Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009 finish line in sight..resolutions 2010

The final days of 2009 draw to a close, the days are short if not sweet, the wind is howling and the mercury is plummeting. Time to light the fire, pour the wine and reflect on the year past, the year to come. However silly it seems to break the passage of time into relative chunks, I can’t help but do so, all the better to chew it up and spit it out if I need. Here goes, or rather, there it went.. Jan: Hilarity in Ballina, then home to the peeps in Wexford, quiet pints in Slade and windy hikes around the Hook lighthouse. Resolve to do more of this whether home or away. Feb: Hunkering down in winter. Enjoying the odd MTB ride, odder run, swimming like a fish. Resolve to keep it going every winter, for my brain, for my body, mostly brain. March: Utah, first session of my D.Sc in RMUoHP, the beginnings of a challenging chapter in my life. Resolve to complete dissertation on a topic that I can wake up with, go to bed with, love it as I hate it,.. gotta be a biking topic. April: Rain rain rain. Is it ever going to stop raining?. Resolve to remember that I grew up with this weather, and need to befriend it again if I am to avoid missing a while month or two or three! May: Block Island Shad Bloom 10k, with Dennis, A-Wal and Rikki: must be my favourite trail run. Resolve to bring more friends out to do this and share the love, the cliffs, the ocean views, the martinis at the Atlantic Inn! June: Rush home to visit auntie Phyllis in hospice, tears flowing as she wakes from a coma to eat scrambled eggs and ask me about Obama’s election. Resolve to see my family more often, before they are on death’s doorstep. Or bedside. July: July 4th. Sailing to Long Beach for macaroni and coleslaw, warm beer and burgers. Holy Crunch time, 4 papers to submit, exams, barely time to swim and sail. Resolve to be better organized so I can swim and sail more in the summer. Aug: Back out to Utah, Session #2 RMUoHP, hot and dry, good riding, great brain filler. SeptVermont 50 Absolutely my favourite MTB race. Only question was 32x 18 or 32 x 19. Wrong question. Should have put new brakes on before the race, and practiced running to prepare for the peanut butter mud. Resolve to be a better bike-mechanic, looking after my own gear. Oct: Bermuda 10k swim with a fun gang from home, resolve to swim further, faster in 2010.! Visit Maine with Dennis, fall in love with Bog Brook Cove. Resolve to spend more time here, maybe even save like mad and buy something here.. Nov: Rush home to see Mam and her badly broken shoulder, trying hard to be a PT (not worrying) versus a daughter (worrying). Crashing my cousins wedding, dancing with cousins that I hadn’t even met before. So drunk on family, lack of sleep and 72 hour visits to Ireland. Resolve to do more of this! Mountain biking with buddies at night, ducking the trees, wiping out in piles of dark leaves, sweaty night rides. Fun and laughter. Resolve to keep it going through the winter..(minor caveat) as long as it is above 19 degrees. D.Sc converts to Ph.D, the bar rises again.. eeek Pounding out the papers on the computer, force-feeding biostatistics into my small brain. Resolve to get help before I need it! Dec: Dark days of Christmas: Reality check, friends injured, friends sick, friends losing body parts to cancer, friends wife’s suicide. Curling up with my good squeeze, a warm fire and a decent brew. Planning races for next year, as long as my legs, my lungs, my will hold up. Thankful for making it past the shortest days, through the darkest nights. Resolve to enjoy it all, the whole damn rollercoaster, in 2010. G’night, happy new year!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Lessons in Procrastination: visualize the end, then go for a swim

Nearing the end of semester #2 at RMUoHP, I still have a biostatistics exam to get done (Allison), review 6 more articles for shoulder and upper quarter pathology (Ellenbecker) and complete a paper outline (Caputo). I should be at a SPOKESPEOPLE meeting right now and I need to book flights to Ireland to check on the mammy with her broken wing. Instead, I am cooking a big pot of brown and wild rice risotto with shitake mushrooms,threatening to open a bottle of Bordeaux, and burst my lamps into tears..
I still, at this ripe old age, have tremenduous difficulty in prioritizing things when I haven't been swimming. Somehow, being in the water helps me regulate my mind, in the way that biking can't, and left to its own devices, my little brain is loath to manage. Even now, with a little taste of panic rising in my throat, I can solicit the calm I need from just thinking about tomorrow mornings workout, from envisaging the weightlessness in the water, and the deep quiet it brings when I leave.
Some late fall mornings at the YMCA, the sun is rising just as I am finally warming up in the pool, 30 minutes or so into the 4500 yd workout, and the rays pierce the water's surface lighting the depths of blue. An incredible vision to push off the wall, face down, rotate to face up, break the surface and for a split second before hitting the air, have a pillar of light deflected by still submerged, outstretched arms. I am never bored while swimming. My mind is never still while swimming, always feeling the water, always searching for perfect pressure through the pull, for optimal positioning to be longer, leaner in the juncture between liquid and air. I mentally struggle with every stroke to find the yin and yang, the power of relaxed effort. I have been doing so for decades now, conciously for ten years. It is my yoga, my meditation, breathing with motion, regulated breath with body movement, forced exhalation with effort facilitating the next inhalation, the next stroke, the next thing on my list to address. Already feeling better. Can't wait to get in the pool.