Pausing

For the first time since I started this blog in August 2008 I skipped one of my monthly masthead updates (the March 2011 masthead). I won’t describe what this does to my obsessive-compulsive nature; I had to volitionally exhale, meditate on the true things that matter in life, and let. it. go. I traded in that masthead — and many, many other things — for doctoral candidacy. Not a bad trade off. The process of creating a dissertation prospectus, presenting the proposal to my committee, and getting approval for the project was the hardest step thus far in my PhD experience, and I will even go so far to say that it was one of the more challenging feats in my life. By the grace of God, I have finished that leg of the race.

Because most things in life can be analogized to triathlons, I think about the finish trusses that some races have for each triathlon leg.

At this point in the race, there is no medal for your neck and no formal finisher’s ceremony. But there is celebration. Family and friends congregate at these finishes. Triathletes smile as they pass through (you don’t always see the smile through pain-filled grimaces or tears, but it’s there). Whatever fear that was associated with that leg has been overcome and, whether the greatest challenge lies ahead or not, there is an unmistakable opportunity to celebrate.

Similar instances occur in life, so take them. Take those opportunities to celebrate the smaller victories along the journey, especially if the greatest challenge lies ahead. Even if it is an ever so brief moment allotted to pause, put hands on knees, take a few recovery breaths, and say “Wow, I did it!” before turning full stride again, soaking in the victory helps to fuel us for the legs that lie ahead.

My PhD program is a pentathlon. The dissertation proposal was the 4th leg. There was no blue inflatable finish truss for this stage (though one would be a welcome addition to the department), but seeing my committee’s signatures on the doctoral candidate form was a rite of passage in itself. So I celebrated, albeit briefly, and am already full stride in the final leg of the program.

The April masthead — what I really wanted to write about in the first place — is an example of nature doing its own celebrating as it survived the winter leg and welcomes spring. The trees with these blooms line the streets of our neighborhood and they humbly proclaim, “Wow, we did it!” Because this kind of celebration is so inspirational and contagious, every time I step outside of my house I briefly pause to join them in the celebration. Yes, we did do it. We survived a rough season, a challenging leg of the race.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Aaahh.

Okay, now back to work.

Moving the Party Outdoors

abby-standing3

A Cat Story

She asked, “Are you coming outside or what?!”

I said, “Not until you do your tap dance routine.”

“No.”

“Yes.”

She said, “Fine, but not unless you get me my top hat and cane.”

So I did.  And then she did.

Then I said, “Ha ha, I was going to come outside whether you did the routine or not.”

Then she came inside and puked on the carpet.

I guess we’re even.

***

(Side Note: Are cats supposed to be this long?  When I look at this picture I can’t help but think Abby was playing a trick on me.  Like she persuaded Scout or a neighborhood cat to go in on the “Super Tall Cat” gag.  They rented a Giant Abby costume made from real fur and catskin.  Inside the costume the accomplice cat was on the bottom standing on its hind legs while Abby was sitting on its shoulders to convincingly look like the tallest domestic cat in the world.  I’m not sure if all of this was for laughs or attaining greater power over humans.  I am watching their moves very closely.)

If I’m being honest, when this photo was taken Abby wasn’t really eager for me to frolic outdoors with her.  She actually wanted me to let her inside.  Just like the second photo of Scout in this post – Scout isn’t really screaming; she’s yawning.  It’s okay though, they’ve both given consent for me to create whatever story I want with their photos.  Between the verbal consent and the fact that cats don’t recognize their own reflection or pictures of themselves, I figure I’m in the clear.

But there are parts of the Cat Story that are true.  For example, I am planning on spending more time outside.  In fact, I am going to fight every ounce of lethargy and overwhelmedness in my body and attempt to get back to triathlons.  After not racing for nearly two years, I am ready to start training for the Pittsburgh Triathlon in July.  Training this month will be a huge challenge since I still carry the weight of my comprehensive exams (due end of May/early June), but I’m hoping that making a public proclamation to compete in the Pittsburgh Triathlon will serve as one form of accountability to help that goal come to fruition.

Another aspect of the Cat Story that’s true – Abby can totally tap dance.