April 2008

My friend, Mary, who you might remember from my Florida visit and fantabulous coconut ginger macadamia nut carrot cake, started a blog on writing a few months ago. She’s been making a living from her writing for a long time, and a nice living at that. She decided to start a blog to share what she has learned about writing, about the industry, about all kinds of topics.

I have never (almost never) thought about writing a book, but her blog makes me want to want to write a book. And the information is so practical, so useful, that if I really had it in me to write a book, I’d feel like I had great information to start out with.

I know the blogosphere is filled with people who have dreams and aspirations for writing, for getting published. I highly recommend Mary’s blog (she’s giving information for free that most charge for)…and even if you’re not a writer, you might just enjoy her blog anyway!

norman and ainsley at ps


I had an interesting conversation with my therapist today. It is funny, as a note to myself I suppose, that I really do feel like they are conversations now, rather than “sessions” as I thought of them before. Before? When I was so deep in depression that I didn’t really even see how deep I was.

I’ve felt consistently good for quite a while now, a few months. I feel stable with it, like this is my new baseline. I can’t express what a difference it has made.

But the conversation today was about confidence, about expectations of a sort, about why I feel like I have a “deficiency” if I need to take a class in something. This isn’t true for every subject, it isn’t true when I want to learn something that is far afield from what I already know.

“There have been a lot of studies in the news lately,” my therapist said, “that tell us what a disservice we’ve been doing by praising kids for being intelligent.”

She explained that praising intelligence sends a message to kids that they should get things right away. The secondary effect of this is that as soon as the task becomes challenging, those kids give up. Instead we should be praising them for their effort.

And oh my god, did that ever ring some bells! Still rings bells. This is me, now, and apparently what I have to get over.

You know when we’d always hear, “there’s no such thing as a stupid question?” I never believed that. Did you?

two kids

I remember the moment I found the Chi Running book. In the odd way memory works, I can remember a million things about that moment, the quality of the light, the height of the bookshelves, the pain in my IT Band, but I can’t remember what city I was in.

I’m not one to read books on sports very often, so browsing through the running books was unusual for me. As influential as the first time I browsed in the cookbook section (which is now an addiction of mine), in retrospect. I found Chi Running. I looked at it closer, as much because I thought it sounded like some weird woo-woo crap as anything else. In looking at it closer, I wanted to believe.

Here was a guy who said that you could do pain-free running. Knee problems, ankle problems, whatever it was, he was claiming that if you ran the way he ran you could avoid the pain. Even as skeptical as I am, it made me take a closer look, as I shifted uncomfortably, trying to ease the dull throbbing pain of another round of IT Band pain.

He didn’t talk about ITBS, but he did talk about physics, and the physics of the posture he was talking about made so much sense.

I bought the book.

It was another year before I read it. A year in which I suffered yet again from IT pain that prevented me from running. A year in which I went to the PT, got ultrasounds, a foam roller, and three new pairs of shoes, all looking for a way past the pain, past the IT problems.

In desperation, feeling like I was going to have to give up on running, I looked again at my Chi Running book. I found a chi running instructor through their website. I emailed her, and said “I don’t know if Chi Running could help, but I have ITBS and it has been preventing me from running…” Her response was an immediate confirmation that chi running could and would solve this problem. Hype? I wondered, but her confidence was solid and unwavering. I signed up for a series of lessons.

The week before I had called her, I’d tried again to run. Within 5 steps I was in pain, within 10 I had to turn around. I told my chi running instructor that I wasn’t sure how much I’d be able to run in our lessons (4 sessions of one hour each), because my IT band was inflamed. Again, she didn’t seem worried. Her confidence gave me hope.

The first lesson was mostly learning the basics of the posture and doing some drills to teach my mind and body the new way of running. My IT band gave a few throbs, but didn’t complain much.

The next lessons had me running for parts of the lesson. Within two weeks I went from someone who couldn’t run an eight of a mile (and hadn’t been able to run a mile in a year without IT pain) to someone who was able to run a mile with only a few minor twinges of the IT band. It only got better, and in another two weeks I was up to 3 miles. Victory!

And then of course it got worse, until I was hardly able to run a mile.

I emailed my instructor. We met for a tune-up, and I learned that I had started doing something not quite right, and my IT band was letting me know. Once Kelly tuned up my posture, poof, the IT band pain went away. And again, the result was immediate, and I was running on an inflamed IT band with no pain!

This cycle has repeated itself many times. I’m essentially the poster child for proof that Chi Running works. It doesn’t matter how long it has been since I’ve had IT pain, if I slip out of the chi running posture, I’ll feel it. If I can’t fix it myself, I go to an instructor and they point out something and work with me on it, and I’m immediately able to run again.

So, I’m a believer. I get no money from anyone involved in Chi Running (a valid question to wonder), this is just my story. I love to run, and the only way my body will let me run is with Chi Running. I honestly believe, based on my own experience and the stories I’ve heard from others, that anyone who wants to run but ends up with some kind of pain (any kind!) from running, will be helped by Chi Running. Well, there are logical limits to this – don’t, for instance, go running at all in any form if you have broken bones!

The chi running instructors have a certification process that they can go through, and thus through the main chi running website (yes, it is a brand now) you can find certified instructors. I’ve used this twice – once in Denver, and once in DC – and I’ve been very happy with the people I’ve taken lessons from.

It does cost money, but I’ve spent far less on the initial course and the tune-ups I’ve had since then than I spent on the shoes and inserts and Physical Therapist visits that I tried before that! I tried Chi Running out of desperation, but I’d have saved myself a lot of time, money, and frustration if I’d tried Chi Running first!

If you’re curious who I’ve taken lessons from, first it was Kelly Ryan (who now lives in Hawaii), and more recently it was Lloyd Henry in the DC area. Lloyd travels a fair amount teaching seminars, and so it is worth checking out his site to see if he’ll be in your area at some point.

Happy running! Oh and happy earth day. I might be a day late, but this quote is perfect for any day of the year.

chip giller quote on sbux cup

I work in “Nova”, Northern Virginia, not far from DC. Technically it is in the south, though I don’t know anyone who thinks of it as “The South”. There are transplants, however. Transplants from all over, but definitely some who are from places much more southern than nova, places that are indisputably “The South”. Places where extra syllables find their way into words, unexpectedly.

And so I learned at work this week that with a certain kind of southern accent, “gentle” will sound like “genital”.

nyc puddle

It had been a long day by the time I got to the tidal basin area. The cherry blossoms were beautiful, circling the water. Throngs of people filled the walkway, but it was mostly a gentle energy, people there to enjoy, not to go anywhere. I looked at the many people on the steps of the memorial and couldn’t muster the energy to walk there. I’d halfway intended to circle the tidal basin and take it all in, but once I was there, I was less interested in seeing it from every angle, from looking for a picture. It seemed like everywhere around me there were pictures waiting for my camera, and classical monument pictures aren’t of such a huge interest for me anyway.

I walked towards the Washington Monument instead, towards the metro to go home.

And I somehow found myself walking through what felt like a magical grove, where the cherry blossoms hushed the world around me and made the green grass glow.

chery blossoms 2008

And standing there, amazed that the crowds of people were no where to be seen in this quiet grove, I happened to look above my head, and saw two little fabric hearts, intertwined, resting among the blossoms.

two hearts in the cherry blossoms

My Saturday was busy, but filled with visions of peace.

First was the peace that I find at the sanctuary.


Sassafras snoozing.

And then was simply basking in the beauty of the cherry blossoms, which last for only a few weeks, and which require the braving of gigantic crowds in order to see them. But it was worth it, and one lesson life has taught me well is that no matter the crowds, we can always find that peace and solitude, if that is what we seek.

chery blossoms 2008

Yeah, I’m making that up, but that’s what today has been for me – pure goofiness!

I had to kill some time today between two appointments, so I stopped at Trader Joe’s and picked up: shampoo, conditioner, cat treats and wine. Those are the only things that I really get at TJ’s, since I can get better (and usually cheaper) produce at my organic market. As I put my basket down for the cashier, I thought about what an odd assortment of stuff it was, and that there was no food at all. But whatever, I did try to find seitan there, but they don’t stock it. They don’t seem to have tofu either, or any variety of things that I typically use. If they’d had them, I could have actually gotten food there to stock up on staples. But they have none of it, so shampoo, conditioner, cat treats, and wine it was.

The guy behind me just couldn’t get over it. He started talking about how I could have a shampoo and wine party tonight, that it must be what my plans were, and I mentioned the cat treats as well. He thought it was very clever, because I could serve mini “crackers and cheese” h’ours d’ouvres using the cat treats. This went on the entire time I was checking out! Finally I was out of there.

Then I went to the bookstore. I had a title I was looking for, except I couldn’t remember the exact title. No worries, they have handy computers where customers can look up books. So I approached one, and an employee immediately asked if she could help me find a book. But since it is a title I think I’ll recognize when I see it, but can’t remember the exact title, it only made sense for me to do the search myself. She watched me. A minute later, when she was helping someone else, another employee asked if he could help me find the book.

Geez! What are these computers for if not for the customers to use! Granted, I am weird in that I’d rather not have to talk to people. If I can go through the self-serve checkout lines, I much prefer it. This is probably a sign of an unhealthy society, but whatever.

I finally escaped to the stacks of books to do some low-tech title searches.

And then a few minutes ago my phone rings.

“Oh my god, I don’t believe you actually answered your phone!” said the woman from the unfamiliar number. Erm, that’s true enough, so I thought for sure I must know her. Wracking my brain for someone in the 214 area code…wracking my brain for where the hell 214 is – california?

“What’s the dress code for tonight?” she continued. At that point I realized that it was a wrong number! lol.

So I told her that I thought she had the wrong number. We laughed about it, and she thanked me for being so nice about it. I told her I hoped she had a nice time tonight, wherever she was going!

Goofy, the entire day!

leo's goofy face

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