The Three C’s

Cool
adjective : steady dispassionate calmness and self-control
verb : to moderate the heat, excitement, or force of : calm
noun : poise, composure
adverb : in a casual and nonchalant manner

Reference : http://i.word.com/idictionary/cool

Calm
noun : a state of tranquillity
intransitive verb : to become calm —usually used with down
transitive verb : to make calm —often used with down
adjective : free from agitation, excitement, or disturbance

Reference : http://i.word.com/idictionary/Calm

Collected
adjective : calmness and composure through concentrated effort

Reference : http://i.word.com/idictionary/Collected

*

There are three moments in time in which I learned the importance of maintaining the three C’s well. The first was in an elementary school spelling bee. The second was watching two high school basketball games. And the third was while living in Japan.

Of course there is more to each word’s definition but for clarity’s sake I have isolated my definitions to avoid confusion.

***

Lesson One

In elementary school I was a competitive National Spelling Bee speller. I think I excelled at spelling because I was an avid reader. I was the kid reading books during class, sort of under the desk, so I could easily shove the book quickly into its confines if called upon to give an answer. And not lose my page. My mother wasn’t able to punish me by sending me to my room because I was quite happy to go there and be entertained by any number of fantasy adventures sitting on my bookshelf. As a result punishments were taking my books away.

And countless hours were spent in the Lebanon Public Library reading, doing homework with friends and typing on the typewriters they had there for public use. I would often check out four to seven books at a time. I was a certified bookworm. And maybe still am. I do work at a bookstore after all.

The Bee that did me in. Or rather, the Bee that I did myself in…that memory has always stayed firmly in my mind. I was competing for third place, sitting in fourth. And when I stood in front of my seat trembling in anticipation in my Sunday best. I felt enormously relieved that I hadn’t had to spell ‘nightingale’ and looked, but tried not to see, all the faces in the audience staring at me. Then a sudden rush of excitement overwhelmed my ability upon being given my word.

I knew how to spell it. And rejoiced.

And suddenly my vision swam with the crowd and my throat felt too dry. I forced open my mouth and began,

“F…”

“A…”

“G…” And upon uttering that letter ‘G’ my face flushed and a wave of heat enveloped me from my toes to the top of my head. My hair felt as though it was standing on end.

It was over.

Not only had I misspelled, because letters once spoken cannot be rescinded, I had spelled the word ‘fag’ in front of my mother and my grandmother and all these people. I wished I could pass out, swoon, as those ladies do in some of the books I read. I was mortified. And angry at myself for being so stupid. I knew how to spell ‘fatigue’ but I had allowed myself to defeat myself. I felt my body had somehow turned traitor and betrayed me.

I got over it.

And my love of the Bee carried over into Junior High School. But I never came as close to the top three as I did that day.

*

Lesson Two

I was a Lebanon Raiders varsity cheerleader in high school and basketball season was my favorite of the two seasons. That’s not to say that football season didn’t have its charm but you were indoors in the gym, the half-time show dance routine gave us a captive audience, and our varsity basketball team in ’93/’94 and ’94/’95 was fantastically talented. I was in the last two years of my high school career and our team went to the New Hampshire Class I State Championships twice.

And we lost ‘it’ both times.

What is the ‘it’ we lost?

Well, I recognized ‘it’ from that Bee. Call ‘it’ ‘poise’, ‘calm’, ‘cool’. Call it what you will. But ‘it’ spun wildly out of control. The circumstances and how it all played out both years were eerily identical in almost every way.

The clock was winding down. We were in the last 30 seconds of the game. We’re winning by one. Our guys gained possession of the ball, broke away and crossed the half court line.

Faces flushed. Elated. Celebrating victory.

And while they were looking back over their shoulders with huge smiles on their faces, something unexpected happened. Our guys dropped their guard and the opposing teams stole the ball.

Most of our teammates didn’t realize what had happened.

The time left on the clock slowed to a snail’s pace…yet, the movement of the opposition alternately seemed to have sped up.

The crowd rose out of their seats and roared as the “losing” team swiftly regrouped and re-organized themselves. Realization and dismay swept over our team. Those bright eyes, that .02 seconds ago, had flashed joy darkened to panic and upturned lips transformed into wide O’s of despair.

The other team sank a sweet three.

In our faces.

The swoosh of the ball through the hoop sounded a deafening roar.

Our guys scrambled desperately to turn it back on. But that last basket had sounded our death knell. We flailed about unable to comprehend what had just happened.

We couldn’t recover.

Shock and shame reddened those once proud faces.

And having prematurely reveled in that yet-to-be determined glory, then a sudden death as recompense for their presumption, our guys all broke down in tears. And I with them…as I watched the juxtaposition of those tears that streamed down the other team’s faces as they grasped each other close in celebratory bliss. And we grasped each other and mourned our loss.

Seemed history had to be repeated to ensure the lesson was taught well.

*

Lesson Three

I was residing in southern Japan, in the suburbs of Osaka Prefecture, in Kishiwada City. The year was 2002 and I had taken up running.

I was a far cry from being overweight but by Japanese standards I was not at my ideal. I weighed around 145-lbs which on my 5’7.25″ frame was okay. Not good. Not bad. But according to a Japanese health assessment, which they provide when you sign up for a gym membership, put me at 30% excess body weight.

I quit the gym.

And decided to plot out a nice little loop in my neighborhood. Each day at 4pm I would go out for a 20-minute run to get exercise. I sometimes ran with headphones and music but soon gave that practice up. The earphones in my ears made me feel discombobulated and disconnected from the world. Instead I would listen to nature, the cicadas and birds, and let my thoughts wander.

One beautiful day, I was out and about two-thirds through my route on a narrow street. My eyes wandered over the high walls surrounding each house I pass. The sound of my sneakers slapping the pavement soothed and satisfied. Air flowed in and out of me with a relaxed and measured regularity. I jogged along blissfully in that moment.

I would soon be approaching one of my favorite spots along my route, a small round-about with a beautiful European-styled fountain at its enter. The thought warmed me. Although I kept it light in my mind to pace myself physically and mentally. The low sound of a vehicle engine behind me provided a welcome distraction.

The road was very narrow and dropped on either side into foot deep gutters. It was always a little tricky navigating these roads especially when they allow traffic to move in both directions like this one. Many roads in my neighborhood were one ways, including this one past that lovely little fountain. There was plenty of space for it to move around me, even for a commercial trailer truck, which is what it sounded like.

I slowed down a little to let it pass.

I heard it slow as well. A small bubble popped in my mind.

I jogged along.

Then I deliberately brought my pace back up.

I heard the engine increase.

And I realized, the vehicle was pacing me.

I was approximately 200-ft from the roundabout.

I jogged along.

I took in deep regulated breaths, kept my body loose and my shoulders relaxed.

180-ft.

170-ft.

160-ft.

150-ft

140-ft.

130-ft

120-ft

110-ft.

100-ft.

I broke into a dead sprint.

I heard the gunning of the engine and the screeching of tires behind me.

I ran. Hard.

The sound of my feet pounding on the pavement bounced off the walls echoing down the street. I saw the fountain in front of me. I ran straight at it then swerved slightly to the right of it one long stride over the low basin, the flowers and the dirt at its base.

I didn’t know where that vehicle was behind me.

I did know the road narrowed to a paved footpath and I felt exultation as I entered it but continued on running. I followed its straight path then reaching the curve bearing right. All the while I listened hearing the vehicle as it screamed around the round-about and headed back up the road. I heard it gunning through the neighborhood bearing left and I felt the first pricklings of fear wash over me. And I knew that it knew this neighborhood.

I leaned into another right and burst through the opening into the parking lot at the end of my dead end road. No one was home. My boyfriend was not back from work yet. My mind panicked and instead of running straight into my apartment and locking the door I ran past it to a neighbors nearby.

I stood with my hand on their front gate. My heart pounded in my head. Gasped for breath.

And I realized I had boxed myself into a corner.

My friend’s house sat in the corner of an L-shaped section and I stood there and looked to the left thinking about my apartment. I didn’t know if my friend was home.

I looked to the right and a white windowless van cruised into my line of sight. The driver-side window was down and a man, left hand on the steering wheel and leaning slightly forward, looked from his right to left. And our eyes locked.

We recognized each other immediately.

An unspoken conversation…

The van slowed…

My knees shook…

I felt bile rising in my throat.

The front door to the house on the corner near him opened.

A tiny elderly Japanese woman walked out and down the front steps and began fussing with some of the shrubbery in front of the house.

He looked away.

He drove past me out of sight.

Then reappeared, cruised back by and was gone.

That little old woman saved my life.

Later when I told my friend E-chan the story she said, “You are very lucky Nikoru-chan. It’s not one man in that van. It’s a group of them and they kidnap women off the streets, rape them in the van while driving to the mountainside, and leave them there. Yes, you were very lucky that day.”

***

We never know what the universe is going to throw at us, giving us opportunities to learn more about ourselves and the world we live in. And as you can see it may align in unusual ways to emphasize the importance of why one might consider cultivating the three C’s. We may not always be presented with such an extreme lesson as my third example, nor save us from the embarrassment and tears of the first two. You may rest assured, or not, that being mindful and aware of the universe helps turn black swans white, improves the quality of one’s character, and awakens the mind  allowing it to evolve beyond.

So here’s my advice to myself, which I try to take every day, “Remain diligent, be vigilant and maintain the three C’s Nichole. Because tiny elderly Japanese women aren’t everywhere. And even if they were, there’s no guarantee they are into outdoor gardening.”

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Mother Nature Speaks: August 24, 2011

And Sends Jitters Through Valley

By Sarah Brubeck and John P. Gregg
Valley News Staff Writers

Lebanon — Yesterday’s big earthquake may have been centered nearly 600 miles away in Virginia, but it shook an art gallery, sloshed standing water and rattled residents throughout the Upper Valley.

Norwich resident Nichole Hastings was visiting a friend with a third-floor studio in the AVA Gallery in downtown Lebanon yesterday when glass jewelry cases started rattling and the mirror started swinging back and forth.

“It was amazing,” said Hastings, who said it lasted between 30 and 50 seconds. “I was sitting in a chair and I just felt the building moving, and I started seeing objects around the room reacting and moving as well, like swaying.”

George Loveland was sitting in his Norwich home — the Butternut Lane Bed and Breakfast not far from Interstate 91 on a bluff overlooking the Connecticut River — when things started rocking

“There was a cyclical sound, almost like it was a wheel, but elliptical,” he said. “I looked out the window, and the water was slopping out of the birdbath. I stood up, and thought I was dizzy, but I wasn’t. The house was moving.”

Nicky Corrao felt the quake on her home on Tucker Hill Road in Thetford Center.

“I was sitting at my kitchen table eating lunch, and all of a sudden I felt my house start shaking. All my plants, the leaves were shaking back and forth, and I thought, Oh my gosh, it’s an earthquake,” said Corrao, who went outside as a precaution.

Tim Savage, a sales representative at Young’s Propane in Springfield, Vt., said he and several office mates felt the temblor at Springfield Plaza, and it reminded him of an amusement park ride.

“They told me to sit down. The whole chair was shaking back and forth,” he said. “There was a rumbling — it felt like being on a ride at Six Flags.”

Over in Canaan, Andrew Musz said he watched as the plants in his office, which is in the old post office building, swayed back and forth for several seconds. Once the wooden building stopped moving, he quickly went online to see what happened.

“It felt like we had a really strong gust of wind,” Musz said. “If it would have continued, it would have been nauseating.”

Officials in Hartford, Lebanon and Hanover didn’t receive any calls reporting damage, but it was felt at Centerra office and shopping park, the Dartmouth College campus and in the five-story main building of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

“There was no damage, no evacuations, no disruptions in service, but people did feel and report the shaking,” said DHMC spokesman Rick Adams.

Eric Hartling, owner of Tuckerbox in White River Junction, had just finished serving the lunch hour crowd when he felt the quake in the cafe’s basement. He saw the lights hanging from the ceiling swing back and forth and noticed his coffee cup move.

“It got a little stronger and a little longer,” Hartling said. “It lasted about 30 seconds, which was long enough for me to grab my keys and phone and say ‘I’m out of this basement.’ ”

When Hartling went upstairs, he asked his employees if they felt the building shake, but nobody had. Others accused him of being crazy or drinking too much coffee that morning.

In Claremont, Rae Schmertz was sitting at a table in the library of Stevens High School with a few other teachers when the table began to shake. At first she thought someone was just kicking the table. Pretty soon, she was swaying in her chair.

“It was gentle but significant. It was a gradual build and then it subsided,” said Schmertz, a Lebanon resident.

Down at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon, Vt., Entergy spokesman Larry Smith said the plant was “unaffected by the earthquake.”

“The plant’s seismic monitor did not have any indication. The plant continues to operate normally,” Smith said in an email.

John P. Gregg can be reached at jgregg@vnews.com. Sarah Brubeck can be reached at sbrubeck@vnews.com.

*

Reference:

Valley News: And Sends Jitters Through Valley

 

Journal Entry: May 20, 2011

THE DEFINITION OF TRUTH



Truth is the cry of all, but the game of few.
~George Berkeley


There are several options here for you to choose from

(you may select one or more of the following):

  1. The true or actual state of a matter: He tried to find out the truth.

  2. Conformity with fact or reality; verity: the truth of a statement.

  3. A verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like: mathematical truths.

  4. The state or character of being true.

  5. Actuality or actual existence.

  6. An obvious or accepted fact; truism; platitude.

  7. Honesty; integrity; truthfulness.

  8. (often initial capital letter ) Ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience: the basic truths of life.

  9. Agreement with a standard or original.

  10. Accuracy, as of position or adjustment.

  11. Archaic . fidelity or constancy.


    “It’s all relative to your perspective;
    for perception defines one’s reality.
    The Truth will set you free.
    Live free.”

Quote: ancient Sanskrit hymn

“I salute the supreme teacher, the Truth, whose nature is bliss, who is the giver of the highest happiness, who is pure wisdom, who is beyond all dualities and infinite like the sky, who is beyond words, who is one and eternal, pure and still, who is beyond all change and phenomena, and who is the silent witness to all our thoughts and emotions – I salute Truth, the supreme teacher.”

~ancient Sanskrit hymn

photographed by Nichole Hastings

Journal Entry: June 8, 2010 – 100 Mile Wilderness

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Day 10

A nice early start this morning.

All up hill.

The Chairback Mountain is no joke.  Especially when you are carrying fifty pounds and managing a dog.  I had taken a picture of it a ways before on the trail.  Not long afterwards realizing that was where I was headed.  The trail took a ninety degree turn straight at it.

A super steep rise of rocky cliff.  A tumble down that and you’d be sure to break bones and puncture soft flesh.  This thought occurred to me half-way up when I looked down behind me.  The rocks were sharply angular and sat at a nearly vertical rise.

photographed by Nichole Hastings

"View from the Summit of Chairback Mountain" photographed by Nichole Hastings

The view.  At 2100-feet.  Simply breath-taking.

Past Chairback, the trail dips back down about 300-ft and then begins climbing  up Columbus Mountain, 2250-ft.  I made it to the Chairback Gap Lean-to just after noon.  I was writing in the register when it began to rain.  The wind had been gusting all day.  The sun was out but it was cold.  The next lean-to, the Cloud Pond Lean-to is about seven miles away.  I knew I wouldn’t make it there today if I continued on.  Columbus Mountain, Third Mountain, Fourth Mountain and the majority of the incline of Barren Mountain lay ahead.

At the start of the day, I was 89-miles South of Katahdin, Baxter State Park and Wayne, the guy at the gate.  It’s good to periodically look back and say, “Hey, I did that.” and feel satisfaction at the pace and what was accomplished.  I’m slightly behind my self-imposed schedule, an average of eleven miles a day, but a mountain is certainly not a molehill.  And I prefer to not tent in the rain.  Or carry all the extra water weight that would come as a result.

This decision puts me in a rather precarious food position.  It would be good if I can reach Monson in two days.  If I push tomorrow and get down Barren Mountain, there’s a lean-to near the Slugandy Gorge and Falls.  I think.  Pete’s maps are from 1988 and it says, ‘Site of Proposed Lean-to’.

And of course, all this will depend upon nice weather.  It’s been off and on rain all day.  I hoped these winds would push this storm past us, and quickly.  Not only is it windy, it’s cold enough where I can see my breath.  I managed a fire.  It survived the rain showers as they come and went.  The fire pit was in a terrible spot in conjunction to the lean-to.  The wind’s gusts kept the smoke blowing in my face.  There was plenty of burnable dry wood available.  Left overs from lean-to’s construction.  I want to sit by the fire and avail myself of its warmth but breathing seems more important.

Another factor, my feet, they need rest.  No blisters still but the bottoms hurt.  Most nights I wake up in the middle, my feet cramping and legs aching.  Maxwell needs rest too.  He’s visibly lost a lot of weight and at times he’s hobbling along.  As soon as I deposited my pack in the lean-to he went and laid down.  Poor guy.  I upped his food rations from a cup to a cup and a half a day.  He needed it and it makes my pack lighter.  A win-win situation for both of us.  Time to make dinner.  And then early to bed.

 

Distance: about 4.5-miles

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