Plant Impossible Dreams

Four years ago, I decided on January 1stthat I was going to accomplish something “impossible” that year. Up to that point, I’d never been a runner. I’d barely accomplished the 100-yard dash in elementary school, and that was only because we were required to attempt it as part of the Presidential Physical Fitness Test. (God bless the 1980’s.) Running a half marathon was the closest thing to impossible that I could imagine, especially as I had friends at the time who were all constantly training for “this Half Mary”, or “that race” in some exotic location, or simply wanted to “be ready” in case a “fun” Half showed up. (Be ready? For what? The apocalypse?  This seemed like utter nonsense to me. Who trains to run 13.1 miles on a whim, just in case? I had weird friends.)

Thus, I embarked on this impossible goal, set up a training schedule, and I stuck to it through heat, snow, rain, wind, and shin splints. I was not fast, but that was ok with me, my goal was simply to finish, and to “run” the whole thing – no walking. I trained for 18 weeks, and at the end, I ran 13.1 miles without stopping. It was amazing, exhilarating, I was proud, and I was completely surprised at my own abilities.

The day before I ran my race, I received a plant and a beautiful note delivered to my door. It was from a friend who simply said, “Congratulations on making your goal, you’re going to do great.” I was so touched that someone would celebrate my impossibility with me! I loved that plant and what it symbolized – the work, the effort, the daring to dream, the follow-through, and finally, the tenacity to do the impossible. Every time I looked at it, I thought about how I went from not believing in myself to accomplishing more than I ever gave myself credit for.

Historically, I have not been a good plant keeper, I water plants too much, I water them too little, I put the ones that are supposed to be in shade in the brightest room, I put ones that need sun in my cave of a den.  Suffice to say, I am generally a plant killer rather than a nurturer, and I even manage to kill the ones that are supposed to be hearty and un-killable. Yet, this plant has survived. Nay, not just survived, it has grown and thrived and continues to flower. This plant that symbolized impossibilities realized, is an impossibility itself, a testimony to overcoming impossibilities. Yesterday, I transplanted that plant into a new pot, one where it can stretch out and keep growing, and when I look at that plant now, I find myself asking what impossible thing I am going to attempt next.  #NeverSettle #ImpossibleContainsPossible #KeepGrowingBecome

California Poppies

Lately it seems like making “positive choices” is not moving the needle in any direction whatsoever…and when that happens for me, I start to question if my choices are worth the effort. Choices like buying organic (it can be more painful for my wallet), or choices like walking at least 3 miles a day (not exactly sore muscles, but I don’t see a difference in muscle definition or tone), choices like actively finding educational books to read to expand my mind (it takes more “work” than reading pop culture magazines). None of these things are bad.  I don’t regret choices to read something that expands my understanding and challenges my assumptions or to fuel my body with food that I know is more healthy.

Today I was reminded that sometimes even when we can’t see a difference being made every day, doesn’t mean work, growth, or change isn’t happening.  I’m talking about the poppies in my yard. I have always thought of myself as being a notorious black thumb; once I almost killed a cactus because I didn’t water it enough. I have felt for a long time that plants see me coming and immediately commit suicide as an easier means to death than to suffer my nurture. My neighbors, on the other hand, are naturals; if they just think about planting it in their amazing yard, the plants thrive. Inspired by their success, (albiet slightly intimidated), last summer, I planted a dozen seed packets around the yard, near the walkways, in patches by the fence, in the healthy unused outside my front door.  I figured that if something grew, I could be delighted, and if nothing grew, no one would know that I’d attempted, and therefore, couldn’t give me a hard time about the short life span of plants at my house.

To my delight and surprise, the poppies grew around my flagstone walk, but there weren’t any flowers, just the green plants.  That was ok, I’d managed to grow plants, and in my mind, that was a win right there! The season turned and winter came to Colorado; everything died amid the snow and cold. Then a month or so ago, little sprouts started to appear around the flagstone walk, and I was once again delighted to see that my poppies were going to come back. Next door, the neighbors’ poppies were in full bloom, and mine were still just the straggly plants, but they were getting bigger.  Yesterday, it was all fronds.  Today, there was a flower.  Just one flower, but it was a flower, and in my mind it was perfect!  All the work, the patience, the care, the watering, the sun, the consistency….it paid off.  Today there was a flower.  And next door is a promise of many more to come. Consistency in life – there is a payoff, and it’s worthwhile.  This is what healthy living looks like.

Balance

If you ask, it seems like everyone has The Answer; the one way to be healthy, the one way to eat, the one dietlifestyle you should follow, the one thing you should omit, the one thing you should add, the one exercise regimen that works, the one supplement package that is right for everyone, everything in pursuit of The Answer to lose weight/gain weight/add bulk/trim down/sleep better/get stronger/become more flexible/look younger/feel better/be more healthy. But is that the right way to find the answer…?

Maybe it’s actually the wrong answer. Maybe instead of one universal answer, there is simply an answer that’s right for you.  Because you are unique – your gender, age, metabolism, work requirements, habits, family, genetics, and DNA. You are special. Instead of trying to make everyone fit into the current fad or lifestyle de jour, maybe it should be about Balance, and finding out what works for you.  Don’t get me wrong – for every fad, lifestyle, diet, or exercise/training plan, you will find a kajillion testimonials, and chances are, those testimonials are true!  People share them because they found something that worked for them, and they want others to feel and experience that same kind of health and wellness. There’s nothing wrong with that, but at the end of the day, no one knows you better than you.

So consider Balance – in your work, your attitudes, your eating choices, your exercise habits, your excitement and your calm…in short, consider Balance in your life, and how that might be part of your answer.

New Beginnings

The last time I posted a blog was a fictitious letter from my dog to me.  I had no idea at the time that he would pass away nine days later, and it truly broke my heart. Let me be clear, he was almost 15 years old and had lived an amazing life…it was time.  But it was the first time I truly experienced tangible grief in my life from “someone” close to me dying.  Part of my coping meant I took a break from writing.  Then I forgot why I wasn’t writing. Then I forgot to write.  Then it faded as something that I used to do….and then I’d write once in a while and forget to post to the site.  Yet, every time the renewal came up, I kept the site, knowing in my heart that one day, I was going to start writing again.

So here is to New Beginnings. Here is to starting fresh, celebrating the past and anticipating the future with joy. Here is to launching anew, a new chapter and new goals.  Here is to continuing to evolve into the person I am becoming. Here is to being Brave.

If we are not growing and changing, we are decaying. There have been lessons and stories, choices and decisions…. Today is a new day, and now is when we go from here.  Where is your “here”?  Join me.  Come with me on a journey….discover what the best self might be.  Struggle with balance.  Challenge yourself further than you think possible. Be inspired. Love. Your. Life.

 

Dear Mom… (a letter from my dog)

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Dear Mom,

I was just thinking about all the fun times we have together. There have been so many. I think I am the luckiest dog that I got to live with you. I know you weren’t sure at first, but I’m really glad you kept me. And I have really tried to be a good dog as much as I can. I know I have trampled your gardens, and sometimes I make the house dirty. I have tried really hard to always pee outside, and when I get into the garbage, it’s only because it smells so INTERESTING. I get a little distracted and forget that I’m not supposed to open the lid. I’m sorry. And, I want to state for the record, that it wasn’t me that at your Dansko clog – that was Molly. And I NEVER would have tried to eat that turkey and avocado sandwich if Molly didn’t first. It was all her fault. I have to be honest, Mom. I wasn’t crazy about Molly. But you and me? I think we have had some of the best times a dog and his girl can have together.

Hey! Hey!! Remember the time that you took me to that lake, and we swam and swam? And I got to get the Frisbee when you’d throw it? And then I got to chase the ball? And then I was so tired I had to rest a minute and we got to do it again? Do you remember?

What about the time we watched movies together on the back patio on the Big Pillow? Do you remember that? I might have snored a little bit, but the movie was so loooong. Do you remember?

Do you know what it’s like to go to Camp Cheese? I trained Grandma real good….she always gives me breakfast and water and lets me out and sometimes she makes me GrandmaSnack Cookies! If I know that she has them, I’ll stay up by the fence extra long and not come back in the house until she offers to give me one! She stands at the back door, and she calls, ‘Draaaaake…come here! Drake, come inside!’, and I wait a little bit…and then I sniff around the fence for something – there’s always new smells with all the people walking by – and then she says the magic words, ‘Drake! You want a GrandmaSnack? Come-on!’ And then I come running! Not so fast anymore. In my heart I’m still a puppy and I can outrun anybody, but my legs just don’t work so well anymore, so sometimes I have to take it a little slower.

The rabbits and squirrels know it, too, and sometimes they tease me a little bit. Especially the squirrels. The bunnies are just flat out obnoxious, so I chase ‘em out of grandma’s flower beds, but those squirrels! I think they plan it out…they’ll see me laying in the sun, and come down the tree and scamper towards me… hop, hop, scramble, pause….and they check to see if I’m watching. If I’m not, they chatter at me a little bit, just sort of to poke me I think. I whip my head up and narrow my eyes and I bark at them to let them know I might be old, but I’m not deaf! I don’t bother chasing them so much anymore…they’re just being ornery. But I let them know that I’ve got their number, and I’ve alerted Grandma and Grandpa. No siree, there will be no squirrels in our house!

Sometimes Grandma gets distracted and forgets to give me a cheese snack before bed. So, I remind her. I talk to her a little bit, and then she gets it right. You never give me cheese, but Grandma does every night. And I know you say they spoil me, but I don’t think that’s true. It’s not spoiling when I only get the most delicious snacks ever once in awhile!

I will say this, Mom, you are great about getting me toys. There was this one – it was a box that had squeaky balls inside, and I had to get them out! The squeakers were pretty damn annoying, too, so I had to really chew on them to get them to stop. You always say, “be NICE to the squeaker”, but I don’t think you really understand. What if the squeaker is really a small version of the squirrel – I have to make sure! I loved that box though. I’d carry it around the house with me and sometimes I brought it to bed. I have some dragons, and they are pretty cool. There was a duck once that I loved. I would groom it, lick his feathers, and keep it safe, he was my best toy ever. The new monster is pretty good, too. He makes funny crackling sounds AND has a squeaker. I like that.

The times when I got to ride in the car were amazing. And I always knew where we were going. I think sometimes you sort of forgot how to get places, and that’s the only reason I’d start talking to you in the car. I just wanted to make sure you knew, that I knew, that you knew how to get there. And if you didn’t, I was ready to help.

The time we went camping was epic. Yeah, I mean, it’s great being a city dog, but I think I could have been a country boy just fine. I’m not complaining! But going up to the mountains or out on the plains, rivers and grasses and sooooo many smells….yeah, those were good times.

But my best times were always with you. It didn’t matter what we were doing, just that we could do it together. If you were working and I could just take a nap in the same room, that was good. I love going for walks with you. And watching you cook. I love it when people come over because they give me all kinds of attention, and sometimes, they give me extra snacks….I like being in the middle of everything though. And with all those extra people around, I don’t want to somehow lose you, so I stick close, just in case. But it’s because you are my person. You are my world. You are everything. And I don’t ever want you to think that I might love someone else more.

So Mom, I just want you to know….I am the luckiest dog and I am happy. I have had such a good life. And every day I get to spend with you is the BEST day of my life. So let’s just keep being happy, for every day we still have left. Because until I can’t make it down the stairs anymore, I will always be ready to go for a walk with you. And I will always smile when you come home. And I will always love you best.

Finally, Mom, here are a couple things I don’t want you to forget, even after I’m not here….

  1. Always greet people with a smile and tail wag – you gotta let people know that you love them. Don’t hide that.
  2. Never turn down a snack. You never know if it’s the last one that will be offered.
  3. Work hard and sleep hard. Life it tough, so go after it all with gusto. It’s ok, there is time to sleep at the end.
  4. Five minutes of playing can turn your day around.
  5. This one is hard sometimes, but always try to mostly follow the rules. Nobody really likes a rebel who just causes trouble and makes other people clean up after him.
  6. Be loyal.
  7. Don’t be afraid to tell someone what you need, whether that is help, a listening ear, or that you are hungry or need to go out.
  8. Don’t forget that we are meant to be a pack, we are meant for community, so don’t try to do everything by yourself. The lone wolf howls at night because he is alone.
  9. Life is better when you risk a little bit. You’ll never get that proud feeling of saving the house if you don’t take on those fierce squirrels.
  10. When the time is right, let go. I will always live in your heart.

I love you, Mom, and I will always be your very best buddy. Nobody can take that away.

Love,
Drake