jumping in…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

1-2-3… Go!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We spent a couple of days with friends at Lake Norman two weeks ago.  We only see them maybe twice a year, but they are the sort of friends who, even when several months have passed, fall in step with us like we’d seen each other only the day before.  Their love of adventure and wildness and water is part of what draws the children together.  The adults have known each other since college– perhaps our love of adventure, wildness and beer is what continues to draw us together.  Every time we see one another, we say, “We have to get together more often,” and every year, life gets in the way.  But it’s nice to know that there are those friends who fit in seamlessly to the times in between and who are there even when they’re not.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The next week, we loaded up and headed to Topsail Island.  But not before Harper Lee and I participated in the Trout Tattoo, a sort of trail run that involved way more river crossings, rock hopping, and “I think I’ll just give up and float” moments than it did last year.  Overall, we did pretty well though the morning did result in bruised and bloody shins for me and a wrong turn and extra mile for Harper Lee.  But there were fish necklaces, cookies and good friends at the finish line, so it was all good.  It was not a typical trail race, but I love the adventurous quality of a race like the Tattoo simply because you never know what the heck might happen.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

There seems to be a “gather ye rosebuds while ye may” theme emerging this summer.  One of Rob’s  bucket list items was to own a surfboard and learn to surf.  Every year, he rents a board and piddles around a bit, but he’s never had quite enough time to master the skill.  This year, he found a used board in Wilmington and drove up to see it.  The guy had several for sale, and Rob got a good deal, so he brought it home.  He and the kids spent the rest of the week learning to surf.

He also met a couple of local guys who loaned him a smaller board for the kids to use during our week and who expounded on the joys of building your own boat.  Now our garage is a boat-building shop, much to Isaac’s delight.

This also delights me.  There’s nothing I love more than seeing Rob, or anyone for that matter, do something that really lights his fire.  That’s what life is all about, and it’s something I’m practicing more and more.  The best thing about this new project is that the only thing Rob likes more than having a boat is messing around with a boat (or a bike)– building, tinkering, tweaking.  It brings him joy.  I like to see people doing the things that bring them real joy.  It’s not as common as you might think.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As Charles Kingsley said, “All we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.”  Passion– it’s all about excitement and enthusiasm.  Maybe that’s what I like about Harper Lee and Isaac so much.  They make excitement and enthusiasm a daily practice.

The photo below is Isaac on the USS North Carolina in Wilmington.  He’s standing in front of the pharmacy and medical lab on the ship.  This discovery opened up entirely new possibilities.  I could almost see the wheels turning in his mind.  Suddenly, the Navy had become a new and interesting career choice.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Children have such a wonderful way of making all things seems possible.  What do I want to be when I grow up?  Invariably, they choose the thing that makes them light up inside.  They choose passion over practicality every time.  For a while, Harper Lee wanted to be the person who mixed up the colored soap at the car wash.  She was three and has since changed her mind, but I have always loved that story.  It illustrates such a straight-forward answer to the question, What do you want?  She wanted sweet-smelling, brightly colored soap bubbles.  All day long.  And to get paid for it?  Well, even better.

It’s only as we get older, that we begin to question things.  Being practical becomes more important. More practical.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Kickin’ it old skool

During our stay, we also busted a move at a local landmark, the Topsail Island Skating Rink.  It was straight out of the 1960′s with fans in each window (no AC), huge wood planks on the floor, a disco ball, and 45′s on the record player.

It is run by Doris Jenkins who, along with her husband, built the place in the old Marine Recreational Building in 1964.  It sits on the second floor, above the post office, and Doris, in her shorts and white roller skates, still collects the money ($5 for all night skating), hands out the skates and cold Coca-Cola’s and changes the records on the turntable.

She learned to skate on her front porch when she was a little girl and hasn’t stopped since.  What makes a nearly 80 year-old woman lace up her skates every night (besides amazingly good health)?  Could it be a passion for what she does?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This has me thinking about all the things we say, “I would love to… (you can fill in the blank)” but that we so seldom get around to doing.  If we’re not careful, practical living and everyday life can lull us into a bit of a stupor.  We can become unaware of all the things that used to light us up, that we used to feel great enthusiasm for.  We can forget those things in the face of all the things we feel need to be done, that we should do, that we have to do.

Or we can wake up.  We can ask ourselves the question,”What do I WANT to do?”  You could apply this to career choices and vocations if you want, but I’m mostly thinking of the smaller things, the little things that make us come alive, and that, too often, get pushed further and further off the road until they’re completely obscured by weeds and left to sit unattended.

I’ve given this a lot of thought in regards to my own life.  Much of my tendency toward practicality and level-headedness is rooted in fear.  I’ve spent a large portion of my life listening to voices, either in my own head or from the outside, saying, “Don’t do that.  That’s dangerous.  That’s weird.  That’s a risky choice.  That doesn’t make sense.”  And that’s nothing but fear.  Yes, I know bad things happen– accidents and tragedies– but I don’t want to live my life (or NOT live my life) trying to hide from them.

Sometimes I cringe when I think about all the opportunities I let go out of fear– fear of “something bad happening” or fear that someone else might not approve or that they might give me a hard time about my decision.  That’s just no way to live.  Not if I want to live my own life in my own way.  And why wouldn’t I?  It’s the only one I’m going to get.

I say this as much (possibly more) to myself as anyone because this fear thing is a hard burden to carry, but it’s also super hard to put down once you’ve picked it up.  And once you’ve carried it around as long as I have.

But I’m doing it.  I’m putting it down.  A little more every day.  Bit by bit.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This one here is my main source of inspiration in the unloading.

For one thing, I don’t want to let her pick it up.  It’s too heavy.  It doubles you over eventually.  It obscures your view.  I don’t want that for her.  I want her to always stand up straight, flexing those muscles and saying, “What’s next?  What else ya got?”

And for another, I’m 42.  Time is doing what it does best.  Marching on.  It’s not waiting.  I don’t want to wait either.

If you know me at all, you know that I do not like deep water, even in a pool.  I especially do not like water that does not allow me to see the bottom or that is a habitat for a variety of animals, some of whom might bite me.  I run.  I bike.  I do not swim.  Triathlons have never appealed.  I CAN swim, but I’m pretty sure the heart attack is what would slow me down in open water.

But…

I have always wanted to try stand-up paddle-boarding.  And I’ve really wanted to try it in conjunction with yoga.  Maybe I look at Title Nine catalogs too often, but it just seemed like something I had to try.  I booked a class with Ohana Paddle Sports in Surf City.

By that afternoon, I was considering backing out.  It was in the Intracoastal Waterway.  Enough said.

But I went anyway.  As Harper Lee chattered enthusiastically about how excited she was on the way to the surf shop, I tried to practice deep breathing.  I talked nervously (OK– manically) to the instructor and other class participant as we got our boards and paddles ready, and for the first 15 minutes, my legs shook so badly, I could barely get into Warrior I, something that, on land, is generally not that difficult.  Harper Lee, naturally, bounced around like a champ, completely unfazed by the school of fish jumping out of the water around her board.

First one person fell in and then another.  Finally, I was the only one who was still on the board.  My legs began to relax.  I laughed.  I got into Pigeon pose and Downward Dog.  I did a tripod headstand, and while I did not actually get my legs up into a full headstand, it was more than I’d ever done on land.  And it was fun.  The sun was setting over the water, and it was more beautiful than I’d ever seen it.  Maybe it was my vantage point.

Finally, I realized that the reason I was the only one left standing on the board was not my superior paddle-boarding skill; it was my fear.  I was so afraid of falling, I dared not try some of the more difficult poses.  I didn’t want to lose my balance.  If, however, I just got it over with and fell in.  Well, then… that part would be over, right?

I jumped in.

And I didn’t die.  Nothing ate me.  I didn’t get a sudden cramp and sink to the bottom like a stone.  I didn’t struggle to get back on the board.  I just came to the top, laughing and spitting out THE saltiest water I’ve ever had in my mouth, and popped back up on the board where I proceeded to try some harder poses.  Because once the fear of falling was gone, what did I have to lose?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

It’s a practice, which means I still worry.  I still have that voice (or voices) that caution me at every turn, but each time I do something that I’m not entirely comfortable with (like singing a solo part in a play or signing up for a race I may or may not be able to complete all the way across the country), the voices get quieter.  And when they do, I can hear MYSELF think.  I can hear what it is that I want.

eleanor roosevelt quote

the lesson for the day… and JOURNEY camp

The lesson for today is—whatever it is that you have been saying you want to do, you should go ahead and do it. Today. Because no matter how hard you think it will be, it probably won’t be as bad as you imagined, and you’ll almost always be glad you did it in the end.

I have been saying FOREVER that I really wanted to move my blog from GoDaddy to WordPress. For one thing, I hate GoDaddy’s advertising. I am clearly NOT their target audience. And for another, posting has always been a colossal pain in the butt. It took so long to load photos, and the site was often uncooperative, often for hours at a time. Posting sometimes felt like a monumental task.

I complained and griped and cursed and said, more times that I can count, “I hate this site! We have to move the blog.”

To which Rob replied, “Yeah, I know. It will be a huge project, but I’m willing if you want me to.” Rob is my tech guy. Otherwise, I probably would not be blogging. I probably wouldn’t have a computer at all. If he thought it was going to be a gargantuan task, it was probably more than I wanted to get into.

Then, two weeks ago, Rob calls, as I’m heading out the door for VBS and says, “We have a big problem.” That’s always my favorite kind of phone call.

Turns out, GoDaddy’s quickblogcast was going down. That night. A mere few hours from the phone call. And ten years of blog posts was going with it. Of course, I had saved my posts in Word documents, but I freaked out.

I went to VBS, and Rob got to work on moving ALL of my blog posts. It took just a couple of hours, and was much simpler than he had imagined. All the hours of painstaking work we had imagined turned out not to exist (thanks to WordPress), and I now have an amazingly simple site that loads photos automatically, is fairly intuitive (something really important for a non-tech person such as myself), and it looks pretty. If only we had done it sooner.

I’m looking forward to adding some features that, up until now, had been too much of a pain to put up, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the blog continues to change and unfold. Ten years. Wow.

By the way, several folks have asked me about Backyard Adventure Camp. I have decided not to offer a summer camp this year simply because summer sort of got away from me. The kids got out of school late, we had two summer camps, VBS, and a beach trip, and Harper Lee and I are participating in the community theater production of Little Shop of Horrors. Plus, I go back to work THREE weeks earlier than my kids. Like I said, it sort of got away in terms of how many things I’m actually able to do.

So we are foregoing summer camp at our house. At least for this year. Last year was a blast, so I would love to do it again at some point.

However, there is a new camp experience that local folks should be sure to check out. Journey Camp is right here in Elkin and is offering one-week (or multiple week) sessions throughout July and August. I went out to the camp earlier in the summer to look around and meet with the camp founder, Jennifer Bracey. The amount of love, energy and hard work that has gone into this camp is amazing, and she has a real passion for what she’s doing. I’m excited that I got the chance to meet with her and talk about her vision for the camp and the children.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here’s a quick peek at what it’s all about:

With positive sensory integration in the background—but at the heart—of all that we do, the goal of our inaugural year at JOURNEY Camp is to connect with the natural rhythm of your child’s nervous system. We will provide a safe, sensory-rich, and sacred space that will not only encourage them to explore the world around, but also empower their world within.

As we journey together, we hope to instill in your child a sense of adventure, the experience of wonder, and the courage to embrace diversity in themselves and in others. Whether your child will be with us for one week or many, we are excited about growing and learning together, and we are honored that you’ve chosen to spend this time with us!

For more information, you can find Jennifer and Journey Camp on Facebook or at Soul Compass Center.  I can tell you that there are goats, a garden, a labyrinth, a pool, an art shed, a meditation room, a workshop and LOTS of room to play outside.  It is totally my kind of place.

And, as promised, I’m putting together a few “real food” ideas and recipes for you guys to try. I’ll post those in a couple of days.

what are you waiting for?

I feel like I’ve been beaten with a 2×4—but I mean that in the best possible way. I raced the Challenge of Devil’s Garden on Saturday, a ten (or so) mile trail race at Stone Mountain that climbed the Mountains to Sea Trail toward the Devil’s Garden overlook on the Parkway. It was a pretty tough climb—18% grade for nearly a mile of it, which was hard enough going up and plain scary coming down—but it was a trail race, so it was awesome.

Image

Plus, there was good food and good company afterwards along with these awesome finisher prizes– the evil carrot.  

Thanks to Jason and Alison for a great race!

 

I placed 4th overall in the women’s division, and while I’m still not as fit as I want to be, I’m making progress. I plan to race the Trout Tattoo with Harper Lee again this coming Saturday. And, then, in August, I’m training for the New River duathlon. After that, my goal is pretty much to get as strong and fit as possible. I’ll pick out some races here and there with my sights set on a 2-day stage race in Pisgah National Forest at the beginning of November. I had decided that the longer ultra distances did not particularly interest me anymore. It’s not the kind of training I enjoy most. However, I have always wanted to do a stage race, and I DO love the adventurous quality of a really long trail run, so I’m going to do it.

 

Rob’s been riding like crazy and is in super great shape (I’m trying to catch up), and the kids have been running with me too. Harper Lee doesn’t love running as much as I do (though I think she could be really good at it), but I don’t pressure her about it. I just let her go when she wants. She likes the weird stuff—like the Trout Tattoo—and having her go with me is something I really enjoy.

 

It’s nice when your kids get old enough to go with you on runs and bike rides. Two weekends ago, we went up to the Virginia Creeper Trail for a 17-mile bike ride down the mountain. (If we go again, we will NOT be getting a shuttle to carry us up. It sort of makes us sick on our stomachs that we did that, but oh well… live and learn.) The way to go is to ride up and back, but it would probably be best on a weekday when hordes of people aren’t riding toward you on the downhill. At any rate, the fact that all four of us can now easily go on excursions together (without all the baby backpacks and bike trailers and jog strollers) makes life so much easier.

 

It also makes having kids a really poor excuse for not exercising. Kids actually make great workout partners. My friend, Karen, recently wrote a blog post about her family and their first 5K. It just goes to show that taking that first step out the door is all it takes. It’s not nearly as complicated as most folks make it out to be, and the rewards are immeasurable.

 

I also came across an article at Simple Homeschool the other day about working out with teens. I know several moms who drive their children to practices and workout sessions and spend countless hours every week dedicating themselves to their child’s health and well being but who also spend that precious time sitting and waiting. That’s time that could be used for both mom and child. I recently had an acquaintance tell me that she was planning to start running once she lost weight. This is backward thinking.

 

I completely understand the frustration of beginning. It’s hard. It feels like it will never be easier, that you’re just “not a runner.” I get it. Believe it or not, I started off that way too. Eighteen years ago, I drove to the Elkin Park and ran half a lap. I walked the other half. I did another half lap and walked half. Then I drove home. It was hard. I’m pretty sure it sucked, actually. It was slow and awkward and didn’t feel very good. I didn’t leave with a runner’s high. I felt like a slug.

 

I went back the next night.

 

And that’s the key. Going back. Showing up. Consistency.

 

If you are looking for a way to get started, to lose weight, to take control of your health, it’s pretty straight-up simple. Put your shoes on and go out the door. Start off slower than you think you should. Run for half a lap—or less—walk. Then do it again. Come back tomorrow. And the next day.

 

Take your kid with you. Don’t use them as an excuse for not getting outside. All children belong outside.   It’s their natural habitat. Let them go there, and go with them. Run. Walk. Talk. Look at the trees. Listen to the birds. Listen to the sound of your breath (labored though it may be) and the sound of your heart beating.

 

And if running isn’t your thing, hike up a mountain. Take your bike out of the garage. Go for a walk around the neighborhood. Go to a yoga class.   Don’t punish your body by saying it can only move the way it was meant to move if it loses weight first. You wouldn’t tell your child that. Why would you treat yourself so differently?

what’s your food culture?

 

We kicked off our Vacation Bible School last night with a
Big Heart Farms theme.  It centers around
the fruits of the spirit.  Afterwards,
our storyteller for the evening came to me and said, “What do you talk to your
kids about at home?” 

I took the sharp intake of breath that I usually take when
someone approaches me with a comment like that—and, yes, it happens often—and
said, “What do you mean?”

“Well, in Isaac’s almanac, he wrote:  NO FACTORY FARMING.  ONLY FREE RANGE CHICKENS!”

I laughed, partly because I have NO idea what the heck that
has to do with love, joy and peace (except for maybe the chickens) but also
because I have been on a bit of a kick lately.
I just read Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and so the subject of what we eat and
where it comes from has been the topic of many conversations. 

I’ve had it on my shelf for a while, and I skimmed it when I
first purchased it, but I didn’t actually sit down to read it until I was
hopped up on Prednisone for a sinus infection one night and couldn’t
sleep.  And I’m so glad I did.

Kingsolver and her family spent a year eating only what they
could grow or raise themselves or buy locally.
This meant a lot of seasonal eating (strawberries ONLY in May for
instance) and a lot of really hard work.
While I admire her efforts tremendously, I don’t have a desire to go
quite that far, but I have to tell you, reading the book really made me think
about what I’m buying and what each of those purchases entails.

I won’t bore you with too many details (though I have bored
my children to tears), but let’s just say that big business, and I mean BIG
business—the kind that is doing some pretty questionable, and I think
unethical, stuff to our food—is controlling what goes into our bodies.  That freaks me out.  Ever wonder why so many folks are gluten
intolerant now?  Why girls are going
through puberty earlier and earlier?  Why
cancer rates are sky-rocketing?  Why the
fruits and vegetables you buy in the store bear little resemblance to the
fruits and vegetables your grandpa grew in his garden in terms of color,
texture and flavor?  If so, you should
read this book.  And it’s not just fruits
and vegetables—animal based food production is even scarier.

Recently, my doctor gave some sound advice:  “If God made it, you can eat it.”  I agree with that philosophy
whole-heartedly.  She went on to say that
if it can sit on your shelf for more than two or three days, then you should
probably not eat it.  Makes sense.  And it’s advice I plan to follow.  The problem is it’s getting harder to tell
what God made and didn’t make exactly.
I’ve never been a fan of processed foods, and I’ve always advocated
eating whole, fresh foods that come in packaging made from nature, not plastic,
but with genetic modifications and overuse of antibiotics, the line is becoming
much less clear.  It’s enough to worry
someone to death if they let it. 

One of the most compelling arguments that Kingsolver makes
is that Americans lack what she refers to as a “food culture.”  Everyone talks about how the French eat
bread, cheese and wine and still manage to stay thin.  Well, part of that dynamic is that the bread,
cheese and wine are probably better quality (no Cheese-Whiz or Velveeta for
them), and when they eat, they do so at a table, surrounded by family and
friends and enjoying good conversation.
For them, eating is an experience, not something you do in the car
between scheduled events.   Other
cultures, like the Greeks or Italians, have rich foods too, but, again, there
is an art to the food.  Unlike a Big Mac.

It really got me thinking about our food culture—as a
family.  I grew up with a very strong
food culture.  It was not a Mediterranean
diet, by any means, but it was whole and fresh and, almost exclusively,
God-made.  We raised our own meat, our
own vegetables, and we hunted.  During
the summer, I ate food right off the tree or vine while it was still warm from
the sun.  Nothing from a grocery store
could touch that kind of flavor and goodness.
We took the time to cook, and meals were enjoyed together.

That’s what I want to take the time to create for my
children.  I don’t plan to eat quite the
same as my grandparents.  For instance, I
don’t fry a lot of fatback, but then, we don’t work in a tobacco field for ten
hours a day either, so some things are different.  But I can make sure that the food I prepare
is as close as I can get to local, fresh and God-made as possible.

For that reason, I grow and can and freeze a lot of my own
stuff.  I also try to buy from local
produce markets, paying special attention to where the food came
from—Wilkesboro, NC versus California.  And
I’ve reduced the amount of meat we consume, unless I know where it came
from.  I know that I can’t police every
little thing, and I’m not saying that I will never show my face in a McDonald’s
again, but I am making much more conscious choices about what I put on the
plate at each meal. 

You can drive yourself crazy if you worry about all the
toxins and poisons that are labeled “food” on our shelves, and in many
ways, some of it is really hard to avoid, but making educated decisions and
learning as much as you can about WHY making better choices is good for not
only your family but for the world in general is very important.

I, for one, have never liked having other people make choices
for me.  Knowing what’s really going on
with our food and making informed decisions about what I buy at the store is
one place I want control.  Check the
book out and find out more about eating REAL at Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

I’ll be posting links to recipes and whole food ideas on my
Facebook page and here at the blog.  And
I encourage you to share yours as well.

As Isaac might say, “No factory farming—only free range
children!” 

seeds of science

“Men love to wonder, and that is the seed of science.”  -Ralph Waldo Emerson
It might be a bit of an understatement to say that Isaac is a science guy.  This kids loves everything about science—chemistry in particular.  That’s why he’s been begging his daddy to bring home a chunk of dry ice for weeks.  Yesterday, Rob called and said he had stopped at Harris Teeter and was on his way home with 8 lbs. of dry ice in the back of the station wagon.

We donned our insulated winter gloves and a pair of goggles, found a pair of tongs and waited anxiously in the driveway.

After a  cautionary tale and a few ground rules, they proceeded to shove dinner preparations aside and get to the task of creating a scene from a 1940’s Lon Chaney film in my kitchen sink.  It was pretty awesome actually.  I had visions of hairy werewolf feet tip-toeing through the woods in the dead of night under the light of the full moon.  (It should be noted here that if you have not seen The Wolfman since you were a kid—or worse, you’ve never seen it all—you need to rent it tonight and make a big bowl of popcorn.  This is a classic horror film for the whole family.)

Isaac has mini-science labs set up in the barn, on the patio, in the mudroom, and in his room (though there was a ban on chemistry experiments in the bedroom once I discovered the graphite AND red food coloring that had been dumped on the carpet).  Now the bedroom lab is more for research and planning.

Libbert Laboratories- Planning and Research Department


Notice the hero and inspiration on the wall.  

Summer break is giving him plenty of time to draw blueprints, mix potions and build things– his favorite activities.  And it’s giving me time to weed the garden and plant a few more vegetables.  I’ve gotten a pretty late start this year, but better late than never.

The view across the road from the garden.  I love being out here.  


My cucumbers.  I also have 15 tomato plants this year.  I only bought and planted 4, but apparently, there were some seeds from last year.  So if you like tomatoes, I know where you can get some pretty soon.  

I feel a little bit like Dr. Doolittle in the garden.  I have to step around two cats, a dog and both goats every time I’m out there, but it’s nice to have the company.  The goats have become more of a problem since everything is up and doing well, so I sometimes have to shoo them out, which generally leads to Junebug fainting.  Silly goats.

What seeds are you planting this summer?

when the light comes again

 
*Ferns in my garden

It’s been really quiet around here, and my first

inclination is to explain where I’ve been and everything I’ve been doing, but it doesn’t
really matter.  Good things
have happened over the last six weeks, but I don’t want to give a list of everything.  I
don’t feel compelled to give a play-by-play of our daily doings around
the Libbert house anymore.

When I first began writing the blog, ten years ago, it was a
way for me to develop a regular writing practice.  I imagined writing mostly about running– hence the name, Running Monologue.  Over time, it became less about running and
more about life with my children.  I
wrote about our adventures in the woods, baking “mouse houses” and messy art
projects.  I kept the name, though, because isn’t that what life is?  Our own little running monologue.  Over the past year, however,
writing posts became something I struggled with.  A
lot.

Many of the posts felt a bit hollow, like a listing of all
the good things that were happening.  It
was, in essence, a way for me to keep the blog going and to remind myself of
all the goodness surrounding me while I was just trying to keep my head above
water.

The “dark place” consumed me, but
I wasn’t ready to write about that.  Most
of the time, when we face periods in our life when we are struggling or are not
at our best, we can’t really write about them or share what we’re going through
until we have come safely across to the other side.

I have come to the other side.  Yet I don’t feel particularly compelled
to share the full story.  I only mention
it now because an old friend said that my writing had taken on a
“Pollyanna-esque” quality, that I was painting a “my life is perfect and
here are all the cool things we’re doing” picture that others might view as
unobtainable or inauthentic.  Ironically,
the last thing I want to do in my writing is to be inauthentic.  But I knew she was right.  I knew when I was writing those posts that
what I was saying was not entirely real or accurate.  All of it was true, and as always, my family
was my saving grace, but there was a note of falseness to it simply because everything was not entirely rosy.

Blogging is a strange creative outlet in many ways.  I write about my life and give it to hundreds
of people I don’t necessarily know.  I
want to be authentic and real, and the reason I write is to share the things
I’m most passionate about while offering, I hope, a little inspiration and a
feeling of comraderie along the way.
Readers expect true stories and real life; however, no one really wants
to read a year-long diatribe on how miserable I was either.  Despite the fact that I blog, I
am, for the most part, a pretty private person, so I don’t share the dark
places too often.  Still, with
the advantage of hindsight and an amazing group of friends, I think it’s  important to a least recognize that things
aren’t always pure bliss.  That life is
messy.  That we get pissed off and angry
and irritable, and that we screw up.
Often.  That we cry when we know
we should be laughing.  That we want to
bury ourselves in the bed and hide out until Monday morning.  And that we feel pretty damned guilty for it.

If you’ve ever felt that way, you are not alone.  Not by a long shot.  And it’s not something to feel guilty
about.  It’s not shameful.  It just is what it is.

I took the past six weeks to hang out because I needed to write only for myself.  I didn’t want to write again until it was real.  And to be honest, I
haven’t felt like writing anything other than my journal.  Instead, I’ve
been pursuing new creative outlets, and much to my surprise, it’s been
awesome, liberating in many ways.  After years of saying, “I’d
really love to learn to play the fiddle,” Rob bought one for me, so I got a
teacher, and I’ve been taking lessons.  I
don’t practice like I should (echoes of childhood), but I have fun when I play,
and I can play several old Appalachian songs and hymns, which is what I most
wanted to learn.  It’s been really nice
to be a beginner again.  To not be the
teacher.  To learn.  I love the feeling of trying new things.

Then, in May, I participated in the Foothills Arts Council
production of Motherhood Out Loud, a
reader’s theater.  I both wrote a piece
to be performed and then actually performed several other pieces; it was a
blast.  I discovered that
I really like being on stage.  Who knew?

So, at the suggestion of our director, I auditioned for the
community’s summer musical, Little Shop
of Horrors
, and got a part.   Harper
Lee and I are both members of the ensemble, and I play Mrs. Luce.  It’s a small part but a great way to get my
feet wet, and I’m looking forward to trying something new with my favorite girl
this summer.

As school winds down this week, and we break into summer (my
favorite time of year!), I want to thank you for sticking around.  Thank you for bearing with Pollyanna posts—it
was as real as I could be at the time.
That’s not an excuse, just the truth.
You know as well as I do that while I love Pinterest, my life is not
Pinterest worthy.  It’s messy piles of
laundry, dirty socks on the floor, weird things growing in Isaac’s room, and
dog hair on the furniture.  It’s the
smell of wet running shoes and sweaty bike bibs.  It’s the exhaustion at the end of an
overscheduled day, which, by the way, I swore I wasn’t ever going to do again.  It’s real life, just like yours.  Don’t ever believe any different.

“Maybe
that’s what the night is for, just so’s we can know the difference when the
light comes again.”   -Howard, Bahr, The
Black Flower: A Novel of the Civil War

bound

Isaac spent the night with my friend Kate’s little boy a couple of weekends ago, and when she brought them to church the next day, she told me that Isaac had gotten up, along with her little boy, at 3:00 in the morning to “do his night creeping,” she said. 

Ah, yes.  The night creeping.  I’m familiar with it. 

Isaac has always liked to get up in the middle of the night and walk around the house in the dark.  He’s not sleep walking.  He’s just… creeping.  Sometimes he reads.  Sometimes he gets a cold glass of milk.  Sometimes he ends up falling asleep again in weird places– like the couch or the linen closet. 

“Why did you get up in the middle of night at Miss Kate’s?”  I asked.  “You can’t do that at other people’s houses.  They won’t invite you over again if you’re creeping around the house all hours of the night.”

“I can’t help it,” he said.  “My body is just bound to it.  You know what I mean?  Sometimes my body just has to do it.  I can’t help it.”

Yeah.  OK.  Whatever. 

I laughed and blew it off.  But then, while I was out on a long run, I thought about his words again.  “My body is just bound to it.”

Yeah.  OK.  I see.

This winter has been long and dark.  I mean, REALLY long and dark.  I know everyone has been saying, for weeks now, “I am so over this winter.”  I am too, but not for the same reasons.  For about nine months, I was in one of the worst places I’ve been in a long time.  Change and I have never been friends.  Ever.  I don’t do transitions well or easily.  And this year has been a big one.

One of the things that has always helped me out of my mental funks is running.  It has been a stress reliever and a time when I felt free and unburdened.  It was essential to my well being.

And, suddenly, not only was I in a mental funk, I also found myself in a running funk.  A desperate one.  I’ve had trouble with my  SI joint before, but despite the fact that I was running less, and consequently, slower and slower, it, and my butt and hamstring, kept getting worse.  Cold temperatures and a general malaise on my part didn’t exactly motivate me to get out the door either.

I was miserable.  Maybe even especially when I ran.  I hated it.

I really hated it.  I would start out the door, wrapped head to toe in winter gear (which I frickin’ hate, by the way), and have the cold wind rip through my pull-over like a knife, and I would scream, to no one in particular, “I hate this!  Why do I do this?  What’s the point?”  More than once I chided myself for being stupid, grade-A dumb-ass for limping along in the freezing wind and rain and snow while I not only didn’t improve, I actually got worse every single day.  It was not helping my depression.  But I kept going. 

I felt like every time I laced up my shoes, it was just one more thing I didn’t want to do.  One more thing that made me sigh and shudder deep down.  One more thing I felt I was screwing up.  Yet I kept lacing them up.  I kept going out the door. 

It was like, as Isaac said, “my body [was] just bound to it.”  I couldn’t make myself stop even when I wanted to. 



It’s become such a part of my identity.  I’m a runner.  Without it, even if it was making me miserable, I would lose part of myself.

Even after I began my climb out of “the hole,” as I’ve come to call it, I felt like crap when I was running.  I felt happier and more in control of my life in general, but running still sucked.  My hamstring hurt all the time.  I could barely sit on my butt bone for more than 15 minutes.  I thought I might die on that bus trip to Charleston.  By the time we hit Columbia, I looked like some sort of contortionist as I tried to wrangle myself into a semi-tolerable position.  And my running?  I was ashamed to even call it running.  It was more like a lop-sided hobble.

I know that times are relative. Against my friends, Jason and Alison, who are both national class, I don’t qualify as fast.  But a few years ago, I was pretty decent in the “moms with small children” category.  I wasn’t amazing or anything, but I did well and felt good about it.  Even when I was injured, I was motivated to keep going because I was fit and fast and didn’t want to lose that.  It’s hard to keep running when you’re hurt and good at what you do, but it’s murder if you’re both hurt AND you suck.

Now, I’m neither fit nor fast.  But I keep going.  It’s weird.  I decided multiple times this year to quit.  To take up hiking and yoga full-time.  To start mountain biking again.  I’d decide.  And then I’d go for a run.  And come back pissed off.  And then go again the next day.

Fortunately, I seem to be on the mend.  Finally.  Knock on wood.

I remembered that, after my last flare up, Dr. Fields prescribed Meloxicam for inflammation.  I dug furiously through the medicine cabinet and found a week’s worth of pills.  I took them and felt almost instant relief.  I got a refill.  If I could just get theinflammation under control,  maybe I could actually do the things necessary to get better.

I broke out the old rehab exercises and ankle weights.  They sucked several years ago, and they suck now, but they also worked several years ago, so I’m betting they’ll work this time too.

And I’m sticking to trails, which I have grown to love very much.  The one thing that probably kept me going during the Long Winter.  I’m putting the trails Rob cut this year to good use.  And Freckles has become an excellent trail running partner.  Bonus.

The long and short of it is this: I’ve come out of a very bad place, and I’m still running.  And it’s getting better every day.  I even planned my upcoming race calendar, something I haven’t done in ages.  And it’s all because I never quit.  I never let go.  I just couldn’t.  I guess I’m just bound to it.