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Reblogged from October, 2011…because what’s old is new again:

I suppose it wasn’t really there after all. I must have been daydreaming. When you’re hanging at the beach, some things just kind of blur together, like the pod of dolphins the other day at one point clearly being a pod of dolphins, gradually fooling the eyes into trying to decipher what was bottlenose and what was fin and what was tall wave. The playful animals somehow melded into being waves. Eventually when the excitement wanes and you start questioning your own senses and sensibility, you learn to quit looking, and refocus anew on what is, on what was, to begin with.

I thought I saw a ship, of great proportions, traversing the horizon. It had a bright color that caught my eye, contrasting from the sea, and maintained a steady path, as long as I dared to watch.

While it caught my gaze, I imagined where it came from, how long it had stayed in port, and where it now headed, what it carried. The Sunday newspaper keeps a public record of such data, but it’s been a month of Sundays since I read a Sunday paper.

But the ship was real as long as I looked at it.

I was driving, though, and could only afford intermittent glances. I was driving fast, windows down, music loud, hair flying.

I know it was there. But then, I glanced again, and it was not. Simply slipped out of my vision, out of my reality.

It reminded me of the man I used to see come home on what I calculated must be his lunch hour, as I ran the last hill on my runs. His house was one of my reality checks – I used it to remind myself of my goal, since it was at the peak of the knoll, the hardest and steepest hill of the three I conquer on my usual 2.5 run.

Once upon a time in the season of jasmine, I marveled at the tall southern pines which graced his front yard, with something that looked like clematis climbing up the trunks of each tree. They were so fragrant, I came to look forward to springtime runs, just to get to that last, steep incline.

 

Each labored inhalation was rewarded. His front porch was typically Southern, a wraparound with ample rocking chairs and detail in the woodwork, beckoning one to stop for a glass of sweet tea (slice of lemon) in the fragrance of the climbing flowers. The trees, and the clinging flowers, disappeared up into the sky-blue like some Jack-in-the-Beanstalk fairy tale.

How I would have loved to stop!

But my course would have been ruined had I done so – I was compelled to finish what I began, compulsively dedicated to completing my circuit, and his house was only one stop on my way to my destination. How sad…and it always seemed…no, seems (I still go by) so inviting.

Through the spring and part of the summer, I saw him come home. He would be parked in the side driveway, sometimes standing on the porch, sometimes inside, sometimes conversing with his landscapers. Sometimes just standing there, yakking on his phone, or pausing to watch me and wave.

And I always kept going.

Although we saw each other nearly daily, he was a stranger, and I to him. He was at the end of my run, at the top of the steepest hill, and I could not, would not stop, no, never. Never meant to be. He and his coveted possessions were well out of my league. I would not be interested in such.

I had to keep running, keep my pace, knowing the end was near and soon I would have rest. But in that rest I often thought of how nice it would have been to stop my run short and crash on that ample front porch and get acquainted with the wealthy neighbor. He didn’t know me, not really. And I didn’t know him. No, we were Worlds Apart, on two different courses, two different schedules, two different paths. He may have thought he knew me; he probably imagined he knew me, but he would have been wrong. Someone like that and those Things could not have understood or known joy from someone like me and my things.

And, like the ship that I’m not sure ever really existed, he also ceased to exist after my weeks of illness which prevented me from my daily runs. I have gingerly, carefully resumed and gone back, as I sit at the lapping water here, but he no longer comes home for lunch. And I have not seen a ship like it on the horizon since, either.

Both are gone; I am alone, and left wondering if they ever really existed, or if they were figments of my imagination, like so many other things.

I suppose I was a figment, too…not quite real, not quite tangible. Just sort of, out there. Interesting to imagine, but not really existent.

There is safety in not really being real, not able to be figured out, comprehended, perceived fully. Perhaps it is best if figments remain figments, visions as visions, dreams as dreams. That way, things of intrigue remain as we wish for them to be thought of, and we do not run the risk of disappointment, should the harshness of reality not live up to our dreams.

Our dreams…our delusions…our mirages serve us well, to provide the comfort of distracted vision, and of hope and curiosity, without the pain of what is, what must be, no matter how satisfying what must be, is.

Both the ship and the man were elusive and surreal as they passed before what I thought was my reality, bringing interest and reason to look while they lingered in the periphery of my reality, ever just so out of reach and causing me to question my sanity, yet serving a purpose by challenging myself to keep looking and to keep running all at the same time.

Oh, why O why, didn’t I stop long enough to verify the existence of the ship? and the man? Was I afraid they’d be real? Or that I would have to change to accommodate their reality? Was it better that they came and went from what I thought was my vision, that they remained a part of the Unsure?

How bittersweet, never to know for sure. I could never pursue either, and must stay on my circuit.

Damn, today’s run was totally to mentally detox. The news at high noon (delivered in the best room with the best catered food which I didn’t eat) was supposed to be good, which I couldn’t swallow, either. It was good to everyone but me. My crestfallenness did not go unnoticed, and I know they saw me tear out of the parking lot on my run after the meeting with more vigor than usual Upon my return, I was swamped with Higher Visitors and calls from all angles, feeling me out, no one daring to ask. The Secret is not theirs to uncover, they knew. And I was helpless, speechless, unable to explain. Only someone like me could be living such a dual life in so many dimensions.

But the run was hard and fast, and the man wasn’t there…again. I guess I missed too many days, so it was…just…a run. And I returned to face reality, my dreams and thoughts and feelings sequestered to the depths of my inner being, where they are better kept behind the game face.

But nothing can erase the ship on the horizon. I know it was there. I know it seemed like it wasn’t at one point, but I can still see it, I can still picture it crossing my path when I had time to pause my gaze. It was big and bright and happy, and added perspective to the horizon. The fact idea that it was there gave enough impetus to relish the rest of the surroundings, even after it disappeared.

Even if it wasn’t real, it was…just for a moment…it really was. And if I willed it to be so for the sake of my sanity, is there anything wrong with that?

The fumes of belief fuel faith.

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At the eleventh hour of the week’s end, she felt pressed to get her last set of cardio in, just under the wire.

The bright, waning moon illuminated the path before her. She darted across the seashell driveway and into the shadows of the giant, old oak tree and sprinted into the road to chase the beckoning moon.

She inhaled the brisk air into her lungs and, getting up to a good pace, was breathing hard by the time she got to the waterfront. This was not the first time today she’d lost her breath.

She felt more alive as she lost the rest of herself in the music on her iPod as she picked up her pace a bit more.

Thinking of a world of things and also of nothing in particular, the evening sea mist enveloped and tousled her mane which followed behind her as she ran.

She could see the bright moonlight reflected in the water, illuminating the depths.  A chorus of frogs competed for her attention over the music.

How free she felt! Into and out of the shadows, into and out of the moonshine she ran.

Reaching the original goal as she experienced her second wind, she decided to double her distance and to indulge herself in a double dose of moonlight.

She ran past places she knew from old, places she ran before, places she weathered the Perfect Storms before, places which held good and not so good memories– but tonight, they were all good, basked in silvery  moonlight.

Bad became good, evil became blessed. Ugly became beautiful. Sick became well. All pain melted away.

Along the waterfront she ran, at one with the elements, lost, totally lost in her spirit, strong legs carrying her farther and farther.

Reluctantly she doubled back at one point realizing she needed to go home.

But she wouldn’t, really. She went through the motions, but in her mind she ran…ran far away.

She ran to her shelter under the giant oak and mounted the gracious swing that invited all passers-by to pause and swing a spell.

Now heated, she shed her sweatshirt and hung it on the fencepost as she approached her other favorite escape.

Her shaped arms grasped the ropes as her legs pumped and brought the swing high into the shaped arms of the oak tree. It was by far the best way to cool down.

Lost on the swing anew, she sailed back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth…into oblivion.

Blissfully lost, more than ever. The evening sea air cooled her sweat and calmed her soul.

The moonlight penetrated through the sheltering branches of the oak tree and shined on her heart, which pounded in another dimension altogether.

God, thank You for blessings in darkness, for light in the shadows. Thank You for getting us from starting point to destination no matter the circumstances. And thanks for lighting our steps, one at a time, for our being able to trust You every step of the way.

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This week’s Photo Challenge drew me to this naturally occurring beach sculpture:

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A beloved tradition of mine is to spend my birthday (or a portion thereof) at the beach, alone, in quiet contemplation. It is a chance to take inventory of things which have passed, what my purpose is in the present and where I stand with goals for the future.

It is a rich time of reflection and communion with God, a time for us both to speak to each other.

There I walk, run, sit and stare, pray, sing, dance and breathe life into a brand new year.

With no other footprints but mine and those of the beach creatures, God greeted me this time with this curious driftwood cross, sunbeams slanted toward it.

That day I learned that as much as I try to keep God in a box with “I shalts and oughts and musts,” that God is much bigger than our interpretations of what we think we are supposed to do when we think we’re following His word.

Sometimes God leads us in ways and directions we cannot fathom. Quite unexpectedly, we can find ourselves on an unforeseen path.

So we must stop, listen, and let go of our rigid interpretations and assumptions of who He is and what His plans for us are.

God never promised that running the race would be easy; to follow Him requires blind faith, an open heart and an open mind. It means being ready to change, to move forward into what often can be scary, new territory.

And, like a long race, one must do their best to be mentally, physically and emotionally fit for the endurance. This is not easy, but is critical for being up for the challenge. He calls us to be our very best…for Him.

Following God is not about staying stuck, it is about challenging yourself to look at things differently and breaking free of the chains of trying to save our own lives, trying too hard to make right out of wrong – and instead trusting Him to lead us.

It’s about having the courage to change for the better….a kind of spiritual upward mobility, if you will.

“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?’” ~~Matthew 16:24-26

Hey, God…thank you SO much for times of contemplative revelation, for being with us when it is time for us to grow toward your Light.

Thank you for equipping us with capable minds and bodies to run the long race for being with us every step of the way and for putting the cross in our path on our way to be with You.

God, please bless us with open minds and hearts, a willingness to follow. Grant us unwavering courage to change…for Your sake and ours.

Dear readers, please take a moment to scamper over to our fellow blogger’s site, Our Life in 3D.  Today he completed his first 1/2 marathon race since prevailing over cancer, which God saw fit to eliminate because He had other plans for him. It simply wasn’t his time!

May we all make the most of the one earthly life God gives us…

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Blessings to count for this Sunday:

  • Lots of rest
  • Lots of leftovers
  • Awesome church service
  • Bountiful, buttery sunshine
  • 2 pesky health conditions disappeared
  • Good, hard, long run with good, hard, long music, through the pecan orchards and sandy washouts
  • Discovered our swing under the big, gracious oak tree…

My Swing

is a perfect way to cool down and exercise all body parts when flying high – upper body, abs, calves, quads, you name it! Pump!

Swinging

Me & my Mizunos – Wheeeeee! The breeze through my mane cooled my entire body down after the run. Purrrrrrfect…

  • Walk with the family
  • Held hands with my guy
  • Good football to watch
  • Fun pruning roses & hydrangeas
  • Long hug with Mom
  • Mom gave me pic I’d never seen before – her and my Dad, when she was pregnant with me
October 1965

At a party.
My mom, one of the original B-52s singers. Daddy always seemed to have a martini as a prop, although I don’t ever recall him actually drinking them. (and he always slipped the olives to ME – big treat).

  • Shot hoops with the kids – and sunk it every time
  • Got even more Christmas lights
  • Seashells to sort
  • Kisses and hugs
  • Rainbow toward the end of the day
December Refraction

Okay, so the rainbow didn’t capture, but you can see some of the refraction in there…somewhere. Hey, I was driving – gimme a break!

  • Excellent blogs in my Reader to read
  • Treasured bloggy friendships
  • Sweet, sweet dreams

Can it get any better?!

Thanks, God, for ALL your blessings – let us remember days like these on days when nothing seems to go right. Thank You for little pockets of fresh air that sustain us. And thanks for good health, good food, good family, good gardens, good friends and good life. Thanks for a Beautiful Day!

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If it weren’t for our beloved vets, I would not be able to share today with you, as it unfolded…unbridled, unfettered and unedited.

A mish-mash of things from home and work that I found coming out of my mouth today:

“Please, don’t saw up our back deck.”

“Thank you for finding the diamond solitaire…and for being so honest! I am so relieved…”

“Do you mind taking this pair of underwear?” (said to a stranger)

“So, now we’re up to a 53-minute hour from the age-old 50-minute hour? What would Bob Newhart do?”

“Where can I get a jumpsuit like that, and how much do they cost?”

“Now, then…how do you plan to do serious harm to yourself if you can’t order in pizza?”

“Whose idea was it to pile everything from the computer hutch in my bedroom until we’re ready to sell?”

“No Netflix on your DS. Period.”

“Tell me again…why did you wine me and dine me all weekend?”

“Why is your driver’s permit at home while I am in the passenger’s seat???!!!”

“What was it like to have your mother blame you for her selling you for drugs when you were 4?”

“The bug is not waving at us, sweetie…he’s trying to get right-side up. I have to step on him, first.”

“No, you are NOT going fishing today with a C in history. I don’t care what the fish promised you last weekend.”

“Honey, Sleestaks are not real. I promise they won’t get you in your dreams.”

“Did any of my staff get injured during that incident?”

And, my favorite, after the requisite ‘how was your day, dear?”

“After four months to the week today, I actually RAN up the hill, did my 2.5 and ran back down!!! Yeah!!!!!”

But above all, a big salute to all the veterans today who serve (and have served) our country with selfless courage, pride and patriotism – all in the name of our freedom and ALL those things our country stands for.

Special thanks to God for the generations of veterans of the CV-63, the souls responsible for the American flag from the Kitty Hawk on my mantle, for the nearby sunken Oriskany, for my son of a son of a sailor, and heroes like Buddy and brainrants.

Refractions from the high-speed commute home today:

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Flying home east on the Bayway today…
2 suns?
Thanks, vets, for affording me yet another sunset.

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This week’s Photo Challenge turned out to be more of a challenge than I realized, since most of my photography takes place outdoors.

Sidelined from my regular running routine, the doctors are determined to get to the bottom of things. So the other day they put me very much INSIDE this contraption for an MRI.

I had to see it from its inside in order for it to see me from my inside. A fair exchange, provided I don’t come out glowing:

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It was interesting, but I’d still rather be at the beach.

BONUS: I learned how to stifle a sneeze without moving a muscle.Too bad my health insurance won’t give me extra credit for that non-maneuver!

Twenty minutes of stillness, inside, followed by two excruciating injections deep inside, followed by another twenty minutes, inside.

It felt like this was about as inside as inside gets.

I got a diagnosis with a sixteen-letter word out of the deal. I pray the bill isn’t as many digits long.

Now, please get me back OUTSIDE and running on the beach again.

Thanks, God, for the journey…

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Maintaining a running regimen in a summer, sub-tropical climate can be a challenge. Hit-and-miss torrential downpours are the forecast du jour, every day, often when the sun is still shining. And if the rain doesn’t get you, the full-sun and humidity will.

Sorry, fellow commuters - I was supposed to be paying attention to the road when this fancied my eye...

Sorry, fellow commuters – I was supposed to be paying attention to the road when this fancied my eye…

The billowing, towering thunderheads posture and threaten, but it’s a toss-up if they’ll put forth or not. Either way, it’s a vitalizing, hair-curling drencher of a run. You’re gonna get wet. Deal with it. Revel in it. Be energized by it!

(Okay, dear reader, when was the last time you intentionally did something physically reckless in the rain? running? biking? lovemaking? just sayin’…)

One needs a little boost during the summer months here in order to keep the pace. What better than a new pair of running shoes? Behold, my new saviors, the trustworthy Mizunos:

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I love them so much, I might even take them on a test run over water, they’re THAT holy in my book:

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The funny thing is, when I got fitted for them, I had in mind a new pair of Newtons. I thought they’d make me run better and I loved the colors. Alas, they did a gait analysis on me, and my running form would not benefit from them too much since I already train on hills and on sand. They would correct very little and make me more annoyed than correct. So, okay. Mizunos it is. And I have NOT looked back!

(Does YOUR shoe store let you “test-drive” a different shoe on each foot and send you out the door to go run around the block – or more – to get a feel before you buy?)

I took it as both compliment and good fortune that the (ex-Fox News) PR lady at my company ‘fessed up to sneaking an unauthorized photo of me coming in from a drenching run last week, and deleted it because it was blurry. Compliment, because it was blurry – I must have been going at a good clip (okay, maybe she forgot to adjust her setting to motion and she took it from inside the rain-dribbled windows). Good fortune, because she specializes in newsworthy photos which usually exclude the abstract, and therefore deleted it. Not sure I would have enjoyed seeing the spectacle my coworkers see when I put myself through a torrential lunch hour hell.

Erm, Heaven.

Nothing like a good, new pair of shoes (and some fresh iTunes on the iPod) to keep a lady happy.

Even a lady who prefers going barefoot in the sand.

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