Thoughts From My Run

With each step, more falls away…comparisons, anxieties, old stories that just don’t serve. There is just this next step, and then this one. Air pumps in and air pumps out and breathing becomes part of the work. There is nothing but the trail, the trees, the late evening light, and one foot following the other. This is what freedom looks like. 

As I travel the road, it can be difficult to feel grounded and connected to place, but the trails and the feel of my body in motion bring me home over and over again. Sometimes the trail is lined with magnificent trees and sometimes with feisty cactus, but whether it is snow or sand or stone underfoot, there is always a familiarity, a path I know. 

In this season in Maine, far away from where I stand now, the trees are without their “cover,” without the leaves that so often mark their beauty. As I run,  my own cover disappears, and I am laid bare before myself and there can be no secrets within me. I am free, but freedom comes with truth and truth comes with responsibility. Will I try to once again hide or will I find my courage, will I remain naked and feel the elements as they rake along my exposed self? I dig for that courage. I yearn to be brave. To embrace movement over stasis.

It is so often implied that to run is to run from. But what if I am running toward? It is toward that propels me on, that calls me to continue. It is toward that gives me the space to look back at from and see it as a friend. Hello, friend, it’s so good to see your sweet smile.

If you aren't following Terry Cockburn yet, be sure to check out what she's up to...runner, yogi, teacher, I assure you that she can inspire you in a million ways large and small! I routinely refer to her yin sequences to keep me running injury-free and her Running On Insight posts to keep me motivated. I have the coolest clients EVER.

Carry Me

We just needed some time outside. Some quiet hours spent among trees and rocks, where the dings of "smart" phones and the glare of computer screens couldn't quite reach us. And we needed to see mountains. Any mountains, so long as the earth rose up to touch sky.

So we went. 

We skipped the traffic jams and the gathering around food. We skipped the football games and political arguments. We skipped the time with family and friends. We traded those things, some of which we love, for a dirt road that ended at a trailhead and a path that led up.

It wasn't an impressive hike. Tumbledown Mountain is an absolutely wonderful place with the incredible reward of a stunning mountaintop lake at the top and is one of my very favorite day hikes in Maine. But on this day, the skies were a flat grey, the leaves had fallen, and the snow was a mediocre dusting that only hinted at the winter glory to come. 

Our dog, convinced that walking outdoors for more than ten minutes is an act of torture that we concoct solely to inflict pain upon her, wanted no parts of our plans. We put her little booties on her delicate paws, but around the half-mile point, she began to sit down and refuse to walk- she does this when she's decided she's had enough. So we carried her (and by "we" I mean "Justin", of course). 

Up we inched, intermittently putting Tessie down to "let" her walk at her crawling pace. There is simply no hurrying this dog, so we let go and slowed down. We looked around. We talked. We dreamed. We made plans. We laughed at our pathetic dog. We paused to watch as the snowflakes began to fall, just a few at a time. We saw no one. We heard no one. Our phones didn't ding or beep or ring. Only the wind and the trees and the little brooks of bubbling, half-frozen water broke the silence surrounding us. 

Even carrying her, we were moving too slow to be able to make the short hike to the top and back before darkness fell, so we turned around short of the mountaintop lake on whose banks we'd planned to eat our peanut butter and jelly feast of thanksgiving. But we laughed at our fluffy excuse for a mutt and snuggled her as we walked and held hands as we made our way back down. 

Because it was never really the summit or even the lakeside view that we were really after. It was quiet. It was slowing down. It was the beauty found among the trees even in their "ugliest" season. It was uninterrupted time together. It was laughter. It was a break from technology. 

It was the moments that carry me through the rest of my days, through the busy-ness and demands of work and life, that we were seeking and it was those moments that we found, once again, at the end of a long dirt road where a trail led upward.

Neither Here Nor There

We moved last week.

Into a house.

(I hear your collective gasps of disappointment, but no, we haven't given up on camper life already!)

Little travel trailer campers aren't designed for long-term use in freezing temperatures, and as we aren't going to be leaving Maine until January, we've known since July that we were going to need to figure out a temporary stop-gap situation for late fall and early winter. Over lunch with a talented friend a few months ago, I mentioned not being sure what we were going to do come the end of October and a few days later, I received an email from her equally talented mom who has an adorable little guest cottage on her gorgeous farm near Wiscasset that happened to be available for rent during the precise period of time we needed a place...isn't the universe amazing in that way? 

So here we are, in our second "in-between" as we move from our old life toward our new. I admit that there is a part of me that is chomping at the bit, tired of the long transition, aching to get on with this move westward. Another part of me grieves every step away from our home in Maine and our cherished community and appreciates this slow departure for the lengthy goodbyes it allows me. 

Both the pain of departure and the frustration of waiting are eased by the beauty of this gift we get to call home for the next two and a half months and my gratitude for this quiet space to tie up our loose ends runs deeper than I can express. It is truly amazing to feel the healing powers of being surrounded by forest and meadow and river and quiet, the deep peace that settles in, the creative surges that come with the renewal.

I am so very, very, very utterly grateful.

Full

Life has been full lately. Too full...again. I promised myself that this fall would be a little slower, that I would save a little more space for quiet mornings in the woods and casting flies into the rivers still open for fishing. But alas, it's been a "too full" kind of year and really, that's okay.

I think this fullness is a natural part of preparing for our next stage, preparing to leave this place we've called home and step into whatever this next part of our lives will look like. There are a million things, big and small, that go into uprooting your life, into wrapping up the business both professional and personal that must be closed before new doors can be opened. I admit that it can be tedious and tiresome, and it often bears no resemblance to the romance that is often associated with creating a life on the road. But this is the work of the thing, these are the hours that go into earning the beauty and adventure that we are preparing for. And I suspect that when the beauty and adventure arrive, they will be that much sweeter for the work. 

So I will take the small moments between, and I will notice them, cherish them. I will cup my hands around my favorite mug and watch the play of light as the steam rolls off in the chill of the autumn morning. I will laugh from my gut when I find my fluffy dog sleeping upside down and covered in pine needles and dirt in her most recently dug hole. I will light a candle as evening falls ever earlier. I will glory in the leaves of red and gold and fiery orange that crunch beneath my feet as I walk the streets of my town for the last time in this season. 

It is possible to pause and revel in beauty and delight even amid an overflowing to-do list. I would argue that perhaps it's never more important to pause than when faced with an overflowing to-do list, actually. 

And so I will.

Finding Common Ground

Here in Maine, we are lucky enough to enjoy one of the most amazing experiences in sustainability and local "makery" I've ever heard of. Each September, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardners Association (aka MOFGA) puts on The Common Ground Fair and it is a weekend filled to bursting with insane amounts of education, culinary wonder, and the handcrafted genius of dedicated makers. I could go on all day about my love for the sheep dog demo, the talks on everything from green energy options to canning to permaculture to beekeeping to home funerals, the locally sourced and organic food stalls, the luscious yarns and carefully brewed tinctures and rich art offerings. It might be my favorite event of the year.

This year we had schedule conflicts for the weekend, but were able to run up for the day on Friday, which turned out to be rainy and chilly all morning (which, of course, made the steaming cups of hot apple cider all the more scrumptious!). I didn't shoot much as I was busy frantically scribbling notes on foraging walks and campfire cinnamon bun lessons, or simply taking in the beauty of the piles of fresh fall produce and the scent of sweet annie that filled the air. But I did manage a few images...I hope they make you feel as cozied into fall as the day did for me!