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“Listen to your life; see it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis, all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.” -Fredrick Buechner

I ran across this quote on The Art of Simple and felt compelled to share these words.

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“People sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they’ll go to any length to live longer. But don’t think that’s the reason most people run. Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive than in a fog, and I believe running helps you to do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life — and for me, for writing as whole. I believe many runners would agree.”  ——Haruki Murakami

This quote appeared on my Facebook feed yesterday and it provided an instant flicker of reflection. I’ve talked about how my restless spirit interferes with my ability to live. The clarity sinks. I lose focus and the dominoes start to tumble in rapid succession. My irritation increases and I tend to focus on what isn’t happening, instead of appreciating the glory in breathing and living my days. I realize that a pressure cooker moment is barreling into my space and the urgency to seek calm takes precedence.

I know it is time. Slipping on my tennis shoes, I run down my driveway and hit the pavement. The first half-mile is difficult. I continue. As I run, I notice my lungs burning. Breathing through it, I pass a familiar site on my run, a park  where I see rabbits, flowers sprouting out of the cacti, and people taking their dogs for a morning walk. Taking a another deep breath, I hit another mile marker. When I curve my body against the turn, the running becomes a little easier. Several thoughts start spilling inside my brain. But emptying this metaphorical cup isn’t a distraction, but a release. Whatever churns inside rises like high tide, but then retreats into its place.

Earlier this year, I started skipping my runs for a multitude of reasons. Some of these reasons were legitimate, while others bordered on excuses. My restless energy strummed like an irregular heartbeat. My melancholy increased. The edges of sorrow became more prominent and my perceived difficulties moved toward the center. Brimming with anxiety, I decided that I needed to run again. It didn’t matter how many miles I completed, but I needed to just start.

When I ventured on my run after my hiatus, my feet moved slower, but I started looking around and the familiar sights comforted me. The school I always pass, the mountains, and the blue sky opened their arms and allowed me to become a part of their landscape again.

In this brief instant, I realized I discovered home again. For many years, my connection to home centered around geography and the people in my space. It is still one of the places I call home, but now the definition is expanding and evolving. Running is a place where it all fits. Isn’t that what home is all about?

IMAGE: RUN UNTIL YOU FLY BY D SHARON PRUITT VIA FLICKR UNDER A CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSE

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This past weekend we spent  most of our moments outside. My family took advantage of the glimmering sunshine and the crisp breeze. On Saturday morning, my daughter participated in an Easter egg hunt. Even though she is eight, she enjoyed scrambling across the green lawn picking up colored goodness. She remained focused on her goal, smiling every time she scored an egg and chucked into her basket. As I watched her collect her bounty, I smiled, witnessing a freedom that accompanies childhood. This is what it means to be a child, I thought to myself.

On Saturday evening, we decided to enjoy a local outdoor culinary festival in town. We spread our blanket on the lawn and sat on the grass for hours. In the background, a live band played music. I jammed to some of my eighties favorites, like Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer to some more contemporary hits. My daughter ran around the green lawn and did cartwheels and played tag with some friends. A breeze accompanied our revelry. Looking around, I saw young toddlers wobbling around trying to gain their footing in the grass, while some of the adults took to the outdoor dance floor. The band grabbed the hand of an elderly woman who started to belt her version of the song on the stage. The texture of her smile extended across the crowd.

The next morning we ventured to a local trail where we hiked for a few hours. My daughter ran ahead, exploring the various flowers and desert landscape. She steadied herself on the rocks, while I watched from behind. When we reached a point where we could stop, I took a picture and captured the grandeur of our environment. The vastness surprised me even though I knew that the beauty appeared to unfold every time I turned my head toward a different direction.

These snapshots of a weekend spent outdoors provided a context to my own childhood experiences. My childhood was spent indoors, where I played school or read. Adventure never took root in those early years. My parents because of their immigrant experience felt more comfortable with entertainment that took place indoors. In their mind, a perceived danger existed on the sidewalk or the creek or the park. I grew up with the adage, “It is better to be safe, than sorry.”

My upbringing created a resistance in embracing the outdoors. It wasn’t until my thirties that I appreciated the tranquility of the outdoors. Running in the morning offered a chance to view beginnings in a way I hadn’t before. The blue sky, the rabbits scurrying along my pathway, and the landscape of cacti and bougainvillea provided the perfect backdrop for my runs. When motherhood entered, I found myself taking my daughter to parks and watching how she view the natural environment with so much wonder. Moving to a place where the landscape lends itself to magnificent views, year round, my focused turned toward really sinking into the grandeur of the outdoor and how much solace and freedom it can offer.

What is your relationship with the outdoors? Has it changed ?

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Everyone Has A Story

April 11, 2014

It happened three different times in the same familiar place. I pulled into my grocery store lot and parked my car in-between the painted yellow lines, shifting the steering wheel so that my tires pointed straight. I grabbed my purse and quickened my pace toward the sliding doors. As I entered I observed an older man carrying a bouquet of flowers in his hands. The bright-colored daffodils formed a rainbow of pink, blue and green against the gray of his […]

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What I Regret The Most

April 9, 2014

“Here’s something I know to be true, although it’s a little corny, and i don’t quite know what to do with it: What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded… sensibly. Reservedly.Mildly. Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope: Who, in your life, do you remember the most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth? […]

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What Shapes Our Days

April 8, 2014

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” —Annie Dillard. I’ve always loved this quote because it contains a permanent truth. When one of my favorite bloggers, Kristen at Motherese, decided to pair this quote with a quiz from The Happiness Project, I knew I had to ponder my own answers to these questions. I met Kristen on-line and every time I visit her space, I always learn a new insight or observation that push […]

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Grief Reveals You

April 7, 2014

This past weekend I read John Green’s work, The Fault In Our Stars. The premise of this novel centers on two cancer-stricken teenagers who fall in love. This book was released in 2012, but because of the subject, I postponed reading it. I knew that many references of cancer lurked in the pages. Reading about cancer transports me to those days with my father and the countless appointments with his oncologist, chemotherapy, and radiation. It is a part of my history […]

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You Have To Live

April 2, 2014

“Stop worrying about your identity and concern yourself with the people you care about, ideas that matter to you, beliefs you can stand by, tickets you can run on. Intelligent humans make those choices with their brain and hearts and they make them alone. The world does not deliver meaning to you. You have to make it meaningful…and decide what you want and need and must do. It’s a tough, unimaginably lonely and complicated way to be in the world. […]

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The Season Of Now

April 2, 2014

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have.” – Eckhart Tolle Struggling with my restless spirit is a permanent place in my personal ferris wheel. In this space, I’ve detailed my various attempts to meditate, attain that inner sanctum of “peace,” and fully embrace the alluding present moment. Entranced by the mantra of what’s next, my eyes tend to focus on the future. My tendency to make the future my puppet does not materialize. Instead, I find […]

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An Undiminished Capacity To Love

March 31, 2014

White wisps of floating clouds garnished the sky. Spring appeared in the corners. Bright green grass, red flowers projecting out of pine cones, and the sun tilted to cast the right amount of light. Down below, my little girl clung to the handle of her very first kite, one she labeled her tie-dyed rainbow. As she launched her new toy into the sky, she conversed with the kite, commanding it to go higher and higher. She maneuvered the string so […]

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