Sunday, April 28, 2013

Mountain Top Moments

By Susie Crossland-Dwyer

This time last year I noticed something strange. I was enjoying my version of "high holy days" at the World Spinning & Sports Conference in Miami, FL, riding along to tribal drums during African Storm (taught by one of my mentors, South African genius, Elsa Storm), when, all of a sudden, it hit me. In front of my bike on the big screen was a large spanning view of a mountain.
I've since discovered that my mountain image was Mount Kilimanjaro. No surprise = it's now on my list to climb.

Spinning conference bliss
When I say, "it hit me," I mean I had a visceral reaction to the image. My breath paused, my skin broke out in a sheet of goosebumps and something inside me said, "Uh-HUH!!" I was mystified how a single image could cause this type of reaction but as my feet continued to pedal, my mind stopped and bookmarked this moment. I had no idea what it meant but I had a feeling I would know some day.

The power of intuition is one that I am slow to understand but fast to trust. It has never let me down. I have followed it and it has proved a trustworthy source. I have disregarded it and it has proved a trustworthy source. I have had years where the feeling of flow has enveloped me, and years where it has totally eluded me. Not coincidentally, these years have also aligned with doing meaningful work and abandoning it for ego-filled reasons. This moment on the bike was most certainly a moment of intuition.

As another one of my idols, Charles Eisenstein puts it, "You don't know how to get from here to there but ... [some]thing larger than yourself does and it arranges ... synchronicities. We can enter that state when we let go ... of control and bow into service to this thing larger than ourselves. And what is this thing? The more beautiful world our heart knows is possible."

The time to re-open my mental bookmark came sooner than I expected. One of my observations about intuition is that its timing is not our typical human, let's-hurry-up-and-go time frame. It has a lifetime in view. In my short three-plus decades, it has used small as well as large sections of time to reveal itself.

This time around, however, a mere six months later I had my ah-ha, there it is moment when I registered for the Leadville Marathon. I had been researching races and listening (more on that process in this blog). Leadville had been on my list the second I became an ultra-marathoner. But, in a moment of realism, I concluded that I didn't have the desire to complete the most famous of Leadville races, the Leadville Trail 100 (100 miles of running through the Colorado Rockies), though I knew I could get close enough to the experience to be satisfied.
I was scrolling through race reviews when I landed on a blog recounting a personal journey through the Leadville Marathon. The second I opened the blog and saw pictures of this 13,186 ft. mountain pass called Mosquito, the tears started pouring down my face. Within minutes, I had connected the dots between visceral reaction #1 to Mount Kilimanjaro and visceral reaction #2 to Mosquito Pass and had registered. My third confirmation came as moments later I grabbed one of my favorite running books for training plan inspiration and it FELL open to a quote by the founder of the race.
So, even though I have yet to know what my Leadville adventure will awaken in me or teach me, I do know that I supposed to be climbing my very first mountain this June. Whatever is waiting there, seen or unseen, I also have a strong belief that it won't just be for me but also for something I'm to offer the world.

At the end of one of his very powerful talks, Eisenstein asks the question of whether we are ready to "bow deeper" into flow, into "being in service to something larger than ourselves," something that will feel like it's "just at the edge of [our] courage but not past it." I am and hope you are too.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Making Music

By Susie Crossland-Dwyer

This week Chris and I retreated into the woods and countryside of Adams County, OH (thanks to our amazing friends Paul and Karen who let us borrow their incredible log cabin).  The winter cobwebs that just a few weeks ago covered me have now been gently swept away and I am ready to indulge in the new life of spring.

As we prepared to head east, we hauled along our Vitamix, a cooler full of the regular smoothie fixings, tossed two days worth of running clothes and a stack of books into a duffel bag. We knew there probably wouldn't be cell phone service or a grocery store or the sight of another soul all weekend. We couldn't wait.    

The rolling trails through Shawnee State Park, the chirping of unusual indigo and coffee colored birds, the sunshine on our white winter bodies, the space and silence to breathe, sleep and read all came together to create the perfect weekend.  
We started on this trail in order to do recon for Chris's upcoming "Triple T" (three day triathlon) that takes place on this very terrain. Signs of spring were just starting to emerge. I will be curious to see how it's changed when we return in a few weeks.
On Saturday, while spending the day in what's been dubbed the "Little Smokies," I did something I've never felt safe enough to do as a female training in Cincinnati. I ran on the trails all alone. It was hours of pure bliss. Every so often Chris would double-back to check on me and then dash into the woods like a man on a mission. For a few moments I could see his red and green Nike outfit bobbing through the trees, then he was gone and I was left to my own rhythmic footsteps on the crunchy ground, not yet saturated with the green of spring.

This daredevil constantly helps "stretch" me by making me see life in new ways.
I hadn't expected to feel so overjoyed to be by myself in this unfamiliar territory. The only other time I've run alone in the woods was during my 50-miler in Wisconsin where my focus on the speed of race prevented me from fully absorbing my surroundings.
In the past year, I have come to find that I need very little to be truly content. The above criteria makes up a good deal of my happiness. I know I wouldn't thrive if I was in the country 24/7. But, taking the weekend to create space in my life reminded me of the importance of purposely creating the conditions for our happiness as well seeking out new experiences to get the brain to fire in different ways. 

Beautiful music is made not only from the sound of the note but with the space of silence between notes. This week I worked on both--new notes AND rest between them to make my life sound more melodic as well as become more rhythmic.
My #1 condition for happiness. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Pursuing Wellness

By Susie Crossland-Dwyer

"Don't work towards freedom, but allow the work itself to be freedom." -Dogen Roshi

February and March were tough months. They weren't life-threatening or anything major--I'm aware conditions could be much, much worse. But being sick for three weeks (and not really knowing what I had) was a big enough jolt to my current paradigm. It reminded me of the quality of life I normally have and that I need to continue to consciously create it daily. So, although wellness has always been my goal and #1 pursuit, I'm renewing my vow to it by freeing myself of all (or most) of the habits that prevent me from living vibrantly.
Jaden (our middle son) knows that wellness tastes good.

A few years ago, Chris said to me, "You are the healthiest person I know." Although, that may still be true in most regards, I want to reclaim the title with integrity for MYSELF. I've decided that if by helping others "be well" I'm creating un-wellness in myself, then it isn't worth it. I want to BE the change I wish for others. Why would this be different for any one of us? If the things we spend our time on are creating less harmony and less health in our life, are they worth it?

For the last few years, out of necessity of getting a business going, I've slept only about five hours per night and worked three times that daily. This necessary practice is a pattern I've worked hard to change in the past few months. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE what I do but there are healthy limits. I have a strong belief that I can manifest just about anything I put my intentions upon.
Running in the woods is total playtime for us.

Here are the practices I have been playing with/working on with success so far in 2013. I will continue to create the following conditions in my life through intentional living (this is my inner cheerleader speaking).

-Sleeping 7-9 hours per night (even if it means less entertainment, education or progress on work)
-Saying "no" more often to things that don't match my values
-Replacing work with play and stressing less about things I can't control (or even ones I can)
-Spending time with the people I love deeply
-Observing the people/conditions/foods that nurture me and saturating my life with them
-Filling my body and my house with foods that nourish me and give me energy to GO, BE & DO.

Here is a snapshot of some of our favorite plant-based (vegan) foods. We aim to live very simply but when it comes to healthy, life-giving food we don't hold back. We eat often and we fill up. Abundance is beautiful.
We aim to keep our dining room table stocked with fruit. All good for juice, smoothies or blending one at a time.
Our banana "tree" and box. We go through this many in about a week.
My morning smoothie.
Some of our fridge produce for soups, stir-fry, etc.
I like grab-and-go stuff. Chris takes the sweet potatoes and blends them for breakfast before a big workout.
Our pantry shelves. I like to be able to see everything we have.

Local bee pollen for smoothies & honey for just about everything. I still have a sweet tooth and the honey helps. The brown rice protein is a good alternative to the synthetic crap.
Nuttzo is one of our absolute favorite treats but it's also really expensive ($19 per jar). So, we've experimented with making our own.
I love these for breakfast with honey & blueberries.
My latest smoothie ingredients. Macca powder (superfood) on the right.
Blueberries are frequently on sale and easy to freeze. Nutrients are preserved better when frozen straight from picking. 

What Chris calls a "big-ass salad."
Some other beauties.
Telling the world about our intentions can help make them stronger and us more accountable.
Join me in making YOUR OWN intentions clear and maybe even making them known.
Peace, love and wellness.