Monday, September 19, 2011

Sky paintings 4

The sky was beautiful as I was driving back to the city last night. So beautiful I felt compelled to pull over and take a couple of quick photos, including this one which I took with my smartphone.

And these two which I took with my camera.

I think it's very cool that the blue in this one almost looks like water.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A mysterious urge to run

What motivates me to run isn't always clear - even to me.

For example, I didn't intend to run this morning. I'd skipped a scheduled 5k run last evening because I thought I might be coming down with something, then slept restlessly. Although awake a little after 5:00, I stayed in bed, Her Majesty curled by my side, until nearly 7:00.

But, as I sat sipping coffee and gazing out my apartment window at the harbour, I noticed heavy grey clouds scudding across the sky and tree branches heavy with rain being whipped by the wind, and was suddenly overwhelmed by an urge to run. Before I had time to think about it, I'd donned my running gear (including a long-sleeved shirt for the first time in months) and was headed out to run a brisk 6kms around the lake.

I'm not really sure where the urge came from. Perhaps, it was the wind. I've always loved windy days because they remind me of my happy childhood on a beautiful island where the wind blew almost incessantly. The sound of it and feel of it on my skin are energizing and comforting at the same time.

Or perhaps it was as simple as needing to run off the tension of a frantic week and too much thinking. Or a function of my type A determination to run 60+ kilometres this week - whatever else I did.

Wherever it came from, I'm grateful. The fresh air and exercise were exactly what I needed to start a tough day at the end of a demanding week. Here's hoping the urge to run is as strong tomorrow when I'm scheduled to run 34kms!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The gift of forgiveness

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you. - Louis B. Smedes

Forgiveness is the final form of love. - Reinhold Niebuhr

I've been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately - what it means, how it works, and what it accomplishes.

I've written before that I don't think forgiveness is about "forgetting" or "condoning" someone's actions. It's about accepting the things that have happened and showing empathy and compassion for the person you think is responsible for the hurt and betrayal you feel.

I've noticed though that it's often harder to forgive those you care most about - perhaps, because it's so painful and confusing when they do things that hurt you. 

It's also harder to forgive when the person who's hurt you doesn't appear to have any genuine insight into what they've done or feel any real remorse. 

Lastly, I think it's harder to forgive when you're vulnerable or stressed as a result of other things going on in your life.

We all make mistakes. We all need forgiveness from time to time. Goodness knows, I've been the recipient of far more forgiveness than I had any right to expect.  So I believe forgiveness is a gift we should try to offer one another when we can - even when the recipient isn't particularly interested in receiving it.

Hopefully, they'll eventually come to appreciate what's offered. But, if they don't, at least you'll know you did what you could to create a little more peace in the world - a little space for quiet reflection, compassion and reconciliation.

And, who knows, maybe the person you forgive will remember and "pay it forward" - offering forgiveness and compassion to someone who wants and needs it more than they do.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Chi Running, Part 3 - The trick is to pay attention

Over the past few months, I've continued working on my chi running technique. Some elements are coming along nicely - others, not so much.

For example, my "cadence" (footfalls per minute) has increased to something close to the ideal of 180, my core has gotten noticeably stronger, and, at the end of my long runs, my abdominals and hip flexors usually feel more fatigued than my legs. My biceps are stronger and more defined too - presumably as a result of changes in the way I swing my arms.

Still, there are some elements with which I continue to struggle - most notably loosening my hips so I'm able to extend my stride when running downhill or picking up speed, and being present enough to notice when things go awry.

It shouldn't be so hard to stay present. I deliberately keep distractions to a minimum. I don't run with headphones, I nearly always run alone and I do my best not to think about work. However, very often I can't resist "writing" while I run - developing themes for my next blog post or simply composing messages to friends and family.

A case in point: My long slow run last weekend was 33kms along a beautiful coastal road. The sun shone brightly but there was a stiff breeze compliments of Tropical Storm Irene. For the first half of the run, I did a good job of concentrating on maintaining my form while still enjoying the scenery around me. As a result, my body felt balanced and strong. At around the 26km mark, however, I suddenly noticed things had changed. My left shoulder was tight and had shifted forward and up, my neck and upper back were hurting, and my gait was lopsided. When had all that happened and why hadn't I noticed sooner?