i-Joining

ACIM Manual for Teachers 20: \”His Will is wholly without opposite.\” To which I add another phrase from the ACIM text (citation not available): \”Turn you to the stately calm within.\”

Say very well during exercise and drive to work:
His Will is wholly without opposite.
Turn you to the Stately Calm within.

I have had a big week. Despite the issue at work, where the company is splitting, I did get a new work computer and new work iphone. It is my first entry into Apple products. In some sense, I have joined the world. But I still don\’t want to join FB or watch TV. The IT tech was amazed I don\’t have itunes on my computer. I used \”selfie\” mode for the first time.

I also got my flu shot this week; and donated to National Public Radio.

It might be cooling off in Texas!

I am so optimistic about my running that I was surfing ultrasignup.com this morning. A year ago, I was one week out of surgery and still with 5 weeks of non-weight bearing. Today, I was running uphill on my treadmill at 5 mph. That is so awesome.

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Living Gold

Plotinus Enneads 4.7.10: \”Imagine living gold: it files away all that is earthy about it, all that kept it in self-ignorance preventing it from knowing itself as gold; seen now unalloyed it is at once filled with admiration of its worth and knows that it has no need of any other glory than its own, triumphant if only it be allowed to remain purely to itself.\”

It says something about me, my essence, that I have plowed my way through more than 400 pages of Plotinus. The writing is from 250CE or so. And I am not previously at student of Plato, so I didn\’t at first understand the terminology.

I bring up Plotinus today in relation to a special hate relationship I\’ve had to pray about for the past few weekends. Students of A Course in Miracles will know about special relationships and special hate relationships. Well, there is a person in my life who I dreamed into an object of hate, attack and then guilt. So I turn to the Holy Spirit to practice ACIM forgiveness, a practice of looking beyond or looking within. The words of Plotinus were a very good help today as I kept \”Imagine Living Gold\” as something of a mantra while I ran.

I cannot afford the agony of a special hate relationship. I cannot afford to judge or resent anyone. Spirituality is the only tool I have for healing of my own mind. I have nothing enlightening to say about God because all my energy is taken up with healing my resentment. I pray for X. I pray for his health prosperity and happiness. I pray that everything I want for myself be given to him.

Selah! I am now free.

If I am committed to finding The One, then I need to be free of this world. Downward mobility, resisting the powers and principalities clothed in society\’s norms, grasping for more, insatiable competition. All these urges are in me. I try to be the opposite.

Running laps in Brummerhop park is extreme nothingness. It wears one\’s ego down, clears the dross and I find Living Gold.

I have had an extremely great month for miles:

The amount of hours can only increase slowly and reach a working girl max pretty soon. But I have been running more (cross train less) so the miles go up. This mileage from a person who is rebuilding a foot that had achilles surgery and 6 weeks of non-weight-bearing.

Starting at 12:00 am on Friday this week, I am starting a 7 day race. I can\’t tell you how eager I am to take 7 days off work and do laps in Brummerhop park. I can\’t tell you how I relish the Houston heat and humidity. This weekend I spent 40 miles and 8.5 hours literally dripping with sweat. It was awesome. I wore my new Nathan Vapor Shape and took sips every 5 minutes or so. I wore my Solumbra sunhat with the wide brim and neck drape.

I go around and around Brummerhop park and pray my mantra. It is a tiny park; but it is across the street from my house and it does have trees. Shade is all important in a place like Houston.

I think alot. I think about the Sri Chinmoy 3,100 mile race. I think about my own running and what races I might like to go in. I think about work and the friction I feel because I don\’t go along with certain group norms.  And the strange life path that lead me to Houston. WTF: Texas. Freaking Texas. I live in freaking Texas! How did that happen?

I\’m finally accepting it….

I live in Texas. I live in this house and work at this place and there is no escape. I\’ve always escaped or somehow been moved on. So much so that I didn\’t realize how I was taking Texas as a temporary thing.

But yesterday, I bought a bookshelf for my upstairs bedroom and moved books from boxes onto the shelves. Somehow, this lent an air of permanence to my residence. People who move might leave the stuff in the boxes. People planning on staying some place will unpack and settle in.

The new bookcase tells me what I have decided.

This weekend was almost my first private multi-day since foot surgery. I jog/ walked for 5 hours and 20.5 miles on Friday. I cross trained for 2h47min on Saturday. Today, Sunday, I did another 3.5 hours and 15.35 miles of jog/ walk. I don\’t really plan all this. When I go out for a long run, I just go until I run out of time or it starts to hurt real bad. So yes I am training for a marathon. But no, I am not following a training plan. I just go out and if all is well, I keep going.

I don\’t know why I like to do miles. If I lived in the mountains, it might not seem so strange to spend a day hiking. But, it is very boring where I live. The deep reason for why I do this have not been discerned. But dreaming of endurance has been in my brain since a very young age. But like silence, my brain does not speak of why this must be so.

I have to quit asking questions of silence. I should quit expecting it to make me wise. Silence just is and must be enjoyed without demands.

To be in the world but not of it: At the practical level, it means not participating. Like not eating the food of the masses, or watching their TV, or doing a family, or … get the point? But one level down it means thinking different. This is possible if you train your synapses to respond differently. Another level down it means a focus in another direction. This means that life and all of its purposes and awarenesses and desires are in a direction not of this world. This is possible but not easy since distractions come along continuously.

They built monasteries to help this process. Men went to the desert to help this process. Had I stayed in the monastery, I\’d have to be \”of this world.\” A small enclosed world different from society; but a world none the less. I\’d have to conform to them and their religion. The knowledge that makes this world an illusion would not have been obtained. The deeper thinking is possible for one allowed intellectual and spiritual freedom; but not one confined in a religious prison.

I live as a solitary. I study spiritual material. I don\’t eat the meat or watch the TV. I don\’t have any ear worms except those from the 60s and 70s which are triggered frequently but not that often.

Jesus in not Lord. Christ just is.

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.

Bleakness

Monday. I woke up. Then, I snoozed until the alarm. Then, I sat in the darkness thinking about my stupid life. I felt my bleakness. Again, I don\’t love going to work and there seems no point to my life. These are my first thoughts.

I went downstairs. I began to plow through Plotinus Enneads 1.4.6. My mind was dragged out of its gutter into the realm of inspiration. I so get it that this world holds nothing for me. Yes I have creature comforts with a minimum of distraction, but these are not happiness. But turning toward the spiritual I do feel that higher sense and I feel the contentment in communion with It, Being, as the thing of my life I want.

So, the activity of spiritual study could be the only thing which keeps me alive. Life. I am depressed if I don\’t look up.

On Friday I jogged 8.5 miles in 2h07.
On Saturday, I jogged 4.1 miles plus a bunch of machine aerobics.
On Sunday I jogged 9.3 miles in 2h12.

Not bad for someone who had achilles surgery on September 24, 2013, was non-weight-bearing for 6 weeks, and dealt with more pain and difficulty walking for a few more weeks. But, exercise does bring me endorphins; which I seem to need for well being.

No More Boot

My doctor released me today. He said my healing is 5 months ahead of where most people are at 6 weeks after surgery. So, no boot. Go ahead and walk. Work on stretching and strengthening.

I am wearing shoes with a pair of insoles I haven\’t been able to wear in 2 years. So I guess my foot is 2 years younger. Decades more of running.

Now, I need to scramble around the house and match up shoes. Everything has been so mixed around over the past 2 months.

No, I have not yet clicked submit on a race. But I am itching for it. I\’ll wait until after Friday and my first talk with the rehab guy.

Here I am leaving the surgery center today; holding the boot in my arms.

Timber….!

This morning, I crutched from my bed to the chair where I sit to get dressed. As I got to the chair, I noticed that the shoe was in the way so I kicked it. The shoe was a trail shoe and its tread gripped the carpet. The shoe did not move.

Instead, I began a slow tipping. Me and my crutches made a slow but unstoppable crash into the bureau, wall and chair. God, it was a slow crash. No, I\’m not hurt. Just an example of the hazards of crutches.

5 weeks after surgery. 6 days to next doctor visit. Everything feels great. Surgery was a fantastic decision.

But I finally admit to my conscious mind that recovery is a long slow process. I\’ll probably be weight bearing but still in the boot after next week. And then a slow progression of heel lift adjustments, and exercises until I walk.

I just asked for the refund for the Texas Marathon on 1/1/14. I\’m sure that even walking a half marathon would not be possible that soon. A sad but realistic day for me.

As an endorphin addict, I suppose I am surviving pretty well.

I look at the wall of my bedroom where I have hung up 2 years worth of race medals. It represents a freaking amount of money and time. Some of the races were fun. Some were lots of worry in preparation and then a serious business of racing.

If I run again, I hope for the quiet morning runs in El Lago.

Not This Not That

Just now, I hopped on my leg scooter and rolled out to the mail box. I don\’t go outside much these days so a trip to the mail box is a chance to pause and feel the sunshine. It is a beautiful morning. Houston has finally cooled off. I could hear birds. It was very peaceful. I know that others are out doing their miles. I am happy that this does not bug me. I am happy that I can be at peace.

During my convalescence, I have spent more time on spiritual study. I am continually integrating the concepts of the 3 traditions I am currently studying: A Course in Miracles, Conscious Contact (AA), Paul Brunton.  These three have the same foundational concepts but say it in very different ways; and my mind is integrating them. Monastic practices I learned in the monastery play a part in this integration, but they have to be separated from denominational Catholicism and Benedictine-ism.

I say \”Not this Not that\” because I realized this morning that I don\’t have to label myself in spiritual terms. I don\’t have to call my self a \”desert dweller\” \”hermit\” \”monk\” or anything. I get to just keep relating to Spirit and going where ever It leads. I don\’t have to prove anything to anybody. In fact, my current status as a handicapped person is an impoverishment in most people\’s eyes.

The good news is that we can have conscious contact with a power greater than ourselves and we don\’t need to leave our homes. We just need to devote ourselves to the quest; and we are guaranteed to succeed. What I want more than anything is the conscious contact, the living of the spiritual identity here and now; not in some ashram or convent or under some guru or after I die. Now.

It is always possible now.

This week I found out I am getting a raise at work. Logically, this baffles me because our company is having austerity, and because I am being transferred to another division so the people who applied for and pushed the raise are not the ones I\’ll be working for in a couple of months. But somehow, it was necessary for the Talent Management program to address my salary for the purpose of retention. I have to mix this occurrence with my metaphysics and accept that my thinking must have been changed by spiritual practice or the raise would not have happened. It is not the money but the recognition that reality is made of thoughts and my thoughts must have risen higher.

This week I am going to a Process Safety symposium. I am going as a semi-mobile person. It will be interesting how the accessibility goes and which people take an interest in me or not. I worry about stuff like what size of luggage to take and how to lug it around. How easy will it be to get in and out of the hotel. What will the shower be like? I am bringing plastic bags so I can wear my boot in the shower. It is doubtful that a bench will be available. What about the convention center? Can I access the plenary session? I am going to case the convention center the afternoon before.

By the way, my foot is doing fantastic. Now I just need to be patient and not stupid.

Exercise No Matter What

Hi Spirit fans,

On September 24, I had surgery to fix my foot. On October 1, I got a boot. And I started to work out. At first, I did core and leg lifts. Then, after my arms got work hardened to heaving my body around, I added some weights. A few days ago, I added easy exercise bike. Starting from ground zero, I rebuilding. Here is a chart of how many minutes a day I\’ve been doing:

Three weeks into this, my foot feels fantastic. When I take it out of the boot, I can move it around. In the morning when I get up, the foot is not swollen at all. It does collect fluids during the day since it just sits in a boot. Yesterday, my new Hokas showed up. Wearing a Hoka on the other foot has made it possible to stand and feel good.

I\’m high this evening on my first endorphins in awhile. But also high about the company I work for. They started a program called \”Talent Management\” designed to retain talent. Many of us thought it was fake. But I am getting a raise! My talent has been successfully managed.

Accessibility Again

Today I wanted to go to an event. Truth is, the AA club I go to was having some outside speakers. I wanted to go, but they don\’t have that much parking. I was worried because I can\’t park a quarter of a mile away and get to the meeting.

So, um, yeah, I prayed. I asked for a parking spot. I also went pretty early. When I got there, the lot was full, but someone pulled out right then, so I did get a parking spot.

I went to use the rest room. There were 6 empty stalls and one handicapped stall with a person in it. So I had to wait. Of course, then that person was all embarrassed.

The first speaker was an Alanon with 42 years in that program. The part of her story that impressed me was her discussion of family members who stopped drinking in AA for 20+ years, then started experimenting. It is important for me to reflect on this. I have 28 years of sobriety. I didn\’t go to meetings for about 10 years. A year ago I started going to meetings again. In a room of 50, there will be less than a handful of us with more than 20 years.  I sit there. Part of my brain wants to be too good for meetings. Another part points out that I do better when I go, even if it is only once a week. I don\’t think about drinking, but I do better in happiness.

The second speaker was a young woman with 6 years of sobriety. She was a charismatic speaker with a good story. But as I listened to her and mixed my thoughts about the first speaker into my reflecting, I continue to be amazed at how screwed up some of my thinking is. Especially my post-monastic life. I so totally came out of the convent determined to be a monk in the world so I could be as holy as my sisters in the convent.

And this brings me to the second prayer I said this morning. I said I need to see this gathering of AAs, with its silliness, bad food and gaudiness of middle class America, as holy. At least as I listened to the second speaker, I was able to realize that I have been taught that the world is bad and non-religious people are not as good as the nuns. I have had other looks at this, but I see even more now how I need to get over that. I\’ve been lying to myself.

Since I had my leg on my 4 wheel cart, I didn\’t try to mix into the crowds. I staked out a chair where I wouldn\’t be in the way. I saw a woman just sort of by herself. I invited her to come over and talk to me. We had a nice 20 minutes or so talking before the first speaker. Then between speakers, another lady came over to talk to me. She wanted to thank me for something I said in a meeting. This lady is really pretty and was dressed in a pretty red dress. I was a little dumbfounded that someone that pretty would talk to me since I am not much to look at.

So, my healing from convent life continues.

Coming out of the meeting, I rolled myself to where the ramp went off the sidewalk onto the parking lot. Someone had parked right in front of it, so I couldn\’t get by on my cart. I had to go around to another place and then another lady helped me move my cart over the curb. That is what it is like to be handicapped.