Monday, December 22, 2008

It is winter in the Berkshires

It is during the winter months that I am mostly reminded that we live on hills. When I began running this realization also came to me quite quickly as roads that seemed relatively flat or with a mild grade took on a totally different feel when it is you who are running what is unquestionably up.

Lenox itself sits atop a hill and then my neighborhood is a bit of an elevation above that, so just getting into town requires going up hill and then once there it is a choice of which way is the lesser of evils for the final “up”.

My normal route is winding and along the river until it gets to within a mile and a half or so of my house then it’s a left turn and a steady up hill for a mile then a quick right turn and up a sharp hill for a half mile. Or I can go another way which has a longer hill and slightly less of grade until that final steep hill. Or I can abandon my usual route and stay on route 7 which leaves Lee and goes up hill for 2 miles until it gets to the lake then levels off and goes up again. None of these is easy when the roads are slick and the car in front of you stops leaving you with absolutely no momentum.

Almost every day of the year I roll my eyes at the 4 wheel drive SUVs that are all over the place as I tool around in my front wheel drive Toyota. Except on these very few hours of these very few days when I would love to have a bigger 4-wheel drive vehicle to make the trip easier and less complicated. But those are the choices. When you live in the Berkshires you make choices and one of them is living with the weather as it is most of time and accommodating for the times when it is extreme.

But it is quiet and peaceful in the blowing snow. The pellet stove pumps out that heat, the Christmas lights in the neighborhood glow beneath drifts of snow and the lights on the Christmas tree bring it to life. So much better than how friends have it that were in the path of the ice storm last week. We completely avoided it, a fluke current of warmer air gave us just rain.

It is winter in the Berkshires.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A little song, a little dance a little seltzer down your pants

In between the work and school schedules and volunteer commit-
ments and this year marathon completing and editing of college applications (9 all together + auditions, ugh) and just stuff to do we always make time as a family to go hunting for the Christmas tree. For most years since before the kids were here we would venture out to the tree farm to find the lucking (or not so lucky I guess if you're the tree) tree.

Many years ago we have found tree farms that let you pick the tree in August when you are wearing shorts and a t-shirt and add enough distinct decorations to be able to find it again in December when it is often cover with snow. That was the greatest.

More recently it has been trekking up and down windblown hills often in a foot of snow making it difficult to visualize the size and gaps. Looking at hundreds of trees up and down hills it can become a little stimulation overload. This year however there was no snow and the temperature cold but not bitter and bright and sunny as we ventured out to the Seekonk tree farm in Great Barrington. We had success there a few years back and it is only a half hour from home. The view here is great with Monument Mountain in the near distance.

We usually have a good time at it. The Christmas carols in the car, kids and parents sometimes dancing and running around the aisle of trees. (Though often it is mom and dad who have to maintain the more serious tone to get the deed done). When the consensus or near consensus is complete then comes the task of sawing it down. A task I gladly yielded to my oldest a few years back when it was clear he was fine crawling under the tree in the soft snow and frankly I've done it enough that the novelty is gone.

Then we drag it to the checkout shed and the shaker where they shake out all the wildlife (we have actually had mice escape in the house from a tree that wasn't shaken), bind it up and attach it to the car. Another year of a fun tradition.

So what's about the title here? It's a fun line that just came to me as we were doing a jig and a song at the tree farm . It's a line from an old Mary Tyler Moore show about a TV clown (Chuckles) who was dressed as Peter Peanut in a parade and a rogue elephant tried to shell him. This was his trade mark line and makes me smile and it just fit the mood.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Find peace in yourself and thousands will find peace around you.

I wish I could say that this is an original quote from me but it is not. A Google search of the key words brings up several references and the theme is common. This quote was shared by a friend who was musing on ways that we can have an effect on the uncertainty that seems to be in the world today. By finding some peace within yourself, this peace is picked up in varying degrees by those you interact with or meet and it impacts the way they interact with others. I have to periodically be brought back to that philosophy and thought when I begin to feel a little helpless with all that is going on. Fortunately I know people who cycle around though phases like I do and we sometimes help each other become centered again.

So I have added a link here to a site 10 ways to find inner peace.

Its nothing really new or astonishing just some basic common sense about maintaining our grounding. I looked at the list and went "ah-hah", I haven't been with nature much lately, I haven't been able to run in a couple of weeks my morning meditation had been disrupted by travel and early meetings, I'm worrying more about the what ifs. So about half the list of 10 I haven't been keeping up, the others I am doing ok with.

This week I have had to do more manager mentoring than I have usually done in a week in more recent times and I am reminded that I really like doing it and I know I am also good at it. I can almost see a level of peace come to the other person when I have worked through an issue or planned something out with them. Though I find it sometimes exhausting because of the intense thought it takes to guide someone and the need to pick words very intentionally to get the message across without triggering defensiveness or them shutting down. At the same time I find it very rewarding and I get a high out of it. In some way I am sharing some and promoting peace with someone else.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Transitions and losses

There seems to be so much uncertainty...more uneasiness of if the universe is a little off kilter. In the past few months there have been several co-workers and friends who have lost chidren, mothers, fathers or who are now experiencing illness or the final stages of death in loved ones. Whoooo. For those of us who have experienced loss there is a connection, that knowledge that someone else really does understand. I have been to more funeral homes and written more sympathy note than any period I can remember. I am not numb but more subdued.

Yes you can say that when you get to a certain age the illness and death of parents becomes inevitable but adding children and spouses to the mix.....

For those who have lost someone and as the year end holidays come and go there are the series of firsts. We all experience them in a different way but there is a commonality.

In my own life I have already been through the loss of parents and a sibling and while it is certainly not a badge I would ever choose to wear it is one I have been given and one I keep in my pocket. While it is definitely not on the scale of a death or illness, what has hit me more at this moment is the reality of my children growing up and going off to college and moving on. The thought that this is the last this or last that or even the thought of not having everyone around everyday brings tears to my eyes and I have to catch myself and move on. Where did the time go? Where did the time go then my parents became old and frail and die? Where my infant children grew up and can drive and dream of a life separate from our small family? This is good for it means as parents we have succeeded. But that does not make it easier.

So I am sad.....I am sad for my co-workers and friends for the pain they are experiencing or for their loss. A part of me aches for them and a part of me aches for a totally different form of loss that I am experiencing.

A friend posted on her blog that there are experiences that make you look deeply into the eyes of those you love and cherish the moments we have. Very wise advice.