1,000 Miles = Listen & Run

imageHappy dance today at 1,000 miles for my 2016 annual running mileage! This was my total for last year, & I wasn’t expecting to surpass it by Aug. 31. I did it without the expectation. I haven’t been focused on running away from something or running toward a goal like a race or a pace in the future. I am running in the present–looking, listening, observing, being free in nature, and feeling free to discover. I observe so much in the natural world, but my inner world during the run reveals just as much about how I see and experience time and life.

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As I’m chased by a hornet and then a horsefly, I am reminded to always show all sides to the trail. I would be lying if I said that I haven’t confronted my fears out here on the trails–fear of falling, getting hurt, being victimized, losing the path in unfamiliar territory, and more, but every day is an act of listening while taking one step at a time, knowing I will hear my body’s signals about placement and speed and breath and water if I listen, hoping that I can trust my fellow humans on the trail to offer kindness and help if needed, but mainly to respect one another’s space to experience nature in positive ways, and believing that I can be aware of the trail and its inhabitants to teach me how to run–the trees, their roots, the mud, rocks, the animals, reptiles, amphibians, the insects and arachnids, the birds and their songs of greeting and warnings to one another, the wind and the leaves it carries, the storm’s flickering messages and the rain’s cool relief.

I am in a constant state of wonder at all of it, and then deer run out into the rain and play chase with one another, and then my thoughts go beyond, to other worlds, and a wondering happens–what are the other trails and trees like in another universe? To imagine the expanse offers a buoyancy to the run and to life–a tiny glimpse into what is in the wide wide abyss. Flight & tethering, and then time to head for home. I am so grateful to experience the run without running away from anything and without wishing to reach some place.

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All photos are views from recent trail runs.

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Yoga at Thorncraft & Grocery Cart Yoga

imageSometimes, I get the question, “so, why are you doing this yoga thing now?” It makes me laugh. I won’t go into the threads of yoga in my life and when they began and what they became at different times for me. Right now, yoga is becoming part of my publishing company’s journey, too. And, it’s fitting. Not only do I practice yoga, but so does Melissa Corliss DeLorenzo, one of the authors published by Thorncraft. In fact, Melissa wrote a blog in 2010 about how her children busted out their yoga moves in the grocery store for a public display of asana. While this blog is centered on NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), it’s the humor and overall zen quality of Melissa’s approach to mothering and accomplishing goals that captivated me (& caused me to laugh until I snorted). She has allowed me to publish it again here on my blog in a series about yoga and what we are working on for the future. Stay tuned and enjoy this hilarious story that most all mothers can relate to:

Grocery Zen with Children…yeah, right
By Melissa Corliss DeLorenzo
You know what’s one of my biggest challenges with NaNoWriMo? Finding time to go to the grocery store for the weekly shopping.
 
I remember when I was lying on the sonographer’s table and saw my twins in utero for the first time (BIG surprise), one of my first thoughts was how am I going to grocery shop with three little kids? But I figured it out: one baby in the car seat in the cart itself (yes, groceries piled around her), one in the baby carrier, my (then) two year old in the kiddy seat. As time went on, it morphed into one twin in the kiddy seat, the other in the carrier on my back and my little boy on foot. This arrangement worked beautifully for a long time.
 
Until recently.
 
The girls have decided they want to be neither on my back nor in the kiddy seat. So, I decided, fine, you can both go in the cart itself which prompted this facebook post once we returned home: Yes, I was THAT mother in the grocery store and my kids were THOSE kids. Everyone was probably relieved to see the extra big bottle of wine in the cart…
 
They have grown to be completely nuts in the grocery store. It used to be a piece of cake, but no more. Ella asked me recently if we were going grocery shopping. And I said, “I don’t think so, sweetie. Do you know why?” She said, “Cuz Ella and Lily don’t listen.” She’s right—they open packages of grape tomatoes in the aisles, they stomp on bags of flour, they toss things out of the cart, they pull labels off cans. And they think it is all hilarious. They yell as loud as possible and crack each other up. They try to jump out, too. And every shopper who walks by freaks out that they are imminently going to fall. I can sense them questioning my mothering skills. Something about the grocery store brings out the evil in my daughters. I’m sure everyone else thinks it’s quite comical, but I am the nut saying things like, “If you don’t stop crushing our food, you are going to lose the privilege of grocery shopping with Mommy!” While I am saying these crazy things, they are singing Ironman at the top of their lungs. (Thanks to husband for introducing Black Sabbath to my precious children…)

So, here’s the thing: I go out on Thursday nights alone. I go and write. There are times when I go and read or stare at nothing. I just like being alone while drinking my nice little latte without anyone touching me. Once, my husband jokingly said on my Thursday night, “You look nice,” (which meant, I think, oh you showered). “You going to meet some guy?” And I said, “No. The last thing I want is someone touching me or trying to talk to me.” This was when we were in the thick of two babies and a toddler, when the best personality trait a person could possess was the ability to hold it together when presented a broken cracker.
 
So, ever the optimist, and attempting to preserve the sanctity of my Thursday night writing time, I decided to try shopping with them again. This was the next facebook post:Remember that time I said I would never go grocery shopping with the kids again? Well, I mean it this time.

Getting to the point, I started using part of my Thursday nights to grocery shop, sans kids. But it’s NaNo time now and I cannot afford to utilize any of my precious Thursday nights for anything but writing. (See? This does have something to do with writing!) I was more determined than ever to make our grocery shopping together work. Damn it.

My new tactic: two carts! One for the kids, one for the food.

Here is the one with the food—peaceful and tranquil:
 (You can imagine it with produce)
You saw the photo of the kids at the top of the page. That photo documents a semi-good moment in the shopping experience. Soon after, they were dumping water on the floor and doing Downward Facing Dog from the top of one side of the cart to the top of the other. All while chanting the words to “Five Little Monkeys” as loudly as possible. Then they commenced to freak out at the check-out when they realized that it was logistically impossible for them to place (throw) the food onto the belt from their cart. I defied the laws of physics and figured it out. I’m sure someone from MIT will be contacting me.

Long story short, I really mean it this time. But not on Thursday nights. I gotta write.

(Someone know a way to stretch the week one little hour longer?)

I still managed to stay mostly on track this week. A little behind but I will catch up this weekend!
How’s your NaNo project going?

Visit Melissa’s blog at http://www.melissacorlissdelorenzo.com
Melissa’s blog was first publishing at Her Circle Ezine for The Writer’s Life blog. http://www.hercircleezine.com

NaNoWriMo—Planning, Using Humor & Finishing Early

I’m currently 7 days in to NaNoWriMo and cranking out an average of 1,800+ words a day from four narrators about Poke Sallet Queen, my current novel-in-progress. This year, I have a plan, unlike last year, when I participated in my first National Novel Writing Month and felt like a NaNo virgin. I didn’t know what I’d write, nor did I have names for my lead characters. I didn’t know those characters at all, so complete strangers introduced themselves and walked onto my pages. I tend to see the page like a cartoonist or a graphic novelist, even if it only looks like black typeface on a white page. In spite of the unfamiliar territory, I ran into my first NaNo and never knew what was going to happen around the next corner. Free-writing, it unfolded as I went, but I spent a lot of time with my head in my hands…waiting…waiting for the next scene to appear, and then I’d be off and running again until suddenly confronting another dead end. Due to that, the novel is still in-progress, and the editing has been a nightmare. In my haste to make the word count, I skipped quotation marks and indentations. At least, I did meet the goal and managed to hit enter for paragraph divisions.

This year, I planned to do NaNo all along without the same mistakes, and I started outlining the book back in the summer. I created the characters with simple notes about their personalities, and the title danced right out there into my writing journal. Everything was hand-written for Poke Sallet Queen, except for the actual novel. I didn’t write a line of dialogue or a descriptive paragraph. I plotted and planned. I harvested the research from my relatives—moonshine, alcohol stills, poke sallet festivals, cakewalks, long-rifles, magic recipes, midwifery and mysterious births and disappearances. Just planning the novel made my fingers itch to start typing, but I staved it off and upped the anticipation. I wanted the momentum of waiting for November 1st.

I wrote my first novel, Multiple Exposure, outside of NaNoWriMo in the traditional way—alone…for four years. I sheltered the book in a protective mode. It’s a dark psychological novel about war and isolation, and I didn’t share my project with anyone until it was completely drafted and I only chose people with military experience and/or an awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder. There’s no humor in Multiple Exposure, only haunting settings, suspense and mental dilemmas. The NaNo novel from last year is also quite serious, but focused on a girl’s coming of age and confrontation with spiritual practices and beliefs.

For Poke Sallet Queen, the key differences have been outlining, sharing conversations with other people about my book, and using humor. I wanted it all for this book—I talked and talked to my relatives, to Terry (my husband), and anyone who knew about farming, Southern traditions, old time festivals becoming modern, drugs, midwifery, drinking and family mysteries. The humor naturally arose from all those voices, as did surprising stories about compassion, revenge, and the losses and gains involved in modernization.

I also planned a male narrator, which is different from the other two books. I wanted an old guy to speak, so I chose my great-grandfather’s “voice” and his nickname (Hoot) combined with my great-uncle’s voice, which I actually heard growing up. My great-grandfather was dead before I was born, but there’s been no shortage of stories to hear about him. And so, I’ve been conjuring up Hoot, the male voice among three women narrators, and that’s been the most challenging aspect of this NaNo novel.

Planning has made everything easier, even the difficulty of writing a male voice that existed before I was born. I hope to finish earlier than expected this year, without pushing it to the deadline like last year. Having fun while writing NaNo is the key to meeting the goal, and this year, with humor, conversations and a plan, writing 50,000 words has been (so far) much more enjoyable.

Are you writing a novel? Do you prefer to draft over a long period of time? Or, does the speed of NaNoWriMo appeal to you for completing a first draft? And, do you talk to other people about your work before it’s completely drafted?

*This article was first published on The Writer’s Life blog on Her Circle Ezine.