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A Quiet Place to Sit and Think

You know those times when you have so much going on, so many things in your head and your heart and your life that you just really don’t know what to do with it all and you just kind of close the door so that people don’t have to see/hear/witness you thinking and talking in circles about nothing at all?

That’s where I’m at.

It’s the funnel that is all blocked off because everything is trying to get through at once. In the past few months we went on our first international, child-free vacation. (You can read what I wrote for Babble about it here.)

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We moved five blocks from where we were and re-discovered, similar to getting married, that the real work in moving starts after the big day. (So far we’ve created a kitchen peninsula, mounted a small entertainment center on the wall, and begun the third “big project”: a shelving unit that will allow us to unpack half a dozen boxes full of books. Don’t even ask me about the “little projects.”)

Manchild finished first grade and we are learning what “summer vacation” means — without actually going on any vacations. (It’s harder than I expected, people. “Summer Break,” my eye. What I’m feeling is “Summer-Break-Me-in-Pieces-Trying-to-Balance-Fun-and-Rest-and-Work.”)

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Little Miss turned 2 and has been growing into a chatty little trouble-maker whom we can’t get enough of.

And there have been many little mental and emotional upheavals that have left me craving time to just sit and think. Both running and writing have fallen farther down the priority list than they have been in years, and although they are still happening, there are no clear goals or a sense of urgency for now.battlebunny

Because for now, we are getting our house in order. We are cruising through some things and charging through others. We are shaking things up so that when it all settles, it will — we hope — settle in an orderly, peaceful manner.

And with all that going on, mostly what I want to do is sit and absorb, and think, and feel.

The best table in the entire world (for the price of ice cream) – $19 (Guest Post by Micah Heiselt)

I figured since this was the first time Micah got “paid” for his writing, it deserved some recognition beyond the world of Craigslist table-buyers. Hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed the ice cream that was purchased because of it.

lizzie.

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So, let’s get straight to the point. This is probably the best table in the entire world.

For almost 7 years it has faithfully kept our breakfasts, lunches, and even dinners from falling on the floor. Thanks to it’s flatness and solidity, many words have been written cleanly on many pieces of paper. Books have rested comfortably on it’s welcoming top while the reader’s hands were busy brushing the reader’s teeth or holding a sleeping child. That’s right. This table has helped sleeping children. It’s not only tough and sturdy. It’s also tender and even adorable.

And speaking of tough and sturdy. What does one do when they have a ridiculously tall Brooklyn ceiling and the lightbulb burns out, even though it’s one of those fancy kinds that is actually a tube coiled around itself, and not a true bulb at all? And also, there is no ladder to be had. Well, I’ll tell you. They drag a freaking awesome table to the middle of the room, stick a decent — but not quite as freaking awesome — chair on top, and then stand on this tower of trustworthiness while swapping out fancy not-bulbs. That’s what. And does that table care that you just put another piece of furniture on top of it along with the weight of a full-grown adult male? It does not. Because it’s the best, most tough, and most sturdy table in the entire world, and that’s how it rolls.

But I digress. Unlike these unchanging, 4 solid pillars of wood, topped with a large flat piece of wood, the world is in a constant state of flux and unease. Families grow, apartment buildings are bought out and rent is raised to exorbitant amounts. And while the awesomest, tenderest, most adorable table in the entire world barely notices while it’s being dissembled, packed in a truck, moved to a new home and then reassembled, the rest of us do notice. We notice that there just isn’t a place in the new apartment for the table. And it’s too late to go back.

Heads are scratched. Hearts are broken. Craigslist posts are painstakingly written.

This brings us to the real question of the day. What is the value of a table? Sure, Ikea may value it at $99, but we think that’s just petty. The real value of something — dare I say someone? — that has been an integral part of the lives of a Brooklyn family, year after year — still as solid as the day it was born — is more than that. It’s worth lies not in dollars and cents, but in dreams and memories. Which is why the only thing we want in return for the best, most wooden, most slightly dented table in the entire world is a new memory to replace the many that it will take with it. This will preferably be a memory that involves 3 kid sized scoops of ice-cream (with sprinkles), one single scoop for the Mrs, and a double scoop for the Mr (to also be shared with Mrs). Plus tax.

Is that too much to ask? I think not. And neither does the most amazing, most reliable, most sturdy, most pragmatic, ice-cream loving table in the entire world.

ps. I should note that the true value (and I know because I went to the ice-cream parlor to figure it out) of the memory that we seek is $19.47. Craiglist apparently only like whole numbers, though, so it’s an even better deal.

pps. The ice cream parlor asked that I put in a shameless plug for them because they are new and have not yet reached the level of infamy that they seek. It’s called Brooklyn Bell’s The Local. We haven’t tried it yet, but it sounds quite tasty.

Friends. Pals. Buddies. Besties.

He falls. Skins his knee, scrapes his elbow. I run to help him, give him a hug, inspect the damage, tell him he’ll be alright. And he lets me — but just for a minute. Then he turns and looks around, Where is she?

She’s coming, running, ready to do her job. He jumps up, runs the rest of the way to her. Both have arms open wide for the healing hug that only she can give.

It happens again and again. The two of them know their roles perfectly. He trips, she hugs. All better. Best friends.

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At night, it starts with a giggle. Some rustling, a laugh. We hear them talking, telling stories, playing games. Manchild is telling them about his favorite Pokemon, or about how Calvin (and Hobbes) is so funny. Squish is pulling off some sort of physical humor (probably hitting his own head over and over again) while his siblings laugh. Little Miss wows her brothers with the fearlessness with which she breaks the “no climbing on the top bunk” rule.

It’s music and it’s magic and I listen in disbelief. It’s actually happening. They are friends. Pals. Buddies. Allies.

Sometimes it ends with a knock on the door (which we’ve locked so they’ll actually stay put and go to sleep). Someone isn’t in her own bed. Someone is keeping someone else awake. Someone needs to use the bathroom. The spell is broken as the parents intervene.

But when the door closes again, the music starts back up.

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It sounds like a fight. Raised voices. Demands. Ultimatums. Sometimes there are tears. But I try to listen carefully to what’s going on in the back seat as we ride around on the bike and hear instead, “I like you. I want to play with you. You’re my favorite. I think you’re funny. Let’s play!”

It’s hard to hear sometimes, but it’s there. And it’s worth putting up with the crying and the whining and the occasional wrestling match because sometimes even best friends fight.

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When all is calm and dark and quiet, and it’s time for us to finally head to bed, too, we crack the door, tiptoe in, scan the beds to see who is where. Sometimes it’ll take a few seconds to locate them all.

I’ll have a hard time finding Little Miss amidst the stuffed animals as big as she is.

Squish will be lost under the blankets — even with the blazing heat of summer.

And Manchild has surprised us once or twice by having descended from the top bunk to join his buddies in the fray down below.

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Thick as thieves, partners in crime, they egg each other on and have each other’s backs.

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Runner’s Recipe: Onigiris

It’s the 4th of July this week! Independence Day! Happy Birthday America! We’re going camping to celebrate. But before we go, I thought I’d share a little recipe. And because I’m all about being timely and stuff, I thought this would be a good week to share . . . onigiris!Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

For those of you who may not be familiar with Japanese culture, onigiris could be considered a “Japanese sandwich.” I thought it might be good to share because, even if it is America’s birthday this week, it’s also picnic season. And onigiris are pretty good picnic food. Pop some rice cakes in some tupperware, mix up a simple tuna salad, toss the seaweed sheets (nori) in your picnic basket and you’re good to go.Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

When Micah and I were in Japan, we would pick up a couple of onigiris at 7-11 (actually, in Japan it is the “7&iHoldings”) to eat while we rode the Shinkansen (bullet train) or walked around whatever city we were in. But my relationship with them actually goes back a decade, to when Micah and I were engaged. Micah taught me to make them and I thought they were pretty awesome.Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

They would have become a staple in our lives then, but, of course, not every store carries nori, so it does take some planning to keep them on hand. You can get them at Asian food stores, of course. Some health food stores carry them. And, of course, there’s Amazon. If you’re in a pinch, you could maybe “deconstruct” your onigiri and scoop some rice in a bowl, add some tuna or salmon salad, and crumble some Trader Joe’s (or Kirkland Signature brand) seaweed snacks on top.

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I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let me tell you the rules, and then you can decide how to break them.

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Basic Onigiris

Makes approx. 10 onigiris, serving 3-4 as a meal, or 5-6 as a snack

Okay friends, I’m giving you a list of ingredients and step-by-step instructions such because I know when you are new to something, it’s easier to become acquainted with it if you are “formally introduced” — such as in a recipe format. However, please know that you can cook as much or as little rice as you want. You can add sesame oil or rice vinegar (or whatever you like in your sushi rice!) to taste. You can use crab or avocado or various other deliciousness as the filling. As I said, feel free to break the rules to make it to your liking.

2 cups uncooked medium grain or sushi rice

4 cups water

salt

2 tsp. toasted sesame oil (optional)

2 tsp. rice vinegar (optional)

1 7-oz. can of tuna or salmon in water

2 T. mayonaise

nori sheets (seaweed paper)

Bring the water, with a sprinkling of salt, to a boil. Add the rice, cover, lower the heat and let simmer about 20 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender. (We use a rice cooker, but if you are new to rice and don’t have one, here’s a tutorial.

Once the rice is cooked, uncover, take off the heat, fluff with a fork and let it sit until it is cool enough to handle, but still warm.

While the rice is cooling, mix up the tuna/salmon salad: open the can, drain it, and empty the fish into a bowl. Spoon some mayonnaise in and sprinkle with salt. Mix it all up and taste to be sure it is to your liking.

When the rice is cool enough to handle, stir in the sesame oil and/or rice vinegar if using, then shape it in to cakes: wet your hands, sprinkle with salt, and pick up about 1/2 cup of rice. Mold it into a triangle shape, and use your thumb to make a dimple. This might be kind of difficult to get at first, but you’ll master it before too long. Shape the rest of the rice, placing the finished cakes on a plate (or into a tupperware, if you are taking it on a picnic). (I hope the above photos give a clear idea of what you’re going for.)

When you are ready to serve, scoop some of the tuna/salmon salad into the dimple. Cut a sheet of nori in half (we just crease it and break it), place the filled rice cake in the middle of the seaweed strip, and wrap the rice cake in the seaweed. Take a bite and enjoy.

Some Kickin’ Cute Clothes from Kicky Baby

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Sharra first told me that she was coming up with a line of children’s clothes last fall as we were running through the park with our kids in the strollers, as we do nearly every week. I hadn’t known that she was a fashion designer/seamstress. I knew she was a runner, a cyclist, a yogi. An art conservationist. A good conversationalist. A totally hip mom. A supportive and patient wife to a man with a lot of responsibilities. And an all-around fun friend/great person to be around/model of who I want to be when I grow up. But of course hidden talents abound in Brooklyn and Sharra was revealing to me one of hers: she makes kid clothes.

Real, live kid clothes for real live kids that move and run and kick and climb. Clothes that are bright and colorful and stylish and . . . just what you want because it’s just what you ordered.

At the time, back in the fall, I didn’t know all this. I just knew she was a self-taught seamstress and she was trying to work out the kinks in some of her patterns before she went big and launched her Etsy shop.

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But then, a few months later she needed some models for her clothes and because I like nothing better than to be able to tell people that my children are models, I jumped at the chance. Squish and Little Miss went with the program and gamely let me change their clothes 5 times in 30 minutes and twirled and kicked and stretched and stood and sat for photos in Madison’s photo studio/bedroom.

And OH MY GOODNESS. The clothes! SO CUTE! Harem pants! Pinafores! Bibs! Bubble shorts! In infant to 5T sizes! I die. So beautiful. So fun. So perfect for little people and the parents who want them to look like the adorable children they are — and not like little adults.

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Of course we had to get a pinafore for Little Miss.* Obviously. Sharra sent us some fabric choices and then waited patiently for us to peruse them and debate among ourselves for a couple of weeks before we settled on elephants and flowers. And then she surprised us by having the finished product to us basically the next week. Such service!

Now, many of you know that Little Miss is still mostly wild animal, and has not yet evolved fully into the civilized human being that she will one day be. But in the pinafore you wouldn’t know the difference. She looks the picture of a ladylike little person, but the cut and fit are perfect for allowing her to climb and jump and kick and swing like the monkey she is inside.

Clearly, I love the pinafore. Just like I love all the clothes that have come out of Sharra’s workshop. And because Sharra is such a generous friend, she’s giving MotherRunner readers a 25% (!!) discount on Kicky Baby clothes through the end of July (!!). Just message Sharra the promo code motherrunner25 when you make your order on Etsy.

Find Kicky Baby here! And be sure to order before July 31 to get the discount!

 

*Full disclosure: Sharra kindly provided the pinafore for me to gush over review on the Internet, just as I have been doing in person since I first laid eyes on her work.

Please Don’t Make Me Juggle

We talk a lot about failing and succeeding, about balancing and juggling, balls dropped or kept aloft. I just wish there was another way. Can’t we just meet each challenge as it comes? Decide what is the most important thing to do right now and do it? Hold on to what we have and move forward?

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I don’t want to feel as if I’m falling, like I’m going to hit the ground. I don’t want to fear that hurt, that abruptness of finding that I’m not able to stand on my own two feet. I don’t want to have to worry that I’m going to drop something and that everything else will fall in the scramble to prevent chaos — only to find that the chaos is inevitable.

But I don’t often get to choose. It’s not my life I’m carrying. I never know what things should be left, and what I should scramble to hold onto. Sometimes the things I think can be left behind or wait until I get back to them turn out to be someone’s most urgent priority, their most beloved possession.

So that is where I get tripped up: what is worth risking the twisted ankle and bruised shoulder for — because everything matters to someone. I may think it would be crushing if I didn’t go to the musical performance, write the napkin joke, sing the bedtime song. But, really, it would only be crushing to me. Someone else could live without it, might not even notice it’s absence.

But then, when I absent-mindedly push the precious, coveted elevator button, or add the last cup of oats to the granola mix, I sometimes tip the scales and set off a reaction that cannot be contained. The tears, the sadness, the anger spill out with unexpected power. They flow through the apartment, the day, and my own spirit. I try to keep a level head, maintain perspective, be understanding, and clean things up, make them better. But still. They seep and leech and before I know it I am covered inside and out with guilt, disappointment, confusion.

How did this happen? How did I get so off balance that I could cause such a devastating blow? How did everything change moods and directions so suddenly? Will I ever be able to wash out the stain from this particular spill entirely? Will I carry it with me, a sad reminder of my inability to be aware of everyone else’s feelings and prioritize them appropriately? Will I be able to purge it and start over again, clean, happy, pure . . . naieve?

Or am I destined to be sadder but wiser again and again and again, until I am burdened — and balanced — with that sadness and wisdom.

I guess that’s why we talk of juggling, of balancing. We worry about falling, and dropping things because we carry everyone’s feelings in our hands, and everyone wants to be on top sometimes. And the risk we take for trying to make that happen is that sometimes, they all fall down. Even our feelings. Especially our feelings.

Notes From Women in the World, Part 2

I did it. I found my notebook from Women in the World. And as I’ve been flipping through the pages again, reading the things I wrote, remembering the thoughts and ideas and feelings that were so powerful when I first heard them (more than 2 months ago . . . ), I can see why it has been so important to me to share them.

From the pages and pages I scrawled about make-up and body image and selfies to the stories of honor killings that have been echoed in the news recently, I just can’t help but think that this is all so relevant and important for us all to know about and to think about so that we can talk and reach out and help each other — whether it be our best friend next door or our neighbor in India.

So here we go. Part 2. Please remember that these are my notes, so forgive me if they are a bit choppy! And again, if there is anything that sounds interesting to you and you want to discuss further, let me know.

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“You have to be willing to lay down your life for your cause,” says Sally, who started the Crushers (boxing) Club in (I believe) Chicago to replicate the things kids look for in gangs — like love and belonging — in a safe environment where she can also teach more basic skills like being on time and dependable, working together, resolving conflict, and dressing and speaking well so the kids are more employable. In the beginning she said, “Lord I will give you my life if you will let me save all the children.”

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In Pakistan women are trying to stand up to injustices in their communities and change men’s minds to turn them into allies. Many of them have never considered that girls should go to school. That’s a big idea for them. There was a lot of talk about honor killings (including a video in which a man said, with a smile on his face, “The solution to all the problems is a bullet.” He was responding to a question about whether he would let his wife or daughter go to the market — which, apparently, is a threat to his honor). But “our communities belong to us and we need to take ownership of them and to teach our children to take ownership as well.” (This hit me hard as someone who still feels like an outsider in my neighborhood and often looks past things as “not my problem.”)

When we are called upon to act, will we do what we are called upon to do? Will we recognize the call when it comes?

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Samantha Power is a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist turned ambassador (and mom of 2 young kids). She said, “Don’t make the choice to either send in the marines or do nothing.” There are options in between the two extremes. As a writer she could write and hope that it would impact and influence someone to do something, but now she has the responsibility and the power to actually to do something.

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In India the term “untouchable” is a pejorative — it means you are spiritually defiling to someone else. Women of that caste use the term “dalit” which means they are broken, but they are fighting back to reclaim their own lives. “Until everyone is free of this system, no one is free. We must all be free together.”

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#girlsarewatching. This was so eye-opening/scary for me: seeing popular music videos of the hottest female singers/musicians juxtaposed with home videos of 3-4 year-old girls imitating the singers’ (highly sexual) dance moves. *shudder* Clearly we need to be careful about what we let our daughters see, but it goes much deeper than that. There is more to these performers than sex, but we don’t get to see that.

There is also the issue of healthy sexuality vs. sexualization (separating the person from their sexuality and commodifying those parts). Girls are being pulled in different directions: they are told they need to score well on the SAT and get a good GPA, but then it is the sexiness that gets attention.

Education and media literacy are so important. Ask what is appealing about this? Why is this important? Think about the outcomes: girls self-sexualize and objectify and then have more problems with school, physical activities, and making poor choices.

And the boys need to be taught as well. They need to know what is right and what is wrong with the way women are portrayed in the media. They are also victimized because they don’t have realistic expectations of women and sex either. And all people (girls, boys, kids) need to feel that they can ask questions and get real answers.

The culture is selling you a bill of goods when they tell you that sticking your tongue out and twerking is powerful. It is the opposite. It is giving up your power and the consequences are real. Even if they (girls and boys) are “just playing,” it does become who you are.

If you invest solely in your looks, you are investing in a depreciating asset. You need to invest in things that appreciate: your heart and your head because in them is the beauty that lasts. The media continually changes the standard and they saturate the culture so that we are always comparing our flawed selves to the photoshopped images. Make-up should be fun, but it should not own you, it should not be debilitating if you don’t wear it.

THINGS TO REMEMBER/ACT ON:

It’s not about what men think. We are in a competition with ourselves over perceived male attention.

We cannot depend on “likes” on selfies to determine our worth.

We should be able to find beauty apart from our looks in what we do.

Look in the mirror and tell yourself what you like about yourself.

Posture and attitude and confidence have as much to do with beauty as anything else.

Do we embody our beauty? Because beauty is a whole body thing.

Do not denigrate your appearance in front of your daughter: you are insulting the resemblance your kids have to you.

The sisterhood is important: tell each other that we think each other is beautiful.

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How Hip is Your Hijab? “Forgot to be oppressed; too busy being awesome.”

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Final thoughts:

Don’t be indifferent, be inspired and great. Look around for those little things that get you to act. Pay attention to little coincidences: they could be your call to action.

Own your story. Share it, speak it.

Become shameless.

Work for the world you want.

Run for office or support other women who are running.

A group of people standing together cannot be defeated.

Why not us? Flood politics with a tsunami of women.

We cannot be free if there is injustice anywhere.

We are not the flowers, we are the flames of resistance.

A Mile In His Shoes: My Dad

Well friends. We’re in our new apartment. It has a balcony with a view of the Freedom Tower. It’s next to a train line (we can hear the train running by every 9 minutes or so — good thing there are only 2 cars on it!) And I finally made it out for a run with Madison (and the kids) this morning — after an entire week of just not having the time. Things are slowly but surely coming together and maybe (just maybe) in a couple of months our new place will be put together enough that maybe (just maybe) I’ll give a little tiny house tour. (Little and tiny because that’s how much space we have.)

But. It’s been months (months!) since I asked my dad to let me spotlight him here and I thought that now, with Father’s Day right around the corner (and with my notes from Women in the World still packed away), would be a good time to share the results.

So, without further ado, here’s my dad.

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Who are you?

Wallace Blackhurst

I have graduate degrees in Economics and have taught at universities both east and west of the Mississippi. Spent most of my career working at the administrative headquarters of a religious organization. Currently retired. I live in Utah, am married to Barbara Sue and have 12 children (7 boys, 5 girls).

Can you walk us through your typical day?

Being retired, I now spend most of my time doing things I always wanted to do but never had the time for. I just finished a multi-year project to renovate one-fourth of our large home to create a separate apartment.

Once each week I go to the homes of my grandchildren who live nearby and read to them. I’m once again training to run a marathon, so I try to work in a significant run nearly every day. I allocate time every day for intellectual stimulation. My favorite is home-based college lectures on a broad variety of topics. I’m the leader of a men’s group at my local church and am involved in other service opportunities as well.

What is your perfect day?

Making progress on something that matters to me. That involves me in activities I don’t necessarily enjoy in and of themselves, but I do immensely enjoy their outcome (see “do-it-yourself projects” indirectly referenced above). My perfect day includes some of this kind of progress, plus physical activity, intellectual stimulation, and making at least one thing just a little bit better.

What is one of your biggest challenges as a parent/person? How do you deal with it?

I want it to be easy to be me. But the me I want to be is better than the me I am. Closing the gap between the me I want to be and the me I am is my biggest challenge.

What is a story you always tell?

My memory no longer warns me that I’ve told a story before. I would have to consult my children to find out which are the stories that I repeat.

(As his daughter, I can say that there a couple of favorite stories. One of them is the time he was on a Boy Scout campout (possibly a Jamboree?) and he and a friend noticed that the Dutch ovens had just a few coals on them. Realizing the food would never get cooked with so little heat, they piled on a bunch more hot coals. Enough that not only was the food cooked, but the cast iron was too. If my memory of the story serves me right, it melted. The scout master was so amused he had the melted lid etched with their names and the dates of the scout trip — or something like that. 

I also like the stories about when he was a kid and his mom never took him to the hospital — even when he got in a bike accident and nearly cut his ear off.

And it’s always fun to hear the birth stories from his perspective. All 12 of them.)

Do you like to run alone or in groups? Why?

I always run alone. The obvious reasons are that I’m slow and have trouble keeping up with a running partner, and that I become so winded that I can’t carry on a conversation with that person anyway. But there’s another reason behind these. I’m towards the introvert end of the scale. Some introverts, and I’m one of them, are best able to replenish their reserves when they are doing something alone. So I run for rejuvenation and renewal.

What is your best running moment?

When I feel like I’m at, or tying into, a beginning. So I love to run in the morning when the sun is rising over the mountains.

If you could do anything over, what would it be?

Raising a family, but not because I feel like I didn’t get it right the first time. I really enjoyed raising my family. There was always tons of energy flowing around me, emanating from my children. I got involved in new, interesting things that they were interested in, and that I wouldn’t otherwise have been part of.

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(That’s Dad, nearly jumping the fence to cheer on his kids!)

What is your favorite mantra? (or what would you put on a t-shirt?)

[Drawing a total blank here.]

Do you have a power song? What is it and why does that motivate you?

When I was a teenager I read science fiction because it opened my mind to the biggest stage I thought there could ever be. Then about ten years ago a human resource consulting company came to my office and asked me a lot of questions that didn’t seem relevant to anything. Several weeks later they told me what they had found out. They said I was a person that always had to be involved in the most important thing, whatever that was. I thought nobody knew. It was true, and it was why science fiction thrilled me. Anything, including music, that opens the drapes of my mind and allows me to see a long ways off, either in space or in time, is a thing that motivates me and gives me power. At this point in my life, looking back at what has already happened and forward to what is yet to happen, just about any spiritual anthem is my power song.

What is your favorite book?

Good to Great. How small and unheralded things–consistently applied over a long time–can bring about big and beneficial change.

What’s for dinner tonight?

Whatever Barbara Sue fixes.

Here is a bit more about my father the runner . . . something I started a long time ago and still plan to finish— maybe even this year. Let’s give it up for my dad! (And thanks, Dad, for letting me spotlight you! Love you.)

Home

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Japan.

Japan is where we went, Japan is what we saw. We didn’t go there with a plan, exactly. We didn’t have a list of things we needed to see. Just some cities to travel to and a loose schedule of when we wanted to come and go from each place. We each took one backpack with a few changes of clothes and not much else. We travelled light with the hope that it would make it easy to see and do as much as we could.

We were a little nervous about doing things that way. What if we were so indecisive that we didn’t do anything? What if we missed all the best stuff? What if we ended up so frustrated with each other that by the end of the trip we were hardly on speaking terms?

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Ha. Ha ha ha! HA!

It was awesome. It turned out pretty much as well as we could have hoped for. We saw so many great things, went to so many beautiful places. By 10:00 nearly every morning we would turn to each other and say: “Well, if we see nothing more today, it has already been worth it.”

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The first day there was the Christmas Hotel we ran across on our way to the temple in Narita. And while we later learned it was a “love hotel” — not as scandalous/trashy in Japan as it might be in the US — it totally put a spring in our steps as we walked the rest of the way to the temple.

Then there was the castle we stayed across the street from in Nagoya. Breathtaking by day and night. We ran around it a couple of times and marveled at it from every angle.

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Even more breathtaking were the thousands and thousands of orange gates and the hike we took — off the beaten path — to get to the top of the shrine that they led to.

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We ran to the Golden Temple in Kyoto and rubbed shoulders with all the uniformed school kids there. We bumped into some missionaries from our church on the ferry to Sado Island. (They were thrilled, and stunned, to run into a couple of English-speaking church members in such a remote place.) We went to church at the Tokyo English-speaking ward and made friends with a family there who invited us over for dinner that night and took us to an observation deck in downtown Tokyo the next day so we could really see the city.

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And we walked until our legs hurt. Our unofficial motto was “Climb Every Staircase.” It served us well as we biked around Sado and stopped at every trail that looked remotely interesting. One time we climbed 300 steps to the top of a hill, only to find a couple of burnt out buildings. Then we turned around and saw the most amazing view of rice fields and mountains. Three hundred steps well worth it.

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Every now and then we thought of our kids, back at home with their aunts. How were they holding up? Were they missing us? Would they be mad at us when we got home? But mostly, we savored the time spent together with no distractions and no interruptions. We fell back into our natural habit of walking and talking, talking and walking. And seeing things — all kinds of things — from a different place.

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The trip was technically my first international experience, but I have to say that even though we were in a foreign country, it felt very much like home. Nagoya — the first city we went to, with the castle — felt especially welcoming. Almost like it was auditioning for us. But Sado Island took me back to our days in Hawaii. And big bustling Tokyo was a clean, courteous, more organized version of New York.

In fact, while “home” — where our kids were, where we would be returning to — was many thousands of miles and half a day behind us, it was easy to forget that we weren’t there already, and that we wouldn’t be putting the kids to bed when we got to the bottom of the mountain we just hiked. It was easy, in fact, to imagine that someday we actually would be putting the kids to bed after a day of hiking mountains in Japan. Because that would be where we lived. Someday. Not any time soon, but not never.

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Until then, I’m happy to be back to our present home, where our little munchkins greeted us with surprising gusto. And I’m happy to be packing up our that present home so that we can move to another one (five blocks away) at the end of the week.

Home is always changing, isn’t it? I don’t see why someday it couldn’t be in Japan.

Out to Lunch

Yeah, I know I said I would post more notes from Women in the World in a couple of days but, well, I didn’t get around to it and Micah and I are heading out on a little vacation for a couple of weeks.

We’re celebrating 10 years together! The best 10 years, for sure. And for sure the best way to kick off the next 10 years.

More stories and good times when I get back, but until then… I’m out to lunch.

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