Thursday, September 25, 2014

Lauryn's Legs

Several times over I've invited my friends to begin or advance their running. Feeling the strength of my legs and the rush of accomplishment are something I beg to share. Wherever I travel, the world looks infinitely more simple when explored from one of the oldest form of travel. Even the busy grandeur of New York City becomes quiet. It reverts to a time when buildings were beautiful instead of efficient. This love, this experience is what drives me to share the art of running with friends and family. There are fewer pleasures than watching a friend who abhors running (or sweating of any kind) slowly become strong. Soon they make the half-skip from strong to hungry.

Running is an ever inclusive sport. It is no longer just for the twiggy legs and taut abs. It's everyone who understands that our will is forever stronger than our body. 

There's a code between runners, they will encourage each other and stop to aid a fellow runner. But more than any other sport, runners are the highest donators (and higher than any nonreligious group). Logging miles isn't the only reason our hearts our larger than our nonrunning peers. We give beyond our capacity in every mile, and every charity.

Twelve of my friends assembled a Ragnar team, a 200+ mile relay that must be completed in 36 hours. We trained, we laughed and then one day we cried. One of our own lost her oldest daughter. Together we rallied around her and changed the direction of our team. We no longer trained to represent our friendship, we now devoured miles for the memory of an angel.

Her daughter was unable to walk or talk in this life, prompting our team to adopt the mantra "Don't Rest. Run, Scream, Jump and Have Fun." She was a princess in her own right, loving tiaras and pink zebra stripes. On the two month anniversary of her daughter's death, my friend stood at the starting line. She was strong despite the tears and uncertainty. This was her daughter's race and yet, like so many times since her daughter's birth, she was once again the legs of her child.

The moment she crossed the start line, I realized my arrogant mistake. I had not included my friend in my favorite sport. She had included me in her pain, the raw loss of a child. A privilege I am wholly unworthy of.
Our team of thirteen was determined, we believed we would carry our friend to the finish line. Little did we know that our friend's love of her daughter would carry with us for much longer than the 36 hours.
We are runners. We are mothers. But more than anything we are women. I know I've included more pictures in this post than I normally do. Please, I want you to look at each woman, see their strength. See their determination. The level of compassion they hold is inspiring - they have taught me, encouraged me.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Critic and The Creator

From Stephen King to the writer next door, there's one universal rule--if you want to write, you must read. The religion of authors dictates that the greater our ambitions, the more novels we should consume. By studying the masters (and the mistakes) I am taught what works and what doesn't. 
I spend hours devouring novels from all genres. Thrillers teach me tension while historical teach me setting. I scribble notes on each book as if the author were in my critique group. Over time, I suppose I could become a fantastic critic. 
But not a writer. 
Reading is one aspect (a crucial one at that) but so are critique groups. Both of which help us identify errors in our work and others. And that is where many if us get stuck, in the valley of The Empty Page. We become so adept at finding flaws that we forget to write. And even when we do, the fear of becoming what we critique destroys our ambition. 
I can no more become an author by only reading than becoming a runner by reading about runners. There are things such as cross training that can enhance my ability but nothing can replace it.
Reading, critique groups and conferences are the enhancements of writing. But there will never be a novel until I actually write one - this may seem obvious to those actively writing or reading but take notice of your fellow "would be" authors. If they're offering critiques but not work, hold their hand and guide them through the painful editing process. If your favorite wordsmith has recommended his opinion on the best seller list but struggles to put two sentences together, meet him for drinks or invite him to your local writers club. Because let's face it, we're in this together, both our inner critic and  inner creator. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

More than a Blog

Last fall, I accepted the Writers of Kern Blog Challenge. Not surprisingly, I struggled to carve out time for family, running and writing--let alone time for blogging. The challenge was a twice a week post for thirteen weeks that fell smack in the middle of the holiday season. Homework, tantrums, and cleaning were tempting excuses to escape my online duties. 
But something happened, as with most challenges. The normal stresses of the mundane became little bursts of beauty. When there was nothing in my fatigued brain (and a blank computer screen staring back at me) I'd remember the adventures of the day. The humorous moments of parenting or the strength found in running became precious gems, painting my point of view a pretty shade of grateful. Family and friends (then friends of friends) began sharing my posts - my perspective of an imperfect life. 
As I continued to blog about marathons, my novel and the chaos called kids, I discovered two forgotten truths. One, we're human and we embrace the lovable flaws of each other. We trip, we fall and we laugh, even at the expense of our pride.

Two, I have an incredible life. Only when I've cast a spotlight on my blessings do I realize how much I've been given. This house might be heavy on the crazy and light on the calm but it's mine. And "my cup runneth over." The obvious blessings may have surrounded me but when I'm waist-deep in the daily grind I rarely look up to the see the blooming garden, the fruits of my labor.

Most people blog to become better writers, to hone their talent. Their craft. Some blog to be heard, needing a platform to pontificate. Others blog as a way to communicate with family and friends through an ever increasing social (and global) world. 
Over time,  my blog became more than a website. Strangers have become friends touched by a post, or long lost friends distanced by time or space have reconnected through the internet. But more important - I have a record of who I am. I've privately published for my family and very close friends my digital story. Some have themes, like the Writers of Kern Blog challenge, while others are purely chronological journals. Either way, I've left a legacy for my children. I wanted them to know of my beautiful, fault-littered life as well as the written word. 

For those of you debating the merits of blogging, think beyond the commitment required and more of your potential influence. Not just for strangers but for your family, both present and future.