Boston Marathon~2016

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Six Months to Boston

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Six Months to Boston

runningIt has been a dry two years for writing. Why?

I suppose I am guilty of only writing about certainty, of what I know, instead of what I don’t know, or dream of. Fear of failure perhaps. Fear of throwing personal questions out to the universe. Well. That was stupid.

Life is about living the questions. For 2 years I was without gainful employment, and was even gracefully asked to, well, leave a job at a prestigious university. It was not a good fit, but I wanted to be the one to call that. Not them. That hurt.

Hurt gave way to wonder, and then to peace. Then, in an all out effort to find the right thing, just when I was not looking, a dear friend threw a job possibility my way. It came out of thin air. It is exactly where I am supposed to be. I am connected back to my core.

Knowing my core has taken time. It took failure, and illness and betrayal on many fronts to find it. Deep inside I am learning to listen. It is there.

Today I ran without headphones for 10 miles. Talk about finding your core. I signed up to run the Philadelphia Half-Marathon; mostly because I needed a goal, but also because that is where I am from, where my family lives, where my core started. It is the city of brotherly love. I get to see my amazing Italian family, and run through the streets of my childhood.

And, today, as I went on my training run, I realized that the Boston Marathon is 6 months from today. That too is my core. My mother once said that the Boston Marathon made me “whole”. I thought I was finished with running at that distance. Certainly, 10 Boston’s counts for something. But I have not been able to get the bombings out of my mind, nor my husband’s recent illness, nor the fact that we are not going to live forever, and each day is precious.

I am also  not going to only announce my successes. I want to announce my questions. Can I actually run 26.2 miles again? Good question. I sure hope so. But I am not afraid to “put it out there”. If my body will take me, I will go. I have some unfinished business, and it remains somewhere between Hopkinton and Boston. My heart swims here; it grieves here; it soars here.

If I wait until I know I can do it, that is my ego. If I share my burning desire to put one more Boston under my Asics, even when I am 55-years-old and not sure if I can pull it off….that is my heart. It is the 120th running of the Boston Marathon. It is 22 years since my first Boston. It is the race that brought me dearest friends and fondest memories and I am ready to give it my last best shot!

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On Yoga and Eucharist

On Yoga and Eucharist.

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On Yoga and Eucharist

This last week I had the rare opportunity to attend the Holy Eucharist three times. My dear friend, The Very Reverend Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, became Dean and President of a Seminary, and during my visit to the festive occasion I had two opportunities to participate, and alas, this morning-makes three. In my early Catholic upbringing, we “counted” even communion at a wedding as “counting” toward the “credit” of mass. Were we ever missing the point. The grace of the occasion, however subtle (or in the instance of Cynthia’s installation ceremony- grand), is a gift. It is a moment of predictable words, and silences, of prayers and offerings, music and community. It is Holy Communion. I also had the lovely opportunity to practice yoga four times this week.pink prayer table

 

 

 

 

These beautiful experiences are subtle, quietly devout, and personal. They can not really be put to words, but a best as I can describe-they both offer the most exquisite balance of giving and receiving, offering and accepting. It is the joining of selves in a group, all from our own agendas, troubles, joys, and hopes. We arrive, we place our hands together, and pray with our bodies and our souls.

It was a once in a lifetime experience to be with Cynthia as she became President and Dean of the Seminary of the Southwest, with the pomp and circumstance that it deserved. I was moved beyond words.

It also was a once in a lifetime experience to be in Austin, Texas-on a 100 degree morning with Cathy George in a yoga class, on the morning of this festive occasion. Praying and twisting our bodies in joy for a friend, hands in prayer-namaste.

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The Conductor’s Pause

BernardHaitink

It is 7:49 on the first Monday after the 4th of July hoopla. It feels especially quiet down here by the ocean’s edge on a rocky beach, which brings a slight relief of a breeze to a streak of hot humid days. It has been seven months since I left my job at Massachusetts General Hospital, where I worked on and off for 20 years. Graduation has come and gone, and now is what I think the speakers refer to as Commencement. It is the beginning of a new chapter, as so many of them say.

I am clearly in the beginning of a new chapter.  It is hard not to like this space of peaceful nothingness. It feels like the first time I have ever experienced summer as summer. I wear sandals and sneakers most of the time. I gave away all of my work clothes. I actually shop for groceries and plan meals. I take my dogs swimming in the ocean and I don’t worry about missing trains.

It is in between jobs-not retirement. I am actively looking for work-but nothing seems clear. I have had far more rejections than interviews, and for the first time in my life-the path seems to be ever diverging. My friend Susan calls this period of time a “conductor’s pause’-a point at which the conductor creates a pause, often as directives for specific actions.

I am going to try and be actively engaged in the conductor’s pause, and enjoy the summer for its own sake. All of this, while casting nets to see what lies ahead-which path to take or not take.  To write, and write some more, to do that which scares me and make time to be with people that I love. Meanwhile, if you hear of any jobs-let me know!

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The Cake

Happy Birthday

I first saw the photograph of this cake in January, 2004. It was on the cover of Gourmet Magazine. It signified the necessary shift I believe we all need after seeing month of Christmas decorations and images of red and green and too much of everything. Amidst the other January magazine images which invariably offer resolutions for loosing belly fat, or getting your financial house in order, this image spoke of “happy”.

This year, 2013, my youngest daughter was about to turn 18. I desperately wanted to make her happy. She struggles with Bipolar Disorder and, by default, so do I. I was to be leaving on a business trip on the afternoon of her 18th birthday, and had fantasies of making this beautiful cake and bringing it to her school with a balloon emblazoned with an “18”.

I googled “birthday cake, gourmet magazine” and it did not take long for me to bring up the recipe for this memorable “happy cake”. I was so excited that I even posted the image of the cake on facebook, as my status on a day when we were all forced to stay inside during the Nemo snow storm.

I baked the cake in heart shaped tins of different sizes. The cake did not seem big enough so when Governor Patrick gave us the high sign to leave our houses, I bought more butter and made 2 more layers. They were beautiful! Then came the frosting. I started it on Sunday so it could chill until Monday, Libby’s birthday. I followed the directions perfectly.

The first batch, though carefully made by the letter, failed into curds of butter and syrupy sugar. Yuck. No matter, I could make the frosting the next day. On Monday morning, Libby’s birthday, I diligently followed the recipe, within an inch of its life. The only problem was that Libby announced to me that I should not embarrass her at school with a cake. This part I did not care so much about. I knew that if I showed up with this beautiful cake (pictured above), she would have nothing but love and joy.

So I pressed on with enthusiasm. Within minutes I realized that I failed at frosting. I failed at frosting in exactly the same way I felt that I failed at mothering. I had to leave to catch a plane for Texas, or else i would have bought Duncan Hines pre-made fake stuff and spread it on the cake for one last ditch effort. But no. In one sweeping Virginia Wolf moment, I threw all the cakes in the trash. Every last bit of flour and sugar that I thought could make someone happy, in a plastic bag, no turning back. Sadness, failure, waste.

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One week is a good amount of perspective.

Libby now looks for the cake that she knew I was making. I instead chose to “buy” a lemon mousse cake and decorate it for her. The candles sit libby(see above) in the cake waiting to be blown out one week late.

Today we celebrated the 1st birthday of my 19-year-old step daughter’s son. Bittersweet. He was so happy with his one-year-old cake. I want to bring back the days when cake meant something. When rainbowchip pre-mixed box was enough, when I could make my daughter smile. I still feel like I will make this stupid cake some day-when the stakes are not so high. For now, I must think of new ways to make Libby smile. I think it will take the form of sushi in front of the fireplace at Latitude, or it will take that precious moment inside of her when it does not take anyone else to make her happy and she just feels happy-for her own sake.

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