Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Unedited Running Part 1 & 2

I thought it might be interesting to write twice after my run today. Part one being just all the raw random thoughts I could remember immediately after my run. No fluff. No analyzing. Just my unedited thoughts since my running and my writing seem so intermingled. Then part 2. What became of those raw thoughts after my brain processed them. I guess I'm curious to put my finger on why I am so drawn to running. Someone recently asked me why I would want to physically run such long distances & do this to myself. I hesitated at first. I didn't like that I did. 

So I didn't want to go out to run today. It's sunny but cold. 

As usual I knew it would feel great afterward but I procrastinated going anyway.

Welcome to my mind :)

Part 1
Where are mom's gloves? I always wear them. I can't go without them. 
Have you seen them?
Found them.
Thanks mom.
I slide my hands in the warmth of her gloves. Instant comfort. I am once again grateful for the items I chose that she left behind after her death. I did something right.

Sidewalk or road?
Road. It's too snowy. Too shiny. You'll break your neck.
Fractured rib. Why did you do that anyway??
This isn't productive.
There's my shadow. I look bulky. It's just me. Is that really me? Alone running. Who would have ever thought I could do this? Not me. Look at me. I'm running. Remember the moment you told the very first person last year your dream of finishing a marathon? It all started there. In so many ways.
I wonder if people do trails in the winter? I'm going to do trails this spring. 

Music blasting. "Isn't it ironic, don't you think? A little too ironic. Yea I really do think. It's like raa-aaa-aiin. On your wedding day. It's a free ride... when you've already paid."

Oh the irony.
Irony is where I was last year compared to this year.

Stay away from those thoughts.
Count. You can't think & count at the same time.

It's sunny. The snow is glistening. God it's so beautiful. Why did I put this run off, anyway? I love this. Tell yourself how much you love this.
I love..
Ahh. Get in the bubble.
But my breathing hasn't regulated yet and I'm almost at one mile. Why? It's always regular by now.
I think I only ran twice last week. Why did I do that? What's wrong with me? I've got to be consistent this winter. I want to maintain a base. 

Just run & stop it.
Enter Andy, a little girl in the, I Run for Michael group. She is in the hospital with a major heart abnormality posting how she can't wait to get out of the hospital so she can give the Ronald McDonald House gifts. 

Suck it up buttercup. All you have to do is run. Think of her & all the kids who can't walk much less run. I wonder when I will get my match. I'm number 1340 now.

The only thing between me and finishing this thing is my determination.
Finish this. 
Mile 2. Done. 

Look it's the sunrise spot from my marathon training last summer. Good memories. Instant comfort. 
18 miles baby

Remind me.
Count again.
Change the music.
Change your thoughts. Close the door.
It's that simple.
Don't Corkins-complicate.
It's as simple or as complicated as you make it.

Mile 3. Not as many random thoughts. 
My legs are heavy. My heart is heavy.
Enter running partner and her hubby. Land and push off strong. 
Enter good advice. Smile.
This is much better.
It's getting closer to the end.
I'm so glad I did this.
The turkey trot is Thursday.

Pace picks up.
Heart pounding like the bass of the most perfect beat. The rhythmic thumping absolutely on cue as the end surge for a strong finish comes like clockwork.
Steady breath
Steady beat

I feel alive.
Strong finish.
Inspired Me
Grateful Me.
And all thoughts are gone.
Pounding heart in sync with my feet.
Sunshine on my face
Brisk air filling my lungs.


Part 2

Same brain. About 7 hours later.

"Don't Corkins-complicate everything," said my best friend from childhood when we were in high school.

The phrase that has stuck with me ever since I first heard it some 25 years ago.

What is Corkins-complicate, you ask?

Corkins was my maiden name. And it's not really a term you'll find in Webster's. Just the same I know the meaning only too well. Corkins-complicate encompassed the unique ability I had acquired from my mom to turn the simple into the complex. Something I despised about both of us.

It was the who, what, where, when and why we asked so many times and in so many different ways that it often sucked the joy & sponteineity out of almost any moment.

Self sabotaging? Yip.
Probably a means to deal with anxiety? Yip.
Something I needed to change? Absolutely.

I disliked my mom doing it almost as much as I disliked admitting & recognizing myself doing it.

But you can't change what you don't acknowledge, right?

In thinking about my run today I can instantly recognize the familiar struggle. It's the same struggle I encountered this morning while doing my 21 day meditation. 

My mind wandered while I tried to meditate this morning. Today's meditation mantra was, "grateful me." The centering thought was, "gratitude is my prayer. So hum", which translates to "I am."

Running is my meditation.

My breath is my centering thought when I run. The beating of my heart is my mantra. 

Thump. I am.
Thump. I am.
Thump. I am.

The run brings me to the "so hum" or the "I am" 

It simplifies everything. 

I am. 

I am alive. I am strong. I am healthy. I am grateful. 

In re-reading part one & my complicating thoughts early on in my run I clearly see my ego. Deepak Chopra defines the ego in the following way.

"The ego is our self image, not our true self. It is characterized by labels, masks, images & judgements. The true self is the field of possibilities, creativity, intentions, & power. We can go beyond the ego through self awareness, awareness of our thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and speech. Thus we begin to slowly move beyond the ego to the true self."

Why do I do this to myself?

Running long distances silences my ego so I can finally experience my true self.

It's simple. I like it. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The John Effect

I have wanted to write about my friend, John, for a long time. I learned a ton from him and the ripples from our friendship still pop up in my life today. I call it the John Effect.

Our friendship began after a phone call from one of his family members years ago. John's mother had been his life long caregiver in NYC. When she died, one of his siblings moved him to our small town to care for him. He set him up in an apartment but he was in need of supports to live independently. John had undiagnosed mental health issues. It was suspected he may have had a combination of either autism, epilepsy or schizophrenia. As a child he had received some type of electroshock treatments that had only disabled him further. I received a call from his sibling because he had heard a group I was affiliated with provided volunteers to help folks like John.

I'd like to say I immediately volunteered to help. I didn't.

I did however feel bad for him and agree to take him out once a week until I found someone to do it permanently. That day never came.

John was a gentle giant. I will never forget the first time I pulled up to pick him up on our first weekly outing. He was waiting for me in front of his apartment building. He was a bit disheveled but well shaven and handsome as could be in a full suit with a baseball cap! He was about 6'3 and I'm guessing 270 lbs. He had a gray buzz cut and big gray bushy eyebrows. I'd be lying to say I wasn't a little intimidated at first.

"Hi John" I said as he squeezed in the front seat.

Eyes straight ahead, no eye contact he replied simply. "Hello"

"Where to today?" I asked.

"Let's go to Wegmans for a submarine sandwich and I need some groceries and cigarettes", he replied.

He reminded me of my dad, a man of few words. I missed my dad.

And so began our weekly tradition of lunch, groceries and cigarettes. We shared a ham and capicola sub on the weeks we didn't go to the community kitchen for a free lunch. I will never forget one of our community kitchen trips.

We walked in as usual and stood in the line for our turn to get our lunches. I always went first and John stood behind me. I would sit and eat with him and ask him every question imaginable to try to get him talking. He was always polite and would answer but he never asked me a single question about my life. No worries. I'm a distance runner and a rambler. I don't give up easily :)

So this particular day they are serving the crowd favorite, macaroni and cheese. It's good. It's really good. And we are in line. And then out of the corner of my eye I see the news filming and interviewing people eating. Oh. My God. What will people think if they see me on the news eating here?

"One scoop or two of the famous mac and cheese, my dear?" my favorite worker asks.

"Oh none today. I'm not hungry."

"You aren't eating?" John asks.

"Here have some of mine."

"No thanks John, I'm not hungry today. My stomach is off."

And I sat there silent with my head down hoping the camera was missing my face. I don't know if the camera would have been the worst thing in front of my face at that moment. I would have also avoided a mirror equally as much. I was ashamed of myself for being so shallow. I knew better than this. And I was mad at myself as I sat there embarrassed while John ate alone across from me.

Not my finest moment.

John and I stayed friends for a really long time. Sometimes we went to visit his dad who was from Italy. He was 100 years old living in a nearby nursing home. He was delightful. I'm so glad I was able to meet him.

I loved listening to John talk about his time in college. I always asked about the courses he had taken and he always looked incredibly proud to list Calculus, Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and several others. The conversation always went the exact same way when I asked about his time in college.

"Well Darcey. First you go to elementary school. Then you go to high school. And then if you are lucky you get to go to college. And that's how that works."

He always followed up his explanations to me with, "....and that's how that works."

I also remember the day I was reaching and reaching to find common ground between us. I talked and I talked and I talked some more! This is probably hard to believe, I know ;) Then I hit television! And some how we realized we both watched Days of Our Lives! I hadn't watched it in years but really not much changes. Stefano dies and comes back. Bo and Hope separate and reunite and so forth :) So from then on he updated me every week!

I remember toward the end of our time together I had taken him grocery shopping and he wanted to go right home. He was clearly not feeling well and we cut our time short. After he got out of the car I noticed that he'd had an accident in the seat. Again, I wish I could say this went down differently but that would be a lie.

I was really unhappy and I considered not seeing him anymore. I'm not sure what brought me back the next week. I bi*ched and moaned all week over whether or not to quit. 

"No one would blame me for not doing it, right? I mean I can't have that happening in my car, right?"

Unanimous replies. 100% agreement from almost everyone I asked.

But whether it was guilt or my stubbornness or some force of nature I went back the next week. And I am so glad that I did.

One of our last lunches together we were eating together and I was sitting across from him. He put the sandwich down and looked at me and asked me, "How are you Darcey? How are your children?"

It was the first time he had ever engaged with me like that and asked me a question about my life. It was an awesome moment.

He got sick shortly after that. It turned out the accident in my car was indicative of a bigger bowel problem and he died a very short time later.

I am so grateful to have met John. I received so much more from him than I ever gave.

He taught me kindness

He taught me how to look outside of my own self in spite of his own struggle doing so.

He taught me the value in doing something for someone without expecting something in return.

He taught me the old saying is true, what people think of you is none of your business as I helped him use his Benefit card for his groceries amid looks of annoyance from the cashiers or the lady behind us.

He taught me not to assume. Never to judge people based on how they look. You never know what their circumstances are.

And lastly, every single time I volunteer at the community kitchen where I live now, I make a plate and I go out in the dining room and I pick a group to eat with and talk with. I have connected with people I never would have otherwise thanks to John and the lesson I learned not eating with him that day. In a way he lives on in every person I connect with when I'm there. It is a ripple effect and it is all thanks to his life and knowing him.

I eat every single time now. Every single time.

And that is the John effect.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I am my deepest desire and I Run for Michael

Photo credit to Aubray Scott
I started Deepak Chopra's Meditation Series last night, Desire and Destiny. The first meditation was "Who am I? I am my deepest desire" And today I have this to share....

Life is a giant puzzle. Everything fits if you just let go and let it. I have always worried endlessly about what my life was "supposed to" look like. But guess what? I've finally realized I don't need to know. There really isn't a "supposed to" either. My only job while on this earth is to find my unique talents, passions and desires, stay open and follow them.

  • Follow them to the ends of the earth. 
  • Follow them without giving up. 
  • Follow them without judgement.
  • Follow them without worrying what others may think.
  • Follow them without limiting myself to whether they "fit" who I think I am or the life I had envisioned for myself. Or the life others envision for me.

And that, in a nutshell, is faith.

I believe that for every unique passion we have there is a way to use it to help people and make a difference in the world. This is true whether you are a math whiz, you love to cook or if you love running like me.

I was drawn to running a couple years ago. I pursued it solely for myself. It started as a way to get healthy and fit. I told myself I wanted to be in the best shape of my life by the time I turned 40! Yea, I missed that goal :) But I kept going and I achieved it later on in my 40th year!

I pursued something I desired. I stuck with it. And the universe, or God, or whatever you want to call it, did it's thing. And through my pursuit of a simple desire I ended up gaining a strength and confidence I never had before. Running also brought me to another passion I had buried, writing. Running has carried me through some very difficult times, heart break, and grief. Running has taught me some invaluable lessons. 

I never signed up for running as a way to achieve any of these things. I mean I wasn't all, Hey if I go out running I will eventually start writing a blog or a book. Hey maybe I will gain a new confidence and my life will finally start to make sense. Nope. Not how it happened.
And now my running can make a difference in someone else's life.

I Run for Michael is a non profit group one of my friend's turned me on to. It is a Facebook page and website that matches runners up with children and adults with special needs that are unable to run.

tim and michael

“You can run for me anytime!”  A simple phrase that sparked a movement.

We all have friends who say “run some for me” because they don’t WANT to run… what about those who physically CAN’T run?  After an inspiration from a close friend who was battling bilateral hip dysplasia – Founder Tim Boyle found a whole new inspiration to run.

The mental and emotional encouragement for both runner and honorary runner is proving to be a whole new level of motivation and awareness. Runners are able to find a whole new sense of purpose in their running while sharing who they are running for and bringing awareness to diseases and disabilities of all types.

This opportunity came at the perfect time for me. I have been in need of some motivation to run through this winter. I Run for Michael will be that motivation. I cannot wait to meet my match!

So how does it work? You are matched with a kiddo that is unable to run and you post messages and photos on the facebook page to the child and his parents, tagging them in the message. 

Running a race this weekend? Write your match child's name on your arm and post a picture of yourself crossing the finish line "with" him or her! The joy you will bring and gain from doing special things like this is immeasurable.

I am so grateful for the road that has led me here. I humbly hope that if you are reading this, I have inspired or encouraged you in some small way to trust yourself and pursue that whispering nagging passion or desire you have deep inside. 

"I am my deepest desire"

* Thank you to the following puzzle pieces that landed me here...
MIM running leader that posted the Meditation series
Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra for holding the series
Tim Boyle, founder of, I Run for Michael,
My friend that I recently reconnected with for seeing, "I Run for Michael" and thinking of me


Monday, November 11, 2013

Running to a new place

Favorite street. Dusk. Start of tonight's run
"When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves" Viktor Frankl

This quote really resonated with me the second I read it. I had lots of thoughts immediately bumbling around in my brain, one situation especially. 

So true to how my brain works, I decided to head out to run to try to put the pieces together. Running & writing really give me this bizarro clarity. I rarely consciously think about anything specific when I run. I mean I don't head out the door thinking, hey I think today I will come up with a solution for world peace on my run

But random thoughts come with each mile. And writing afterward organizes it all in somewhat of a coherent way :)

First I decided to give in to my inner research nerd & research this Viktor Frankl.

Here's what I learned.

Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, and Holocaust survivor. He was the founder of logotherapy. He was an author, chronicalling his experiences as a concentration camp inmate. His experiences led him to discover the importance of finding meaning in all forms of existence, even the most sordid ones, and thus, a reason to continue living. His theories are based on the belief that people are inherently good. 

I like this guy.

Here is some of what he holds true 
  • Life has meaning under all circumstances, even the most miserable ones.
  • Our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life.
  • We have freedom to find meaning in what we do, and what we experience, or at least in the stand we take when faced with a situation of unchangeable suffering.

I wrestle with why I like to share my life on a blog. I know there are some people that think I'm crazy. News flash... I kinda am. But all the best people are ;)

I do it to find meaning in my life, even in the hard parts. Actually especially in the hard parts.

A late 10 mile long run tonight helped me realize I have veered off my path. The candle business has been really busy. It's full swing candle season October- December. I haven't made time to write. Runs are squeezed in later & later each day. I haven't been making time for me. My brain has been full of question marks and to-do lists. 

I forced myself out to run tonight. Weird how I knew I'd feel better if I did, yet I still procrastinated. I knew my path would be simple, straight out 6.5 miles and straight back 6.5 miles. I wanted 13.1 miles back, the marathon halfway mileage point.

I didn't get it.

I started slow & got in my bubble. It felt great. My breathing was regular. My brain slowed down with every step forward. It was a straight route so there wasn't any thinking required on where to turn or what route to go. I felt comforted in the simplicity. I could "turn off" for the next 2 hours.

And then it got windy. And really dark. Thoughts crept in like how I used to hate the dark as a little girl. I was terrified of it. And here I was running out in the country in pitch black darkness now.

Then it started raining. It wasn't a downpour but enough to give a good chill to your sweating body when the 35 degree wind blew.

It suddenly became a hard run. Why am I doing this? This is ridiculous. People think you're nuts. You will never be able to sustain this through the winter.

I kept running.

There is a comfort in just putting one foot in front of another and knowing you are taking yourself to a different place. 

Sometimes you just keep going. And the stuck girl from 2 hours ago procrastinating the run becomes the girl that has put 10 miles between that girl and the girl she is now.

We all have the potential and power to change ourselves even when it's scary and dark and cold and rainy.

"When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves." Amen Mr. Frankl.

And it really was that simple tonight.