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{Soulfood Sunday}:Mid-Passage Journey

life1I reached the  19k\11.8mile point physically tired but could also feel myself becoming mentally exhausted. For the first time since hitting the pavement I zoomed in to the spectators and caught a sign that read: “All you have, is all you can give”. I made eye contact with the lady holding the sign, smiled…gave her a thumbs up and somehow felt re-energized to continue on. To my mid-passage angel…thank you!

My experience with running has been full of so many nuggets of wisdom applicable to life in general. Whether it was being reminded of the power of my own voice urging me to stretch myself beyond my self-imposed limits, or being selective and extremely cautious of the thoughts i allow to travel in my mind, distance on the pavement and in life is determined by what we tell ourselves and the words of advice we give our ear to.

In March I wrote that I wanted to run a half-marathon this year but my actions revealed that even though I had placed it on my wish list,  it had not carried over to my action list. At the time, October seemed so far away and it was not until a couple months later that I started running in preparation for a 5k. Then it was a 10k late September after which I found myself in an unsettling place. Preparation or the lack thereof had come face  to face with time…In less than 3 weeks the run I had spoken of 7 months ago would take place with or without me in it. At the most I had ran a 10k, so by no means did I think I was ready to double the distance in such a short time. But I also did not think I was ready to have this pass me by until 2013.

I asked a few people what they thought. “Of course you can do it”, was the first person’s response (from a non-runner). Questions and doubts followed from anyone else who heard the question on the table.  Then my “coach” – the person who patiently brought me out on a freezing winter morning when I could not run to the corner, suggested I travel the route and my body will answer the question. I hooked my thoughts to the first and last responses, and even though my body tried to tell my mind that we weren’t ready, I had a crazy thought that if I can convince myself that I can do it, that energy will move my legs.

Truthfully, I woke up really nervous about it today. What if my body rebelled and i hurt myself from just going too far? What if I couldn’t finish and an ambulance had to be called? What if I finished, but I came in last? What if…..What if….What if? On a rainy grey morning, I put those fears to rest, put my earplugs in and did something completely uncharacteristic. Normally I am tuned into faster/club music as i’ve told others jokingly it distracts me from the thought that i’m running. But today I found myself listening to Whitney Houston’s song: “I didn’t know my own strength” on repeat for at least half the run. Whenever I found myself about to internally lament on how tired I was, I would change the  ”channel” of my thoughts, play this song and see myself crossing the finish line. Staying focused on moving forward 1k at a time!

Please don’t let me paint the picture that this was easy. The middle of the run…the 14th-18k tried to ask me constantly “and whose idea was this”. But this wasn’t the time for the dangerous trick of  Q&A’s. Furthermore, I had hooked my wagon to the Heart & Stroke Foundation…running against heart disease and strokes…standing in the gap for my loved ones and people I may or may not know. Even if I crawled across the finish line i would be crossing it, as this was bigger than me just running for fun. It was about me going the distance for those who mean the world to me.

I crossed the finish line with a very full feeling. I had made a promise to myself and kept it. My fears were proved False. I truly did not know my own strength. Even though very ill-prepared, I had asked God to show Himself truthful to His Word: “…whatever you ask believing you shall receive…behold, I will do a new thing…He is the source of my strength…choose ye this day who you will serve: fear or faith….” the list is endless of Words I stood on/ran on and He took my act of faith – me showing up, and my belief in the thought that this would indeed come to pass and He kept my legs moving.

In all things {even those that seem impossible or things our skills do not appear to line up with}, let us listen less to the ‘experts’ and listen more to what our own internal voice is telling us. Let us show up expecting to cover new ground, and we will reach new heights. Give it a shot… Go ahead! Armed with a pre-planned response in hand for the mid-passage question “and why are you doing this”…now ‘run’ on and see where the road you haven’t travelled takes you.

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{Soulfood Sunday}: An Inconvenient Truth…

174303448048664970_J6T5exoB_b1Dear Love!

 

Like a cocktail, sip after sip you reveal who i really am…no, not when things are functioning harmoniously, but when faced with situations where people are going in any direction other than my way. I have found you, Love, to be a great mirror into who i really am that otherwise may have remain hidden by “surface living”. When others aren’t functioning the way i want them to and I’m challenged to accept differences, how am i then? Outside of the qualities i admire about you, and you…and you, are things that work a nerve. But love is supposed to live there as well. There are times i wish you would react a certain way, say a certain thing, be a certain way, but you’re being you, and I’m scheming a “makeover”, but  love bears all things…it doesn’t set out on a path of manipulation to strategize a certain outcome. It takes you as you are, through the constant changes, the times when things are wonderful and the times when things are anything but, and remains the constant.

When I give up the need to control the responses or actions of others and accept them as they are – without trying to change a thing, i see you. When i give up a chance to set someone straight, you’re that ‘calm’ that soothes the ruffled edges. When I give up the need to make someone think as I do and function in the realm of my understanding, I hear you. When i show up looking for ways I can give rather than receive, I am fulfilled beyond my wildest imagination. Priceless.

love12But one thing you’ve made quite clear: how I love myself determines how i’ll love others. If being that constant voice of criticism within my own thoughts towards my own actions is how I play out my days, then from that well will spring forth how I love others. Waiting on a few things to change before I’m okay…then replace those “conditions” with others and you’ve just seen the mirror of how you love others. When I rehash my past errors and failures more often than not, imprisoning my future by my past without fully realizing that at the base of love has to be forgiveness, understanding and the room and space needed for its potency to flow freely, with no conditions – how then, do i love others?

Life is such a game of trial and error. Love, merely the ultrasound revealing not only how we play the game, but where the masses of destruction/unwanted growth are forming. We at times shun difficulties with others, cutting them out of our lives based on the thought that something is “wrong” with them as this is not as simple as we conceived the fairytale to be. Could it be that this is more about us and not them? Is it that love is that tap from life giving us what we need, whether it be a lesson detoxing us of a trait we’ve become friends with, or developing the “fruits” for due season? Could it be that the fairytale we’ve created in our minds on how things ’should’ go is cut from the same cloth of stories that we’ve convinced ourselves concerning how our lives ’should’ go? Buried beneath our tight grip and equally tight hold we have on life’s agenda and how people should be  and I should be, is love trying to be liberated …to find freedom and take us to a place of peace. We first need to let go, and let all aspects of our lives just be.

Within this game of chance is vulnerability to trust an outcome and people you have no real control over. The journey of a mother, a wife, a father, a spouse, a friend, a sister, brother, uncle and aunt…all so very different. All the players in the game needing something different, hoping for something less/more. It’s at the juncture of uncertainty and fear that we often crumble. Our inner alarm system starts to sound that in this unfamiliar place something could go wrong. Meditate on that thought for a second too long and you’ve convinced yourself-based on no real fact, that you need to go into protection mode. Fear then steps forward disguised as control. Today, I vow to set you free!

Reminder: The next time I find myself upset with someone do a quick audit: is it worth the energy?  If it is and trumps how I’d feel if the person was no longer a part of my life -then I have been given the green light to let them go. If it isn’t, then whatever it is I am worked up about should be forgotten. It has lost it’s validity and taken from ego the energy it needed to prove a point. #Ouch.


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Foodie Friday with a Twist: "Soulfood Sunday".

So, as fate may have it…I am posting this a day or two behind schedule – but what’s a working  girl to do?

I recently had a quick exchange with a newly retired man, which left me deep in thought on fighting the good fight: life. As I watched him make his slow and steady steps around the room, I could not help but notice that he was dragging his right leg while trying to hide the pain written on his face. When he sat beside me, I initially struggled with making eye contact–a little unsure of what emotion was on my own face.

We soon introduced ourselves (since you know by now, your curious friend here wears that “tell me your story” expression on her face, as well as the gift of gab). Again I ask what’s a girl to do? As if reading my thoughts he said “It feels great to be retired – this is when I can finally take life to the next level, work part-time and continue on with my things-to-do-list”. In a warrior tone, he continued “I had surgery not too long ago, and the healing process has been slow, but I treat this period in life just as I have any other day – you have to face it with a fight. You cannot succumb to pain or disappointments — no, no. Something on the inside has to constantly keep you/your thoughts above water”.

Have your thoughts ever been interrupted by a complete stranger who walks into your internal conversation, and picks up from where you left off? That’s how this conversation felt. Jim, as I will call him for the sake of privacy issues, got me thinking on where we draw from when we need to get our minds moving in the right direction and our emotions kept at bay.

For me and my household of one, who remains a far cry from being a TV addict –a few of my staples are Oprah (goes without saying),my news crush CNN -give it to me straight no chaser-and as it happens, LOVE THEM (but I do know when I have soaked in enough news for the day –and its time to balance the diet with something else)! and of course McDreamy, McSteamy & Co. on Grey’s (Shonda Rhimes packs those episodes with just enough food for thought to get those wheels of mental change in motion). Now books –I have been known to hibernate with a great read highlighting paragraphs at times, saving quotes here and there (well really adding them to my Facebook status update collection–not to worry I do not steal them and try to seem wise(er) with these profound sayings. I give credit). Note to anyone who will listen: no gossip mags please–as when I am in the thick of things in my own troubles, reading about someone else’s misfortunes does not in anyway help me–you?). But a few of things that do help are the quotes that arrive in my BB at 3AM daily, the “Be Fierce” newsletters and emails I receive from branding coach Jennifer Ransaw Smith, clearing my head space with many moments of silence before my day begins/kinda like my own pep talk.

After all, when life comes-a-knocking with trouble or disappointment, what I regurgitate in those moments can only come from the soul food I have been feeding myself all along. Our bodies tell us when its full, when its time for a more extensive diet, when its lacking in one area or another, and also when its time for a detox. The great news here is that so do our minds. What are you feeding your thoughts with and what ‘nutrients’ is it telling you that you’re in need of? (watch for the warning signs similar to blinking light that indicates you’re running low on gas, miles before your car completely shuts off in traffic).

PS: This post got me thinking on some of the great books I have read (besides of the Good Book of course). The list that came to mind includes:

* She’s Come Undone, by Wally Lamb
* Women, Work & The Art of Savoir Faire, by Mireille Guiliano
* Everyone Worth Knowing, by Lauren Weisberger
* Life on a Refridgerator Door, by Alice Kuipers
* Have a Little Faith and Tuesday’s with Morrie, by Mitch Albom
* Women, Food & God, by Geneen Roth
* Dreams From My Father, by President Barack Obama

Now I could go on for pages more with books that stirred my thoughts, but I would rather hear what great reads are on your list –and what helps you get through each day.