Saturday, September 29, 2012

when my mind is silent

My mind is rarely quiet.

It yells, whispers, talks, suggests, doubts, plans, reasons, gets me out of bed at night, sends me scrambling for a pen and paper at random times, forces me to write emails and text messages to myself on my phone. It tunes out the radio and makes my commute evaporate. It wonders, wanders, fantasizes, dreams. plots.

And sometimes it's exhausting.

People have asked me, "Holly, why are you running?"

The answer is glorious.

"Because for that 20, or 30, or 45, or 60 minutes, I am not thinking about anything, but running."

They look confused. Well, that doesn't sound like fun.

"You don't understand. My mind is constantly thinking, obsessing, fixing, debating, weighing....and for the entirety of my run, I'm not trying to solve problems (other people's or my own), I'm not planning, I'm not researching, or devising, or worrying, or making any decisions outside of: make it to that light pole. Sprint to the stop sign. Do the loop again. Breath. Walk for a second. Now run again. You're getting stronger. You're doing this."

The other reason I run is because my body is improving. It's getting tighter, it's getting fit.

And I love it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

restless happiness

A part of my daily routine is emailing Kristin and sometimes in the course of these emails I have epiphanies. It's been like that in the five years we've known each other and in the thousands of emails we've exchanged. She's part of my posse of friends who, when they ask me how I am, I can honestly say.

I feel a lot of peace this morning, which is good for me since I've felt so restless lately. Why is it that I get that way sometimes? It's this yearning for adventure, for change, for something more, bigger, to push myself, to require more...

But what if that adventure, that change, that something bigger is THIS moment? And what if, just what if, in my search for more, I'm missing the more that exists right now? What if I'm so focused on the end result (of getting somewhere) that I miss the point of the journey? What if the point isn't to get there, to arrive? What if the point is today, tomorrow? What if it was yesterday and I missed it because I was so consumed with the next day?

What if I'm exactly where I need to be?

There's nothing wrong with my life. It's good, actually. I have a job that has served me well. I have a community of friends. I have people who I'm positively influencing. I have the ability to have my dogs and puppies. I have an amazing home. I have ideas, I have passion, I have things I want to implement.

So perhaps the problem isn't getting into a (figuratively) new place. Maybe the problem is me. I feel whispers of conviction that I'm not putting into action the things I want to (feel called) to do, and I'm making excuses. "I can't do that because I don't live in the right part of the country." "I can't do that because my house isn't big enough." "I can't do that because I don't make enough money."

But what if I can? I haven't even tried. I think I need to start trying. I think that my heart will always feel this restlessness until I start living the passion I have inside, until I'm vulnerable enough to say: this is what I'm doing. I'm going to exist in the sphere of influence I have in this moment.

I can't wallow in what I don't have, or focus on where I'd rather be, because I'm getting the feeling that being here is exactly where I'm supposed to be right now.

Alright, this email has ended up in a liberating direction I wasn't expecting, but I'm very thankful for you and you helping me by listening. I couldn't do this life without you.

And because she is the friend she is, she replies:

...I think you're right, sometimes you just have to dive in. And act. Stop making excuses. Right now. In this moment. For this moment. And, yes, things will change eventually, but this moment is part of the journey too.

I love your perspective. I love your heart. I love your calling and passion and talents and desires.  

My journey is about this moment.

Monday, September 24, 2012

{be} the inspiration

Someone told me I've inspired them to start training for a 10K.
Others have run their first 5K with me.
Families are hiking at places I recommend, and friends are joining me in exploration.

I'm learning you don't have to be the best {or the skinniest, or the most fit} to be an inspiration. You just have to be willing to lace up your shoes every day and be an example. Be the one who says: today is the day, and let's do this together.

Be vulnerable.

I had a big vulnerability moment Friday. I'd taken my workout clothes and shoes with me to work with the intention of running in a new-to-me park, sans Tuck. He was still recovering from a pulled muscle, but I'd committed to running a long run without him.

I didn't want to do it. And then the old tapes started in my head, and a new one even joined the reel.

"You can't run without Tuck. Now people are going to be looking at the fat girl trying to run, instead of at the beautiful dog she's running with."

Tuck was my running crutch. Inspiration, yes. Security blanket? Apparently!

I ran anyway in what was a defining self-esteem moment for me.

We are all drawing our inspiration from someone, something. I get mine from my host of athlete-friends who encourage me, answer my questions and exemplify an aspiration.

Somewhere in the inspiration chain, I fit in, and you do too. Just think: if I'm inspired, and you find me inspiring, and someone is inspired by you, when will it stop?

It's like the wave, only better.

It's a wave of health and fitness and we're all part of it.

Question is: are you sitting down, or jumping to your feet with your hands in the air?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Book Review: Daring Greatly

This isn't a coffee table book, or one that you leave waiting on the night stand, or neglected on your bookshelf. It's one you underline in, mark in, leave notes in the margins, bend pages back to mark a spot, dribble evening tea in and shove scraps of paper in key places so you don't lose the spot. When you're done, it will look read, and it should. And long after it's been read (once, twice, three times), it's the book that will live in your mind and heart.

I was running two nights ago and was involved in a text conversation, one that required me to expose a bit of my heart. I wanted out of the conversation (“whoops, I didn't mean to send you that text”) and then the thought: “Why is it hard for you right now to be vulnerable with this person?” Brene Brown was in my head.

Daring Greatly is the book that will breathe warm air over the icy enclosures of your heart and tempt you with greatness to let go, be vulnerable, build shame-resiliency and live a Wholehearted life. It's not just for one person, it's for every person. If you're the leader in your home, your corporation, your neighborhood, you school, your family, need to block out the distractions, the obligations, the tugs and pulls, find a quiet spot and let Brown's words penetrate your psyche.

Just think: if you're living a Wholehearted life, and I am too, and you inspire your neighbor, and your neighbor takes the message to their workplace, and on and on, before we know it, we've spread a lifestyle of Wholehearted living and perhaps, just perhaps, the world could indeed be a Wholehearted world.

To join the discussion, visit:

I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review but all opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

it's worse than Christmas morning

There's a feeling I get if you ever leave me in a vehicle while you "run inside real quick." I feel suffocated. The longer you take, the more I want to vomit, and the longer you continue to take, the more pissed off I get.

The moral of that story: don't leave me waiting in a vehicle for a long time. Probably some suppressed childhood memory.

But then there's real life, and real life, coincidentally, involves a lot of waiting, and I am not a good waiter.
I want results, action, a plan, Yesterday would've been even better.

Life doesn't work like that. It's more about the moments, the journey, the stitches in time that create a masterpiece.

And I'm over here drumming my fingers. Can we plllleeeeeeaaasseeeee get this show on the road?
And Life's like, "No, wait just a little bit longer."

One of my friends told me yesterday: "Think about where you've come from and also realize that improvements come in minute increments! It all adds up over time...enjoy the process!"

Ah, enjoy the process.
Process enjoyed. The plan, please? Results?
Enjoy the process. 

My life coach told me Tuesday: "This is your waiting time, but in the waiting time, identify the perfect things in your life right now..." and there are so many.

You see, this waiting time is more about the anticipation of what's coming and the suspense is killing me. I'm not unhappy, I told a friend. I'm restless.

Change is in the air and I want to know what it is!  

Saturday, September 15, 2012

dramatic bitches

Dear {over-dramatic} Skye {with no pain tolerance and a predisposition for self-injury}:
I thought you were dying.
I cried and held a hot water bottle to your ass. I called the vet at 10:30 p.m. and left a message on his emergency voicemail. I Googled hip dysplasia. I fed you cottage cheese with aspirin and wondered why you wouldn't pee or walk.
I took you to the vet this morning and you were so excited for a car ride. You spun in circles and jumped into the back of my car with no problems. You drug me into the vet's office and put your front legs on the receptionist's counter. We sat down and you were in my lap. You weren't crying anymore or moving stiffly.
When the vet called us back, you jumped on his windowsill and would not be still. I couldn't figure it out and he laughed.
He said you likely pulled a muscle and that you're a bit over weight. The fact that he called you fat vindicated the embarrassment I felt over bringing in my dog-who-couldn't-walk. He gave you some muscle relaxers and sent us home.
You seem to be fine now, and this momma-heart is much better, too.
Thanks for being you in all your dramatic-ness, and thanks for not being on your death bed.

Friday, September 14, 2012

sick girl

Because sometimes what you need is a hot water bottle on your ass and your mother nearby.

I hope whatever's ailing my girl goes away soon. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

the day I realized I'm 29 and single

I was hiking. I wasn't lost yet.
The sun was shining brilliantly and there was a magnificent breeze.
I was alone (with my dogs) as I often am.
There was no music, no conversation. Just me, holding my water bottle, walking, thinking.

I was thinking about my new year. You know, I turned 29 on the second and have spent the past 10 days celebrating with family and friends and feeling splendidly loved and spoiled by the richness of the relationships in my life.

It's my last year in my 20s and I'm not sad or regretful or melancholic over that notion. I'm delightfully hopeful and expectant about the adventures Year 29 will deliver.

What will I get myself into?
What will I lose?
What will I gain?
Where will I be?
What will I learn?
What will I do for the first time?
Will I hate it? Love it? Repeat it?
What mistakes will I make? Apologies will I say? Condolences give?
How will I improve? What will I improve?
What will get stronger? Weaker?
What will I accomplish? Relinguish?

I smiled out loud in anticipation. The sun, the breeze, the exploring adventure, the {crazy beautiful} life.

Hopeful expectancy.
Or sometimes impatience.

But where are we going?

But what will they create when added together?

And tomorrow?

Then somewhere in all the hopeful expectancy and on the plains of some state park in the middle of ranchland, and while I was smiling...

And you're single.

The trailing thought made me smile wider, because I realized this was the first time I'd thought that in the first week of my 29th year, and because the anticipation deepened.

What will happen next?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

How to hike

1) "Do something today for the first time."
2) Decide to go hiking in a new location during the hottest part of the day.
3) Pack water, an extra dog bowl, and snacks. Do not bring sunscreen.
4) Google directions to the park.
5) Look at the map at the trailhead long enough to see that Lively Loop is 1.1 miles, and think to yourself, "Yeah, that sounds like a good little jaunt."
6) Disregard everything else.

7) Make a mental note of the vehicle that pulled in behind you. Wonder later if they're serial killers.
8) Blast Pandora for the first 30 minutes. Then, when you realize your 1.1 miles isn't actually 1.1, turn off Pandora. You might need your battery later to start a fire.
9) Take a picture of yourself while you're still having fun.

10) End all phone calls with friends with, "I need to reserve my phone power in case I have to call in the cavalry."

11) Actually wonder if that will be necessary.
12) Take a few breaks, insisted upon by your dogs.
13) Start to wonder if you're hiking on random ranchland, or if this is actually a trail.
14) Stick to the yellow markers. You have no idea what yellow means, but you're committed.
15) Realize you've been at it for an hour and a half and have not seen another soul.
16) Come to a trail sign that doesn't have yours listed on it, or at least the one you thought you were on.
17) Stay calm and straight.
18) Come to the gravel road you drove into the park on. Notice there are no signs. Anywhere. Turn right.
19) Second guess your decision to turn right.
20) Walk 3/10 of a mile to the park maintenance area. Enter and knock on doors. No one will answer.
21) Swallow panic.
22) Spot a restroom, knock on the door, enter. Direct the dogs to the toilet.

23) Fill up your water bottle with water from the maintenance man's shower. The water running into your armpit feels good.
24) Leave the maintenance area. Decide you were going in the wrong direction on the road. Turn right.
25) Yell, "Fuck hiking!"
26) Verbally berate the person who named the trail Lively Loop when it CLEARLY DIDN'T LOOP.
27) Walk more than half a mile and text a few key people that you're lost.
28) Stop in the shade, and apologize to your dogs, who you have never seen so exhausted.
29) Realize you're headed in the wrong direction.
30) Turn around.
31) Wave at the two Park Rangers who drive by you and promise yourself that the next one you'll flag down and ask for a ride.
32) Get back to the maintenance area to fill up on water. It's closed.
33) Turn left out of the maintenance area.
34) Walk a little ways and around the bend to your car.
35) Study the map. Realize you're a directional idiot and that your 1.1 mile loop was actually a more than 5-mile trek. We started at the "you are here" arrow and came out at the little red dot just above the arrow. Apparently, it did loop.
36) Go home.

5K #2

Two months ago I started running and since then I've completed two 5Ks. If I can do it, you can too.

This race was more difficult from last month's, and easier at the same time. The route was mostly on an incline with steeper uphill portions (and downhill too) and nothing like anything I've run on before. The easier part was that I was more familiar with my abilities, so I paced myself early on (start slow, finish strong), and mentally attacked the hills before I physically arrived.

Do you see this person?
She's the best running-support-friend anyone could ask for not to mention she's a great friend when you're not sweating your ass off. She rolled out of bed with Lily and met me about 10 minutes into the run. Lily pulled me up a couple hills. :) She helped keep me on track with my time goals, which I ended up not making. I was 90 seconds off from my time goal, but finished in 38:35, a solid 3 minutes faster than my last one. I barely walked any, though my pace obviously slowed considerably.

Maybe I should mention here that I was running with a cold, so I should be happy with my improvement (said running friend).

I was so glad to run this race with colleagues and friends! There were seven of us and we all finished strong!

Now when's the next one?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

fall into fall, and a bit of rambling

Starbucks has introduced their great fall line-up, football season has started, it's forecasted to be 68 degrees Saturday night, and everywhere there are orange scarves and pumpkins.

I think fall is about to be here.
But, you know, in Texas that still means 100+ degree days for most of this glorious month of September, which is really my favorite month of the whole year.

It starts with my birthday, celebrated four days ago by attending the season opening game of the Texas Longhorns with 101,000 other people, and a new friend. Nothing says "welcome to fall" than sitting at the very top of the Longhorns stadium for an evening game, and watching the moon glow over the Austin skyline while a breeze cooled everyone. Plus, we won, so that was awesome.

Texas Longhorns vs. Wyoming Cowboys

My Facebook page lit up Saturday and Sunday with birthday wishes, all of which I deeply appreciated. The one that made me cry, though, was a text message I got Monday from my former nanny-child's mom. She wished me a happy birthday from her and Josey, and said they went to the circus a few days ago and Josey said she wished I was with them. And then tears stung my eyes. It's funny how after all these years one little girl can still have a grip on your heart, and she remembers me. And then yesterday my best friend sent me a picture message of her two-year-old son with a Longhorns shirt on and a caption, "Making Auntie Holly proud!" I'm truly blessed by the little squirts in my life.

I'm fighting off a cold, or whatever it is. Whatever-it-is is a sore throat and mild congestion capped off with some ol' fashioned fatigue. Last night I had a strict regiment: leave work early, get Vitamin C, go home, rest, run, eat, make chili, shower, sleep. So that's what I did, and I was not deterred by the books scattered across the kitchen floor because Skye had knocked over the bookshelf. Nope. Cleaning up books and fixing a bookshelf was not on the evening's agenda and so I left them.

And I slept for 10 hours, which in my world is a glorious, glorious thing.

I've got a 5K coming up on Saturday and I'm so, so, so glad for my birthday-present-to-myself running shoes. Can you believe I bought running shoes?  I still catch myself, like last night post-run while washing dishes, thinking: You ran. YOU RAN. And this is monumental because I've always said, "I am not a runner," despite my great admiration of all my running friends. But now, here I am, running a little at a time and a little bit more at a time.

And judging myself for not running more. Why do I that? Tuck and I had a good run last night and on our way back, I was frustrated that I couldn't run anymore. That's my adversarial side talking, and then I become my own coach: "You've only been running for two months, you've got a couple diseases, you started at zero and look at where you are today. Get over it! And be satisfied."

So I told myself, "OK, self. You're right."

And I walked the rest of the way home.