Our San Francisco flight had been delayed, which meant we’d be hard pressed to make it for the start of the Giants game. It was a frenzied dash, from landing to hotel check-in, then we rushed to AT&T Park to catch the game in progress.
Louie kept score as usual. I kind of tuned out, soaked up the sunshine and tried to recover from the hustle of traveling.
The Embarcadero picks up near the park. We planned to walk off our ballpark lunch and get a feel for the city. Eventually, we’d end up at the Ferry Building to explore the market inside.
After all of the sitting on the plane and at the ballpark, it felt good to get moving and listen to the water lapping up the shore.
Since we would be in San Francisco for our last training run before the Eugene Marathon, we decided we should do it in grand fashion and run the Golden Gate Bridge. An article had pointed us to start in Crissy Field. To the bridge and back made for a seven-mile run.
I’m not often in the habit of stopping during runs, especially just a seven-miler – but this one was as much about exploration as getting in the miles.
This route included a nice steep hill (607 feet of elevation gain), which meant a breathtaking view of the sundrenched landscape, the city outlined in the distance.
Inching closer in run step increments, the world seemed wide and open, and we were on top of it. From this vantage, anything is possible.
Running toward the bridge was a test of my sense of scale and time. From a distance, it was hard to guess at how far away we were from the abutment.
Running over the bridge is a whole other matter – the panoramic views are divided by suspensions, concrete, structural steel. 1.7 miles traversing 894,500 tons of bridge. Traffic zips by, high speed and in close quarters. Here the world tightened back up. We picked up our pace until we put the bridge behind us.
On the way back, we wandered from our path. Alcatraz gazing, run-ins with blue heron, a detour to explore the Palace of Fine Arts.
In those last two miles we “ran” 17:32 and 25:12 respectively, ending with an overall 11:09 pace over the seven miles. Not exactly a sprint, but enough to work up an appetite. Still in our running gear, we stopped at the donut place we’d been eyeing around the corner from our hotel.
We don’t normally devour a box of donuts after a run, but, hey, we were on vacation. No regrets. Those pastries were amazing. And we had a marathon looming in our future…
The Lost Coast is a land without internet. We showed up in early spring. The off season, when all the vacation homes were shuttered up.
The Inn where we rented a room was kept up by one woman, plus a teenager who came in the morning to run the coffee shop. We saw no other guests as we arrived. We were more likely to meet a whale, if we sat on our balcony and waited. They’d been spotted just earlier, the inn keeper said. Lore and suspense? Maybe. We waited, but no whales.
Sea lions and cormorants camped out on jagged rock. Like they owned the place. (They did).
The sound of the sea was constant and gushing. We slept with the balcony door open, salt mist lullabies pushing in. This is how to have a really good night’s sleep.
Dozens of times I’ve sung along, busted those moves. I’ve done the hokey pokey on roller skates, under spinning bedazzled lights. If called upon to do so, though I’ve never tried, I could do it with my eyes closed or in my sleep.
But when I stood, feet planted right in front of this step map of pokey moves, it was like I sprouted two left feet. I made the moves in the wrong order, couldn’t quite toe into the brass footprint.
It was entirely unnatural to follow a map for something I already feel in my soul. When it comes to dancing, which I do early and often, dancingeveryday please and thank you, I like to do my own thing.
As I stumbled over the steps, a couple walked up and said, “You should try the one down there! It’s impossible!”
It was the Mambo.
Nope. Thanks for the invitation, but one dance by numbers was enough for me.
On December 1st, Louie and I synchronized our watches. We had a phone date at 8:55 a.m., five minutes before registration opened for the Bayshore Marathon in Traverse City.
Our friends Jason and Robyn had run this race before and sang the praises of the course. Flat and fast, and all along the lake front. Their praise came with a warning. Part of the awesomeness of the race is it’s not too big or too crowded. You have to register quickly, or they might sell out. They’d book up in the first day, for sure.
Their website confirmed the situation. Registration would open at 9 a.m. on the dot. Spots in the race were first come, first serve. Each person may only register one runner.
That Tuesday morning, we dialed in as planned. With each other on the line, we logged in to the registration site. The registration page had a giant timer, ticking down the minutes and second. As we tick-tocked closer to the opening, I got nervous. What if he gets in and I don’t? Or vice versa?
I felt like Ralphie decoding his Little Orphan Annie message, as we entered our credit card information and updated our process along the way. And then, sweet confirmation. We both got in! Our first race of the year, booked.
Later I found out the big rush is for the half marathon, and we’re doing the full. But it was sort of fun to have the rush of registering under that pretext.
“Individuals who come to believe that they can effect change are more likely to accomplish what they set out to do… People with self-efficacy set their sights higher, try harder, persevere longer, and show more resilience in the face of failure.”
This. I want to send this quote to people everywhere. There are plenty of great ills in the world, and my heart can get heavy over many of them. What I really want to wage a war against is lost potential and self-doubt. I see so many people underestimate what they’re capable of doing.
Fair warning, I’m about to have a moment of what Drew calls transformational hippie shit.
Imagine a world more of us believed in ourselves. Think of how the heart center of humankind might shift. A more vibrant and warm world. Think of the problems we might solve.
What if you’re the one to make it happen?
Maybe this is my individualization theme from StrengthsFinder talking (meaning I notice and value unique strengths in others). If I can see what you can do, maybe you can too.
Don’t give in to the first road block. Or the second. Keep going.
Remind your friends and neighbors they can do it too.
Believe in your ability to make an impact.
Today as I was crunching through some cardio at the gym, climbing imaginary flights of stairs, I had an a-ha about my bucket list.*
Some of my top items include:
Maybe go to grad school.
Learn cello (at least I’ve started!).
Write a book.
Run a marathon in all 50 states.
Notice anything? Pretty much everything here takes years to achieve, lifetimes to master. I don’t have “quick wins.”
I know my bucket list is mine to fill and empty, and making it such a challenge says a lot about how I’m wired. But, I want to open my mind to a bucket that isn’t put up on a shelf until one day when mysterious chasms of time open up to me. I may as well wait for Godot and the Great Pumpkin.
Our intern at SmallBox, Angela, introduced me to the idea of a hobby swap. (Seriously – how cool is that?)
So, what ya got? Tell me about your bucket list items that can be done in a day, a weekend, a month. Despite the fact that I’ve filled my bucket with mountains to climb, there’s plenty of space left in there and I’ve got some living to do.
* This train of thought was prompted by Denver, who lost her battle with cancer at the age of 28. I really admired how fiercely she went after her bucket list, even as she struggled with her health.
Fifteen years ago, my daily wake up call came via a big chunky CD/alarm clock combo. The contraption was a beast, easily taking up half of the real estate on my bedside table.
It wasn’t long after getting my first iPhone that the bulky alarm clock got the boot. I plugged that phone in just before bed, and for a good while this worked out nicely. A compact, convenient alarm with the occasional news story or two before bed.
And then the same thing happened to me that is happening all across the country, even right now as I write this. I wonder… How many people are reading something on their phones in bed right now? It became an obssessive last check in… a peek at email, a scroll through social.
In the morning, when the phone woke me, all of those read flags and notifications nudged at me too. Before I knew it, my daily early a.m. half-awake, still in bed reading habit was easily hogging 20-30 minutes of my morning. If you’ve ever done this, you too have probably dropped your phone on your face while reading in bed. The worst, right? Ugh.
Back in May I decided enough was enough. Browsing a well-curated designer-y store called Canoe, I spotted this Braun alarm clock. The alarm functionality was the one thing keeping my phone tethered to my bed. If I wanted to replace the bedside phone habit, this no-frills, battery powered number seemed just the thing.
Truthfully, I wondered if it would stick, but for thirty-two bucks, it seemed worth a shot. No wires, no electric glow. I can not set it to wake me up to robot beeps or chimes, as it has just the one “ring tone.” And get this: no snooze button. I myself was really skeptical about this last point, having been many years devoted to a hearty snooze habit. If I had to wager a guess, I’d say on average I pushed that snooze button 2.4 times per morning.
It seems such a small, simple change, yet it’s remarkable the impact this decision has had on my life. With eight months under my belt using this clock, I can say I’m a total convert.
Consider these perks:
I’m reading more actual books (and have more room for them on my bedside too).
I am sleeping better than I have in years.
I reliably get up before or at the sound of my alarm – no snoozing.
My mornings have become much more serene and productive.
I always seem to have time for nice things like breakfast and walking my dogs (things that were often cut, or very harried and rushed in days of yore).
Quite the transformational change. All I can say is, why didn’t I do it sooner?
Today, I did something I’ve been thinking about for a long, long time. I rented a cello.
I have no idea what I’m doing.
Day one of practice wasn’t quite what I expected. I sat with a pencil, re-reading and feeling out instructions that help you shape your hand for a bow. I learned how to tune the strings, getting a feel for the low tones of it.
Three notes. Aside from the open strings, that’s all I played. I spent thirty minutes, fumbling on the fretless neck to reliably find and hit those notes. Deep grooves formed in my fingers.
To play, you put the cello an arm length out, then lean it in toward your body. Swinging the bow over that low C hard and fast made vibrations swim through my chest.
At a coffee shop the other day, I noticed some paintings of humans that were… just a little off. Not enough to look like an intentional abstract portrait. No–they were trying to be photo realistic, but missing the mark in an eerily, creepy way.
I mentioned this to Lydia and she exclaimed:
They’re in the uncanny valley!
Seriously. How great are these words?! I can’t describe how much I gushed about it, but there may have been a small dance performed in honor of this phrase. Here’s what it really means (according to Google):
un·can·ny val·ley noun
used in reference to the phenomenon whereby a computer-generated figure or humanoid robot bearing a near-identical resemblance to a human being arouses a sense of unease or revulsion in the person viewing it.
“anyone attempting to build a believable human facsimile also has to beware of the uncanny valley”
I know it’s meant to refer to robots and artificial intelligence, but no matter. I love this term so much I will now use it liberally to describe awkward behavior. I’m no stranger to awkward or weird. We all have our moments, right?
But if we say, “Huzzah! I just went to the uncanny valley!” then that makes our raw, silly, awkward, human moments feel like a fun adventure.