Stability

Benedictines take vows of Obedience (to a prioress), Conversatio (conversion of morals) and Stability (to the monastery). I was in Benedictine formation and completed my novitiate. So even though I didn\’t make profession, I was completely formed by the Benedictine method. Regardless of public witness of vows, which I lack, I did write these vows out formally and make them to God. So in my heart, I made these vows.

And I\’ve never been able to escape thinking about them for more than 10 years since I made them.

I was thinking about stability this morning. I need stability in the cave of my heart and stability of intention and action. Being stable on the inside seems like it should manifest as stability on the outside. In some areas, like the engineering profession, I\’ve been an engineer my whole career. But not one employer.

So this morning, my small mind was continuing a struggle which is not a struggle. See, I\’m a process safety engineer. I live in Houston where job openings abound. I\’ve almost been with my current employer for 5 years. My small mind wants to apply for a job or two, just to see how much more money I could make. That is a ridiculous idea. I make enough money and I have a great job.

As I type this, I can feel the agitation of my small mind that continuously struggles. Why does it do that? What is the root cause?

For one, there is a dopamine reward cycle involved with achieving change. another dopamine reward cycle involved with self importance, and winning. It is very difficult to resist the lure of dopamine.

I don\’t want to make a change. But I don\’t know how to calm my small mind. Usually, I follow the small mind\’s dictates eventually. But this goes against stability at the present moment. And I want stability in order to continue putting my energy into contemplation and stability of heart. I don\’t want to waste my energy making job changes. My intention is spiritual growth and my actions should be in that direction; not following the small mind and achieving in the world.

How will I contain the constant agitation of my small mind? There are more agitations than job changes. I will continue to return to my prayer word. I will continue to stick to my habits of Conversatio, spiritual study, contemplative silence. I know this is obedience to the Spirit and not the small mind. I am spirit, not a small mind.

Post Surgery Return to Racing

It was a beautiful day in Baytown yesterday.  I went in a half marathon which included this bridge. It was my first half marathon and longest run since heel spur surgery in September. I finished in 2:25, which works out to 11:06 per mile. That is fantastic!

Here is the long form of the race report:
The post surgery journey…
9/1/13 I was supposed to be in a 12 hour race. It was in Fenton Missouri and the temperature was a humid +90F. My heel did really well for about 4 hours and 16 or so miles. Then, the pain in the heel became totally bad. At a little over 7 hours and 26 miles, I decided to bag the race. I decided that I would come home and find an orthopedic.
I went to the insurance company web site. I typed in “heel spur surgery” and picked a clinic. I called the clinic and told the nurse what I wanted. She made an appointment with Dr Panchbhavi. I went to see him, a quiet Indian; professor of orthopedics at UTMB. Surgery was scheduled.
9/26/13 half marathon in 2h50. I was in massive pain due to a retrocalcaneal heel spur. I could hardly walk after that. 
I spent the following week in Pittsburgh for work thinking I’d have surgery on Thursday after I got home. On Monday 9/23, the clinic called and asked if I could do my surgery the following day. I lined up a friend to drive me around, left instructions for my boss to move my computer stuff to an accessible office and off I went.
9/24/13 by 10 am, I am home with pain killers and crutches. They should give you training on crutches. This evening I nearly kill myself on one step.
I am non-weight bearing for 6 weeks. On day 2, I realize that crutches are really hard on me. I ask a friend to borrow his knee scooter. I ask another friend to go to the state office and obtain a handicapped parking tag for me. I ask someone to drive me to the drug store to buy a shower bench.
10/1 I go for my post surgical Dr appointment. The surgical splint is removed and I have a boot. 5 more weeks of non-weight bearing.
I begin to complete twice daily floor exercises; leg lifts and situps of various types. After a couple of weeks, I add easy stationary bike. After another week, my upper body is not so exhausted from the crutches so I add upper body free weights to the routine.
11/4 I go to the doctor. The boot is removed and he wishes me a nice life. What? That’s it? 
I hire myself a sports chiropractor, Dr Dustin, to help me rehab my achilles. We begin twice weekly sessions.
It is amazing how sorry a calf and foot can become if not used for 6 weeks. The first few days, there was a massive pain in my foot and I can’t really use the achilles at all.
11/9 My first walk outside in Seabrook park. 0.46 miles took 18 minutes. The next day I went 1.6 miles in 44 minutes. God my foot hurt. I saw the regular people in the park but I don’t think they recognized me.
Life goes on. My worst problem seems to be wearing shoes at work. I am in pain all day every day. But it is getting better. I progress with Dr Dustin through level 1 then level 2 then level 3. My weekend walks become jog/ walks and I get able to go longer and longer. I am cross training a lot and continuing my leg lifts and core exercises. I start to do short runs.
In January, United Airlines lowered the price of a round trip ticket to Calgary to $570. Since I have friends meeting in Calgary for the marathon on 6/1, how could I not pass up buying a ticket? My weekend long jog/walk is already at 10 miles. 
Then, I decide to enter a half marathon in my home town in March. It is good swag and would be in the park I am always in so I might as well enter. Then, I decide, what the heck; and enter a half marathon in Baytown in February.
That brings me to today, 2/15/2014. 4 months and change, still dealing with various issues but overall doing well. I begin my day as usual with my spiritual lesson from A Course in Miracles: “God is the love in which I forgive” I won’t explain all about what the book says about this phrase but I bring it up because my mind was stuck on it all during the race. 
I get a great parking spot and wait in the car for race time. Then, I am at a starting line with several hundred other runners. I like it. I like seeing the various shapes and sizes of the people who presume to run half marathons. I am one of them.
Start. I just start jogging. I am doing easy pace. After a mile I look at my Garmin: easy pace is just over 11 min miles. What? Isn’t that too fast? I guess it is, but it is easy so I just keep doing easy. Miles go by and the pace remains the same. A little slower going up the bridge but a little faster coming down the bridge.
My buddy from work, Barry, is at the bottom of the bridge and takes my picture. The race moves onto a bike path and the volunteers have put a lot of motivating signs along the course. These are entertaining. I keep running. 
Does my foot hurt? Exactly where? How bad is it? Yes it hurts, but I keep going without any trouble. I look at my watch some more. Wow, I’m really going fast. I feel ok energy wise. Worries about the foot are not too bad. I keep passing people. Just one more mile. I put a little effort into it, trying to balance speed with worry.
I see the finish. I look intense as I pass the photographer. They announce my name as I cross the line. I stop the Garmin and look: 2h25 at an average speed of 11:06 per mile. OMG, awesome!
This was the longest post-surgery run in distance and by far the fastest.  I really don’t know how it was possible. It means a lot to me to be running at all. When I decided to go for surgery I didn’t care if I ever ran again. I was just hoping to walk without being hateful all the time. Thirteen 11 min miles seems incredible. But I did it. Now several hours later, my heel is not in bad shape; just the usual scar tissue pain.
Am I different now? Not really. When I go in a race, I try a little harder than when by myself. And so I amaze myself. Races are a pain as they require logistics; but they also bring camaraderie and swag. So, a balance; enough but not too much. 
Running and racing have been part of my life since I was a teenager. I can\’t give it up.

Long Weekend – Non-Valentine\’s

I don\’t participate in Christmas or Thanksgiving for matters of conscience. What about Valentine\’s Day? I don\’t have a boy friend, so nothing to decide. But I have refused candy and cookies since I continue to abstain from the great American eating machine, the culture of excess and super-size.

Don\’t super-size me.

In fact, I\’m going in a half marathon on Saturday. I\’m coming in at a slim 132 lb for a 5\’8\” female frame. Personally, I think I would be normal weight were this 40 years ago.

It is a 3 day weekend for me. This weekend is my Friday off. I\’m going to do what I do every weekend: study spiritual texts, sit in silence, run. I somehow have become once again interested in what Jesus said and did. I continue to seek reconciliation with Jesus apart from religion. And so, I have found a new author who looks at Jesus outside the traditional methods.

If I did in fact make a vow 15 years ago to shamelessly follow Jesus and live a life of prayer; then I am continuing to fulfill the vow. Shamelessly following Jesus is radical; not your normal church going Christianity, which is anything but shamelessly-following-Jesus. To be in a church is to follow the agenda of men. This I cannot do.

No, I am not a Christian.

Yes, I am against Christianity.

This leaves me as a shameful sight to Christians; anathema. But I shamelessly step up to the plate and say: Jesus was worthy of following but he was not what you say. Love is worth it. I suppose I love Him; and so I do what I do.

Flying Again

How\’s the running coming?

Awesome!

Today\’s miles were mostly covered at about 12:30 pace for 12.4 miles. Yesterday I got 10.1 miles done at a slightly slower pace. Next Saturday, I\’m going in a half marathon race.

I am fit. It is 3 months and one week since I got my boot off and started walking again. Lord, that first week, walking was horrible. And for a long time, even sometimes now, shoes drive me crazy at work. But running usually goes good since I am moving. At work, I sit and fluids go down. I even started wearing compression socks at work.

While I was running today, I was thinking about interior silence. I watched my thoughts and emotions as I yelled at little kids on bicycles who weren\’t watching where they were going. I remembered to return to the day\’s spiritual lesson. then I looked out on the bay and saw a kayak sitting quietly shrouded in fog. I realized that it is not enough to repeat the lesson; an image that projects the emotion of peace is needed. So now, besides thinking thoughts of inner peace, I also put an emotionally connected image of peace (the kayak in the fog). then, I don\’t have to yell at small children. I just see them. There cocktail party in my head, which is all most of us think is our life, can end in peace. In peace, I enter \”The Silent Land\” (Martin Laird) where I hear God.

Remember the phrase \”Get a life\”? I got silence. God is all I ever wanted.

Some Undreamed Of Me

Well of course, I had to have dreamed it or it wouldn\’t be.

Today\’s lesson from A Course in Miracles: There is nothing my holiness cannot do. And then I had quiet. I thought a positive thought. I mean, a positive thought came to me. It was: What if I asked to shamelessly follow Jesus and live a life of prayer, and I have ended up in this cave of prayer. I mean, I really came to understand my dwelling as a cave of prayer. Not a suburban duplex but really a cave of prayer. No, it doesn\’t look like what a Desert Father lived in at the dawn of Christianity. No obvious holy objects or altars. But none the less, it is a cave of prayer.

Today at work, a picture was taken of me. Yup, I work in a chemical plant. The fancy head set is because it is noisy around the refrigeration compressors and I needed to talk with the technician. Don\’t I look cool? Well, actually, if I didn\’t know that was me, I don\’t think I\’d recognize me.

Oh…yeah…. it is cold in Texas today. Hence the jacket.

I even was able to finally explain to someone in a sound bite and without recrimination why I am a vegetarian. And also say it is my own conviction of my own belief, not some religious rule that came from others. I don\’t belong to any religion. You have to pray if you want a conviction. Once you have a conviction, Spirit will keep you safe forever.

I am safe forever. I don\’t think I realized that before.

I can rest in quiet too. The incessant yammering is still.

Un-measure

This is THE concept which causes friction in my ego. I don\’t-go-along with society. Unmeasure is the disorder we have in the world. I have for years turned away from Unmeasure. Overeating. Violence. Consumerism. Disease. Unconsciousness.

Sit physically still in silence.
Nothing comes.
That.Is. All.

Grow still.
Do not get caught up.
Refrain.

Block the outlets
with a Word.
Recollect Essence.

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Here is my testimony, my essence.