Thursday, January 28, 2010

The world is stretchy!

I'm a bit nervous.  i can’t lie.  I never was a very good liar, which made it hard to pretend to like things, especially when I got comfortable around the people who worked on the things I didn’t particularly like.  but I liked them, so I would concentrate on that.

anyway. concerning the nerves.  have you ever tried something that is just out of your element?  just barely out.  like you can almost be comfortable but nope, not this time.  that’s me today because tomorrow I’m going on a bit of a journey and I’m not sure what to expect.  at all.  not even a little.  this journey is taking me just south of Boston where, for 42 hours in a 3.5 day period I will have unadulterated access to the mind of Kay Miller.  I think that’s what scares me most.  I’m sort of joking, but I’m mostly serious and I’m definitely not lying.

this seminar is called the Landmark Forum.  so far I’ve had a terrible go at describing it and when i attempt to share the “Reader’s Digest” version, people stare at me like I’m a nut-job and well maybe that’s true but I’m a nut-job for way cooler reasons.  so if you’re curious about the seminar, you can just check it out here.

anyway, I'm writing this blog partly because it gives my hands something to do which gives my brain a chance to unthink which allows my heart to sit down for a hot minute but mostly because five of you (now six, hi Alexis) get me or are in the process of getting me, which gets me to my next point which i am starting to see in 3-D:  being uncomfortable is a all part of the process.  it’s the groin stretch at the gym, uncomfortable (for you and sometimes for those watching) but necessary.  you tighten up in the groin and your toast.  The talent, the abilities, the thoughts and ideas that we have are the embodiment of who we are and if we don’t STRETCH them, we can’t grow, we can’t get stronger.  Groin muscles, man.  You’ve got to keep those puppies primed or they will destroy your ability to get to the next level.

as i write this I keep looking back and rereading, trying to take my own advice!  I’m going in with the idea that I will take only what I need and will leave the rest.  this will be interesting and I’m sure I’ll come back with at least one story,  please keep me in your prayers for the next few days!  I am inspired, anxious, excited and uneasy at the prospect of sitting and listening and learning for long periods of time (we aren’t allowed to take notes?  i kind of like that idea already but I have a doodling addiction so this could be tough).   Going dark for a few days.  Try your best not to miss me...


Thursday, January 21, 2010


everything black: capris, top, jacket. sunglasses, hairband, gloves.  
it’s 38 degrees, a wind up river a cloudless day. revolving door, glasses down, inhale, go.  step jump step step puddle.  bright blue bright sky bright wind sun light, lit.

down mass ave dirt swept cold exhaust teeming with jackets and shoulders up against   ears.  wrappers, their insides shine like tin touch the ground alight, descend.  keep going, go.

stoplight red green, a faded crosswalk a pot hole another.  dump-truck the sweet stench the cream mercedes the man who doesn’t see his light turn green, HORN!!  quick steps. one two three!  over the street under the bridge the water close, calm.  too much breathing heart is racing past the busy the buzz.

it is calmer here.  the river under pads of snow everything frozen everything still, save for the runner in the orange cap the girl with the green wellies the lone cyclist. 
frozen puddle frozen footprints frozen tree limbs to the tippy-top.  be light, be easy, be steady.  old man squinting through fogged glasses looking down river.  is he smiling at this day and betting on better ones? I toss a smile that meets him there and I keep going past shadows making shapes past shapes making shadows.  a boat house boats hauled out standing like soldiers like sea tombs like stones in silence, winterized.  

breath come easy.  BU bridge wearing graffitied graffiti, workers on scaffolding in helmets wearing accents as thick as their sweatshirts as thick as their skin.  I touch the underbelly I see the soles of their feet I am running on wood planks on ice and the city is melting behind me like a giant icicle and inside my head is thawing almost there in that small white space it is all pulse now.  Two more bridges lone stretches smiling at brake lights at cabbies at railings at reeds at the river on my right.  a footbridge and into the sunlight sparring shadow sparring space glasses fog adjust check time i could keep going forever probably.  turn.

a three-legged dog a baby bjorn a young mom a four-legged man oh, wait.  he’s wielding leki trekking poles on dry pavement never can be too careful on your left...on your left....foot full of snow heaps of snow a sock of snow.  pass.

the sun at my back I play a game I race my shadow I almost win I’m almost home.  The city is beautiful from here.  I think of words for what I see words are good for saying what things are but sometimes cannot function for what things aren’t.   

i feel the dampness under the layers now; my lower back my shoulders my neck the in-between of my fingers my legs are pink my bangs stick to my face my breath is round and satisfied. I am present.  I have lived this run out like yarn like a ball of yarn unwinding unwrapping rolling revealing relieving reliving.  I am alive.  I run.  I ran.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Fifteen years ago, our high school Girls Varsity Basketball Team was Maine State Champs.  That was a pretty big deal and continues to be a big deal since Marshwood has not won another state championship in any sport since that year.  Ever.  

That ’95 team shined like a copper penny in a Class B mason jar full of stiff competition and I was a dedicated copper penny collector.  I clipped out every article of every game.  I remember practically the entire school went to the Western Finals at the Civic Center and I was there with all my really hip friends and our obliging parents.  

I was so excited for the game.  After that night, after we’d won (by just one 3-point shot made in the last 2 seconds of the game by the girl you see in this image, Shelby Fontaine), I jumped between two cloud-nines: the cumulus nimbus of our small town and that of my own.  You see, though I liked other sports, I ate, drank, slept, breathed, brushed my teeth with basketball.  It was my very first love and it blessed me with so many great memories.  I wasn’t a superstar.  But I loved the way it made me feel.   I didn’t know many of the girls on the Varsity team that year - Freshman didn‘t hang out with Seniors - period, but some of my favorite players became great friends and teammates in the years that followed. In fact, when it was my turn for say goodbye after my final Senior game, I called in sick, too devastated to come to terms with the fact that my basketball career was over and that I was just another kid walking the hallways.  Oh, the drama of high school.  Every emotion was positively on the verge...

Well, reason I bring alllll this up, is because last night the current Varsity team honored the Championship Team at halftime and I went to see all those girls from  years ago.  It was a special night.  Thirteen women, some with new last names, with kids in tow, with different looks and different lives, all made their way onto center court and held that golden trophy once again.  Seeing them standing there, the WIN felt like it was just yesterday.  It wasn’t hard for me to replace the school gym with the enormous Civic center, or the standing ovation with the screaming crowd of 5,000 as Shelby hit the buzzer beater...or me, the gangly freshman girl all knees and elbows with her face painted standing next to the guy she really liked watching the team she desperately adored bring home the GLORY!

An hour later, a bunch of us were at Muddy River Smokehouse, drinking pints with the old players and the new coach and rehashing great games and great stories from the good ol’ days.  I had a few great stories to contribute but mostly just listened and quietly took in the fantastic energy and happiness that surrounded us in the corner of that bar with plates of greasy beer-battered pickles and sud-studded pint glasses.  It’s important to talk about the todays and tomorrows, but there is a special reverence for “Back Then” and we should all indulge in it every once in a while. I did.  And it was l like no time had passed:)

KAY #14

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Don't fight it if you don't know what it is.

At lunch today it was announced by a very large woman wearing coke-bottle glasses and a floor length fur coat that I was extremely rude.  She said it not once, but a few times as I put my utensils in the bin and my trash in the trash.  I felt heat rush to my face.  What had I done?  

I had offered my seat to a friend and her daughter-in-law who’d seen me and swung by my table to say hello just as I was finishing up my salad.  After catching up for a few minutes I said my goodbyes, gave them my table, and was happy to have caught up with Betty (who’s 86 and every ounce of awesome that you can imagine).  I thought I was being nice.  I had no idea there was a line of one just drooling for my table.  

That was extremely rude...”  

I am not so good at confrontation.  It’s really hard for me because a million thoughts rush through my head as I try to understand what’s going on and I am rarely eloquent or composed in response.  Especially when blindsided over something I didn’t know I did...or, more importantly, is NOT a big deal in the scheme of things.  I mean it’s a SEAT lady:)  But weirdly it sort of stuck with me these last few hours.  Why was she so adamant about making me feel terrible?  So that I go and pull Betty out of her seat and tell her that fur-ball was waiting first?  C’mon.

If I’d had the presence of mind I would have smiled kindly at Coke-Bottle Glasses Woman and said, “I should hope that a friend’s kindness will be of service to you one day.” and been on my way.  Instead I just pretended she wasn’t talking to me and walked out the door, head held high in my valiant attempt to make me feel better. I KNOW it's no big deal I KNOW everybody has their bone to pick with the world but I hate it when I am included in that Bone.  Which is why I stopped thinking about it soon as played this song (well, after wrote this blog:)).  Just don't fight it... Worrrrrd:)   

A good song by The Panics.  When doesn't a trumpet signal good things?! 

Monday, January 11, 2010

Heart It Races.

I will generally opt to run outdoors on very cold days (if it’s sunny and not too windy).  When I do, I am lightly reprimanded and borderline scolded by many a friend, family member and neighbor, each finally exclaiming, “THAT IS SO HARDCORE!”.  And while I enjoy wearing this praise like a Snuggie during a Sex and The City marathon, a part of me wants to stop mid-run, pull down my Smartwool neck gaiter and simply say, “I think you’re mistaken; the gym takes more guts.”  

Here is where I lay down my loathing like so many frost heaves on Rte 103:  
The Gym beckons me on the worst days - with its four-walls, fluorescent lighting and 360-degree fat mirrors (to fool you into thinking you are a short, stout, portly, pasty human in need of fitness) - and in I come with my plastic Planet Fitness card and my shorty-shorts and my shuffle and as I pass over the threshold of a world whose weather choice flummoxes me into a world whose machines annihilate my motivation, I systematically pray, “God please let this be over quickly.”  I literally pray and I’m serious when I’m praying.  Let This Be Over Soon.  It’s like a song in my head.  I scan the first row of treadies (short for treadmills  - it’s gym lingo) and hop on.
I only like the first row facing the gym with the TV’s really high above me.  I don’t watch TV because I get dizzy trying to lip-read and I would rather watch the shiny silver bolt on the front of the ab machine than check out Jersey Shore, Pimp My Ride or even a football game.  Where are the soccer matches?  I probably would watch them.

Shuffle is on and turned to high volume (usually Animal Collective, some Thom Yorke remixes, Xavier, The Panics, etc).  Just when I think it’s loud enough, I pump it another 5 clicks to be sure I drown out the heavy thumping of Carrie Underwood playing in surround sound in the rafters.  I’m here to get stronger, I tell myself.

I hit QuickStart and start, quickly and six minutes in I panic. The 4-Mile Hump mark.  If I can make it 4 miles on the treadmill then I’m over the hump.  It doesn’t matter if I'm out to do 4.2 or 10 miles, getting to 4 is no joke.  It’s so flippn tough.  If Running was Mr. Right and I was in love, the treadmill run would be like that one fight that never goes out of style in our relationship.  

During those incredibly dull minutes, I’ve either steeled my brain with an ultra-awesome mantra, “Keep it loose, keep it tight” (thank you Amos Lee) and hung my towel over the screen to hide every possible bit of info for at least eight songs.  If I’m not in the zone, then I’ve either rethought the fast-walker’s wardrobe on my right or tried to get a peek at Colby runner’s speed info on my left.  I match his pace, I think.  Then I can’t keep it so I throw some inclines in there to make it look harder in case he cares what MY workout entails.  Then I have visions of falling off because this 6.5% grade can’t possibly be THAT hard...and then suddenly it IS...(it’s comforting to know that Claire, a friend and fellow treadmill hater/user, feels the same.  maybe more so?)

I exit after my workout and proceed to the Stretching Area.  This is awful.  I’m sweating buckets, I’ve got nerts (an acronym, not a spelling error), the two meatheads over there are eyeballing me, the old man with the 70’s shorts with huge slits up the side is clearly on my gym schedule and omigosh i hope I didn’t just see what I thought I saw coming out of his pants when he walked by, I think that dude might be the old Marshwood track coach and oh. shiz.  that’s definitely that girl from high school and here she comes to talk to me...

See?   See why the Gym takes guts?  Why the 12 sweaty layers of outdoor running gear being peeled off beats shorty-shorts and really cruelly deceptive mirrors?  But the gym is a necessary evil when the elements are unbearable.  It’s the smart choice.  It’s mature.  And sure, the good patrons of Planet Fitness might be nice, the staff pleasant and respectable, the rubber-scented dumbbells sterile and ready to be man-handled, but it smells bad and weight-lifters have given me reason to believe they might be aliens and the men grunt and nothing, nothing is comparable to the mental armor that must be pulled on to face another dready-tready run and every other suffering (like use of the dusty built-in treadmill fan, the arm sweat of the stranger next to me, the endless arrows pointing my way around a digital track, etc).  Any way you slice it: Hard-flippn-Core.

And so, said declaration, “YOU ARE SO HARDCORE!” will be saved for that rainy, cold day when i throw the keys in ignition and travel to the center of hell where I will repeat these words underbreath, should the first 4-miles need coercing.

Mother Nature are you listening?


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

We Can Shake the Dawn Until the Sun Rises.

Warning:  Light reading ahead.  I will not reach into the bowels of the human spirit or prick the finger of Conscience.  All I care about today is the latest issue of my New Yorker, (Top of the Pops, Did Andy Warhol Change Everything?), my bangs and my brother's music.

All three were highlights of the otherwise typical no-job-just-yet-day for KayMills.  And I loved all three experiences.

Andy Warhol has always intrigued me.  At the National Gallery in DC this fall I had a little talk with the Campbell's Soup Can.  I flippn fell into Like with his Pop Art.  It's not quite love.  He draws me in then turns me off.  His work is genius but so convincingly simple.   I feel like either he's been cheated or we've been fooled.  And I can't place my finger on how that happened.  Andy, I am intrigued that your nickname was so well thought out, "Drella", after the two sides of your personality: Dracula and Cinderella.  Makes me want to know more about your Jekyl/Hyde-iness.  Really, read the article.  Good stuff.  

Bangs.  First, please know that my hair grows faster than a dozen dandelions in June*.  Anyway, the last month has been a treacherous war between my growing-too-l ong Fringe and my i-feel-like-I'm-being-stabbed-Eyes.  They disagreed horribly with each other and my poor very long forehead sat there, exposed and unsure what to do (this is why I had bangs in the first place)   I'd finally had it.  Off to the hairdresser for a cut and color.  And it was there, under the hot lamp in the comfy chair with my glass of wine and the latest issue of Us that I realized why the majority of women will dole out a serious sum for a great haircut:  It's the process, it makes you feel special and you always inevitably look like you could walk the runway with Heidi and Giselle.
Two hours later (yes, men, TWO) I loved the haircut and could not help but catch my reflection on my way to the car, on my way in to my favorite coffee shop, and as I backed into my driveway.  I felt like a million bucks.  I had to wonder, “There are a million women out there who’s day could be lifted by a simple haircut.  Women who maybe can’t afford it or who can’t find someone to babysit the kids for that long.”  I spoke with Lani about this.  I think there’s a great opportunity to offer haircuts to women in the area.  Local hair salons partnering with soup kitchens or working with non-profit groups (ie Dress for Success) to give them that little self-esteem boost in the form of some fabulously shiny, swingy healthy hair.  I may look into this.

*Sidebar:  I have terrible memories of Mary and I and our best friends on our hands and knees Saturday mornings pulling dandelions out "By the roots, girls! By the roots!" after sleepovers because we still had to take care of our weekend chores.  Lovely.

Bro’s Music.  Saving the best for last in today’s blog.   
Peter Miller is my incredible and gifted younger brother with ginger colored hair with an astronomically cool Martin guitar and a beautiful talent for songwriting.  He’s currently up in Stowe helping out his former employer, Fuse, with an event and sent along a song he’s been working on for a while, Daydreamin’, which he recorded up there with his friend, Will, from the band Barefoot Truth.  When I heard it for the first time I got chills and it made my entire morning/afternoon/evening.  He’s a mercury rising and I am so proud of him.

UPDATE:  I had a moment of panic:  I need Pete to approve my posting the song first.  Hold you're breath only if you were a free-diver in a past life.  Otherwise, check out old songs at petemillertime...until I get permish:)

Pop Art, Bangs and Bro.  It’s hard to tell what can make your day, daily.  And today, it was eclectic enough to warrant a post.  


Sunday, January 3, 2010


I think I join a strong contingency of people who don’t believe that New Year’s is the one time to make your resolutions.  However, I do agree that it’s a perfectly good time to think about what you want from the New Year.  It’s a fresh place to start, a blank canvas, a sheet spread wide and wrinkle-free for you to do with what you will.  Being purposeful can help set borders. Having a vision of what you want to exact out of yourself, out of this life, gives us the fortitude that helps protect us from the effects of life’s inevitable tides and currents.  But such goals don’t require they be set on Day 1.

In the past, my attitude has been one of, “Come what may,” and “Grant me the ability to take on every challenge with grace...”  The kind of whole-hearted embrace you might give your distant relative before you begin experiencing his awkwardness. This yearly mantra is now becoming a good habit but I want more out of this year.  I want its success so badly that I’ve been cautious about committing myself to a greater vision because I have not been sure what shape it would take.  Until today.

A friend of mine shared this with me today and I love it.  I have a great faith in God so the below is rooted in this relationship for me but I challenge you to take this on in whatever capacity you choose. 

It’s that simple. I look back and see how fast 2009 has flown by and did I really make every second count?  How blessed I am to have another year on this earth and to have an opportunity to make the most of it and to share what I can with others. Whatever the role I have in someone’s life, be it big or small, I am thankful to be a part.  Living on Purpose in what way?
  • LISTEN MORE:  I mean really listen.  Hear what others have to say.  Not just people that matter in your life, but total strangers, neighbors, your awkward relative.  This applies to the below verbs, too:)
  • LOOK MORE:  I pray that my eyes are opened to the needs of others, that I do not become so fully absorbed in my own world that I overlook everyone else.  It’s so easy to be selfish.  There rarely is a direct route into people’s lives, into circumstances we are called to go.  Sometimes we’ve got to be unconventional in our thinking.  Get to know people for WHO they really are, and you’ll know their need.
  • LOVE MORE:  Love yourself, love others.  Put love first.  This is not an easy one at all for me.  Trials can last so long and love takes a million forms.  To love, whatever the length of time and however hard it is means to step out on faith.

Everyday I want to live this out.  I challenge you to live on purpose.  Not just live, but LIVE.  2010 isn't just a number anymore; it's an incredible gift.  Happy New Year to you:)