an Athlete

(living room gym: bike, tm, ball, mat, weights, nordic track)
ACIM Workbook Lesson 169:

\”Grace is acceptance of the Love of God within a world of seeming hate and fear. By grace alone the hate and fear are gone, for grace presents a state so opposite to everything the world contains, that those whose minds are lighted by the gift of grace can not believe the world of fear is real.\”

\”Oneness is simply the idea God is. And in His Being, He encompasses all things. No mind holds anything but Him. We say “God is,” and then we cease to speak, for in that knowledge words are meaningless. There are no lips to speak them, and no part of mind sufficiently distinct to feel that it is now aware of something not itself. It has united with its Source. And like its Source Itself, it merely is.\”

Today I\’ve decided to do my workout in the solitude of my apartment. Yes, it is hot outside, but cloudy so it would not be too bad if I went running. Working out in my apartment takes away any purpose for the body. I have the opportunity to pause and merely be. In solitude, I accept the Love of God and relate to the oneness idea: God is.

The punch line of lesson 169 is: \”By grace I live. By grace I am released.\”

And so I mount my ex-bike for the first interval of what turns out to be a 3h20min workout split between the bike, the treadmill and the nordic track. Most of the time is spent on the nordic. I spend most of the time with my eyes shut. Nothing to see or do but burn calories, exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide and ponder the lesson.

By grace I live….by grace I live….by grace I live….

At first, I have not a clue what is meant by grace.

By grace I am released…..by grace I am released….

Still nothing.

Time goes by. I do have a few reflections on my method of working out. I have entered a reality of suspended-animation-of-sorts. Within this cocoon, I focus intensely on one thing: grace. WTF is it?

I allow silence to permeate my workout. I realize the non-optionality of silence. Everything in this world is a distraction from God.

Imagine being an athlete in this silent cocoon of a one bedroom apartment. Imagine being an athlete for its own sake; that is, with no ego benefit due to a lack of public component. No one sees or knows who or what you are. The purest form of being an athlete is to just be one, period.

By grace I live: I surrender to God. By grace I am release: I need do nothing. I need stop doing anything which interferes with knowing the silent Presence (duh, most of every outside activity).
By grace I live. By grace I am released.

Business As Usual

Maybe I have reached a place in fitness where I always wanted to be: 5 or 6 hours of working out is normal. Worked out several hours today? Yes, business as usual.

Today I went 27 miles of 8x2s in 5h05min. I felt strong the whole way. I felt like running that far every Saturday is my new normal. I used to think a 3 hour run was something to tremble over. Now, its more like 30 miles is a distance I might have to ponder.

How did I get like this?

I\’ve been changing my body over the past 10 months. I\’ve been doing more cross training and more weight lifting. I\’ve been losing the fat.

But success at unlimited fitness comes first from the spiritual level and then the mental level. Inertia needs to be over come. Before it manifests as a physical action, there is a spirit-mind-body process. First, a spirit becomes conscious of a desire to wake up, or move, or be alive. Then, said spirit cries for help. Help arrives from Source; always. The spirit has to accept the help. The help may or may not be accepted. The barriers to acceptence may need to be taken down through a spiritual practice. This letting go is part of the process of overcoming inertia. Help accepted, barriers lowering, the help flows into the mental level. Here, in the mind, what happens? Has this mind joined sufficiently with spirit to receive the flow? Or is this mind still enamored with the ego\’s material world? The spiritualized mind will take spiritual help and translate it into overcoming inertia. The ego mind will take spiritual help and turn it into fat, or poor health or old age, or ______(you name it).

What am I trying to say and why do I try to say it? I am grateful for what I am. I am happy with what I am. I\’m more at peace with myself than ever. It seems to be because I am not worried what others think about my life. I used to worry that I should \”get a life.\” Or find a way of life that others would respect. But all I really want is to run for miles and have rock hard abs. Well, that and communication with God. I\’ve been promoting that my fitness is a function of spirituality. I am promoting that putting spirit first enables me to over come the inertia of death. I am promoting spirit. Yes.

God doesn\’t need my help. I just want to share my happiness.

One Life and the Messengers of Love

Very sweet! This morning, I had a 2 hour run on a bike path in Eagle Idaho. There was a rushing river of clear mountain water on one side of the path and up-scale well landscaped houses on the other. I had to run the gauntlet of sprinklers for one stretch (brrr…). An old guy on a bike passed me twice. He said, \”just 300 more miles and you\’ll be in Oregon.\” I said, \”I want to go to Kansas!\” He said, \”Thats back the other way.\” Excellent, excellent.
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I spent the whole run reviewing my career and my life\’s twists and turns. The reason is there is a job opening at our plant here; but I don\’t think I would want it. I was just shaken as I had encountered the HR lady late yesterday afternoon, since she was in charge of the area we had just audited but she interviewed me since our findings had been pretty small. Shook me up.
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Workbook lesson 167: There is one life and that I share with God.

A Course in Miracles Texy 18.IV.A:
\”Relationships in this world are the result of hoe the world is seen. And this depends on which emotion (fear or love) was called on to send its messengers to look upon it, and return with word of what they saw….The Holy Spirit has given you love’s messengers to send…they will see only the blameless and the beautiful, the gentle and the kind…If you send forth only the messengers the Holy Spirit gives you, wanting no messages but theirs, you will see fear no more.\”

On the road with colleagues, out of my routine, how easy it is to forget connecting with God.

While I was reminiscing about my life this morning, I was also thinking about the team building session the plant is having today and how I wouldn\’t be very happy with having to spend several hours on a raft with people eating meat and drinking beer and having meaningless conversation. But, I kept returning my mind to the lesson about one life. Looked at from the perspective of one mind and one life, we are one and I have no antagonism for colleagues. I don\’t take it so serious. I remembered what I read in the ACIM Text this morning and kept choosing the messengers of love. When I keep making the choice for the Holy Spirit and messengers of love, I find love in everything I experience that day.
OK, off to the airport. My shoes are wet from the cold sprinkler gauntlet!
Remember love, choose the messengers of love and have a happy day.

Spirituality Engineer Style

I am in a hotel in Boise Idaho. I slept in!

Here is my morning reflection:

I think of each person as an energy bundle which manifests as their life and activities. The vast majority have an average energy manifestation. If you integrate the energies, you might get more or less a bell curve. If you take the Fourier Transform, a spiritualized filter, you get an entirely different picture. The transformed spiritual filter is the truth of the Son of God (us) and what God created (love). The untransformed picture (humans being afraid, angry, prideful, selfish, cruel, sick and dying) is what the tiny mad idea I call ego made as its domain apart from God where it could rule instead of God. The point of a spiritual life, and dedication to transcendence, is to see the transformed picture and live with a spiritual consciousness. It is a different way of being alive which is much happier and extends its joy to others.

I look at myself and see differences in my health, fitness, philosophy, socialization, etc., from most other people. I see that in the un-integrated untransformed world, my energy rests off the peak of the bell curve, at one end of it. This dissociation from the norm feels like friction between me and others as my behavior doesn’t fit in with normal life. People want others to fit in with them; hence peer pressure, hence the uncomfortable feelings. I do not worry too much any more about how I feel. As I recognize that my life is a symptom of transcendence and as I actualize the spiritual consciousness in the world, the whole thing becomes happy. And then God lives both in the transformed picture and the untransformed ego picture through me. I become a bridging thought, a flow path. I live on a wave length which shifts the whole energy curve.

In the final analysis: this energy is Jesus. This light is the Christ, the holiness and spiritual innocence which lives in all of us and which I strive to see.