July’s Invitation

I am going to take a deep breath and slow down…

I will enjoy the time with my children. I will admire my sons when they’re not looking. And sometimes when they are. I will surrender to the volume and existence of the xBox.

I will clean out a closet or two and sort through a box, even though I might get sabotaged by a photo that makes me cry, and then I will make a trip to Goodwill.

I will sit in my favorite chair and call a friend long-distance and chat for an hour, planning our next half-marathon.

I will dive into a few books – a novel or two, a spiritual biography, and whatever else catches my attention. And I will read a picture book to the baby.

I will fall in love with my husband several times.

I will spend time by myself – walking, hiking, praying, day-dreaming, counting blessings.

I will listen to live music outside under the stars.

I will write love notes and leave them all over the house.

I will run without a watch.

I will celebrate with a girlfriend, sipping chilled, white wine in the backyard.

I will pray alone in a quiet chapel.

I will enjoy the sunrise and my morning cup of coffee on the patio with my husband.

I will sit silently with a friend whose heart is broken.

I will walk barefoot on the beach.

I will sing, laugh and picnic.

Maybe I will only do a few of these things, or even just one, and I will be grateful that I heard July calling and responded with my heart.

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”

(Matthew 11:28)

***

Wishing you light and strength. And an easy summer breeze.

Whispers

I am feeling small and defeated and my inner visionary has screwed up her eyes tight and crawled back into her room. She left a note on the door that says, “Namaste… I’m meditating,” but secretly I think she’s sleeping. And I suspect her note means something less like “Namaste” and more like “Scram!”

I am overwhelmed with deadlines and schedules and the general household mayhem that accompanies kids and cats and dogs. I’ve heard a rumor that summer brings with it a slower pace and a gentler aura, but the only slow pace around here is the speed at which I run. And while my sweet lapdog is especially serene these days, I believe that’s because he’s going deaf. Or maybe the little black dog with the gentle spirit is just too hot to care.

It’s been months since I’ve been able to run, and I am more than a little frustrated because I thought I would only be out for a few weeks. Not to mention that it takes about 17 minutes for a woman over the age of 40 to start atrophying after her last workout. Just as I was turning the corner on the sprained ankle, I tried the Rose Bowl with my running buddy. After about a quarter of a mile, I could no longer keep up the pace or the conversation. I could talk or run, but not both. So we walked, because not talking sort of takes the fun out of running altogether. But I still couldn’t catch a full breath, and breathing is key to the process.

Two bouts of bronchitis later, I was starting to lose my sense of humor over this whole healing process.

I run for the same reason I pray and do yoga and read fiction. Sometime after the first mile, which is hard every single time, there comes a moment, maybe after two miles, maybe after three, when all I hear is my own inhale and exhale, and I find a rhythm in my own stride. The many voices calling “It’s too hard,” and “I don’t belong,” and “I can’t,” retreat a distance where I no longer hear them, and then I hear the still small inner voice, whispering, “Yes, I can,” “Yes, I do,” and “Yes, I am.”

Last weekend, I ran the perimeter of the Rose Bowl again with my running partner, and she gave me a high five at mile three. My friend recognized the landmark before I did.

When the loud voices are clamouring with negativity and I’m struggling to catch a full breath, there is still a quiet confidence that says “It will get better.” If only I can find my way to hear its message.

The best gift my stepson gave me for Christmas was unintentional. (This being the child who wasn’t exactly delighted about my presence in his life and found multiple ways to express his displeasure in those early years of our relationship.) We were at grandma’s for Christmas morning omelettes, and we were standing in the kitchen with our coffee when he caught my arm and blurted out, “Thank you.” Flummoxed, I said “You’re welcome… For what?”

To which he replied, “Thank you for not giving up on me.” “Oh honey,” I said, throwing my arms around this teddy bear of a boy, “Never.”

But the truth is, it is probably more accurate to say that I had given up on him dozens of times… I just kept coming back.

“courage does not always roar. sometimes courage is the quiet voice

at the end of the day saying, ‘i will try again tomorrow’ ”

~ mary anne radmacher

Yes, I will.

***

Wishing you light and strength. And a whisper of encouragement.