Inspiration and Adaption – Runfession #11, June 2020

It’s that time of the month again! The weeks go by so quickly….I am thankful to Marcia from Marcia’s Heathy Slice for this opportunity to (re)focus on running that was the original intent of this blog. I love that this blog has now grown to include how I run other things!

So let’s get to it….Forgive me, New Balance, for I have sinned….

I runfess….my daughter is doing more running that I have been. She started walking/running a mile every day when I was attempting 100 miles in May. After she realized she had been doing a mile every day for a few weeks, she started logging it and as of today (7/1/2020) she is on day 51 of her streak. Talk about inspiration! Most of my running has actually been walking with my daughter so I’ve also gotten in at least a mile a day for the month of June.  I’ve also enjoyed the conversations I’ve had with her on these walks. It’s probably the only time during the day that we have one on one time together.

I runfess…. I am very, very, very slowly starting to venture out of my family bubble. I had my first, official SRTT/MRTT group run this past weekend – if a “group” could consist of just two people. It’s been over three months since I ran with my BRF, Michele. We met at the hilly trail near her work site which was empty since it was a weekend. Michele hadn’t been there since the start of the shelter-in-place since she’s been working from home. We tried to maintain social distance and I also tried to not breath as heavily, but between being out of shape and the heat/humidity…if I had worn a mask, I’m pretty sure I would have passed out! 

I runfess….it’s so easy to use the pandemic as an excuse to not get miles in.  Must resist this excuse!!  Our governor announced today, that a mask is required  anytime people are outside and with people they don’t live with. I think with the spread of the coronavirus, this is a wise move. If I have to wear a mask next time I run, then that’s what I’m going to do. Going to the gym is still something I would not do. Thank goodness for Peloton!

I runfess….I like Peloton, I really do. I didn’t want to like them since their products are so expensive (oh, and don’t forget that one advertisement they had…), but when they put out a free 90 day trial for their online workouts (usually a monthly subscription) and a lot of my MRTT/SRTT mamas were signing up, I reluctantly gave them a try. And now, I am totally hooked! They have workouts for running with great music (running to Whitney Houston for 30 minutes – yes, please!). They have workouts if you only have 10 or 15 minutes to work out (there is even an ultra-mini 5 minute workout!). Their instructors are enthusiastic and keep you on track without being totally obnoxious. They inspire me, like my daughter, only louder and with better music. It’s a change from my usual runs and workouts, but it’s what I’m doing now to keep me moving.

My free trial ends this month….should I start paying for it? I still have my gym membership…

I know canceling my membership would “hurt” the gym I belong to. So many businesses have been affected by this pandemic, especially restaurants and small businesses. I think those that survive are those that are able to be flexible in what they offer and how they offer it. They’re adapting to how the world is right now. I know people just want things to get back to normal, but I think people forget that going back to how things were before COVID-19, is not possible. The virus is still out there, just like racism is still out there. 

How are we changing,  adapting, being flexible in how we live, so that we can survive?

©️ 2020 iido

Castle – A Poem

What tipped you off?

Was it the high stone towers?

Or maybe it was the perpetual fog?

The howling? 

Well, of course, there’s howling with the full moon.

No? 

Oh. 

Then it must be the moat!

Obviously. 

You’re right – you’re unwelcome here

This isn’t the place for you 

It wasn’t anything you did or didn’t do

It’s me

I’m frightened

I mean – frightening 

You don’t want to come in here 

I don’t even want to be here

Yet here I am

But you – stay out

….

What?

You’re still building that bridge?

Image Credit- Pixabay- Ariadne-a-mazed 
(For visually is reader, the image shows a castle at night, it’s turrets and towers reflecting moonlight. A cloudy sky can be seen in the backdrop.)

This poem was inspired by the picture above courtesy of Sadje’s “What do you see?” Photo prompt #35 (hope I’m not too late to join!). I was also able to incorporate Sammi Scribbles’ Weekend Writing Prompt #163 – Unwelcome. Her mandate of 91 words for this prompt, helped me pare down the poem and keep me from rambling – oh, I could have gone on and on….

This moody picture captures my current mood considering all the events that are currently happening. I, too, feel like I want to build a castle and protect myself and my family against the coronavirus, the pain of racism, the heartache of loss – the loss of how life was before, the possible loss of relationships/people. I am heartened by the people in my life who reach out, to build that bridge of compassion, understanding, acceptance and solidarity.

We need bridges right now – especially to places (internal and external) that seem foreboding. Walls are built not only to keep things out, but also to keep things in. What are the walls that we have built? Why did we build them? What walls do we see around other people? What are some reasons those walls are up?

The other part to consider is what happens after we build that bridge. Should we just expect the door to be opened? Do we knock softly – maybe hoping the door doesn’t open? If the door doesn’t open right away, do we shrug our shoulders and say, “Oh, well, I tried,” then turn around and go back over the bridge? Do we bring our battering ram and force the door open?

Building bridges is just one part of the process. Are we brave enough to see this process all the way through?

©️ 2020 iido

A Shining Moment – A Haibun

I am drinking hot coffee despite the 90 degree weather, the sweet creamy liquid warming my nostrils before I take a sip. I hold it for a moment, savoring it’s decadence before swallowing, while watching my children run through the sprinkler. The sunlight glistens off the water droplets hanging onto their dark hair and tan skin. These diamonds sparkle and glisten before being flung into the air echoing the sound of their laughter. I drink my coffee and commit this happy, shining moment to memory.

Growing up, my sprinkler was the fire hydrant in front of my neighbor’s house. Instead of soft, squishy grass underfoot, we had pavement that left our feet raw from scrapes on the unyielding surface. Our laughter gurgled like the fire hydrant while our screams matched the siren wail of the police – a warning that our water play time would soon come to an end. My mother would drink black coffee and watch us from the stoop, her worries emanating from the lines between her eyes, like the sun’s rays burning our already darkened skin.  

On this summer day, I drink my coffee, leaning against my marble countertop while looking at my children through the panoramic kitchen window and toast myself for not having wrinkles between my eyes.

Sunshine rewarding
Generations of hard work -
Suburban sprinkler
I bought this water toy for my kids to play with since we don’t have a pool. I thought it was cute when I bought it – maybe because, subconsciously, it reminded me of my childhood summers in Brooklyn.

This haibun was written for Lillian’s request on dVerse’s Haibun Monday to write a traditional haibun about One Shining Moment in our lives. Lillian has an excellent description of what entails a “traditional haibun” including resources for the KIGO (a word/phrase that alludes to a season – in mine, sunshine alludes to summer) and examples of KIREJI (a shift that adds insight). I hope that my haibun is meets the bar!

Serendipitously, this haibun also works for Jamie’s Wednesday Writing Prompt to juxtapose our life as an adult against our life as a child. I do marvel at the difference between my childhood as an immigrant to this country versus that of my children. My parents both worked, my mom during the day and dad at night. We lived in a diverse neighborhood in the city where my brothers and I would walk to school around the corner. We took public transportation and made frequent trips into “The City”. I did my share of “babysitting” my brothers and could be classified as a “latch-key kid” growing up.

Eventually, we were able to move out of Brooklyn and out to Long Island where my younger brothers were able to live the “suburban life” – taking a school bus, playing football on Friday nights, getting their driver’s license at 16. By that time, I was already in college so my experience with “suburban life” only came when I was married and about to have kids.

My kids have never had to take public transportation as their sole means of getting around. They marvel at sidewalks and when we do go on the train or bus in the “big city”, it’s a grand adventure! They have always had a back yard and have no clue what a “stoop” is. My husband (who is also an immigrant) and I have taken them back to the places where we grew up and they marvel at the “tiny houses” and wonder how we lived with only one bathroom, without a yard, and having to share bedrooms.

Race/ethnicity, social class, education, profession – these are all inter-related. My “shining moment” would not have come to fruition without the hard work and sacrifice of my parents, without the guidance of teachers, without the encouragement of friends. Yet for some, even with these current supports, the institutionalized discrimination/racism inherent in our systems in the USA keep them from reaching their shining moment, from getting their just reward for their hard work and sacrifice, and that of their ancestors.

We all deserve a shining moment in our lives. I would even venture to say, we deserve more than one. I would even be bold enough to say, that we deserve to shine as bright as we would want in every moment in our lives. Shine on, friends, shine on!

©️ 2020 iido

Transition – A Poem

My daughter is growing hair

You know, “down there”

So we sat and talked about

Transitions

We talked about breasts and deodorant

About mood swings and not smelling rank

We even read a book about

Transitions

My bittersweet thoughts of my girl growing up

Interrupted by her saying that it needs to stop

Because she’s really a boy in

Transition

The feelings she had, now identified

A revelation that she could no longer hide

And so she wanted to

Transition

My bittersweet thoughts turned to fear

This went against beliefs I hold dear

What did I do wrong to warrant

Transition

But this wasn’t about me and my happiness

It was about my sweet child and their completeness

So I took a deep breath and researched

Transition

We went to the doctor and talked to the priest

We went to the mall, to try on clothes, at least

My love for my child would get us though

Transition

Acceptance is hard, some days I’m not there

Bittersweet thoughts in my head still flare

But my child’s on a journey, how can I not care

We can adjust to change, no need to despair

So proud of my child as we begin to prepare for

Transition

Image obtained from WordPress Free Photo Library (first time I’ve used an image from there – there wasn’t any attribution info so I hope this reference is ok).

This poem was written for Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #237 – Transition. It is a work of fiction – my children haven’t expressed any gender or sexual preferences so far. I hope that if they do, I would be able to live up to the open acceptance I have characterized in this poem.

I want to believe that human love is unconditional, but I know that isn’t true. Even our love for our children isn’t unconditional – we expect something back, whether it’s obedience or taking care of us in our old age. Still, I hope to show my children that love can transcend and transform any difficult situation.

With the pandemic and calls for racial justice continuing, let’s not forget that this is also Pride Month. Love is love! Intersectionality should be a part of any process seeking true justice and equity.

EDITED 6/22/20 4 PM – I forgot to link this post to Kate’s Friday Fun request for our favorite sayings (this is what happens when inspiration wakes you up at 3 AM!). I don’t actually have a favorite saying, but I do collect sayings that I resonate with me. This saying, I think, was an unconscious inspiration for the poem above:

“Love can change a person the way a parent can change a baby- awkwardly, and often with a great deal of mess.” 
― Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

This saying has also made a home in my mind lately. I’m not sure if it’s leasing the space or if it’s there to stay…

“I have accepted fear as part of life – specifically the fear of change... I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back....” 
― Erica Jong

I hope it’s here to stay….

©️ 2020 iido

Rant – A Poem

I could rant about the boredom

About not being able to eat at the crepe place

Or get my nails done to match the front door

I could rant about the kids 

Running around inside then outside, being loud

And disturbing the neighbors working from home

I could rant about the heat 

And not being able to go to the beach

Or to Disney for the first time

I could rant, but I won’t

I can’t

When families are made newly homeless through job loss

When food pantries are not getting enough donations as their lines get longer

When parents are risking their lives for $7.25 an hour

When some kids don’t have an outside

When some kids can’t be loud or else

When black bodies are pitted against blue bodies

When black bodies are killed and will never get to go to Disney

My immigrant, light skinned Asian, college educated, middle class, suburban stay at home mother runner rant is bullshit.

Because I can still breathe when others cannot.

New House in the Suburbs, Paul Klee
1924 – National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

This poem was written for Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #235 – Rant. I have also incorporated a Wednesday Writing Prompt from Jamie Dedes’ that she posted on April 22, 2020 that used the picture above as a starting point. I wasn’t able to write anything for that prompt then, but the picture has stayed with me so I am glad to be able to use it now.

I really liked the haziness of this painting – it reminds me of the images/ideas I had in my head about the kind of house I would live in when I grew up. I wanted a symmetrical house, with a weeping willow in the yard, maybe a pond close by. There would be a swing under the weeping willow and in the fenced in yard, there would be apple trees and flowers. And of course, there would be birds flying under the yellow sun with a few puffy clouds overhead.

I lived on the first floor of a duplex in Brooklyn when I envisioned my “grown up home”. We had a little yard in the back that was usually overgrown with weeds despite our attempts to grow vegetables and flowers. The kitchen was all the way in the back, so you had to pass through all the rooms to get to the back of the house. I would ride my bike up and down the street on the sidewalk, from our house to Aunt Rita’s house – that’s as far as my mom would let us. Sometimes, we would go to the bodega at the end of the block to get treats or get some plantains for a quick and yummy afternoon snack.

My kids have never lived in the type of place I lived in growing up. They’ve only known single family homes in the suburbs with decent yards and two or more bathrooms. They all are currently obsessed with living in tiny homes when they grow up, that they would park in our driveway so we can all still have dinner together as a family.

All my dreams of living in a spacious house have been reversed with my children’s dream of living in a home smaller than my childhood Brooklyn home. The irony.

As I write this in my typical American suburban kitchen with granite countertops, I am acutely aware of what I have, that others don’t. Yes, I know my husband and I worked hard to afford to be “comfortable”; that our parents also worked hard so we can live “better” then they did. But I know we had help – social supports, financial resources and a systemic societal advantage of being stereotyped as the “model minority”.

At least, I used to see it as an advantage. After much reading (check out this article and this one), I realized that any type of stereotype is still a stereotype and is actually a disadvantage. Also, the whims of racism can change quickly and harshly as evidenced by the rise of anti-Asian sentiments with the arrival of the coronavirus that has been named by some as the “Chinese virus”.

So while I have lead a financially and educationally privileged life, I still have experienced racism:

  • I’ve been accused of stealing at the local grocery store numerous time (to the point that I go to a different store farther way in a more diverse neighborhood just so I don’t have to worry about being “randomly audited” when I shop – because it isn’t random if it’s always and only me)
  • I’ve been called racial slurs as I’ve been out running
  • I’ve felt afraid going to a new place and realizing I was the only non-white person there and getting those looks that tell me I don’t belong

The thing with racism is that it erases the individual – that all important staple of American exceptionalism. You don’t see my struggles and triumphs. You don’t know about the awards I’ve won or that my closet with pants sizes ranging from college to pregnancy. You aren’t aware that I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or of my passionate conviction that Heinz is the best and only ketchup in the world. You don’t know that I dreamt of a house with a willow tree in the front.

But because I have lead a financially and educationally privileged life, I need to use that advantage to help those who were not as fortunate (through no fault of their own). Otherwise, I will be just as complicit in perpetuating racism.

Rant over.

©️ 2020 iido

The Light – A Double Etheree

Light

A hope

In darkness

Beckoning me

Promising safety

My heart leapt through the fog

Disregarding the shadows

Imagining the warmth and love

Offered by a warm fire and belonging

I entered willingly and was engulfed 

I could not breath yet I stayed, struggling

Disbelief turning my soul to ash

Until a voice of cooling wind

Reminded me of the path

With boundaried edges

I left with embers

Of my choosing

Now I bring

My own

Hope

Image credit- Pixabay- ArtTower
(For visually challenged reader, the image shows a road leading towards a dwelling in the forest. It is hidden in fog and surrounded by tall trees. A light is shining brightly out of the window of the house)

This double ether was written for Sadje’s “What do you see?” Picture Prompt #31. I loved how the light seems to draw you in, however it was the path that intrigued me. They look almost like railroad tracks and I was reminded of Thomas the Train, which was one of my son’s favorite shows. It was only after hours and hours of watching that I realized that tracks don’t go “one way”, trains can actually go both ways on the same track. So even if tracks only lead to certain destinations, trains (or their conductors/train engineers if this was real life) can decide how to get there.

This idea mixed with a masterclass I am taking on boundaries, offered by a very generous and brilliant therapist friend of mine, Mari. In our class today, she reminded us of why and how people will push on our boundaries not just on a personal level but on a societal level as well. It also brought to mind the work of another friend, a passionate poet and advocate, Mich, and the work she has done to bring to light the plight of women in domestic violence situations. Domestic violence is one of the ultimate ways that a woman’s boundaries are destroyed, that a woman can lose her sense of herself and her self worth. You can read about Mich’s anti-DV work here.

With many people stuck at home, the incidences of DV and other types of abuse (child neglect and abuse in all its forms) have increased in the USA and worldwide. Reports of civil unrest here in the United States of America due to police brutality and the recent senseless deaths of African-Americans has made me wonder if the word “safe” can ever find a home in our world again. How can we change the direction of this train we are on? Maybe we need to stop looking for that “hero” with the light outside and look at the light we all carry within to show the way…

©️ 2020 iido

Give My Regards to Mondrian – A Haibun

Sunshine yellow paths slowly overcome with tomato red worries. If they were splattered, like ketchup on a a plate awaiting a french fry’s toe dip, the red would have seemed angry. But these right angles and straight lines speak to the weight of rules and how things should be. 

Rule follower blue is in each quadrant, of course, keeping watch with that tick-tock military march head swing of disapproval – or maybe it’s disappointment, or maybe it’s both. But it’s really the white – the soul-less white, the brain numbing white – that has taken center stage.  It defines and limits the yellow’s paths so happiness is constrained to this patch of canvas. 

Each parallelogram rigidly defined as if they can’t hear the songs from Broadway calling them to relax, to sway, to be pulled and pushed and twirled, to be tossed in the air and slid through the legs. The primary passion of colors needs to be the breakout star.

Right hand against left

Piano drama gives best shot 

Angle of Life’s Joy

Piet Mondrian, ‘Broadway Boogie Woogie, 1942-43, moma.org

Kim from Writing in Norfolk is hosting dVerse Haibun Monday this week. She challenged us with writing a haibun about the image above, a piece of modern abstract art by Piet Mondrian, a leader in this movement. “Broadway Boogie Woogie” was one of his last pieces of work.

I did a lot of research for this haibun so if finding out about the background work that went into writing a poem isn’t your “thing”, then feel free to skip this part and go straight to the “Like” button below! =) I love doing research and since we’re still sheltering in place, I have time.

I didn’t start off doing research but after the 2nd paragraph, I got a little stuck and that’s when I started doing some exploring particularly about the title of Mondrian’s art piece.

Boogie Woogie is a style of piano playing brought up from the southern part of the USA to the northern part by African Americans during the “Great Migration”. It’s inspired by jazz and gained popularity in the late 1930’s through WWII.

Boogie Woogie is also a style of dance, also known as the East Coast Swing.

Broadway, needs no introduction although I did find this interesting podcast about it’s history from the Bowery Boys. Around the 17 minute mark, they talk about the reason why Broadway is the only road in north of lower Manhattan that doesn’t seem to follow the beautiful grid pattern created by the Commissioners Plan of 1811. I thought it ironic that Mondrian would name his artwork full of right angles after a street that refused to conform to this square plan. Incidentally, Broadway is also called “The Great White Way”.

Currently, Broadway is closed due to the pandemic yet, I can still remember my first Broadway show, Cats, that I watched with my Dad for my 13th birthday. Since then, I’ve seen the Lion King, Hamilton, Chicago and Wicked there. The 2nd line of the haiku references a song from Hamilton called “My Shot”, which is mostly about taking advantage of opportunity.

I don’t know if Mondrian made all these connections when he painted this artwork and then named it. The BBC podcast that inspired Kim also had an interesting take on the relationship between Mondrian and Boogie Woogie (I didn’t listen to that podcast until AFTER I wrote my haibun so any similarity is purely coincidental. I swear on my favorite pen.)

For me, the artwork raised these questions: What are the rigid lines that seem to define our limits? Are they self-imposed? Or do we see them as being imposed by an “other”? How can we push, pull and twirl our edges to allow for flexibility and growth? To angle our abstract mind to find those higher meanings? To allow our vibrant, colorful, exuberantly moving joy to take center stage?

My haibun is, at it’s essence, about finding joy amidst the constraints of life – whether it’s the constraints of having to shelter in place and wear a mask, or the constraints of worries and “shoulda, woulda, coulda” rules in our lives. Can we turn our current limitations into something meaningful? This article says “Yes, if you have faith.” But what about the rest of us? What’s the angle of our life’s joy or are we content to live in the grid?

©️ 2020 iido

Fin-Tastic! – A Race Review of the Mermaid Running Series 24 Hour Relay

It is 1:30 AM EST as I write this – I just completed my 30 minute “fin” (aka – leg, but we’re talking mermaid talk here) of the Mermaid Series 24 Hour Relay. I actually ran/walked for about an hour on the treadmill with my friend, Kristi, who was on her treadmill at her home. We did a video conference call while we did the same Peloton running workout on the TV.

This was a total first for me and I’m sure for Kristi and a lot of the other runners doing this relay. Here we are, in the middle of a pandemic, having to be physically distant from people, running a relay by ourselves and then virtually handing it off to people who are also running by themselves all over the country and the world (they have runners from Singapore, Australia, England and other parts of Europe).

This really speaks to the ingenuity of the human spirit when it comes to obtaining and maintaining connection. We are not meant to be solitary creatures.

The Mermaid Race series did a great job of keeping the continuity of the relay. They have race directors for each segment and also “run buddies” who are Mermaid Ambassadors who run each segment so that people didn’t feel like they were running alone. There were five runners in each relay “fin”. As I write this, there are still openings available for the 2:30 AM – 5 AM “fins” and then 5:30-6:30 AM “fins”. I am really tempted to keep running since I am still awake.

What is this need of mine to keep running in the middle of the night knowing that I have a big day of cooking tomorrow?

Maybe it’s the lure of being a part of something bigger than my little life? Maybe it’s the satisfaction of knowing I can do this? Maybe it’s late at night and I am delirious?

Whatever it is, I’m still awake at 2:45 EST so I’ll do another little run with these fun-loving Mermaids! Gimme a Fin-Five!!

Update at 4:30 AM – I walked another 2 “fins” while watching a stand up comedy routine by a hilarious and wise Latina. Not high mileage, but now I feel like I can sleep knowing I helped keep the relay going…

©️ 2020 iido

In a World Full of Maids, Choose to Be a MerMaid – A Running Update

I am a runner who loves FREE stuff so when I heard about a FREE race, I was all, “Where do I sign up?” When I heard that the race was a 24 hour relay hosted by the Mermaid Running Series (one of my favorite races when I was in San Jose, CA), I was even more excited! I am a night owl and now my nighttime wakefulness superpower can finally be put to good use!

Thank you to my friend and fellow MRTT/SRTT Chapter Leader, Katie for telling me about this run. Katie has run numerous Mermaid races out in CA. She also introduced me to the Taji 100. She doesn’t even have to “triple dog dare” me to get me to sign up for these awesome physical challenges. (Do you guys remember that TV show?)

I signed up for a slot after my friend, Kristi (who also completed the Taji 100 with me this past February). We’re going to run our miles “together”, meaning running separately in our own houses on our own treadmills while we video chat. I’ll be joining her for her “fin” (aka, leg) of the relay and she will be joining for my “fin”. We chose the 11:30-midnight, midnight-12:30 “fins” as we’ve never run “over two days” before! Haha! I’m so thankful for friends who are willing to join me on these crazy adventures!

I am also very appreciative of the 3rd hand treadmill we have at home. It is loud and it shakes if you run between 3.2-4.7 miles per hour. but it’s been keeping me moving during these days of shelter in place.

So, 1 hour of running at midnight…and maybe more, as they still need people for the slots between 12:30 AM – 6 AM EST….oh gosh, my brain is saying, “You’ll be awake anyway…” Should I sign up for another slot??

I’ll be back to give an update on this run! If you’re one of my readers who runs (especially if you’re international), please consider signing up and let me know if you do!

The relay starts at 8 AM PST (so 11 AM EST for me)…you can follow the race on their Facebook page and also check out other cool races they have including their FREE virtual on June 20th.

© 2020 iido