Saturday, September 15, 2018

is that a field trip?

 Our Art Historian at Lander always organizes a museum trip at the start of each semester.  Last Saturday he and I met a group of students at The Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, SC.  It was a fun little day trip with great art and fun people.  Here's how I saw it:


 Museum and gallery visits are always interesting to me because they remind me of the continuing conversations we must have about art.  As an artist and a professor, I'm supposed to have these questions nailed down, but if I'm honest, the questions of "is that art?", "why is that art?" and "is that good art?" are not always so easy to answer.  The image above is a wall hanging work of art (forgive me for not remembering the artist or title) and it was one of the first things I saw in the museum.  It immediately reminded me of these questions.  I like it.  Which is not something I allow my students to say.  But I do.  But is it effective?  I was already smiling before walking into the first exhibit.

 The first exhibit was a Japanese photographer and the entire gallery space was filled with images of the same subject, framed in exactly the same way, at the exact same size.  Each photo was an image of the ocean and the sky.  Different locations and different times of day, but everything else was the same.  The entire gallery.  Each photo was the same photo I take every single time I go to the beach.  I love the ocean, the sky and that horizon line and I can look at it for hours.  There's something meditative and compelling about it that exceeds the limitation of words.  It puts me at ease.  This exhibit did the same thing.  Until I started thinking about it as composition and asking if it was art or if it was good art.  Then I sat down and smiled more.


 The next featured gallery contained several exhibits of the work of Katie Pell.  This was clearly a 1970s themed exhibit and it was designed very well by the museum.  There was even a spot with ogee print wallpaper and ugly chairs to sit and listen to vinyl records in the back.  A nice touch.  This is usually an alcove in the gallery used to encourage visitors to take selfies and post to social media.  I liked this idea even better.


 We entered the exhibit backwards as it was designed but it still worked well.  The first gallery was pages from an artist book that Pell wrote and illustrated about her childhood in the 70s.  I was born in 1972 and I felt an immediate connection with the images of being outside all day and playing in the woods and in a creek.  Some of our students related as well even though their parents would be the same age as the artist.


 Pell demonstrated her range of abilities with drawing, painting and sculpture.  This giant charm bracelet was created using laminated plywood, a process my sculpture students are currently learning.  Perfect timing.


 This was the statement for the body of work pictured below.  I loved the line "the excitement of our pointless and forgettable lives".  


 The distorted faces from yearbook photos really grabbed my attention.  I love to examine faces and bodies and how different they are from one another.  Of course this is frowned upon in public, so being able to sit and really stare was nice.  Each warped face contained within it it's own spectacular beauty.


 The next gallery had large ornate frame drawings that reminded me of old album art.  While the drawings were mostly just around the outside edge of the work, you could sit for hours and continue to find new things.  There was so much personal symbolism and imagery repeated.  


 In a looping video the artist talked about everyone having a story to tell and the importance of how that story is told.  Each person chooses how their story will be told and they edit the details and the narrative based on those choices.  This is an echo of an idea that has been buzzing around in my head for months.  it's so important to listen to someone as they speak.  Not just to what they are saying, but how they are saying it.  The way they tell their story will tell you exactly what is most important to them.  Really listening to people is similar to really looking at them.  Except listening may be more socially acceptable.


 The main exhibit of Pell's work, a collection of manipulated album covers was probably my least favorite part of her exhibit.  In this exhibit she used her own manipulation of existing album art to tell various stories about other people.  Her work was more impactful when it was about her own story.  

www.katiepell.com if you're interested in more.


 Then it was upstairs to the permanent collection to finish up.  Everyone had split up and I was alone.  I wasn't super excited to see the upstairs work because I go to the museum at least once a year to see the rotating exhibits and the work upstairs always seems the same.  There are minor changes but I typically move through very quickly with stops to see some of the favorites.


 I love religious work.  Believe whatever you wish, but there's something transcendent about some of the old Christian art.  I've probably mentioned that before but for me there's an easy connection between spirituality and creating art.  Whatever your particular flavor of belief, I think we could come to terms with some sort of agreement on this idea.


 The Botticelli always gets a sit from me.  The symbolism and iconography in Early Christian art is so fun.  When I learned about the symbolism in Freshman year Art History survey, I felt like someone had exposed a book of secrets to me.  All this meaning was there all the time but I never got it.  There's so much more going on that just what is depicted.  It's a secret club just for art kids.  


 As the work got more contemporary, I got more interested.  This creepy "angel" kid was a good one.  The hair looked real and the sculpture had a presence in this space.  It's funny how moving from the older stuff into the newer stuff immediately started raising the question, "what makes this art?".  


 An Eames chair.  It was nice to see a section dedicated to modern design and plastic furniture.  Eames thought good design should be affordable and accessible to everyone.  I like that idea.  It's like public art for the home.


 Same room, a Frank Gehry bend wood chair.  I'm a fan.


 Jean Arp's "Seuil Configuration".  It looks like I made it.  Had to think about this one for a while.  


 Georgia O'Keeffe


 Chuck Close


 Warhol with a wooden hand in front


 The works on paper exhibit had a lot of big names.  This one is Magritte.


 ...and Matisse


 ...and Picasso


 And this is our group with Warhol's "Mao" series. Several of these people are new to me, meaning I haven't had them in class yet but they were all fun.


Outside the museum, Main Street was blocked off for the farmer's market.  Just behind the vendors there were some artists quietly installing crochet art on the utility poles.


 If you've never seen this, it's called "Yarn Bombing" and it happens is a lot of urban areas.


 Maybe crochet isn't the correct term.  Maybe it's knitting?  I don't know.  Either way it's really cool.  I watched a police officer try really hard to watch one of these go up without officially seeing anything happen.  He liked it.


 As far as unauthorized public art goes, this type gets my seal of approval.  It's temporary, beautiful, thought provoking and it doesn't damage or destroy anything.  


 After the art it was taco time.  As art people, we didn't really consider that we were on the edge of "gameday" in a big football town.  The taco place was pretty much on campus and we had to detour around all the stadium traffic and search for parking spaces.  Still, we got our tacos.  


Columbia isn't very far from my house but I'm usually just there when I'm passing through on my way to the coast.  Since I was there and had a belly full of tacos, I decided to stop in town long enough to check on a sculpture I installed a couple of years ago.  "Curtis & Bob" was still looking good.  

Then it was back home to contemplate the trip.  There was some good discussion with a couple of students about what we saw and what made it good.  The museum had a little display asking visitors to categorize works from the collection as "art", "not sure" and "not art".  That was certainly a good starting point.  

I am always interested in observing others.  I enjoy seeing other people interact with art.  There were some people who took minutes to go through the entire museum.  Then there were others who didn't even get to see everything before it was time to leave.  I love to see people sitting down in front of works of art and I like to try to figure out what they are thinking.  Watching the Art Historian look at art was like watching a master at work.  Since I'm an artist, I know that I look at art pretty different than most people.  Almost immediately I judge the quality of the work.  As if I'm seeing if it's even worth my time.  Then I begin to look at the technique.  I want to see how it was done.  I get close and I inspect the edges, the brush strokes and the craftsmanship.  I critique it for composition and concept.  But I also become a regular person at some point and it either fits my personal taste or it doesn't.  This is when I throw all the other stuff out the window and just enjoy the work or hate it.  

Is everything in a museum or gallery art?  Nope.  Is some of it good art and some bad art?  Yep.  Is there a difference between fine art and design?  Yep.  What about between fine art and craft?  Yep.  But the stuff by the big name people, that's definitely good art, right?  Nope.  Ok, but the stuff you like, that's gotta be good art, yes?  Nope.

Go see some art and find out your answers to those questions.  Or buy me a coffee and we'll talk it out.


Monday, August 20, 2018

what i learned from not running

So Friday I met with the surgeon again.  He looked at his calendar and said, "So we are about 5 weeks out from surgery."  Knowing that 6 weeks is the magic number for running, I spoke up..."5 1/2" weeks!"

This guy is great.  He's very smart and very positive and he didn't kill me.  He smiled immediately understanding my angle.  He asked some questions, checked me out and gave me his blessing to run.  My internal soundtrack played Beethoven's Hallelujah Chorus all the way to my truck.  

I tried to wait until it cooled off to run but in August in South Carolina it doesn't really cool off unless there's a thunderstorm.  And let's face it, there was no way I wasn't going to run that day.  So I laced up and started out the door.  To say I was slow would be an understatement.  We joke at school about "slogging" (slow jogging) but this was a couple of degrees slower than that.  

And it felt so great.  So great.  I mean, it hurt and it was hot and humid and the sun was beating down on my bald head but I was smiling and laughing and happy.  It was amazing.  I know that makes zero sense.  Just trust me, it was wonderful.  

Our house has two flights of pretty steep stairs and my jelly thighs have cried audibly on each step for the last three days.  The soreness goes away, but the joy does not.  I'm so happy to be running again.  

A while back I posted some thoughts about what I learned from running.  As I've been not running for 5 1/2 weeks, I've been trying to pay attention and I may have noticed some things worth sharing.  Here's what I've got:

Sometimes Slow Is Good
I am goal oriented.  When I leave the driveway I want to get to wherever I'm going as quickly and efficiently as possible.  When I walk somewhere, I move with purpose and heaven forbid you walk slow in front of me.  I've discovered that time is valuable and I do my best to not waste it.  When I was forced to spend my summer slowing down I realized that when you move too fast you miss some things.  First of all, spider webs are much easier to see when you're walking slow.  I still got a few webs on me during my morning walks near the trees but I didn't take any whole webs to the face like I do when I'm running.  I noticed birds and plants and sounds that I normally race by.  There's a lot of beauty that I can miss when I'm moving too fast.  But we know this isn't about actual speed.  This is about walking with my kids every morning for the last few weeks and realizing they were babies yesterday and today they're almost teenagers.  Slow down.  Enjoy the seconds.

Listen To Your Body
It felt cheesy even typing that.  Such a cliché thing to say, right?  As a runstreaker, I mostly ignore minor aches and pains and simple setbacks like pneumonia, the plague and body parts falling off.  I would just get up and run regardless.  I was very lucky and I hope to have another long streak of luck and good health, but I hope I will listen a little more carefully to my body.  During recovery I went from that awkward "not being able to walk to the bathroom by yourself" stage to the "I'm not sure if I should do that stage" and now I'm still in the "lets try that and see if it hurts stage".  Each day was a new adventure in what I'd be able to do.  Sometimes there was a physical twinge or ache that let me know this wasn't happening.  Other times is was more of a gut feeling that something was a bad idea.  After I was feeling much more mobile and flexible I walked out to the front porch with my herd of hummingbirds and positioned myself in front of the hammock.  I stood there and thought about attempting to lie down in the hammock but I just knew that it wasn't a good idea.  My body was saying, "Dude, you know this is not going to end well."  Even a couple of weeks later when I finally got in the hammock I had to get G to help me get out.  Your body is smart, you'd be smart to listen.

I'm Not Easy To Live With
Can I get an amen?  If G reads this there's a good chance that no matter where you live on this planet, you'll hear her agree with this one.  I'd love to go on with my life believing that it's everyone else that is unbearable.  They can't drive, they can't push a buggy down a grocery store aisle correctly, they can't put their phones down, they can't control their children and they can't stop all the stupid things from coming out of their mouths.  But the truth is, I like things the way I like them and I think everyone else should like them that way too.  Failure to do so results in me thinking you're an idiot.  This makes me difficult to live with.  Or difficult to drive in front of.  Having to face this head on recently has hopefully helped to open my mind to the possibility that there may be more than one way to do things.  And maybe I can try to be nicer.  Maybe.

Running Friends Are The Best
Remember when I said this was one of the things I learned from running?  Well, running friends are not fair-weather friends.  When my running friends from around the world heard that I was forced to halt my streak, they rose up with support and encouragement.  Messages rained down on me from everywhere.  People who had never communicated with me before sent support and kindness.  It was moving.  And then some of them took up my miles for me.  Dominic, Lei and Ursa all ran at least 5K every day for the 36 days I was off.  Crazy!  These people amaze me.  Maybe running makes you really, really nice.  

Perspective Is Important
I remember when my 10th grade English/Lit teacher taught us about story.  She put a lot of emphasis on the idea that the same story can be told several different ways if you tell it from several different points of view.  Each person had a different perspective and it could totally change the story.  It would have been easy to look at my experience as a bad thing that messed up my running streak.  I could have cried nonstop about not feeling good and not being 100%.  I could have whined (more than I did) about not being allowed to run for 36 days and this would have been a bummer of a story.  There would have been no lesson there.  But if I choose to have a different perspective, if I choose to find the positive points in each day, then this becomes a happy story with much to learn.  I'm not saying I'd throw my hand up to volunteer to go through this again, but I'm a better person for going through the experience.  I've gained new friends and felt love and kindness from older friends.  And I was able to realize just how important running is to me.  We choose the story we tell.  

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

it was the summer of...

Surgery?  Recovery?  Not being allowed to do anything?  

Who saw that coming?

I'm lucky to have summer breaks.  It's nice to have a break between semesters and it's great to have days to spend with Blue and Violet and to have more time with G.  We start looking forward to our summer breaks around the first day of school each year.  As the spring semester starts to fizzle out, we begin talking about plans for the summer.  We had the Summer of Waterfalls, the Summer of Adventure and probably a few other summers I can't remember off the top of my head.  Coming off of last summer playing tennis and kayaking as much as possible and being on the beach a ton, this summer had it's work cut out for it.  In May I loaded up the Netflix queue with must see movies for the kids and started thinking of what activities we could get into this year.

This was our first pic of summer.  We were leaving the last day of school after field day.  It was hot, we were tired and we were pretty done with school.  


 But waffles make everything better.  Oh, I think we did the Summer of Waffles once too.  That was a good one.  So we started our new summer schedule sleeping a little later and eating a bigger breakfast once a week.  


 We decided to get a pool this year.  Not big enough for swimming laps, but just the right size for cooling off in the early summer heat.  It was a nice addition to the front porch, which we reclaimed for use this summer.  We have a big front porch but we only had some crappy chairs and a bench swing out there.  It was too hot and spidery during the summer so after the first part of May, we abandoned it....until this year.  We tossed the chairs, hung the hammock up and even moved a table and chairs out there.  With a fan and some citronella candles, we were set for summer.


 One of the best features of the front porch is our community of hummingbirds.  They're so fast and active it's hard to get a count but we think we have at least 20 hummingbirds.  They're Ruby Throated Hummingbirds if you're into that sort of thing.  And they're very friendly.  If you're still and quiet, they'll ignore you and go about their business.  From what we observe, their business consists mostly of drinking clear Kool-Aid and fighting.  It's so fun to watch.  We spent a good amount of our summer in the hammock watching the birds.  We had a couple at our old house years ago and they worked themselves into our story.  If you pay attention, you'll find them in lots of drawings and sculptures.  I'll just never tell you why.


 Speaking of art...I was less than 100% at the start of summer but I still needed to get some work done.  I managed to get three new sculptures made between hammock stops.


We took our early summer beach trip and discovered that not being able to do too much is kinda perfect for going on vacation.  We put our feet up pretty much all week and had a blast.  Each night G and I sat outside and watched day turn to night.  More on that later.


Meeting our new friend Yun was a summer highlight for sure.  After watching her hug strangers for a couple of days on the beach, I made a point to meet her after one of my morning runs.  She hugged me and prayed with me in Korean and then she went about doing the same for literally every other person on the beach.  She is a ray of sunshine  We got to see her again last week too.  G got to experience the hug and the prayer and then Violet did too.  I'm still in awe of Yun.  I want to be like her.


A couple of weeks after our first vacation we got to go on a "work" trip.  G was on official business and I was goofing off.  We ditched the kids and had a great week together.  I am not good with my body not wanting to do what I want it to do and at this point in the summer, I was struggling.  We got stuck walking a few blocks in a thunderstorm and I stepped out in front of a couple of cars to try to get to the hotel awning quicker.  I was lucky that they stopped to let me cross.  I told my body to run and it immediately said no.  Thanks to the nice drivers for not flattening me.  


I got to see a ton of Dali paintings at the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in art or cool things.  Dali has always fascinated me and the museum gave me a more clear understanding of why.  



 Running was a highlight of the summer too.  Those early mornings of silence and miles were wonderful.  I was more grateful with every run.  Especially because it seemed like each week I was less and less sure I could do it.  I was even more grateful because I knew this day was coming.  This was a sunrise run on the day of my surgery.  My last run for at least 6 weeks.  It was beautiful in so many ways.


I hope to never, ever have surgery again but I can tell you that G and I laughed a lot during the week after.  I know this is healthy and probably really good for lots of reasons, but it also hurt really bad every time I laughed.  G and the kids thought this was funny and I'm pretty sure they all tried extra hard to make me laugh and double over in pain.  There's probably not a more literal case of being afraid my side was going to split open.  Then, trying not to laugh made me laugh even more.  It was terrible.  And hilarious.

So then I was forbidden from doing everything.  The kids and I did a lot of staying home.  I drew a bit and kept the hummingbirds in Kool-Aid.  As far as activity, that's about all I could do.  I couldn't even get in the hammock until last week.  

So I read books and watched movies.  I made it through several books this summer and enjoyed the challenge of trying to read and stay awake at the same time.  I'm not great at doing both at the same time.  Movies were easier.  Blue is a little filmmaker and he puts these goofy videos together that he and his cousins make for his Youtube channel.  He also makes well thought out videos for the annual film festival and for fun.  He got interested in Hitchcock movies and the old tv series that was in reruns when I was a kid.  He and Violet also have my sense of humor so in addition to showing them intense suspense mysteries and really great films, we're getting into age appropriate (or almost age appropriate) comedies.  They love Mr. Bean, Ace Ventura, anything Adam Sandler and anything Will Ferrell does that isn't obscene.  For most of the summer, we were watching 2 movies each week and talking about the importance of making people laugh and telling a good story.  It was pretty awesome to spend this time with them and share these things in common.  I mean, we have to teach good taste to our kids, right?


While I was forbidden from running after surgery, the doc did say I could walk.  Knowing my love of sweets and eating in general, I knew I needed to find some way of burning calories and keeping the legs working.  A week after surgery, we instituted mandatory morning walks.  The kids liked it when I was walking super slow those first couple of weeks but the pace picked up and the mileage increased to my regular 3 miles.  But they stuck with me and did at least 2 miles every morning.  The silence of my exercise time moved over and made room for 2 miles of talks with Blue and Violet about random things.  I love how crazy conversations with kids can be.  You start out listening to the latest thing they learned about Fortnite (apparently a video game?) and a minute later you're telling them relevant stories about Papa Mac.  Then you're getting a detailed Christmas list (in August) that moves without any sort of transition into a full on discussion of race relations in America.  I love it.  


One of my favorite things about this summer was being forced to relax.  Even before surgery, I had to take lots of breaks and sometimes just lie down for a minute before I could move on to the next task.  I don't like people knowing too much about me so I hid this from everyone except G.  No need to worry the kiddos or have to explain your health 40 times in a week.  When I was around people during the summer, I put on my best face and if it hurt really bad, I'd slip away and lie down in the floor for a second.  Later in the day was worse but this made it perfect for front porching with G.  By the time she got home from work and we had dinner, we were both done.  We'd hit the hammock and rest.  Normally when I'm sitting still my mind is racing with all the things I still need to do before bed, but this summer I just couldn't do those things and I accepted it.  We slowed the pace and put our feet up a lot more.  At the beach G and I would go out on the balcony with our books and read until it was dark with the ocean whispering in our ears.  At home we'd balance on the hammock together and scroll through the internets and talk.  

The kids and I start school this week.  Summer is done.  We didn't hike or kayak a single time.  We didn't play tennis or ride the four wheeler.  But I don't feel like we missed out on anything.  I think we spent our summer vacation well.  I'm a lucky guy.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

thoughts from a streaker


 

On July 12 I ended my 6 year, 2 month running streak of running 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) every day.  You can read why in the previous post.  It was not my idea and I wasn’t very happy about it but this doctor is one of the good ones and I trust his judgment enough to follow his orders of not running at all for 6 weeks.  I have to admit, 6 years was a pretty good streak and I know I was all kinds of lucky to get that far.  And you’d think that 6 years of that kind of running would teach a person a few things.  I guess we’ll see.  The things that come to mind are listed below for your edification.

You are a runner
About 4 years into my 5K everyday streak I finally referred to myself as “a runner” for the first time.  I’m hesitant to give myself titles.  OK, I know I often give myself titles like “The Pope Of Waffles” or “The Pope Of Sand Sculpture” but that’s just my goofy humor.  I’d really like to be the actual Pope but I like Georgie and I’m Baptist and all.  Anyway, I didn’t really consider myself a “real” runner because I didn’t have lots of running stuff and I didn’t read running magazines.  I just ran.  My running clothes are just whatever shorts are on sale at TJ Maxx and maybe an old t-shirt in the winter.  I may get my armband for my phone there too.  I’m a little more picky about my shoes and socks but I’ve got plenty of socks from TJ Maxx or Marshalls.  I don’t go to running stores, I don’t read running books and in real life I don’t talk about running much at all.  I was convinced I wasn’t a real runner.  But I ran more than a lot of real runners and apparently I was faster than many of them too.  The more I learned about other runners, the more I realized I was a runner too.  Once I got over that mental hurdle I realized that everyone who runs is a runner.  Once a week?  Once a month?  Once a year?  Did you go outside and run one time?  You’re a runner.  A real runner. 

It’s all in your head
Do you think you can run a mile?  If you do, you can.  Do you think you can run a half marathon?  If you do, you can.  Whatever excuse you can think of right now, it’s total crap.  You’re not too heavy.  You’re not too old.  You’re not too weak.  You’re not too anything.  If you think you can do it, you can.  I’ve watched people run a 5K with zero training.  I’ve known people who ran half marathons on a whim with no training.  But the flip side is also true, if you think you can’t, you absolutely cannot.  Your mind is the strongest part of you.  It’s stronger than your muscles, stronger than your legs, stronger than that hill in front of you.  If you tell your body you can do it, your body will listen.  I would bet there’s actual scientific verification of this but I can tell you that 6 years of continuous 5Ks do not happen unless you tell yourself every single day that you can do it.  Trust me on this.  Tell yourself you can and you will.

Running will make it feel better
One of the things about a run streak of any kind is the daily temptation to not run.  You wake up and can’t breathe and the logical part of your brain says, “yeah, you shouldn’t run today.”  Or you have that weird tightness in your hip.  The sore back is a good one too.  Everyone around you who is not on a running streak tells you that you should probably take a day off.  But you’re stubborn.  So you get up and blow your nose and stretch your back and you run.  And guess what?  You feel better.  The sinuses clear out after a mile and you can breathe better than ever before.  Your hip loosens up and your back feels great because one of the best things you can do for your body is use it.  And it’s not just endorphins tricking you, you actually feel better the rest of the day.  And this is not just a physical remedy, it also works mentally and emotionally.  That jerk that pissed you off at work all day?  A run will fix it.  All the work you have due at the end of the week?  A run will help.  There is actually science to back this up and it has to do with increased blood flow to the brain and it does really help.  Whatever you got, running may not fix it completely, but it can make it feel better.

Running (and coffee) saves lives
Related to the one above, that increased blood flow to the brain will help you not want to punch that person in the throat quite as much.  It will make you not want to run that ridiculous driver off the road.  This was not as obvious to me when I was running as it is now that I’m not running but let me tell you, today I have wanted to punch at least 3 people in the throat.  I’ve wanted to run no less than 5 people off the road because they haven’t the slightest clue how to drive.  And I’m in a good mood.  Things are great.  But I still need running to even me out.  I don’t even want to think about what could happen if I didn’t have my coffee!

Meditation
Running is a solo activity for me.  I run every day alone.  It’s a good 25 minutes of quiet time and it’s amazing.  During that time my mind wanders.  I solve most of the world’s problems by the end of mile 1.  I’m not afraid to confess to you that I spend a good bit of my running time talking to myself or to God.  Not out loud, I’m not completely insane, but there are definite conversations.  You may call this prayer or meditation or whatever fits your particular belief system, that’s cool with me.  For me, it’s a time of remembering the things that are important to me and thinking about the people I know who are struggling.  If I know you personally whether we’ve met in person or if we only know each other through the interwebs, there’s a good chance you’ve been mentioned during this time.  Regardless of your thoughts on God, this is good energy and it’s a good thing to be a part of it.  Of course, prayer or meditation is not just about asking for favors.  It is a great time to express gratitude.  Few things help you see your own blessings more effectively than thinking of your friends who are walking in valleys.  My beliefs tell me that prayer is good for me because it puts my heart where it needs to be, refocusing me on others instead of on myself.  Running gives me that time and it helps to point my heart outward. 

Easy is bad
These last two weeks not running, I’ve noticed how easy it is to not exercise.  In addition to running each day, I also partake in an exercise routine called PiYo, a combination of Pilates and Yoga.  Each night before bed I also do a series of strength and stretch exercises.  These last two weeks I’ve slept a little later and not worried about the weather or temperature when I wake up.  I haven’t had to wait an hour to have my morning coffee.  When I’m sleepy, I just go to bed.  It’s so easy.  But I feel so bad.  I feel like I’m skipping something important.  I’m not as flexible as I was two weeks ago.  My feet hurt.  My knees creak when I walk up the stairs.  I’m not burning off my calories and I feel like an inflatable pool float.  I feel like I’m rusting.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not lying in bed all day watching Netflix.  I’m moving and getting some walking miles in each day, but it’s not the same as a good workout and my body feels the difference.  People joke with me all the time about being so proud of not running unless something is chasing them or how much happier they are eating chips instead of exercising but I don’t buy it.  The only thing better than the feeling of exercising is realizing you have the willpower and determination to make yourself exercise even when you don’t want to.  That’s a great feeling.  That willpower and determination carries over into every aspect of your life.  A running friend is fond of saying “I can do hard things” and when you realize you can, you see just how bad easy things are.

Running friends are the best
Speaking of running friends, let’s talk about those for a minute.  Some of my running friends I see in person from time to time and even run with them once a week during school.  Other running friends I may email or text with and honestly we mostly don’t talk about running.  Then there are the other running friends, the ones on Instagram that I’ve never met but I feel such a connection with because of our shared passion and insanity.  All of them understand something about the ridiculousness of waking up and thinking that running several miles outside is a good time.  They all understand what it means to put your desire for fitness and good health above your desire to be lazy.  They know that first mile is a liar and that you have to save something for that last hundred yards.  They know bright colored running shoes make you faster.  They understand the joy of tall, nonsensical socks.  We get each other because we are all the same kind of crazy.  But they also sense when you are in a rut or are feeling out of sorts and they are some of the first people to come in with encouragement.  They know what a bad run feels like and they know how to dispel discouragement.  My friend Catherine lives across the world and we’ve ran together on birthdays.  My friend Beth who “can do hard things” demonstrates daily how to get literally everything done and is such an encouragement.  I even have two friends, Dominic and Ursa who felt so bad for me not being allowed to run that they decided to run my 5K every day for me.  Can you even imagine?  I am blown away by these people on a daily basis.  I am grateful for running friends near and far.

You are inspiring
These friends inspire me to keep getting up and getting those miles.  Just knowing that people are getting up and getting over their own obstacles helps me see that I can get over mine as well.  If they can run, I can too.  I’ve had a couple of people tell me that they got out and ran because they saw me doing it.  They’re out making big changes in their lives just because they were inspired.  Just this week a person told me they just started running because they saw one of my running friends running every day.  All of the good things about running described above, now that person gets to have all of that, just because someone else laced up their shoes and decided they could run.  Think about the people you know in your life and all the things they have to deal with each day.  What could running do for them?  Maybe it could give them an extra 10 years of good health.  Maybe it could help them stay mentally balanced.  Maybe it could keep them emotionally stable.  Maybe it could provide a positive addiction to replace a negative one.  Maybe it could help them shed some pounds or just feel better about themselves.  And what if the motivation to do that came from you?  You have that power.  You just need to put on your shoes and lean forward. 

*You can get to know some of my inspiring running friends on Instagram by checking them out here:  @catherine.is.running, @bethelaine27, @pushthruthewall, @therunstreakgirl, @ursamich, @rock_toss_jess, @zombiee_odis just to name a few.