I hope all of you are enjoying this beautiful summer. It took a long time for the sun to get to my little corner of the pacific northwest, but now that's it here, all is forgiven. I guess that attitude is pretty much required if one wants to live here. Lots of physical beauty, great outdoor activities, but you've got to be able to live without sunlight for a good patch of the year.
Once summer comes, though, it's paradise here. I've been running again--outside; not on a treadmill, staring at my laundry room wall--and it's great to get back to it. In fact, running has actually taught me something important about life, and I'd like to pass it on. If some of you have similar life lessons, please share with the group. Anyway, here it is. For all of my adult life, I have been following whatever the latest fitness craze was. I put on the leg warmers and popped in the Jane Fonda tape and did all those moves...then I did aerobics, and jazzercize, and step aerobics, kickboxing, and even tae bo. All of it was great in it's own way. It kept me moving, and as a pretty reclusive writer, it got me out the house on a daily basis. Mostly it allowed me to actually eat food. :) But none of it ever inspired me or taught me anything about myself.
Then last year, my step aerobics classes at the gym started filling up. Summer was coming and everyone started thinking about wearing shorts and t shirts again, so they signed up for classes, and suddenly, if I wanted to stake out a step, I had to be at the class a half an hour early. Now, I manage my time pretty carefully, and an hour for exercise I could manage, with another fifteen minutes of driving there and back; another thirty minutes of standing around, waiting, was too much. Even worse were the days when I'd get there and be turned away.
In desperation, I decided to try running. Well, jogging. Okay, basically it's slower than walking. :) I thought why not? all I need is new shoes. So I bought the shoes and headed out. After all, I was living in Hawaii at the time, and the road in front of my house is flat for about two miles. I thought: I'll just run to the end and back. So I put on my shoes and started out.
I got to the neighbor's house before I was breathing so hard I had to stop. I kid you not. And I thought I was in shape, at least sort of. But I kept going. That day I ran to the neighbor's house, then walked most of the rest of the way. The next day, I ran to the state park, which is about two hundred yards past the neighbors. The day after that I ran to the bend in the road.
You get the point. It took me two months to run to the end of the road and back without stopping, and when I finally made it, I pranced around with my arms in the air, hearing the Rocky theme song playing in my head. By July of that year, I ran in my first 5k race. Now, that's not far (I was beaten by a woman who was probably 70 years old--you go, girl!), but I was really scared to attempt it. I was certain I wouldn't be able to finish or they'd still be waiting for me when it got dark. I did it anyway. And yes, I was one of the last to finish. But I felt great just for trying it.
And that was the start of running teaching me things about myself: like--starting and commiting to a thing is what matters, and even more important, every day when I run, it's so dang hard in the beginning that I want to quit. My mind starts playing tricks on me, telling me I don't need to run the whole way today, or I can stop or slow down if I want. The only thing that keeps me going is the fact that I've done it before. And there's my big life lesson. We all hear about how important it is to believe in ourselves,
and that's certainly true, but sometimes believing isn't enough, you have to just gut it out and keep going. Once you've done a thing once, there's no excuse for not doing it again. Experience becomes its own motivator.
Anyway, now I'll step down off my soapbox, except to say that I ran the Fourth of July 5k race this year and beat last year's time by two and half minutes. That doesn't seem like much time--I spent longer than that staring at the deli counter trying to figure out what I want for lunch--but I felt as if I'd triumphed just the same. Yes, I still came in well at the back of the pack, and this year I was beaten by a woman pushing twins in a stroller and several people running with their dogs, but still I felt great. And let's face it: anything in this life that makes us feel proud of ourselves is important.
Now, on to other things. Thanks again to all of you who entered the True Colors contest. I'm starting to hear back from the lucky winners and their comments on the novel have humbled me. I really appreciate every single reader, and I look forward to February, when you all can read it. I also just heard from my editor, who tells me that we'll have final cover art and advance reading copies at the end of the summer, so keep checking back for updates. You'll love the cover! I can't wait to show it to you all. I'm thinking of running another essay contest. The response was so great on the last one. I think it'll be about sisters this time. What do you all think of that?
Finally, I want to plug my good friends who have books out this month. Remember the photos of Jill Marie Landis, Christina Dodd, and me in Hawaii? Well, both of them have books out this month. Check them out! I read Landis' The Homecoming last year, and I have to say, I loved it's message; it's a book with tremendous heart. If I knew how to post a link, I would, but alas, I am not that smart. :) Also, Megan Chance's The Spiritualist is out in trade this month. It's a killer read.
That's all I have for now. Will keep in touch, and you do the same.