May Flowers and all that jazz about running

The Heather Garden @ Ft. Tryon

I’m not even gonna bother with the fact that we’re in May except to say it’s been interesting around here with April showers showing no sign of stopping. With a weather that’s been all over the map this year, one kinda just has to go with the flow and so running just sorta happens these days. In addition, my back issue continues to mess with me, which makes it harder to get into a steady running flow. But yours truly is always up for a challenge and I’m confident, by God’s grace, that I’ll get there. In the past, patience hasn’t been a strength of mine but I promise I’m getting better and so there remains hope for other areas as well. I have a marathon to train for y’all! And these sneaky months are almost too much. The summer’ll be over before it even gets here and then it’ll be marathon time! I can’t process that right now, so I won’t. One day at a time sweet Jesus, as my mom would say when I was little. If there is a lesson to be learnt, and there is, it’s to be present HERE (wherever that is for you) and to live each day fully. Nothing less required, nothing more expected.

Pink and Red Azeleas

Living each day fully simply means focusing on the present and what one can do right here. It means smelling the flowers, cherishing its beauty, appreciating its purpose, and allowing oneself to be wowed by it all. So how about those flowers then? The literal ones: those cherry blossoms, lavenders, irises, tulips, daffodils, azeleas, pansies, peonies, dogwood and magnolias. And then there are the figurative ones: health, opportunity, family, relationships, gifts, talents, faith, etc. I’ll be honest, literal flowers are by far prettier and so much less complicated and messy. That’s not to say I’ll choose them over what I’ve got, well not always anyway. LOL. Don’t worry, this is as deep as I’ll get. Spring blossoms and so does the garden in my mind. I’m suddenly all about rooting out the weeds and making room for new seeds and giving the flowers an atmosphere to blossom fiercely. After two years that felt like a drought of sorts, I imagine we can all benefit from some mental spring cleaning and taking the time to tend the garden of our minds. Till the soil, uproot some things, plant some seeds and water/love the plants and watch them bloom. Sounds like work. Sounds like it’ll take some time. Sounds like an investment. But oh, the returns!

Purple Pansies (above) and Candy Tuft

Can I tell you that running in the Springtime is a renewing, refreshing, and affirming exercise. It is simply exhilarating to literally inhale the fresh sweet smell of the flowering trees, to take in the bees greedily guzzling up the nectar from their favorite flowers and the butterflies pollinating from flower to flower, while the birds try out their new spring songs and squirrels dash about crazily in the hopes of a treat. You might even be treated to some jazzy notes from a random performer (not-so-random I think) or even get to strike up a note w a quartet at various points. This is the scene in our city parks this Spring my friends. If you’re able to, you want to take advantage and get out there to witness this pleasing assault on your senses while upping your heart rate and trading off any anxiety and stress. You’ll find that the benefits far outweigh the sacrifices of the couch, getting up earlier, pushing through exhaustion, and/or lacing up those shoes and going for a run. Also, while you’re out, it is worth your while to quite literally stop and smell whatever version of roses or flowers you meet. That’s one way to tend to “the garden” and sow some seeds.

White Azeleas

You can probably tell I’m a bit of a messy soul. Yes, plants and nature and gardening are my jam. Along with running, and biking, and hiking and a hundred other things. I’m literally a LOL kinda gal so forgive me for wanting to drop that all over my writing, and let’s just say I get around with my interests and activities. I recently went out trotting in our city with the sole intent of checking out spring happenings in “the garden” around me and it was such a treat – a party for my senses really. The result was a barrage of photos of which I chose a select few for your pleasure. Flowers are pretty amazing in their tenacity (I’m taking creative licence here) to push their way out, amidst great odds at times, to assert their presence and demand our admiration. In a world with so much else vying for our attention, I think we could do a lot worse than give in a few times this Spring. Blink twice and it’ll all be gone to make way for another. Don’t mind then if I just be present here for a minute, or a day, or two. Take the time and let the flowers wow you my friends. You won’t regret it!

Virginia bluebells, Azeleas, and the GW bridge
Walking/Running Path

Running down Memory Lane: deja vu in Central Park

Jackie Onassis Reservoir, Central Park
Along the Bridal Path & Jackie O.

I can’t believe it’s been eight weeks! In fact, I’m sure it hasn’t. But I’ve done all I can with not running so there goes nothing in my report on the benefit of rest to my sciatic nerve. Nothing yet that is. I have hope to getting to the bottom of this but it will take some time and apparently I’m overdue a bout of patience so I’m practicing. As you can see the struggle is real as I couldn’t wait to get back in the running game – restrictions welcomed.

Along the East Drive
Center Drive

Blame it on Spring and the warmer (for the most part) weather. I mean I wasn’t really expected to go cold turkey like that for more than a few weeks right? Yes, that’s what I thought too. Lol. Whenever you’ve arrived at the point where you’re having conversations with yourself about running it’s time to go. And so I did.

Cherry Blossoms opp. the Met museum
Cleopatra’s Needle

Newbie brooklynite goes running in her comfort zone – that was me last Friday evening doing a loop of this slice of heaven right here in New York City. Listen, I rave about Central Park all the time. But the park in Spring, in full bloom, is something special. And while it wasn’t quite “full bloom” time, maybe a week or so to go, it was special enough that I had to stop every 800 feet to snap a pic. It was busy, beautiful, and best weather special. That means runners, strollers, cyclists, picnics, ball games, you name it..it was all happening under the blooming and flowering trees. That’s the New York I love my friends; city grit and grime andΒ  crowded subways and smell of pot notwithstanding. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere, so sang Alicia Keys. Local legend that she is, she may be on to something.

Picnic on the Great Lawn
West Drive

An oasis in the desert (tho more of a concrete jungle, again, Alicia called it) is Central Park in New York City. Six miles all the way around on the outer loop, I started at the south side of the park and touched on all the major points that had been common to me only two years ago only to realize it hadn’t gotten any flatter with time. It still rolled and will give you a good workout any day of the week. Those hills tho, they hit different this time around and it was with a sense of deja vu that I found myself going through my paces on both Cat hill and Harlem hill. Phew, no shame in my game, I’m getting older. No matter, I didn’t quit and stopped only to grab some photos. Running can be therapeutic in a lot of ways and I’m guessing many others were benefitting out there that evening.

City Skyline from the reservoir
Reservoir Loop

Additionally, it was nice to see past the crowd and connect with fellow runners just out for a run in a gorgeous part of the city on a beautiful spring evening. These days running can’t get much better than that so I’ll take the wins where I can get them and remain thankful for health, Central Park, and these legs o’mine. After all, we still have a lot of ground left to cover.

Central Park South/W 59th St. Entrance
Columbus Circle, Park side

March Madnes, Spring Fever: life lessons in a new season


March means the new year is officially over – no more happy new year greetings. We’re marching into spring, whether we feel it or not, and making crazy plans to overcome the winter malaise that has shrouded us for the past two and a half months; hence my “march madness” concept. The actual concept has everything to do with American college basketball and nothing to do with my take. LOL. But let’s go with my spin for a second as I was heaven bent on sticking with it but for our new reality. You might say, that’s what March used to mean and you may be right. A normal year ago that could be what it meant. What we’re currently facing today is challenging that entire premise.

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Never, in a hundred years, would I have thought I’d be discussing or writing about a virus, on this platform. But our world climate has changed, and the reality has now taken on a somewhat sci-fi feel that has left me and everyone else grasping at the remnants of a world we use to know. A virus that was non-existent in these parts of the world just 10 weeks ago now seems to have the world in its grips and have left millions of Americans and people all over the world grappling with a “new normal”. What do you do when all you have known is suddenly taken from you? To whom do you turn and where do you go? If and when those questions have been answered you may then get a glimpse into the why of it all, but even that is not certain. The only certainty we’re dealing with these days is that life as we once knew it is over. That is the chilling truth. Chilling because while change is anathema to us humans when you add uncertainty and illpreparedness to that, what you have is the making of a perfect storm fanned by the waves of fear.

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People are dying, others are fearful, many are losing their jobs and livelihoods, some are in constant danger and exhausted (our healthcare workers that are on the frontline battling this virus), while there are others still who are tasked with the job of governing and administrating this global disaster. Let’s not forget the sick and vulnerable members of our society like children in foster care and our elderly. And those are only the ones I’ve listed. There are so many other members of society who are also being affected in a very real way by the Covid-19 virus. It’s almost certain that at the end of this no one will escape unscratched. We can only pray. The truth is since little is known about this strain of the coronavirus, its origin,  development, or mutating ability, and certainly there is no conclusive information on how it spreads, or even its most susepctible targets – information appears to be evolving quite rapidly – this leaves many of us in the least favorite and very discomforting position of having little answers and trusting in that which we cannot see. What!

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Humbling and scary as heck to suddenly find ourselves in a position of ignorance with no control over what’s unfolding before our eyes. What to do? Anyone? Since our very lives depend on the actions we take, I want to suggest that we cannot possibly take this lightly. Our next steps could mean anything from gaining hope, perspective, a new understanding, developing a new and/or healthier appreciation for life, faith, health, a new or different habit or may just mean changing our thought patterns and actions to align with a stark new reality. Whatever we do, and decide we must, it will mean embracing a new normal that will forever alter the way we live. My purpose is not to dwell on the fear factor and what may or may not happen or any other “scary” elements of the unknown, that would be an exercise in futility. I’d rather focus on working with what I have right now – the present – and allow the future to take care of itself. In fact, let me be clear, I prefer to let God take care of that for me.

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Since I’ve always been about good health, exercise, and overall well-being, I’m left with the overwhelming sense that these are essentially the things that I must fight for now. It all appears under attack at this time and I dare say it’s both a physical and spiritual battle. How can we respond? Well unarguably, we have more time on our hands these days than we’ve had in some time, with so many people here in the United States, and around the world, facing lockdowns and stay-at-home guidelines. Since we are a people who love to stay busy, it is actually a good thing that we now have to slow down and take the time to intentionally do things that matter for our well-being. There is no better time than now to spend quality time with each other within the family, to incorporate an exercise routine into your day, to focus on cultivating healthy eating, thought, and lifestyle practices, to develop a new hobby, business idea, and/or to build or develop a faith base and spiritual relationship with God. The physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and even financial benefits to be derived from spending time on each of these aspects of, or involving, you, is immeasurable and is worth every moment of your very valuable time. Since time is money, you can be sure you will see the return on your investment in the not-too-distant future.

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Mindful that some of us need to be motivated and encouraged in the area of exercise, in my next post I’ll look at some ideas on how we can take advantage of the time we have now to develop an exercise plan that will allow us a healthy avenue to channel our energy and avoid stress during these challenging times. Stay tuned!

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