Alphabet Advice

 

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Ask questions.

Be kind.

Create.  A poem, a garden, a quilt: create what makes you happy.

Doodle often and let your mind wander.

Explore the world around you.

Find happiness.

Go for a run.

Hug your kid often.

Inspire others to be their best.

Jump life’s puddles.

Keep it real.

Love well.

Make a joyful noise.

Never say never.

Open your eyes.

Pick your friends carefully.

Quit whining.

Read a book.  Read MANY books!

Slow down.  Breathe.  Create calm.

Think before you speak.

Use a napkin.

Vanquish negativity.

Write letters – the real kind.  Use a stamp!

X-marks the spot.  Find a place that makes you happy.

Yield when necessary.

Zigzag.  Take time to wander off the path.

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Writing. . . sort of.

 

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Photo taken from: http://centrum..org/programs/writing/

 

Many times in my life I have wished that I had the creativity and skills to write a book.  Specifically a children’s book.  Or a fun book.  That’s never happened.  I’m a “science person” so writing a text book would probably actually be much easier for me.  I write reflectively somewhat regularly, but never any “creative writing” aside from random poetry that pops into my head, usually when I am driving, and never ever makes it onto paper.  A few weeks ago, I began receiving a daily writing prompt email.  Most I ignore. But one sort of sparked my imagination.   What would betrayal taste like?   Hmmmm. Think about that.  Would it be bitter?  Or might it taste like something totally unexpected? I did my first “creative writing”  since I probably had to write a short story in high school.  (Does 778 words even count as a short story?) And putting it out here for anyone to read is – well a lot of things – scary being the biggest.

The Taste of Betrayal

Claire missed the signs.  They were all there in plain sight.  Well mostly, if she had only taken the time to see them.  She just missed the elevator as she headed home for the day, its door closing silently while its occupants avoided eye contact.  Deciding to splurge on a cab in honor of the occasion, she made a beeline towards the curb only to have her cab snatched away by a hurried man in a suit just as she approached.  Another car sped past creating a drenching spray of rainwater and city grime.  Claire found herself in a “Bridget Jones” moment.  Resigned, Claire popped up her umbrella and began the thirteen block walk to her apartment, her mind on the evening ahead.

Claire met Alex over a tray of appetizers at a party eighteen months ago, their attraction immediate and mutual.  The last year and a half had flown by as they got to know each other.  They spent quiet nights at home, long weekends out of town, Sunday walks through the park, lazy mornings in bed with coffee and the newspaper.  It didn’t matter what they did, they enjoyed doing it together.  Theirs was a relationship that made their friends green with envy.

Shaking the water off her umbrella, Claire stepped into her small apartment.  The gloomy fall afternoon light cast shadows over her small living room.  Snapping on the vintage lamp on her end table, a great thrift store find from one of her adventures with Alex, she rifled through the mail stopping at the pink envelope.  Real mail!  Not email.  Not a text message.  Not a rushed voicemail.  It was an honest, old-fashioned bit of correspondence, a birthday card from her favorite aunt.   “Claire, Do something fabulous on your birthday!  Much love, Aunt Martha.”

Today is Claire’s 30th birthday.  A milestone in life where, according to most people, she should have found herself in a house in the suburbs, married with a fabulous career, and 2.5 children.   Instead she lived in a small third-story walk up in the lower east side and worked as a receptionist for a small magazine.  But she had Alex.  She truly loved her job.  She had possibilities.

The last month had been challenging.  Alex’s corporate job often took him out of town for a few days at a time, but lately there had been even more travel, leaving a little Claire adrift.   But tonight Alex would be home and things could get back to normal.   Claire busied herself and changed into her favorite  black dress, a fitted illusion-sleeve bodice covered with whimsical dots and a gathered-at-the-waist flared skirt.  Beautiful, flirty, and classic all in one dress.  At the time, it was a big Nordstrom purchase on her small, overly-stretched budget.  But tonight, it seemed to perfect for the occasion:  a quiet dinner with Alex at one of her favorite restaurants.   Claire made a last minute check of her hair and makeup, grabbed her purse, and headed out to hail a taxi.

Arriving at the quaint bistro ahead of schedule, Claire was surprised to find Alex already there and seated at their favorite table. A bottle of untouched wine waited on the table while Alex checked messages on his phone.  Catching a glimpse of Claire, Alex rose and brushed her cheek with a kiss as she settled herself into her chair. These plans made two months ago, she’d been looking forward to this all day.  They chatted casually through dinner, the conversation of two people comfortable with each other:  work things, crazy wet fall weather, catch-up about friends.

But it was the mention of one particular friend over desert that caused the atmosphere to shift from comfortable and casual to something else entirely.  For a moment, Claire’s world shifted, a small tilt on its axis that caused her to stop, pause, and assess that tiny flip in her gut and those red flags starting to wave.  Alex avoided eye contact, was clearly nervous and fidgeted with his napkin.  The silence at the table uncomfortable as Alex shrugged off the waiter’s attention.  Finally, after several long moments, Alex spoke and attempted to explain himself, his words coming out in a rush, Claire only catching bits of the jumble.

“I never meant for it to happen.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“Please understand. . . “

And the worst words of all,  “I’m in love with her.”

Claire gathered her belongings and calmly walked to the door, only rushing when she was sure he couldn’t see her.  In the taxi on the way home, as tears silently rolled down her cheeks, Claire realized that, forever after, betrayal would taste like lemon cake.

Run and Be Happy

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Rabbit.  Rabbit.  Rabbit.

Here it is February 1st already.  And I’m still staying true to my resolutions.  I have actually increased my yoga home practice as well as added some beginning Pilates.  But there’s one thing I haven’t addressed yet.   Running.

I ran track in high school.  I was a slightly above average “half-miler”.  We still called it the 880 then – that’s how old I am.  I trained more with the distance girls than the sprinters and occasionally ran a leg of the mile relay.  I was so NOT a sprinter!!! I have to admit that I loved the training for track but hated the races.  I wanted to quit almost every day of my sophomore year but it wasn’t allowed.  I had to stick it out.  I’m glad there was the no quitting rule at our house.  Today I am glad.  At the time I was miserable.

In college I ran for “fun”.  I know that some people think that’s laughable.  Or a lot crazy. Maybe both.  But I did find that when I was angry or troubled lacing up the shoes and hitting the road were really helpful.  I’m not sure it ever solved any problems but for that time I was running the issues weren’t issues at all.  And there was something quite peaceful about an empty track at night.

Fast-forward a few years and I was a young, working mother with no time to run.  I gave it a few shots but just found it really hard to work into a busy schedule.  When my son was in 6th grade he joined the junior high cross country team.  And that’s when my running “career” took off again.  It was a necessity.  Anyone who has ever been to a cross country meet knows that the only way to see your child run is to run yourself around the course to different vantage points.  After a few weeks of huffing and puffing, I knew it was time to make a change.  I was still teaching, but I committed to making it work.  In the years I’d taken off, a wonderful thing called the Couch to 5K had come about and it was just what I needed.  It’s evolved from just a plan to  a podcast to an app.  It’s my go-to app for starting up again after a few months off.

Once I left the classroom and had more time, I took my exercise much more seriously. I’ve never really been one for classes.  I’ve tried a few over the years.  Zumba was a disaster!  I learned to love running again.  And then on Halloween 2014 I had an accident that changed everything.  I crushed a vertebra, fractured my sternum, and broke a rib.  Doctors thought I’d been in a car accident and wasn’t telling the truth.  Nope.  I went down a slide.  A big, fast, curvy slide on a playground with a crash and burn landing at the bottom.  I know that I’m so very fortunate that I am walking and doing pretty much what I want. Initially I was told I couldn’t run for 6 months.  You know how when someone tells you that you can’t do something and then that’s all you want to do?  That was me.

The six month marker rolled around and I even then I knew I wasn’t really ready.  It was the middle of summer and I’ve never run much in the hottest of months anyway because of my asthma.  So I cooled my heels until September when I gave it a shot.  The first week went well.  So well that I was really quite thrilled.  The second week was hell.  EVERY SINGLE STEP hurt my back. I felt crushed.  That wasn’t helped by the unpleasant conversations with my doctor who told me  to “get used to the pain” and that my “life has changed”.  That’s when I turned to my surgeon and PT back in Germany and started making some changes.  (Yoga has been the biggest.)  But I hadn’t run again.  Let me tell you, fear really does suck!

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So today I woke up and started thinking about my day and what I was going to do. And I was tired.  And it was cold.  (Can you hear the whining?)  But I decided to give it another try because if I waited for the perfect time . . .  well that probably never happens, right?

Winter running 2

It went well.  I started with week 2.   But ran an extra 4 minutes at the end.  It was cold, but not too cold. I’ve always been more of a cold weather runner and that has it’s own advantages:

  1.  There’s just not many people out on the streets and sidewalks.  This morning I saw one other runner.  One walker and another walking her dog.   And since school is in session and I went after the start time, there’s not much car traffic either.  Avoiding the indoor treadmill at the gym means less exposure to those nasty winter  cold and flu “bugs”. (Treadmills have always hurt my back – even before surgery so I avoid them all year.)  I used to love running in snow but the fear of falling made me wait until our recent snow was gone.  But who know, maybe I’ll get brave and try it again some day.
  2. Cold weather running is far less stressful on your body than hot, humid weather and can improve your endurance plus you can burn more calories since your body is working more to keep your temperature elevated.  That’s a win-win situation.
  3. Running releases “feel good” endorphines that help elevate mood during the cold winter months so it’s a cure for those “winter blues”.  Plus you get your daily dose of vitamin D.
  4. It helps to trick your body’s metabolism to prevent the seasonal slow down that happens during the winter months, as well as fighting the winter weight weight gain that plagues so many people, myself included.

So there you have it.  Running “post-accident” part two.

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