Monday, August 24, 2009

Wide Open Spaces

I went in search of Wide Open Spaces yesterday morning while on my long bike ride. I had to be at a Student Athlete Welcome BBQ for UIC at 12:30pm so I got up early to get my 4 hour ride done. Although I had to wake up at 5:30am on a Sunday I did not really mind because Sunday mornings are one of the best times of the week in the city. A majority of people in the city are still sleeping because they went out the night before so the streets are very quiet. I feel like I am stealing time in the city all by myself. Plus, there is no traffic! A major treat.

It was a bit cold at the start of the ride and I had to wear arm warmers but after the sun came up above the trees is was beautiful. I even found a road up in the northern suburbs that reminded me of Kentucky with horse farms and a few rolling hills. Finding a tranquil scene like the ones below and WIDE OPEN SPACES are rare near the city so I stopped to take a picture. It was quiet, warm and I was all by myself enjoying an early morning ride. Life is good!

I made it home for quick breakfast, shower and then off the BBQ to say hello to my swimmers. They all seemed to be doing well and I was happy that I was not the one starting classes tomorrow. Summer has certainly flown by; I am going to try and sneak a few extra weeks out of it with some races but I can feel it starting to wide down. It even smelled like fall a little bit the other day.

Today was my day off and I went to yoga to find Wide Open Spaces for my mind and body. We started out in childs pose and the instructor said "it's about the process today, not the result." I took a deep breath and exhaled, ready to focus on what my creaky body needed this Monday morning and not to judge. Sometimes I want to get to a certain point in my poses instead of just feeling (my goal oriented athlete mindset). So, this morning, I just did what my body felt it needed. And, low and behold, I ended up where I usually do. I just was a little more aware in getting there and allowed my hamstrings and calves to really stretch out before forcing my downward dog. As we moved through our Vinyasa Flow the instructor talked us through poses and offered one more thought that I really embraced: "don't do things as you THINK they SHOULD be, do things as they ARE." I was present, in the moment and allowing my body to dictate where I went in the poses and it felt great. I finished my practice, sweaty, stretched out and with a clear head.

And, one last thing about Wide Open Spaces. One of my favorite musical groups is the Dixie Chicks and Wide Open Spaces is a great song they sing. So, the phrase always invokes feelings of freedom and peace in my mind. My husband and I toured New Zealand about 3 years ago and their latest CD at the time, The Long Way Around, was played a lot on our trip as we drove around the perimeter of the South Island (the picture at the top of my blog is from the South Island, near the Franz Joseph Glacier). Whenever I hear the Dixie Chicks, especially songs from that album, I remember the trip vividly. It was one of the best vacations I have ever been on and I always try to capture the mindset I had while in New Zealand; free, open and relaxed. The music of the Dixie Chicks always brings me back to that time and that mindset. Must be why I have the album on my iPhone, so it is always available to me! My own musical version of a deep breath. Namaste!

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