July 24, 2011 

As the rooster crowed, I awoke to a new day.  I finally had a good night’s sleep and yesterday I had my first hot shower!!  In case anyone is counting the days, I had not had a hot shower since I left Napa on July 18th.  I felt great! I meditated and prayed, then donned my running gear. I decided to enjoy a morning run rather than group yoga.  I am an avid trail runner and had been missing the feel of trail beneath my feet.  As I contemplated the route to explore, I decided to run to Monteriggioni and enjoy the views.  In order to enjoy “views” one must encounter hills – big hills. My legs were ready!

The cool morning breeze caressed my face and introduced me to a breathtaking run. I exited the Ebbio driveway to a canopy of trees lining the narrow dirt road.  There were a handful of runners enjoying the road as I made my way to Monteriggioni.  As a male jogger ran towards me, he gave me the Lance Armstrong victory pose with his arms, a gesture well-earned given the Tuscan hills he conquered.  I responded in kind with a huge grin.  I was in for the same adventuresome course he had just completed.

The views were breathtaking.  The Tuscan hillside was magical, an elixir for life’s challenges.  I was grateful for my amazing life, for my health and my fit body that allowed me to savor the rolling hills that tested my legs.  While I reveled in the moment, I was fully aware that I have the same beauty and feeling of magic at my home in Napa.  My grin broadened as I looked at the amazing life I had created – I designed and produced the life of my dreams.  To feel the same magic on vacation in Tuscany, Italy, as I feel in my home, well… it does not get any better than that by my standards.  It didn’t always feel that way and I fully acknowledged myself for powerfully and intentionally creating this life.

     View from Monteriggioni – Ebbio is the speck on the top right

Just one year earlier, my life bore no resemblance to my current life.  My marriage to the love of my life was broken.  I moved out of my home, a home that had been my oasis for a decade, and I moved into a room at my sister’s house.  Life was hollow, empty and meaningless. I was lost. Broken. Alone. Devastated. Wracked with pain. And I knew the only way out was through. I had to step into the fire when I so desperately wanted to run – run far and fast to escape the torturous heat. But there is no “escaping” the torture, as lessons return in life until you finally learn them.  I begged for numbness to step outside the jagged shards that consumed my life.  However, numbness cannot relieve until pain has shared its lesson.  The only remedy to remove the raw pain was to learn my lessons.

While the life I knew was crumbling, the more crushing realization was I had lost myself.  Feeling blindsided, I realized I didn’t know who I was.  I was lost in “roles” and “titles” and somewhere along the way, I confused my identity with my roles.  My key to recovery, to creating a powerful life of joy and meaning, was to discover myself. So I stepped into the fire on nothing but faith, and the search began.  A year later, I rose as the Phoenix from the ashes of roles, titles, facades and lies to reveal and share myself with the world.  This retreat was both my reward for a year of dedicated, hard work and my unveiling of my true self to share with the world.

As I reflected on all of this at the start of my run, I released my spirit to soar.  When I run, I share the trails with nature, animals and the ether emanating from source. Trail running is a spiritual experience for me.  I know that running is good for me and strengthens my body, but that’s a side effect to the true benefits I receive.  Trail running is a direct connection to my source of power and life. Trail running is an active form of meditation.  In that one moment when I am in full stride and both legs are in the air, time stands still for me and it feels like a choir of angels singing “Hallelujah.” Yes, it is really that powerful.

There is a line from the lyrics to a song that sums it up for me: “Faith is the key to unlocking and receiving.”  I know when I run, I can expect one or both of the following: I will have a previously unexposed part of myself revealed to me – unlocked, if you will; I will receive guidance and direction on something that is important in my life. During my morning meditation, I had asked for guidance and direction in my writing.  As I ran the pristine countryside in the silence of the early morning, thoughts and ideas for my book flooded my mind. I discovered a deeper part of myself that wanted to tell stories that would help empower others to reach through their struggles for their dreams.    I received an abundance of ideas how to share the stories.  Faith.  My key had unlocked previously secured vaults within me.  Receive – guidance flowed by the volumes.

I am writing this entry as I sit on my favorite white chair in my bedroom at Ebbio, looking out the window, peering over the top of the brightly-colored window boxes to look out at the hills and forests I traversed this morning.  This is one of my favorite views.  Every angle is refreshing and reminds me how blessed I am to be healthy, happy, on purpose and living the dream. Living in Napa, exploring writing and art in Italy. I am so very grateful for my extraordinary life.

As I reflected on the end of my morning run, I laughed at the joy of it. I was on the final leg of my run, up a gradual, burning hill, when a team of 15-20 boldly clad Italian men came running towards me.  As they approached, they broke into chorus and wild cheers, waving their arms in greeting.  Encouragement for the continuing journey? Or celebration of the journey to date? You decide – I like both alternatives.