Cooking for the birds

We are expecting two big cold fronts to roll through Texas this weekend.  The air is already cold even though the thermometer says it’s 50 degrees outside.  As I’m writing this, my bird feeder sits empty.  You already know this hasn’t been my favorite year, and one of the things that has happened in the midst of the stress is that little things have slipped by me.  Little things like feeding the birds.

We keep a good portion of our property wild.  This invites wildlife into the area, providing natural food and shelter for the creatures who actually own this place.  We also like to put bird feeders out to attract the songbirds and provide hours of entertainment.  I don’t have cable TV, I have bird TV!

With the temperatures falling, it’s time to fill the feeders.  I’ll put out black oil sunflower seed, wild bird seed, and some wonderful gourmet Zick Dough for the birdies.  I think I wrote about Zick Dough once before but it might have been on the food blog.  anyway, here is Julie’s good blog post and her recipe.

Chill then cut into squares.  Freezes well.

Chill then cut into squares. Freezes well.

Julie’s Zick Dough is loose and meant for a platform feeder.   I add a bit extra lard and peanut butter so it will hold it’s shape and fit in the suet feeders.  I cut it in squares and freeze the extra

Come & Get It!

Come & Get It!

If you don’t follow Julie’s blog, I highly recommend it.  She has so much to offer and of course, there’s Chet Baker…

I’m off to fill the feeders.

Happy New Year!

This has been a long, difficult year.

We all have hard times, sometimes hard years.  Pain is part of being human, and it can take a rough patch to help us appreciate the smooth, easy times.  But really, I want to shout, “Enough is enough!”

I was moaning to a friend about how very ready I am to say farewell to 2013.  Farewell to a year filled with illness and death, to normal household maintenance jobs that took waaayyyy too long to complete, and welcome the fresh new beginning of 2014.  The conversation rambled on and my friend said, wryly,  ”Well, you know, midnight comes around every night.  You can start your New Year whenever you feel like it.”

So we had a New Year’s celebration on Saturday night.  We had a special meal, invited special friends, and toasted farewell to the crappy parts of 2013.  We said, “Happy rest of 2013!”  So maybe it was a New Rest-of-the-Year celebration?

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Here’s the interesting part:  I really looked forward to our New Year celebration.  It was fun and a bit goofy.  And the next morning really felt like a new beginning.

I’m curious about that sense of a fresh start.  I think it’s related to acknowledging the hard times and making a conscious decision to turn toward something else.

So often in life, we feel so stuck in our pain.  You can’t always just push the pain down or ignore it, you have to give it some attention, time, and space for healing.
And sometimes, we can choose to lay down that burden instead of slogging it around with us perpetually.
I get The Daily Word delivered to my email every day.  I read The Daily Word as part of my daily devotions and like most things, some days it’s kind of appropriate to me and some days it’s spot on.  Here’s Saturday’s Daily Word for our impromptu New Year’s Eve…
I am free to be my best self.

French novelist and philosopher Albert Camus once wrote, “Freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better.” Each day, I can choose to be better … to learn more, love more, and experience more. I have the freedom to make different choices and seek greater meaning and fulfillment.

My freedom does not depend on outer conditions, for it is within me. It is a blessing I inherit as a child of God. I am free to choose fear or faith; criticism or support; victimhood or mastery.

With gratitude, I accept my inherent freedom, embrace its potential, and use it to create a full and satisfying life. I am free to be my best possible self. I am boundless. In the spirit of God, I grow and evolve each day.

A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you.—Ezekiel 36:26
~The Daily Word for Saturday, October 19, 2013
This isn’t freedom from pain and struggle, it’s freedom of heart and mind and spirit.  That’s what was awakened in me this weekend, the sense of hope and joy that has been my companion for most of my life.
So what happens if the rest of the year isn’t better?  Then maybe that means this mid-October New Year’s gave me a bit of a respite from pain.  Or maybe it means we need to have another New Year’s party.


My brother died this summer.

A photo from the airport after I received my MEd.  Yes, I have big hair!

A photo from the airport after I received my MEd. Yes, I had big hair!

When he I heard he was sick, I wanted to do anything, everything to help.  But really, there wasn’t much to do  The cancer was advanced and aggressive.  Jim’s single chemo treatment threw him into kidney failure and ultimately was the initiating domino that led to his death.

There is so much to say about death and dying.  As priests, we are charged with helping people prepare for death both spiritually and temporally.  I will write in future days about advanced medical directives, wills etc.  But for now let me say that when it’s your big brother, it just plain hurts.

Today is Jim’s birthday.  He would be 67. He was so beautiful when I saw him last, and I told him so.  He was so sick on the inside but he had shaved his hair close in preparation for chemo-hair-loss and his face was thin.  His eyes were so bright.  Even in his suffering, the beautify of his being was evident.

He was far from perfect and like most of us, led a life littered with ups and downs.  It’s funny how those imperfections grow dim in the days (daze) following a death.  When an old boyfriend died and was immediately vaulted to near-sainthood I commented on his new reputation to a clergy friend.  She said, “I think we all become saints when we die.”

When someone dies, what's left are memories

When someone dies, what’s left are memories

I’m sharing Jim’s story because we all experience grief and loss.  It’s part of being human.  Our society is famous for not allowing grief to take it’s own time and space.  Two weeks is the typical time people “allow” for someone to grieve before they start thinking that “they should be over it” or, “it’s time to get on with your life.”  Many of us don’t know what to do with the sad feelings or with the many changes that come with death.

Dr. Theresa Rando is a therapist and educator on grief and death. I’ve had the privilege to train with her and she is top-notch in terms of understanding the grieving process.    Dr. Rando reminded us that we memorialize people on money, in museums, even on stamps but if you memorialize someone in your own life – give their death and loss a real space, society doesn’t seem to get the depth of pain nor honor the feelings you are having.   I highly recommend her books to you, especially,
How To Go On Living When Someone You Love Dies

If you are grieving, I hope you have support for that loss and pain.  If you love someone who is suffering, I hope you can look at them with compassion and support them in their process to living a life that is forever changed by death.

a piñon fire in honor of Jim's life

a piñon fire in honor of Jim’s life

Pain and Suffering

I’ve been reading Frederick Buechner since I came across his work in the 1990′s.  I don’t know why I never thought to look for him on YouTube but an insightful friend shard this video sermon.   I really like the way he articulates dealing with the pain and suffering we all experience.  Plus our beautiful Laity Lodge is mentioned in the video!


Compassion and Care

I’m waiting on some news that will likely be sad and hard to receive.  There is an ache in my heart and a pit in my stomach while I wait for the phone call that will surely come.  While I wait, I offer silent prayers of comfort for the folks involved, and I wonder what the future is going to hold.

When life gets hard and sickness or death or disaster draws close, where is our comfort?

I lift up my eyes to the hills—   from where will my help come?  Psalm 121 NRSV

The next part of that Psalm says that our help comes from God but I aways read that first part as a cry from the heart – the spirit crying out to the hills for help and wondering if there is any help or any comfort at all.

Comfort  comes in a warm embrace, in the presence of another who is willing to really listen, in the quiet companionship of a sweet dog.  Comfort can come to us in scriptures, poetry, music, art, and in silence.

Garden gate Blog on grief and compassion

The heart that is broken can sometimes close itself off to the comfort and compassion that is offered.  Perhaps the pain is to terrible or the stimulation too intense.  It seems that there is a time for quiet, personal reflection on what is, and what is not, and that time for pondering is a precious component to our walk through sadness and grief.

When someone dies, the people closest to them often describe the days and weeks following the death as a time of being “in shock” or “numbness.”  This is, in so many ways, a blessing.  That shocky feeling allows the bereaved to get things done, make funeral arrangements, deal with the onslaught of friends and family and get through the tasks that must be tended to  Only after the funeral, and after the people leave, then the  heart starts to sift through the emotions and and begin to adjust to the new normal – whatever that will be.

So often, when we see a friend hurting or sad, we don’t know what to do or say.  It’s enough to say, “I’m sorry you’re hurting,”  or, “I can see you are sad and I don’t know what to say.”  We say in church that we are the Body of Christ.  One of the ways that is enacted is when we show God’s love and compassion for one another when there is pain and grief.  There are so many stories in the Gospels that show Jesus reaching out to the sick and suffering and we become the Body of Christ when we reach out to one another.  That generous spirit comes from your own heart, but it’s source is in God’s love for us all.  Even for those who don’t claim a faith tradition or believe in God, offering your good thoughts or simple good deeds in support of another who is hurting will be gratefully received.

I’m a longtime follower of the Satellite Sisters and the Chaos Chronicles.   In a podscast last fall, Lian Dolan reflected  on the comfort she had received during her mother’s sickness and death.  It’s often hard to know how to help when someone is hurting and Lian has a good list of things that were helpful to her.   I hope you’ll take a few minutes  to listen to her reflections on the somewhat unexpected death of her mother and a few gleanings from that time of death and loss.  Here’s a link to the webpage and you can click through to listen.

Lian Dolan’s Chaos Chronicles Podcast #605

Be kind and generous to each other, and say “I love you” as often as you can.

On Journaling – with guest blogger Carla Pineda

“An estimated fifteen million blank-book journals sell every year in the United States.  Somebody is writing”       Christina Baldwin

In her book on “storycatching” Christina, one of the pioneers of the journal writing   movement makes this statement about journal writing and blank books.  And, she says, “Journal writing is the ongoing creation of the story of a life, in the littlest and largest sense.  It is a story told to the self, by the self, for the self.”

Carla's Journals

I have been using a journal for lots of years now.  I can’t remember exactly when I first intentionally and consciously took a blank book and began to write out my thoughts, dreams, reflections, frustrations, memories, prayers….even grocery lists appeared sometimes!  I had one of those little diaries with lock and key as a young girl.  I kept a journal in some of my college classes. I kept one when a counselor suggested it as a way to find my way back to myself.  I use one now as a part of my daily spiritual disciplines.   All I know is that my journal and the practice of journaling has been one of the greatest gifts I have been given.  I am blessed to have the journals of one of my grandmothers.  And I get together once a week with a small group of women who all use journals and a writing discipline as one of their spiritual practices.  These things have made for a rich experience with pen and paper.

So, how do you start this practice?  Easy…grab a blank book, one that you have picked out with intention and love, get a pen you like to write with and start.  There is no right or wrong way to do this.  Let it be fun.  Practice makes possible.  You will be surprised at what finds its way to the page.  Look around the room, find something….the dust bunny in the corner, the rumpled bed sheet and write about it on the page.

Stuck?  Just start over with whatever you first wrote down.  Copy a quote from a book that you love and write a response or a question below it.  Write 5 things at the end of each day you have to be thankful for.  Cut out a cartoon you laughed at, glue it in your journal and write a response to it.  Don’t worry about spelling or punctuation.  This is not an English essay.  (That took me awhile to learn since I had a mother who was an English teacher).  There are no grades.  Writing in a journal is a physical exercise; with practice your creative juices flow, you find your voice, and before you know it you have formed a habit of going to your journal on a regular basis.  Make a commitment….10 minutes a day or more if that fits your schedule.  Just do it.

Carla Pineda

Carla Pineda is a journaling/writing workshop and retreat leader with a background in psychology/counseling and is a certified spiritual director.  Her interests lie in working with women and exploring the areas of creativity, spirituality, and wholeness through reading and writing in circles of support, sharing, safety, and fun.  She is the assistant manager/event coordinator and buyer for the independent bookstore, Viva Books in San Antonio.

She can be reached at or at


Holiday Blues

Some people love the holidays, the cooking, the gatherings, the sparkle all add to the festive spirit of Christmas.  Christmas can be so very special.

But for others, the holidays are a real challenge. Many people who live alone are acutely aware of their “aloneness” at this time of year.  Maybe it’s going to a party and finding out everyone else there is a “couple” or staying home because you haven’t been invited to any celebrations, either way it feels bad.

Cat in the sun

I find a new compassion for those who dread the holidays and what they mean, or seem to symbolize. I think the holiday busyness becomes like a  broken icon into the hurting soul – as if the image of one at home alone at Christmastime proves they are unloved and unwanted.   I want to say to them, “No, this isn’t a statement of your value or love-ly ness,” but I know those words fall short when a heart is hurting.  Why is it that we let the world define our value and our happiness?  I wish I could hold back that tide of “shoulds” and “oughts” and make space for the heart that doesn’t feel light and joyful in the holiday season.

So what can you do to make this better right now?  Here are some ideas to help you survive the holidays.  Feel free to add your own ideas, this is only a start.

  1. Choose your music carefully.  Some holiday songs can actually make you feel more alone and sad.  Pick songs that are neutral or skip the holiday tunes all together.
  2. Go to church.  Hear the stories of waiting and longing and the promise of God’s presence in our lives.
  3. Consider random acts of kindness.  Tip more generously than you usually do, give to your favorite charity.  One friend gives  gift cards to strangers enclosed in a card bearing a message of God’s love.
  4. Turn off the TV.  Really.
  5. Read a book,
  6. Reach out to others by inviting them to coffee or lunch, or send a handwritten note in a holiday card.
  7. Go for long walks.
  8. Make a donation to the animal defense league in your town.
  9. Make a list of things that fill you with joy and make a conscious effort to do some things on that list.
  10. Reconsider your fantasy that everyone who is at a party or gathered with their family is happy and joyful.  As a therapist, I can promise you, it ain’t so.
  11. Visit the shut-ins in your neighborhood.  Take them some cookies from the bakery or a little poinsettia, and talk to them.
  12. Volunteer.  While you might not be able to slip into a volunteer slot this week, think about a place or a cause that you can support with your heart and your time.  Maybe it’s holding babies in NICU, or feeding the homeless through one of the various community outreach organizations, become a volunteer for a crisis center, or even through your local church or synagogue.  The United Way is a great place to start looking for organizations that need help.
  13. Be gentle with yourself.  Often we judge ourselves for not feeling a certain way or having certain emotions that we think we are “supposed” to have.  Give yourself a break and allow space for your feelings to come forward.

Facebook withdrawal

I keep thinking, “I’ll just check in on FB for a few minutes.”  And then I remember that I deactivated my account last night.  I’m missing the photos and updates and the many Happy Halloween photos of friends children, it’s a sweet ache.  I think I should have stayed on one more day.

I’m aware that I sound suspiciously like the addict who is ready to change, tomorrow…

I’ve had countless clients talk about grief they have experienced by FB.  Finding out that friends were doing things without inviting them, people posting photos or comments that should have been kept private, and the ever-present dilemma of checking in on an ex-love and finding out that they are happy without you.  There’s plenty of pain to go around.

I received a lot of encouragement both on the FB page, in private messages, and from friends who knew of my plans.  Seems many of us have a love-hate relationship with the Facebook, so I’m encouraged.

I’m letting my mind wander over to FB, and then like a good meditation practice, I’m pulling my consciousness back into the present moment.  I wonder what I will learn from this endeavor.


Breaking up with Facebook

Here’s what I posted on my FB page this afternoon:

Dear friends, I’m leaving fb. I’ve been contemplating this for months and finally decided that I want to give it a try. It’s a personal decision, nothing bad has happened to make me decide to leave. I have grown weary of the ever-shifting privacy issues with fb. And more importantly, I don’t want fb to be the only way I connect with people I care about.

It’s possible that I’ll decide that this was a terrible mistake and come back  but I have to give it a try. I welcome your continued friendship and thank you for the many, many ways you have blessed my life.

I will be devoting more time to the blog: and probably combing the food stuff with the counseling stuff in one place. I hope you’ll take time to check over there now and then.
This has been a long time coming.

On the one hand, I love seeing the photos of people’s kids and pets, and admit to posting “Happy birthday to my cat.” photos annually.  I’ve made connections with relatives, friends from elementary school, college friends, seminary pals, and even friends that I’ve never met in real life.  It’s been a lot of fun.

But there are times when Facebook (FB) feels very disconnecting.  It seems that fewer people post about their present life and instead post clever photos or quotes, or videos that they like.  There’s nothing wrong with that, but it feels much less personal.
Additionally, I have 500+ friends on Facebook but only interact with a handful.  What is that about? Why am I not interacting with all of them?   Can anyone really interact in a meaningful way with 500 people regularly?   And if we are FB friends and yet never talk in person, by email. or even message on FB, why are we connected?  I ask myself these questions and come up with nothing that feels like a solid answer.
I am indeed weary of the constantly shifting privacy issues at Facebook.  I don’t think our privacy ever has been a top priority for Facebook, and while I was gung-ho to jump into social networking, I find myself wanting more control over what happens to my intellectual property.  I have often heard it said that once something is on the internet, it’s there forever.  If that’s true then Pippin’s birthday photos won’t really be deleted when my account is deleted.  That’s fine, Pippin probably should be immortalized on the internet anyway.  But what about the young professionals who’ve had their jobs impacted by their FB postings. Or friends who post about being hung over from a wild night of partying.  If these things don’t go away, when are they going to come back to haunt us?
Maybe I’m just not in the Facebook zone anymore.  Maybe I just don’t “get” Facebook anymore.  But for now, Facebook isn’t going to get any more time or energy from me.  What are your thoughts about using social media and Facebook in particular?  Please leave your comments below.
Cynthia – with apologies for the formatting.  Apparently WP doesn’t want to make new paragraphs in the same places I do.

“So I stopped eating”

This piece gives good insight into the hearts and minds of people with food issues.  If you know someone who could benefit from this piece, please forward it to them.

So I stopped eating written by Emily Wierenga

One of the reasons I love living in Texas

Sometimes ponies show up at the Post Office.

Alamo Kickers on a trail ride

This horse is named Myst.

One of the reasons I love Texas

Grabbing a quick snack before the ride.

Show your shoes

Show your shoes!

Struggling with my plant-strong diet

I’m starting my 8th week eating Plant-Strong.

Weeks 1-7 have been easy-peasy, fun, energizing, and delicious.  This week, not so much.

It started with a  really hectic work week, and then real tiredness on Saturday.  That tiredness translated into two things:  I didn’t want to go to the farmers market or grocery store, and I didn’t feel like cooking.

I made hummus for lunch, without our usual spicy serranos or jalapeños to add to the mix.  Also the cilantro has bolted so what leaves I could harvest were muted in flavor.  Lunch was healthful, but also kind of sucked.   Saturday night I was content to have veggies and a salad but we opted for caprese salad – except we bought the wrong bread and I can’t eat mozzarella.

Sunday brought an unexpected trip to a local “famous hamburger” joint.  I got a portabella sandwich that was perfectly fine, but the fat in the onion rings made my belly hurt.  And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t eyeing the delicious looking cheeseburger that sat perilously close to me.

Not my burger

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m a bit whiney.

Today I’m doing my taxes, which would take away anyone’s appetite.  I made some spicy black-eyed peas (a recipe I love btw), but I’m conscious of the bacon that is not in the pot.  Maybe I’m focusing on what I don’t have rather than what I do have…

Everyone has meals that are “less than stellar.”  I’m blessed to have the time and interest to focus on  eating more healthfully, and creating interesting meals.  It’s not always going to be “tofu and roses.”  Some days I’m going to struggle.

I remember when I started running, my 8 mile run was so daunting.  I couldn’t sleep the week before the scheduled run.  I kept thinking, “There’s no way I can run 8 miles, it’s too far.”  As the weekend run approached, I realized I’d hit a wall, and that I’d constructed that wall with my own limiting beliefs.  And if I made that wall, I could tear it down.

I ran that 8 miles and many more after that.  I’ll get back onto the, “Man this food is fantastic” road tomorrow.  For tonight, I’m going to make good choices so I am nourished, and try to finish my taxes.

Things will look better in the morning.  I’ve learned that I need to plan ahead to have good foods ready to eat for days and nights when I’m less than motivated.  I also need to plan for busy work weeks.

Here’s the terrific Spicy Black-Eyed Pea recipe that is both quick and delicious.

Goin’ Veeeegan?!

I’ll cut to the chase. I’m a vegan.

Really, I’m a shocked as you are. I have, off and on my entire adult life, flirted with vegetarianism. I have vegetarian cookbooks, have “gone vegetarian” once a decade or so, and honestly love my vegetables.

But I also love meat, especially lamb. In fact, when I was a member of Leadership Boerne, I was given an award for being the only “lamb-eating-vegetarian” the group had ever met.

I’ve wrestled for years with how animals are treated in feedlots and after reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I can say with very few exceptions, I know the meat I have purchased has come from humanely treated animals. I’ve wrestled with the ethic of “dominion over all the earth” meaning that the earth and it’s creatures might not be here for us to consume and exploit. And yet, I’ve never been able to become vegetarian – for whatever reason, it hasn’t stuck with me.

Now, if you’re still reading, I haven’t gone all PETA – really, I was admiring some pretty leather handbags just this morning.

However, I have been reading about exercise nutrition for months. In order to get enough calories and the right kind of calories for my long runs, I started investigating protein and carbohydrate recommendations for distance runners. I learned a lot about nutrition and I knew some professional athletes are vegetarian or vegan, I wasn’t quite sure how that worked. What did they eat? How did they fuel their bodies?

And then there’s Lance.

I’ve had a long-standing admiration (some would say crush) for Lance Armstrong. I’ve spent many early mornings glued to the neighbors TV (because I didn’t get Versus) to watch him race and win the Tour de France. I have a Livestrong bracelet somewhere, and I subscribe to the Livestrong health newsletters.

And I follow Lance on twitter.

So in January or February, Lance tweeted about enjoying his Engine 2 breakfast and I thought, “What’s an Engine 2 breakfast?” So I googled Engine 2 because I care about Lance and had no idea what an Engine 2 breakfast might be.

Google came up with The Engine 2 Diet.

Rip Esselstyn and the Engine 2 DietI learned that this handsome fellow, Rip Esselstyn, is a former professional triathlete, former All-American swimmer, an Austin Fireman, and a vegan. That was interesting on its own, but then I learned that in an effort to help a fellow firefighter, whose cholesterol was sky-high, Rip got his fire house to eat “plant strong.” They went vegan baby!

The firemen lost weight and their cholesterol numbers improved dramatically. The firehouse gained local and then national attention for eating differently, and the Engine 2 Diet was born. It’s based on good science, with good research to back it up.

Curious, I bought the Engine 2 Diet book, and read the stories, and made the choice to see what would happen if I stopped eating animal products, chose very low-fat foods, and learned to get my nutrition from vegetables.

The results have been amazing. The biggest change is that I feel energized. I’m not so sleepy in the afternoon, I wake up feeling ready to go. I’ve lost some weight, not the big 30+ pound weight loss you read about in the book but I don’t have 30 pounds to lose, and I already ate a fairly healthful diet before I switched. So the diet wasn’t a total shock to my system. But it was a pretty big change in my dinner plans.

President Clinton is Plant Strong:

I think President Clinton read The China Study, but I haven’t read it yet.

I didn’t go on the 28-day diet, I took on the dietary guidelines. t can’t say that I’m a “strict vegan” I have had a little bit of meat or fish here and there since I switched. I’ve got a freezer full of free-range organic lamb, and I’m going to help consume that delicious lamb. I still drink 1/2 & 1/2 in my coffee, but I mostly eat low-fat, delicious, plant-strong foods.

It’s funny, I’ve felt a little self-conscious about it all. I haven’t wanted to tell people that I’m eating plant-strong, or (gasp) vegan. Perhaps they’ll think I’ve gone off the deep end, or that I’m now really difficult to feed, or suddenly no fun to out to eat with, or somehow super fussy. Really, I just want to eat my veggies and be healthier. I didn’t take before and after cholesterol numbers, but I’m interested in getting my routine blood work next month, because I know my fat intake has shifted dramatically, and while my cholesterol was good before, maybe now it’s really good.

It’s also interesting to me that I’m a vegan because of the health benefits of a plant-based diet, and not because of an ethical disagreement with eating animals. I think I’ve come a long way.

Here’s a link to the Engine 2 Mighty Muffins. I’ve made these twice and the second time I doubled the walnuts and craisins (I haven’t tried using raisins). The muffins are filling and healthful and I think they are delicious with a cup of coffee before I start my day or head to the gym.

Stop and go

I’ve written and posted a lot about my experience as a runner.  You might have noticed a significant lack of, “Yippee, I finished my marathon” posts.  In late January and early February, as I started what I consider my “really long runs” I started having pain.

I couldn’t sleep well because joints and muscles were complaining at night.  I felt pretty good during the day but when my body and mind had time to rest, the complaints came loud and clear.  Additionally, my run times were getting significantly worse.  I’ve never worried about being a slow runner, or even a slow walk/runner, but I was losing time in a big way.  On my 18 mile run, some of my miles were a full 5 minutes slower than regular miles.  It was grim.

My instincts told me I needed to stop trying to get to the marathon and listen to my body.  I checked with a friend who coaches college runners, and he agreed.  He told me that my base mileage wasn’t sufficient to support the marathon training.

Here’s what that means:

  • I was running 3 mid-week runs averaging about 10 miles total
  • I need to be running 3 mid-week runs that average around 20 miles total before I add on the marathon long runs.

I was under-prepared and my body knew it.

It was a sad, rainy Sunday afternoon when I sat down at my computer and cancelled my registration for the New Orleans Marathon.

I cried a lot.

But I also had the sense that I’d done the right thing, and that by listening to my body, I had avoided real injury.

Sometimes, it’s really difficult to do the right thing.  I had to put aside what I wanted to be true and just look at what was really true.  I had good feedback from my body.  It took weeks for all the aches to stop, but I am now pain-free.

My new challenge is now to start running again.  That seems ironic to me.  I struggled to let myself not run 22 miles, now I’m struggling to get out the door to do 2 easy miles.  Maybe I’m afraid they won’t be “easy” or perhaps I’m afraid I can’t really run 2 miles.  I don’t fully understand it.

Let's go!

But sometime this weekend, I’m going to lace up my shoes, turn up the volume on my iPod and get a road-level view of the wildflowers.  Since my mileage goal is low – 2 miles with a rest break in between mile 1 & 2, it’s not going to take me long to do the run.  In fact, I’m certain that writing and publishing this post will take longer than that run.  But it’ll be a big run in terms of conquering fear, and I’m looking forward to a new beginning.

Christmas card #fail

I didn’t send Christmas cards this year.

For a zillion good reasons, the annual card sending did not happen.  We typically take a goofy family photo that includes  the four pretty-good Labrador Retrievers.  It’s an event just getting the dogs all sitting, all facing the photographer, and then we cross our fingers and toes in the hopes that at least one photo will have all eyes open and happy smiles on our faces and muzzles.

By Thanksgiving, I knew the annual photo wasn’t going to happen.  But I had hopes that I’d send Christmas cards to friends just to say, “Hi,” and to let friends and family them know we are thinking of them.

That didn’t happen either.

We received fewer cards this year, probably because we didn’t send any.  I have been wondering if the annual sending the Christmas card has given way to the e-card.  Or perhaps the well-intentioned “Merry Christmas” Facebook status update is what people “do” now.

I love getting Christmas cards, New Year’s cards, Happy Holiday cards, Solstice cards, Epiphany cards – you name it- I love them all.  I don’t want to lose touch with friends, and I’m promising myself that I will send cards this year.

Today is January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany and the end of Christmas season in the church calendar.  Whatever your faith, I wish you blessings of joy, peace, and love for this new year.


Inside my head…

I signed up to run a marathon in New Orleans. This is a sampling of my daily mental preparation.

“There’s no way I can run a marathon.”

“I can do it, I can run a marathon.”

“26.2 miles – you have to be joking.”

“I think I can do it.”

“It’s going to be hard and maybe scary.”

“I can do it.”

“Are you crazy?”

“Just a little further every run and I’ll have it.”

“No way.”


Some days it ends with “No way,” others, “Way.”  




This is Pippin, relaxing in my office.

He is confident, playful, and open to the joys that the world has to offer

I want to cultivate more of that open heart and open hand – or open paws – engagement with life.

Grant us a peaceful night and a perfect end.

Thank you, Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs death marked on the Apple website

May you rest in peace.

Reading Week

Remember Reading Week?  A week for reading, usually just before final exams, intended to help students be more prepared for the tests that were just around.  As a student, I loved having reading week to cram in all the reading that didn’t happen during the semester.  But I’ve always thought schools got reading week wrong.  Why not devote a week to reading for pleasure?  A week to pick up books you’ve been meaning to get to; a week to think, and read, and be.

readings on shame

A few years ago, I started giving myself a Reading Week – oh sometimes it’s a Reading Weekend, and sometimes it’s a set number of mornings with nothing on my to-do list but “read.”  This year, I have given myself 7 days.  I cancelled client sessions and made arrangements to get away and read.  My master plan includes early morning runs too but so far, those haven’t materialized.  Maybe tomorrow.

I have been reading a lot of novels recently, so I devoted this week to reading works on shame and sexual shame.  Shame is a normal part of being human but sometimes shame overcomes a person and sets in motion a wide variety of very damaging defense mechanism.  One author calls in “soul murder” – the self is so shamed, it gets so small that it seems to cease to be.  The shamed self is replaced with a mask, or false self and mask is all that the world sees.  Or rather, that hask is all the shamed person hopes the world will see.  It’s such a  powerful subject…

reading books on shame

Here’s my reading list for this week, in case you’re interested:

  • Healing the Shame that Binds You by John Bradshaw
  • Letting Go of Shame:  Understanding How Shame Affects Your Life by Ronald Potter-Efron
  • An American Childhood by Annie Dillard
  • Telling Secrets by Frederick Buechner
  • The Wounded Heart:  Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse by Dan Alender
  • The Fall of the House of Zeus:  The Rise and Ruin of America’s most Powerful Trial Lawyer by Curtis Wilke
  • The Intimacy Factor:  The Ground Rules for Overcoming the Obstacles to Truth, Respect, and Lasting Love by Pia Melody
No, I won’t get all of them read this week and yes, some are novels but shame is woven throughout the list.  I’m excited and thankful to have time to read, think, and process.