Run Like a Child: A Training Epiphany

I changed my mind tonight about running at the gym. I used to think it was a cop-out to run on a track or in the gym. I like trails, twists, hills, variety.

But I saw a video today in a running support group I belong to on Facebook that inspired me:

This man lines up on the sidewalks of NYC behind a blue chalk starting line to see if passers by will engage him in a spontaneous race. They do, and he clearly holds himself back so they can win. Then they all receive medals at the end. They were all so ecstatic!! I liked that it was diverse: children to older adults who maybe were athletes once. There was a whole line for the challenge!

But my favorite was watching the children. They were squirming to start, and several races were with multiple children and then groups of teens as well. It was pure PLAY for them!! They ran as FAST as their bodies were able, arms pumping hard, bolting ahead of the dude instigating this video. They ran with ragged breath and a giant smile on their faces.

And I was so happy!! I realized that they were teaching me something. I NEED to run like that. I need to remember that running is STILL PLAY– that it’s fun.

So tonight I switched up my run. It’s now dark earlier. Instead of running outside, I went to my health club and ran the track. I set a time instead of distance and told myself I would run as hard as I could for that amount of time.

And I LOVED IT! I was breathing hard, sweating. Because the track was smooth I didn’t have to worry about tripping on anything in my path. It’s on a carpet. I never run like that because I’m always in my head. What’s my pace? How far have I got left? Do I like the song playing?

I realized this a great way to do speed work and interval training.

Tonight I realized that running indoors at a health club isn’t weak at all. In fact, it’s inspiring. It was packed! Seeing so many others working out gave *me ideas on workouts I could try myself, especially on the machines I am clueless about using.

I resolve to do this type of speed training once a week– without worrying about maintaining a pace. I can run safely in a well-lit, smooth area without tripping. And seeing others pass me up also motivated me to keep it moving when I got tired.

I’m learning to design my training the way I like it.

I’m proud of me.

And hopefully I’ll learn eventually to run like I’m playing Red Rover, straining to break through the chain of my friends joined hands.

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Adaptation and Donald Kaufman’s Optimism

Last night I rented “Adaptation,” for the second time. I really need to buy this movie.

It made me laugh because as a writer, I completely relate to Charlie Kaufman.

I’m not as extreme as he is– I don’t have paralyzing social anxiety. When I stay home, it’s because I enjoy some time alone rather than because I can’t talk to people. I’m in sales! It’s all about talking. Sometimes I just want a break from it. But Charlie can’t focus on what he’s writing– he can’t make a decision and devise any structure. He puts down all his ideas– the only reason he’s unpublished is because he puts himself down and feels his ideas are worthless. It’s his own fear that defeats him. He starts over and over, discards each try, and never turns in anything. He has a female friend who obviously is attracted to him, yet he never makes a move because he assumes he’s not appealing to her. I date– but it’s not often that I feel enough of a connection to want a relationship. Usually some time passes in between for me.

Yet, Charlie is a natural talent. His problem is his attitude.

His twin brother, Donald, also seems like a loser. He lives with Charlie, unable to get motivated to support himself. He spends most of their conversations lying on the floor because his back hurts too much. He is constantly seeking Charlie’s approval on ideas, always asking his advice. Charlie is permanently surly, but that doesn’t bother Donald. Yet, his natural talent is not writing– but optimism. He attends a three-day workshop for screen-writing, and vigorously applies what he learns. He writes and SELLS a screenplay before Charlie has even found an angle! He chooses to see life as an opportunity, rather than an obstacle. He is open to intimacy and develops a relationship with a woman on a movie set Charlie is involved with. She’s the make-up artist. They have a sweet relationship and she enjoys his affection and being his muse. Where Charlie is awkward, Donald is charming and confident.

Ultimately, Donald saves Charlie’s screenplay adaptation– the driving conflict of the movie. His insight is what allows Charlie to see the whole story and find a structure, to bring the characters to life.

But my favorite part about Donald is near the end of the movie. Charlie and Donald are huddled together, their life in danger. And they resort to small talk, reminiscing about high school. Charlie reflects on Donald’s everlasting happiness, which confounds him. He asks why he could still be so HAPPY about loving a woman who was indifferent to him? Worse, immediately after talking to him and acting as if she liked him, she immediately cut him down to a female friend. Charlie assumed that Donald didn’t know about this– otherwise, how could he still like her?

Charlie: “How come  you looked so happy?”

Donald: “I loved Sarah, Charles. It was mine, that love. I owned it. Even Sarah didn’t have the right to take it away. I can love whoever I want.”

Charlie: “But she thought you were pathetic.”

Donald: “That was her business, not mine. You are what you love, not what loves you. I decided that a long time ago.”

I used to be like Charlie– closed to intimacy. It was a product of my youth. It took me a long time to love myself enough to allow anyone else to love me. I used to push people away. I used to see only the differences, the negative– not possibilities.

We all need to be more like Donald. And I realized that finally, I have become more like him. I’ve largely let go of the bitterness of my relationship history. Sure, there is still some sadness– because I miss those men and am sorry for hurting them as well. But in the end, it doesn’t matter if they matched my feelings or not. The joy I found in those relationships, and the pain– that’s mine. I cherish it, all of it. They all helped me to grow.

With each relationship, my heart cracked a little wider. If I hurt more, it’s because I had opened myself up more– and I’m proud of that. I have come a long way from the girl who was too shy to even tell her boyfriend how she felt, in the security of a relationship.

I’ve become a woman who can take risks without security– and enjoy possibility.

Happy 2nd Blog Day to Me!!

St. Patrick’s Day marked the SECOND Bloggiversary (now it’s a word– I’ve decided)– of my heart,

Unrelenting Amee.

Pardon my tardiness in celebrating– I’ve been tired the past few weeks.

In two years, this blog has been viewed 11, 557 times and received 432 comments. It has been viewed in a flabbergasting mix of 86 countries! Thank you, Word Press, for the fantastic stats. That makes me feel stellar.

I’ve got to list some search terms here. They range from sweet to hilariously random to cryptic. It reminds me of the variety of topics I’ve blogged about. I’m proud. Some of these refer to specific posts I’ve written, which makes me happy because I know people are searching for those specifically even if they don’t comment. Just to know someone wants to read particular posts I’ve written multiple times makes me happy. Others elude me entirely but are quite amusing.

Verbatim, enjoy:

“Jason Biggs” – 212 times — I mention him in ONE post, and look at the traffic! Thanks to you and your adorable schnoz, Jason.

“unrelentingamee” 195 times– YES!

“noseman”

“billy idol accent”

“schmendrick the magician”

“cocktail dresses for tomboys”

“poolish deaf”– is that supposed to be Polish?

“saganaki has closed?”

“my friend called me a chihuahua”

“Bella Swan is a horrible character”

“but now im hotter”– got that right!

“not drinking as a lifestyle choice”

“coffin car”

“i wear hearing aids” — cool!

“atheist 3 wise men story”

“Shawn michaels amee pants”– I can’t make this shit up!

“jack kerouac adhd”

“inside car hanging stylish permanent air freshener” — Hmmm… okay.

“jessica rabbit sharon stone”

“bombastic stupidity”

“what’s the shame in the word vagina” — NONE! HA HA!

“I visited her grave a year ago”

and probably the most puzzling:

“i miss my amee” — that was last winter. Who misses me? Do they still?

I initially planned to end this blog on the two-year anniversary– I liked the symmetry. But a blog is a lot like a relationship. It’s a commitment. You invest a lot in it, and become deeply attached. You go through phases– infatuation, ambivalence, irritation, apathy, and trust. Just deleting my blog itself is one thing– but it’s the attachment I have to my readers that makes me not want to let go.

My subscriber list has fluctuated a bit, but the bulk of you have subscribed and stayed– whether I didn’t blog for a month or wrote three posts in one day. Some of you never commented, but told me how much you enjoyed my posts in conversations on facebook, by e-mail, or in person. Some of you comment prolifically, and it’s all I can do to keep up! But your willingness to hang in there did so much for my self-esteem as a writer. I knew that even if I didn’t feel inspired right then, you expected that I would in the future. And some of you never subscribed, but checked this blog every day on your own, and would call or text me about my posts. In a way, that meant even more.

Some of my friends never got into this blog. And that’s sad, because they missed out on a fundamental part of knowing me.

I know I won’t keep this blog forever. But right now just doesn’t seem like the time to say goodbye. Because truthfully, there’s a wonderful support system here, via the interwebs. And although I may be ambivalent about my blog at times, I’m not ready to give up ya’ll. And when my phone dings that there’s a new comment or a new subscriber? That’s a digital warm fuzzy.

Two years ago, I started this blog single. And I’m single now.  I won’t say I’m happy about being single… because honestly, it is lonely. I’m strong enough to admit now that yeah, it’s not so fun anymore. Right now, I’m in a place of recovery. Before I invest in a new relationship again, I’m working on just me. I’m balancing my life in the way that I need first. I always talked about it in this blog– but I never did it. I’m doing that now. And emotionally and physically, those changes are exhausting— but necessary and ultimately, hopeful.

Thank you for your your devotion, comments and for being my motivation to continue writing. There’s more to come.

You’re not gettin’ rid of me yet!

Other writers, religion, and inspiration

I was blocked on my column, so I went to be around other writers.

And it worked.

I wanted to write about faith– such a broad, yet personal, topic. I couldn’t focus. I felt nervous about being vulnerable in a newspaper column, which isn’t about feelings. It’s supposed to be about facts.

But as I sat in the audience at this poetry slam, the theme of religion was constant. I knew I was onto something.

I saw religious tattoos. One poet talked about how he had stopped praying after his mother died. Another joked that he was going to complain about his religion.

And I felt relief.

Religion is hard. There are all these rules telling us what to believe, how to live, dictating how we should feel about ourselves and others. And to follow any religion is a struggle. Why not complain about it? I appreciated that poet’s candor. That makes sense! It’s something we all have dealt with in our lives. We’ve all had to confront it!

Religion is about so much more than the divisiveness that repels so many people. It’s a culture in which you’re raised. It’s an identity, even if you no longer believe the dogma. It’s a lens through which you view the world, and measure yourself. It’s a community of others who want to believe. It’s something to make you angry. It’s something to help you grow. It’s a source of peace.

There were three featured performers at this poetry slam. And I spent $40 to buy one of each of their books, and a CD. One of the books was small, I was fascinated by it.

“It’s like a prayer book,” I said to the poet. “That’s the idea,” he said, smiling.

And I went home, and I knew just what to write.

I e-mailed it in, then went to bed. When I woke up, I called my editor to see if she got it.

She liked it, and said she had meant to e-mail me.

“I can tell you put a lot of work into it,” she said.

And I felt great.

I brought a poem to read, but arrived too late to sign up for the open mic. For the slam you need at least two, if not three– in case there’s a tie-breaker. I didn’t have time to print out that many, I was in a rush to get there after work.

One of the poets read it upon my request though, and that was great. He took it seriously– went off quietly by himself for a few minutes. When he returned, he had a few comments about it. I told him I’d never done the slam before. He said to go for it, and to e-mail him when I did. This was one of the featured performers.

Each one took time to write a personal message in their books that I bought. One of them gave up their chair for me. All were down-to-Earth, and encouraging about my own writing. Their humility inspired me. It makes me want to jump in and slam myself. To write more poems, something new to read next time.

My poetry is largely something I don’t intend to publish, at least not now. But I enjoy reading it aloud.  I love hearing the reaction of a crowd when I’m onstage, having a room quiet and focused as I read it. Or the intimacy of reading it to just one person, especially if they are willing to discuss it with me and enjoy literary analysis. Whether they can offer a simple opinion, constructive criticism or praise, I’m always just so happy that they wanted to listen and indulged me.

Writing is such a lonely occupation. Once in awhile, we need to recharge by connecting with another person about our work.

And those moments make it all worth it.

Finding the Angle: Lent 2012

Last year I began this blog a week later than planned.

But I started it because of Lent.

I have five days until Ash Wednesday, and absolutely no idea how I will honor it this year.

I thought about giving up my blog for Lent– it truly is my favorite thing. But that seems like the easy way out. Sacrifice always begets wisdom.  Giving up what we cherish is difficult to do, but the obvious angle.

Deprivation also provides immediate and continuous inspiration.

The reporter in me wants to dig deeper.

The blog forced me to adhere to my Lenten promise last year, just as my column forced me follow through with deleting facebook.

Maybe what I ought to give up this year is blogging about what I decide to do for Lent, regardless of what I choose.

THAT would really be difficult.