Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Last Wednesday concluded my first five day silent retreat. I went in knowing that it would be silent and that I wouldn't be "hanging out" with Justin. I also knew that it was going to be a time to hang out with myself, by myself, and figure out what was going on in my head, and to let things happen there, and hopefully slow it down a bit.

The eight hour drive down was a practice in silence. Already, Justin and I were hardly speaking, and I was thinking the whole time that we should be just because we won't be speaking for the next five days. For the record, I don't feel that way anymore. If there's nothing to talk about, why fill peaceful silence with mindless chatter? It did help me prepare for silence at the retreat.

To be honest, once we arrived and got settled in our separate rooms, I didn't want to be there at all. I was full of anxiety, realizing that I was leaving behind all the comforts of home and friends completely for five whole days. What if I hated it? What if I couldn't handle what came up in my mind? What if it drove me crazy? Well, I was there, and I'll be damned if I quit something before I even start.

By Saturday afternoon, I was finding that I can sit still, and I can go without speaking. The days would start at 6am and formally end at 9:30pm, with sitting and walking meditation alternating throughout the day. In the afternoons, I helped in the kitchen chopping veggies for dinner, which was also a kind of meditation. It seemed to set me up for my best sit of day for the duration of the retreat. However, I was already feeling as if I were all alone in this room of so many people. I wondered if they felt the same...

Monday...was difficult, to say the least. The five day group was divided into two smaller groups that would be meeting with the teacher, John Travis. My group met in the morning and we all got a chance to ask a question or two, and he/group would comment and advise. I left feeling like my life was peachy, and that the torment that some of the others carry with them everyday would be unbearable to me. I also left with a newfound way at which to look at my meditation practice. While sitting, stories and daydreams come up. Instead of trying to refocus on the breath, I would focus on the emotions that they conjured up and where they took me. This is where the difficulty came into play. Every chance I got to sneak away from view of the others, mostly during walking periods, or the lunch and dinner breaks, I caught myself tearing up. I hadn't spoken to anyone (except my group), or had any physical contact with anyone. I was starting to feel like I was disappearing. And then, I did it. As Justin and I were passing each other, I reached out and embraced him, just for a moment, and then continued on. That bit of contact with him was what I needed, a bit of reassurance to get me through.

Tuesday was the exact opposite of Monday. By mid-morning, I had found, and followed my bliss. I had been told that around day four or five this happens, but I did not expect the depth of it. I would walk around in the woods just smiling, and thinking I'd never been this happy, and content before in my life. I realized sometime that day that my creative mind was making me paranoid for no reason, that things are just the way they are. PERIOD. There is no underlying story, no one is out to get me and make me unhappy. I am the person that makes me happy, or unhappy. I was starting to dread the end of our retreat. Although we hadn't hardly spoken, I was feeling like I knew these people, and that they were my friends.

At our closing circle I cried. No big surprise there. They were tears of joy, sadness and gratefulness. I think I laughed too, or at least I made everyone else laugh, not at me, but with me. And then I was even more sad to be leaving.

What did I take away from all of this? I talk, way to much, about nothing. I'm aware of it, and am mindfully working on changing that. I also don't need to be as busy of a bee as I have been. Yes, I need to keep up on my school work, and hang out with friends, but I also need time for me, without the distraction of others. Also, that I can deal with problems without dragging anyone else in. Although, having a girls night to vent will still find it's way into my schedule!

Upon returning to work and friends, I realized that I missed them both, but also found that they are still overstimulating to me right now. It was nice to stay in last night while Justin went to one of our meditation groups so that I could spend a couple hours alone.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Busy bee

I've kind of fallen out of my blog habit. With work, running, hanging out with friends, and working on my class, it just isn't a priority.

I'm pluggin' away on my class, hoping to finish in the next month or so. It is going a bit slower than I would like, as I am just under halfway through with it and I've been working on it for six weeks. Part of this is due to too many distractions. The weather has turned nice again, and I just have to be out in it at night! Also, running 4 days a week takes a bit of my class time away, and when I am able to sit down and work, I am so tried that I start to nod off. Also, this material is familiar to me, but is no longer review. I am learning about how diamonds form, their crystal structure, and how that relates to how they are fashioned into the beautiful gems you see in the jewelry stores. It really is mind blowing what a diamond goes through in it's long life. Just the other day, I had an "aha" moment, when something finally clicked. This moment has triggered a study frenzy in me. I have a newfound drive to learn more, and as quickly as I can!

Our studies will have to be put on hold for about a week, as tomorrow, Justin and I head to Jackson, WY for a five day retreat. It will be my first and I am looking forward to what I will take away from it. My mind is so overloaded right now, that it is driving me crazy. To be able to slow it down for a few days at least will be a welcome treat. The Grand Tetons are a favorite place of mine so it will be a splendid week, with camping for two nights after the retreat to spend time in nature with my camera and Justin.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Change is good...

...and a bit unsettling. As I wrote in a previous post, my assistant manager just left 12 days ago. Now, it is my manager who is leaving. While I can't say that I am surprised, the timing is a little bit of a shock. Loosing two co-workers just over two weeks apart is enough to rattle anyone. Now the task of finding a new manager for my store has started and I can only hope that he/she is a good fit.

Whoever becomes my new boss, I wish them luck. We are a very diverse staff, and look forward to meeting and working with a new member of our family.

With that in mind, I am also a bit reluctant to let anyone new in. We are kind of set in our ways, each knowing what the other needs to do to keep the ship afloat. However, sometimes just keeping afloat isn't enough. We need wind in our sails as well.

The winds of change are on the horizon.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Holy Hills!

Last night I did my first run with the sole intention of hitting the hills. The only hills that I had run were on the Whitefish Two Bear Half Marathon last September, and I know that I need to run them more because it will make me a better runner, and a change of scenery is always a good idea.

I have to admit that I am kind of a pace junkie. I like to keep my pace under 8:15/mile, however, I have been having trouble with that from time to time, and it infuriates me! Last night's 4.5 miles was kind of fun, because I didn't think about my pace at all. Running hills is harder, and I knew my pace would be slower so I just enjoyed the wind at my back, embraced the challenge and did what I could. With a mist falling on the mountains to the South, I was wishing that I had had my camera, but a camera like mine is not a suitable running accessory. The uphills were steady on the way towards East Missoula, and then it leveled off, starting a gradual descent down, that we all knew we would have to ascend on the way back. When we first started I was thinking the uphills were horrible. Well, on the way back, they were worse! We made it though, and I am so glad that I chose to do a new, more challenging route.

Our plan is to run the Prickly Pear in Helena in May, and running around and up Mt. Jumbo will be a great training course for it. When that race comes around, I hope to be thinking "hills, shmills" while I kicks it's butt.