Running Monologue

Stories from the trail…


Well, it’s my birthday, so this seems as good a day to revive this little thing as any.

I’ve started to write a thousand times, but then, I stop.  Unsure of whether I want to write, if I have anything to say, if I want to “put it out there,” I’ve chosen to stay silent.  But I miss it at times.

So, here I am, on my 44th birthday, thinking about the year that has passed and the one that is to come.  I think birthdays are even better than New Year’s in terms of celebrating the accomplishments of the past and looking ahead to new goals.

Some of the biggies of 43:

  • Yadkin Valley Community School
  • Foothills Theater productions of “Road Trip” and “Olivia deHavilland’s Birthday” (both original plays by my friend, Leighanne Wright.)
  • San Francisco
  • Both kids on swim team
  • The Flying Spider and The Moon Bear (both night races, both crazy, both absolute do-agains)
  • 3-day hike on the AT with Crystal and Michelle– AWESOME!!!
  • Trip to D.C. and Annapolis
  • Dominican Republic
  • Interviewed by Jamie Ridler
  • Writing Retreat
  • Scout
  • Poetry reading
  • Listen to Your Mother- Raleigh
  • Isaac’s first NC Science Olympiad
  • Harper’s last year of middle school

I spent today doing exactly what I wanted to do.  I slept in– sort of (6:45 is about an hour longer than usual), I went for a long, long run with Deanne at Stone Mtn., I worked in my yard and potted plants, and we went to the Elkin Roots Music Festival down at the park, which was really good.  It was laid-back and relaxing, something I have needed for a while now.

The spring has been performance heavy, and while it’s been a thrill and the shows have been some of my favorite experiences, I’m sort of coming down from the high and in need of some introverted time to myself.  The end of the school year always tends to do that to me anyway.

As I go into summer– my all-time favorite season–, I’m thinking about what I want more of, not just this summer but also all year.  What do I look forward to during my 44th year?  Well, as I’ve learned, there will be things that I can’t even imagine right now, and that’s part of the wonder and glory of a new year.  But I know of a few things I want to include in between– Lord willing, and the creek don’t rise.

For sure, I want more crazy race events.  The number of races I’ve participated in this year is down dramatically from the past.  This is mostly because I have been super frustrated with a Sybil-esque approach to training that I’ve had for quite a while now.  I KNOW what it takes to be good, to get fast, and yet… I just can’t seem to get motivated (or stay that way) when it comes to my training.  Depending on the time of year, the level of commitments and my pesky hamstring, I swing wildly between plans to run a fast 5K again to running crazy three-day stage races across mountain ranges to becoming a yogi/mountain bike chick.  What?  Exactly.  I have been consistently inconsistent in both my goals and my training.

I’ve spent a LOT of time contemplating this.  And here’s what I think I’ve decided (mind you, this is subject to change by morning)– I want to feel good and have lots of energy and do what I want to do when I want to do it.  Yeah, that’s about it.  I want to be strong and able to run up mountains whenever I darned well please.  I want to jump in the river, ride a bike for miles and miles, load up a pack and hike for several days, and break a healthy sweat on a regular basis (because, I gotta tell you, people, NOT sweating is far more gross than sweating).

I think, to put it in a nutshell, I have dreams of being a gainfully employed “dirtbag” with medical insurance and house payments.

I am not in a position, nor am I particularly inclined, to live the life of the typical subject of one of my favorite podcasts, The Dirtbag Diaries, BUT… I do love the idea of outdoor adventure and pushing myself, of getting to my perceived limit and going beyond it.  Right now, that looks like trail races (the weirder, the better), establishing a regular yoga practice, hiking, fastpacking, mountain biking, swimming in rivers, camping, and the occasional Spartan workout for strength.

So my goal for 44 is to get in the best shape I can without obsessing over every bite or worrying about doing a hill workout when what I really want to do is an hour of yoga.  My goal is to be fit and strong and outside as much as possible.  (My goals also include less time on the phone and Facebook– not that I’m on either very much as it is, but it’s enough to be annoying.  I mean, I can only take so much political commentary and group texts.  Being outside with the kids or on a trail with the dog sounds way better for my mental health.)

I like challenges.  So this is my challenge.  To be a middle-aged, psuedo-dirtbag.  And my other challenge is to write about it.  Honestly.  Even when I hit the inevitable low-mileage week when all I want after work is a cold beer and a marathon of “The West Wing” on Netflix.  Even when all the unexpected things of 44 come along.




Listen To Your Mother


Here we are– the Raleigh/Durham cast of Listen To Your Mother.

I am so excited to be part of this group of women.  When the mom of a high school friend (big shout-out to Ann Lawrance!) messaged me with information about the upcoming Raleigh auditions for Listen To Your Mother, I jumped at the chance even though I didn’t think I had a shot in hell of making it.  I thought it would be one of those good life experiences, stretching beyond my comfort zone.  And it was, but the bonus is that I actually made it, and now I find myself surrounded by these amazing women and their incredible stories.

The show is at Meredith College on Wednesday, May 4 at 7:30.

Tickets are on sale here.  Come see us.  It’s going to be a great time!

Little Ripples



Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralyzed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds’ wings. -Rumi



Nothing Much and Everything

Another writing retreat in the books.  Another chance to come home newly inspired.

What’s inspiring me now…

Succulents and container gardens

succulents 1

I love Pinterest.

Ink illustrations… I’m teaching myself.


Mermaid Prayer

girl noir

Girl Noir

picasso copy


Movies as usual…

The Mystery of Picasso, a 1956 documentary about his process


Finding Traction

And this…

boo's stuff

Nelle Harper Lee

April 28, 1926 – February 19, 2016

harper lee quote

“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

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