Getting a long run in before the rain falls and the weather drops thirty degrees. Getting cleaned up at home instead of at the gym and enjoying coffee from a regular mug rather than a travel container. Receiving a “good morning” text from the boy that includes a photo of him wearing the shirt you gave him. Continue reading
I stood in the locker room of my gym this morning, wrapped in a towel, when I realized that I had forgotten to pack my dopp kit. That meant no deodorant, no brush, no sweet smelling lotion, no moisturizer, no makeup, nothing. I had two options: put my dirty running clothes back on and head home to clean up or proceed to the shower and make a store run on my way to work. Continue reading
I’m holding my breath a bit. There’s one thing happening at work that could cause the next week to be complete and utter hell. Or it could turn into absolutely nothing, and I could have a delightful week. I’ll know more tomorrow and obviously have a strong preference as to which way this turns out. I want to enjoy turning 40 on Sunday, celebrating Christmas, and my final preparations for Africa. Keep your fingers crossed for me, will you? Continue reading
Just over ten days ago, I mentioned that my friend Erin had invited me to run 12 miles with her at a 10 something pace and that, much to my surprise and delight, I caught myself thinking that maybe I could actually do that. After one weekend of crazy weather, we finally managed to connect for the run this morning. Here’s how we did:
I did two incredibly fun runs this weekend. The first was the Dirt Trails & Pony Tails 5K in Austin. The second was a nearly 6-mile run with a friend in Ames, Iowa. Both runs affirmed for me how much I enjoy running these days. Continue reading
Yesterday morning, I went for a run around 10:00 a.m. I ran from my office down to Lady Bird Lake and did a seven mile loop by myself. I realized during my run that, at any given moment, I was thinking about one of three things: (1) how lucky I am to be able to run at 10 on a Thursday morning; (2) how good it feels to run; and (3) how much I’m looking forward to the next four weekends. It’s nice to catch myself in a state of happiness after a hard year.
I love the flexibility of my work life. I get to be a writer and a lawyer, and, though I have an office I can go to every day, I keep my own hours. So on days like yesterday when I woke up not feeling 100%, I was able to sleep in and run later in the morning. It’s nice to be long gone from the days when the firms I worked for owned me and my time. It’s also nice to be more than two years into this effort of working for myself – a leap that was frightening to make at the time but that has paid off in so many ways.
I haven’t always loved running. I’ve loved having run, but the act itself has only recently begun to be really enjoyable for me. I love that I’ve gotten faster this year and that I can comfortably do a 7.5 mile run and get back to work. I remember the days when a 7.5 mile long run on a Saturday would ruin me for the rest of the day. Now? It’s just a regular workout. It’s incredible to feel good running and to feel good after having run. I owe that to my coaching through TriDot.
And my weekends? They are looking wonderful. I have Fred’s fabulous Tour de Donut tomorrow followed by the Run for the Water 10 Miler with Kerry on Sunday. Then next weekend, I get to take my niece to see Les Miserables at the Zach Theater. The weekend after that, I get to return to my favorite farm in Iowa to see my friends and to spend time with a new friend I’ve made through them. The weekend after that, I get to return to Round Top for a Jeanne Guy Gathering. I am surrounded by wonderfully kind and loving people.
I feel really far from the person who wrote this just over a month ago or this back in July. When I read those entries, they are familiar to me, but they aren’t who I am now. I’m grateful to have felt my way through the hard stuff and to have emerged with a renewed hopefulness about…everything.
In three months, I’ll be getting on a flight to Tanzania for my Kilimanjaro climb and safari adventure. That feels so strange to say because Africa was never on my list of things to do. The idea just came to me one day in mid June as I was thinking about possible ways to spend new years, and I decided to follow my heart even though I thought my heart might be crazy.
The first thing I did was mention the idea to my friend Matt who has done the climb. This was Sunday, June 16, days before I was leaving to race Ironman Coeur d’Alene. My thought was to set up a lunch for when I got back, but Matt was so excited that he responded to my e-mail on Monday with, “You have lunch plans today?” I didn’t, so we had lunch, and his enthusiasm was so complete that I walked away from that lunch committed in my own mind about the effort. I got back to my office and immediately requested information from the outfitter that Matt had used. When I got back from Coeur d’Alene, I reviewed the information they sent me and, on June 29, I put down my deposit. Acting in 13 days is record time for me, as I am perhaps the slowest decision-maker on the planet. I suppose I could have walked away from the deposit, but on August 7, I bought my ticket. Then I was in for sure. On September 3, the outfitter charged my credit card for the balance of what I owed. Then I was in for damn sure.
Now I’m buying travel insurance, rescue insurance, and health insurance for the trip. I’m looking at immunization lists and gear lists. I’m trying to figure out what I have and what I need and what I want for this trip. How will I charge my phone and camera on the climb? What will I carry in my day pack? Will I take paper books or an e-reader? How much can I pack in the duffel bag that porters will carry for me? What do I need to buy and what can I borrow from friends?
My Grand Canyon trip has helped because I now have a day pack, sleeping bag, hat and gloves. Hood to Coast helped me because I now have a compact pillow and small travel towels. Matt has helped by loaning me his trekking poles, which have been up the mountain before. He assures me that they know the way! But I need to figure out the clothes, especially because most of what I own no longer fits me. I’ve lost almost 19 pounds since January, so I’m having to buy new pants all around. Even the pants I bought in July with Rey are getting loose. At some point, I’ll do a big REI trip to buy a bunch of clothes and gear. That will be a fun effort.
But logistics aside, it’s hitting me that I’m going to Africa, and I’m going alone. My first international trip (to Italy and Greece) was with a girlfriend and her family. My second (to Spain) was to meet my friend Erin, who was studying there for a semester. My third (England and Germany) was for an extended family reunion on my dad’s side. This will be only my fourth big trip, and I’m flying for over 24 hours alone to climb a mountain in Africa with five other people I’ve never met. The me of two years ago before I’d done any international travel would never have done this.
Who have I become?
I’m someone who is turning forty in less than three months and doesn’t want being forty and alone to feel like…well, the way I expect forty and alone to feel. I want to appreciate that I have a wonderful job that allows me travel. I want to take advantage of not having kids and not being responsible for anyone but myself. I want to enjoy being able to book a trip on a whim – or as close to a whim as I’ve ever come – and seeing it through. I love people and want someone by my side, but I also want to be completely okay with being just me.
Africa is about me doing something I never thought I would do. It’s about proving to myself that I can adapt to a different and challenging environment, that I can enter a foreign territory with no one holding my hand, and that I can battle my way up to any finish line I choose to face. It’s about me trying something new and having fun. Africa is about me enjoying being forty and being forty the best way I know how.
I’m excited. And a little scared. But mostly, I’m excited. I can’t wait to get on the plane. This experience will be all my own, and I have a feeling I will come back changed somehow. I don’t know how, but I suspect it’ll be for the better.
Africa, I have high hopes for you and for me. I can’t wait for us to meet.
Just over two years ago, I did a list of my favorite things that was inspired by my friend Kate. (I can’t believe it was over two years ago. I remember the exercise so clearly. Where does the time go?) A lot has happened in the past two years. In some ways, life is totally different. In others, it’s exactly the same.
When I look back at the old list, I agree still with everything I said. But I see things that are missing from it, so I thought I’d give the list another try now. Here is the 2013 version:
Lounging with Bread and Butter, running with my friends, cleaning up after a hard workout, writing for this blog, hearing from friends that they read my blog, making lists, checking things off my lists, getting emails from my niece, making smoothies, visits to my chiropractor, reading anything by Marion Winik or David Sedaris, reading The New Yorker on Sundays, planning trips, my time in Portland, attending readings at Book People, swimming at Deep Eddy and going to Magnolia Cafe afterwards, meeting my friends’ kids, making new friends, listening to anything by Kacey Musgraves, watching The Voice, seeing Bruce Robison in concert, the Ironman finish line, reading essays and books my friends have written, attending Jeanne Guy gatherings, workshops with Christina Baldwin, Whidbey Island, writing in my journal, doing laundry, sitting on my couch after cleaning my house, the smell of baked brownies in my kitchen, Courage to Change (the Al-Anon book), watching Nashville, the bracelet Jeanne gave me, my Ironman ring, time on the Boettger farm, my memories of Hood to Coast, everything about my Grand Canyon trip, Toastmasters, seeing Bread walk around the house with a stuffed animal in his mouth, Donald Miller’s blog, flowers (especially sunflowers), the quote book I’ve been keeping…
I love how easily this list came. It’s a good exercise, I think, to remind myself of all the things around me and in my life that I enjoy. There are so many of them. I’m lucky.
I bet you are too. If you want to make a list and share it with me, I’d love to hear about your favorite things.