Run your brain

You know how it feels when Friday finally happens and you feel deflated after a very long week. The first part of the weekend just disappered and then you wake up Sunday morning, go for a long run and life slowly comes back in a new light and then it’s Monday. Today is Monday and it feels like Friday. One full week passed since I woke up, 18 hours ago. Before 7.30am I got 5 shots in my knee and by 8.30 I felt pretty good, numbed up and on my way back home for a second breakfast. The day passed and… the numbing wore off… it’s been a long week and it’s only Monday.

I’m going back in time to the run yesterday. I went out big, I knew it was going to be the last long run for a while. For all you runners and mountain bikers out there, trail time is usually thinking time. It’s the time when you solve all your problems, figure out the next steps in life, write the next two chapters in the book you have hidden in your drawer (or on your OneDrive). You empty your mind in a good way. Lately my mind has been empty from start. I had to set up point of interests, basically stop and reset my mind when I saw a check point for the orienteering course. It’s back to basics people. I am focusing on my favorite things, trying to reset the brain and think positive. Pain sucks, it takes over your brain and it creeps up to new places connected to the painful body part. The brain cells slowly crumble, and your frontal lobe goes numb.

After the first lap, 35 minutes in, I felt so disappointed of the non-existing intellectual activity, so I set up thinking goals. It started out with favorite podcasts and I tried to find one that I could listen to and follow. I tried two different languages but they both could not connect my synapses. (I am very excited that Geoffrey Zakarian announced that he started a podcast but it’s not out just yet.)

Second lap I turned to playlists and nothing could keep my interest up more than a few songs that I ended up playing probably 20 times on repeat. And I’m grateful that no one else could hear my choice of music. I might give you a sample at the end of this post, but not yet sure I am that brave. When one of these songs come up over the Sonos at home I get looks. I got a nice comment the other day that I’m turing in to an 85-year-old. I have a nice mix of opera, Dire Straits, Sting, Duran Duran, Louis Armstrong, Edoardo Vianello, Robyn, Diddy, Uggla, Billy Joel…

Third lap and heavy breathing. I suddenly hear a woodpecker and I decided stay with it for a while. An older gentleman stood beside me for a good part of the time and we started whispering. We whispered about the bird, trees, bushes and then flowers, we didn’t want to scare off the bird. We talked about his favorite tree and spot in the park. I knew exactly what he meant, I usually stop there on my runs. He asked me if I had a favorite flower and our chat turned in to a very long conversation. I have three, it’s too hard to pick one. Peonies, dark pink. The smell is out of this world and the way they bloom. Tiny spray roses. Light pink or white. My grandmother had a spot where she kept a few bushes and from what I can remember they were always in full bloom. And crisp tulips, big bouquets of tulips that haven’t really opened in bloom. He liked my choices; he could almost smell the peonies when we talked. So, there you go. Facts about what is hiding in my brain.

Fourth lap, and I think the elevation changed, it’s up all the way. Two hours of running in the mud and life looks brighter. And by now I had a game plan. I knew exactly what to do with my life and first thing was to eat lunch, drink coffee and take a nap, so I guess it all worked out for the best.

Happy New Year

Christmas and New Year’s was good with all three kids in the house. The house feels busy. Doris has placed herself by the fire, and she is not moving much if we stay around her. The rain is no fun when you are a dog with short legs. She only walks when we go somewhere interesting, like the woods or the lake. I can’t blame her. The neighborhood walks are boring. Monday was first day back at daycare and you could say that she was excited. Yabadabadooo, howling all the way in the car.

The dinner table has been full again. People are coming and going, and something is always cooking in the kitchen. It feels like we constantly whip up something grand and have a dough proving. New Years passed and a lot of beef tenderloin was cooked and eaten. I woke up the other day and checked my list for the day and I felt like I was running a catering business on the side of my day gig. We have a lot of different needs and dietary issues around here. Add on veggie and fish eaters to that and it feels like you are inventing the wheel every night. In how many ways can you cook a potato and if you have fresh herbs you can magically transform any kind of dish. And who knew you could put dill on popcorn. And do you all know that homemade pizza dough tastes so much better. And freshly baked bread… I love bread. The hummus and veggies, chips and salsa are always circling around the kitchen island. And someone is always hungry even if you just cleaned up. All businesses need good names, even pretend ones. What do you think of a catering business called Your Plate or Mine, Basic Kneads, or Loaf and Devotion? It’s a work in progress.

Are we doing new years resolutions? No, not really. Who needs more pressure in life? And letting yourself down is the worst. I’m all for living the best life all the time. Since failing is out of the question, setting up absurd goals will only make you feel bad. Lame stuff like clean the house more often, drink and eat less, cook better food, loose 15lbs; will never happen. There are other things you can do. I’m always for working out more or doing things you like. If you want to follow in Nora Ephron’s footsteps, watch West Wing from the beginning (3rd time), paint your way through life, jump out of a plane… go ahead and do so. Give the world new memories of you, good or bad. Show everyone that you lived. Make the ground shake a little. Do something that make you forget to eat and drink and wake up exhausted. Meet new people, wander empty trails and try something you haven’t tried before. Use your wings. But stay safe. I’ve spent the last two nights reading about mountain rescues and crying my eyes out. Winter around here can be surprising and rough. Bring layers. And tea.

I will try to run more in the dark, in the early mornings. It’s not a resolution, just a wish. It feels like you breathe more when it’s dark, the air feels lighter and colder. The wind beats your face in silence and the world feels clearer. Your mind is free and your thoughts are clear. It’s like getting a fresh start in life.

And just a thought… Around here we don’t have hares, we have rabbits. Why are all little rabbits out in the dark and in the middle of the night? Do they have a difficult time sleeping? Anxiety? Out partying? Just a question.

I wish you all a very happy new year.

 

One of the most played songs at home the last few months and 1980.

An open mind

Let me tell you something. I saw a psychic. Absolutely nothing I planned to do since I really don’t believe in psychics. I’ve been passing the palm reader in our neighborhood for 12 years and been joking about going there to calm my mind about the future. And now it happened. We went to a party and there she was. Sitting at a table with her cards and a little furry hat with a sneaky smile. I could not pass on that opportunity. She was very pleasant; she had a nice and believable voice. We never got to the cards or the tea in the cup or the crystal ball, apparently, I have an open door to my mind.

I sat down and she looked at me and asked about my birthday and first name. That’s it. And she started talking, the clairvoyant lady with a higher knowledge of my spiritual life. Do I believe everything she said? Absolutely not. But let me tell you – it was a bit creepy. She might have had a speedy connection to Facebook, Instagram and everything else semiprivate. Or maybe she had a friend sitting in a room close by giving her all the info. She was spot on.

 

I got it confirmed that I am a tangled mess of wool and silk string. And a tiny bit of glitter and fleece. A little bit of chaos. Champagne on a mountain top. Lobster and caviar by the campfire. Opera mixed with a little bit of country. One foot in a high heel and the other one in a trail shoe or a boot. And I still have a part of my heart in another country. But I guess I already knew that. But how did she know? I’m not sure anymore. But I don’t believe in that kind of stuff. I’m not going to tell you guys anything about the future, but now I know. 😉

Talk about one foot in a boot… I finally found my dream car. But that one requires I move to Cornwall, get a couple of new Barbour coats, at least one or two more dogs and a veterinarian practice. Ahh, so I need to go back to school again. I’m really considering it since I want the car. And I love rain boots. And cows. Maybe I need to find that clairvoyant lady again and ask her some well thought out questions about my future.

Happy Solstice

Today is the day, it’s turning around. It’s the shortest day of the year. The sun will come back. The light in our hearts will burst and the darkness will disappear.
It’s time to start sparkle in the sun, find the rhythm of your heart. The furnace and the fireplace are burning, but crack a window to get some air in your lungs.
Light up all the dark between all the stars in the sky. Your greatest day is in the future. The best laughs and hugs, the sweetest kisses are yet to come.
Don’t wake up and not have lived. See the sunsets on the darkest days.
Happy Solstice!

Ut ur dimman

Plötsligt händer det. Livet slår till och inget blir som förr. Efter besöket hos optikern för några veckor sedan är jag numera stolt ägare till ett par progressiva glasögon. Läsglasen som hängt på näsan, på huvudet, i fickan, i bilen och lite överallt var enligt optikern ett kraftigt ålderstecken. Det här med att kika under lugg och knöla ihop hakan är tydligen inte något som man ska sträva efter. Men om man tycker att läsglas är ett tecken på hög ålder vad är inte då progressiva glasögon? Men jag måste erkänna att jag ser på livet med andra ögon, det är klart och tydligt. I alla fall i vissa fall.

Helgen har varit av varierande kvalitet. Lite spring och knatande i skogen och lite fest. Det började med superpartaj inne i stan på SAM och slutar i soffan framför tvn. Vi snyggade till oss och såg faktiskt riktigt respektabla ut. Men tror ni att vi lyckades få till ett kort? Nej, bara en något fånig selfie.

Årets julfest, superpartajet krävde ett inköp av en ny trikåtrasa. Det finns ett par i garderoben men det är ju skönt att ha något att välja på. Blindheten slår till och det finns absolut inget att dra på kroppen för en natt på stan. Jag räknar till 1, 2, 3, 4 svarta jumpsuits i garderoben, men… Det blev ett inköp av en något tight jumpsuit i sammet och insåg jag att kroppen, framförallt mittendelen behövde klämmas åt lite för att bekvämligheten skulle infinna sig. Känner man sig inte bekväm så är man ju inte snygg. Och om jag klämde. Jag köpte mig mitt livs första Spanx. Blev det bättre? Lite slätare och plattare blev det ju men jag vet inte om det blev skönare direkt. Men snyggt var det.

Och så blev det söndag kväll. Julmusiken har dundrat högt hela kvällen, KitchenAiden och ugnen har jobbat. Som vanligt kom julpaniken hastigare än kvickt, inget är gjort, inga julklappar inköpta, lussekatterna är uppätna och skumtomtarna är slut på IKEA.

Sleep

The simplest thing. Something we all do and after so many years of practice I should master it. I don’t. It comes and goes. Different phases of my life, thoughts, work, races, it all weighs in. Right now, I’m in a wake-up early phase. We are not talking 6am, waking up right before the alarm sets off. We are talking 2.30 to 4 something. Prime sleep time. The time of the night when you can hear the coyotes howl and the bobcats sneak around in your back yard. When the house is quiet and the dog snores. Long before the newspaper arrives. I force myself to stay in bed to 4.30. I’m not allowed to check my phone before 4 but the Kindle is ok. I have high standards; everyone knows that the phone is bad karma and a no-no in the bedroom. Well, at least until insomnia hits. Then it’s a lifeline to the outer world. It is great to have a kid to communicate with in Europe. It’s prime time for her and I get to calm my mind. And when I finally allow myself to get up and walk down the coffee tastes so good, news on and the day goes by.

The last refuge of the insomniac is a sense of superiority to the sleeping world.
~ Leonard Cohen

Don’t worry about all the things you can do to make it better. No caffeine in the afternoon, alcohol, very cold and dark room, good bed and nice sheets, exercise… I’m on it. Only complaint is Doris. She is from time to time extremely annoying. Crawling around my feet. She has fur but thinks she is a nude cat. Skin to skin under the down duvet. Her mission is to keep my feet warm. She is the one that wakes me up. But to her defense, she is always asleep after 2am.

It’s kind of funny that this is going on. I’m a snoozer. I love sleep. From time to time I sleep more than enough. I have a hard time getting up in the morning. I take naps during the day. If I run a lot, I take every chance I can to nap. Doris is usually a candidate for heating cold feet during couch naps. And who can resist that? And now I can’t even nap.

I remember the worst time I went through a phase like this. 18 years ago, 3 kids under the age of 4, went back to school for a second master’s and gave myself a year to finish it. Renovated a house. Exhausted. Woke up every night with three kids around me or in a very small bed counting sheep, minutes, breaths. Kids with asthma. And its endless when you are in the middle of it. And then one day everything is back to normal and sleep is the last thing you must worry about. And you kind of forget about no sleep and tired days.

When you google sleep it’s easy to get a tad bit worried. If you don’t sleep, your brain and your body don’t rest and recoup. Scary stuff. But according to a very serious webpage there is hope. Or a stroke. Since my brain is not getting enough rest, I have a hard time understanding the information about the neurotransmitters and the risk of stroke if you don’t get enough sleep. I turn to WebMD instead, the Bible of real home medicine. And – drumroll – get supplements. It’s not going to happen. My brain and I are going to wait it out. Count sheep, think of life decisions, overthink race scenarios and look forward to the first cup of coffee every day.

“A flock of sheep that leisurely pass by
One after one; the sound of rain, and bees
Murmuring; the fall of rivers, winds and seas,
Smooth fields, white sheets of water, and pure sky –
I’ve thought of all by turns, and still I lie
Sleepless…”
~ William Wordsworth

 

When you meet a cat

Everything is great. Life is good. I have plans, I’m moving forward and it’s sunny and cold outside. I write notes, lists, blogposts that I never publish. I collect words in my phone, send myself texts and try to remember things that I like. The last note I have in my phone says – stay away from big cats! Good advice.

Today’s run was quite long, almost 2h long. Freezing the whole time, blue fingers in my gloves, bright red nose but so beautiful. I ran into a bobcat a few days ago. Nothing happened but he showed off his pearly whites and made a growling sound all the way from his tummy, scratched the paws on the ground. I look around and realize that we are alone on a street in Kirkland. Weird. He looks at me, I look at him and I freak out a little bit. I tried to talk with a steady voice and said “nothing to see here…move on…turn around…I’m not going to move if you’re not moving…” After what felt like eternity it turned and took off, back to the wetlands on the side of the street. This thing is kind of growing in my mind. Not really a big deal but I freaked out and I had to really talk myself into running the trails today. And about an hour in my run I thought I heard something follow me. Talk about stressing yourself out. Nothing there. My heartrate spiked, and I ran so fast. Well, my speed fast. Kind of pathetic. I would not stand a chance if I had a cat chasing me. Or not even a squirrel.

Running feels good again. I can’t say that it’s been bad for the past ten years or so but sometimes you just got the right feeling in your body. Not too much pain going on and not really getting too tired either. Maybe it’s the weather. Sun and blue skies. We have dry trails around here and snow in the mountains. Isn’t it wonderful to move around among huge trees and moss, leaves on the ground and fresh air? It’s a great warm up for life.

It’s time to clean up the notes in my phone and move on…to move around and be moved.