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Grand Canyon, Here I Come

Posted on July 4, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized |

By the time this posts, I will have been at the bottom of the Grand Canyon for five days.

That’s right.

The bottom.

Of the Grand Canyon.  Grand Canyon

My mom and sister and I are taking a five-day rafting trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Five days of rafting and hiking, sleeping on a mat under the stars, and generally lolly-gagging around the Canyon floor. Could anything be better?

Yes. There is no cell service. No phone. No internet or email. Just the silence of nature, which can actually be pretty loud. Serenely loud.

AND–we will be hiking out on the 4th of July. Which is today, if you are reading this the day it posts. Could there be a better place to spend the 4th of July?

It will be a miracle if I return. I may find a rock to hide behind and simply stay put for a while. But if I do manage to tear myself away, I’ll bring back pics and hopefully a good story or two.

 

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Running with the Pack

Posted on June 20, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized |

A couple of months ago my friend asked me to mentor for a running group she coaches through a local running store. Mentor other runners? I thought. Me? What do I know about mentoring runners?

Seems like a silly thing to say, considering my job. Director of an organization that mentors young girls through running. Sounds like a no-brainer, huh?

But the kind of mentoring I do in my own job does not relate to running. Not exactly. It relates to people. Talking them through rough spots, encouraging them when they’re disheartened, listening while they either vent or talk themselves to the solutions they already had but didn’t know it.  This kind of mentoring happens over phone calls, coffee. And runs.  group-run.97151459_std

Some of the best conversations, I’ve discovered, occur during runs. There’s something about running that opens us up, makes us vulnerable, when we’re side by side, sweating together, talking together, looking out to the path in front of us and not at each other. Not directly. It’s safer somehow, and we can say more than maybe we would over lattes or cheeseburgers.

So I’ve been mentoring other runners now for seven weeks. It’s a lot like mentoring coaches, team leads, and all the others I talk with, probably because they’re people, and people are people no matter what role they’re in. The only difference with this group, besides having to know something about running, is that we tend to get a little more sweaty in our sessions.

I love mentoring runners, and I’ve discovered some things about myself.

I like running with people almost as much as I like running alone, but for different reasons. Rather than simply knowing I’m part of a bigger community, I experience it. The community I run with is one of inclusion and hope, and no matter what else is going on in my day I know that I can show up and just be, and by the end of the session I walk away feeling good about life.

I’ve discovered that running is easy when you focus on someone other than yourself. My friend warned me before I joined that the runs I did for the group wouldn’t count as my own training runs; I’d still have to carry on with my own training plan. How can four, five, six mile runs not count? I asked. You’ll see, she smiled. And she was right. When you’re running next to or behind someone and paying attention to their form, their cadence, their level of exertion and counting off for them their mileage and their time you forget you’re running too, and it’s suddenly not so hard.

It’s kind of Booker T. Washington said:  “If you want to lift yourself up, lift someone else.” And so we lift each other through running.

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The Christmas Tree

Posted on December 27, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized |

In 2007 when I moved back to the states, I showed up on my mom’s doorstep with a suitcase and two dogs and not much more to my name. Christmas was only a few months away, and I had nothing to give.  So I wrote a Christmas story about my brother and sister and me, a true story of the Christmas I was compelled (coerced might be a better word) to give up my pacifier.  I printed it on fancy paper, and gave it to my family for Christmas.

A couple of years later, I wrote a different Christmas story and gave it as a gift again.  This time, not because I couldn’t afford gifts, but because it was so much fun the first time around.  That story, “The Christmas Tree,” includes my brother and sister-in-law, my sister, my mother, and my three nieces.

I hadn’t read it since that Christmas in 2009 until earlier this week, when it came into my head unexpectedly.  I thought I would include it here, a Christmas gift to you.

The Christmas Tree

It’s a story about a quest to find the perfect tree.  The events unfolded within may or may not be true.

Merry Christmas.

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Abundance

Posted on November 29, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized |

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Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.  ~ Eckhart Tolle

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Gratitude. It’s what’s for breakfast.

Posted on August 31, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

I don’t always jump out of bed with a happy smile on my face.  Some mornings I don’t even want to roll out and frown.   I have my share of days when I dread getting out of bed, and sometimes I even dread the thought of running.

But one of the things I love about running is the remarkable way it transforms my attitude, usually from cranky to grateful.  Most morning runs are like that.  My time outside results in more than the physical benefits I get from running.  Running shows me gratitude.

By the end of my run, I usually have a mental picture of all the things I am grateful for.  Some of them look like this:

G    od. For making me. Able.

R    obert, my boyfriend.

A    ll my family and friends.  Even the cranky ones.

T    oday, because it’s all I have for certain.

I     ce cream.

T    omorrow, because with it comes promise and hope.

U    rsa Minor.  Or pretty much any constellation.

D    ogs.  Mine:  Smaug and Queequeg.

E    ars to hear. Eyes to see.

Does running do the same thing for you? What are you grateful for?

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What Running Could Teach a Girl

Posted on August 24, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

I want to show girls how running teaches them things that can change their lives.

I hear that sentiment a lot as I talk with women who want to become coaches or other volunteers for Girls on the Run.  I smile every time because I understand just what they mean.  Now.

There was a time, however, when hearing such a thing struck me as completely ridiculous.  How could running teach a person about life?  All it seemed to teach people was how to sweat a lot and injure muscles and ligaments I had never heard of.  How does limping through life with wet socks and undergarments teach anyone anything useful about living? Sheer craziness, I thought.

Until I ran.  Now, I am a runner.

Did you notice the way I phrased that?  I am a runner.  I did not say that I became a runner, or that I learned to run, although both statements are true.  Instead, I chose a phrase that defines a present, permanent, pervasive state of being.  You could almost call it an inhabitation.  Now, it is quite natural for me to say this:  I am a runner.  For a long time, it was not.

I often think about why that is the case.  People frequently ask me if I am a runner, and it always startles me.  For some reason, I don’t expect it to show.  I know that many runners have identifiable physiques, as do jockeys and sumo wrestlers, but I don’t think it’s the association with a particular body type that surprises me.

Maybe it’s because for me running is not about the body anymore.  It’s about the soul.  And to ask if I’m a runner means that in some strange way the most private part of me has been made public.  A clearly unsettling prospect for anyone.  Unsettling, and life changing.

Running didn’t show me that I had a soul (I’d like to believe it was already there), it made me understand that what I needed to succeed in this life—what I needed to make healthy and loving choices, to be strong and confident and at peace—was already there inside me.  Running helped me to tap into it and pull it out, unfold it and put its pieces together, like the kite you might get in your Easter basket, ultimately billowing high above the earth but tethered to you by a string.

And that’s what these volunteers want the girls to see.  That they already have at least the pieces of everything they need to live a happy, healthy life right there inside them.

If they can get the girls to take just one step, to move forward just a little, the girls will learn to trust the voice they hear inside when they run.  Eventually, the girls will run into themselves.

And maybe some of them will one day say, I am a runner.

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