Thursday, December 20, 2007


I love the sound of rain. It makes a beautiful drumming noise against the side of the house, a tap-tap-tapping against the windshield, and it leaves soft marks on my skin as I used to jump from one puddle to the next.

Today it rained. A lot.

I woke up to gray, angry skies: the kind that matched my mood. I'm not exactly sure what brought about my bad mood, but unfortunately, it stuck with me for most of the day. Sometimes you just need to be happy, sometimes you just need to cry, and others, well - other times your mood is simply a reflection of the sky.

As the clouds kept rolling in and growing in thickness, my mood went from bad to slightly depressed. Not that great of a combination. And when I find myself in this mindset, I'll usually get sleepy (actually, it's exactly the same way when I drink. I don't get more and more boisterous as the drinks go down, no, I tend to fall asleep. Not exactly the life of the party, eh?). The 4 cups of coffee (with my favorite creamer) did nothing to "wake me up", and I was left contemplating what exactly the deal was.

Could it be the stress of the impending holidays? I haven't quite finished all of my shopping yet... well, that's a lie. I really haven't done a whole lot of shopping period: I've gotten a few things, but I'm no where near where I usually am at this point. My biggest struggle has been with Nathaniel. He is the most un-materialistic kind of guy out there. Doesn't go for brand names, doesn't like overly complicated stuff. He likes books, but he's extremely particular about the kinds of books that he reads. And quite frankly, I'm tired of giving him another Barnes & Noble gift card. Nothing says "Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas - you're the love of my life" like a gift card. Yeah.

Perhaps it was the worry associated with travel? I hate flying. I hate flying. The plane will crash. And maybe if I'm lucky, the running shoes that I'm wearing will protect me from the hot oil spewing everywhere as I try to manically exit the aircraft.

Actually, the plane ride isn't what my main worry is - I'm worried about my parents and Nathaniel's parents. Each and every year, Nathaniel and I feel virtually tugged between our two families. They live far enough apart so that we can't see them both in the same day. But they live close enough together that a 5.5 or 6 hour ride will bring us from one front door to the other. (Mine are in Minnesota, his are in Wisconsin). Nathaniel is great about dealing with the holiday stress; me, I just keep piling it on. Even now, I'm still trying to work out what dates we'll be where, when we'll leave one house and go to the other, etc etc etc. It's tough, but it's really important that we see both families. Again - I realize that I'm making more of a big deal out of this than is necessary, but I have a hard time stopping. Sometimes I think it would just be easier if one family lived in Maine, and the other lived in Southern California. No chance of a drive...

So yeah, the plane ride isn't that bad...

And then there's the issue of training. I'll be the first to admit that most, if not all triathletes I know, are a little OCD about training and their workouts. It's in our blood; it's in our nature, part of the very fiber of our being. There's a reason why we do this sport, why we love the journey that it takes us on. Unfortunately, not everyone else shares this particular passion. And therefore, when I need to go the a local pool and get in my swim, I'm worried that the workout will just fall to the wayside. My family and Nathaniel's family are extremely supportive of my training and love of triathlon, but I can't help but feel awkward when I'll have to hop on the trainer for X amount of hours to finish a workout while everyone else is partaking in yuletide festivities.

Right now I'm just worried about things I can't control, fretting about scenarios that haven't yet occurred. And the weather only solidified my ill temper.

So I decided to "cool off" for a bit and take a nap - when in doubt, perhaps lack of sleep or lack of food could be the main culprit. Seeing as how I had only recently eaten, I scratched the food idea off my list.

As I clambered into bed, I tried to let my body relax, my mind settle. For a few minutes this was really hard; my mind kept jumping from one scenario to another, playing out and rehearsing once scene after the next. Past Christmas's reverberated through my mind, and fears of this Christmas loomed large.

And then Tabbitha, our 18.2 pound tiger, er kitty, jumped up on the bed next to me, circled a few times, found the exact right position, and plopped herself down right next to me. Her golden-yellow eyes studied me, and she blinked.

"Hi Tabbitha," I said.

She blinked again, and started purring. We were looking at each other, eye-to-eye, and it was almost as though this kitty (who likes to attack our friends, can be ill tempered at the best of times, but who never fails to follow me from one room to the next always seeking my affection) knew how I felt. Her presence was reassuring, and I found myself petting her soft fur.

Soon she started purring, eyes closed, and I listened to her breath her soft kitty breaths.

Slowly her purring was replaced by the sound of the rain.

I closed my eyes, and listened intently as the rain hit the side of our apartment. At first it was a light drumming, just a melancholy staccato against the window shutters. As the wind whipped, the rain became more fierce, lashing - almost violently - against the screen. It sounded for a while, like it was coming down sideways and in sheets. As there was nothing but forest outside of our window, I could imagine the tall pine trees being whipped by the wind, could envision the angry pellets hitting the screen.

Thunder rumbled in the distance, and I burrowed deeper under our comforter, Tabbitha faithfully by my side. No longer was I thinking. I was simply listening.

Thunder echoed again, sending sound waves through the forest outside. Lightning illuminated the dark skies, and the heavens herself responded by opening up more.

The rain continued to pound at the windows, angrily at times. It sounded as though it was demanding entry into the sanctity of my bedroom. But I was safe, and listening.

Slowly, the rain eased off, returning back to the soft shushing noise, lightly skimming the surface of the building. I felt myself relax, but was amazed by the different symphony of sounds I had just heart. The rain lulled me into a gentle sleep, and before I realized it, I was impervious to all sounds, dimly aware of the soft kitty by my side.

I can't say that I woke up in a better mood - perhaps more contemplative than before. I wish I could better describe the sounds of the rain; it was truly wondrous.

But I did learn something: sometimes we just need to quiet our minds and listen.

It's much easier said than done, as we all have so much going on, a lot on our plates, and we're usually rushing around to make sure it all gets done. Today I realized that I don't listen enough to myself: not in a work-out kind of way, or in a what-do-you-want-to-eat kind of way. No, I don't usually take stock of my feelings, my moods, my anxiety. Sometimes its just easier pretending that it doesn't exist, than even acknowledging it's ugly presence in the first place.

The fact of the matter is, is that I'll have to get on the plane, Nathaniel and I will work out our travel plans, and some way or another, I'll get in my workouts. But sometimes life just seems a little overwhelming.

Next time I feel this way, I'll try to quiet my mind the best that I can. I'll try to relax, try to feel my emotions, try to listen to myself. The rain made things easy today: it was a beautiful way of focusing my mind, of relaxing my body. Well, that, and my 18.2 pound tiger, er, kitty helped a lot too.


Pedergraham said...

Hi Marit:
Next week you can write a post titled: Snow! You've inspired me to restart my blog again. One of the best things about pets is that they remind us that a nap during the day is a GOOD thing.
-Danielle P.S. Ipods help me fly. Even on take-offs and landings, when you aren't supposed to have them on, I still keep the ear bugs in. It's my "force field" protection...

Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

That's one of the best compliments anyone has ever given to me - that I've inspired them to write again! THANK YOU! You don't know how truly special that is to me. You're right - next week I'll be writing about snow... my parents have my old skiis waxed and ready to go. I sense a cold, blustery afternoon out Nordic Skiing... I'll probably end up skiing part of the time, and then sledding the other half... it's been years since I went screaming down a hill (not on skiis, but on a sled... when I used to compeditiveley Nordic Skii, I went skidding - and crashing - down hills all the time.)