Saying thank you for appreciating others’ prowess

I almost skipped yoga tonight, thinking¬† — excuse me while I stifle a snort laugh in retrospect — that, because I was tired, my mind and body would be best served by staying home.

But I got home from work in plenty of time to feed the dogs, start my dinner, get a few things ready for tomorrow…and thus, to get to yoga on time. I parked my mat next to an empty one, which was quickly occupied by a graceful woman (and, turns out, yoga instructor) I’d met at a previous class. I tried not to notice that when she did forward fold, her elbows were practically on the floor (my fingertips didn’t quite reach). She eased into downward dog like she was floating through the air.

Not that I was paying attention or anything.

About three-fourths through class, we did yet another downward dog. This time, we lifted first one leg and then the other, “high into the air,” said Jill, my soothing, challenging, enlightening, inspiring, knowledgeable instructor.

When I lifted my right leg, I felt my toes slightly scraping the floor. I happened to turn (unintentionally of course) and glanced at the woman next to me as well as — well, just about everyone else it seems — whose legs were skyward, whose bodies formed perfect 45-degree angles.

Not that I was paying attention or anything.

But maybe it was good that I was(n’t) glancing at anyone else. To be perfectly honest, I rarely do. But tonight when I did, I realized something. Instead of comparing myself to everyone else, I was admiring their abilities.

So for the prowess of others, and the maturity to admire it instead of berating myself for lacking it…The Grateful Runner says thank you.


Saying thank you for a gentle shove outside my comfort zone

I make my living as a writer for many reasons; among them, that I don’t have to talk. In other words, I avoid public speaking like the proverbial plague. Or, to be more accurate, I limit my public speaking audiences to two age categories: 10 and under; 70 and older.

Back in November, I agreed to speak to an audience somewhere between, but because I surmised (correctly) that the group would have at least one person in the latter category, I said yes. Today was the day agreed upon. I had been thinking about what I would say and had written down several pages of thoughts.

But this morning, 30 minutes before I needed to leave, my sister Susan called to wish me luck and ask about what I would say. I surprised us both (and my son, who happened to be standing nearby) by bursting into tears.

“I can’t do this!” I cried. “I am awful at this! I am going to make a fool of myself!”

She helped me; gave me ideas I wasn’t sure I could pull off. SHE is the speaker; her timing and her delivery are impeccable. She’s FUNNY. I only am when I am around certain people — maybe a half dozen or a few more in my entire lifetime.

Well, her suggestions worked. I had a wonderful time with this delightful and welcoming group of women. The venue and the people were perfect: They met at someone’s house, in a living room, with everyone (including me!) sitting down…well, initially. I had them stand to start with yoga breathing (which helped me too!).

Then I just talked — about my dad’s influence on my writing, about feature stories, about fitness. Heck, I even showed them how to do a push-up leaning against the heavy wooden table on which they’d piled plates of healthy foods (in my honor).

I arrived at 10:15; it was almost noon before I left. I even all but agreed to speak to another group that a woman there belongs to. I walked out into the sunshine with the sweet woman who had invited me there. We hugged, I said thank you, and my day continued in an upward direction.

So for a shot of self confidence, administered by a sister who shoved me outside my comfort zone, The Grateful Runner says thank you.

Saying thank you for passions shared

Sept '13 running

My son Charlie and I don’t often get a chance to exercise together. For one reason, he’s in college five hours away. For another, our sports don’t really coincide. Yes, he’s on the track team, but as a jumper, not a runner — though periodically we do run together.

(Here’s what I wrote last September, after the race during Parents’ Weekend when we took this photo. I wrote this post when we ran Race for the Cure the following month).

All this to say is that I love we share a passion for working out. He’s majoring in kinesiology and has hardly missed a day at the gym since he’s been home for Christmas break. I’m there at the same time periodically, but I’m swimming laps while he’s lifting weights and often going for AN HOUR ON THE ELLIPTICAL (which blows me away, but I digress).

Since he’s been home though, we have gone to yoga together — four? five? — maybe a half-dozen times. My wonderful instructor, Jill Murawski, offered a 30-day pass for kids home from college, and I happily bought one for Charlie.

We went last Wednesday to a foam-roll yoga class with his friend Lee, which was ever so much fun. Then last night, when I asked Charlie if he’d go with me this morning, he said yes.

We unrolled our mats, positioning them, our blocks and our blankets next to each other. And while Jill stresses the importance of being mindful only of ourselves and not our neighbor, I admit to stealing a glance or two (no more, really!) at that kid — young man; excuse me — a flung arm away; he with his mother’s flexibility (sorry, Charlie) and, most importantly, his own poise and determination.

For that, for those sideways glances, for who I saw, and for what we share, The Grateful Runner says thank you.

Saying thank you for (finally) laughing at myself

I had a beautiful run today. Yesterday’s wind was gone, leaving stillness and silence in its stead on this crisp and calm morning. After feeding the dogs and eating breakfast, I went to yoga.

I love yoga; specifically, Fit Yoga with Jill Murawski, which I discovered last February. Though I am well aware of my limitations, they’re not as blatant as I used to think they were. Yes, I periodically lose my focus and thus my footing, but I seem to have achieved (or be en route to) a relatively decent sense of balance.

Downward dog no longer mortifies me either. Plus, I’m hardly embarrassed at all at my (waning?!) clumsiness or lack of flexibility. That realization hit me during class today, starting with crow pose, at which point I said (to no one in particular), “I don’t think I can even visualize myself doing that!”

I did a very modified pose, which suited me just fine. Then Jill said since there weren’t very many of us — five, I think — we would go to the wall to do the waterfall pose. In this one, you lie on your back, your bottom against the wall and legs pressed against it.

My bottom was five inches away. I shimmied it as close as I could, and then — I’m trying to remember this exactly — Jill had us reach our hands for our legs. Mine were flailing somewhere midair.

At this point, I broke yoga-etiquette rules (which stress you need to focus only on yourself, not your neighbor) by glancing at Angie, the woman on my right (who moments earlier had made crow pose look so easy). Her hands were quite comfortably touching her legs.

My admiration “Wow!” just popped out. And then, “Look at how her arms can reach.”

I could all but hear Jill smiling. She then said offered an explanation on why Angie’s outstretched hands met their goal — one that had nothing to do with the length of her arms.

“Angie’s arms aren’t longer?” I asked. “Are you sure?”

I started laughing, and heard the other women in class laughing, too. That was fun, and now, a dozen hours later, I’m smiling all over again — tickled at our shared amusement, but also at myself for being able to do what has stymied me in the past:

Laugh at myself.

And for that, The Grateful Runner says thank you.

(For more about The Grateful Runner, click here)