Tag Archives: life

The color of 2015.

Color? 2015? I don’t know. My planning calendar is in my phone these days.
I have no brightly colored leather-and-paper diary to show me the way.

But it’s not my “digital life” that’s made me lose my direction. It’s my “happy life”. The better my life gets, the less I need to change it. There is less pain, less struggling, less urgency. But there is also less of an obvious direction. Before, I always wanted to move upwards. Now, it’s more like “should I go right or left or straight ahead? Or just stop for a while to smell the flowers?”

Now that I no longer NEED to change my life, I can use my time and energy to enjoy it. Not that I would ever lean back and stop moving. But I don’t have to paddle like crazy to stop myself from sinking. Rather than mending what keeps falling apart, I can build new things.

Back to 2015! What shall I build?

My home. Keep the momentum going! Hire that painter to fix the ceiling. Hire that repairman to fix the window blinds. My apartment already feels more like Home than ever before, and I’m not aiming for showroom perfection, but these things are at the top of my 2015 to-do list.

My body. Keep it up! Last year’s training and eating have given me a good foundation. I can feel it. I still enjoy my sweets and salties, and I’m still struggling with my core strength. But I’m getting stronger and healthier, despite my age, and I’m looking forward to this year’s races: 80K in April, 50K in June, and 90K in August.

My soul. Stay true to myself! Too much ITF* socializing makes me tired and unhappy. So keep declining event invitations and embracing alone-time! It’s working. However, while I need to be economic with my time, I can be generous with money, and donate to causes that I believe in. I can also be generous with love. Keep heart and mind open, see the good in people, smile and look people in the eyes, show appreciation, give a helping hand. Don’t hate. Don’t put people down. Don’t hold a grudge, and don’t pass it on to others. Apologize.

What about that other kind of love? Finding it has been on my wish list (to-do list?) for some time now. And I did try online dating in 2014. But it’s SO boring. Why can’t my friends just set me up with someone perfect? (Hint!) Whether I find him, or don’t find him, I will always be the love of my life.

And what about color? Let’s say the colors of 2015 are black, grey and navy blue. My favorite colors. Then maybe 2015 will be my favorite year. So far.

* ITF = in the flesh

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Otherhood

A few years ago, I considered having a baby on my own, by way of artificial insemination. I had been single for a couple of years, and realized that if I wanted children, I might have to go it alone. I read about it, and thought about it. Pretty soon though, I realized I didn’t want it enough to take that huge, irrevocable step on my own. My only real pro-motherhood reason was that I might one day regret not having children, and then it would be too late.

It’s still not too late, biologically. But I still don’t want it. In fact, this conviction has only grown stronger in me. It’s not that I don’t like children, it’s that I really don’t want to be a mother. I want complete ownership of myself and of my life. I only have this me, this life, and I am not willing to hand over the reins to anyone else. Not again.

Before thirty, life just happened. I just tagged along. Then I woke up and started taking risks, making decisions based on what I wanted. I’ve been single ever since.

Although I long for a man to love and to share my life with, staying single between 30 and 40 might have been my “salvation”. If I had stayed in my earlier relationship, or entered into another one, I would probably have been a mother by now. Just because that’s the way life goes. Instead, I have had the time and space to make myself happy, and figure out what I really want.

It often strikes me how perfectly this otherhood fits me. Some people hate being alone. I love it! Some people coordinate their family lives with the professional efficiency of an office manager. I’m a logistic disaster. Sure, you don’t have to be the perfect “parent type” to be a mother. It’s just that I’d rather be an other.

Are you wasting your time on staying busy?

It’s Wednesday evening. Outside my open balcony door spring is sunny but chilly, and my bare feet are cold. I’m half changed into running gear, but for the last half hour I’ve been curled up on my couch next to the furry, purring body of my cat. I gently scratch her fluffy stomach, her chin and her neck. Kiss her little head. She’s warm, and she warms my heart.

I’m not doing anything useful. Not solving any problems or planning my next move. Not even scolding myself for being lazy. I’m just cuddling with my cat. And it’s awesome. In fact, I can’t think of anything I’d rather do right now.

But time is fleeing, I only have one life, and there’s so much I could accomplish!

Yes. But right now, I want to pet my cat. If there is no time for petting your cat (or playing with your children or chilling with your friends or making out with your lover or whatever), then what’s time worth?

I’m not making the world go round. But guess what? Neither are you.

The color of 2014

In 2013…

I had a bright red diary, ”for energy, joy and generosity. Red for following my heart, loving without fear and taking center stage. Red like my face will be after I’ve run 53K on the 29th of June.”

I ran my first ultra marathon. Yes, I did it! But of course I did it. My dad even told me afterwards: “Every time we saw you along the road, you seemed happy and determined. There was never any doubt in your eyes.” And he was right. I was happy and determined, with three affirmations going through my head:
1. “When in doubt, move forward”
2. “I can do this”
3. “Pain is nothing”
They all just appeared in my head along the way. And I did it.

I became a crazy cat lady. Cats have always been my favorite animal, but I never dared take responsibility of another living being before. Until now. Tuffa is a middle-aged, black lady, and the best cat in the world. Becoming her human was the best thing I did last year.

I had my first whole year with antidepressants. Bliss! Not that they make life easy. They just make life not feel like a pointless pain in the ass. They let me be the person I want to be, instead of the person I manage to portray without falling apart. I used to be an antidepressant sceptic. Now I’m a fan.

I got louder and bigger. Louder? Speaking my mind, challenging the status quo, trusting my competence and my opinions. Bigger? Standing proud, wearing high heels more often. Uncrossing my legs and arms, opening up my body language to match my intellect and my emotions.

In 2014…

I want to live more. Travel more, create more, give more, learn and grow more.

I want to finish UltraVasan (90K) in August. Correction: I’m going to finish UltraVasan.

I want love. I really do. Not children. Just a best friend and faithful, passionate lover.

I want structure. Just a little bit. And that’s why the color of 2014 is…no color. Or every color. I’m finally going diary digital. Because, if I want something to change, I have to change something.

Death and I

I think of death quite often. Every time I board an airplane, for example, I think: ”I might die now”. My next thought is ”but I’m not going to stay at home for the rest of my life, so I’ll just have to accept whatever happens”. Sometimes I go on to thinking about my apartment, and how my dying would leave an awful mess for others to tidy up.

Only once have I really thought that I really might die; the first time I had a pneumothorax. My chest tightened and I thought I was having a heart attack. I cried bitterly then, because I had just started to like living. I was not afraid, but disappointed.

I am an atheist. I do not believe in any deity, nor do I believe in a life after this one. Not through reincarnation, not by heavenly ascent or infernal descent. Maybe I’m wrong. But I just don’t believe in it. Life is magical as it is, without higher power or purpose.

I have not had much experience with death. Yet. I did not know my grandfathers. One was killed by alcohol, the other by cigarettes. My grandmothers on the other hand, were very dear to me. One died in her sleep. I had been to see her the night before, and she seemed more at peace than in a long time. The other died on the operating table. During the last months of her life, she had been bleeding internally, yet continued to cook, mangle her sheets and keep her three-room apartment nice and tidy.

I miss them both and speak to them now and then. True, I don’t believe they can hear me in some after-life. But they are a part of me, and, as long as I live, the part of me that is them also lives.

I have no children, and I never will. Physically, no part of me will live on after I’m gone. Emotionally, mentally, I will remain in the memories of some who outlive me. Unless I do something grand in whatever time I have left, those memories will die with their owners, and there will be nothing left of me but worm food. And perhaps this blog.

“Just be yourself!”

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this advice, spoken both to myself and to others. Sometimes they’re uttered as general words of wisdom directed at anyone who’ll listen. Although well-meaning and true, I find this advice totally useless.

Before one can be oneself one needs to figure out what that is. Who that is. Who do I want to be? When do I feel like MYSELF? I didn’t figure this out until after 30. Then, once I realized I finally knew and felt at home in myself, the advice became redundant. When one truly knows and feels at home in oneself, how could one possibly BE anyone else?

When I talked about this on Twitter a while ago, my friend Joachim objected:

– What if one is not one, but two?

­– Split personality? I asked, jokingly.

– Rather that you walk around thinking you’re one, but others see someone else, he answered.

Distracted by work, I promised him to answer later, in a more spacious format than the 140-character tidbits of Twitter.

Yes Joachim, “who I am” will always be in the eye of the beholder, to some extent. And “who I am” will always evolve through my interactions with the people around me. The ones I love and admire as well as the ones I dislike or simply disagree with.

I am not an island. I learn from others and with others. But they are not the boss of me. If I let other people’s perception and opinion of me take over, then what will I become? An insecure shell, constantly seeking to be filled by the approval of others. An existence without life. I have been there, and I never want to go back. I can’t go back.

At the core I will always be me, even as I keep growing and changing throughout life. It’s not about thinking I’m immune to the influence of other people, or that their perception of me doesn’t matter. “Being myself” is about trusting my inner compass. It’s about self-esteem and integrity.

Or as Eleanor Roosevelt so eloquently put it:

”It’s your life — but only if you make it so. The standards by which you live must be your own standards, your own values, your own convictions in regard to what is right and wrong, what is true and false, what is important and what is trivial. When you adopt the standards and the values of someone else or a community or a pressure group, you surrender your own integrity. You become, to the extent of your surrender, less of a human being.”

Why do I run?

Because I can. Because my feet and legs still move me forward. Because my heart pumps blood through my muscles. Because my lungs keep expanding and contracting, just as they should. Well, at least one of them.

I was 13 when my father took me running the first time. We ran down the hill from our white mexi brick house, across the big road, and down to the sea. Along the beach, through pinetree groves and back up again, following dirt roads, passing old, quiet houses and the occasional evening wanderer.

Now and then, I had to stop to catch my breath and walk. At the end of the run I could taste blood in my mouth. I was beat. My dad went for a second lap.

I was not an athletic child. I had grown quickly and reached puberty early. My body was my enemy. I was an artist, a singer, a reader and a dreamer. Somehow, in spite of everything, I became a runner.

I had tried dancing, riding, tennis and soccer. Unfortunately, they all involved other kids. I was afraid of other kids. When I found running, it was a perfect match. Not because of my speed or endurance, obviously, but because I could do it alone, when I wanted, where I wanted. No choreography, no big animal, no ball. No kids. Just one foot in front of the other.

Since then, there have been periods without running in my life. But I always come back. And every time it blows me away how good it makes me feel. Physically and mentally. It makes me stronger and more self-confident. It helps ease depressions and anxiety.

Almost six years ago, my right lung popped and collapsed. No reason whatsoever. I was getting ready to go to work in the morning, when I felt something snap next to my sternum, like a small muscle rupture. It got harder and harder to breathe, and my whole chest cramped. Unfortunately, ignoring it did not make it go away, so I finally called a cab and went to the hospital.

I remember crying and thinking “I have a heart attack and I am going to die. Why now?! When I finally enjoy being alive.”

(I thought I was dying, but I didn’t call for an ambulance. Oh no, miss self-sufficient took a goddamn cab. Go figure.)

Ten months later I knew that my predicament was called spontaneous pneumothorax. By then, my lung had popped and collapsed several times, and it was decided I should have surgery.

“You have a very healthy-looking lung”, the surgeon complimented me afterwards. Apart from the whole popping and collapsing business, I guess…

In very unorthodox and brief words, he had cut off the damaged corner of my malfunctioning lung, “stapled” the hole shut, and “glued” the lung to the inside of my chest. I was happy, high on morphine and thrilled to get rid of my lung problem. Until it happened again, while I was still healing. This time it tore right at the bottom, towards the diaphragm, where the lung was “unattached”.

Apparently, this was not unusual. So they just left it to heal on its own. At least the lung could no longer collapse, since it was now held up by my rib cage.

I got back to work and eventually started running again, encouraged by my surgeon. Staying active would be good for me and my lung. But I kept having problems for years. My impatience made me too ambitious, to soon. Last time it popped was after an evening run along the Las Canteras boardwalk in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. I could feel the familiar tightness in my chest and had to walk the last kilometer back to my hotel. Next morning, there it was again. That bubbling, rustling sensation inside my chest, at every breath.

I gave up. Thought I would never run again. Started taking yoga classes. And I found myself gradually breathing better, deeper, gaining a new kind of body consciousness. When I finally dared to try running again, I was taking no risks. I decided to run short distances, slowly. If my chest tightened or felt heavy, I would pause to stretch my upper body, and breathe, deeply and slowly. I was patient.

For a while, my stamina got even worse, but I carried on. All that mattered was that I got out there and did a few kilometers. If nothing else, the air and the monotonous movement soothed the depression I was in. And I was relieved and thankful to be running at all.

Both my depression and my lousy endurance turned out to be caused (partially) by anemia. And when my blood count got back to normal again, so did my running. I had been able to keep my lung intact for fourteen months and now there was an oxygen party in my veins. This was the summer of 2012.

Today, I run more than ever. Call me crazy, but I’m training for an ultra marathon in June. I am going to run 53 kilometers! My longest run so far is 23.5 kilometers, and the only race I’ve participated in was a 10K a few years back. I’m a lone runner, remember? Races never appealed to me, until last summer, when I heard about Tjejmarathon.

It was started last year by Madeleine Johansson and Ann-Sofie Forsmark, as a marathon for women. But rather than making it shorter than the regular marathon, like women’s races usually are, they decided to make it longer. Because why should a women’s race be shorter? When I heard about it on the radio, I had just read Christopher McDougall’s “Born to run”, and my love for running was back with a vengeance.

I’ve also signed up for a half-marathon in May. Let’s call it a warm-up. I’m not fast. Never have been. But I’m thinking I might have what it takes to run long. My only goal is to keep going, because I never want to stop. I just love running, and I’m thankful for every step.

I can run. So I run.

Why do you run? Or why don’t you?