Radio silence

Radio Silence

There are times in our lives that we need to completely unplug. This has been one of those times for me.

It started unintentionally. Gary & I celebrated our 32 anniversary this week, and, as we like to do, we planned a little get away. Since we only have three good legs between us, we decided a cruise would be just the thing. A week of doing absolutely nothing that we didn’t want to do. Reading, eating, sleeping, shopping, sight-seeing, you get the drift – just two old folks cruising the high seas. Gary even brought blue socks to wear with his shorts and tennis shoes. I didn’t let him, of course. There are still some lines I won’t let him cross.

After getting on board, we realized our cell phones had no service and wi-fi wasn’t complimentary. We bought a small package so that we could check our e-mail occasionally, then we turned off all our devices. Complete silence. Absolute bliss. No checking e-mails and messages constantly, no Facebook updates, no pipeline to the outside world. Just us, some great books, tropical weather, and the soothing feel of the ocean as it passed beneath us. Heaven on earth. I forgot how great it feels to just unplug.

How did we get to the point of needing constant communication? Did we forget how to just tune into our own thoughts, how to talk face to face and just enjoy quiet times in each other’s company or with our own thoughts? Is that why there is so much unhappiness in the world, because we’ve forgotten how to communicate or how to be still? We’ve taken something that was meant to be a convenience and turned it into our basic means of communication. Conversation has become a lost art.

We spent the morning on our balcony, overlooking the beautiful island of Grand Cayman. As we watched the flurry of activity in the bay below us, dive boats picking up divers, helicopters taking off with tourists for a bird’s eye view of the island, cattle boats ferrying cruisers back and forth to the dock, we reminisced about some of our favorite trips and dreamed of the places we have yet to see. So many of my favorite memories were made on trips near and far. The first time I went scuba diving in blue water and found my home away from home; the first time I saw a manta ray glide majestically toward me with no fear, only curiosity; the helicopter tour we took in Kona that took us from fiery volcanos to lush forests and valleys dotted with cascading waterfalls. None of those memories were made in front of a computer screen.

I hope when we get back to real life that I can make a better effort at connecting with the people in my life. Coffee with friends, long conversations over a shared meal, face to face meetings that establish bonds and cement relationships. I enjoy the convenience of keeping up with family and friends via social media, but I want the warmth of personal contact, as well. We can’t allow our lives to be taken over by technology. Technology should enhance our lives, not consume us.

As the new year draws near, and I reflect on my goals and plans, I think that stepping away from technology will be among them. Not completely, of course, but I don’t want to be swallowed up by it anymore. As for this week, after I post this, I’m shutting down all my devices again and probably won’t check messages until we arrive home on Sunday. So, if you don’t hear from me until then, you’ll know I’m enjoying blissful, stress-free radio silence.

Life is a gift of adventure, meant to be lived unplugged.

Why do it?

As this glutinous season grinds on, it’s time to look forward to the new year and start making our plans for training and racing.  I’m excited that so many in my inner circle of family and friends are lacing up and hitting the road (or the treadmill), and hope that many more will join us as this year closes and a new one begins.  As you look toward a healthier horizon, know that it’s never easy, sometimes it’s really boring, and not all runs are good ones, but making the decision to become a healthier you is one you’ll never regret.  Here are a few things that keep me looking for my running shoes at the crack of dawn.

*It helps me be nicer.  I took the week off from running after last weekend’s half marathon to nurse a few ouchies, and by Thursday, my sunny disposition had melted into a snarling, semi-hysterical puddle.  I had two vicious run-ins over the telephone, both of which make me hang my head in shame today.  Not that they were unprovoked, just that I usually deal with that type thing much better.  Apparently, I need running to help me deal with anger issues.  :/  Who knew?

*I’m responsible for my long term health/well-being.  No one else.  I often listen to podcasts as I run, and this morning’s run started with an Andy Stanley series entitled “Take Responsibility”.  In it, he made the statement that if you aren’t prepared to eat right and exercise now, when you’re healthy, you should sit your spouse or children down and ask them to go ahead and plan on taking care of you as you age.  Ouch.  While there are many things that lie outside my ability to prevent, there are lots of things that lie within it.  Eating well and exercising help me be the best me possible, today and in the future.

*I’m good to myself.  Time spent alone on an early morning run is the most quality time I spend with myself.  I relax, recharge, regroup, and reenergize.

*I catch up with my girl time.  Occasionally, I like to run with a friend.  It’s fun, motivating, and keeps the route interesting.

*I catch up with my guy time.  The thing I miss most about having my man down for the time being is running with him.  Yes, he pushes me hard.  Yes, that makes me grouchy.  It also makes me a better runner.  Get better soon, old man.

*I catch up on my reading.  I love to read.  But, my schedule (like yours) is overly full, especially this time of the year.  So, I download great books to my iPod that keep me company on long runs.  I’ve run with Harry Potter and friends, Jay Gatsby and Daisy, the inspiring women in “The Help”, Jamie and Claire Frasier from the “Outlander” series, and many,  many more.  I also like to listen to podcasts by some of my favorite speakers, including Andy Stanley (pastor of Northpointe Community Church in Atlanta), the late, great Zig Ziglar, the down to earth Joyce Meyers, and the funny girls over at Another Mother Runner.  Long runs are often “catch up on my podcasts” time.  

*I have a worship experience.  I have lots of music on my iPod and that sometimes leads to an amazing run.  My running playlist is very eclectic, running the gamut from Queen, Steppenwolf, and Tom Petty to Jonah 33, Jeremy Riddle, and Mercy Me and everything in between.  I dial it in, hit shuffle, and let God choose what I listen to.  At mile 4 this morning, just as I was getting in my groove, He selected Mercy Me’s “Word of God, Speak”.  And, it did.  Mile 4 was a hands raised to heaven kind of mile.  Love it when that happens.

*I feel spectacular.  I’ve been running consistently again for a little over three years.  I felt better after the first six months, then after a year, I felt great.  Now, I have energy to spare, morning runs fuel my day, I’m seldom sick with anything worse than a fever blister, and I wake up easily in the mornings, looking forward to the day.  Does it get better than that?

I hope this list helps you get motivated or re-motivated to move.  Please, don’t think you have to be a runner.  In fact, if you’re just starting out, haven’t run in a long time, are a little older, or are prone to injuries, just walk.  You never have to run, you certainly never have to race to reap the benefits of adding exercise to your life.  Everyone starts slowly, then gradually improves. It’s the natural way of things.    In the words of the incomparable, recently departed Zig Ziglar: