Read, run, read

I'm running a 5k — from home!
Will you join me?

Sara Roswell, of Life's a Wheeze, is hosting the Wheezy Virtual 5k. Everyone is invited— from couch slugs to marathon hounds. All breathers and wheezers welcome.

It's simple: On Saturday, March 19, run 3.1 miles, on the treadmill, around your neighborhood, in a park, at the mall, whatever works for you. Before and after the race, check in at Life's a Wheeze.

To get in the groove, I'm taking literary inspiration from running-related reads:

Heartbeat, by Sharon Creech, is the engaging story — told in verse — of 12-year-old Annie, who finds solace in running as the world around her shifts and swirls.  Creech, with a masterful light hand, explores how we become who we are, how we are unique and yet how we are all alike, and to what degree we should conform.

Running for the Soul
, from Road Runner Sports, is chocked with short, real-life triumphs from runners of all ages and abilities. This slim but powerful book will have you lacing your shoes and raring to run long before you've hit the last page.

I've got a week of reading and training ahead, and I'd love your help. Tell me, What gets your mind and body in the movement mindset?


Pull me from this winter coma

March, you vex me.

You are a tease, a taunt, a passive agressive yes and no and not yet. The only way to get through this passage bridging winter and spring is to eat, drink, nap, and read. It was in the throes of these vices that I found March Afternoon, a poem by Sandy Longhorn

Stun me, she writes. Pull me from this winter coma.

Can she call it, or what? 

March Afternoon

Emergency flare of a sun,
                                                      an empty sky.

Wind gusts ruffle the remains of last year's tall grasses —

                         the stand of ornamental pampas
                              and the pond rushes gone brown and dry.

I am talking to the hawk and the horizon when I say:

                                                                   Stun me.
Pull me from this winter coma.

Cleave me open
                           like sod split by the plow.
                                                                             Lay me bare.

The red wasps hang in the air,
                                              dangerous question marks.
                    The sun slides toward the tree line,

collides with a forming cloud —
                                                             a muscular light blooms.


— Sandy Longhorn
from Blood Almanac


Life is visceral, and other lessons

Be authentic. The most powerful asset you have is your individuality, what makes you unique. It’s time to stop listening to others on what you should do.

Work harder than anyone else and you will always benefit from the effort.

Get off the computer and connect with real people and culture. Life is visceral.

Constantly improve your craft. Make things with your hands. Innovation in thinking is not enough.

Travel as much as you can. It is a humbling and inspiring experience to learn just how much you don’t know.

Being original is still king, especially in this tech-driven, group-grope world.

Try not to work for stupid people or you'll soon become one of them.

Instinct and intuition are all-powerful. Learn to trust them.

The Golden Rule actually works. Do good.

If all else fails, No. 2 is the greatest competitive advantage of any career.

10 Lessons for Young Designers
from John C Jay, Executive Creative Director, Wieden+Kennedy.
Courtesy of AIGA.



Thankful Thursday: Unanswerables


When I see the sea once more
will the sea have seen or not seen me?

Why do the waves ask me
the same questions I ask them?

And why do they strike the rock
with so much wasted passion?

Don't they get tired of repeating
their declaration to the sand?

- from The Book of Questions by Pablo Neruda

The Book of Questions — a series of 320 questions in 74 poems by Pablo Neruda — has no answers. Instead, these poems nudge us to experience inquiry, not for rational, practical answers but for the sensation of wonder and what-if?

"We may ask our own unanswerable questions, and might come to find reflected in ourselves the world beyond might and sight," explains William O'Daly in the introduction to the poems he translated. "Neruda believed the inner quest was never-ending, that on some level what we learned was forgotten, so that we might learn it again."

On Thankful Thursday, I am thankful for questions that require no answers. For a change, I am content to let the queries dangle unknown, impossible, infinite.



We're all strangers here

"Love," Yo enunciates, letting the full force of the word loose in her mouth. She is determined to get over this allergy. She will build immunity to the offending words. She braces herself for a double dose: "Love, love," she says the words quickly. Her face is one itchy valentine. "Amor." Even in Spanish, the word makes a rash erupt on the backs of her hands.

Inside her ribs, her heart is an empty nest.

— from How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez

I've been on a binge of immigrant stories. Not memoirs of displacement, but beautiful fiction inspired and influenced by real-life events and experiences. Some of my favorite novels (and films) are stories that illuminate cultural divides. Perhaps I feel an empathy for those who live jarred between past and present, or maybe it's the sense of alienation I understand — after all, even if we never leave our own country, we're all strangers in a strange land at some point in our lives. Through the eyes of others we can see ourselves, and through our stories we gain a deeper knowledge of one another.

A few of my favorite stranger-in-a-strange land tales:

Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle
"A deeply moving story of the men and women who risk everything to cross the Mexican border . . . Succeeds in stealing the front page news and bringing it home to the great American tradition of the social novel."


Blue Boy by Rakesh Satyal
With great humor and wit, Satyal tells the story of a pre-teen Indian boy with grandiose aspirations.



The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
The 2007 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about Oscar, a first generation Dominican-American teen, "a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd." 



The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
A heartbreaking yet joyful tale about a young girl growing up in a Latino neighborhood of Chicago.



Stubborn Twig by Lauren Kessler
Not a novel, but a true story recounting three generations of Japanese Americans. History is painful and cruel as Kessler shines a light on one family forever changed by the WWII internment camps that forced over 100,000 people into mandatory relocation.


 What have I missed? I'd love to hear your suggestions!