84 Bethlehem Pike (Rear)
Philadelphia, PA 19118

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Rapids

I run. Sort of. I kind of run/jog/walk. I used to run. Right before my ex-husband and I separated I started running. It was January and I decided to take up running and trained hard and obsessively for the Broad Street run. I didn't know at the time that I was running from everything - my marriage, my kids, myself, my government job, adulting - all of it. We separated in April, I ran Broad Street on May 1 and I stopped running.

Fast forward 5 and a half years. I'm sober now, divorced, own a business, teach yoga, am constantly working on personal growth and decided about a year ago to get back to running. This time, I incorporated these things that I know from yoga into my routine:

1) Every day is different - I can get up and want to run or jump on the elliptical for 5 or 6 miles but some days my body is just plain TIRED! On those days, I cut it short. Who cares? It's not like we get a gold star for running a certain distance each day. Some days I feel like I can run (or elliptical) FOREVER!!! On those days, if I have the time, I stay! Why not? Take it while it's good, right?

2) Breathe - I used to train in Muay Thai (don't even ask) and suffered from exercise induced asthma. I'm fairly certain I just wasn't breathing. It was in the 3 years after college when I was still living in State College (Nittany Lion country!), bartending and partying my brains out. Yoga taught me to breathe again, and a lot of other things that helped me out of this mess.

3) Listen to good music - we do this in my yoga classes too!

4) There are no rules - if it's nice out and I want to run on Forbidden Drive, I do. If it's crappy out and I want to jump on the elliptical at the gym, I do. If it's nice out and I want to jump on the elliptical at the gym, I do. It just occurred to me, at 35 years old, literally, just yesterday, that I can start reading a new book before I'm done with the one I'm already reading! Because I'm 35 and I can do what I want. Same applies to running! Same applies to yoga. My friend Natalie said in a class recently, "Life is hard,your yoga practice doesn't have to be." I love this and feel the same way about running.

A few weeks ago I was in the midst of trying to make what seemed like a really difficult decision so I slathered on some EnRGee essential oil and went running on Forbidden Drive. I was looking at this incredibly calm portion of the stream that meanders alongside the path and thinking how nice it would be if life was like that: still, calm and peaceful. It was one of those places in the water where it looks like glass, it's so still that algae builds up around the edges of the stream and there are lily pads everywhere.

I looked up just a bit farther and it wasn't so still. There were some small rapids where the water was flowing quickly over the rocks. Even farther up was a waterfall. "My life is like this waterfall right now," is what I was thinking. I watched the water as I continued to run and just as I passed the waterfall, again, stillness. There's a dam just before the waterfall that creates this stillness.

The rest of my run/jog/walk I considered that our lives are so much like the flow of a stream. There are smooth, still, beautiful moments in which we might glimpse serenity. There are times when our lives are like the waterfall; when the shit hits the fan and all of our best laid plans go out the window. (In hindsight I usually find that to be a good thing!!) There are the times after the waterfall when we are uncomfortably bumping along rocks, moving through what seem to be rapids and trying to figure out what comes next. We can't predict the timing of these things, nor the order, but they all occur.

It occurred to me that each part of the stream is beautiful; just like each part of our lives. Serenity would be pretty boring if we were never challenged to seek it and allow it in. The movement of water over the rocks cleans it, just as challenges and losses 'clean' us and help us make space for new things.

I write this now from a still spot in the water, for which I am incredibly grateful. It took a challenging situation for me to recognize how truly lucky I am though. Some may even say blessed.







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