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personal development

Art connection

Lawndale Art Center had an multi-artist opening on Friday night (3/12/2010). I knew none of the artists. But the event also had the Frosted Betty truck stopping by that specializes in cupcakes. That was actually my main drive to get out there. Silly I know, but hey, it’s CUPCAKES!

Got there a little early and no cupcake truck. So I went inside and mulled around on the main floor checking out the interesting video print and found film prints show. All of a sudden about 200+ people show up! What’s going on? Turns out, up on the second floor is another artist who’s art kinda referenced metallurgy. Well all these people were in town for a metallurgy conference!

I listened through the two downstairs artists talk. Kinda cool actually, for visually it reminded me of the sonic My Bloody Valentine concert I went to last year. [Extreme loud db makes your vision blurry not to mention your insides jiggle. Don’t worry I had ear plugs and ear muffs on – together] When they finished I wandered up stairs to the second gallery area.

Up to the smaller upstairs show, Caroline Gore from Kalamazoo, MI. Small petite woman wearing something that looked like 5 inch heels. Very elfin looking. Anyways she starts to talk about her exhibit, which encompasses all four walls of the room. Now it is important to note that the work is not all consistent on the time line. It actually is an evolution of work of almost 10 years. Themes, poignant dreams, repeating symbols patterns and exploration of evolved insight is what happens over that time. What struck me was this parallel of her art work to my inner personal development work. How? Her work starts off with this “idea” that comes to her in a dream, so she works on making the piece. It’s like a raw outpouring of emotion that was triggered by this significant dream that she had. Powerful with work that can be characterized as created with raw tools. You know how when you work or do something completely new for the first time? How is it…weird. Unwieldily. Awkward. You make big movements to express the unfamiliar idea. There is no subtlety just this raw output. As your eye continues to follow along the wall and through her work…you see the evolution. Of her ability to tap into the rawness of that emotion that she had. But it’s not so raw. It’s evolving. Still powerful, still emotional. But her ability to express is refining, getting better. More subtlety is coming out in the work…more and more as your eyes continue around. I just felt it. I GOT IT. I was like for a good couple of minutes CONNECTED to this artist. My life and it’s struggles of working on my “issues” post divorce. Filtering out the raw, getting in touch with the emotion, finding ways of expression, trusting myself to know what was right. I felt I was looking at a timeline of a physical manifestation of my inner mental journey.

She made an interesting comment about her current status of the work. She felt “complete about it”. Like she had come to an end of exploration of it, but that didn’t mean to me that she was leaving it behind. Maybe a projection, but my take was. I’ve learned from this. I have been absorbed in it for some time and I have taken it as far as I need to go with it. I got this sense from her that now, she ready for the next phase. Again so much alike my development. I have worked and learned these things about myself as well as skills to express and work out. I am done with this level. I am ready to move on to the next. The next deeper level of learning about myself utilizing the tools I’ve learned in this round.

When Caroline concluded her little speech, I was just standing there transfixed on her. I was feeling “floaty” as if my body and mind were on another plane. I felt connected to here. Not in a “boy likes girl” sort of way, but a connection with a HUMAN. Like that expression “you can only walk in your own shoes” DIDN’T apply. It was like a shared moment that I got without communicating. It was communication, just in a completely different way. When the crowd subsided around her, I walked up and introduced myself. I had to talk slow and metered cause I was still so shaken/touched/excited/floatin. I told her what I have told you. The look in her eyes. She got it. She understood. I think there was a few seconds of not saying anything. Just feeling it. I squeezed her arm and said thanks. She smiled and turned away.

So what is art? What does art do for us? Is it just these little one off experiences? Is it a medium for us to try to connect with people about transcendent expressions? Maybe it is a hope of expression to connect to someone else with something that the individual feel. And for that expression to be pure, real. All I know is that for that briefest of moment, I felt connection with another human and it was as near close as I could get There is something there about that feeling of awareness of that moment that was really unique and “awesome”. How can I continue to keep myself aware of these possibilities? How can I prepare myself for them? How can I bring them to fruition with more frequency? Are they a situation that should be experienced more? And I guess ultimately, are they helpful. How?

Heavy stuff. We’ll just have to see where this goes and evolves.

Death is everywhere…

1.) In the morning went to my folks to get ready to take them to the airport for their trip. Helped them out by taking their cat to the vet for boarding. Was taking “Sammy” out of the car into the vet when I noticed the vet technicians bolting out of the vet building carrying a stretcher. They rushed out over to a SUV an popped open the back where a man in a runner outfit was covered in blood. They pulled out a dog covered in blood and not moving. They loaded it on the stretcher and sprinted inside. It immediately shook me. I started crying immediately and told the runner guy covered in blood, “I’m so sorry!”. It was overwhelming. I just stood there in the parking lot for several minutes just crying and feeling the shock and pain of the poor animal. Once I made it inside it was clear that everyone that works at the vet were shocked. Turns out the animal and owners were customers of the vet and had been for many years. Even more sad.

2.) As I was leaving the vet, I was exiting the parking lot out onto the main street/throughfare and I noticed that there was a major, MAJOR accident just up the street in the opposite direction I was going. THREE ambulances and a fire truck at the stop light just up the road. I have no idea what was going on, but the entire lane of the traffic was stopped.

3.) When I got home and relayed the events to my parents, my mother mentioned to me that my sister, two days prior, had lost one of her three dogs from getting hit by a car. Something to the effect of, she had let him outside and he got in the street and got hit by a car.

4.) I was at my place and was conveying the above three events to a close friend when she commented about a book I was reading that was open on the coffee table infront of us as I was talking. I was like, “What about the book?” And she said, look what the page is talking about:

Chart about Death

5.) Me and my friend, later on when to the Asian Market Restaurant and had dinner. When we got out of the store and walked to the car, parked next to me was a hearse vehicle!

I’m not going to try and pretend to understand what this all means. I’m just going to say, I noticed. It is what it is. That being said…my new friend has me feeling more “alive” than I have been in the last 4 years. She’s rocking my universe!

Post marathon…what’s next?

Now I’ve done three marathons. Two completed, one DNF. (Did not finish) With this last year I  was an assistant coach for the Yellow running group for Houston FIT. I’ve had some good experiences with this adventure. The adventure of running a marathon. I’ve come to realize that it is NOT just about the day in which you run the marathon. It is that cliché that they use…it’s about the journey. It is about getting up early on saturday mornings. It’s about making sure you go to bed early on friday night. it’s about being aware of what you eat. it’s about begin dedicated to sticking to the training program, whether you run solo, with a partner or with a group. It is about sacrifice of your free time. But it is also about getting to know your body, through the pain and the growth. I initially started running to meet people and get in better shape. Well I can say now that I’ve done both. I’m in some of the best shape of my life and I have made lots of friends and good acquaintances. I’ve also enjoyed the responsibility of being someone that new people can come and ask questions.
But, I’m not compelled. I’m not compelled to run a marathon in every state. Not compelled to run the legendary Boston or NYC marathons. Or run one on each continent. I improved SIGNIFICANTLY this year over last which is amazing. I do believe I have more room for even more improvement, maybe not as much, but more than just a 5 minute improvement. So for next year, I’m aiming for a sub 4 hr marathon. At this time, I’m not sure I’ll continue to run marathons after that. Because, I’m questioning do I want marathoning to be part of my identity? Is it what I want to spend my free time doing? Planning my vacations around? I can answer both of those with a solid “no”. I know I won’t stop running or doing things to keep healthy, far from it. I just don’t believe that “marathoner” is MY identity. The reason I want to do “just one more” is because I believe that I am almost at the cusp of a maximum level of physical fitness. I want to go there. I believe that many people reach that cusp and then are forever trying to improve and spend a lot of time chasing that improvement. I KNOW I have the room for another large leap of improvement. I want to do that and then move on to the “next” thing. Whatever that may be I don’t know exactly. It won’t be something more harder physically, like a triathlon or ultra run – no cause thats just more of the same training. I’m looking to find something that is more my identity that I can pour my time into. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see where that leads!

Houston 2010 Cheveron Marathon Experience

Yesterday I participated in the Houston 2010 Cheveron Marathon. My third time for Houston. I did pretty well and improved my time significantly over last years time.

2009 – 5hrs 17min
2010 – 4hrs 23min

Not bad eh? That’s a P.R.* in my book! This year’s marathon differed from the two prior in several ways. One of the main differences was my ability to have brought more “awareness” of myself, the run and my surroundings more than I have in the past.

It is without a doubt that my awareness has been heightened lately, partly because of a refocusing on it as witnessed with the latest blog posts here, as well as the recent interactions I’ve been having with my parents and a very nice new young lady I have recently meet. These exposures have been leading to more insight, which I am working out here on the blog.

So what did I noticed this year on the run?

  1. The start song to the second wave was Iron Maiden’s Run To The Hills. Totally rockin’ song, but totally not the best song to start with, except for the lyric refrain of  “Run toooo the Hilllllllllllllllllllllllllllls! Run foooor your LIIIIIIFE!” The song is actually about Native American’s attacking the white settlers. Maybe they were referring to a revival of the KARANKAWA INDIANS to the area?
  2. I was MUCH closer to the start line than I have been in years past. I had expected to take up to 20 mins from gun start to actually crossing the start line! Not so this year, it only took 2 mins.
  3. I was witness to 1 person falling and saw one person already downed. Plus I heard several ambulances AND ran by a patrol officer calling in another! Wow. It was a lot of accidents for perfect running conditions.
  4. Starting closer up to the front had me placed in with lots more people around me while running. This was good and bad. Bad: all the people irritated me. Not at first, but it did get irritating after a while. Especially since I could get my actual run pace at the beginning of the race. I was REALLY looking forward to the Half Marathoner’s turnaround point so the crowd would THIN out. Not so much, because I was running much faster than years prior AND I had started much closer to the start line, I was in the PACK of people. I think the prior years I was so much slower I was simply among the last of the runners! In short, it wasn’t til much further in the race, past the 13 mile mark, did it “thin” out from the people. The Good: Having that many people in the beginning, actually kept me from starting TOO fast in the race. This ends up assisting me to have  the negative split for the race. First half run slower than the later half. I enjoy thinking of myself as the “negative splits man”
  5. I really need to remember, use bathroom before starting the marathon. I don’t think I need to say anything else about this.
  6. It was really great seeing many of the coaches & assistant coaches and friends from HoustonFIT Yellow group out along the course. Running with them or having them cheer me on, friends help out alot! This of course goes without saying how wonderful and supportive it is having my support team of my Mom and Dad out on the course meeting me at the designated meet up spots. They rocked it for me.
  7. 5 G.U.’s and a little bit of some sticky nut trail mix, doesn’t make for a good fuel on the course. BUT I did participate in the weigh in prior to the race and then weighed after the race. Only lost 2 lbs!  I must have been doing SOMETHING right!
  8. I ran this race quite solo. My “training” partner of two years, didn’t run this year and I never really buddied up with anyone from the training group. It was quite lonesome there at the starting line. But it was good. I was focused on “what am I doing” mentally. Still stark comparison from years prior. I wasn’t even with the Yellow group. I think they were behind me at the start line. I dunno, just that I started the race “alone” this year. Not a bad thing, but I definitely noticed it. I think that this was a major reason I was able to notice all these things this year. Not too many distractions.
  9. Speaking of distractions, I was totally expecting to be preoccupied in my thinking about a person, but ended up not as much.  Partly to the forcing of my surroundings, but also because of an article I had read the night before about Managing Stress Through Mindfulness by Catherine R. Barber, PhD. In the article it talked about being in the present moment with the activity at hand. Maybe it’s because I was running, but it was actually kinda hard to be lost in my thoughts outside of the marathon! 4 1/2 hrs of mindfulness!
  10. I noticed when I really “dropped the hammer” on the running around mile 18. My vision focused and I became much more singleminded about my running form. I began to take more much narrowed attention to my actual running. People around me had less focus, although it was during these last 8 miles I saw the most people I know!

All in all, juicy stuff. Certainly a memorable Marathon. I am certainly thinking about running it again. But after that, I’m not so sure. I feel like I have a sub 4 hr marathon in me. With a running program that carries me through out ALL year long, I’m sure that next year this will be possible, bar any accidents or injuries. The question is, after that, what next? I don’t think the next level of physical challenge is what I will really be looking for. Not sure where this will lead me.

* P.R. = Personal Record

A week of different breakfasts

Today is the 5th day of not sitting in front of the computer eating breakfast and reading blogs/news. While I do miss the news, my initial thought of “what will I do?” quickly passed when I realized that there was quite a bit going on up there in my noggin!

Today I was thinking and working on extending my todo list that I posted previously. But I wasn’t really consciously “sitting” with it. I had actually awoken up earlier this morning, laying in bed thinking of something else. The notion of conflict between the emotional excitement and expression of that vs feeling that emotion and then rationally, calmly expressing it. Dunno if that is exactly what I’m feeling, but I think with continued writing, hopefully it’s full idea will be come manifest.

So. Excitement. It’s been bubbling forth with me lately. Giddy. A sense of young childish like excitement and wonderment. Silliness. It seems like a good thing. Keeping in touch with the young side my life. Keeping a connection with the emotive, feeling it express itself. A almost letting go, so to speak of control. No…more like a feeling of aliveness. Sometimes solitude and responsibilities can have a sobering effect on the disposition. it’s not like I don’t have activites that don’t bring me some sort of enjoyment or happiness, it just seems like there has been a lack of emotional intensity of awakefulness? Joy? hmmm…not sure exactly, but something.  But it’s here right now for me. I feel it every morning when I get up, while I’m driving, at work… Just in my being as of late.

The thing that concerns me about this state is the unfilteredness of it. Just because I feel it, and let it “wash” over me, doesn’t mean others around me “get it”. I feel a little  self conscious about the expression at times of these emotions. I’m kinda wondering how much of the expression is too much of an unfiltered emotional response. Is it impulsive? I am I just expressing cause it feels good? Is there some other “story” behind the expressing that’s motivating me to doing it? Lets see…

Clearly lately there HAS been an influence that has jump started this. Namely the activity of dating again. Joining the online dating site and meeting new people. I know that I am a person who is very receptive to meeting new people and that my personal energy is recharged with interaction with people. While I like my time alone, I realize that I NEED interaction with people. They bring me energy that I need. There is also the excitement of meeting someone new and a possible new girlfriend. Yes that is exciting. Having been single for a while now, the prospect of finding a new girlfriend IS exciting. Well that seems normal. What else…
The interactions with the dates have been fruitful. One in particular has jumped started conversations with myself about what’s going on upstairs. There has been a refocusing  of awareness that I haven’t been paying as much attention to. The activity upstairs has brought about the excitement. Looking at the issues that have become apparent has been interesting as well as exciting. The discovery of them, looking at them, writing about them, and even working on them, has been EXCITING! And very positive.

I think that maybe I’m a little unused to having this much fun positive excitement about myself. Ohhhhh…now that statement kinda rung true. Hmmm.  More fat to be chewed. I love it.