Monday, November 30, 2009

"And God must be a pretty big fan of 'today', because you keep waking up to it. You have made known your request for a hundred different yesterdays, but the sun keeps rising on this thing that has never been known. Yesterday is dead and over. Wrapped in grace. Those days are grace. You are still alive, and today is the most interesting day. Today is the best place to live."

This is a blog-bit by Jamie Tworkowski, 28-yr old founder of the non-profit org To Write Love on Her Arms, which aims to present hope to people who are far, far away from hope.  I love it.  I thought it was beautiful.  I want to hang it over my bed so it's the last thing I see when I hit the sack and the first thing I see when I hang the sun in the sky. 

It's actually a really interesting story - how Jamie started TWLOHA.  He'd met a girl who was suffering with painful addictions and had carved "F*ck Up" on her arms with a razor blade.  Changed Jamie's life direction permanently.  He went from surfer to "souldier". He wanted, he said, to find a way "to write love on her arms."  

I happened upon the story by chance.  Here's how: I'm a fan of Jon Foreman (former frontman for Switchfoot) and saw this great pix of him wearing a sweet Harmonica shirt* (see pix below).  I'm a sucker for cool t-shirts as well as a bit of a detective.  When the two collide BAM!  I find new fun interesting things.  This was no exception.  So, I covet Jon's Harmonica shirt, I type in a few wordbites to see if I could score the shirt (i haven't yet) and saw this week's Rolling Stone article.  WOW.  (Seriously Pollyanna string the prisms on Mrs. Snow's wall and cue the music).  I also visited Jamie's very popular MySpace page and thought he had some pretty powerful messages about hope and about what it means to NOT give up on your Self.  I was surprised and saddened by how many KIDS feel like they have nothing to offer this world. 

Anyway, if you get a chance to read the article, I'm curious to hear your thoughts about it.  To Write Love on Her Arms.  This is beautiful.

l-r: jon + cool t-shirt, jamie founder of TWLOHA and other dude.

*sidebar:  if you should find that shirt and tell me where the H i can buy it, I will be so very thankful and will sing you a song.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

sprinkle some words on it.

I like to write and sometimes my writing takes a poem's form.  It's just the way it comes out of my brain.  I don't write everyday, much to my chagrin, but when I do, it's like, "where's a napkin quick! I need a napkin!"  It just comes out and I can't give it much thought until it's on the page.  And when it's out it's like, "whew!  I knew something was in there baking..."   

It's not like I'm trying to become an accomplished poet (although when I was younger I kept a journal and dreamed of being discovered, as Anne Frank was, and having movies made about me long after I'd left this earth and also had the crazy notion to submit a few to the New Yorker.  what?  go big or go home is what I say:) ).  Anyway, I was humbled and long after my humble pie, I've decided I'd like to sprinkle a few in here every now and again.  You, know, give the blog some flavor?  Or change it up.  Whatevs.  Like most cupcakes, the whole thing tastes better when it's got something on it.  Numero Uno....

when it becomes Too Quickly
in this beautiful freedom air so stoic
is my infinitely fleeting long small
time on earth.  we stand still
ash on end and play
to the tipping tilting gravity; 
equally holding, equally letting go
a thousand steady stars flavor this space
this endless end.


Friday, November 27, 2009

tell me why...

i fell today.  
i fell on a 50 minute trail run with my cousin through the woods of northampton.
we were having such good conversation that I forgot to pick up my feet.  i now have a long red cut along my shin bone.  i've deduced that when we fall as grown adults, it is largely an awkward moment for all parties involved: the victim, the friend, the forest.  earlier, i dropped my toothbrush whilst brushing my teeth.  it hit the toilet before falling in the trash can.  nobody was there to witness it, but i evil-eyed myself in the mirror until i felt thoroughly reprimanded.  before that, i missed the exit to my cousin's house and ended up tacking on an additional 65 miles.  i belted out some Christmas songs in frustration until I was finally able to turn and head back in the right direction.  for the eyes, the teeth and the left leg, i was having "one of those days".  

but for the heart, the stomach and the vocal chords, life couldn't have been better, starting with Thanksgiving with my Aunt Sally, Uncle Dave and my Awesome Twin Cousins, Molly and Ali (we call each other that because my dad is a twin with Aunt Sally and we have a special cousin bond, no big deal).  food was out of this world ridiculously good we barbecued the turkey and holy WOW the sides were heaven i can barely breath just typing (breath!).  the dessert was insane pie and more succulent pie coupled with dark chocolate Pretzel Slims sold at Trader Joe's.  we always have so much fun together and this time was no exception, because after seconds and thirds we gathered around the wood stove and Pete whipped out his guitar and we listened to his amazing voice and we sang all sorts of songs and then We. Sang. This. Song:  "Tell Me Why" by the Backstreet Boys.  

please don't ask my why this song literally made the night.  i won't have an answer. all i can say is that we sang it like we meant it, red-faced and smiling (this includes the older folks who have never heard of this song before.)  we had to shut the windows because we sang so loud.  it was amazing.  we were laughing so hard, all of us and we sang it again and we're going to sing it again for the next Miller Family Olympics.  it was the BEST.  this is why I love my family.  

so, i'd say my organs all got what they needed this holiday.  i aced the Adult Tumble so THAT'S out of my system, my magnetic north led me astray for a few million miles, my stomach feels totally blessed and food coma'd and I am the new Backstreet member they don't know about yet.

i also decidedly refrained from capitalizing most of the words in this post.  i like lower-cased things.
hugs and ohs,

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

things i am thankful for.... family & our amazing ability to be weird and mildly cool at the same time.  I am performing part of my cousin's amazing dance move, "The Bat", and Mary has shown us her bra.  Kate Miller is the only one who has class in the picture.  This is what I love.

"Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified, do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."  ~Joshua 1:9
I am thankful that my God has me in His hands and in His Plans.  Too often I take the reigns and think I am in control and I know the way around this world so watch out!  And then I mess things up.  And I am humbled over and over.  How wonderful it is to know that He loves me and won't give up on me even when I give up on me.

...i'm thankful for friends.  This motley crew laid down probably the funnest summer weekend of 2007 ever and we'll always have that time to look back on and when kearly (3rd from right) proved that a girl can chug and win.  she probably is the best beer chugger ever, actually (all behind her now).  or that kay bradley (4th from right), whose flippn amazing house and family were ours for the weekend, casually showed us how to put our lobster to sleep (?) before we callously threw them in the pot to die.  What a tender heart she has:)  She's a true Mainer.  Anyway, i know these are really great people and if I knew how to photoshop I would throw in some more really great humans that have affected my life in so many awesome ways.  Friends.  Count em on your hands and feet and treat em sweet.

(i'm definitely not done being thankful but i'll sign off on this post for now...)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Marmalade Fires

I was running today.  I was running and I was listening to MUM (pronounced, "moom").  Mum is an Icelandic band I discovered a bit ago and I like them, all glitchy synth beat soft and twinkling.

I don't often run with music but I was presented with a full day of Lazy so I needed something to motivate.  A shuffle is hardly a human companion full of stories, but you can fit a solid amount of song selection on it and they clip nicely to sports bras without any chafing so I felt it was a solid second option.

So I zoned and I ran in the perfectly pear-shaped zone that was roughly 5 miles.  And in that zone I listened to the lyrics of a song by Mum.  I mean really listened to the lyrics and I liked them because I didn't really understand them until I listened less and they made perfect sense.  I know that doesn't make any sense if you think about it, but if you don't really think about it, it makes perfect sense.  It's like trying to pick apart a poem by e.e. cummings.  If you try to break it up and decipher it, you will have lost his intent.  But if you just read it through over and over you hear and see exactly the feeling he is trying to portray.  And finding that feeling is like discovering gold flecks in an otherwise ordinary stone.

Isn't that life?  We try to decipher and analyze everything.  We want to know exactly what it would mean if we gave up That for This.  If we fell in love with an Idea would we fall away from a history of collecting Logic?  Or can I have both and what would that mean for all the unturned stones out there, with their bellies collecting treasures in the dark?  Would I get to see what I missed if I walk away?

I'm guilty (so guilty!) of analyzing my life.  Trying to figure out my stop-gap or what the toll road looks like down the line.  What price do I pay for the choices made today?  A friend of mine is graduating from the Naval Academy and has to decide where she wants to be in 5 years (military or real-world work) because ultimately the decisions she makes now will affect her rank in the future.  This is all of us everywhere and we can eat ourselves up with stress or we can throw our wardrobe of worry into the fires and cleanse ourselves, refine ourselves and find our balance.  We can stop trying to decipher the song and instead enjoy the music.  That's where you find gold.  Life and everything in it is ours to gain.


Friday, November 20, 2009

We'll Run Like We're Awesome, Totally Genius.

Not much to write on this morning.  Pulled myself out of bed at 7:55am only to lie there and finish up the final 100 pages of.....Eclipse.  Okay FINE I gave in or gave up and starting reading the Twilight series.  I have one more left.  I just want to be done.  I am not craaaazy about it like many of my friends had been.  I held out forever in reading it because I think it's killing my brain cells, one bloodsucker at a time.  I think it's just okay.  Too many scowls and fury from Bella and this whole love triangle.  I left high school about 10 years ago and feel good about leaving the teenage angst and dizzy love/lusts of the prepubescent era:)  When you grow up, it's different, right?

I'm headed off to my chiro this rainy morning, too.  My stupid foot is aching in the rain (sprained it playing soccer too long ago for it to still hurt) and my tight psoas flipped out on me yesterday.  I feel like a jigsaw puzzle which is not good the day before one of my favorite races.  I'm really hoping to run a decent time in tomorrow's Jingle Bell 10K here in Portsmouth, NH.  Decent for me would be in the 7's.  This 10K is great for so many reasons.  Besides getting to wear little bells all over your shoes, it's raising money and awareness for arthritis (almost $10,000 so far)!  I have been fortunate to have healthy joints and bones, but I know one day this beat up body will experience the achy stiffness and hopefully nothing unmanageable.  I would be lucky. There are people - about 46 million in fact, who suffer from this debilitating disease, the most common cause for disability in the US.  I love it when races support a great cause.  It humbles me quite often when I think of how I've been fairly blessed with the ability to be healthy mentally and physically.  I must continue to challenge myself to get OUT of my comfortably ignorant zone of ME and look to where I can help others.  I mean I had NO clue how many people suffer from really serious arthritis until I signed up for this race and decided to research what my 6.2 would be run for.   

I am confident that regardless of my pace or time, my foot and my psoas will be fine in the end.  They are recoverable.  They will fix.  They are no big deal compared to some kid out there who can't play sport because his joints are swollen.  A change of perspective and I feel blessed for it.  At least I have a choice: I don't HAVE to suffer but I GET to suffer, mildly, as I run 10K to the finish.  And every mile I will thank God that he's given me the ability to run for a cure for someone who never had a choice.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Good Morning, Character.

Woke up, french pressed a strong cup of joe, and shook out the morning paper.  Today felt good.  I could feel it in my bones.  It's the third day in a string of days that the sun was warm and had some endurance.  November is earning brownie points.  November is getting MVP of the summer league.  November, I love you so far.  As a result of the good weather, I've been giddily taking to the road and trails for some medium runs.  Medium effort, medium length and my mind in a medium zone.  Everything just humming and buzzing.  All pistons firing with plenty of piston juice.  I refuse to let these kinds of days go to waste so I will wring them out fully until they are as spent as my bones, because I know gray winter skies are lined up like so many soldiers just waiting for their marching orders.

Anyway, there I was this fine morning relaxing with the sports section, reading up on the local high school xc runners headed to nationals and reaffirming why I hated running so much when I was 15, when the horoscope section hit me in the face (seriously almost gave me a paper-cut).  Now I RARELY ever read my horoscope (see "about me" section over there on your right) but my eyes landed on Virgo and so okay fine I read it.

"Innately, you're not a timid person, but self-doubts could make you a bit skittish and cause you to behave ineffectively in a situation where bolder measures are called for.  Get back in character."

Sure, we can pretty much take horoscopes and retrofit them into our lives so that they feel legit but regardless if Orion danced around Jupiter and decided to go bow hunting with Cancer, this was some helpful advice and a reminder to me that I AM powerful, that my ability to effect this world is limitless and that my contribution is important.  It's like running with a half-stepper.  Just because they are a half-step ahead of you, why do you feel the need to stay that half-step behind?  When it's go time, will you be able to take that time back?  Will you run with the same unbridled energy in cold gray skies?   We are called to be bold.  To perform. Why wait for go time.  Why not now?

Get back in character.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mad Skills in the Bathtub & Other Ironies.

I thumbed the ON switch to my Mac at 6:30AM this morning so that I could watch the Ironman 70.3 World Championships live from Clearwater, Florida today.

I have no direct affinity to such a lengthy race, considering I've never even done a sprint tri myself (although I want to and will blog about it if I do it but only if I do well), but I've seen how it changes people's lives (including my awesome twin, Mary, who gave up working to pursue it for a living.  like, for real) and I've met some really great people whom I consider my friends through this event.  This morning many friends were racing at Worlds and Mary was down there as well, watching her boyfriend vie for a top ten spot.  I was experiencing the good kind of jealousy in my heart, wishing I could be part of all the energy and excitement, but technology can make a girl lazy and, rather than spending $200 on a tickey, I decided to set my alarm and watch it from the comforts of a bed - coffee at hand.

The course was fast so it was no surprise that many top competitors would throw down some great times.  It was awesome to watch The Dibens (Julie) put 3 minutes on the next closest girl on the bike and to see how many guys were in the lead pack.  And the run.  Heartbreakingly fast.  Aside from this, I really don't know much about how to talk triathlon, so I won't pretend to do so here.  In fact, I sort of hate it when people who don't DO triathlon try to TALK triathlon so I'll break down my good cheer and awe in my own words.

An Ironman 70.3 is half of an Ironman, the "70.3" just stands for the total distance covered, which breaks down to be a 1.2 mile swim, followed by a 56-mile bike and then a 13.1 mile run.  NO.BIG. DEAL.  I mean, to finish one - let alone break the TOP 10 - is phenomenal.   Now tack World Championships onto that, fill it to the brim with people from all over the world who qualified for it, and you've got some mad spice in your chipotle.

These athletes, every last one of them  (including the DNFers who, sadly, can't finish for one reason or another) are tough.  I'm talking GIANT IRON BALLS tough.  Their mentality and focus has got to be tight and positive.  These people have given up drinking or late nights.  Some give themselves a curfew, a bedtime, a diet, a 30-hr/week work out plan.  They sacrifice.  They have an iron will.

It's no surprise then, that Ironman was appropriately named "iron, which has a number of definitions but is largely associated with something that is strong, robust, healthy, rigid and unyielding (thank you, Merriam-Webster.  always good to get a second opinion).

Or perhaps it was named in honor of Science, after the transitional metal, Fe, on the periodic table of elements (i looked this up, I had no desire to study the PTE after 11th grade).  Iron is essential to life.  Iron also happens to be the the sixth most abundant metal in the Universe; it's been around forever and is the most widely used of all metals.  It's found in veggies and red meat, too.  

Or maybe it was named after Marvel Comics' Iron Man.   As Superheroes go,  Iron Man is this fantastic avenger who relies on his iron exoskeleton to protect him.  Rust is his version of kryptonite and he sprinkles iron fillings on his cappuccino in the morning.  I can relate.

I prefer to think Ironman embodies not just one definition, but a little of each.  You gotta have heart.  There's no WAY anyone would put themselves through the training if they didn't believe in themselves.  You gotta have Fe, I mean, it's in your blood.  We ALLLLL have it.  And you gotta have superpowers.  Who DOESN'T put iron sprinkles on their cappuccinos?!

This makes me feel good.  I figure we all possess at least 2 of the three, so therefore we all have the potential to become an Ironman.  Shucks, no more races this year (sigh) guess I'll think about working on my form for next year. 

So here's to a fantastic race today, Ironmen and Ironwomen of the world who collectively are IRONMAN finishers (no gender sensitivity to this title), and a shout-out and FIST PUMP to every single human being who put their heart on the line at 6:30AM this morning.   

Special Congratulations to friends:

Joe Gambles (5th male overall)
Julie Dibens (1st female overall)
MaryBeth Ellis (2nd female overall)
Sarah Groff (7th female overall)
Brandon del Campo (1st in age group)
Kara Nielsen (12th in age group)

....and a shout to my sister who is so packed full of 2010 potential it's almost outrageous:)  I can't wait to see you whallop the field with your incredible perseverance and strength.  you rule.


Friday, November 13, 2009

I'm Here Today.

This first blog entry comes straight out of bed where I sit, adorned in head-to-toe compression clothes because I wanted to feel athletic today.  It's getting dark and I'm debating on a run.

You may ask, "What are you doing home on a Monday in the middle of the day when you should be working or be fake-sicking?"

Well, recently I kicked my feet up and left a job to find out what Else is out there.  Aside from the whole money sitch, it was rather liberating to have whole days spread before me like so much food at a Thanksgiving dinner.  "I'll have some of This, I'll try a little of That.  You want me to help you create Something?  Don't mind if I do!"  It's a bit gluttonous, and I would start to feel a little guilty if not for the fact that I asked to sit at the kid's table for once.  I like it here today.

What was I doing?  To leave in the middle of THIS economy at THIS time in my life where things should/could/would be successful for me seemed preposterous to many a friend.  It also seemed preposterous to me in the dark when I put my head upon my really nice pillowcase in my really nice apartment in a really nice city.  A city I've grown to love for all the right reasons and a job where I basically grew up - right out of college and right through my 20's.  I grew right on up and into my self, and promptly lost part of my self, too.   That's partly why I left.  The rest is for crows, as they say.

Anyway, making that terribly important decision got me really excited for a few reasons.

1.  I listened to me.   A good friend once said, "That you can still hear your heart beat is a good thing, Kay.  Listen to it.  When you stop hearing it, that's when you worry." There was this constant nudge under my rib bones.  These nudges forced out the questions I'd held in my breath for far too long, "What else is out there?  What more can I become? "

2.  I took ownership of me.  I got off someone else's treadmill.  It wasn't the right speed, incline or fit.  And to top it off, the view i had from the treadmill was through the glass outside to a trail that led into the woods and up mountains and over rivers with my name all over it just begging for my footprints.  I stared at it way too long wondering where the H it went and if it was safe and would it be hard to run.
Finally one day I just decided I wanted to find out.

3.  I'm a Miller.  That's right.  Not only was I born from a pack of wild,  incredibly hilarious and talented humans who try new things and never give up, I was born with powerful potential and faith.  At 12:06 am a handful of years ago, yours truly figured out that we outgrow our environments and get launched into the bright scary lights of New.  New looks foreign now.  New is where I'm going.

So, here I am finding out everyday where it leads and what I am becoming.  I hope I'll be one of those bloggers who are incredibly faithful to their posts, as my hope is to lend encouragement through my struggles as a newly jobless, incredibly happy and equally trepid, active trail runner (or trial runner, depending on how you look at it:)) and hopefully share with you what I discover, or at least reveal how boring my life can be.  Excited for the challenge.  Who's not up for a challenge?  A Miller certainly is.  A You is.  A trail is.  A blog is, too.