Running Monologue

Stories from the trail…

another year

That’s what I’m grateful for– another year.  And what a year it was.  I’ve started to write this post dozens of times, but with a year off from writing, the task seemed a little too big.  Where would I begin?

There’s no way I can cover all that I did while I was away from the blog, but as we prepare for Thanksgiving tomorrow, I am very mindful of the blessings in my life.  Here are some of them from the past year.

YVCS schoolMr. D and some of the boys, including Isaac, at Yadkin Valley Community School.

The thing I’m probably most grateful for this year is Yadkin Valley Community School.  It was about a year ago that Kim and I met to brainstorm all the possibilities for a new school in our area.  What seemed like an impossible dream took shape and finally took off this past summer.  We got the doors open, and it’s been everything we had hoped for and more.  Never underestimate the power of committed, whole-hearted people who want to create something good in the world.

Isaac is thriving, Mr. D. is a ROCK STAR, the other children are amazing and unique, Kim and Joe should get medals, and the other board members have given so much of their time and talent, not to mention the tremendous support we’ve gotten from our community.  This has been such a positive experience, partly in the “holy cow, this is hard, and if I survive, I know I’ll be a better person” kind of way and partly in the “holy cow, there are a lot of really good people in the world” kind of way.

There will be more to come on YVCS, but for now, I just want to thank God for this huge blessing in our lives.

Other things I’m grateful for…

We have a new family member.  Her name is Scout.  She’s an Australian Shepherd.  After a very long campaign on Harper Lee’s part- one that involved PowerPoint presentations, books, daily hints, and full-on begging sessions– we finally conceded and got a dog for Harper’s 14th birthday.




I’m also grateful that after years of art journaling and on-line art classes as well as an all-out addiction to listening to Creative Living With Jamie, I was asked to…

  1. Write a guest post in Shannon Kinney Duh’s Inside Out Art Journaling class!  If you don’t know Shannon, you definitely need to check out her website, A Free Spirit Life.  I’ve taken Inside Out: A Creative Adventure of Self-Discovery three times, and it gets better every time.  I was thrilled to be asked to write a post during Week 3: Connection to Self.  It was mostly about my experiences with journaling, which I’ve done for years, and letting go of fear and, instead, embracing adventure.  And…
  2. I was interviewed by Jamie Ridler, THE creative living guru.  Jamie is going into her fifth year of podcasts, and I’ve listened to every episode, some of them multiple times.  At the beginning of every podcast, Jamie always says, “Who knows?  Someday, I might just be talking to you.”  And, sure enough, she was.  I have to admit, I was pretty nervous about the whole thing, but I don’t think I sounded too goofy.  We talked about teaching and being open to possibilities.  It was fun, and Jamie is just as sweet and wonderful as I imagined she would be.  Plus, it’s one more item checked off the bucket list.  You can listen to the interview here.

Other things that make life good…

Foothills Theater– Mary and I driving in our “car” in last spring’s production of “Road Trip” by Leighanne Martin.

I’m grateful for the awesome folks I’ve met through the Foothills Arts Council and Foothills Theater.  I always knew (as I rehearsed my lines from Gone With The Wind in front of my mirror when I was a girl) that I’d end up on stage someday.

I’m grateful to work with the best of the best at Surry Early College.  I’m proud to be part of this program.  And I’m grateful for our students.  It’s a good gig if you can get.

I’m grateful for a healthy, strong body.  Right now, I’m not racing at the same level that I was ten years ago.  This has bothered me for a while, but I’ve gotten much more comfortable with running a little slower but still having a good time.  This is something I’m really grateful for.  This body has run a lot of miles, climbed a lot of mountains and grown two, very large, very healthy babies.  It can run several hours at a time, race up muddy trails and through freezing river water, rock a crane pose, and play a mean game of “pinkie wrestle” (don’t ask).  I’m grateful for crazy, outlaw trail races, an awesome new mountain bike (thank you, Rob), and Yoga on Main.

And I’m grateful for good friends.

For a warm home with too much laundry and too many dirty dishes.  It means we have clothes to wear and food to eat.

For good books and old movies.

For growing up in the South.

For Christmas songs that come on way too early but make me happy anyway.

For good memories and things to look forward to.

And finally,…


… for these people.  Much love.



A little Wendell Berry…

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life

and my children’s lives may be,

I go lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water,

and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives

with forethought of grief.

I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting with their light.

For a time I rest in the grace of the world,

and am free.


-Wendell Berry


rough and rowdy.jpg

what the heck is adventure fitness anyway?

take it outside

the ghost of christmas past

the one about the van

I know I’m setting myself up for endless jokes about Grateful Dead bumper stickers and fur on the floor hippie vans, but I have always, always, always wanted a VW van.  It’s probably only going to add to the misconception that I am a wild, flower-in-my-hair liberal hippie, but I don’t care.  I am, in fact, a wild, flower-in-my-hair girl, but liberal I am not.  Neither am I a hippie.  But whatever.

The point is I’m really excited about this van.  I rarely, if EVER, want things.  I don’t have a list of things that I must have.  For the most part, I really don’t like things—you know, stuff.  Junk to clutter up my house and drawers.  Things disguised as “conveniences” that really just take up space.  Holidays stress me out to the max because I hate all the STUFF that comes with it.  I would love to have a holiday that was about the tree, a fire, good food and hanging out.  This is a concept that really tears some folks up—presents are apparently really important to some.  But for me, the ultimate gift is time.  Always has been.

Yet I have found myself coming back again and again to the VW van.  I should add here that if I were not married to Rob, I still would not have the van because I just don’t buy things.  It’s a major undertaking to purchase new underwear and socks, so a van would probably rank under “stuff that’s more trouble than it’s worth,” and that’s OK because that’s just who I am.  But since I am married to Rob—the man who loves to buy things, especially things that require fuel—I am willing to accept this one purchase.

I hope we use it as much as I have long imagined we will.  I like to travel and see things.  So do the kids.  I imagine us driving (no more than 60 mph, mind you) to different cool places across the US and stopping along riverbanks and at the foot of mountains and setting up camp beneath the stars in our groovin’ van—complete with awning and vinyl webbing lawn chair.  (I am so buying a white and blue-green striped lawn chair with vinyl webbing that conforms to my butt and will eventually wear through.  Heck, it might even come with one.)

I see sweaty, mud-caked runners coming in from a leg of a relay run or stopping in for refueling and rehydrating during a 12 or 24-hour endurance event.  I see running crazy long trails across mountains and then coming back to a bed and heater and a cold beer in the camper.  I see kids hanging out while Rob and I race, either on foot or bike.  I see random, spontaneous trips to the great outdoors.  That’s my fantasy anyway.  It will be interesting to see if that’s what we actually do.  Sometimes, obligations get in the way, but with this, I’m hoping we can say no to some of the “shoulds” and just take off on the open road.


No obligations. 

play as practice

fistfuls of summer

This month I’ve been like a little kid whose just been told he can have as much candy as he wants.  The only catch is that he has a very short amount of time to grab as much as his grubby little hands can hold.  In short, I’ve been grabbing fistfuls of summer and stuffing them in my pockets like a greedy five year old hoarding as much of the sweet stuff as I can carry.

Isaac- triathlonIsaac’s second triathlon in Sparta– he came in third in his age group and had a blast.  For a guy who really doesn’t get into organized sports, he can rock the swim, bike, run.

art club signArt Club at the Surry Early College is off and running for its second year.  An amazing group of kids and an excuse to stop and make stuff– every week!  What could be better?  So far we’ve been working on contour drawings and figure drawing with models.  I’ve been harboring a secret desire to learn more about illustration, so it’s nice to have an afternoon to work on it– and with free instruction from some pretty talented kids.

selfie in the airportSelfies (I hate that word) at the airport.

We were waiting to board for a long weekend in Orlando where we finally visited Epcot and Medieval Times.  I have to tell you that I assumed Medieval Times would be a fairly cheesy tourist trap, but I was very pleasantly surprised at how much fun we had.  In the words of Isaac, wearing his crown, a stein of Sprite in one hand and a chicken leg in the other, “This is my kind of restaurant– fighting and eating with my hands!”  Yeah.

There were jousting matches and sword fights and we got to cheer for our knight– the guy next to us was a HUGE fan of our knight, but it was all in good fun, and Harper Lee won Queen of the Tournament when our knight offered her his banner after winning his match.

outside the lego storeAnd there was the much anticipated stop at Downtown Disney for the LEGO store.

The rest of the month has been mostly school, school, and more school, which– surprisingly– has been much better than I had imagined.  I was so worried about the transition into middle school and third grade, but so far, this has been one of Isaac’s best years, and Harper Lee is enjoying the new freedom of middle school– student council, community projects and soccer.  But during the in-between– after school and on the weekends– we’ve squeezed out a few more drops of summer sweetness and savored the ever shortening days.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKickin’ up his heels at Stone Mountain


One of our many swimming holes

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARob strumming his guitar for us around the campfire

swimming in mitchell riverAnother favorite swimming hole in the Mitchell River

sunset at mitchell riverThe sun setting on the other side of the river

view in franklinA long weekend with good friends in Franklin, NC– the annual fall writing retreat.  This was the view from my bedroom.

Yesterday, I swept piles (seriously, PILES) of acorns from the back patio.  It’s one of the first sure signs of fall.  That and the red berries on the dogwood tree.  Turning the air conditioner off for the year.  Opening the windows.  The sound of crickets at night (they’ve been here all along, but now I can enjoy the sound with the windows open).  The cool air as we sleep.  The sun setting earlier each night.  All signs that another summer is– for real this time– coming to an end.

As I was running this evening, I could feel just the slightest change in the air around me.  And it occurred to me:  “I love running in the fall.”  Actually, I love the fall.  Period.  October has long been a favorite month.  And fall brings cross-country, race season, pumpkins, Halloween, Harper Lee’s birthday, corn mazes, open windows and fresh air, light sweaters and fallen leaves.  All the things I love.  Really, really love.

I’ve been feeling an impending sense of doom for about a month– maybe even longer because I’ve been dreading winter.  Last winter was such a dark time for me, and I guess I’ve been afraid of all that descending upon me again.  Never mind that I’m in an entirely different place now.  I’ve been, in some ways, dreading winter so much that I’ve actually felt a little panicked– a sort of “hurry up and enjoy life now because it’s all going to go to hell pretty soon.”  Yeah, I know– dark.  And maybe a little twisted.  But there it is.

The predictions for this coming winter are that it’s going to be a cold, snowy one– maybe even colder and snowier than last year–, and while those forecasts have struck fear in my heart a few times, I think I’m warming up to the idea that it doesn’t have to.  Each season of the year– each season of our lives– is different, isn’t it?  Just because winter has been hard for me in the past doesn’t mean it has to continue in that direction.  In fact, when I think back, I can remember quite a few things about winter that I have enjoyed.  A lot.

Christmas, of course, and long trail runs with a friend in the snow.  Curling up in front of the fireplace.  Hot apple cider and hot cocoa with marshmallows.  Homemade vegetable soup and freshly baked bread.  Quilts– lots and lots of quilts.  Good books.  Long Sunday afternoon naps.  Snowmen.  Sledding.  My favorite hat and gloves.  Boots!

So my goals for the next few weeks are to:

Enjoy the fall– every crisp, delicious day.

And look forward to winter– to build the anticipation.  This winter, I’m going to change my attitude and HAVE FUN.

If you dread winter like I have been, why not join me in writing down all the things you’re looking forward to about this winter?   I mean, seriously, who doesn’t love a good snow day?

I’m not even going to sweat the dreaded make-up days in June.  Just let it go, man.  And happy Fall!


Last night, I dreamt that I was late. As usual. Only this time, I had left one of my children at a library camp, which had ended half an hour earlier, and I was still an hour away and attempting to pick up the second child from… somewhere weird. But the main thing is that I was stressed and panicked and really, really angry with myself for not being where I was supposed to be.

I also dreamed that Harper Lee tried out for several academic clubs and was devastated to learn that she did not make the math team but was accepted as a member of the vegetarian meal planning team.

School starts tomorrow. Can you tell?

I’m just a little bit anxious. Thankfully, I went back to work three weeks ago, which really ticked me off at the time. I mean, my kids had nearly a month of extra summer. Now, however, I’m happy that I settled back into a routine before we started getting them settled back into theirs.

Harper Lee begins middle school this year. And Isaac is entering third grade. If you live in NC, you know what that means. It’s going to be a time of big transitions– my favorite thing in the whole world. (That sound you hear is Rob laughing hysterically.)

I’m trying really hard to go with the flow. (I realize that trying really hard is sort of the antithesis of going with the flow, but we do what we can.) And I think I’m doing pretty well—nightmares aside. It’s a new phase for us, particularly for me. I feel a little weepy that we are moving from little kid phase into–scary Psycho music in the background–MIDDLE SCHOOL. For me, middle school was sort of like… well, let’s just say it—hell. I hated every bloody moment of middle school. If I don’t make it to heaven, I’m pretty sure I will end up roaming the halls of A.C. Reynolds Middle School. If I’m really bad—like I end up being a psycho killer or something—I’ll probably be at that same school, except on a Friday night at a middle school dance.

It will be different for Harper Lee. She is an entirely different kid. And I admire her immensely. I even helped her streak her hair blue the other day. She was worried that her teachers might get a bad first impression and think she is a “rebellious street kid,” but I assured her that they would probably not think that. I like that she is comfortable being exactly who she is. I hope that she stays that way. Let’s face it—school isn’t always the place where being who you are is OK.

So it is with more than a little trepidation that I send my children off to school each year.

But I’m going with the flow here…

And it’s all good.

As our last week of summer wrapped up, Harper Lee and I volunteered on Saturday at the Continental Divide Trail Race that our friends, Jason and Alison, put on every year. We always look forward to running the finish line and handing out the awards. This year Harper Lee got to take photographs of the runners as they raced up crazy, mountain goat trails, and she helped with first aid. There was a bit of excitement this year when a nest of yellow jackets wreaked havoc at one point along the course, but everyone came out of it, in the end, just fine. Plus, Alison made quesadillas post-race, and I met some new and interesting friends.

CDTR startThat’s one thing that trail racing is sure to offer—new, and VERY interesting, friends, one of the many reasons I love it.

So, now the house is quiet. Everyone is tucked in early. The backpacks are packed. The lunchboxes are lined up and waiting on the kitchen counter. The multiple information forms are filled out and signed. The coffee is in the maker and ready to brew.

And I am finally sitting down and taking it in– this new phase that is about to begin.

What if tomorrow is the beginning of something wonderful?

 Harper- CDTR






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