Monday, October 25, 2010


As much as a week before the marathon I wasn't sure I'd be able to run it. I had developed a nagging hip flexor strain that wasn't improving with time or rest or advil or ice. In fact, the discomfort (which had spread to my quad and my knee) got so bad it woke me up out of a sound sleep a week before the race.

I lay in bed and brought myself to tears thinking that all of this training and hard work would be wasted. But what brought on a rush of tears was the possibility that my sweet little girls wouldn't see their mommy cross the finish line. I wanted them to be proud of me, to see what hard work can accomplish. I envisioned my 25th mile, knowing that Ava and Anna in their sweet little voices would be cheering for me. I was crushed to think that wouldn't happen.

I steadied my breathing and as quickly as the tears came on, they stopped. I had a different realization.

Teaching my girls how to handle disappointment was just as valuable a lesson as crossing the finish line of a marathon. 

I felt peaceful as I mulled this realization over. I had been perceiving my injury as a personal failure. I had done something wrong, wasn't careful enough, wasn't "strong" enough to just run through it. I messed up.

In my mind, not running=failed.

I worked over the next several days on two things:

1. Receiving treatment on my injury from a sports-related physician.
2. Changing my perception and accepting that not running was not failing.

To help with #2, I asked myself these questions, "How would you want your daughters to feel if this were them? How would you want them to react? What advice would you give them?"

And this is how I answered it:

I would want them to feel peaceful. I would want them to not be discouraged and to not be hard on themselves. I would want them to love themselves and get the care and the rest that they need, trust in God's plan, and surrender the outcome. I would want them to smile big and say to themselves, as they say now when milk spills or the last bite of cake drops on the floor, "well, sometimes that's just the way the cookie crumbles." 

We all know how this story ends. I ran the marathon. Fast. I crossed the finish line.

And there, waiting for me at the end were two of the most beautiful and kind and sensitive and sweet little girls I have ever met in my life.

I am quite sure that surrendering the outcome (and having more tape on my body than a piece of Ava's artwork) had something to do with my readiness to run. I am resting the injury now, which isn't an easy thing to do. But I know I will be stronger on the other side of it and I am looking forward to moving my body in different ways while it heals and gaining new perspectives along the way.

Considering the pain and fear and challenges and illnesses that too many people are dealing with today, writing about a hip flexor injury seems rather insensitive. As does the disappointment of my daughters not seeing me cross a finish line. Whoopdeedoo.

But the underlying realizations it prompted in me--acceptance, gratitude, selflessness-- will have much wider and deeper application in my life. I promise you that.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Boston Qualified

I did it.

I ran my personal best in the Baltimore Marathon yesterday: 3:38:38

My friend Erin and I have been rising at 4:15a most weekdays and every Saturday for the past four months to run in the dark, the heat, the cold, the heat, the wet, the heat--all so that we're back before the kids have been up for too long. We've run hills till our quads screamed and so fast till our lungs ached.

And it was worth every bit of lost sleep, every ounce of ache and pain.

I have much more to say about the race and especially the the last four miles (which really came down to an out-of-body experience.) This wasn't my first marathon, but it was definitely my most...memorable. So I really will get back to write more later this week. And post some pictures too.

But I also want to note that my little brother, who just started running in MAY, ran the marathon too. And I mean ran it. He didn't stop, didn't walk, didn't give up once.

So now I'm going to hobble up from this seat and make my way to the couch. And I'm going to force allow myself to do nothing but sit. For a bit.

Monday, August 30, 2010


It's been a busy summer, but it's been a fun one. In the midst of it all, we moved. I wish I could say that we're settled in.

I mean, we're happy and spread out. Which counts for a lot.

But we're nowhere near unpacked and put away.

The neighborhood is wonderful and the people are great. Everything you hope for in a home for your children. There's one set of neighbors that we haven't met yet. They have a dog and drive a minivan, cut their lawn and go to work. I've exchanged hello's with the woman a few times--usually before sunrise on my return from a sweaty and out-of-breath hard run. But nothing more than that.

Until yesterday.

Anna had woken up early that morning, so we were dressed and fed and on the driveway with sidewalk chalk by 8a.

Anna was puttering around, chalk in one hand, a stick in the other. Talking about bikes and birds and pointing to "peens" (airplanes). It was a beautiful morning. Quiet and bright, but soft-feeling.

Ava was sitting on the pavement, describing the picture she was drawing. This will be hugely relevant in a minute. It was a very intriguing and moving picture, one that you wouldn't expect from a four-year-old. Hearts and flowers and people, sure. But not this.

As Ava and I were talking about her picture, I hadn't noticed that our neighbor (I'll call her Jane) had gotten into her car and began backing out of her driveway.

Ava and I were still discussing her picture when I looked up to wave to Jane, only to see her out of her car now, walking up to our house.

"I'm so sorry I haven't been over to meet you or your girls yet," she began.

I immediately put her at ease, reminding her that we hadn't exactly been over to meet her yet, either.

Then we got to talking about the girls and preschool and our decision to send Ava to our Catholic parish preschool. She said that she and her husband had made the same decision for their children and didn't regret it for a minute.

Then, we started talking more about her kids. I had seen two college-age boys and asked her how the transition from K-8 school to competitive high schools was for them. She answered me and then hesitated for a minute before beginning again.

"But for my you know about my daughter?" she asked.

I shook my head sensing there was pain there.

This is when she started to tear up, telling me the story that would break my heart right there on that perfect early summer morning: her 14 year old daughter had died from a brain tumor less than two years ago. She attended high school for two weeks before falling too sick to continue. She passed away two months later.

She admitted that the loss was a big reason why she had not been over to see us yet, "one of the first questions that people usually ask is how many children we have. I dread having to answer that."

I touched her arm, "Faith must be a very important part of your life now."

"It is," she said. "Every week Father Donald tells me something that I need to hear. Like last week, he told us all that we are reunited with our loved ones in heaven. I've heard it over and over and I can't hear it enough. I've been holding onto that all week. I have to."

Then I began to tell her about the picture that Ava had just drawn, was in the midst of drawing.

"Jane" I started, "do you know what Ava started drawing while you were walking to your car this morning and then was finishing as you were walking up our driveway?"

She looked at me, intrigued.

"She was drawing Jesus on the Cross. When I asked her why she was drawing Jesus, she told me because she 'thinks about him a lot'...about how he died and then came back to us. As you were parking your car in front of her house, we were talking about His spirit. That even though we can't see him, He is always with us."

There was more discussion after that. About heaven. Ava understands that heaven is a beautiful place, "a place where you get to do all of your favorite things all of the time." It's not a scary place for her at all. Thunderstorms she'll run from and scream at, but heaven is peace to her.

I can't convey in words the experience that Jane and I and our daughters--all of them--had that morning,  but we were all together on that driveway, among the bikes and the birds and the "peens."

May God Bless You Today too...and may you feel His spirit and love all around you.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Spring is coming it's coming IT'S COMING.

And bringing lots of inspiration with it, such as:

  1. A perfectly pristine car interior. This morning, as I was getting out of my salty cheerio-infested, blankets-and-burpcloths-everywhere car in the Starbucks parking lot (with a handful of garbage to toss mind you) I was face to face with the interior of a cute little uncluttered Honda next to me. Not a speck of dirt or crumb to be seen, only a stylish little black and white clutch perfectly perched in the back seat.
  2. Books. Not just any books, but ones that I MADE. Tonight I will attend the second of a two-part bookmaking class. Finally, I can stop spending (tons of) money on journals that don't quite meet my need and actually make them myself. Next up? Letter press.
  3. Ballet-dancing with my daughter. She loves it (ballet that is, not necessarily ME dancing with HER). We've got a pad out on the deck that works just perfectly for spinning and plie'-ing. She's teaching my how to tondue later this afternoon.
  4. Little mouths talking. TALKING! Little baby doll is sounding out all kinds of words and is quite delighted with herself for it. Her favorite? Good Girl, Go Go Go!, and You (ooh) did it! I'll get a video posted of it soon.
  5. Outdoor Running. For a while, we weren't sleeping (long story), feeling well (even longer) or running (treadmill just doesn't count sometimes). BASIC NEEDS WERE NOT BEING MET PEOPLE. But now? Long strides, crisp fresh air, and miles and miles of wide open road. It feels sooooooooo good.
How about you? What's inspiring you?

Thursday, February 18, 2010


It's a different sound today, but it's still a great one (see previous post). Do you hear it? It's the trickle trickle trickle of snow mountains MELTING and the ever so slight whisper of the wind blowing. The sun is out, the sky is clear, and the windows. are. OPEN.

We're still digging out from 60+ inches of snow that fell in less than five (five!) days. It's been two weeks since the last snow fall, or has it only been a week. I'm not sure. It's all a blur. Either way, our street has yet to be professionally plowed and that seems a little ridiculous to me after 14 DAYS. Fortunately, all of the neighbors put aside petty gripes and engaged in some team-building after the first snowfall*. We managed to shovel, yes shovel, a path out of our street, which I never considered a particularly long street until we had to shovel it. It's the Amazon people.

Oh, and the three-point turn that was the death of me in drivers ed has got NOTHING on the 10-point turn required to get out of the driveway. I'm getting so good at it I'm considering a NASCAR career, except that I guess in NASCAR you just drive really fast. So, never mind. But I'm considering a career in something that requires skilled maneuvering. UPS maybe? I do have a fondness for brown...

So what do you do when you're snowed in up to your ears and its near Valentine's Day so there's sugar and chocolate everywhere and your three-year-old has an especially sweet tooth? You join her in eating it, bounce off the walls for a bit of exercise, and then give it up for Lent.

(Oh, you can also make really kick-a*s tunnels, too).

*The first snowfall dumped 38 inches in about 24 hours. The second snowfall (three days later) dumped 26 inches and brought 50 mph wind gusts with it).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

pretty sure

Do you hear that?

Of course you don't because there is NOTHING to hear!

It is quiet. Silent. Void of any crib shaking, doll breaking, how-many-more-minutes-do-I-have-to-sleep asking.

My girls are actually asleep at the SAME TIME. (and I'm not saying this out loud, but it's been more than 10 minutes.)

So what am I doing? Well, I poured a cold cup of coffee, microwaved it pipin' hot, and should've saddled up to the computer to work, to write, to plan but instead, I'm writing to you (well, those of you who are left) because I've abandoned "should've" for this decade and am pursuing creative.

:: Pre-Nap Entertainment::

Our friend Melissa left some treats on our doorstep this morning. It took big sister all of about three seconds to hone in on the prize treat: m&m chocolate chip cookies. I've got to hand it to the kid. She's got more restraint than I do, "Mommy, can I have one after my lunch?"

Sure thing kid, but I'll be damned if I'm waiting til after MY lunch to have one.

We finish up lunch, crumbs and kidney beans everywhere (little sister's contribution to clean up efforts) when big sister pipes up like Rod from the Price is Right: Come on down, your the next contestant on the Price is Right! except her version goes like this:

"Guess what time it is, mommy!?!"

"Oh is it nap time already?" Her father is rubbing off on me. I mess with that little girl waaaay too much.

"Nooooooooooooooooooooo Mommmmmmmmmy!" (panic ensues) "It's time for my cookie!" There are tears.

"Oh...I almost forgot."

She smiles, "Mommy, you were just teasing."


"Hey, why don't you go potty first. I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy your cookie more if you get over the pee pee dance."

"No. I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy it more if I don't."

End of discussion.