Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Just Fine: My Personal Anthem

Asheville has been in a gasoline crisis since Sunday night - 3 days ago. The pumps that have gas available are few and far between. No one knows when any gas station is going to have gas, and the stations sell out within 30 minutes of getting the fuel. You can tell a station has gas by the line of 50 cars that are stalking it. It seems we are at the end of the line of a pipeline that was affected by Hurricane Ike. So there is gas elsewhere in the state, just not within 50 miles of Asheville. When I realized there was a serious shortage I saw that I had over 3/4 of a tank, plenty to allow me to do my normal driving and drive to Hickory and back for work (160 miles R/T) on Thursday. After my shift I could always fuel up at any point on my way back home. So I wasn't worried. But still I felt uncomfortable. I realized that when I thought about my dependence on oil I didn't feel good - crisis or no. So for the first time in my life I looked, I really looked at what I could do about it. Not driving my car was an obvious option, but my life is full of things I want to do away from home.

Previously I felt too uncomfortable thinking of riding my bike in town. I don't have a lot of biking experience mainly because I had two terrible bike accidents (in the age before helmets!) as a child that required hospitalizations and there are always plenty of stories of *competent* bikers being hit by cars because drivers are oblivious. After my triathlon, I realized that I was more competent than I gave myself credit and I *decided* to get over my fear of cars. And I looked at my schedule and *decided* that from now on I was going to drive my car *no more* than once a day, and not at all if possible. And for the last two days I have done that!

Yesterday I looked at my schedule: G and I had a play date with a friend and her son and we had tentatively planned to meet at her house, about a 15 mile drive out of town, using the highway. I talked with her and discovered that she had plenty of gas and needed to come into town anyway, so she was happy to bring her child to our house where we had a blast. Then I planned to go to the gym in the afternoon and after that have acupuncture. I realized that I could forfeit my drive to the gym and the workout (really, how crazy is it to drive to a gym to run on a treadmill, when I could just lace up my shoes and run out my front door?!) and ride my bike to my practitioner's home. My dh even needed to pick up a job in that neighborhood so I was able to offer to get it for him. So an hour before my appointment (I had *no* idea how long it would take!) I strapped on my helmet and headed for the monster hill that leads into town. Really, this hill was reason enough not to get on a bike. But I have seen people walking their bikes up it all the time, so I was prepared to do the same. But I got up it easily. Really, I amazed myself. And then the rest of the ride was just lovely - through neighborhoods with beautiful houses and landscapes that I never noticed before as they were always a blur from my windshield. I got to my destination in 25 minutes. I used all the extra time I had before my appointment to call my friend excitedly and say, "You won't believe what I just did!" Really, for me, this ranked up there with completing the triathlon.

This morning I biked to meet a friend downtown (15 minutes! I can't even drive, park in a lot, and then leave my car and walk to a restaurant in that little time!) for lunch and for the first time ever I didn't have to worry about finding parking (sometimes difficult) or paying for it (sometimes costly). All around us in the restaurant people were talking about the gas crisis, and even my friend had a harrowing story of being with her children and running out of gas at 10 pm on Sunday night. It is easy to feel anxious around all those stories. I acknowledge that and then I look for thoughts that feel better. I can't do anything about the gas crisis, but I can decide that I will use it as an opportunity to expand my thinking, to see that I am still free to *choose* thoughts that feel better. By doing that I found that I could do something that brought me more benefits than I could have ever imagined. I got out on my bike in beautiful weather, I felt the sun and cool wind on my skin, I smelled the fresh air, I saw beautiful things, I marveled at how strong my body is, and yes, I even solved the gas crisis.

At one point, when I was riding my bike up that monster hill (and there's no getting out of my side of town without it) I realized that I had a song going through my head: Just Fine by Mary J Blige. Since I first heard it, I have considered it my personal anthem and here are a few of the lines from it:

Having a real good time, I'm not complaining
And I'ma still wear a smile if it's raining
I gotta enjoy myself regardless
I appreciate life, I'm so glad that it's mine.


Thanks, Mary J, for putting into a rockin' song what I so firmly believe: well-being is available to me, to everyone, no matter what the conditions. And no one, no gas crisis, no looming recession, can ever take that away.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Farewell, Summer

It's now in the mid-50's in the morning and late evening. It usually warms up to the 70's during the day - just perfect weather, really, I have no complaints, it's just that it's no longer summer. And we had such a wonderful summer. So while I'm appreciating the day that we have, and the new season to come, I have so much gratitude for our blissful, perfect summer.

We had many gatherings of friends and family and here we are celebrating the birthday of a dear friend.

One of the sweetest moments of the evening was G asking his friend if he'd like an ice cream cone. The kid loves to be a good host, just like his mom.

One of the highlights of the summer was when my dearest friend from high school came to visit with her family. Her daughter just turned 13 and during her early years I always came up to visit them. Now that I have a little one she says she is happy to return the favor. She's the best!

We managed to slip away to NYC for a long weekend and stay in my brother's fabulous Washington Square apartment while he was out of town. I think I mentioned it in another post, and it was exactly as we hoped - we got coffee and bagels from the corner cafe and spent most of our days in the parks. Here we are hanging out at the awesome farmer's market in Union Square.

On Sunday morning I got to visit with one of my parents' most long-term dearest friends. We used to crash on the floor of his tiny one bedroom apartment in Manhattan all through the 80's. He still teases me about when he and my parents would go out at night I would perch myself in a chair by the window watching the scenes from the street below with his opera glasses. I thought it was the most magical place back then and I still do. We had a perfect, quintessential Sunday morning in New York: we met at his upper East Side co-op, walked one block across 5th Ave and were in Central Park where we proceeded to jog around the reservoir and chat for over an hour. After working up a good appetite we had brunch at a delicious little deli. We then walked the few blocks to his medical office where we took this picture. Isn't it fantastic that I can call one of my parents' best friends one of my own?

G still loves to command the camera and many mornings are happily spent snapping pictures. I thought this was one was especially sweet.

Last Saturday we had the special privilege of getting to hear one of our favorite author/illustrators, Graeme Base, speak at our local book shop - something I never would have imagined would happen because he's from Australia! He even brought copies of his new book, Enigma, which will not be available in bookstores until October. Here he is reading from it and G is trying to break the code embedded in the book. Very cool.

Bubbles and the last days of summer are a perfect fit - they are both beautiful, luminescent, and fleeting. We are filled with joy and gratitude for every one.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Yesterday I was in my first triathlon! The tri consisted of 1/2 mile swim, 18 mile bike, and 3.2 mile run. I was inspired/compelled to participate when my dear friend of 30+years let me know this is something she wanted to do and asked for support. She trained hard and smart for over 3 months and I am so proud of her accomplishment. It was an all-women's event and the energy was so great. It was a beautiful day - well, if you can call it day as it was pitch-black night when we woke at 4 am, left the house at 4:30 and set up our transition stations a little after 5. It was dark until about 10 minutes before we got in the water at 7 am. I watched a brilliant full moon set and the sun rise as we swam. It was cool on the road for the bike and then the run was under a tree-covered trail. You could not have asked for better weather and, again, the energy among the women was fabulous. Of course, it was the greatest delight to be there with my dear friend as she was achieving a long-held and hard-won goal and I was covered with goose bumps as we crossed the finish line together. It's obvious she has caught the tri bug because right after it she was planning how she could make it better next time. I have no such thoughts - I love to run and swim, but I borrowed a bike for the race and really don't love it enough to justify the expense of a road bike. I realized, though, that I miss running marathons more than I thought and I expect another one in my not-so-distant the meantime I will bask in the glory of finishing a very satisfying triathlon.

Before the race:

During the race (after the swim and bike):

After the race (check out how radiant my friend - in the middle - is!):