My First Tri, Will Tri Again!


Recording life in EXACTLY six words, this top post is updated with my daily musing. You can read more about this project as well as all my entries since September 2009 on my 6-word blog:  The Pam-oirs

Having made it through 3 Half-Marathons — and finally “smashed” my own 2.5 hour goal at this year’s 3M — I wanted to take on a new challenge: a triathlon. In 2007, I ran in the Danskin Triathlon as part of a relay team, leaving the swimming and cycling to others.  The supportive atmosphere of that experience and the inspiration I felt watching women of all ages, shapes and fitness levels, planted a seed that someday I needed to do this myself … the whole thing. THIS would be the year. I joined Tri Zones Training, an Austin-based group that offers coaching and camaraderie, and embarked on a new journey. On May 8, 2011, I participated in the Skeese Greets Women’s Tri, a triathlon with shorter distances (especially in the swim). What follows is my race report …

My First Tri: Will Tri Again

I believe in starting with the positives so let’s just begin by saying that I looked cute in my Zoot shorts & matching trishirt!* And oh yeah, I’m also very creative & kinda smart with occasional moments of brilliance. It’s true, just ask me. Now about my athleticism …

O Say, Can You See …

The morning started with a short yoga practice for all the participants before the first air horn blew. Were that I truly am as smart as I THINK, I would have rolled up my beach towel and gone home knowing MY best event had just taken place with the yoga. I then would have paused for some fuel, before I transitioned straight to the mall. But no, my judgment was as murky as the open water I was about to wade into.

Diving In …

Swimming has proven challenging for me, way more so than I expected, producing off the charts anxiety. This tri only required a 300 meter swim with promises that I could swim to the side and stand up if all else failed so I felt encouraged. The photo at the right, taken by Tom Marek Photography captured this apprehensive, but optimistic first time “triathlete.”

I will spare you all the gory details of the water conditions, including what I sank into knee-deep when I actually attempted TO stand up “at the side”.  Let’s just say my swim was somewhat reminiscent of  a scene from Jaws but without the shark — panicked arms flailing about but thankfully no blood. Can we say, I SERIOUSLY SUCKED!? Despite the promise that I’d settle down after a few minutes by those who were more experienced, I never settled & spent almost the whole time on my back. Couldn’t even get my face in the water without FREAKING. (Aside: Can someone please explain why we needed goggles at the Texas Ski Ranch? Could anyone see anything BUT muddy water? I mean, not that I would have known if you COULD, but seriously?)

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Supposedly, I was in the water for “only” 15 minutes; it felt like FOREVER. See the TWO lifeguards swimming alongside that panicked woman holding her breath?  That would be me.  (For the record, they never had to actually help me, though they DID ask.)  I didn’t struggle to breathe, and I wasn’t tired, I was just flippin’ freaked out. Had my heart rate monitor been strapped to my heaving chest, my beats per minute most certainly would have short-circuited the Garmin.

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Capturing The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of Defeat

I emerged from the water dirty & deflated. (Visualize: Loch Ness Monster finally nabbed after all these years! See above.) Didn’t feel the surge of adrenaline that I’d imagined, only intense frustration at my inability to simply stick my dang head IN the water mixed with a tinge of annoyance that my husband thought THIS would be an ideal opportunity for a race candid. No endorphin high for me … just a LOT of cortisol pumping through this stressed-out 49 year-old. Decided to take my time & regroup during T1 (Triathlon lingo for Transition #1 … CHECK … I got it down!)

Dancing on the Pedals a la Lance!

Out of the corral after a leisurely 3 1/2 minutes & I felt strong the whole ride, rode hard, passed more than a few people. By far my best (and most enjoyable) event. My cadence was high, my legs were strong, my form was impressive! Right up until … the dismount — one foot clipped out, one did not & I went down hard on my side. Right in front of God, the photographer, and everyone. Despite a post race bruise, the biggest casualty was my pride. Had been feeling pretty cocky about my cycling skills up to that point. What is it they say? “Pride Cometh Before the FALL” … Literally!

Shaking it off, I took my time (again) in T2, then had some trouble figuring out — and I’m not making this part up — where to exit the transition area to START the run — DUH — but I made my way out of the maze of bike racks & started slogging towards the finish line, motivated by the promise of free beer. (Gu’s for Girls!) Other than the first 5 minutes — known in the triathlon world as “the brick” — my legs felt pretty good. The finish line was in sight. (Are you impressed yet with my technical grasp of this sport?)

I Feel A Party Comin’ On!

At the finish line, we were met by enthusiastic race volunteers who handed us a refreshing cold wet towel and commemorative race necklace. The post race celebration was fun & gratifying — fish tacos & beer & lots of camaraderie with the TriZones group. The T-Zone tent offered red carnations for all the moms & we took group photo of our large contingency. It was nice to be embraced by this pack of strong, positive women after my very solitary and humbling first endeavor.

(I have to say, I LOVE the race necklace … much better than a medal & certainly a tad bit less flashy at work on Monday morning. And I’ll admit it … I didn’t scrub off the telltale race signs of permanent marker on my leg & okay, maybe I practiced the nonchalant, “over the shoulder” glance that I’d be sure to give when coworkers queried, “What’s that on your calf?”

The Depths of the Night

Later in the evening, I began to seriously doubt if I’ll be ready for the Danskin next month. As my husband & I talked, tears rolled down my face while recounting my panicked, open-water attempt. He tried to encourage me sharing his own struggles with the open water swim, but to no avail. Finally he sighed, “If you hate this so much, Pam, I have to ask … why are you doing it?” I could only mumble, “Because I have to, I have to do this. For me.” Later I thought that maybe my answer lies in the title of this blog. Maybe it’s all about discovering “the potential within”.

The 800 meter swim looms large. Everyone keeps saying, “You’ll be ready,” though I have come to accept I may not. I may need more time to get ready. If I do, I do, but until then, I’m gonna keep putting one arm in front of the other, trying to remember to breathe.

“Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use. ~Earl Nightingale

My congrats — and GRATITUDE — to those of you who shared the day with me! It mattered!

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* My husband has since informed me that I MUST get the TriZones team shirt … “If you’re on a team, Pam, you need to don the team gear! Get with it!” Next stop, the online order page.

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My Photo Montage Recap of the Day

With gratitude to Tom Marek Photography for several of the photos included in the slideshow, and especially my husband Brian who was there to capture “All Me, All the Time”!

“When we work from a place I believe that says, “I’m enough,” then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.” ~ Brene Brown

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The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— Jelaluddin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks

Dealing with Depression: Self-Help and Coping Tips.

Having an action plan is always a good route. The problem with depression however is that you just cant seem to do the very things that you know will help.

“God Smiles When You Be You!” ~ Rick Warren

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“What Do You Have that is in your Hand?”

Pastor Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven® Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?, reflects on his own crisis of purpose in the wake of his book’s wild success. He explains his belief that God’s intention is for each of us to use our talents and influence to do good.  ~ from TED.com

A Twitter friend (also known as a “Tweep”) sent me a great link to a post featuring pictures of cats in various yoga poses, one of which is featured below. Be sure to click on the link to see all of the hilarious photos.  Thanks to Danny Ashton for sharing this with me, as well as the folks at SimplySweat for the original post.

10 Yoga Postures Performed By Cats

Most of Yoga actually imitates what animals do easily and many yoga positions will require you to imitate some sort of animal. Old Yoga gurus believed that by taking the posture of a certain animal; we can embody the cosmic energy and thus achieve a stability of mind and body.

Cat doing Cobra (a.k.a. Bhujangasana)

Have you ever had those times when you just seem to be bombarded by the same issue over & over again? It’s the same problem, it just keeps coming at you from different angles? Such has been the case in my life recently with the whole concept of forgiveness. Despite the direction I turn, it keeps finding me in the cross-hairs pinned down by a relentless barrage of painful episodes. The faces of the messengers are different, but their message is the same … I need to “let go” of the past. Exactly what that looks like & how to do it, I don’t know but I better get it figured out.

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“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” Paul Boese

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*Originally posted March 3, 2010

Heart of the Matter

I got the call today, I didn’t wanna hear
But I knew that it would come
An old true friend of ours was talkin’ on the phone
She said you found someone
And I thought of all the bad luck,
And the struggles we went through
And how I lost me and you lost you
What are these voices outside love’s open door
Make us throw off our contentment
And beg for something more?

I’m learning to live without you now
But I miss you sometimes
The more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I knew, I’m learning again
I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore

These times are so uncertain
There’s a yearning undefined
People filled with rage
We all need a little tenderness
How can love survive in such a graceless age
The trust and self-assurance that can lead to happiness
They’re the very things we kill, I guess
Pride and competition cannot fill these empty arms
And the work I put between us,
You know it doesn’t keep me warm

I’m learning to live without you now
But I miss you, Baby
The more I know, the less I understand
All the things I thought I figured out, I have to learn again
I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But everything changes
And my friends seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore

There are people in your life who’ve come and gone
They let you down and hurt your pride
Better put it all behind you; life goes on
You keep carryin’ that anger, it’ll eat you inside

I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the Heart of the Matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it’s about forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore
I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the Heart of the Matter
Because the flesh will get weak
And the ashes will scatter
So I’m thinkin’ about forgiveness
Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore

Who Gets the Pass?

Why is it that some of us walk through our lives, expecting that others should know and understand that we are wounded and give us a pass on our insecurities, while at the very same time we’ll make no allowance for the possibility that other people are equally (and perhaps even more) wounded, hurt & insecure too?

Value Every Minute

To realize the value of one year: Ask a student who has failed a final exam.

To realize the value of one month: Ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.

To realize the value of one week: Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realize the value of one hour: Ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.

To realize the value of one minute: Ask the person who has missed the train, bus or plane.

To realize the value of one second: Ask a person who has survived an accident.

To realize the value of one millisecond: Ask the person who has won a silver medal in the Olympics.

Time waits for no one.

Treasure every moment you have. You will treasure it even more when you can share it with someone special.

~Author Unknown

I heard Dr. Mehmet Oz the other day suggest three easy changes to your morning routine that can make a big difference in your day.

  1. Start each day with stretching. Dr. Oz says he begins his morning with 7 minutes of yoga.
  2. Eat breakfast.
  3. Get to work, appointments, classes, etc., 5 minutes early.

The first two I don’t have a problem accomplishing. But the third point? Well, it addresses time management, one of my great life challenges and no coincidence 🙂 one of new year resolutions.

It is very difficult for me to get a handle on time. I suffer from two critical flaws — I over schedule my day and I underestimate the time it takes to do any given task. If it takes 15 minutes with no traffic to get to the doctor’s office and I have an appointment at 2:00, I will leave at 1:45. I allow for no contingencies. And heaven forbid, I actually get somewhere EARLY.

Dr. Oz says that being late will stress you out and cause high blood pressure. It also shows  — and this is important for me to remember — disrespect to those that are waiting for you. When you keep someone waiting you are in essence saying, “My time is more important than yours.” He pointed out that a late arrival  puts you at a deficit when you come into a meeting. You may have missed information and the other person has an advantage.

I took a yoga teacher training with the esteemed Judith Lasater who is a stickler about time. As those of you who have taught  workshops and classes  know (yoga or otherwise), it can be difficult to get a large group of people assembled and quieted. Not for Judith. She rings the bell and starts (with a moment of silence) whether people are settled in or not. You learn quickly not to be late, and if you are, she’s starting anyway. She also is just as conscientious about ending on time. Judith says, “We start class on time to honor the practice. We end class on time to honor our students.  Be it yoga class, PTA meetings, business appointments or lunch dates with friends, Judith’s words apply.

One more thought from one of my favorite authors which deserves a separate post in and of itself …

Until you value yourself, you will not value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it. ~M. Scott Peck

THAT takes some digesting!

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In addition to the 3 tips listed above, Dr. Oz spells out several other changes that can positively impact your daily life including: avoid mindless eating, get off the couch,stay connected to family and friends, and have a regular bedtime.  Read more in The Seven Deadly Sins According to Dr Oz: What to Do to Replace  Them.

… for ME!

The following announcement is from SMITH Magazine about the release of their latest book, which … I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before! 🙂 … I’m IN!

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The Story of the Six-Word Memoir Phenom & Review of
“It All Changed in an Instant”

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It’s SMITH Magazine’s four-year anniversary. And what better way to celebrate than with the release of our fourth book of Six-Word Memoirs, It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure. The book has six-word memoirs from Malcolm Gladwell, Wally Lamb, Junot Diaz, Amy Tan, James Frey, Art Spiegelman, Sarah Silverman, Molly Ringwald, Margaret Cho, Yogi Berra, Tony Hawk, Tony Kushner, and many, many SMITH community members (including me, PAMELA WALSH!) And this is first collection of six-word memoirs to include some very wild, intense backstories.

If you’re going to buy it, and we hope so, get it today from Amazon. If everyone buys it via Amazon on the same day, it has a shot at shooting up the Amazon charts, which makes a big, big difference in the life of a book. Bonus: then you’ll have a really cool book for your bathroom (we know that’s where it goes…..) and to take to your next party instead of having a “let’s find a $10 bottle of wine that doesn’t look like a $10 bottle of wine” moment at the store.

The book tour will be in Austin this Friday, January 8, 2010 at 7 PM at BookPeople. Details and the full tour schedule.

Thank you all,

Larry & Rachel

As those who have ever kept a gratitude journal can attest, one of the effects of such a practice is that it causes you to become more conscious, to become an active witness of your own life. After all, if you have to write something down about it later, you better be paying attention. I have found the same thing to be true from my practice of composing daily 6-word memoirs. It “forces” me to reflect, to “BE” conscious, and frequently at the very moment I am ready to crawl into the UNconscious world of sleep.

If you stay with it, there are gifts in reflection. Combining a day’s events with my own reactions and then distilling it down to six words involves a certain kind of alchemy. This is not at all unlike the deeper opening you experience in yoga the second or third time you move into a pose. At first take you don’t yield significant results, and the process may be painful, but then … AHHHHHH, there’s the bliss.

I spent yesterday in the company of old friends. At this point in our lives the conversation will inevitably turn to the effects of aging at some point, and our ongoing, futile efforts to hide the ever-increasing lines on our faces. And so it was that on my drive home as I considered my six word memoir for the day, I began to audition a host of words on aging to try to settle on the six finalists that best expressed my frustration with this whole “getting old” thing: Age, Rage, Line, Define, Sag, Bag, Hag. I was on quite a roll.

Then the alchemy began to occur. Sifting through the words, my thoughts turned to how LONG I’ve been blessed to have these friends look into my eyes (aging or otherwise) and the grace that God has granted me with their very presence. I began to play with the words “face” and “grace” until I critically considered, is that the correct use of the word “grace”? So I paused to look it up the definition online: “grace: 1) the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God;” Wow. “2) The influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.”

Isn’t THAT the definition of friends; “the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.” Friendship, a synonym for God’s grace.

“Friends’ Faces Reflect Graces of God”

In my last post, I wrote about coincidence and “God Winks” as coined by author SQuire Rushnell in When GOD Winks: How the Power of Coincidence Guides Your Life. The following is one of my favorite God wink stories from Rushnell’s book as retold in an article about God Winks on the Christian Broadcast Network:

The story of Stasia Kelly was given to SQuire by Stasia’s husband. Stasia is the daughter of the famous, sad-faced clown, Emmett Kelly. She was taking a plane from Denver bound for Sarasota. That morning, her father’s face had been on the front page of the morning paper announcing his death.

The night before, she talked to him on the telephone. He had sounded out of character and was reminiscing about his life. He regarded the day he asked her mother to marry him and the day Stasia was born as the happiest days of his life. A photographer even captured the only picture of Emmett smiling, the day Stasia was born. Stasia knew that her father guarded his trademark frown so carefully that he never allowed himself to be photographed smiling, so this was a rare and special picture that was famous worldwide.

As Stasia was sitting on the plane, she had a copy of the morning paper and an old paper with the picture of her father smiling. She reflected about the picture of her father smiling and it struck her that he was smiling about her. She began to cry. The man on the plane next to her asked her if she was all right. She whispered “yes” and that her father died this morning. The man’s face turned ashen as he told Stasia he was the man who took the picture. A peace suddenly overcame her and she felt that her father was by God’s side smiling down at her. The photographer, Frank Beatty, and Stasia became good friends. He even was the photographer at her wedding.

Kelly on the day his daughter was born ~ photo by Frank Beatty

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To read the CBN article in its entirety, visit: SQuire Rushnell: The Wink of God.

If you have a “God Wink” story you’d like to share, please feel free to post it here. I do believe that the more we pay attention ~ and celebrate ~ these gifts from the Divine, the more conscious we become of the ever-presence of grace in our daily lives.

“… There’s no coincidence. In fact, coincidence itself is a mathematical term. Remember in geometry, they would say that two angles that coincide, fit together perfectly – so now we’ve taken a term that means ‘two things that fit together perfectly’ and interpreted it to mean ‘something that fits together accidentally.’ We’ve just reversed the whole concept of coincidence – it’s co-in-side.” ~ Wayne Dyer

I heard this the other day in a podcast of Oprah Winfrey’s Soul Series in which she was talking with Wayne Dyer about his book, Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao. I have long thought that coincidences weren’t random happenings but gifts from God, little messages from the Divine. Author SQuire Rushnell calls them God winks. “There is a powerful correlation between wishes and winks, because when your wish comes true or your prayer is answered, it sometimes comes in the form of a coincidence – a wink from God.”

Much more to say on this … but it’s late & thoughts are still rumbling around in my brain. Call them coincidences synchronicity, or God winks, I DO think that when you begin to pay attention, you start to SEE these wonderful messages from the Divine much more frequently.

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Rushnell’s book When GOD Winks: How the Power of Coincidence Guides Your Life is available in both audio and print form.

Rushnell shows us that by recognizing our ‘God Winks,’ we can use the untapped power of coincidence to vastly improve our lives. The author applies his compelling theory as to why coincidences exist to fascinating stories in history, sports, medicine, and relationships involving both everyday and famous people including Barbra Streisand, Charles Schulz, Oprah Winfrey, Kevin Costner, Mark Twain, and Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. (from the Amazon.com book description)

As those of you who have read this blog know, a little over a year ago I became fascinated with six-word memoirs after hearing about this particular story form in a piece on NPR. The people at the storytelling website SmithMag had published a book, a collection of 6 word memoirs. I loved the creative challenge, and in SHORT form started a new “micro” blog to chronicle my own daily entries, which I’ve been doing for the last 15 months. The name of the blog, “The Pam-oirs,” was my friend Diane Henry’s inspired idea!

Fast forward …. last month, I received word that one of my “memoirs” was selected for a new book of this unique story form. It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure will be released this month, and they are kicking off their book tour in Austin with an event with readings at BookPeople this coming Friday night, January 8, 2010 at 7:00 p.m.

Thousands of memoirs are written every year, most of them clocking in at over 40,000 words. In It All Changed in an Instant, writers (both famous and not) are challenged to write their own six-word memoirs. The results range from funny to poignant. Authors Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser will be here at 7 PM. We are running a six-word memoir contest in honor of this event, so bring your brief memoirs to the reading where will award prizes to the winners! Here’s our six: Reading of short memoirs inspires, entertains. Our readings are fun, participatory, and short! We start on time & end 45 minutes later.

Six Word Memoirs are intriguing. Can you concisely tell a story in EXACTLY six words? But one of the things that I particularly enjoy about this genre is their inherent  mystery. While sometimes the story behind the memoir is quite obvious, often times the reader is left to wonder, “what’s this really about?” Many times I have had folks say to me,”Oh, I know what THAT one was about,” only to be wrong in their assumption. For me, that is the fun. The interpretation can be so universal, but if you know the story, it’s a bit like pulling the curtain back on the Wizard of Oz.

So, if any of you are interested in seeing this art form in action (not to mention celebrating the book’s release), I’d be so honored to share the evening with you. BookPeople is located in downtown Austin at 603 N. Lamar, next to Whole Foods. Additional book events are scheduled for Brooklyn, Milwaukee, San Francisco, Seattle & New York City. For dates and more information, please check out the book tour schedule. And finally, pictured below is MY page, PAGE 123! Woo-hoooooo!

Get your copy soon! It’s great bathroom reading material! And remember …

Today the Toilet, Tomorrow the Coffee Table!


Erma Bombeck

Editor’s Note: Erma Bombeck is one of my all-time favorite writers. I was a huge fan of her columns which ran in our local paper while I was growing up & to this day, one of the highest compliments I can receive on a piece of my writing is that it reminds a reader of Erma. Her self-deprecating humor not only provided many smiles but also comforted those of us who didn’t feel like we lived up to the Beaver Cleaver images of family & motherhood. When she passed away in 1996, I felt like I’d lost a family member.

While I have several favorite “Erma” essays — and many can be found in her book  Forever, Erma: Best-Loved Writing From America’s Favorite Humorist — the one below is my all-time Christmas sentiment.  Merry Christmas, Everybody!

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Christmas Chimes ~ by Erma Bombeck

Everything is in readiness.

The tree is trimmed.  The cards taped to the door frame.  The boxes stacked in glittering disarray under the tree.

Why don’t I hear chimes?

Remember the small boy who made the chimes ring in a fictional story years ago?  As the legend went, the chimes would not ring unless a gift of love was placed on the altar.  Kings and men of great wealth placed untold jewels there, but year after year the church remained silent.

Then one Christmas Eve, a small child in a tattered coat made his way down the aisle, and without anyone noticing he took off his coat and placed it on the altar.  The chimes rang out joyously throughout the land to mark the unselfish giving of a small boy.

I used to hear chimes.

I heard them the year one of my sons gave me a tattered piece of construction paper on which he had crayoned two hands folded in prayer and a moving message, OH COME HOLY SPIT!

I heard them the year I got a shoe box that contained two baseball cards and the gum was still with them.

I heard them the Christmas they all got together and cleaned the garage.

They’re gone, aren’t they?  The years of the lace doilies fashioned into snowflakes … the hands traced in plaster of paris … the Christmas trees of pipe cleaners … the thread spools that held small candles.  They’re gone.

The chubby hands that clumsily used up $2 worth of paper to wrap a cork coaster are sophisticated enough to take a number and have the gift wrapped professionally.

The childish decision of when to break the ceramic piggy bank with a hammer to spring the 59 cents is now resolved by a credit card.

The muted thump of pajama-covered feet padding down the stairs to tuck her homemade crumb scrapers beneath the tree has given way to pantyhose and fashion boots to the knee.

It’ll be a good Christmas.  We’ll eat too much.  Make a mess in the living room.  Throw the warranties into the fire by mistake.  Drive the dog crazy taping bows to his tail.  Return cookies to the plate with a bite out of them.  Listen to Christmas music.

But Lord … what I would give to bend low and receive a gift of toothpicks and library paste and hear the chimes just one more time!

… I ran away from home!

I have not written for quite some time. I miss my writing, I miss my yoga, I miss my yoga that comes in keystrokes on a blog. When you get away from something for awhile, it’s SO hard to return to it. All sorts of feelings & resistance surfaces: how much have I lost, what if I can’t do it, who is judging me? (Could anyone be harsher on me than myself?)  “What are THEY doing here, acting like they know what to do?” So many things I don’t know.

“We run away all the time to avoid coming face to face with ourselves.” ~ Author Unknown

What I DO know is that I just have to start today ~ not wait until tomorrow, or the new year, or the first of the month, or even Monday ~ but RIGHT now. So I’ve started back at my 6 word memoirs, and I rolled my mat out onto the floor, and now I’m throwing something onto this blog to see what’s going to stick, and the Nike commercial plays in my head …  Just do it. Just do it. Just do it.

And trust.

“God, why do I storm heaven for answers that are already in my heart?  Every grace I need has already been given me.  Oh, lead me to the Beyond within.”

~Macrina Wieherkehr


Checking out the other bitches at the lake


Begging to go out to the Boat

Last month, my nephew graduated from high school along with my cousin’s daughter. Family gathered at my parents’ home to mark the double celebration. One of the “gifts” was a book of advice that my sister compiled for the two inbound college freshman. She had solicited input from everyone in the family ~ young & old, 8 year-olds & college grads alike. The result was quite entertaining, inspirational, and dare I say, practical as well.

Our oldest son, Austin, will be a junior at the University of Texas this fall. During the past two years, he has experienced both dorm & fraternity living, gained entrance into the McCombs School of Business, and navigated a host of extracurricular activities. While most of us waxed poetic, offering the high school grads a half a dozen pearls of wisdom, Austin took the task to heart and delivered pointed guidance to his cousins who are about to join him in the collegiate world.

From saving money on textbooks, to getting along with others, to utilizing technology tools effectively, I found his resulting list “33 College Tips for Freshman” to be worthy of a reprint. Maybe it will make you smile, or maybe you’ll nod in agreement. Then again, maybe you’ll simply rush out to buy underwear!

Advice for the College-BoundAustin_Walsh

by Austin Walsh

  1. Get gmail and learn how to effectively use it. Seriously.
  2. Paper plates and cups are gifts of heaven.
  3. Get a good backpack: I recommend Northface Recon Black.
  4. In Microsoft Office learn to use the program OneNote.
  5. You’re in college, don’t take yourself so seriously.
  6. Find “your place” to study. I like big open rooms that are cold.
  7. First day at dorm/apartment meet EVERYONE on your floor. Go knock and introduce yourself, ask about major, tell where you live, what you do. It may seem intimidating but you will not regret knowing everyone when your printer runs out of ink last minute.
  8. Meet your RA and treat everyone nice, always say hi. I had a computer science/ philosophy major neighbor who I had nothing in common with but made friends with anyways. Saved me when computer messed up during finals.
  9. Walk to class if possible, adds up to a great amount of exercise.
  10. MEET YOUR TEACHERS AND TAs. Grading is an inexact science, use personal relationships to your benefit.
  11. Learn how to write e-mails. Don’t use shortcuts, (almost always) address it with “Professor Blank:”.
  12. Find an organization, whether it’s a major group, fraternity, sports team, whatever it is, great to have a group.
  13. Don’t eat while studying, drink ice water. Keeps you hydrated and limits useless calories.
  14. A great healthy meal that can be made in 45 seconds: protein scoop with water. I recommend Syntha 6 Chocolate Milkshake.
  15. Be a good roommate: clean up after yourself, don’t complain, and always offer to help out with chores. Good relations can literally change your year.
  16. Download audiobooks you can listen to on way to class. Vango Notes are great if your book has it.
  17. Get a pickaprof account immediately.
  18. Register on the first day you can, the earliest you can. Classes fill fast, make sure you know the classes and schedule you want.
  19. DO NOT TAKE A CLASS BEFORE 10 am unless you absolutely have to. It is not high school, you will not wake up.
  20. Go to class. Seems obvious but many students don’t. Texas tuition translates such that every class missed is equivalent of wasting $280.
  21. Plan ahead, what’s your long term goal? Find a way to make it happen.
  22. Don’t bring video games to college. Time waste to the max, there is plenty to do.
  23. Exoficcio underwear is amazing. Can be washed in the sink and dries quick. Lifesaver.
  24. Anti-wrinkle spray: also great.
  25. Don’t buy books at your campus bookstore. Use chegg.com, older friends’ books, amazon.com, Facebook marketplace, Craigslist, anything. Saves me roughly $500 a year.
  26. Get an online calendar, I recommend google calendar.
  27. If you like studying with music: pandora.com.
  28. Limit Facebook profile to friends only and don’t post stupid pictures.
  29. Have a positive attitude. I’ve bombed tests with 20’s and still made A’s in the class. Not the end of the world.
  30. Do homework that isn’t required, usually where test questions come from.
  31. Use pickaprof to figure out how tests will be. Most professors test off of lecture, some say they will, then use test bank questions straight from the book. Know their style.
  32. You can cram. Although not recommended, it is possible to make an A cramming.
  33. Try and take classes back to back and don’t take more than 12-15 hours per semester. A consistent schedule will save your life.

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* This summer, Austin is studying abroad with the University of Virginia’s Semester at Sea program. On board a ship with over 700 other college students from 300 colleges and universities, he will visit 8 countries in 67 days. To read more about the program and his experiences this summer, check out his blog: Longhorn at Sea.

… it’s what you DO with your feelings that’s important.

This is one of my favorite quotes … And I said it! Of course, many others have said it too in some form or another (and certainly long before I ever did) but still, I’m happy I figured this one out enough to articulate it quite some time ago. I also came across the writings of John Powell quite some time ago, though they’ve sat buried on my bookshelves for many years. I remember reading him back in my early 20’s, and found him wonderfully wise even then. Nearly three decades later, I ran across one of his books and pulled it out to read. His piece below illustrates “MY” quote perfectly 😛 I am happy to say his books are still available. Little wonder really, his insights remain timeless.

The Fully Human Person is an Actor, not a Reactor

Sydney Harris, the syndicated columnist, tells the story of accompanying his friend to a newsstand. The friend greeted the newsman very courteously, but in return received gruff and discourteous service. Accepting the newspaper that was shoved rudely in his direction, the friend of Harris politely smiled and wished the newsman a nice weekend. As the two friends walked down the street, the columnist asked:

“Does he always treat you so rudely?”

“Yes, unfortunately he does.”

“And are you always so polite and friendly to him?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Why are you so nice to him when he is so unfriendly to you?”

“Because I don’t want him to decide how I’m going to act.”

The suggestion is that “fully human” people are “their own persons,” that they do not bend to every wind which blows, that they are not at the mercy of all the pettiness, the meanness, the impatience and anger of others. Atmospheres do not transform them as much as they transform their atmospheres.

Most of us, unfortunately, feel like a floating boat the mercy of the winds and waves. We have not ballast when the winds rage and waves churn. We say things like: “He made me so mad.” “You really get to me.” “Her remark embarrassed me terribly.” “This weather really depresses me.” “This job really bores me.” “The very sight of him saddens me.”

Note that all these things are doing something to me and to my emotions. I have nothing to say about my anger, depression, sadness, and so on. And like everyone else we are content to blame others, circumstances, and bad luck. Fully human people, as Shakespeare puts it in Julius Caesar, know that “the fault, dear Brutus, is not with our stars, but with ourselves.” We must learn that we can rise above the dust of daily battle that chokes and blinds so many of us. This is precisely what is asked of us in the process of growth as a person.

There is nothing implied here that suggests repression of emotions or that denies the fullness of life in our senses and emotions. The suggestion is rather of balance and integration of emotions. In fully alive human beings, there can be no such thing as either deadening or unconditionally surrendering to the senses or emotions.

Fully alive people listen to, are attuned to their senses and emotions. However, surrendering to them would imply abdication of intellect and choice. These are the precise powers that make human beings more than brute animals, though a little less than the angels.”

From Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am? Insights into Personal Growth by John Powell

Prana recently released a new yoga mat, The Revolution. Over three years in development, the mat was designed by Dave Kennedy in conjunction with Anusara Yoga’s founder, John Friend. It boasts an extra 6″ width over standard mats — a special boon to those of broad shoulders — and with all-natural materials, you can rest well in savasana knowing that YOU are an ecofriend.

Revolution Natural Sticky Yoga Mat by prAna (eco-friendly!) – NEW! From DrishtiYoga.com:

Check it out, guys! This is a new yoga mat that’s just been released by prAna. prAna designed this mat with the help of Anusara Yoga founder John Friend. They claim that this is the best yoga mat available on the market, and we agree that it’s pretty darn cool. The thing that stands out most about this mat is that it’s extremely roomy. Whereas the average yoga mat is 24″x68″ in size, the new Revolution Yoga Mat is a whopping 30″x78″ – wowza that’s big! In addition to its extra-large size, the Revolution Mat is also very well-made. It’s a rubber-based all-natural yoga mat which is made with no hazardous materials (i.e. no PVC), and it’s completely biodegradable. This mat also has excellent anti-slip properties and superior cushioning. At 4mm thick, you won’t experience any moving or bunching underfoot.

The Revolution Yoga Mat is very dense (meaning that it’s therefore incredibly durable), and because of that, it has a hefty weight of about 10 pounds.

Available in grass and burnt orange. 30″x78″x4mm.

For a slightly lighterweight version of this mat which is 26″ wide instead of 30″ wide, see the Neo Natural Yoga Mat by prAna. The only difference between the Neo Natural Mat and the Revolution Mat is that the Neo Natural Mat is 4″ narrower.

A Video Revolution

The videos touting the Revolution’s release are playful, fun and artistic. Put together by Michael Longstaff (aka Milo), they are a series of promotions that emphasize the mat’s features in a fabulously creative out of the box — or should I say, “off the mat” visual array. (FYI: Michael Longstaff produced the Anusara Yoga syllabus poster “From Tadasana to Savasana” featuring Darren Rhodes. For more info on Michael, visit Tirtha Studios.)

The videos are totally fun. For those in the Anusara community, there’s an added bonus of recognizable friends. You can find these on YouTube. It will only take you about 5 minutes to watch these … and don’t miss “The Finale”!

Let’s start a REVOLUTION … order yours today!

The Joy (with Christina) ~ A Revolution Makes Christina Sell TALLER!

The Size: (look for Kelly)

The Construction:

The Smell:

The Finale: (with John Friend, Christina & Kelly Sell, Peter Goodman, Tiffany Grimm, Darren Rhodes & more!)

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The Journey Towards My Heels

The Journey Towards My Heels

Face Off with Change

My Face Off with Change

Backbends are challenging for me — both physically and on an energetic level. And as such, it’s a curious study to watch where my mind goes throughout the course of a backbending practice: I am aggravated, frustrated, invigorated and ultimately fascinated by them. If I learn nothing else from backbends, they do illustrate & remind me of the first principle of Anusara Yoga: “Open to Grace.”

These photos were taken at our Anusara group practice yesterday with Christina Sell. For more pictures, check out Christina’s blog.