Archive for May, 2012|Monthly archive page

A sampler of #running (and life) wisdom.

In #races, running, running quotes on May 31, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Some weeks, I just don’t have anything particularly original to say, and this is one of them.  When brain drain hits, I’m always glad to come across smart or thought-provoking things that other people say.

In the past 10 days or so, my ‘Kick in the Butt’ daily emails have brought some micro-pep talks I needed to hear as I try to jumpstart that part of my life (have been stalled by an old problem flaring up). Maybe they will kick you in the butt, too?


That’s the thing about running: your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success. They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is.

~Kara Goucher

Relaxing with my ‘girl on the run’ after we finished the Reindeer Romp 5K last fall; a 5K race is always the culmination of the program.

Running along our journey doesn’t only teach us how to keep moving forward through what life throws at us, it also makes us into the best version of ourselves. 

~Ashley Erickson, freelance fitness writer/editor

{This quote makes me think of the wonderful Girls on the Run program my girl has been part of twice; she learned so many important life lessons from her coaches, who all volunteer their time to the program.}

Running is the classical road to self-consciousness, self-awareness and self-reliance. Independence is the outstanding characteristic of a runner. He learns the harsh reality of his physical and spiritual limitations when he runs. He learns that personal commitment, sacrifice and determination are his only means to betterment. Runners get promoted only through self-conquest.

~Noel Coward, English playwright

Games require skill. Running requires endurance, character, pride, physical strength, and mental toughness. Running is a test, not a game. A test of faith, belief, will, and trust in one’s self. So hardcore that it needs a category all to itself to define the pain. When game players criticize, it’s because they aren’t willing to understand, not because they’re stronger. Running is more than a sport; it’s a lifestyle. If you have to ask us why we run, you’ll never understand, so just accept.

~Jessica Propst

Running is not a private activity. People are watching. Show someone what it’s like to want something.

~Marc Parent, Runner’s World columnist

If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down. You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion.

~Robert Pirsig, American writer and philosopher

What distinguishes those of us at the starting line from those of us on the couch is that we learn through running to take what the day gives us, what our body will allow us, and what our will can tolerate.

~John Bingham, running writer and speaker

Training for a race is sort of like a metaphor for life—it shows you how important goals are, it shows you how much you are capable of, it shows you the power of dedication. I’ve never run 13.1 miles, but I know I can do it. I will do it.

Ashley Cadaret, Running: A Love Story, Other Voices blog, Runner’


“learning what to leave out …”

In quotes about writing, writing on May 31, 2012 at 11:31 am

You come by your style by learning what to leave out. At first you tend to overwrite — embellishment instead of insight. You either  continue to write puerile bilge, or you change. In the process of simplifying oneself, one often discovers the thing called voice.


(spotted on Twitter, courtesy of ‘Advice to Writers’)

How Joyce Carol Oates’ characters come to life

In quotes about writing, writing on May 23, 2012 at 9:51 pm

Joyce Carol Oates on writing:
“I don’t have any formal writing habits. Most of the time I do nothing, and the fact of time passing so relentlessly is a source of anguish to me. There are not enough hours in the day. Yet I waste most of my time, in daydreaming, in drawing faces on pieces of paper…

“When I’m with people I often fall into a kind of waking sleep, a daydreaming about the people, the strangers, who are to be the ‘characters’ in a story or a novel I will be writing … At times my head seems crowded; there is a kind of pressure inside it, almost a frightening physical sense of confusion, fullness, dizziness. Strange people appear in my thoughts and define themselves slowly to me: first their faces, then their personalities and quirks and personal histories, then their relationships to other people, who very slowly appear … I try to put this all together, working very slowly, never hurrying the process. I can’t hurry it any more than I can prevent it.”

~ Quotation included in The Writer’s Desk, a wonderful 2006 calendar from Jill Krementz featuring photos of writers in their writing spaces, paired with quotations; I’ve never thrown this calendar away.

Why querying isn’t such a big deal (any more).

In writing on May 12, 2012 at 2:29 am

I can’t claim too many epiphanies.

But in the midst of beating myself up tonight for being stuck in Query Paralysis mode, it came to me that this step of sending a bit of my book to an agent or editor should not be paralyzing at all.

Tonight is the first time I figured out that in the grand scheme of things, the querying is such a small part of creating a book.

The huge and (personally) historic part was all that led up to the querying. The imagining and daydreaming in all sorts of fondly remembered places. The excited scribbling of notes on all kinds of  bits of paper at stoplights, in boring meetings, on benches at playgrounds watching my daughter play.

The collection of completely random newspaper stories that inspired a name or even a subplot. Setting sketches. Scraps of white paper bearing scrawls of imagined skin tones (courtesy of a few Crayolas). My daughter’s little-kid renderings of how she pictured the main characters. Pages ripped out of magazines that show clothes or rooms I think my characters might love.

All of that stuff was so magical and big that if this querying step doesn’t pan out, it’s okay; that’s the gravy.

When the weakest link becomes the strongest.

In places, running on May 7, 2012 at 1:50 am

I write about my threesome of favorite solo pursuits here, but in reality, Read/Write/Run  is an uneven triangle. Of the three, I’ve always known that running would be the weakest part; after all, I’ve been reading and writing as long as I can remember.

Running is still new and slow and hard.

But this afternoon, as I slogged away on a humid run, it occurred to me out of the blue that in some very important ways, running is now propping up the other two parts of the troika, especially the writing.


As it got later and later this afternoon, and I continued to put off my run, I began my litany of usual rationalizations for blowing it off. First and foremost, I was so sleepy I could barely keep my eyes open; a run seemed impossible.

But I was already dressed to run, and my new, surprisingly powerful runner voice jumped into the procrastination/rationalization conversation going on in my head.

First, the voice reminded me that I would feel terrible if I ditched my plans, and how that disappointment in myself would cloud the rest of the day, not to mention tomorrow (I won’t have any time for running tomorrow, so today was the only shot before Tuesday).

Then it pointed out that I needed the run to clear my head and shake off a bad mood.

Finally, it insisted that the pleasure I would get from being in the woods would overcome the fatigue I was feeling. I think it also called me a wuss before all was said and done.

It worked. Even in my nearly narcoleptic state, when I wanted very badly to stay in the air-conditioning and take a nap, I made myself climb in the car and drive the 15-20 minutes out of town, onto the interstate and eventually down a dusty gravel road to the trailhead.


In the year and a half since I began running, I’ve made a lot of reluctant decisions to go and run when I really didn’t feel like it.  This afternoon’s call to go running anyway seems small in the grand scheme of things, but today, that small decision was a sign of a sea change in me. A huge shift in my non-athletic, I’m-not-one-of-those-people way of thinking about myself in relation to running – or any other physical challenge.

Going to all of that trouble and drive time to go sweat and huff and puff is something I never thought I would be capable of when a nap was the alternative.

What that brings to the rest of my life – especially to the writing projects that are taking me into new territory – is the knowledge that I am capable of big change, even at 47, when habits and sense of self are so ingrained. That knowledge, I realized today, creates confidence that regularly spills over into other parts of my life.

So even though I run slowly, and I stop to catch my breath (and I question my sanity on 95-degree days), the running leg of the triangle is now powering the rest of it in ways I had never considered until today’s calming trek through the woods. (The runner voice was right about that and all the rest … except for the ‘wuss’ part.)

#running report (a Disney moment on the trail)

In run reports, running on May 4, 2012 at 2:39 pm

I’ve been lax about running this week. Again.

But today I knew I had to get back to it and that my psyche desperately needed time in the woods, so I made the 20-minute trip to my  favorite trail.

As is usual lately, I was slooooow and tired, and it was HOT (that’s what I get for going at noon), but butterflies ran with me part of the way, so that was encouraging. (Really. Sounds like a Disney movie, doesn’t it? They did *not* sing, however.)

And I saw the most beautiful technicolor-green, brand-new grass that looked like the fuzz on a baby’s head…and this grass was courtesy of *nature* not the TruGreen lawn service.

So all was well in the (steamy) woods.

‘Others in grief and loss will see more certainly / What they have loved…’

In lines worth underlining, poetry on May 4, 2012 at 1:05 am


All day the crops burn in cloudless air,

Drouth lengthening against belief.  At night

The husbands and the wives lie side by side,

Awake, the ache of panic in their bones,

Their purposes betrayed by purposes

Unknown, whose mystery is the dark in which

They wait and grieve.  All may be lost, and then

What will they do?  When money is required

Of them, and they have none, where will they go?

Many will go in blame against the world,

Hating it for their pain, and they will go

Alone across the dry, bright, lifeless days,

And thus alone into the dark.  Others

in grief and loss will see more certainly

What they have loved, and will belong to it

And to each other as in happiness

They never did–hearing, though the whole world

Go dry, the hidden raincrow of their hope.

~Wendell Berry

I found this poem achingly beautiful.

I stumbled on it at the end of an update written by a friend-acquaintance facing one of the most difficult experiences anyone could be made to slog through in life – an experience that could lead anyone to ‘go in blame against the world.’

And yet, it’s clear that she is one of those extraordinary people who has determined to ‘see more certainly what they have loved, and will belong to it.’


In lines worth underlining, running on May 3, 2012 at 1:42 am

the beautiful spot where I ‘run on it’

From the Runner’s World  ‘Daily Kick in the Butt’ email for today:

I really started running for meditative purposes. I would pick some problem to have in my head while running – not for the purpose of solving it, but for the purpose of having it bounce around in there. Like when you say you’re going to sleep on it; I say I’m going to run on it. Then at some point later on, a solution falls out. 

Biz Stone, cofounder of Twitter (Men’s Health, May 2012)

word wall.

In lines worth underlining, miscellany, reading on May 1, 2012 at 5:07 pm

word wall.

In answer to today’s Book Riot open thread question from @RebeccaSchinsky ( about where readers gather their favorite book passages, I’m posting a photo of one section of the wall where I’ve tacked up some of my favorite short and long passages (along with photos, bits torn out of magazines, my girl’s artwork and other quotations).

Honoring Viki

“I would not like to live without dancing, without unknown roads to explore, without the confidence that my actions were helpful to some.” Sam Keene


Empowering the Creative Community

Brain Pickings

An inventory of the meaningful life.


Writer, reader, lover of adventures and all things outdoors.

Design of the Picture Book

the intersection of graphic design + picture books

Lost in a Book

Mother-daughter dynamic duo (covering the key 15- to 51-year-old demographic) waxes poetic about kids' books