Be The Turtle

  “It is the pace of the race, not the need for speed.”  The thought ran through my head as I took one more step into my fourth mile of my five-mile run this particular morning.

  Be the turtle was all I could think as I wanted to pump up the notch that would lead me to speed.  I wanted to start breathing hard, sweating bad and gasping for air; if I did not struggle, could it really be considered a work out?  At the same time I knew better, I was looking to build more endurance not have a heartache.  I needed to chuck my hare mentality out the doors of the gym and remember, “I am a turtle.” 

  It has not always been easy for me to slowdown, especially when I am engaged in something I enjoy.  I also have the habit of trying to move quickly through tasks that should take more time such as listening, speaking and preparing.  My hare mentality has away of kicking in and trying to speed through the process of life.  The only problem with that, I usually end up with injuries.  Whether they are mental, physical or spiritually pulled muscles, it will happen when I am in a hurry. The need for speed will leave me with a twisted ankle, distorted thinking or riffs in my relationships. 

  I remember years ago, driving home from an event, alone in my car, I felt a still quiet voice in my head telling me to  “be the turtle.”  My need for speed was not a very good example to those I had been leading as well as my young children who were watching.  Back then I was always frantic moving from one activity to the next, dragging my family and friends along.  I took pride in my to-do lists and all the activities I juggled.  Yet, I was not a clown and my life was not a circus.  I had an hour in traffic to practice my newfound calling.   Embrace the pace; I knew most of my friends at the time would have encouraged me to ask myself, WWJD?   Not I, “WWTTD?” That was more like it.  What would the turtle do, not very spiritual, yet, it did help calm my spirit. 

  Slowing down took practice, it took being purposeful about the pace of my race.  WWTTD meant changing the way I looked at life.  The way I reacted and interacted with myself and everyone else.  Embracing the turtle pace meant retiring the rabbit that lived deep inside of me, the rabbit that felt like if it did not keep up it would be left out.  Practicing being the turtle during traffic took patients and faith that I would get to my destination that day but I was determined to follow the still voice that was leading my way.

  One of the greatest gifts I received as I traded in my rabbit’s foot for my turtle shell was the gift of eye site.  Even that day on the freeway, stuck in traffic, practicing my new found pace, I found peace.    There were opportunities, people, places and things I had missed, passed me by when I was under the impression that the need for speed was the way to be.  As I embraced the pace of the race, I experienced grace, the kind of grace that came when one choose to slow down.  It was the kind of grace that came when one believed that the journey was more important than the destination. 

  I love to be the turtle.  Today I will occasionally find myself triggered by past feelings.  It is in those moments where I want to put on my running shoes, get in my sprinters stance and rush through the experience so I do not have to feel what is familiar.  I want to let the hare pop its head out of the past and invite it into my future so I could speed through the moment.  However, the good graceful turtle that took over many years ago has away of over powering the not so tough rabbit that wants to takeover.

 Looking back over the years, I find myself thankful for the way the creator caught my attention on that busy traffic filled road many years ago.  It was the start of something new and the end to something old. It was the moment when I realized that the pace of the race was greater then the need for speed.   

Thank you for letting me share.

I Think It is A Pocket

  One minute we were diving deep into the sea of discussion, the next moment we were laughing over stitches in pockets and glass cacti in the desert.  The authenticity I felt in that moment reminded me of the unspoken commitment we had made the moment we met, many years before.  A promise to keep the friendship real went without saying.  She was a sweet surprise that landed in my arms and took up residency in my heart.  She came in and out of my life in the physical for a short season.  Sometimes it feels like the experience was not even real. 

  It was time to put bodies to the background of all the phone calls made through out the years.  We were both in desperate need of more then a voice.  Both of us in transitions and feeling the familiar pains of change took us to a place somewhere in between.    The desert, what a great place to help hold space for transition; it had been over two years since we had seen each other.  When it finally happened, it felt more like home then a hotel room. 

  I believe we walked and talked our way through a marathon over the three days we were together.  A beautiful exchange of stories went on in the heat of the desert.  A truth that told us both we were going to be alright as long as we continued to press in to what appeared to be the uncomfortable part of our story arc.  The part of the story where life forever changes and there is no going back, the part where life gets messy and humanness feels prickly. 

  Embracing the arc of our stories also meant trying knew experiences.  OK, that sounds like a good excuse to rent a Cherry Red Convertible Mustang instead of a compact conservative gas saving car right.  I mean, transition is hard, why not make the most of it.  We embraced this experience like two little six year olds embracing cotton candy at the fair; we were fully in, feeling spunky and free.  This particular day we were in search of the Phoenix Botanical Garden.  Arrows, signs and sounds should have made it a simple shot to the parking lot but no, all of our spunkiness caused us to bypass the exit, anyone watching must have thought we looked more like two dogs chasing their tales, then two friends in search of a landmark. 

  I chuckled to myself when we missed the turn, I had thought, “how hard could this be, we were looking for a garden in a desert?”  At the same time, I had never been to a botanical garden, just saying the words made me want to wash my hair, not take a hike.  We finally caught our tales and found our spot, pulled into a parking spot and prepared for our journey.   “We need to put the top up,” extenuating the word top as I told my friend, because, she kept calling it the lid as if we were a jar of pickles.   After the lid went up, I asked if she would pop the trunk, I wanted to leave my purse.  Grabbing my money and phone to put in my back pocket, I was surprise.  My pockets appeared to be like plastic fruit glued to the table of a model home, just for looks, or I thought.  That is when I found myself bent over staring at my toes, my friend behind me preparing to use her car keys as a knife, to do surgery on my pants.  You can only imagine what this must have looked like to those passing by.   As she released each stitch, I prayed that she was right and that the pockets were just sewn shut.  If not,  I would look funny walking around with a huge hole revealing my backside; at least there would be cloth to show for, thanks to the seamstress/underwear coach, which is a whole other story. 

  I could feel her unthreading the pockets’, stitch by stitch, she would pull and I would giggle.  Then it hit me, people walking by would glance over their shoulders or look out of the side of their eyes.  We lost it as we realized the seen we had made.   Laughter and snot came out of her face as I simply said “and that won’t attract attention.”  We both busted out in that deep gut wrenching laughter that does a body good. Not only did we both get a much-needed gift of uncontrollable giggles, so did those who crossed our path.  On a serious note, my pockets were real and my backside was safely covered.  Oh, how I love to laugh. 

  Our time together ended as quickly as it began and all of a sudden, I felt like a six year getting ready to say goodbye to my childhood friend.  Everything in me wanted to fight the feelings that were welling up inside.  I did not want to let go, I wanted to lean in and hold on forever.  I felt safe sharing space with my soul sister.  Yet, the adult in me knew the time had come.  We both needed to enter back into our transitions, our story arc and continue to run the race set before us.  We had helped each other through asking, listening, pausing and repeating.  We had both chosen to dive deep, laugh hard and share openly, which allowed us to enter back into our stories with courage.  We sat on the edges of our beds knowing the time had arrived, we prayed together and promised each other we would be back next year, believing that God works out all things for good.

    True friendship is not about how much time you spend together,  but about the kind of time you spend when you are together.   Thank you my sister friend for traveling this road next to me.  Until next year, be safe, be free, be you!