Friday, October 28, 2011

gone

So much of revision, I've discovered, is about coming to terms with that word: gone. Letting things go. ... the professional writer mercilessly lops off limbs, rips out innards like party streamers, drains away gallons of blood, and then calls down the lightning to bring the body back to life.

-Benjamin Percy in Home Improvement

Love the violence of his imagining of revision. Reminds me to get dirty, get extreme in this process of writing and of life. Good things come that way.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

it's always where i'm not

I've been feeling particularly nostalgic (read: homesick) this fall. A few weeks ago I had two pumpkin chocolate chip loaves in the oven (one regular, one gluten-free), and if I'd taken a nap while they were baking, I might have woken up thinking it was Thanksgiving at my parents' house. I wanted a cool breeze and crunchy leaves, but instead I opened a window to get some air flowing in the house, stuffy from the 80+ degree weather outside.

Home is a finicky idea. It wants everything that's good and comforting and heartbreaking, all history and future, the fullness of desire all stuffed into one place that is everywhere and everyone all at once. Mine demands snow and palm trees, my nieces and nephews along with my new goddaughter, turkey tetrazzini and a Tawainese feast.

And it is always where I'm not. 

Placating the senses might just stave off the irrational booking of plane flights, so here's my plan:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

mantras


I remember when I first started running in high school it was a simple endeavor. Old t-shirts, sans music, little consideration for distance or pace — it was just me and the long roads that ran along sprawling farms and over quiet creaks, sometimes weaving into small neighborhoods of humble houses. I did it for exercise and nothing else. I had some favorite routes, and sometimes made it a destination game, running to my church or my grandparents’ house, both about three miles from where I lived then. The frames that flash into my memory from those times are of bright sunny days, running alone in the beauty of southeastern Pennsylvania. While I didn’t consciously set those times aside to commune with nature, I treasured the quiet and made a point to pray during most of those runs. Not a striving prayer to get God’s attention (which I often find myself leaning towards these days) but simple conversation with God.

During my second year of college I embarked on a new running kick, and things had changed: I ran through different farmland and around my college town, I mapped out routes for hills and distance — and music was essential. I made a mix tape especially for running, a soundtrack that pumped me up and kept me motivated.

Now I have an ipod, running headphones, a pace tracker and athletic gear I’ve bought to make my runs more comfortable (and, let’s face it, me more stylish…). I have goals that I want to reach. And though I listen to music, I have mantras that I repeat to myself for when the running is hard. Lean into it is for tough hills, and strong legs, strong mind reminds me that I have no reason to stop. Stretch pushes me to do things I think are beyond me, even when it’s hard and painful.

Mantras speak to the fact that running is often not about physical endurance, but mental toughness. They also remind me how powerful words are, that they often help to determine our mood, our decisions, our creativity and our relationships.

I read that Meb Keflezighi, an Olympian who earned silver in the marathon at that 2004 summer Olympics and won the 2009 New York City Marathon, uses the Lord’s Prayer as his mantra. It reminded me of how running used to be time to be with God, and how easily those times get crowded out by other things as life has become more complex. It also struck me because it’s so God-centered, while most of my mantras are about me — finishing, staying strong, being great. And how I need a mantra in life because I have goals that I need to reach and many times more complexities to wade through and avoid to keep it simple and stay focused.

Do you have a mantra — in sport or in life? What is it, or would it be?       

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

recently

I have been away from the blog. Not on purpose, though. I'm trying to drum up some new ideas and some writing to go with it, and unfortunately my inner editor too often deems these things not worth sharing. Bloggers are prolific and there are so many great ones out there that when I get ready to put something here, I roll my own eyes in boredom and imagine my two readers doing the same. (Yes, I'm being just a bit facetious. But just a bit.)

To break up my stale rhythm and to share with you a few more personal, daily tidbits, here is a short list of what I've been seeing/reading/eating/desiring/doing recently...

Greek food is a favorite, and I've been making renditions of Greek salads for lunch. There was the traditional, the quinoa, and now the Mediterranean Crunch Salad, which is my favorite so far. Kale and thyme, who would have thought?

Just read this lovely little piece this morning about showing compassion through food. The explanation? As always, the six year old nails it, "Because when they eat it, it goes inside them and then they know you love them, right?"

Reading about South Africa. Intense.

Watching about Baltimore. Also intense, but McNulty provides some levity. Can't help but love that rascal.

This week I"m moving offices at work, and if I crane my neck I can see the Hollywood sign out my window. 

This article on coaching was interesting, I thought. I wholeheartedly agree!

I've added some new music to my running playlist (don't judge) and have been enjoying some longer runs. I might subconsciously be training for something big. Maybe. We'll see.