Sundays in Saugatuck: Listening to Dragonfly

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I thought I might head out for a hike today, but, alas, it is raining. So, for the third week in a row, I headed up to Saugatuck for my seat at Uncommon Coffee Roasters. The cushy chairs were waiting for me. I plopped my stuff down and ordered my mocha in a real coffee mug. Let the new Sunday tradition begin.

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Ashok looks cute but had to wait in the car anyway.

The dragonfly card popped up in my spread of my Medicine Cards today. As usual, dragonfly delivered a message that directly applied to my world. I actually called my friend Jessica this morning and spoke almost the exact words in the reading. Native Americans say that dragonfly was once a dragon, and he flew around transforming things with his fiery breath. One day Coyote played a trick on him and transformed him into a dragonfly. Dragon ended up losing his power because he allowed someone else to change him.

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After our run yesterday, Ashok rolled in the tiny bit of snow that was available.

The reading tells me that I am holding on to some illusion that is restricting my actions. I’ve been struggling with my people-pleasing tendencies lately, and that’s what prompted my call to Jessica this morning. Trying to twist myself into something or somebody that other people will like is not working for me. And, honestly, if they don’t like me, they don’t like me. In this particular situation, the change expected of me is not behavioral but personal. I am who I am with my own set of unique gifts and faults. And I honestly think if I could change, they still wouldn’t like me anyway. It’s about them. It’s not about me.

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Oddly enough, I have on my dragonfly earrings today. “Misery is a prime clue that you lost your will and personal validity when you bought into someone else’s idea of who or what you should be,” says dragonfly. “Who am I then?” I ask dragonfly, knowing the answer somewhere deep in my soul. I spent so many years of my life following someone else’s rules that misery was my constant state of being. But the soul never gives up trying to breathe. I can stuff it down as far as I want, but the soul never dies. It wants to BE who it is … no matter how long it takes.

I know I am still evolving. I know I am not perfect. I know that I continue to work on my personal challenges, and I see progress slowly but surely. I also know that I am talented. I am funny. I am courageous. My friends say that my special gift is helping others see how wonderful they really are. I actually sort of like that person that can help others love themselves. And that’s all I’ll say about that.

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The holidays are upon us. I’m excited about spending some time in Chicago and plans with friends. I’m looking for a 5k to run in December to cap off my successful running season. It’s been years since I’ve been able to run uninjured. Jessica has been coaching me since July, and I’ve been running a 5K every month. Yesterday Ashok and I ran a 5-miler in South Haven, and it felt great – albeit cold. I could run the Speedo 5k in Chicago or the Whoville 5k in Grand Rapids or a New Year’s Eve run. Hmmm … they all sound kind of fun. I’m just very grateful to be running. Along with all the other stuff that my souls longs to be, I suppose it likes to run.   Not sure about the bikini in December though… 

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Finding Laughter in the Darkness

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I was searching for new podcasts a couple of weeks ago. I wanted something that was not political, informative and thought-provoking. I listen to one called Women on the Road about women who live in campers and travel all the time. One of my favorites is How I Built This about entrepreneurs who made it really big. They have featured the builders of Eileen Fisher, Five Guys and Starbucks. I thought humor might be a good addition to my library, and I found one called The Hilarious World of Depression. Hmmmmm… really? Hilarious? Not my experience of depression, for sure.

I had some windshield time yesterday, so I plugged in and listened to a couple of episodes. So far, they are interviewing comedians who struggle with depression. They are somewhat funny, but the focus is their journey with depression. A friend of mine asked if that seemed odd that comedians would have depression, but, as a sufferer of depression, it makes perfect sense to me. Who can articulate the wildly insane world of mental illness better than someone who writes or performs? And since depression separates us from reality, we see all of its quirks and ironies.

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Depression is more of a numbness for me. Sometimes I feel sad, but mostly I just feel down and hopeless. I describe it as feeling like I’m in a box or as if I’m a small child hiding in a corner. There is a heaviness in my heart that I can only describe as weighted weariness. Moving around feels monumental. I watch the world disconnectedly as if reality is a movie where I didn’t get a part. The hardest part is feeling disconnected …. disconnected from my emotions, my relationships and from my hopes and dreams. The landscape is a movie screen. And it’s not even a really good movie. Is this all there is? 

Listening to these comedians talk about their darkest days and their journey with depression has been very comforting in an odd sort of way. People tell me that I often describe what they are going through in my blog, and it helps them to hear it described in prose. Sometimes – they say – it gives them words to describe their feelings. That’s exactly how I feel listening to this podcast. Even people who are famous and successful and wildly funny have periods where they sink into the dark hole of depression. Often, their inner world is at its darkest when they are at the peak of their success.

So, I just thought I’d pass this on. If you suffer from depression, it could be a warm blanket on a dark day. If you live with someone who suffers from depression, it will most certainly provide some insight on why they can’t “snap out of it” or use positive thinking to shift their mood. Most of all, I hope it will provide the perspective that depression doesn’t limit you unless you don’t get help. There is help available, and there is success and laughter and hope after – and even during – depression.

 

Living in America: Accepting the Guns

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I can think of nothing this morning but acceptance. I’ve tried resisting. I’ve tried letting our leaders work it out. I’ve tried anger and fear and sarcasm. But it looks like the only thing left is acceptance. To live in the United States, a part of the bargain is living in a fishbowl where I will never know if my movie or church service or country concert will be the scene of my death. Apparently, there is nothing to be done, and there is nobody willing to say this is unacceptable in a country such as ours. Our lot, it seems, is to live in fear – or acceptance – that we could be gunned down any moment.

I have a shock of fear go through me now when I arrive at an event or in a movie theater. I look around. “What if it happened here,” I ask myself as I look for the closest exit and plan how I would hide – envisioning that he would still find me and shoot me point blank. I eventually let it go because the odds are high that it won’t happen to me today, but they certainly aren’t zero. I even watch closely the guy at work with an anger problem. What if?... could he? .. should I say something?  and it scares me to death.

When I was in Louisiana, my friends urged me to carry a gun. I don’t want to carry a gun… not because I hate guns but because I don’t want to live that way. I don’t want to be afraid. I also suffer from depression. I don’t want to have easy access to a weapon that could end my life in a moment of desperation. I know people who took their lives due to the accessibility of a gun in a bad bout of depression. For me, the odds are higher that I would shoot myself than the odds of someone shooting me. I can’t believe I have to weigh these odds in America, the land of the free.

One of the reasons I moved here to this little town was to get out of the violence in southern cities such as Baton Rouge and Memphis. I chose in both of them to not be afraid. I just told myself that I was going to live my life as if nothing would happen, and I did. But I knew that one day my luck might run out on that. A small town in Southwest Michigan would be a safer spot, I thought.

There were nights in Baton Rouge where my fear would keep me awake. I’d hear sirens and gunshots, and I would feel the fear and anxiety shoot through my body. My silly mode of coping would be to get up and put my living room chair up against my front door. I knew it would stop no one, but for some reason it felt like I did something, and sleep would come. Thankfully, it didn’t happen every day, but it happened often enough. The last weeks I was there I would count the days until I didn’t have to worry about gun violence any more. I did not want to grow old in a place like that.

I don’t have any idea if gun control would solve anything. I don’t have any solutions. But, once again, I have to grapple with the tears that fall empathetically with small-town churchgoers who were going about their lives and were gunned down in cold blood. They, too, didn’t think it could happen to them that day. Once again I have to stuff my anger – with its underlying fear – that our country does not know how to solve this problem. Once again, I have to accept that I am an American. And in this day and age, being an American means wearing a target on my chest hoping that no one chooses to take aim.

My heart is sad for our country and all of its victims. We don’t even hear about the daily victims of gun violence. The numbers of deaths by gun violence are staggering. And we just keep looking away. The victims are shot … more victims face lifelong injury … other victims lose loved ones, and others – like me – lose their feeling of freedom and safety. We are all victims at some level of gun violence in this country.

Welcome to America … the land of the free and the home of the brave. 

Impressions of Why We Get Fat

My new Sunday routine is to hang out in Saugatuck at Uncommon Coffee Roasters. I just ordered up a mocha and, instead of something sweet, a really tasty quinoa porridge with raisins, toasted coconut and carrots. For a wet, dreary, chilly day, this was a great recipe for comfort. In a word … yummy.

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I have been trying to educate myself enough about the dangers of sugar that I will no longer want to eat it. My hope is that the evidence of its dangers will eventually see me running and screaming from any cupcake that is put in front of me. I’m not there yet, but I do have to say that I’m convinced enough that I feel like I’m guiltily feeding myself poison when I do partake. I think I’ll get there eventually. And I’m eating a lot less of it.

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My Quinoa Porridge

Jessica mentioned the book Why We Get Fat: and What to Do About It by Gary Taubes. I read his other book called The Case Against Sugar and learned a lot about the political environment and history around sugar and what it does to our bodies. There is evidence to suggest that insulin (which is secreted when we eat sugar and carbohydrates) makes our bodies hold on to fat. I know that I’ve seen good results when I cut out sugar, and my sister has experimented with reducing carbs and seen immediate results. Hmmm… perhaps there is something to this.

So, I thought this Why We Get Fat book might provide some additional information to cure me from my cravings from this addicting beautiful treat. Taubes starts off vilifying the science that gave us the “calories in/calories out” rules of dieting. He starts off with it and goes on and on and on and on, citing everything that is wrong with every study. He then goes on to say that exercise and cutting calories doesn’t do a thing to help lose weight, and I was feeling a little confused about the reality that I see in the Weight Watchers Connect app and what he was saying about the inability of the obese to lose weight with exercise and diet. I KNOW that there are many people on Connect that are losing lots of weight. It didn’t seem to shore up with reality.

I finally got irritated and decided I wasn’t going to read it anymore. Then I thought better of it and just skipped through to the solution. Again, his writing goes on and on ad nauseam about how he is right and everybody else is wrong about the science of losing weight. Honestly, he could have written a pamphlet instead of a book and said the same thing. For me, the criticisms of other theories and other research began to make me doubt HIS credibility. Eventually, I quit reading again, texted Jessica and told her not to waste her time reading that book and decided to come here and order a mocha.

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To put it bluntly, Taubes believes that we should eat only meat, and apparently that’s the diet he follows. According to a blog in the Scientific-American, though, even his wife doesn’t trust him enough to put both of his kids on a meat only diet. All I know is I opened the book with an open mind and I finished it with a bad taste in my mouth. I do believe that sugar and refined flours are evil and cause insulin to wreak havoc in my body. That much makes sense to me. But I also think that steel cut oats, sweet potatoes and fruit are healthy foods, and we should eat them. Call me a skeptic, but I just can’t be that extreme. Besides, I don’t even like meat. I’d be doomed to a life with dull and uninteresting food if meat is all I can eat.

I do plan to go without sugar tomorrow, and I’ll try my best to go sugar-free all week. My tuna and rice crackers are packed for snacks, and I’ve made a pot of beans and rice for lunch and dinner. I will have fruit. I will have veggies, and I will have steel-cut oats for breakfast. And I bet I’ll do just fine. I’m not fat, either … so there.

We Need People!

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I sat down on Sunday and added some social events to my calendar. I need to get out and meet new people. I need to be with people. I started my own Meetup Group, and while it’s slow in getting started, I’ve already made a few new friends. I even decided that I needed to get off dating apps for awhile. I meet a few people that way, but it’s mostly texting, and to be honest, it takes a lot of time to date. And when I’m dating, I’m not making time for meeting other people who can be a part of my tribe. I think I’ll put dating on the back burner for awhile – at least from apps.

It’s so easy to just kill time when I get home, cook dinner and workout. I can get caught up reading the news or listening to podcasts or even reading a book. And one day I look up and it’s been days or even a week or more since I’ve conversed face-to-face with another human being.

At work today we had a Halloween party. It was the best Halloween party I’ve ever attended at work. I think everybody in our organization dressed up. And I felt so happy. Instead of us all being head down in our computers or running from meeting to meeting, we took time to laugh and grab cookies and talk to each other about our costumes. Everybody said it was the best party we’ve ever had on the floor. I think we needed it. I know I did.

So many people lately have been telling me they are depressed. The fact of the matter is I feel a bit depressed, too. Regardless of how I feel politically, it’s depressing that our country’s people are so divided. It feels hopeless to hear talk of nuclear war. I feel anxious about my future, my ability to retire and my ability to afford health insurance if I ever do retire. It is within the realm of possibility that I will have to work until I’m very old. It makes me sad and scared and depressed.

So I’ve been doing all of the things that I know help me when I’m depressed. I’m exercising, running, meditating, doing yoga when I can and making myself get out and meet people. I would like to say I’ve been watching my diet, but, unfortunately, I’ve been partaking of Halloween junk for two days. I’ll get back to it, but it wreaks havoc on my mood. It’s turning colder, so I need to ramp up my socializing so I don’t just curl up on my couch and wake up in the spring with a horrid case of the blues.

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My friend and fellow blogger Laura… we are video conferencing tomorrow!

My friend Laura blogged today about the importance of being around people. For me, too, that message has been popping up everywhere. It reminds me that I need to make an effort to talk to people. It’s so easy to just text or interact on social media. But it’s sort of like dating for me. If I spend all of that time on social media, I’m not out making real friends and building my tribe. It’s just not the same.

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I know that there are hormones that are released when we react with people in person. (You can read more about it here.) Oxytocin is released when we touch others or feel close to them. Oxytocin boosts serotonin which relieves depression and reduces fear. And I know when I look into another person’s eyes, and we share a laugh or a personal story, I feel this wash of something really amazing come over me. It makes me happy. I feel less alone. I feel totally present and engaged in my life. Maybe that’s oxytocin. Maybe it’s just a feeling. But, whatever it is, I want that. And the only way to get that is to get off my couch and make an effort to create it. So, I gotta go. I’m headed out to meet some new people…. yes …. on a Tuesday.

 

 

Lazy Sunday Afternoon in Saugatuck

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Gloomy, beautiful Saugatuck

Wednesday it got cold. It’s been pleasant and jacket-friendly but not cold until Wednesday’s rain ushered in a really cold north wind. I walked out of the Mother Ship at lunch, and I shivered as I pulled my lightweight wool jacket around me. “Time for coats and gloves,” I said to myself. Last year I eagerly anticipated winter. This year it snuck up on me. It is almost November. It’s definitely right on time.

This week I cooked pears, made applesauce, roasted butternut squash and drank enough chai to sink a battleship. I took my wool blanket out of storage and put it on my bed, wore gloves on a run and made a run to Trader Joe’s to get some sipping chocolate. Alas, they were out as I guess many others had the same idea. It’s probably just as well since I’m trying to limit my sugar intake substantially. We even got a dusting of snow Friday night. Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away, and some of the businesses here have already hung Christmas lights. And the whining about the weather has begun.

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It’s hard to believe it’s been over a year since I arrived here on the shore of Lake Michigan. It’s passed so fast. I’m starting to make friends, and I’m even dating a little. Work, because of a lot of different reasons, does not feel comfortable yet, but every day before I walk into the building I remind myself of how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work here. The company is having some challenges, and a downsizing has been announced, but I’m tucking that away in the back of my mind assuming I won’t be impacted. There’s nothing I can do about it anyway. Besides, that’s part of the deal when you work for a consumer products company. I knew it when I came here.

The cooler weather runs off the tourists, and the locals are settling into routines in the haunts of the lakeside towns. I’m in Saugatuck at my favorite coffee stop Uncommon Coffee Roasters. It doesn’t have the ambience of Magpie Cafe in Baton Rouge, but it is nice, and the coffee is really good. Saugatuck is an LGBT-friendly village, and last night they had an adult Halloween parade. People seem to be just getting up and about after noon, so they must have had a good time. The parade was on my list of things to do this weekend, but I chickened out with the weather forecast. It seems like I missed out on a good time, but there’s always next year.

I ran four miles yesterday!

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I have a lot on my mind these days. I’m trying to be kind to myself. I’m giving myself plenty of time to exercise, run, practice yoga and meditation and socialize. Me and everybody I know seems to be suffering from a low-grade depression. My goal this week is to get back to regular strength-training and continue my running. That usually helps me reset. Getting off Facebook and meditating regularly has helped as well. I’m considering a few acupuncture treatments or some energy work to jumpstart my energy and my mood. And I really need to get out in the woods. Today it was too wet out for hiking, but I did some yoga and strength-training this morning.

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Well, I think I’ll try to be present and do some people-watching here. There’s a lot of young beautiful people on their computers sitting around. I wonder what we did before we sat together in front of screens? If I try to remember way back, I think we talked. Maybe that has something to do with the depression and the disconnection in our society. There are 10 people in this room, and not a soul is saying a word. We are all on our computers. I, for one, am getting off here.

Talk to you later….

 

 

 

 

 

What Once Was Old is New Again


My friend Karen rattled off a list of “must-sees” for my visit here as we longed around my little studio on Monday. I didn’t get to all of them but there were two that ignited my curiosity. The Big River Crossing is a revitalized and repurposed pedestrian bridge that crosses the Mississippi River, and Crosstown Concourse is a “vertical urban village” created from the ruins of the old Sears distribution center. Both projects seemed interesting and unique, so they made my “to do”  list.

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I never knew that old building off Watkins was a Sears distribution center. I vaguely remember someone telling me it was a Sears building many years ago, but I’m not sure I believed they knew which building I was asking about because it looked nothing like a Sears store. I ran by it on long marathon training runs and wondered if it was a factory of some sort. The building was brick and massive with many broken windows. I really thought it looked like an old hospital with its parking garage and what I imagined to be many rooms. I assumed one day it would be torn down to make way for something shinier.

 

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Large photos of the decaying distribution center line the hallways of this multi-use building. It was a mess inside, and I loved imagining walking through the rubble. But I love walking through this renovation even better. It is brand-spanking new as it opened just recently. I’ll let you read the details in this article, but I love the sounds of voices ringing throughout the wide open spaces. Much of the interior was cleaned up but not repaired, providing a glimpse into what was amid what’s new.


I had the same thoughts at The Big River Crossing on my run this morning. A beautiful corridor sits inside an old railroad bridge that crosses the Mighty Mississippi. One of four bridges, the walkway fades into the noise of two railroad bridges and Interstate 55. Railroad cars painted with graffiti fly by while the city of Memphis looms on the horizon on the other side. Midway a sign designates the state line between Tennessee and Arkansas. Clean steel butts up against rusted supports for the old bridge. Like Crosstown Concourse, it is the juxtaposition of old vs. new that provides interest.


I love the imagination and the resourcefulness of this new generation. My generation preferred new and shiny as we fled the cities and built up suburbia. We totally missed the raw beauty of decay and the durability of materials used so long ago. This generation likes to recycle, repurpose and revitalize. This tradition seems to have taken hold in Memphis. And as I look around, there is so much more that can be renewed. I can’t wait to see that transformation, too.

 

How to Relax on Vacation

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I think I like this kind of vacation. I lived here, so I don’t feel pressured to go to all the tourist things. It’s a city, so I can sleep in a bed. It’s October, so it’s not horribly hot, although yesterday was pretty awful. This morning’s 50-ish temps were a welcome relief after yesterday’s hot, humid, messy, rainy weather. I’m in a little place with a kitchen, so I can eat out when I want, eat in when I’m tired and don’t have to spend money unless I feel like it. I can take naps in the afternoon, schedule coffee any time of the day with friends and overall just do whatever the hell I want.

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Memphis has tons of new coffee shops. Right now I’m at a trendy one on Broad Street called City & State. “Yay Coffee” is painted on the outside wall, and there is a dog water bowl and a dog treat bucket built in to the patio right beside a dog tie-out. Ashok wasn’t much interested in the water, but she was sure interested in the home-made-looking treats. This place has clean lines, is open and airy and has plenty of outdoor seating. Yesterday I would have passed, but sitting outside today is really nice.

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Yesterday I sampled Muddy’s bakery and had my morning coffee here. A friend suggested Tart this morning on Cooper, but it was closed. So, I went to an old favorite, Cafe Eclectic for their Sunny Hash and coffee. It was just as I remembered although a little more worn than it was five years ago. But the food and coffee were as fresh and lovely as ever.

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Shelby Farms has a restaurant overlooking the lake where we used to walk. They’ve improved and expanded the lake and built this trendy restaurant with a large porch called The Kitchen Bistro. The food was really good but $20 for a 2-egg omelet, a piece of toast, potatoes and coffee was a bit steep. My breakfast this morning was much better and was much cheaper even with the tip. Keri and I took a walk around the lake but almost died from heat exposure as the trees are still just sapling and don’t provide much shade.

Whole Foods is larger and much improved, Lululemon has moved to Germantown, Penzey’s Spices seems to have disappeared or moved somewhere else, and the Soul Fish Cafe has expanded. They finally did something with the Hotel Chisca on South Main. I longed to go in and look at that old abandoned hotel. I used to daydream that the rooms were left just as they were when they locked the doors, and my hope was that ghosts might roam the halls and would stop by to say hi. Now there’s a fancy restaurant called Lyfe Kitchen that has a stellar reputation. There just aren’t enough meals in the week for me to hit them all. This one will have to wait.

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This morning I got a chance to run and go to my friend Leah’s yoga class. I have two more days here. Tonight some friends are gathering at Central BBQ downtown, and a girlfriend is meeting me here in about 20 minutes. I hope the weather holds out, and I look forward to more laughs and good coffee and yummy Memphis cuisine. Ashok just always look forward to the next meal – whatever it is. She’s so easy to please.

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The First Kiss of Memphis

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This morning I woke up in my beloved Memphis. This cute little AirBnB is equipped with all of the comforts of home except maybe a bathtub. But I have a shower, and I suppose that’s all I really need. Last night I ran over to the new Fresh Market which would have been right down the street from my house and stocked up with some healthy treats and a few not-so-healthy ones. I tried to think back to five years ago and choose one of my favorite restaurants.

Let’s see …. there was the convenience store on the corner where I used to get this amazing sautéed veggies over rice with a fried egg on top. Of course, there was BBQ everywhere, but I’d want to save that for Wednesday night. The Mexican Deli in Cordova was too long of a drive after driving all day. I even noodled the Vietnamese place on Poplar. Hmmmm … Bhan Thai popped in my head, and I knew right where I was going.

They’ve made some upgrades. The parking lot is bigger. I no longer had to walk down the street to park. They’ve extended the porch so it’s larger. I opted to sit on the porch since it was nice out, and I tried something new – the potstickers – and one of my favorites – cashew nut tofu. I even opted for the sticky mango coconut rice for dessert even though I knew I could only have a taste or two. I’m on vacation, right? A singer sang old favorites from my childhood, and I let myself relax for the first time on the trip. “I am here,” my body said. “Kick your feet up and relax.”

My little vacation spot…

I made an early night of it since I had gotten up early to drive. So I awoke rested and ready for my run. I thought of several running routes but settled on walking out my front door and heading to my old neighborhood. Memories started rushing back as I made my way down the same streets that I’d run a million times when training for marathons. Looks like they finally sold that place over on McLean. Wow, they made some nice upgrades on that house off Lemaster. Dogs, as usual, were being walked all over, the humidity hung like a damp cloth in the air, and the trees of Memphis stood as stately and beautiful as ever.

My old house… with my porch swing.

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I ran down my old street and checked out my apartment where I lived after my divorce. It looked the same. I wondered if they ever fixed that back yard so it looked a little nicer but didn’t have the hooha to walk over and peek over the fence. It was occupied as a fall wreath hung on the door. I thought of the Memphis drummer that lived beneath me and harbored a secret crush on the older woman on the second floor. I passed my house down the street. They chopped down all of those bushes to the side of the house to make a two-car driveway. And they added the porch swing that I wanted but never hung. I longed to look inside to see what else was new.

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Overall, the old ‘hood is the same. Central Gardens is where I am, and Central Gardens is where I lived. It’s where I trained for my first marathon. That house on Carr was Ashok’s first home with me. I remembered with a gasp how hot it was that one summer when temps hung over 100 for weeks on end. My sister came up to go to an outdoor gospel concert during Elvis week. It was 104, but they still held it outside. Thank heavens it’s not that hot today! I remember those countless long runs through that neighborhood where I’d suffer through eeking out another 5 miles … another mile … another 100 yards. And I remember how I felt today when I was done… soaked through with sweat, fully worked out and glad to be here.

I asked myself if I should have left Memphis. I have great friends here, and I really do love the gritty soulfulness of this city. I thought about the year before I moved to Louisiana and what I was feeling. I had a restlessness about me, and I was ready to go. “You are not the staying kind,” I heard a voice in my right ear. I giggled a little and answered back, “Yeah, I suppose commitment is not my strong suit.” Thank goodness that doesn’t mean I can’t journey back for comfort. I may not stay for long, but I’ll be grounded in love and gratitude while I’m here.

Detours to Memphis

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When I lived in Memphis, one of my favorite weekend getaways was St. Louis. The old Italian area is called The Hill, and I spent many a weekend grocery shopping at the old-time Italian supermarkets and delis, eating cannoli and drinking dark, smoky coffee at coffee shops and eating plate loads of pasta at some amazing Italian restaurants.

One Halloween I came up to run a Halloween 10K that had to be one of the most beautiful and fun races I’ve ever run. The only one that surpasses it for me is the Mount Baldhead Challenge 15K in Saugatuck MI. Saint Louis neighborhoods feature beautiful brick architecture and tree-lined avenues which provide outstanding fall color. When I ran the 10K, the weather was a perfect 45 degrees at the start which is truly perfect running weather.

Only a four hour drive from Memphis, those road trips were perfect for a weekend. I’d drive up Saturday morning in time to grab lunch on The Hill and then grocery shop at DiGregorio’s Italian Market. They had their own homemade mozzarella and pasta along with bulk beans and grains and all kinds of Italian meats. I would easily spend $200 to load up my ice chest and my car before heading back on Sunday afternoon.

So, I’m driving down I-57 today trying to work out my Sunday plans. I can’t check in to my AirBNB until 4 PM, and it’s too hot to leave Ashok in the car to do anything. I saw the sign for St. Louis, and I thought… hmmmm…. “Why not?” I found an AirBNB in the Tower Grove Park neighborhood and took a right when the time came. After taking Ashok for a stroll on The Hill I had dinner at Mama’s and then found my lodging for the night. Fall colors are just beginning to come out here, and the neighborhood and parks are beautiful.

Memphis Memories…..

I’m settling in for the night here. I have a full slate of activities planned with old friends this week, and I’m really looking forward to it. I rented an AirBNB in my old neighborhood, and I’m just going to move “home” for a week. Ashok will be so happy to be back in her birthplace even if it is a lot hotter than Michigan. I packed summer clothes for the week, and I’m hoping that Nate stays far enough to the east to steer clear of my vacation. But even if it rains, it’ll be nice to be back in Memphis. I’m already dreaming of BBQ, Shelby Farms, Whole Foods and downtown shopping.

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