Thursday, December 31, 2009

Our Precious Human Body

As athletes we prize our bodies. We nourish them carefully. We train them rigorously. Our bodies take us on adventures.

But...they are only on loan to us for this lifetime, as it were. The expiry date isn't marked on our packaging, but it's there nonetheless. For all of us. Every. Single. Person.

I was recently in conversation with a women who had spent a lot of time with her mother in the last months before her mother's death. At one point, about a week before she died, her mother said, "I can feel it. I can feel that I'm starting to leave my body." For the last three days of her life, her mother no longer wanted to be covered by sheets and blankets. Her body was hot. As her organs shut down, the heat of her body was rising to the surface, warming her.

It reminded me, the woman told me, how temporary our bodies ultimately are.

Temporary, fleeting, finite--while we cannot become so attached to our bodies that we can't psychologically sustain the setbacks of injuries or illness; it is also all the more reason to remember every day how precious it is. How lucky we are to have bodies that will run through the blinding snow (as I did this morning), or swim across a lake, or ski down a mountain, or stand in tree pose.

How lucky are we?

May all of you cross the threshold into 2010 with vitality, enthusiasm and an open heart!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas in April

I recently got some great stories from Jodi, who is a long distance musher in Alaska (among other sports). If you're wondering, it has nothing to do with making baby food. Far from it. Mushing is the sport of running a dog team across miles and miles (and miles and miles) of snow and ice. The Iditarod is perhaps the most famous of these races, for which, by the way, you have to have done more than 3 sanctioned events in the last 2 years, totaling more than 750 miles. That's just a lot of mushing. Days and nights in a row of running-resting-running-resting with your dogs, never mind the sub-zero temperature, wind and other weather. As Jodi says, "there have been some times when after doing something really really hard I have felt like I could eat impossible for breakfast!" You know, I think that sounds like an even better breakfast than my yogurt with nuts and dried fruit.

As you might have guessed, training and competing in mushing is a winter sport. Last year Jodi was so busy with her dogs and racing, she decided that she simply did not have time for Christmas. She sent out an email to family and friends that she'd decided to celebrate Christmas in April, when she'd have the time and energy to enjoy it, which she did. And why not? There's not much going on in April, so what a nice moment to suddenly get together for a nice meal and maybe exchange a few presents.

Is Jodi obsessed? Has she lost balance in her life? Not unless you think Christmas is more important than doing something you love. Obsession is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe to prioritize Christmas is obsessive. I don't know the answer. We should all choose what's balanced for us. And we know we've made the right choices when we're happy.

On that note--happy holidays to everyone, whatever you celebrate and whenever you celebrate!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Not Just for Ourselves

I read an illuminating blog post by Whitney Johnson on the Harvard Business Publishing website (okay, someone actually sent it to me, in case you were wondering why I was on the site to begin with...). Apparently women who ask for raises or negotiate for higher salaries not only frequently don't get the higher salary, that their male counterparts may be getting, but they are frowned upon for having asked. Nice girls don't ask for pay rises, or actually, much of anything. So we're in a double bind--if you don't ask, you won't get; if you ask, you're not nice. What interested me most about the post was that the writer (a woman) pointed out that the former (ask-get) means we have to keep asking, even if people don't perceive us as nice. But also, that by asking we are not only standing up for ourselves, but for ALL women...for ALL women. No, you have not had too many martinis. Yes, I did just type that twice.

When we set precedents in the world as strong women (by asking for raises and climbing mountains), we help not only ourselves, but we help all the women who come next, all the girls who aren't women yet. We smooth the path, pave the way, lay the groundwork etc...How cool is that? In case you thought what you did wasn't important. Think again.