Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Today was a rare, beautiful "Wellington on a good day" kind of day. I should have been running! I should not have been sitting around in meeting after meeting. However a massage and niggling injury kept me off my feet and sitting at my desk looking grumpily out the office window at blue skies and green hills. So I'll post a poem about running, rather than post about my running...

Afternoon Distractions

The sun is shining
The air is still
And I am longing to
Be out running while
Pondering the nature of obsession and
Wondering whether this is just
Another expression of that
Which provides momentary distraction
From real tasks at hand.
What am I running from?
Or am I for a change running to?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Delete bad run!

I have been learning a rather hard lesson in personal failure over the last few days. It's teaching me some very interesting things about myself. The first is that I'm not used to not achieving my goals. The second is that I have some way to go before I can truly lay claim to personal resilience. That's okay - I probably needed that pointed out to me. It's just pretty gutting to have it happen the way that it has.

In February I started training with a group of women at my local gym. At the end of the training programme I took part in the Special K Duathlon, and achieved my goal by completing in under an hour. Here's me running over the finish line screaming "under an hour, under an hour!" That's my fab friend Leonie grabbing my hand, about to run over with me.

I had so much fun I signed up for a 10km run in June. We trained for eight weeks. I hit all my milestones, my fitness increased, I lost weight, enjoyed myself, and then yesterday, on the day of the event, I went out and completely bombed. I couldn't even run five km without stopping to walk. I felt sick, and my legs felt overwhelmingly weak. By the time I got to the end the girls in the squad that I usually leave for dead were overtaking me. I got over the finishline and ended up blubbing while my trainer grabbed my shoulders and told me over and over again that I was fit and had done really well. But I couldn't see that I'd done well. I'd had to walk, and I'd failed to reach my target by 9 minutes.

For me there was a lot more at stake than simply running an event. I had a lot of personal identity and self-worth tied up in doing well. It's kind of galling to have to write about this, because I thought that over the last eight weeks I'd gotten over identifying myself by my medical conditions, but without trying to give myself an out, I should state that some people would say the fact that I can even contemplate running 10km is quite remarkable.

When I was six months old I was diagnosed with Hydrocephalus, commonly known as Water on the Brain. After corrective surgery my parents were told that it would not be clear whether I had suffered brain damage until I was eight years old. As a result I was never allowed to be physically active as a child, although thankfully the warnings of brain damage proved unfounded.

In my late teens I discovered the gym, and have been an on-off member all my life. A couple of years ago I was doing really well - lifting lots of weights and doing lots of cardio - when I became mysteriously ill. For two months I became steadily weaker, until I was diagnosed with Addison's Disease and an underactive thyroid gland.

I've been really lucky in that my two auto-immune conditions are really well controlled on medication. A lot of people with Addison's are not so lucky. But all of my medical issues meant that, when I finally started group training, I attached my identity to my new abilities all the more strongly. So when I fell at the hurdle I think I took it even harder than I should have done. I've been battling a complete and utter sense of disappointment. I had begun to see myself as athletic, fit and capable. Staggering to the finish line somewhere near the back of the pack was not in the picture.

So what do I do now? Right now I want to get out there and run the course again. Probably not the smartest idea. I'm carrying a bit of an injury that probably didn't help the run, and that I should really get sorted out first, but what I really need to do is deal with the mental stuff going on inside. I need to stop beating myself up, and I need to learn from the experience. Hey, I did something that I find hard. I put myself out there and risked failure, and this time around I failed. But I tried, and I guess that's the important thing. After all, we trained for eight weeks, at around four runs a week, and only one or two were what I would have regarded as failures. That's a pretty good ratio really.

On the day I lost both the mental and the physical battle. But there are things I can do to help myself conquer both. I'm signing up for half-marthon training, which begins next week. I'm not going to let that 10km barrier beat me. Damn it, I am fit!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

And in the continuing saga...

Managed to get Aviel's phone number from Cosmic Corner. Called Aviel, only to discover that the party was actually being put on by Inner Eye. Hung up while he checked his phone, called back, got Lance and Jules' numbers. Called Lance - no answer. Called Jules. Success! Jules is not at the museum yet, so doesn't know whether Hamish has shown up, but at least someone involved in the gig now knows what's going on.

My work here is done. Now I can simply go back to being neurotic wife. At this rate he can cook his own ruddy dinner if he makes it home! Oh - and I've eaten FAR too much Dark Ghana chocolate for someone running 10km tomorrow... I'll blame both Sarah and Hamish for that one. Sarah for putting the idea of chocolate gluttony into my mind, H for causing the stress that induced the chocolate-eating attack. Now, would it be soooo terrible to drink a cider the night before the event?

BTW: 60.5 on the scales this morning. Go Pip... Go Pip...
Still no hubby...
Exact emotions right now:

ANNOYED!! What part of "call me before you leave" did he not understand?
WORRIED!! Probably the more dominant emotion. Where is he?
Frustrated... tried to track down Aviel's number to see if Hamish had gotten in touch with him, but no luck.
Watching the news, Hawkes Bay has had heavy rain, so even if he makes it that far it'll be slow going from then onwards.

Sigh... nothing to do but wait...
One day later, here I am - still on my own. Goodness knows where Hamish is. He was supposed to call this morning before leaving Gisborne. I have no idea whether he simply didn't get around to calling before getting into the car and is enroute, or whether he is still on the East Coast. He's supposed to be vjing at the Tattoo Museum tonight, and I don't know how to get hold of them to let them know he may not be there!

I have been keeping warm by reading in bed for most of the day, but gave in at 3.00 and turned on the central heating. It's now warm enough for me to sit here on the sofa typing. Although I do still have on a polyprop top, poncho and woollen beanie. I love my beanie. Oversized and knitted from non-descript beige wool, made with love by a gone-but-not forgotten American hippie friend. I love my poncho too - bright red and bought from a Peruvian clothing stand at the Aotea Markets in Auckland when we were up there for Hamish's 30th birthday. I remember slipping it over my head in the scorching heat, and just knowing it would be mine.

A small pile of other warm clothes is lying on the bedroom floor. Black beanie (less likely to blow off in Southerlies), gloves, track pants and Les Mills shirt. All ready for my 10km run tomorrow, together with my old faithful blue running shoes. Surely the weather won't be as cold as last year again? I'm not holding out any hope.

Since I said this would be a place for my poetry, I thought I would start where it all began... This is the first poem that was born from the universe into my consciousness:


I live in you.
On the day you took my hand
I packed up my worldly acquisitions:
The books, the clothes, the dusty
Suitcases under the bed,
And moved into your
Two up, two down,
Home renovator's dream.

Your walls contain me.
Your windows are my view.
I leave each morning through your door,
And I sleep under your rafters.
Your fence lines are my limits,
Your mortar my safety.

There will be
No open tender
No auction.
When I finally leave this dwelling
The advertising campaign will read
First time on the market in 50 years,
Lovingly preserved,
One careful owner.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Birth with a song, not a squeak!

It occurred to me that in naming this blog I didn't really think about what I was really trying to say. Do I want to be born with a squeak, or do I want to shout? Did I cry when I was born, or was I silent? I was two weeks' premature and very small. Did I fight back? Was I afraid?

It wasn't until my friend Leonie said to me that I should post my poetry somewhere that I saw any real point to having a blog of my own. What would I say? Could I say anything relevant? I had been silent for such a long time.

I wrote my first novel when I was around seven years old. It was about a calf with wings, called Cloudy. The novel filled up at least two school books, written in pencil in large, painstaking print. I kept writing poetry right up until I started university. At school I won a regional award, had my poetry published in the school magazine, and performed on stage. I wrote long, train of thought prose, without rhyme or embellishment.

During a year in the Netherlands on student exchange I swapped my latest writing with an American friend, Liz. Liz was equally angst-ridden and slightly out of place. We fed each other for years, until her depression and my need to move on drove a wedge between us. One of the good things of the last few weeks has been the renewal of our friendship - both in a better place.

Then it was back to New Zealand, and off to university. There I learned that I was a Westie chick. I did not fit in, and worse, I did not write in the accepted style. Everything was po-mo, and I was a naive realist. Which was about when my muse was silenced, unless you count a huge MA Thesis on cyborg identity in the classroom a work of creativity...

Ten years or so passed. The muse continued to remain silent, and I got on with living another life. But of course you never really forget your muse, and I really started to miss her. I decided I wanted her back.

Last year I tried working through The Artist's Way. I didn't get very far. I felt it kept trying to tell me that I had writer's block because of what other people had done to me. Well, sure, I didn't fit in at varsity, but the only person I was really angry with was myself, and naming myself over and over again in endless exercises was pretty limiting. Besides, getting out of bed in the morning to free-write was just never going to happen. I was an Artist's Way failure.

The exact events that led to me writing again are a little too complex to go into right now, and will probably be elaborated on in pieces over time. Suffice to say that one day I wrote. Then a few weeks later I wrote again. Funnily enough my writing had changed. I was creating wordscapes. Where did that come from?!!!

Let's just say that I decided to write when I was ready to write. And when I was ready, it came easily. However, it's taken me several weeks to decide what to write in this first post! This was rather public. Who was I and how did I want to portray myself to the world?

Inspiration came when I decided to Google a search for "creative women". Hello all you beautiful creative women out there! Where did you come from?

These 10 Commandments really struck a cord when I read them. I know I've seen them before, but this was the first time I think I have heard them. I need to start at number one. I need to remember that I am a creative woman! I have to have faith in that which is in me, and I have to have faith that it is good and worthy, and should be spoken.
  1. You will always remember: You are a creative woman.
  2. You will honor your creativity by nurturing it.
  3. You will honor your sister's creativity by nurturing it also.
  4. You will allow yourself to take creative risks.
  5. You will use your creativity to express and increase the beauty of the world.
  6. You will use your creativity to express truth.
  7. You will use your creativity to see more beauty.
  8. You will allow yourself and your art to be a work in progress.
  9. You will allow your creativity to be the "true voice" you hear when others may scoff.
  10. You will accept and love yourself during times of feeling fallow, trusting this quiet time is necessary to precede new birth or creation.
Before I started writing tonight I turned off the television, which I was using to kill some time on my own on a Friday on my own with the cats. Hamish was supposed to be coming home, but got stuck in Gisborne thanks to the huge storms sweeping the North Island.

I decided I needed a shower before I could begin to write. In the shower I opened my mouth and sang, loudly - the first thing that came into my mind. Unfortunately the first thing was The Beach Boys: "Wouldn't it be nice". I hate the Beach Boys! They were playing over the PA at the gym before I came home, and must have weasled their way into my subconscious. Anyway, I mashed them up and made them my own. I love the way my voice has power when I sing, and how it has depth. I want my writing to be like my singing.

So my first blog ended up being sung - not squeaked, not shouted. Kind of a nice way to begin really...

Thanks beautiful women/woman!