Groovy Girls Go…….Something is Better Than Nothing

I had two phone calls this morning.  One phone call was to tell me my daughter would be home in an hour and the next phone call was to get my ass in gear.

Well….not really, but that was my take-away.  I thought I had the whole morning to myself and it was now looking like I had more like a few minutes.  I had work to do, laundry, dishes in the sink, a school year to get planning for, grass that needed cutting, words to be written……..yet I am not good unless my toes twinkle….even if it’s just for a tiny bit.

I am haunted with the thoughts and visuals of our country lately.  I, along with many of my friends, stare at screens and footage in disbelief.  Frankly, I hope this never changes for me.  I can’t imagine being so desensitized that the acts of recent would be something that I ever come to expect of my fellow human.  I find myself in tears over what happened, praying for sense for those in roles of leadership, and hoping desperately that love does indeed win.

And so running may not change the world, but it changes my world.  Running changes my perspective regardless of the miles, the pace, the company, the course…….it’s all…..good.  Maybe that is naive, but essentially I wish for the world to have a sense of good.  A sense that good triumphs, a sense that good wins, and sense that good gives your soul peace.  I do hope for peace: just as much as I hope to run each day.  And so, given the chance, with even just a few minutes, I went for a run.  And that was good.

Groovy Girls Go…..Good

 

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Groovy Girls Go……Picking in the Big Apple

Sometimes the people I pick to be in my life make me spin.  A couple blocks over from Central Park:  I assure you I wanted to desperately talk her into running.  But, she loves this spinning class and as it turns out, the time spinning is actually what a burning question I’ve been wrestling with took me going to, to answer.  During this spin class, with a new teacher-friend that I met while studying at Columbia, is what it took to untangle my thoughts surrounding a question I had been presented just recently by……..a person.

It’s clear: we are who we surround ourselves with.

Since I’m in, “the Big Apple” it seems fitting to think about the people in my life as apples. I’ve always picked pretty good life apples.  I’ve got a daughter who is the apple of my eye.  I’ve got different colored apples.  I’ve got a lot of sweet apples and for better or for worse I’ve got some tart ones too.  I’ve got some apples in my basket that have been bruised and may have some marks.  Yet fortunately, I have more apples that are shiny and despite any flaws are beautiful.

I’ve been fortunate to have only picked one apple that went bad.

Now, before picking any more apples for my basket though, I’m very careful these days to be picky, picky, picky.  And this is what I have struggled with.  I’ve been struggling with feeling guilty about this; but just like different running routes, some are better than others.  So I chose to pick those that are better.

As I sat listening to an expert teacher today talk about the teacher moves of a lesson, I was paralyzed as I experienced an “ahhhh hah” moment upon hearing her share her inside voice with us.  She stopped to tell us that as she was listening to her students, gathering information about how to best teach them so they could make the most from the time with her in order to transfer their learning into their own independent successful work:  best, most, and success began playing over-again-and-again in mind.  These three words stayed with me all day and as I ran around Central Park and while Soul Cycling with a new friend I realized those words too are my three precious indicators I’m searching for…..in life.

I’ve come, in my own time, in my own way, to Columbia to study so I can bring those three words to my profession and I am picky about my life apples because I want to bring those three words into my life as well.

I chose to surround myself professionally with other teachers who are also striving to be their own best.  Who give their “most” to their students, wanting to scaffold them towards successes.  I surround myself with runners who are the most positive, the best company and who want nothing but to work hard in order for their own selves to be successful but want and support their running friends to success as well.

And I have friends.  I am very – very lucky to be surrounded with friends who can be described by those three words ….. plus one more.

The one other thing that is common to all the apples in my basket:  loyalty.

I can in no way have apples in my basket that are not loyal.  That sentence could really be the end of my story, because without loyalty you don’t belong….at least in my basket. We are who we surround ourselves with and though I hold a special place in my heart for forgiveness; that doesn’t mean you get any extra space in my basket.  I can’t surround myself with people who are unwilling to be loyal.  Sometimes in life you do have to pick and picking can be tough, but picking also shows what you stand for.  Picking means you have non-negotiables in your life that you value enough to keep in tact by only surrounding yourself with those whom share the value.  And not picking – is actually picking.

So as I spun and my thoughts were spinning; I realized that No, no I can’t have you in my basket if you don’t pick what aligns to my values, what’s going to be healthy for me, what is going to keep letting my heart heal and not what would keep the wound open.  I pick friends who are loyal, I pick loyal teachers, I pick loyal runners….I pick those willing to be picky and in return; I value tremendously anyone who picks me.

Groovy Girls Go……….Picky

Groovy Girls Go……..Great Lakes Relay – Moss Rock Run

As I was telling one of my Great Lakes Relay experiences to Steve, my Fascial Stretch Therapist (and amazing human) that keeps me together, my story sounded almost too ridiculous to continue……….he and I both agreed on that.

Starting a story with, “I was pushing so hard to catch the last girl I was dry-heaving as I slapped hands at the relay exchange to my teammate.”  Yah, that’s not exactly everyone’s version of winning at life.  Yet, in those moments, that is exactly what I was doing:  Winning in my life.Moss-Rocks-Little-Japanese-Gardens.jpg

Life had dropped me in the middle of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, on a trail built for fairies and story books, with a goal of catching (at least) the last three girls that had gone into the trail before me – and of course – not letting anyone go around me.

The moss-covered rocks were a stunning green in the damp and shadowed trail.  Sunlight shimmered through and glistened off the moss as I took off – to make up ground.  I ran and jumped and stuttered and slid and skirted around those mystical rocks as quickly as this little body possibly could.  I ran with reckless abandon in pursuit of being faster than those who had started before me.

Running fast is a gift, running fast in the beauty of the woods is THAT gift (and it’s been packaged spectacularly).  My present was indeed being present and so I took the gift and ran.  I saw the green of the tree-branches whir past me as I ducked and scooted.  I watched my footing and quickly strategized how would be the best route of the hills.  I ran fast when the trail opened up and pines were a bed of softness under my shoes.  I ran using every muscle in my body to, as politly as you can while trail racing, dash around the first, then the second….and then on to the third runner.

I could hear my team calling the bugle horn so I knew I was running out of time space in this fairytale land to pass one last runner.  The trail was twisting and I knew I had to take them as fast as I could gaining any step closer in space where she may be backing off.

I was right on the third girl to pass.  The trumpet called and I could hear another teammate’s voice booming at me to get in.  I could see the guy who I was to tag off to as I climbed one last trail hill to him, around her, and gagged…..just so I wouldn’t forget how lucky I was to be given this gift!

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Groovy Girls Go……..For the Best Gifts a Girl Could Ask For

Groovy Girls Go……..Late

Groovy Girls Go……. Late

Who knows exactly what I am?  I suppose it depends on what time of day you ask me, or meet me, or teach with me, or run with me, or drink with me, or or or…..

If you had asked me on July 4th before I started the half marathon; you would have called me LATE!

Professionally, I’m a teacher, so everyday you find me exactly NOT LATE.  My life – and then my professional life – has always been signalled by the sound of the bell…..or in my running life; the sound of the gun.

But, as in all things in my life, I love being a bit different and despite all the rules I love breaking them enough to laugh out loud a bit too loudly!  And so, as I ran up to a now mat-less, fan-less, and certainly starting gun-less, start line. I shouted out to the people who seemed to be in charge if I they would even let me start.  They looked at their watches, each other, me – and said, “go ahead, you’re about 15 minutes behind”…..well, isn’t that just a bugger!

On the course I came up on the first volunteers who were already in their cars or packing things up and they jumped back to their posts, cheered me on in a befuddled way, and most importantly, pointed me in the right direction.  And so I ran.  I ran so hard I could hear my beating heart above my inappropriate and loud music thumping in my earbuds.

I took them out to thank the volunteers for their help and then put them back in, turned up my jams, and ran…….I didn’t have a watch because I had seen that some fast girls were there and my plan was to either stay on their shoulder until I blew up or go around them.  It seemed like a simple plan, except there was no shoulders to stay on anymore and so all I had left was to go around and around and around people I came up on.

Despite the obvious, this was an absolutely liberating run because let’s be honest……so many people in today’s running world are looking for flat and fast courses….. ugh…..could our sport get any more predictable or boring?  I’ve run for running since I was about 10 years old and I can’t imagine taking the easy way out.   I ran track on a red-scorio-rock track and busted out some decent times – so taking the easy track isn’t in my shoes.

So what was my lesson in this?  Humility maybe?  I had gone there to win and I was in more of a racing mind-set than I have been in years….and yet it wasn’t in my cards.  I’ve been late for a race exactly 0 times so there was a force bigger than me calling the shots and so I did what I do best….I just ran.  I ran so fast it felt AmAzInG.  I ran those hills like a beast and I just kept getting faster and faster.

I was so liberated.  The wind, the heat, the hills, the sweat, the isolated back roads…..it….was……me.

I was meant to be my own reward……Finally, by being late, I was right on time.

Groovy Girls Go…….Late…..Yet, Right On Time

Late…but there is proof:

Hungry Duck

Groovy Girls Go…..Once Upon a Time

Groovy Girls Go………..Once Upon a Time

Races, at least for me, are the reason I give myself for traveling and seeing parts of the world I would maybe not otherwise see.

Running lets me lead a storybook life and my stories just keep running.

Fairytales live in magical worlds filled with myths, faith, belief in magic, trials to overcome, good, evil, and most importantly a happy ending. When a runner laces up, it is the gateway to a magical world. The adventure that is about to be embarked upon is bound to be filled with unpredictable twists and turns, ups and downs, and eventually experiences that stride to a happily ever after.

The magical world is opened up as the stride stretches and falls into a comfortable rhythm and the road is no longer the obstacle, but merely the path to be followed towards joy. When a runner no longer is burdened by the sound of their breathe they can then listen to the chirps of nature that more accurately metronome the pace that should be followed. The caws and trills encourage more than any crowd and nothing compares to the silencing of what otherwise would be the shouting thoughts inside our minds.

These are the magical spells that running casts upon it’s protagonist. The one who has dared to accept the challenge. The one who has nothing to lose. The one who will give everything to allow good to triumph over evil. Because…….because that is what happens when fairytales merge with our realities.

Running is the reality we get everyday to escape into a fairytale world. We, the runner, can chose the odyssey of which our shoes begin. We can chose what to arm ourselves with and at what point to use our chosen tools to fuel ourselves for the trek which lies ahead. It is the runner that controls all parts of the journey and is ultimately the one who will decide when it is time to return. Sometimes, we runners only know it is time to return when we actually have returned – when we know we are strong enough to defeat any creature. Any creature be it mortal or mystical, we now are equipped.

And so we run……everyday deciding on our trinkets to carry and our views to behold. We run because when we return, we are certain to live our days happily ever after.

Running Ruby Slippers

I totally need these!

Groovy Girls Go……..Running Happily Ever After

Goodbye to My First Hello

Saying Goodbye to the first group of 8th graders whom I also had as first graders!
Goodbye and Hello 8th Grade English,
As I sit here typing my goodbye, my mind begins spinning faster than my fingers can type. Stories spin in my brain all the way back to our first hello as my fingers punch away at the keyboard. I can’t help but hear the words of Hemingway; “There is nothing to writing. You just sit down at a keyboard and bleed.”
And though I may not have actually seen blood during our writing time together, I did see the clichéd red ink, I certainly saw furrowed brows, flying fingers, and even tears a time or two. Yet, despite the anxt of such intellectual work and creating; the aftermath of the beautifully created piece on paper and the fruition of the story that has certainly moved us, our lives are literally more enriched because of these experiences and written pieces.
I am ridiculously proud of each and every one of you.
I hope that you are gifted with many more teachers who are willing to shake up your norm and that you are willing to be shaken. Question your beliefs and hold yourself accountable for providing facts for your truths. Seeking out evidence should not be reserved to only your research papers….but to the research you do for mapping out your life. Be the cartographer of your own landscapes and regions. Map out a path to your dreams and go there enough that those dreams become your reality.
Be mindful of how you spend your time. True, it is yours to spend, and as my own High School teacher told me once, variety and moderation….
But, be mindful.
· Surround yourself with variety in all things, thoughts, people and places.
· Surround yourself with a community of learners. This isn’t going to necessarily be people who all agree with you however, there is no need be surrounded by people who always want to bicker either; find a happy medium.
· Surround yourself with a group that makes you feel safe enough to laugh so loudly others sush you, a group that let’s you cry openly, and a group that is more half-full than empty.
I am a lucky teacher who has been able to surround myself with many of you not just once, but now twice and I am twice as blessed for that. You, maybe because you already knew me, maybe because at least your parents already knew me and you wanted to be polite, gave me a chance to try, to be silly, to be tough, to make mistakes, to ask for help, to show up each day and despite it all….. we all learned.
I grew and blossomed in this small space where there wasn’t enough room for my things. I left it all, I gave it all away in order to refill and now my cup surely runneth over.
I’m forever grateful for your honesty. It was in these hard truths, where you may have wanted to push me away that I wanted to stretch myself to reach you even more. Sometimes it takes not letting go to get students to the point, where they can now go.
So, as we say good-bye, may you embrace and excitedly await your next best hello.
It Is With Love –
Your 8th Grade English Teacher,
Tulley – 2017

Groovy Girls Go…….Winning Boston

The marathon is a clear reflection of the human spirit….of what it is to be human.  The marathon draws out the good, the bad, the ugly…..and everything in between.

I recognized a runner near the starting line of the Boston Marathon this year.  I smiled, called out to him a hello, he came over and told me, “I hope you win!”

“I plan on it.” I said…….and 26.2 miles later I sincerely felt as if I had.

The Boston Marathon course is in no way new to me….but feeling successful at this marathon certainly is.  This is ironic, because every time I run this marathon it garners tons of support, excitement, well wishes, and encouragement.  But this year was different.  This year I sincerely just ran my own race.

Runners seem to have this tendency to down-play their runs.  Everyone whines of their lack of training, their injuries, their inability to this-that-or-the-other….when in all reality we’ve all met our weekly mileage, we all got up on Saturdays at ungodly hours, we all missed events for someone we love in order to train.  That’s right, I said it, we trained.  Most of us didn’t and haven’t had to push through some life-altering injury.  None of us were struck down with something that put us in ICU.  No one had a near-death experience…..we all just miss out on saying “I trained.  I’m putting it all out there and come what may.”

My mom sent a text (unbenounced to me until after the run actually) to my family saying that this was a “healing run.”  It certainly was – and it was.  Trusting the journey that allows one to toe the line of a marathon takes dedication, a team, trust, and above all else: Faith.  Faith in the greater gifts that only humans can give to one another.  Faith that there will be cool water when the sun is hot.  Faith that there will be food when you feel starved.  Faith that when you are thirsty it will be quenched.  Faith that when you are shivering someone will cover you for warmth.

The course is a journey and for me to trust that journey, even when I know the route, can be oh-so difficult.   Putting myself out there to be so vulnerable that you are completely at the mercy of strangers is humbling and beautiful….because when I run, I put out there every and all of my weaknesses.  And yet, I crossed that finish line happier than I’ve been in years.

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I put my faith in my fellow humans and I was not disappointed.  I’ve been disappointed – beyond words let down in ways I had no idea a person could be let down…..  But, as my mother said, this was a race of healing and it’s time to believe again.  This was my time to chase a unicorn……….

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Groovy Girls Go………Catching Their Unicorn

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Groovy Girls Go…….In the Name of Love

Today was a day of getting to do what I love………….and I love to run.  

It’s such a blessing to have feet that will hold me, legs that can go the distance, lungs that can handle the task, and a heart that loves. I’ve always know I like running. I get a feeling of control when I run. I know I feel better when I run. Since running I’ve barely gotten sick. I know I’m not skinny but I’m healthy and I feel good in my clothes. I get a chance to think through life and play out responses and actions in my head before delivery…….but today, today I knew I was in love.
Why today you may wonder? Because today I got up and ran a bit over 10 glorious miles in a snow globe. Every step was an adventure and the view was stunning. It’s that wet snow that sticks to everything as if God personally came down and frosted the world.  


Every bit of me was happy and I could have ran forever………….but I couldn’t and my toes found their way to the gymnasium where I sat shivering, in my wet running clothes, watching my daughter play basketball.  


Now, I was watching her be happy. She got a bucket, got a steal, fouled a little boy who whined incessantly, and was happy. So, really, I was shivering, but still happy.
We finagled a lift home where I made her lunch, got her uniform in the wash, and tinkered with a few other mommy chores and then changed into tree-mil-running-clothes and laced up again.  
Now I am told that you can split up long runs and I have no evidence if this is even remotely true……but alas, I’m telling myself it’s the truth so therefore it must be true. I have 10 miles to do on this thing while my little girl happily gets her tv and electronic time and my wash cycles through.  
As I was approaching the last few miles, I hurt just like a 20 miler, I was thirsty just like a 20 miler, I was ready to be done just like a 20 miler; but I also knew I was in love. I was in love enough to finish what I had started and love can make you do crazy things! I’m 20 miles closer to Boylston street, but my heart is in love……maybe Boston will have to rename heartbreak hill…………
Groovy Girls Go………Love Always Wins

Groovy Girls Go……..Carefully

As I pull down my shades and pull up my scarf, I’m eager to make my way onto the trail on a sunny Sunday. It’s gorgeous on the trails as the sun streaks through the bare winter branches and I’m eager to take in the crisp air and just disappear in nature for a bit. 
The first few steps are refreshing. My feet hitting the earth and my stride lengthening out………

However the next few steps are to be some of my last carefree strides for a while and I’ll long to finish on such secure ground for the next two hours.  
The sunlight reflects the beauty of the ice as it glistens and sparkles; however that’s siren beauty to the runner. Ice is a great equalizer. Each step is a chance and regardless if the step is right or wrong, there’s a chance to slip. 
So, for the next two hours I dodge ice, beg the running gods for dirt, and timidly shuffle on a trail that thankfully I know well. I knew better than to head out without spikes or screws or yaks or or or or…….but I wasn’t prepared and so I chose to make the best of it. The day was gorgeous, the temp was better than it had been in weeks, and yes the trail was a bit icy…….but life isn’t always solid footing and lately if I waited for solid footing I wouldn’t leave my bed. 
Despite the path being icy, I knew underfoot was solid just as I know I’m solid and so are the people I surround myself with. So I took it one grounded step at a time, avoiding the slick spots and running on to solid ground. Some places had easier footing than others and I was thankful for the reprieve. Other places I started to slide, my arms started to flail and I had to breathe and give total attention to keep from landing on my back side. I kept thinking of a saying throughout this run about falling 7 times and getting up 8 (or whatever number my life tumbles may be currently on). 
Regardless, I ran. I enjoyed pulling down my shades as the sun sparkled from the sky and reflected up in glittering splashes as I navigated a slippery section of running and thought through a slippery section of life.  
I’m fortunate to have running and the time and situations running affords me, to think through life’s slickest spots. I’ve run long enough to know that the seasons change and ice melts………I’m blessed enough to have, and know that I have, solid ground underneath me that keeps me grounded……..regardless of the most slippery of spots. And for him I’m grateful.
Groovy Girls Go…….Solidly, Even If It

Is On The Ice 
 

Groovy Girls Go……No Lie

If you ever need to be reminded of your worth……..go for a run. It’s an honest reflection of all that you put into life.  
Family 

Commitment 

Love

Hard Work

Perseverance 

Loyalty

Adventure

Friendship

All the things that I want to be surrounded by in this lifetime I see reflected in my runs. 
I was told the other day that I was a miserable person……..I think of course I have moments where I feel miserable. I haven’t liked all the things that have happened to me in my life. I haven’t liked the liars I have to deal with; nothing is more maddening than a person cold-stone-face lying; but it happens – they really do exist. Sometimes I can let the moment roll by, other times enough-is-enough and I lash back. Either way, the moment is sure to pass and it’s my own reflection I have to live with.  
Lacing up and letting my soles set free my soul usually clears my mind and I can see the situation for what it is……a moment. I love collecting moments and I know experiencing these moments truly allow me to appreciate the more amazing moments……possibly even more fully. 
The run puts you in a place to see the beauty of the world we live in. A friend meeting you under the cold gray sky seems a little less cold and a little less gray. Running friends who call just because they’re in the area and suddenly the after-run cold isn’t quite as cold. The time in nature with the feel of the wind as my body moves itself through a stunning icy setting not everyone sees. It’s a lot like having a private tour of a gallery with visions upon visions of priceless pieces. It’s knowing that I can keep a promise and not cheat because we all know come race day, cheaters get outed. It’s a chance to find people who let you laugh loudly and even if they mind, keep it to themselves and just let you laugh. 
Running, and my running family, is a reflection of my beautiful life. All the pieces of my beautiful, sometimes messy, but absolutely not miserable life! 
Groovy Girls Go………..Honestly Happy