Sunday, March 12, 2017

Do Something

How about another political post?!


Like most people, I've been overwhelmed by everything our new President has been doing, saying, and lying about. Every day there's a new travesty, whether it's a completely incompetent cabinet nomination, unconstitutional bans on particular religions, or the rolling back of laws that protect our most vulnerable. It's easy to feel helpless, and it's hard to know how to deal with it all. ("Autocracy: Rules for Survival" by Masha Gessen has been very instructive.) I've been trying to be proactive and do what I can, but it never seems like enough and I don't actually know if my daily phone calls and monthly protests are making a difference. I'm also trying to conserve my energy. Outrage is exhausting, and I still have to live my life - go to work, be good partner, friend and ally, take care of my animals, take care of myself, write. 

Something that's been really helpful is the Action Now newsletter by Mikki Halpin, in particular the one titled "Do something. But you can't do everything." You should read it yourself so I won't recap the whole thing, but I will share this one section, because I've been thinking about it daily. She basically says we should direct our energy and action and avoid burnout by making three choices:

  • One thing to be a leader on ​
  • One thing to be a follower on 
  • One thing to make a habit of 

I've taken this to heart, and I'm starting to make progress in each direction.

One thing to be a leader on: 

This year, for the first time ever, I helped organize my local precinct for the Democratic Party. I'm not sure how it works in other states, but in North Carolina our neighborhoods are split into precincts, and these are the building blocks of the Democratic party. Precincts have elected officers, they represent your neighborhood at county, state, and national events, and they help guide the party by offering suggestions about what we should focus on, getting people talking to each other, and raising money. (I actually wrote a beginner's guide for my local activist group, which got shared and republished in a few places.) Precinct work is about as grassroots as you can get, and as it turns out my precinct has been unorganized for the last few years. So I, along with another woman, decided to change that. We went to a few training meetings, made a few hundred phone calls to our neighbors, and held a successful meeting in February. It was a little bit terrifying (I don't like calling strangers on the phone) but our success made it all worth it. We managed to raise three times our funding goal, passed two resolutions, named 15 delegates, and elected five officers. I was actually elected chair, which is pretty awesome. I'm excited to see what kind of difference I can make right here in my city, and to learn more about the political machine in general. 

One thing to be a follower on: 

I joined a local progressive group of mostly white women (facts are facts) who are doing a lot of work helping to organize and direct the post-election energy and anger of our citizens. By working with them, I've taken part in some direct action movements and been able to reach out to and get involved in other groups in town, like the NAACP and the Interfaith Refugee Ministry. I even attended the Moral March in Raleigh in early February, which was really wonderful and gratifying. Over the next few months, I'm going to do a lot of listening to these groups, figure out how I can help them accomplish their goals, and donate as much time and energy as I can. I plan to follow their lead, since they've been working hard for years and I just showed up. 

One thing to make a habit of: 

I have called my Senators and Representatives more times in the past month than I have my own parents. I also set up recurring monthly donations to Planned Parenthood and the Nature Conservancy. These are small things, and they might not make a huge difference, but they keep me engaged and help me feel as if I'm making a small difference - especially when combined with all the other small actions others are taking. Stronger together, right? I sure hope so.

Have you been doing anything differently, big or small, since the election? I'd love to hear about it! 

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Goodbye, Dear Friend

If you follow me on social media, you've already heard the sad news. If not, then I will tell you now: Seamus, our beloved dog, passed away a week and a day ago. 


He was twelve and a half years old - ancient for a dog his size, and he acted like it, too. We knew he was slowing down. A few years ago, we had to start lifting him into the car for rides - he could no longer make the jump. A few months ago, he began having accidents in the house - just number one, and we have hardwood floors, so it was just annoying rather than catastrophic. A few weeks ago, he developed a strange cough - he'd gag for a few seconds, followed by a loud cough and some wheezing breaths. I took him to the vet for a checkup, and after a full senior panel, which included blood and urine tests, the vet informed us that Seamus was simply getting old. The gagging was mostly likely caused by some paralysis in his larynx, which could be fixed with a very expensive surgery - or the surgery could make it worse. After talking it over with the vet, Nathan and I agreed to skip surgery, make sure Seamus was comfortable and happy, and revisit the issue in a few months if things continued to get worse. We knew our boy wouldn't be with us forever, and we prepared ourselves for tough decision sometime this summer. For now, we'd enjoy the time we had. 


Then, just a few days later, Seamus made the decision for us. After a morning walk with Nathan and Calvin and a few hours laying in our sunny backyard, he went inside to take a nap on the couch - his favorite place. An hour later, Nathan came inside to check on him, and realized he'd passed away. 

The next few hours were awful. Nathan called me, I rushed home from work, we cried and dug a hole and said our goodbyes and cried some more. We spent the rest of the weekend grieving, keeping Calvin close, and breaking down into tears every time we walked by the empty couch. This was not my first experience with death, and Nathan is a paramedic, and we knew he was winding down, and yet his passing stunned us. We were completely unprepared to say goodbye. We kept repeating, through our tears, that we thought we'd have more time. We wanted to give him one last good day and then say our farewells properly. We felt as if we'd been cheated. 


Later, when the grief had begun to subside, we realized what a blessing Seamus had given us. We didn't have to watch his quality of life get worse and worse. We didn't have to struggle with an impossible decision, wondering if we were keeping him alive out of selfishness or letting him go too early. And a long, drawn out goodbye - that would have been for us, not him. He would have known something was wrong. He would have been scared. It would have been awful. Instead, he settled in a for a nap, on the couch where we spent countless nights as a family. When Nathan found him, he first thought Seamus was simply asleep - that's how comfortable, how natural he looked. Who could ask for anything better? Who could deny our dog - the best dog in the world, the dog who spent 12 years by our side - such a dignified end? 


As much as these thoughts comfort us, it's still impossibly hard to lose our dog. I was 22 when we brought Seamus home, a recent college graduate who had just moved to Texas to be with her long-distance boyfriend. It's incredible to think about all Seamus experienced with us - road trips, camping trips, four homes, three degrees, a second dog, a million friends, a thousand fights, a wedding. He was more than a dog - he was family. Now that he's gone, we're learning how to be a family of three. We're remembering how he lived his life - with loyalty, love, enthusiasm, and a big dose of bossiness - and we're grateful, always, for the time we had, even if it wasn't nearly enough. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

#WritersResist in Wilmington


Yesterday, I took part in Wilmington's Writers Resist event. Writers Resist sprang up a few weeks ago, after Trump's election. Since then, it's become increasingly obvious that we, as Americans, need to uphold the values of free speech in order to protect our democracy. One of the most disturbing parts of this whole election is the many, many people willing to dismiss the wildly offensive and disturbing things that come out of Trump's mouth. "Oh, he just said that to get elected. He won't actually do that." Or "You always want to go by what’s come out of his mouth rather than look at what’s in his heart.” Or rumors that Trump wants to kick the press out of the White House. Or the rise and cries of Fake News, and the unwillingness to believe anything that doesn't align with your own ideas and prejudices. 

Words have power and meaning. Language is a tool that can oppress or liberate. There are many ways to resist Trump, and writing, reading, sharing, thinking - on the page and out loud, in public and alone - is one way. 


To that end, some writers in Wilmington organized a reading, which unfolded in our small town at the same time as over one hundred other events were taking place across the United States. Some events were huge, starring Poet Laureates and bestselling writers. Others charged a nominal fees for tickets and donated the proceeds to charities. Ours was smaller, including local writers and speakers who simply wanted to share and be a part of the movement. But small can be powerful. Small can be everything. Small is not so small, especially when you're surrounded by a vibrant, intelligent, smart, and passionate community of people who just want to make the world better. 

Photo credit: Hannah Dela Cruz Abrams

I ended up reading two original pieces, which were both loosely about women and girls and the world we live in. I ended with this quote by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, from her book We Should All Be Feminists. Thanks to Adichie for lending me the words, and thanks to the organizers of our event for helping Wilmington raise its voice and join the resistance. 

"Gender is not an easy conversation to have. It makes people uncomfortable, sometimes even irritable. Both men and women are resistant to talk about gender, or are quick to dismiss the problems of gender. Because thinking of changing the status quo is always uncomfortable.

Some people ask: "Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?" Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general - but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women. That the problem was not about being human, but specifically about being a female human. For centuries, the world divided human beings into two groups and then proceeded to exclude and oppress one group. It is only fair that the solution to the problem acknowledge that." 

Friday, December 30, 2016

The Best Books I Read in 2016


2016: not a great year. I think we can all agree on that. One of the relentlessly bright spots, as usual, was the refuge and joy I found in reading. While I didn't read as many books as last year (33 versus 39) I'm happy with my final tally. I read widely. I read diversely. I read a number of books in translation. I read (almost) every book club pick. In these small ways, it was a good year. 

My trends from last year persist. Out of the 33 books I read, most of them were written by women. A third of them were penned by POC. Two-thirds of them were novels. When I was thinking about this post, I felt a twinge of disappointment, because I couldn't think of a book from 2016 that truly knocked me over. To be fair, I read both A Little Life and Fates and Furies last year, so the competition was stiff. When I started going through my spreadsheet, however, I realized there were a number of books I loved, but that they were more a slow burn rather than a raging fire. Still, they kept me warm.

Below are some stats and my made-up-on-the-spot superlatives. Special thanks to the friends, publishers, reviewers, and literature lovers who led me to such wonderful books this year, and especially to the authors who wrote them. I honestly don't know what I'd do without you.

Total books read in 2016: 33

Gender breakdown: 
Female: 26
Male: 7

Diversity breakdown: 
White: 22
POC: 11

Genre breakdown: 
Novels: 23
Short story collections: 7
Nonfiction/Memoir: 3

Month I read the most books: 
5 in January. I always start the year off strong! 

Month I read the least books: 
A single book in both June and October. I guess I was busy back then? 

Most fun I had while reading: 
Kitchens of the Great Midwest, by J. Ryan Stradal. Connected short stories linked by a famous chef and her favorite foods.  

Most overrated book: 
The Sellout by Paul Beatty. Intellectually, I know it's a brilliant and important book. Emotionally, I'm just not a huge fan of satire. 

Most underrated book: 
All is Forgotten, Nothing is Lost, by Sam Chang. Proof that a brief, quiet book can pack a serious punch. 

Best family drama: 
The Turner House, by Angela Flourney. I love books about families, and the Turners did not disappoint. 

Prettiest prose: 
Goodnight, Beautiful Women, by Anna Noyes. Oh, what sentences! 

Best book club pick: 
Mr. Splitfoot, by Samantha Hunt. The fact that we broke out the Ouija board for our meeting might have helped. 

Most engrossing: 
Swing Time, by Zadie Smith. This story took a lot of turns but never lost its footing. And yes, that pun was intentional. 

Most disturbing book: 
The Vegetarian by Han Kang. I WAS NOT PREPARED FOR THIS BOOK.  

Most disappointing ending: 
Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi. I loved this book up until the last few pages, and then I just felt weird about the whole thing.  

Best book(s) of 2016, runners-up: 
The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante. I read all four of them toward the beginning of this year, and they've stuck with me. I don't think I'll ever forget Lila and Lenu. 

Best book of 2016: 
The Mothers, by Brit Bennett. My favorite books are about broken hearts, fractured families, and the search for home. This book had all those things, and was also a delight to read. I can't wait to see what Bennett does next.  

The full list of books I read in 2016, in order: 
Under the Udala Trees, by Chinelo Okparanta
The Turner House, by Angela Flourney 
Boy, Snow, Bird, by Helen Oyeyemi 
Find Me, by Laura Van Den Berg 
My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante 
Fortune Smiles, by Adam Johnson 
The Sellout, by Paul Beatty 
The Story of a New Name, by Elena Ferrante 
Mr. Splitfoot, by Samantha Hunt 
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, by Elena Ferrante 
The Queen of the Night, by Alexander Chee 
The Vegetarian, by Han Kang 
Hall of Small Mammals, by Thomas Pierce 
Ghost Network, by Catie Disabato 
The Story of the Lost Child, by Elena Ferrante 
Kitchens of the Great Midwest, by J. Ryan Stradal 
Desert Boys, by Chris McCormick 
Goodnight, Beautiful Women, by Anna Noyes 
Orlando, by Virginia Woolf 
All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost, by Sam Chang 
The Girls, by Emma Cline 
Proxies, by Brian Blanchfield 
Never Broken, by Jewel 
The Nest, by Cynthia Sweeney 
Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi 
Karate Chop, by Dorothe Nors
Leave Me, by Gayle Forman 
Son and Daughters of Ease and Plenty, by Raomoa Ausubel 
The Mothers, by Britt Bennett 
The Round House, by Louise Erdrich 
Swing Time, by Zadie Smith 
American Housewife, by Helen Ellis 
Superstorm, by Kathryn Miles 

See also: 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Something New


This past year I decided to keep a list of all the new things I did in 2016. If I'd never done it before, no matter how mundane it may have seemed, it got a spot on the list. My hope was that the list would motivate me to step outside my comfort zone and keep me from falling into a rut. I am prone to ruts. Like most people, I prefer to be comfortable, to stick with what I know. While comfort isn't a bad thing, it can lead to stagnation - a situation I hoped to avoid. The world is a wide, mysterious, dark and lovely place, and I've barely scratched its surface. Doing something brand new, for the first time, seemed like a good way to dig a bit deeper. 

In that spirit, here are all the new things I did in 2016. I hope to have an even longer list at the end of next year. 

Travel 


Personal 

  • Starting using a Diva cup and became its number one fan. 
  • Met Roxane Gay at UNCW.
  • Gave a Maid of Honor speech at my sister's wedding. 
  • Saw The Residents in concert in Carrboro. 
  • Started budgeting with YNAB and paid off $12K in credit card debt. 
  • Guest-hosted a podcast
  • Voted for a woman for president of the United States of America. 
  • Hosted a breakfast taco baby shower for a dear friend

Writing 

  • Won a fellowship to the Vermont Studio Center. 
  • Wrote a second novel, this one without any help from an MFA program. 
  • Ghostwrote a medical book for a bunch of money. 
  • Wrote a piece of fiction that was part of a museum exhibit
  • Served as a panelist during UNCW's Writers Week. 
  • Published in MonkeyBicycle, The Boiler, and Necessary Fiction

Did you do anything new in 2016? I'd love to hear about it! 


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Ten Plus Four


Earlier this month Nathan and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary and fourteenth year together. (We got married on our ten year anniversary because we like round numbers.) 

It was a strange time for celebrations. The election had just imploded and we both had to work. Still, we wanted to do something to commemorate our relationship, so we went out to lunch and ate a vat of chips and salsa. Later, we drank wine and watched the final installment of The Hunger Games, which seemed appropriate considering the state of the world. Nathan also wrote me a very sweet message on Facebook, which was lovely, especially since he doesn't like being the center of attention or showing emotions in public, while I love both those things. Sometimes true romance requires sacrifice. 

I'm not a very good gift-giver, though I am getting better, and we've always been hit or miss with anniversary gifts. For inspiration I like to check out those lists of traditional gifts, and we've gotten some good ideas from them - the first wedding anniversary was paper, which was easy (books!) and the second was cotton (clothes!). We skipped the third, which was leather, but I had high hopes for this year. As it turns out the traditional gift for the fourth anniversary is fruit or flowers. Neither of these particularly interested us - I buy myself flowers every week, and we eat a lot of fruit already.

We turned instead to the list of modern gift ideas, where we discovered that the fourth anniversary is a great time to buy electrical appliances. This interested us very much. When we moved into our current home we inherited a dryer that was pretty much the worst. It took two hours to dry a load and made a horrible screeching sound the whole time so that you had to lock yourself in the bedroom while it was running. We decided to treat ourselves to a new-to-us dryer as a joint anniversary gift, and it's pretty much the best thing ever. So quiet, so soothing, so effective. I'm not sure why electrical appliances were relegated to year four (maybe that's when any electrical appliances you received as wedding gifts start to fall apart?) but I'm glad it happened when it did.

Also, I've just realized I wrote a lot of paragraphs about gifts and none about, you know, marriage. And so, to bring it all together, a metaphor: marriage is like a dryer. You don't always appreciate it until it begins to fall apart and the loud, screeching sounds drive you crazy. While there are alternatives, dryers are pretty great, all things considered. It's worth it to fix and mend, to improve and and maintain, in order to keep them running smoothly. Because when your dryer works, it's quiet and steady and certain and warm, and it makes life easier and far more enjoyable. I'm very luck that I get to share my dryer, and my marriage, with Nathan. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Published in Necessary Fiction!


In all my sadness over the election results, I nearly forgot to share some good news with y'all. My short story, "The Arborist," was published in the wonderful literary journal Necessary Fiction, and you can read it online right now. 

I'm really glad this piece found a good home, because I've always had a soft spot for it. (Is it weird to have soft spots for your own writing? Don't answer that.) I consider this one of my "Long Island stories," as it takes place in the same universe I've been writing about for a number of years, and it's one of my rare forays into second person POV, which is fun and different. It's also a story I've read at numerous readings, here in Wilmington and at the Vermont Studio Center back in April. I'm so glad it's finally in print and that I can share it here! 

And because I always like to include stats alongside publication announcements (because bragging, while fun, isn't helpful to anyone but me) I started drafting this piece in December 2014. I revised it roughly six times between then and this past September, mostly after each round of rejections.

Speaking of rejections, it was turned down a total of 11 times, and three of those rejections were personal and/or encouraging. While being rejected isn't a great feeling, I'm grateful for all the journals and magazines who said "No, thanks." They forced me to keep working at this piece, editing and revising and figuring out what wasn't working and then trying to fix those things. By the time it was finally accepted, it was much stronger than my original version, and I'm so glad it ended up at Necessary Fiction. They publish great stuff and were kind, supportive, and easy to work with. I recommend submitting there if you think your work might be a good fit! 

Thanks again to Necessary Fiction, and thanks to you for reading this far! If you want to read more of my work, check out my professional website - it's much more up-to-date than this blog.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

I'm With Us

By Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

On Tuesday night, we went to an election party. We were ready to celebrate - the refrigerator was stocked with champagne, pizzas were delivered, many people brought their children to see what we were certain would be a historic moment. There may or may not have been a piƱata of a certain presidential candidate's head, filled with leftover Halloween candy and airplane bottles of liquor. We were happy. We were hopeful. We were ready. 

As the night wore on, however, the crowd began to thin. Our boisterous mood turned quiet, our conversations stunned silent. Those who stayed sat in chairs, staring at the television and their phones, searching for an alternate story, the one with the ending we all deserved. Nathan and I finally left around midnight, and it felt like the world had been turned into a pumpkin - party over. When I went to bed, I was still hopeful. When I woke at 3:30AM and checked my phone, I finally accepted that it was over. I lay in bed for over an hour, staring at the ceiling, numb. 


On Friday morning, I woke up and could barely walk. This has happened before. It starts in my pelvis, with my sacroiliac joint, and radiates out through my hips and lower back. Most of the time I keep the pain at bay with yoga, but sometimes it flares up unexpectedly, making it difficult to walk and impossible to sit upright. The sitting thing is particularly inconvenient, since my job depends upon my ability to be at my desk. I went to work anyway but only lasted 45 minutes before I had to leave and go straight to a chiropractor. It was my first time at this particular practice and ended up being a consultation, mostly - questions rather than relief. "Have you experienced any unusual stress this week?" the doctor asked, glancing up from his clipboard. "Just the election," I said. He laughed as if I were joking. 

I spent the rest of that day at home, on my back, trying to ignore the pain radiating through my lower body. I only go to the chiropractor when I'm really desperate - deep down, I'm skeptical of their beliefs, the almost religious way they believe that our emotional and physical selves are so closely linked - but as I lay there, I started to believe. My emotional state - sadness, frustration, confusion, disbelief, fear, disappointment, heartbreak - had become my physical one. On Wednesday morning, when the election results had crystallized, I felt as if I'd been knocked down. On Friday morning, I couldn't stand up. It's hard to believe this was purely coincidence. 


I've spent a lot of time since Tuesday thinking about what I can do, and I keep returning to my community here in North Carolina. We were considered a swing state, and while Trump won the top of the ticket, we did manage to elect a new Democratic governor. North Carolina is a complicated place with a dark history and - I believe - a bright future. I want to be a part of the brightness. I'm going to spend a few weeks researching and reaching out to local organizations, seeing where my skills and talents could be put to the best use. I'm talking to other people in my community who are also feeling rage and sadness and disappointment, who refuse to accept this election as an ending. In her beautiful concession speech, Hillary Clinton said "This loss hurts. But please, please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. It’s always worth it. And we need you keep up these fights now and for the rest of your lives."

Next week, when Roy Cooper is officially our governor (they're still counting the final ballots but I am, still and always, hopeful) we'll drink the champagne we never uncorked. After a weekend of rest, my body will realign itself and the pain will recede. I will get up and I will fight, now and for the rest of my life. 

This isn't an ending. It's a beginning, and I'm ready to work. 

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

I'm With Her


It's been a long and dark election, hasn't it? If you've been reading this blog for more than five minutes, you probably know I'm a Clinton supporter. What you might not know, however, is a fact that some will find unbelievable, given the current political climate. Are you ready? Here it is: 

I like Hillary Clinton. 

Shocking, I know. Especially during an election when everyone is talking about how terrible both the candidates are, how they're voting against Trump rather than for Clinton, how "Clinton isn't perfect, but..." Maybe it's because I'm friends with a lot of Bernie supporters for whom Clinton is their second choice. Maybe it's because I live in a sexist society that makes the idea of a woman in power uncomfortable for so many people, even the liberal ones. ("I can't put my finger on it, there's just something about her, I can't don't trust her.") Maybe there are legitimate reasons to feel uneasy about Clinton, just as there are about every single person who has ever and will ever run for that office. (It's not an easy job, you know.) I understand these things. I know where people are coming from. I get it. And yet. 

I like Hillary Clinton. 

I admire her long record of public service. I think she's incredibly smart and cunning. I like that she's able to work with people on both sides of the aisle. If you're going to lead a divisive country, you have to be able to compromise, to find workable solutions, to give and to take. This isn't a liability in a president - it's a strength. 

And speaking of strength, Hillary Clinton has it in spades. As a woman, I admire how she's put up with so much shit. Her whole life has been an exercise is rising above sexism and humiliation and ignorant people - powerful and otherwise - who want to bring her down. Michelle Obama said, "When they go low, we go high," and no one has had to go higher than Hillary Clinton. Anyone who can withstand that caliber of abuse and hatred and not only ignore it but still get the work done absolutely has the fortitude to be president of the United States. 

I believe she'll be a good president. She's progressive, she'll continue the work Obama has done, she'll have the supporters of Sanders and other progressives at her heels, and she'll do the best she can to improve the lives of the middle class - families, women, children. She's experienced. She's compassionate. She's intelligent. She knows how to rock a pantsuit. 

I like Hillary Clinton, and I'm proud to cast my vote for her. 

Further reading: 

and My Default Person, by my dear friend Katie Jones, who led me to the previous article and who sparked many of the thoughts in this post. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Back on Track


Thanks to my job I've had the opportunity to join Without Limits, a personal coaching and training group. I got a training plan that culminates in a 50K relay race in January - we formed a team at work, and we'll each run 10 miles total. My real training goal, however, is the Wrightsville Beach Half Marathon, which I run every year in March. It was the race where I earned my PR in 2015 (1:56:28) and it would be nice to beat that time in 2017. Thanks to Without Limits, I might be able to! 

Besides my training plan (which, like all training plans, I am following very loosely) I also get to attend track workouts. Right now I go once a week; in November I'll start going twice a week. It's a good thing they're easing me into these workouts because OH MY GOD THEY ARE SO HARD. Growing up, I wasn't a jock. I didn't run track or play volleyball or do anything even remotely physical. Most of my time was spent in a chair, reading a book. Sometimes I went to yoga. I didn't really get into fitness until I moved to Nacogdoches and joined roller derby (RIP), and then started running on my own, and then ran a lot on my own, and then moved to North Carolina and discovered kettlebell, and that's pretty much my athletic history. 

Lately, though, I've not been very athletic. As I'm sure you all know, it's hard to work out regularly when you work a full time job. My mornings are spoken for, as that is my sacred writing time. If I want to do anything social or, I don't know, see my husband before bed, then my scheduled evening workout is the first thing to go. When I started going to track workouts a few weeks ago, I was exercising inconsistently and not really pushing myself - we're talking bare minimum. I needed to be shocked back into shape, and oh, I am. 

For most people, the workouts are probably pretty standard. We run around the track, covering different distances (400 meters, 600 meters, 800 meters) in whatever amount of time the coach has decided we are capable of. I always think I am NOT capable of those speeds. Often I want to throw up halfway through the workout; sometimes I see stars, especially as I cross the finish line. But I do the distances, and I hit the goals. (It helps that the coach is there, calling out your time as you stumble by, helping you stay on track.) 

What I love best about the workouts is the feeling, at the beginning, that there's no way I will be able to do it, and then the realization, at the end, that I did. All this time I've been making excuses, telling myself I'm slowing down because I'm getting older, because of my job, because my priorities have changed. In reality I just needed someone on the sidelines, reminding me that I'm capable of more.