Emerging In Eighty Days

Image created via Tagxedo. Tagxedo.com
Image created via Tagxedo. Tagxedo.com

The chance which now seems lost may present itself at the last moment.”–Jules Verne, Around the World in 80 Days (1872)

80 days. Eighty days is also 1,920 hours, or 11 weeks and 3 days, or 115,200 minutes, or 6,912,000 seconds. It’s a good chunk of time, but without paying attention, 80 days fly by in a blur. There is something quite romantic to me about this time frame, maybe because of Jules Verne’s classic adventure novel Around the World in 80 Days. With constant connection and airplanes, it takes much less to get around the world than it did in Verne’s time. However, we are very often firmly planted in our spaces, our own lives. That can be a wonderful thing, but sometimes it can feel like a bit of a rut.

While I definitely have a big case of wanderlust, I am hunkering down, but I am not digging ruts or spinning in place. I am inspired and energized and feel passionate. I want to take advantage of that inspiration and energy and passion and funnel it into some long-held dreams that I feel on the cusp of reaching. Those dreams include:

1. Running my first marathon.
2. Finish writing a book of short stories (whether or not it gets published is another story).
3. Losing the last of the weight in my year-long adventure in getting back to health and into shape.

However, I also realize I am wonderful at wasting time and at procrastinating. In 80 days, it will be May 17, 2015 and the date of my first marathon. My plan is to reach all three of those goals by that date. So, I am going to cut out a few distractions. I will be mostly fasting from Facebook and Twitter. I will continue to be in touch with friends via phone calling and texting and personal messaging, but on a more limited basis (those long distance friendships I have renewed are too important to lose). I will keep entries to the blog, as I love the writing and feel it helps me to exercise the writing muscle.

What goals or dreams do you have? Do you have any that you could accomplish or realize? What would it take to help you get there? Cheers to those thoughts and directions and actions.

May 17, 2015, here we come. 80 days, 3 goals, now is the time to do the work. In eighty days, I will emerge, dreaming and doing.

From dreaming to doing, here I go.




Two Sisters and the Oscars

Kary Schumpert @runningintolife:

We are not watching the Oscars together tonight, but I love our sisterhood tradition!

Originally posted on Running Into Life:

Photo by Alan Light [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons Well, my younger sister and I did not go to the Oscars. We met at the hotel where my sister works. We checked into a vacant room for the evening to watch the big show and gaped from the safety (?!) of a hotel room floor in Colorado. I brought a sack of burgers and fries, she brought the candy. We sipped from cold canned beverages (hers diet coke, mine lemon seltzer). We stared, we commented on the movies we had seen, we picked out our favorite dresses, we predicted the winners. The night went by in sister-to-sister snark with jokes and giggles and bawdy humour that was definitely not for the family-friendly crowd.

In the five plus years since Kelly moved to Colorado, we have been roommates for almost the entire duration. We have a TV at home, but do…

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I Felt Love Today

CC0 Public Domain. Image courtesy of Pixabay. pixabay.com
CC0 Public Domain. Image courtesy of Pixabay. pixabay.com

On this day, there is love, and commercialism, in the air. The day has a long and storied history, but it can also be a simple day of love. With so many different types of love, and so many different types of people, it helps to remember that deep down we are the all the same. We love and are loved.

I had a simple, and yet beautiful, day visiting friends and playing tourist in Albuquerque. I felt many types of love today.

I talked to my father on the phone and was grateful for a father’s love.

I talked to my mother on the phone and was grateful for a mother’s love.

I spent the day in a city I love.

I watched the sunset from an old familiar spot, loving beauty and moments of silence.

I caught up with an old friend and her husband, spending the morning in the presence of a couple who clearly love each other. I relished how an old friendship ebbs and flows and how lucky I am to still be connected to this friend and her family.

I visited a favorite old bookstore and spent a leisurely half hour browsing and discovering and learning. The shelves are overflowing, boxes stacked with classics in the back, and always in the jumble I seem to find a title that speaks to my heart.

I ate breakfast with the friend and her husband at a local restaurant, enjoying a lovely ritual of sharing food and company.

I caught up with a new friend and pondered new directions.

I met another friend for a drink, loving the time of beer and toasting friendship.

I went for a run with a different friend, wondering at the magic of a day filled with “friend appointments” which are the best kind to schedule and keep.

I looked forward to plans that I made for the rest of the weekend, grateful for the gifts of anticipation and joy and an extra day.

I went for a walk, aimlessly wandering, watching people, and not getting lost in a neighborhood where I felt at home, loving the sense of place I feel here.

I struck up a conversation with a stranger and felt thankful for curious hearts and kind words.

I chatted with a man running a small compost business, eager to talk shop and to make connections.

I spent part of the afternoon alone, glad that I can enjoy my own company and soak up the valuable gift of solitude.

I tentatively dipped my toe into the dating pool, realizing my heart is eager for new lessons.

I enjoyed the goose bumps on my short-sleeved arms and smelled the optimism of spring, along with the promise of more winter.

I wrote this before the day ended, knowing there were still more adventures left to love in the day. I loved the act of writing, knowing that some days the words fly and are beautiful, and other days, like today, it is enough to write.

I took slow steps and fast steps, on an ordinary, yet extraordinary, day.

I said a prayer and took a breath, loving weekend vacations, friendship, beauty, solitude, togetherness, wisdom, openness, and love.

Edward Abbey and Downton Abbey: Quotes on Assorted and Various Topics

Kary Schumpert @runningintolife:

Today is Edward Abbey’s birthday, and it’s also the time for Downtown Abbey airing on PBS in the U.S. A couple of years ago, I compiled these quotes, paired for contrast and humor. I am a fan of both Abbeys, but I also understand and tend to agree with their critics. These quotes are for fun and laughs and clearly do not represent the complexity of either the writer, the show, or the phenomenon of both Edward Abbey and Downtown Abbey.

Originally posted on Running Into Life:

I love reading Edward Abbey and adore watching Downton Abbey. At first, one would think they are quite different, but when one digs deeper there is a similar contrariness to them both. I thought it would be fun to compare and contrast the two by sharing some quotes. The quotes are coupled on similar topics and paired for humorous effect. Enjoy Abbey fans!

Downton Abbey: 
“Why does every day involve a fight with an American?” —The Dowager Countess
Edward Abbey:  “England. After a few months in England, one finds that one likes the Scotch very much.”

Downton Abbey:
  “What is a ‘weekend’?” —The Dowager Countess
Edward Abbey:  “What is truth? I don’t know and I’m sorry I brought it up.”

Downton Abbey: 
“Don’t be defeatist dear, it’s terribly middle class.”—The Dowager Countess
Edward Abbey:  “The rich are not very nice. That’s why they’re rich.”

Downton Abbey: 

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The Last of the Great Generation

CC0 Public Domain
Family Tree image, created by Nemo, is licensed under Creative Commons Deed, CC0 Public Domain. Image courtesy of Pixabay. pixabay.com

There were four people nicknamed Val and Buzz and Bug and Bill. Val and Bill were brother and sister. Bug and Buzz were brother and sister. Val and Bug were best friends. Buzz and Bill were good friends. Buzz married Val. Bill married Bug. They grew up, in large families, in the Dust Bowl years of Oklahoma. Bug and Bill were my grandparents. With the oddities of relative vernacular, Buzz and Val were my double-great-aunt-and-uncle. They were part of the “Greatest Generation” that survived the Great Depression, fought in World War II,  and built full lives. These nicknames stuck throughout their lives.

Aunt Val died last week at the age of 94 in her beloved Oklahoma. For her last three days, she was in hospice and did not recognize my mother. But I won’t focus on that, except that I am grateful that the last painful stage only lasted three days. Aunt Val was the last of the great generation in our family. She was the last of my great aunts and uncles, which, when including spouses, numbered in the 30s. She was also the last in my family that would have been considered part of that Greatest Generation.

She was indeed a great aunt. She and Uncle Buzz did not have children of their own, but spread their love to their numerous nephews, nieces, great-nephews, and great-nieces. Because we were doubly-related to her, and due to her close relationship with my grandparents and mom and uncle, my sisters, cousins, and I were the beneficiaries of her expansive love and humor and attention. But really, anyone who came across Aunt Val benefited from her laughter. She would “get tickled” and her laughter tickled everyone around her.

When I think of laughing, I think of my grandmother and Aunt Val, laughing long and hard, thick as thieves. When Aunt Val and Uncle Buzz came to visit, I could catch glimpses of a younger Buzz, Val, Bug, and Bill. After poring through the family albums, and memorizing the numerous photos, I could see their younger selves came to life when they visited together. Coming from dirt poor families, they were rich in the currency of love and laughter and loyalty.

When PaPa (Bill in the foursome) died from lung cancer over 30 years ago, Aunt Val and Uncle Buzz were with my grandmother Nan (Bug in the foursome). They drove her home from the hospital and steadied her as she made the decisions that many weary widows must make. They stayed with us, my sisters and cousins, while my mom and grandmother were at the funeral home. They were sad, but their quiet grief gave us room to cry and explore the foreign territory of saying goodbye to our first close relative to die in our young lives. They said goodbye, but mostly I remember them bringing their solid warmth on a dreary November day near Thanksgiving.

A few months later, they traveled with my grandmother to Washington, D.C. It was her first big trip without my grandfather and she returned from that trip whole and laughing. I always think that that trip brought her back to life, thanks to Aunt Val and Uncle Buzz.

Aunt Val was the last one in her family. She outlived all her brothers and sisters, their spouses, her parents, her aunts and uncles, and several nieces and nephews. She talked every day on the phone with my mother and one day in deep sadness, she asked my mother why she was the last one. This was in the fall. My mom and I talked the next day and we cried together, knowing that Aunt Val was in her last days. My grandmother died 5 1/2 years ago. Uncle Buzz died 1 1/2 years ago.

Aunt Val and Uncle Buzz were married for 71 years. She was a teacher and he was a soil conservationist. In retirement, they played golf every day. When golf was no longer part of the routine, the still kept busy and active into their 90s. They laughed often and I think that was their secret to such long lives and a long, happy marriage. They made each other laugh and they made everyone around them laugh as well.

Why is it that in grieving and remembering, we find cliches? Why is it, that while Aunt Val’s life is more complex, right now I can only remember laughter? I don’t like the cliches, but I’ll go with the laughter.

Aunt Val told stories. She talked about her former students. Looking back to the generations before, it is easy to romanticize their struggle and it is easy to self-select the qualities that we hope we have inherited from our quirky family trees. I hope that my delight in and love for teaching came from my Aunt Val. Laughing and being silly are just about my favorite things, and I hope that I got some of this from Val, Buzz, Bug, and Bill.

Aunt Val’s funeral is tomorrow. My mom and older sister are there in Oklahoma. I am not and I feel horrible. I am looking at family pictures and sharing stories with my younger sister, who also was not able to make the trip.

I hope that Val, Buzz, Bug, and Bill are finally together again. I hope that they are gathered around a table, drinking coffee, sharing stories, and laughing as always. That laughter that I can feel in my sad heart is heavenly and I think I can hear them.

Letting Things Fall: A Letter to a Friend and My Heart’s Crush


“But the attitude of faith is to let go, and become open to truth, whatever it might turn out to be.”–Alan Watts

Winter is a wonderful time to think about letting go and letting things fall. Deciduous trees have lost their leaves, making way for the growth to come in spring. The snow falls and it provides shelter and becomes moisture for spring growth. We use the dormant stage to nurse and heal and come together again. For my own growth, spiritual, emotional, physical, mental, I must be able to let things fall. By letting go, it frees us to reach for something new. By letting things fall, we continue to move, but we are free and wise and light in our steps.

In the past year, there has been tremendous growth and change in my life. On the surface, however, things look the same. I live in the same town and continue to work for the same organization, but things are different in my heart, in my mind, in my body. I can feel more growth is on the way, but to make way for it and to prepare myself for it, I need to let things fall. In particular, I need to let go of a certain person, the one who has been the object of my heart’s affection.

This is what I am letting fall away: expectations, regrets, resentment, grudges, remorse, and worry all tied up in a one-sided love. Instead, I pick up a real and close friendship, true caring, honesty, a better glimpse of my heart, and love with no expectations.

Dear Friend,

We started a friendship this past spring. It has been a surprise. I barely knew you before this year. I knew you as a face in the hallways at school, as the high school boyfriend to a friend, as the older brother to a teammate, as a student of my mother’s in our small town high school.

We became friends on Facebook last winter and there was not much interaction. A quick message from you in early April changed that. You wanted to get in touch with my mother. Over the years, several friends and acquaintances have gotten in touch for the same reason. It always brightens my day to know that my mom as a teacher was inspiring and well-loved. I sent you my mother’s phone number and laid out the casual and generic offer, “We should catch up sometime.” It’s the polite thing one says, but to casual hometown acquaintances, there is usually not a follow up conversation. Somehow, though, we both followed up to talk. We exchanged phone numbers and made arrangements to call. A Thursday night in spring turned into a long phone and e-mail conversation. We caught up on twenty-something years and proceeded as friends. It was the best combination of getting to know someone new mixed with the rare combination of the old and familiar. There is shorthand with a shared sense of place. While we have common friends and touchstones, hardly any of our memories collide into each other. Our new friendship felt fresh and not just built on years of life-residued nostalgia.

Surprisingly, we found things in common that had little to do with our upbringing or wildly diverging careers. We both care deeply about spirituality and tend to wonder about the big questions. You teased me about being a tree hugger, but that we both care about the impact of humanity on the planet was a welcome connection. We both sprinkle sarcasm and silliness into our senses of humor. It was fun to zap and zing and trade jokes. You are very intelligent and I like to think that I am as well. It was fun to have a conversation as exciting as a really good game of tennis, with lots of back and forth.

You are handsome, smart, and accomplished. You like attention and you flirt. I am shy and want to find love close by, rather than having to go and search for it. I mistook mild online flirting for real affection and interest. I fantasized that perhaps love could drop out of the sky unexpectedly. This spring I was emerging from what felt like years of hibernation. After a couple of years of no dating, my heart has pent up emotion, pent up affection, pent up energy. I desperately wanted to connect.

You were there and I took it as a sign. We enjoyed each other’s humor. You laughed at my jokes and I marveled at how fun flirting could be. I enjoyed it, especially when I could type a funny line or whisper a joke on the phone, instead of worrying about my hair or being concerned I would spill my drink.

There were early warning signs that I ignored. I had fluctuating feelings based upon no real interaction, but based on any little signs I could find. How quickly you responded to my text messages, how many exclamation points you used were all examined and analyzed. I had spring fever and wanted to fall in love. And I did. With you. You were living more than 1,000 miles away.

In a genuine gesture of friendship, you responded to help me after my request for assistance in transforming my life. I sent the nitty gritty details. You responded with encouragement and support and exclamation points! The more you responded, the more I mistook that as growing affection. You began a relationship and I ignored that detail. I continued one-sided missives that I cringe to think about now.

Interactions became a bit uncomfortable in July. You had gently asked me to reduce the number of text messages. I responded with drama and defensiveness. We recovered and seemed to find a balance in communication. A summer of solitude, writing and running, on my end only intensified my affection for you. At times, our text messages were all the communication I had with anyone as I spent days writing and writing.

We unexpectedly saw each other in August when we both were visiting near home. I had anticipated the moment for weeks. We met for coffee. We hugged each other in greeting. We settled in for conversation. I was relieved to discover that witty repartee and mad texting could translate to real conversation. I thought my crush was in check, but after our visit the one-sided feelings intensified.

Late August arrived and I packed up my notebooks of summer writing, my laptop, and my running shoes and I returned to Colorado. I helped my sister as she moved into her new place and I returned to teaching. One day I was consumed with butterflies and was certain that I knew the condition. It was full-on love. I worried about telling you, but a new vow of honesty and authenticity helped me make the decision to confess my feelings. I sent a long text message. You responded with grace and patience and wisdom. You reminded me that being “crazy in love” is not authentic love. You responded that you loved me, but as a friend, not as a romantic partner.

You continued to cheer me on as I made visible and lasting change in my life. We talked a couple of times on the phone and I talked about my journey to self-love.

September was weird. After my summer of solitude, a return to work and Colorado and “normal life” felt abrupt. One evening we had a long conversation that I was sure would turn our friendship into something more. I was encouraged that you were moving back to the state we both loved, New Mexico. In the spring, I had enjoyed a whole fantasy dream of a summer courtship in our hometown that might bloom into a partnership. Of course, I was wrong.

Texts and fairly frequent communication continued. Then the metaphorical brick hit my head. I realized this pattern I had fallen into, my whole self. I mistook friendship for love and encouragement for something more. If I was to make real and lasting change in my life, not just physical fitness and health, but self-love and self-awareness, I had to recognize the patterns for what they were. They say that insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result. I was lucky that the metaphorical brick broke through the mental clutter. I realized I was on a fragile precipice. If I wanted to move beyond one-sided love and to keep a friendship with you, I would need to make a change to my heart.

Knowing what needs to be done in your mind and heart does not mean change comes easy. I continued to run long, while I worked on my heart. I ran 14 miles, tears spilling down my cheeks with the realization that I needed to let you go, knowing you had never been mine to begin. I texted and you applauded the distance. I thanked you and wished for something else.

In October, we met in your new home town. We had coffee, we had breakfast, and it was good to see you in person. So good. I went with you to look for houses and for just a little bit I harbored the fantasy that must have come with the fumes of new plaster, new carpet, new tiles, new developments. I still had some work to do with my heart. Luckily, I had plans to meet another friend for lunch. You dropped me off at my car, and I felt strangely wistful. You found a house and sent me pictures on my phone. I ran the half marathon and we texted. On my last morning in town, we met for breakfast one last time. It felt good to have one last hug and to leave you in the bright light of an October morning.

In November, we finally seemed to hit our groove. Our texts were now not so centered around my transformation from couch potato to runner, but more about mutual friendship. They were not so frequent, but with more spontaneity and less obligation. In the midst of that month, though, I stumbled. After you expressed concern for me and one of my recent adventures, we texted through the night. I realized I was still harboring wishes that you might want something more.

Thanksgiving came and finally my heart made the transformation. Perhaps, the 99th time was the charm? I realized that I didn’t want to live with this kind of self-inflicted pain. Also, though, I didn’t like living with dishonesty. I said I wanted to be friends. I didn’t like that I was hiding things in my heart, a hidden subtext to our texts.

In December, our text frequency slowed to a pitter patter. This time, though, my heart did not beat with excitement or worry. Instead, it settled into realization, actualization, and something much bigger: peace. The holidays passed and I took a technology break and the peace was still there when I picked up the phone again.

In January, we emerge into a new space. I am seeking your advice and insight and perspective again. This time, though, it’s not so much about the mundane of food eaten and miles run, but looking at the larger questions of life.

How do we live with our thoughts? How do we emerge with open hearts? How do we live lives of purpose and joy? How do we find peace and live that ideal? How can we love with our hearts and not our egos?

I think you enjoy this role, as a friend with advice and lessons to share. Early yesterday morning passed in a flurry of texts, my questions, your pithy Yoda-like answers.

I am in a big clean-out mode, a bit of a life upheaval. I am getting rid of junk and clutter on the surface, but also getting the junk out of my heart and head. I am turning things upside down and enjoying the confusion that comes before clarity.

I do have some clarity, though. I appreciate your friendship. I like that we still share, even as life continues and the newness has worn away. I see you settling into life as you make choices and decisions that will define this stage. I like that you still ask me questions about ways to live lighter on the planet. I like that we have settled into friendship, real and true friendship. It will grow and change and evolve, just as we will.

Thank you for perspective and patience. Thank you for helping me in my time of waking from hibernation. Thank you for helping me to see that love is beautiful and should not be a shackle. Thank you for helping me to see that my heart does pick good ones, even if it is the wrong time. Thank you for helping me to see the evolution of love from heartsick to friendship to openness.

I like that you held on and I like that I did too. We found comfort, camaraderie, and at times closeness. I wish you joy and love and peace!

I will probably see you in a month or so. I hope that we will meet for coffee. I will bring you composting worms. We will trade notes. We will share stories and then we will get up and say goodbye. You will start your worm bin and prepare your new home for spring. Your heart will find love. I will drive north back to my own day-to-day, searching for my own light and love.

Your friend,


Your Creative Intentions: The Monday Post ~ January 5, 2015

Kary Schumpert @runningintolife:

I share these a lot, because I love thinking about the week and how I can cram life and creativity and everything into it!! Thank you, Studio Mothers!!

Originally posted on Studio Mothers: Life & Art:

Mary Oliver quote

Welcome to the first Monday Post of 2015!

A regular creative practice — a daily practice, if possible — is key to staying in touch with how you make meaning. Key to living, not postponing. (Let’s all agree to give up on “someday.”)

What are your plans for creative practice this week? Given the specifics of your schedule, decide on a realistic intention or practice plan — and ink that time in your calendar. The scheduling part is important, because as you know, if you try to “fit it in” around the edges, it generally won’t happen. An intention as simple as “I will write for 20 minutes every morning after breakfast” or “I will sketch a new still life on Wednesday evening” is what it’s all about. If appropriate, use time estimates to containerize your task, which can make a daunting project feel more accessible.

Share your intentions or goals…

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