Friendship and a 5K

This morning I woke up early and ran my fourth 5K! My friend Jen and I ran together. It was her first.

And I think it was my favorite one thus far.

Because neither of us cared about our time or being competitive.

We were just doing something to be healthy and to hang out together.

Plus, it’s sponsored by Guardian Angel Services, an organization both of us care about. We’re both in social work.

Jen and I have been friends since freshman year of high school– 1995. That’s 20 years! Holy cow.

The event was called Angels Against Abuse, and before we ran there was a speaker. She talked about how she found the strength to leave her ex-husband, the man who was “the father of my children.”  She repeated that last phrase emphatically– and I got it. Wouldn’t that be the primary arrow aimed at any woman trying to move on and escape an abusive relationship? Aren’t women always pressured to forgive all because they are expected to sacrifice not just her happiness, but her own well-being and safety in the name of keeping the family together? She said she knew if she didn’t leave, one day he would kill her. The most incisive moments for me was when she read excerpts of the love letters he would write her after the abuse. The promises, the begging, the hope he would spark that he really did want to treat her better. Her belief that *she* was the one who could heal him– he’d had a rough life.

She credited her counselor with helping her manufacture courage to start her own life with her children– safely. That counselor was her advocate at each court date, all the way until the divorce was finalized.

Afterward, they hugged. I was definitely tearing up.

And subsequently, the race stated.

There were times she needed to slow down and walk, and there were times that I did. And both of us are happy to comply and wait until the other was ready to run again. We’d talk a little.

And she was always positive, always fun!

It was equal. And both of us suggested running again to the other and encouraged each other to keep going.

We were also laughing because we got hit with not just substantial wind resistance, but rain!!

It was really coming at us! Luckily I had a hoodie from the event, but I was soaked. My toes were squishy in my shoes.

I joked that we were “hardcore” runners now! I I felt like such a bad ass.

Crossing the finish line was such an achievement!! I’ve never had to deal with so much weather in a run.

I did see my time at the end,  but didn’t make particular note of it.

Then we grabbed some refreshments and snacks, thanked each other for a great race,and went our separate ways.

Neither cared about how we ranked. We had achieved our goal!

And now it was time to go home and enjoy it.

In two weeks we have another 5K, in Chicago. Cannot wait!!

On Turning 34, Lauren Bacall, and Feminine Power

I turned 34-years-amazing on November 4.

Originally, I had planned to drive a nature preserve out of town and spend some time alone.

Instead I chose to stay local so that I could vote, enjoy my community, and see people I care about.

My first idea seemed cool. Except that I already am a bit of a loner, so the more challenging thing was to get out there and mingle for a change.

And I’m happy with my choice. I decided to put on something that made me feel glamorous and powerful: a suit.

I used separate pieces– a new maroon blazer I bought myself, along with a pencil skirt and my favorite boots. The blazer has sleeves that roll up with a pinstripe pattern, and two buttons. The night before I had gone shopping and decided I’ve been putting my money mostly toward necessities for so long: gas, food, bills. I can’t remember the last time I bought a new outfit or accessories. Usually what I do buy for myself has nothing to do with fashion or beauty: books and journals. I’ve become so intellectual and contemplative I’ve largely neglected my appearance for the past year.

In my younger days, every year I’d splurge and buy myself a fabulous birthday ensemble. I’d get my hair blown out, my nails done, I’d buy myself a sophisticated dress and some cute costume jewelry to match and probably some new shoes. I’d plan a big party for myself and take tons of pictures with my friends.

I used to love to go out! I still love to dance. I really enjoyed dressing up back then. The past few years, I’ve considered it tedious and a waste of money.

I don’t have the cash to treat myself this year the way I did back then. But I’ve still got style.

But sometimes it just really feels GOOD to spend money on yourself. And why shouldn’t I? I’m not supporting anyone besides myself.

I treated myself to mascara from Lancome, for the first time ever. Even the tube is beautiful.

And I put myself together, with a gold theme. My dangly earrings and bracelet were costume, but that’s fine by me. They’re still fabulous! I didn’t wear a jacket.

I stopped by the library cafe. I saw a business man, who looked at me and was impressed. He complimented my earrings. He asked if he could buy me lunch and I told him I’d already ordered, but he could sit with me. Normally I would have probably declined and sat alone.

And we had a lovely conversation. It wasn’t flirting– it was just two people having a respectful, delightful conversation. He’s traveled all over the world and done a lot of work for peace. We talked about faith. He gave me his card and asked for mine. I felt like an equal– not intimidated at all.

Why *shouldn’t* I have a card? I did as a reporter. I loved it.

Maybe it’s time to design my own.

Then I voted. On a political day, I felt like I fit in, dressed professionally.

I enjoyed dinner with my parents at a nice restaurant out of town, a victory! I got them to break routine.

I drank Voss sparkling water and adored it.

And after, my friend Kaela and I met at a local combination movie/dinner venue to see a classic: “To Have or Have Not,” with Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart. I wasn’t aware it was their first picture together, nor Bacall’s first film. She was only 19 in it.

The attendant lead us into an elevator, upstairs and down a hallway lined with movie poster memorabilia. We went into a small room with black leather couches! The movie was showing black and white, as well.

I was mesmerized. I am such a dork that I took two pictures of the movie with my phone. They came out great.

For such a young age, Bacall exudes poise. That unmistakable and unique Forties glamour– conservative. Unapologetically stylish. Her voice doesn’t have much cadence– she’s very still. You rarely see many facial expressions, except for a smirk. What’s riveting is her absence of action.

I’ve never seen a woman embody “playing it cool,” the way she did. WOW.

And I thought, “THAT is what I need to emulate.” The woman is a BOSS.

There is tremendous power in being quiet. In choosing your thoughts. In cultivating understated.

When you don’t demand attention, people are drawn in. I’ll pass on the smoking, however!

My friend had never seen the film either, and we marveled equally.

Afterward, we goofed around in the lobby, posing with movie posters and taking a few pictures of each other.

It was just a day where I felt in command of my femininity. Energized by it.

There’s something about taking yourself seriously– you command respect.

I’m glad I didn’t just throw on jeans and tromp into the woods on my 34th birthday. I can do that anytime.

Instead, I celebrated myself. I didn’t have a big party, but made plans to do things I really wanted. My birthday was on a Tuesday and I celebrated it that day. I spent time with my parents and one of my closest friends for the past four years.

I felt beautiful, strong, in control.

I’m glad I wore that suit to see this movie.

I’m going to rebuild a wardrobe of beautiful clothes that I love.

I’m going to take myself more seriously.

I’m going to own my beauty without apologizing.

And channel Bacall like a boss.