Sunday, March 11, 2012

up and up into the light (+ an update)

me… literally sparkling!

Two months ago, I was dug deep, dug dark, lost in a hole from which I could see almost no way out.

Two months ago I began a journey, a dogged, determined journey to claim wellness, to make my way out of the hole.

Eight weeks ago, I wasn't sure I could ever make it out or up. Some days I simply could not see how to make it into the light.

Just eight weeks ago.

Today, here I am.

Out. Up. In.

And it's unbelievably gorgeous here.

Oh, there have been dips and spills. Aren't there always? But I am coming to see that these hard moments, stumbles, anxious minutes, dark memories or trials are just moments. They just 'are.' They are no more powerful than days of shine.

And my days have, quite simply, come to feel like a river, flowing. All moments flowing on. And when I talk of this feeling, I literally move my hands, like a ribbon, like a snake, like a river. I do it all the time; I keep doing it.

Because life has come to feel…like water.

And I know I've mentioned before what I've been doing to make my way out and up and in, but I've realised the core of my wellness boils down to four simple things:

I have moved my body. I have talked. I have eaten, and I have breathed. It sounds too simple, I know. And in many ways it isn't simple—to remind and encourage myself to move, to take time to be still and focus on the breath, to create meals that are good all the way through, and to talk to others and ask for help. But it hasn't been nearly as complicated as I thought it might be.

I move my body, every day.

I focus on the breath, and take moments of stillness, every day.

I eat delicious and healthy food I have mindfully prepared, and take natural supplements I believe work well.

I talk with people who care and those I love.

And these things have simply (and not so simply), made me well. They have given me joy.

So much so,

that I decided to have myself a little adventure.

I entered a triathlon!

Yep. I really did.

I'd been exercising every single day for two months—swimming, walking, and bike riding. Two weeks ago, a friend mentioned she was going in a local triathlon. And at some point in the conversation she said, "You know, Helena, you could totally do this. You're basically doing a triathlon every week when you exercise. It wouldn't be that hard at all."

I came up with at least three reasons why I shouldn't. She came up with three answers why I totally could.

And I thought, "Oh, why not. Why not?!"

"Yes" came leaping out at me. Or perhaps I leaped at it?

So I've been 'training' extra hard the last couple of weeks. Walking plus swimming, riding longer, that sort of thing. Excitement has been building until yesterday morning, the day of the race. I wrote on my Facebook wall: "It's like Christmas, and exams and a surprise party all at once! Happy butterflies. :) "

I drove before dawn to the race start. There was the dark freeway, white road stripes coming into view like rabbits, running. Lights of the cars in front glowed red. Quietly, and alone, I moved through the dark.

But then I looked to my right. There, gliding beside me in the simple night, was the moon. Full. Peaceful. Sending love. How full I felt in that moment. How grateful. How utterly filled with Grace.

We registered as the sun rose. Stripped down to swimsuits and bare feet and oh! the grass was so cold. We stood talking, all these women and men—all of us smiling, connecting, giving support, arranging ourselves, our gear, our bikes, our minds, to Be Ready.

And then it came. The race! The start! The beginning! Just before the horn blew I stood at the water's edge with my hand shading the sun, breathed in, and quite suddenly,

felt calm to my bones.

8.33 a.m. and there I am, second from left!
(all photos taken by my lovely husband, hooting and clapping along with my kids.
They cheered me almost every stroke, step, and cycle of the way)

The water felt beautiful. Really. It felt like swimming hard, and not swimming. Like moving but not moving, like gliding and racing and powering forward and floating. At some point I felt like I was alight. Alive, truly, and completely. Utterly occupying my own true self.

there I am in the front (but not in the lead, no no), sort of almost running

We got out of the water and I was like, 'Oh! More race? More to do? Really, you say?' 

I think I smiled through that whole bike ride. Couldn't stop. Could not stop thinking, Wow. I'm really here. Riding. Claiming. Moving. FLYING.

Somewhere in the third leg of the ride, a woman zoomed up and glanced over at me. She did an immediate double take, and called out, "WHY are you grinning?!" I didn't even know I was. I couldn't stop. I couldn't help myself. The joy just kept busting out.

The run leg was funny. Because I was the only one walking. I thought there'd be others, but no. Me walking, being overtaken, literally, by everyone. The old, the young, the infirm: off they all went! I thought, 'Should I run?' Then I thought, 'No. I would rather not. It's so beautiful here. Look! There's the sea. There are surfers. Dog walkers. Children. And the sky is so blue. The sun so warm.' I walked and smiled at everyone I saw.

I crossed the finish line and my cheeks hurt from smiling. My whole body was filled with joy. I was so happy.

9.26 and I'm done!
And in the spirit of full disclosure I have to tell you: I came last.
Totally utterly, gloriously smilingly last*. 


What a beautiful day.

What an incredible journey.

What an extraordinary life.


* the results came out today. Turns out I didn't, in fact, come last. I came 6th last, or 330th out of 335 awesome triathletes. Well. That changes everything! Might enter the Olympic-level race next…  :)