Running Monologue

Stories from the trail…

“and the moon rose over an open field…”

Saturday night, I climbed to the top of Hanging Rock (and several other peaks), turned off my head lamp and looked out on the lights of Mt. Airy, Pilot Mtn., King and Winston-Salem.  Bathed in moonlight, the silhouette of the pine trees moved with the wind, and the stars shone bright and clear.  I sat down on the rock and stared up at the night sky, felt the cold wind on my face and smiled.  What a blessing to see such wonders.  To have a strong, healthy body.  To have friends who will climb mountains with me at midnight in the middle of January.

We climbed and ran and hiked (mostly hiked) several peaks for the first five hours of a long night and then headed back to the warmth of a crowded but cozy cabin for hot soup and warm bread and a spot in the corner with a warm sleeping bag.  Crystal and Michelle got up an hour and half later and went out for three more peaks, but I stayed snuggled in for a while longer.  Before dawn, I was up again, and we started up the mountain for sunrise.

We didn’t expect to see the actual sun.  The wind had come in during the night, bringing with it heavy clouds, so seeing the first rays of morning were probably not in the cards.  What we did get, when we opened the front door, was a fluffy snowfall, the first of the year.  With our headlamps on, we began the trek through the snowy darkness to the top of the mountain.  Halfway up, the sky lightened, and we cut our lamps off and enjoyed the silent woods.  I’m not sure if there’s anything I enjoy as much as hiking or running in falling snow in the woods.

By the time we got to the top of Moore’s Knob, there was no view.  From the lookout tower, the area looked like a huge grey abyss.  There were eight of us on top.  No one else was around.  We saw things that morning that most other people, sleeping in their beds, did not.  It was quiet and peaceful and a gift from God.  If that won’t get you up in the morning, what else could?

As we made our way back down the mountain, eagerly anticipating hot coffee and Crystal’s breakfast casserole in the crock pot, we paused for a moment to take a group photo and catch a few snowflakes.

moon bear snow sm

16 miles, 9 peaks, memories for a lifetime.  Here’s to a new year of adventure.


damn the torpedoes… or viruses

For Christmas this year, I got new towels, new jammies, some cool soaps, and a demon stomach virus from hell. And you know what I hate most about those sneaky viruses? You never know when they’ll hit. They come out of nowhere, like right in the middle of your much anticipated glass of wine and John Wayne marathon on Christmas Day. One minute, you’re basking in the glow of Christmas lights. The next, you’re puking your guts out over the toilet. And as if that weren’t enough, it lasts. For days. Maybe not the puking. But the general “I can’t lift my head off this pillow” feeling. In short, it sucks, and I was pretty sure it had completely fouled up our Christmas break.

Stomach viruses have always been my Achilles heel. I fully expect one to kill me in my old age. But this one lasted for a particularly long time, which meant after a week, the kids were pretty bored, and frankly, so was I. There are only so many episodes of Outlander that one can watch. (And by the way, if I told you to watch that show and raved about how awesome it was, I retract that statement. I hereby warn you to avoid the last part of the entire season. Just walk away. I might not recover, and I don’t want to be responsible for anyone else being psychologically or emotionally damaged.)

Anyway, I thought the New Year was going to be a bust. But Rob being Rob, he called me up on New Year’s Eve and said, “Let’s go to DC and Annapolis this afternoon.” OK.

It was AWESOME! And by New Year’s Day, my stomach had recovered enough to actually enjoy food again.

We stayed the night in Harrisonburg, Virginia where the kids could swim and we ordered pizza and watched the ball drop. Not bad.   Then we headed into DC for New Year’s Day. We stopped in at the Air and Space Museum Annex out at Dulles Airport and saw Discovery and the Enola Gay. The Enola Gay was high on the priority list for Isaac and me. I have always been a WWII fan, but Isaac loves it too, and we have read several books about the war together as part of our nightly bedtime routine—everything from Navajo Code Talkers to the development of the atomic bomb. It was pretty cool to see in real life.

enola gay

Then we headed up to the American Indian Museum at the Smithsonian. Also cool. Harper Lee had been with her 7th grade class last year and highly recommended it. I found the history of treaties exhibit the most interesting. It was heart-breaking.

clavert house

Afterwards, we drove up to Annapolis and stayed at the Governor Calvert House. Annapolis is a super cool town, and we mostly spent the next two days kicking around and exploring the area and eating good seafood. Part of the kicking around included a tour of the Naval Academy. I know that Rob took us mostly so Harper Lee could see the campus. (It’s our first of many college tours.) But I think I was the one who was most impressed. I LOVED the whole “tradition of excellence” vibe. Hard-core stuff. And a beautiful and impressive campus. The facilities were awesome (Harper and I did a quick lap around the track and then she played around on the soccer field a bit.), and the tomb of John Paul Jones was spectacular.

me and HL- run

Oddly, the thing that stuck with me the most, however, was the 32’ diving platform that ALL students must drop from in order to learn how to abandon ship. It made my stomach lurch just looking at it, and apparently, it’s a kind of rite of passage that makes more than a few plebes weak in the knees. I had dreams about it all night last night.

navy track

On the way home today, we stopped in at the NRA Museum where we saw several absolute works of art. There really were some beautiful pieces. I also saw John Wayne’s costume and eye patch from True Grit as well as the guns from Big Jake. I was pretty psyched. There were several pieces from Clark Gable’s personal collection and guns used by everyone from William Holden to Ronald Colman. It was a movie nerd moment. Big time.

john wayne stuff

I’m writing this as we ride down the Interstate towards home. Now I’m ready for a new semester. The break wasn’t exactly what I had expected, but it all worked out in the end. It was a great way to start a new year. 2016—a whole new year of adventure and possibility.

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

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