Reflections on Germany

I am in the Charlotte airport on my way home from a 10 day business trip to Germany; home base of the company I work for.

I can\’t frame this experience at all really. I used to have definitive points to assess about sizable events in my life or seeming milestones. But I don\’t find any big rocks for this trip.

In terms of A Course in Miracles, this lack of emphasis could be the right thing. It means that my life is not hanging on ego or dopamine reward experiences.

I\’ll list my musings:
My talk before the large group went very well and many guys said I did good; even the next day. What I remember is that Mr VP who introduced me also took credit for me as formerly of his group; and I got an ovation on my way to the podium (most only got the final ovation).

I had written \”Be Awesome\” on my hand. Later, I e-mailed my picture to my boss in Houston. She said I was awesome.

I felt gratified that I got up early and went in a race on Sunday. Not that I did well, but that I got out of my  easy rut and challenged myself to drive to a strange place and go through all the normal things done at races, only in German.

The fact of meeting important people and flying around first class hasn\’t gone to my head. In fact, I did remind myself of something from the Rule of Benedict: I am a worm and no woman. Staying small headed is how I go through a day with a good deal more joy than if I got too big.

I went to a group banquet. It lasted 5 hours and the wine was flowing freely. I didn\’t drink. I don\’t often mention that I am a sober person. In fact, I haven\’t been to AA or even spent any time thinking about sobriety in years. But, during the banquet, during a quiet moment in the ladies room, I thanked God that I was sober. See as a drunk, I\’m sure I would have somehow embarrassed myself and felt terrible shame. As it is, nothing happened. What didn\’t happen was I didn\’t become a drunk with a big head and mouth.

I ran almost every day in Germany. I completed 100 Yurek Crunches all the days but one. I did my spiritual study every day.

So all these musings lead me to wish I had some thread of learning. But I just live my life each day. None of these events throw it out of balance. I have no huge mental fantasy regarding my glorious future in my company. Actually, I just hope for a good trip to Ultracentric in 2 weeks.


3 of 4 Nuns…

…morbidly obese.

I used to hate this when I was a nun. I hated it double bad when the monks next door called and offered to let us pick apples from their damn trees. So not only did I have to pick the horrid apples but also peel and cut them up. All for what? Pie?

And I gave up an afternoon 5k for this?

I didn\’t fit there. True.

Today I jogged for 4 hours around Meador Park and Pine Gully:

I somewhat intentionally run past this place. I come out of the tall swamp grass and get hit with breeze off Galveston Bay. I really like it and I like the view from here.

I have 2 more days of running before hopping on a plane for Germany. I\’ll have some walking in Germany and I am going in a half marathon next Sunday. But mainly it will be an enforced rest from so much training. I\’ll come back just 2 weeks before Ultracentric 48 hour race; hopefully well rested.

I am not morbidly obese:

This is me at last year\’s Seabrook Race Weekend. I\’m entered again for 2013.

My work is not picking apples or mopping floors as it was in the convent. I am actually at the peak of my career. I\’ve been at the Baytown plant almost a year and find myself highly respected. My services as a Process Safety Engineer are highly valued; and managers from parts of the plant I\’m not assigned to are asking if I can help them. In Germany, I\’ll be giving a presentation. Little ol\’ ex-nun me? Yup.

The Catholic Church has declared a \”Year of Faith.\” Like, why does such a thing NEED to be proclaimed except the flock doesn\’t have any faith? But because of that, there is a web page that offers a daily e-mail with part of the Catechism, such that the whole thing is read in a year. I signed up for it. I am so far astounded at the matter of fact verbiage: God said this and did this and nothing else will ever be true.

Now we know this lengthy tomb, The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, was written by the Church hierarchy (a group of celibate priests who probably never cried out \”Oh God\” during an orgasm). It is unbelievable to me, several years after leaving the Church, that such matter of fact statements can be made.

My God is much bigger than that.

After I found out I was kicked out of the monastery, I had 3 days to find a place to live, pack up and get out. I went to the monastery to know God. My most intimate encounter came as I was being kicked out. The experience of God-Consciousness has never left me; although I was afraid that being deprived of being an official spouse of Christ would leave me out. Jesus Himself is more real to me now. I made vows to God privately in my last days before I was supposed to make monastic profession. I knew they were real. I just didn\’t know what I was asking for when I said \”Yes, whatever….\”

Very Sweet Weekend of Training

I\’m not sure I can believe this, but I guess it is so. Between Friday night and Sunday morning, I\’ve covered 40 miles plus 2 hours of other cross-training; over 12 hours.

That is fantastic. So, I got 260 miles this month and 96 hours; the best this year. I even had to reformat my graph to fit the 260 miles on it:

I\’m not very fast, but I get the miles and time in. Well, my next race is a half marathon in Germany and then Ultracentric in Dallas. I spend my time thinking about Ultracentric. I\’m signed up for 48 hours, but won\’t even get to Dallas until 8 or 9 hours after the race starts (work issue). I just hope to make the most of the time I have there.

It is a strange life I live: work all week with about 2 hours of training per day. Spent all weekend alone either running, eating or laying on the bed. This style has been going on for several years. I could say its for racing, but it goes on regardless.

In two weeks, I\’ve scheduled a 4 day weekend. It will be good to do this just before going to Germany (where there won\’t be much more than short morning walks). My trip to Germany is for work, not fun.

Inner Ultra Runner

I am not my ego\’s hate and fear.
I can only be the Self of Love.

These are the phrases I jog/walked with today; 20.1 miles. I spend my time pondering God and the Holy Spirit, along with wondering how far I am going. I don\’t really plan these runs. I just put on a full hydro-pak and keep going until something hurts, it gets too hot or I run out of water.

Every weekend the inner ultra runner raises its head and takes command of my life. Now that I have discovered that I can run 50 miles in 12 hours while training at walking speeds, I know the inner ultra runner will continue to make its weekly appearance. Today as I was jogging, I thought about this inner determination. I also thought, \”why not let it go on?\” And so I did.

To want to run ultras is insane. I can\’t remember that I felt good at the end of 50 miles; and my struggles in my hotel room afterward were not pretty at all. But the rainbow in the sky on the last lap was worth it. The feeling of zooming when you have been running for 10 hours was incredible.

I do not know if I am just wasting my time and my body or building my legacy. Who cares about legacies? I\’ll be dead. And anyway, several 53 year old women are out there on the ultra circuit, doing better than me. I still feel like a novice wanna be.

My 9 day vacation is over and I go back to work tomorrow. I\’ll be back to the daily friction of carving 2 hours of work-out time out of a busy work day. Demands from colleagues on all sides. And then the need to regroup after work before I can do a work out. Up at 3:25, do it all and into bed at 9. Disgusting.

I have to go to Germany and give a presentation in a few weeks. It is so important that practice presentations are scheduled as global conference calls. I\’m too lazy to go buy some new clothes. I\’ll look like a dork as always.

Next weekend, I\’ll be up for another pitiful performance. Luckily, summer may end in Texas. Last night, the temps dipped below 70F for the first time in 4 months. It was the first day in ages that seemed \”fresh\” or \”crisp.\”

Pending Anniversary Days

Tomorrow is my sobriety anniversary: 27 years since I last drank. I don\’t go to AA anymore; and my desire not to drink is more related to maintaining a spiritual connection than it is to a disease.

August 9 is the 9th anniversary of getting kicked out of the monastery. I became a monk in the world.

So, I have some new running goodies scheduled to arrive as presents. And I am having a mid-year performance check-up with my new boss on the 9th. That is sort of cool since being a fabulous engineer is important to my life in the world.

Well, I wrote that sentence early this morning. About the noon hour: Surprise! I was given a monetary Special Recognition Award. Wow! I have not ever received something like that before.

This morning, I made it out of bed in time for a 70 minute workout, of which 30 min was speed walking outside. I can\’t get my mind off the long distance races I have coming up. Mostly, I hope for a good time at in Texas. I have signed up for the 48 hour, knowing full well I won\’t be able to get to Dallas until at best 8 hours after the start of the race. It will be my first experience of camping on the course instead of going to a hotel. I am excited about it because it seems like my foot is healing up and I\’ll be able to do this event.

Of course, Ultracentric is after my company sponsored German work vacation and a half marathon run in Germany.

Crimony! A Course in Miracles is good. Go study it.

Germany Post-lude: The World vs Happy Dreams (Long)

I arrived home from Germany, flying on three flights including US customs and changing planes in Chicago O’Hare, exactly on time; and in time to go to an AA meeting. The entire trip was what I would call a happy dream. This morning, doing laundry, studying spiritual material and looking forward to a run, I felt so totally grateful for the spiritual path and in particular A Course in Miracles (ACIM). I have been set free from the world (ego hell) and live a life of happy dreams on the way to Heaven. This is a result of a spiritual path and a life which places God first.

Below I will provide some examples of what it used to be like and what it is like now. First, some quotes from the Epilog to the work book for ACIM. I mention this because I have now finished the Course twice and really feel that it has changed my life: from the hateful ego life to the happy dream on the way to heaven.

+ \”Henceforth, hear but the Voice for God (Jesus or the Holy Spirit) and for your Self when you retire from the world, to seek reality instead. He will direct your efforts, telling you exactly what to do, how to direct your mind, and when to come to Him in silence, asking for His sure direction and His certain Word.\”

+ \”You will be told exactly what God wills for you each time there is a choice to make. And He will speak for God and for your Self, thus making sure that hell will claim you not, and that each choice you make brings Heaven nearer to your reach.\”

+ \”We trust our ways to Him and say “Amen”; In peace we will continue in His way, and trust all things to Him. In confidence we wait His answers, as we ask His Will in everything we do.\”

+ \”You do not walk alone. God’s angels hover near and all about. His Love surrounds you, and of this be sure; that I will never leave you comfortless.\”

This morning, I am utterly certain that my life has become a “happy dream on the way to Heaven” as a result of the spiritual life. My life is a happy dream because I have learned to listen to the Voice for God, as well as turned my life over to God. AND when I am doing God’s will for me, all the world is better for it (i.e., it’s not about me and getting things to go my way).

As I read this, my memory flashed back to 22 or so years ago. I was about 28 years old and about 2 years sober. I was remembering some workshops I attended by a channel named Lazarus. I listened to the meditations about love and a higher self and I desperately wanted this feeling of bliss. At that time, I couldn’t seem to feel this euphoric love. I think my spiritual journey became a journey coming out of a total black place where I was a spiritual failure and no one loved me.

Today, as I sat at my table in the quiet early morning, I realized that I have a tremendous inner peace and freedom from thought bondage (ego hell). I never experienced that euphoric experience so often read of in books and so desperately sought by many unhappy people. Yet, I have peace. It must mean I have the safety of God and I trust it totally and am able to live in His embrace, His love and His guidance.

What it used to be like: I remember way way back, when I was a young engineer, I attended a plant dinner (a multinational corporation). I got drunk on the free wine. I was seated next to the head of the facility, a VP, and made a total fool of myself. The morning after shame was tremendous.

What its like now: On this trip to Germany, I found myself sitting next to a Director of a multinational corporation. I was sober and peaceful in myself. No verbal embarrassment occurred and, hence, no shame.

What it used to be like: When I was in my middle thirties, I went on several company week long functions at places like Hilton Head and I went on a trip to The Netherlands. I remember having such low self esteem while trying to socialize with other managers. I felt guilty and afraid for being \”different\” than the other managers.

What it’s like now: On this trip to Germany, I again found myself socializing with other managers. At this time in my life, I have been on the spiritual path for 3 decades,.I am still different from the group being: a female, a dedicated athlete, a person who eats only what fits in the God design for a body, a person who actually does spend time everyday in prayer (no matter what) and who reflects quietly on how to listen to the Voice for God as well as implement the direction.
The last night of the trip, another VP took us to dinner. They had planned ahead, as several of us were vegetarians, to have vegetarian items on the menu, and they even identified to the restaurant who was vegetarian without asking us (me and 4 Indians). The salad was wonderful The entrée was mushrooms in cream sauce with fried potato cakes. This entrée is not something I would choose to eat (because it is outside the God design eating program), but could possibly eat when in a group; and the Indians wolfed their\’s down. Yet that night, my inner self absolutely put the brakes on eating all of it. I just nibbled a bit to be polite and to pass the time while everyone else ate their meat dishes; and allowed the waitress to take my plate. Then while waiting for coffee and dessert, I slipped over to the waitress and asked for fresh fruit for dessert because I knew I wasn’t going to eat the sugar and cream laden dessert which was on the menu. I quietly got something to eat (I was hungry) without creating a scene.
I saw that the VP noticed I didn’t eat my entrée. Even earlier in the day, the VP had mentioned that he knew I didn’t drink saying (in a German accent), “You are not so much in favor of drink.” But the point is, despite two weeks of comments from my colleagues about my running and how I eat, I do not feel ashamed of myself and in the past I would have. I would have been tormented by my life choices and how they made me different from the corporate powers. Today, I feel good about myself. I am not afraid that being me will somehow make me a corporate failure.

What it’s like now: Early on Wednesday morning, doing my spiritual study, before beginning my long trip home. I was conscious of my ego thinking how terrible things could go: it’s the day before Thanksgiving, O’Hare airport is probably jammed with people and all the flights are late and how crabby I’ll be about getting home extremely late.
BUT, I consciously brought this thinking to Jesus and made another choice. I decided that the day was about peace and Christ vision (per ACIM teaching) and carrying out God’s purpose for me; letting the Holy Spirit smooth my ways. This was all conscious decision making. Now, as I said above, all my flights were absolutely on time. I got along with my colleague who was travelling with me. I spent 10 minutes at the passport checkpoint in Chicago because the officer wanted to tell me his life story; and my companions wondered what was going wrong (hehe). (This incident may well have been what God needed me to do.) I arrived home at 7:45, made a cup of tea, and went to the AA meeting, in total gratitude for the Holy Spirit. I even went to the grocery store after that. The store was not crowded with pre-Thanksgiving shoppers; but most amazingly, the shelves were not empty. So I obtained fresh vegetables and peanut butter and happily came home and ate a Spirit Flower special salad.

My life is a happy dream because I decided to take ACIM, I decided to listen to the Voice for God, I decided to follow God’s will for me; not because I am lucky or good.

I could go on and on about how happy I am with myself. This includes my running outlook. I no longer need to prove anything, say by running a 50 mile race, in order to bolster my low self esteem. My spiritual self esteem is also healed: I no longer feel less than religious sisters. I no longer feel like a spiritual failure because I haven’t experienced “enlightenment.”

I am free. I am free. I am happy. I am happy.

I think I will now go for a run!

Sunday Run on the Rhine

Today I had a very peaceful and contemplative run of 1 hour and 55 minutes. It was a cloudy, slightly drippy, 50F degree jog. Everybody, joggers and dog walkers, was quietly thinking their own thoughts or quietly off in space while the body did its thing. I had no injuries from yesterday, but my legs were fatigued. This afternoon, I\’m going to hang out with my boss and his wife.

Eternal Gentleness

From A Course in Miracles text 23.I: \”The memory of God comes to the quiet mind…for a mind at war against itself remembers not eternal gentleness.”

The facet of God, Eternal Gentleness, is my focus today. I read two paragraphs of the ACIM text before needing to stop and meditate on Eternal Gentleness. These words, spoken in my mind bring healing to any little interferers, little judgments, little attractions to guilt and sin (meaning looking for sin and finding it in others). Eternal Gentleness leaves me speechless and in peace. I can stay here if I want.

I think of the many faces of the Son of God in my life. They are all beautiful and all in pain. We pine and agonize because we look for sin instead of, in quiet, being in Eternal Gentleness. Today, I have traded Eternal Gentleness for the little attraction to guilt.

I am going running in a gentle rain today. I do not know how long but am preparing to stay out as long as I feel like it.

Yesterday I splurged on some hi-tech running clothes which I had not seen in the States. I shut my eyes to the prices tag and realized this was my one chance no matter the cost. If I go to the “Run for the Ranch” marathon on 12/27, it might actually be warm enough for me to be stylin’.

I had supper last night with two colleagues. I sensed Eternal Gentleness. I met a new colleague and at first felt jealous; then I applied Eternal Gentleness and gave the gift of peace. The Christmas Markets open in Cologne later today. These are booths set up with music and costumes, food and wine, and please buy our trinkets. I will stay out of the fray as it is a good place for a tourist to get in trouble.

On Friday, one of the German colleagues was troubled that I was here without access to cash. I would not accept his help. He said the situation was unacceptable to him, and quietly, behind my back, asked my American colleagues to watch out for me. I was touched despite my American training in feminist principles.

I am free when I live in Eternal Gentleness and accept the gift of innocence offered in silence. I have spent long hours in introspection listing out all my jealousies, hatreds, resentments, fears, shames, pissing matches and better thans. I give these to Jesus. Then, I accept Eternal Gentleness as my Source and as what I truly am.