I had been anxiously awaiting Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book: “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.” Since I am not running these days my book reading is a bit slower, but I finally just finished it. It is an easy read, but not like those of a novel that you cannot put down. It is best consumable in small chunks so you can ponder the ideas she shares on creativity. She even has a few stories that were ‘aha’ moments for me.
One of the ideas that she shared especially resonated with me:
“These days, I’m far more moved by authenticity. Attempts at originality can often feel forced and precious, but authenticity has quiet resonance that never fails to stir me. Just say what you want to say, then, and say it with all your heart. Share whatever you are driven to share. If it’s authentic enough, believe me—it will feel original.” Page 98
Maybe because I hate when people lie, I hate deception, and all I ever really want is for people to be real. If you do not know something, do not make up bullshit to make yourself sound like you do know it, just be real and say you do not know. There is nothing I hate worse (both personally and professionally) than when people lie to make themselves look better. Just be you.
Be yourself, and do not regret it. Oh, and definitely take some time to read Gilbert’s book. It is worth it, especially if you are in a rut and want/need a kick in the butt to get you thinking creatively again.
It is hard to believe that my day yesterday was so crazy that I missed the entire Boston Marathon coverage. After living in Boston for 4 years, I got addicted to the camaraderie and dedication of Bostonians for those running the marathon. In Boston they have an entire holiday (Patriots Day) where you actually get paid to take the day off and if you feel so inspired go and watch the marathon. Of course Patriot’s Day has nothing to do with the Boston Marathon, but it does have a nice way of working out for Bostonians. We did it a few times. If you get there early enough there are actually restaurants on Boylston Street (where the finish line is) and you can have food and drinks and sit on the sidewalk patio of a restaurant and watch the race in style. I can remember in the early days of Chris and my life together (maybe before we ever really knew where we would end up) we sat together, had brunch and watched the race.
Regardless of whether you are in Boston or not, or whether you watched the race or not, there is a charged excitement and energy around races like the Boston or New York Marathon. Just as there is with the Olympics or World Cup. These are races that show the triumph, drive, and legacy of professional and everyday runners that give it their all either year around as they train to medal in such races, or for those that are trying for their personal best. For me there is something gratifying about someone who works so hard to compete or even try to finish running 26.2 miles. When I saw that the man who placed first was just over 2 hours, I was reminded that he ran 26.2 miles in just over the time it took me to run 13.1 miles. He can run the same amount of miles in half the time that I can – AMAZING!
What inspires me about races like the Boston Marathon is the amount of hours of dedication it takes for these runners (elite or not) to prepare for such a race. Hours, days, weeks, months, maybe even a year back to last year’s race. It might mean giving up on drinks with friends, time with children or other family members. Possibly it means very early mornings to get in those long runs, or being outside in rain, snow, or sleet, or maybe if you live in a warmer climate dealing with extreme heats and dryness. Whatever the weather situation, the time of day, or the toll it takes on your body, training for a marathon is a dedication that not everyone can or wants to do. We are all capable of more than we do, but sometimes there are moments in life when we show that we can push ourselves beyond limits we never were thought were possible. There is also a kindness that other runners spread during a race – see this link for stories of how runners went above and beyond during or after the Boston Marathon.
Running is a sport like no other. This year’s race was cold and rainy. It shows how many people will come out and support you rain or shine while you spend from 2 (elite athletes) to 6 hours to finish running 26.2 miles. Dedication. Perseverance. Friendship. I admire everyone that ran Boston yesterday.
Three things that are constants in my life on an almost daily basis are: exercise, vegetables, and writing. An odd amalgamation of things, but all critical for a bit of balance and inspiration in my life. You might wonder how these three have anything remotely in common. Their only commonality is that they ground me. On the days when I have the opportunity to run, eat a good amount of vegetables, and take the time to write, life just feels better. It may not mean that I have had an amazing day. Lots of shit could have happened, but these three stable aspects of my life help me to get through the shitty days and make the good days even better. Call me crazy, but it is true.
The ironic thing is that all three require discipline and none of them happened for me overnight. Consistent exercise was a gradual habit that happened over many years. My craving to run each day is the euphoria of pushing myself to the limits, having an hour that is just for myself, and the feeling at the end of a run when I am dripping in sweat and knowing I got through it. There is nothing else in my life that gives me that feeling and my day does not feel complete without my run.
How I feel when I run matters and, often, I can tell that if I feel horrible while running it has to do with some crap I ate earlier in the day. I am usually an evening/after work runner, so what I had for lunch and any snacks or junk food I ingest during the day matters. Which is why I have become a fanatic of eating vegetables. I have them in my green smoothie in the morning (usually spinach, kale, carrots), a salad for lunch, then for dinner, a vegetable, protein, and brown rice. Some sort of yummy concoction, but there is always a vegetable go with it. How far I have come from trying to get away with no vegetables as a kid and little to none in high school and college. Why have I become such an addict? I can now tell the difference in my body when I do not have these natural nutrients. More sugar + less vegetables and my body shuts down earlier in the day. More sugar = more exhausted. Since I know this about myself I do all I can to eat my veggies.
Writing. The final aspect to balance in my life. I write five blog posts each week and used to write in a journal too. My journal writing has waned in the past few months. It felt like work and I was not inspired to do it so I stopped. I know I will pick it up again, as that has been the ebb and flow of my life. There have been times when I needed to write, and write, and write to figure out my thoughts and unravel my world. Writing random olio keeps my mind open and aware. When you know that you are going to write a blog five days in a row you look at the world differently. It makes me more creative, have more wonder, and investigate the world.
What is not to love about my three life disciplines? A random olio of balance that is the core of who I am today.
A good book is always something that brings a smile to my face. This was a good one, maybe not on the top of my list for 2014, but at least one that was worth seeing through to the end. For some reason I have been reading books on running. I am not sure why exactly, but somehow when I read about running (and since I read while running) it inspires and encourages me to keep running. Try it sometime. Whether or not you are crazy enough to read on the treadmill while running, or if you listen to a book on your smartphone while running, a book that inspires running makes me just want to go faster and longer.
The book? “Running Like a Girl: Notes on Learning to Run” by Alexandra Heminsley. It is about a girl who never has run in her life and decides to train for a marathon. It is her training experience, how that shapes the relationship with her father (a marathon runner), and then how others ask her to train with them for continued marathons in her future. She is real, down-to-earth, and makes you realize that anyone, yes, anyone can run a marathon if they just put their mind to it and get started. It did not used to be this way, but running is now me. I am cranky when I do not have enough time to run, or if I am just too exhausted after a long day. I feel robbed when I do not get my run in. My thoughts are similar to Alexandra’s:
“That day in October was the day that taught me so much about why I run. It wasn’t a habit, it was a necessity: the essential realization that I can carry on when I am sure I am about to die; that to survive, I just have to keep going, keeping the faith that I could leave the house almost trembling with trepidation about what lay ahead, and if I could keep myself going, a few minutes, a few lampposts, a few blocks at a time, I would be improving not just my running but how I managed my life.” Page 109
Running keeps me sane. Just ask Chris. We often cater our weekend plans around my runs. I either will not leave the house for the day without getting a long run in, or I have to know that whatever event we are off to, when we return home there will still be time for me to run. Addicted? Maybe. Is that so bad? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. When I have an hour to get out of my head, be quiet and present in my moving and sweaty body I feel most like me. There is something rewarding about knowing I have pushed through, and in the end I am often given answers to questions I have been asking, and a greater sense of peace about my life and the world.
It is Boston Marathon day. My heart is always with the runners on Marathon day. I lived in Boston for a few years, and the company I worked for always gave us the day off. The marathon falls on Patriots Day which is a holiday in Massachusetts. So for many years I ventured out to watch runners kick butt in rain or sun on that April Monday. There is a place in my heart for runners, and for the Boston Marathon. Even from across the country, I will be watching and cheering runners on.
This year it is even more heartfelt to think of all those runners that will run in Boston. After what happened last year, this year’s marathon is that much more meaningful. In some ways I feel like there was never resolution for why those boys did what they did last year. They brought fear to so many individuals, and to such an iconic event. Yet, runners are not swayed. They come out each year regardless of the challenge. Runners are resilient. Everyone that runs today is a hero, is fearless, and stands strong that competition is alive, and that no one, yes, no one can stand in the way of the Boston Marathon.
A friend alerted me last Sunday that Shalane Flanagan (a local Portlander) was on 60 Minutes last Sunday. I quickly DVRed it, and was able to catch her interview. Shalane got fourth in last year’s Boston Marathon. This year she is going for first place. I will be cheering her on. For those of you that are runners, I saw this come up in my Facebook feed over the weekend from “Nike Running”
“Run with the Nike+ Running App and tag #strongereveryrun in the notes. We’ll give $1 for every mile you run to the Challenged Athletes Foundation.”
What a cool idea. I will make sure my run today is documented in my NIke+ Running app. I will be running for those that we lost last year, and those that were injured. I will be running for those that are pushing it through the Boston Marathon this year. Join me. It is a day of redemption, it is a day of triumph, it is a day to run.