Exploring the world one word…and one mile…at a time

Writing

Strangers on a Plane

My boarding pass, and the Midwestern sky the day of my travels.

(L to R): My boarding pass and the Midwestern sky on the day of my travels.

I met a man on a plane last month. He was the kind of guy I’ve been seated next to a hundred times on a flight without saying more than a polite hello: a generation older than me, graying hair, jeans, tucked-in button-down shirt, sneakers. He reminded me of my dad.

We were flying Southwest, which has an open seating policy, and I happened to have A1 for the only time in my life. A1 is the first passenger to board the plane, and accordingly, I got to choose the first seat. Now, this is tricky proposition for an introvert who likes options. The entire plane is open (great!), but I’d be fully responsible for my personal placement if I ended up in the wrong neighborhood (not so great). (more…)


Bookmarking Personal History

A sampling of bookmarks in our house: shifty, mysterious mileposts in our personal histories

A sampling of the bookmarks in our house: mysterious mileposts through our personal histories

One of my goals this year is to read (to completion) 12 books. This number seems absurdly low for a girl who used to read that many books in one week on summer vacation, but it’s a realistic reentry into a space I haven’t occupied for a while. I still read a lot of words, but they are rarely in full-book format. So before catching a plane to Utah last week, I scanned one of our bookcases and grabbed a fresh book off the top shelf, the shelf with the invisible label, “Books I purchased years ago with the intent of reading but haven’t quite gotten around to yet.” (more…)


4 Things I Learned From Today’s Running Mix

MWC2014wp

L to R: Me and J pre-race; Me at mile 5; J at the finish line; Me “penning” this post

Today was my first road race of 2014, the Mid-Winter Classic 10-Miler in Cape Elizabeth, ME. While I was working through the last few miles, I thought about this blog post to avoid thinking about the fact that I was pushing my legs harder than they wanted to be pushed. In many ways, this post is for me, but I think there’s something universal about it, too. It’s a point of reflection as I consider my goals for the remainder of the year.

I’m poised to take several new risks in 2014. J and I will grow Destination Fitness in ways that will test our merit as small business owners. We’ll contribute our time and effort to organizations that we believe in; we’ll resurrect some of the skills we picked up in our prior professional lives; and we’ll put our creative output into the world to be sometimes accepted and often rejected.

As I ran today, I listened to the songs on my iPod, and I realized that there’s a lot to be learned and applied from what I chose to put on today’s mix. (more…)


Back to the Alternative Grind

L to R: Threesunset scenes in Florida; 5K racing on my birthday; my October photo project; and M's new poetry blog

L to R: Three sunset scenes from Florida; 5K racing on my birthday; my October photo project archive; and M’s new poetry blog

We realized today that we haven’t posted an update in close to two months. How does that saying go? Time flies when you’re exhausted, confused, and energized by new ideas? We arrived home from Germany at the end of September, having traveled for 12 of the 15 preceding weeks. Six weeks spent road tripping across the Canadian and American west followed by six weeks in Europe, with three weeks at home in between to do laundry, repack, and taper for the marathon. By the time we finally returned to our cozy apartment in New Hampshire eight weeks ago, we were jet-lagged, burned out, and ready to slow down. And we were supposed to leave in six days for our next adventure: two weeks of national park hopping in the Pacific Northwest. (more…)


It’s All About People (Even for an Introvert Like Me)

These pictures illustrate the places where we met them, but this post is about the various people we encountered in Ireland. L to R: the Achill Ultra starting line; the village at Achill Sound; the Galaxy Bar; Gallagher’s Boxty House; and the Yeats exhibit at NLI.

Greetings from Germany…specifically from our cousins’ home south of Frankfurt.  We’ve only been here for one full day, but we already feel settled in and are so grateful for their hospitality and friendship.  We tackled our first post-marathon run together (six scenic miles along the Main River) and enjoyed our first German beers of the trip, including a specially-formulated alcohol-free beer with added vitamins designed for consumption after sports.  Running just got even better!

But before we fill our minds and hearts with new people and adventures here in Germany, we wanted to give a shout out to some of the wonderful folks we met in Ireland.  (more…)


And We’re Back…

Caption

L to R: Off the grid in Moab (UT) and Jenny Lake (WY); two road-weary (and oxygen-deprived) travelers at 12,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains in CO; Sal’s tripometer as it neared 6,000 miles; and an evening journal session by the campfire in Yellowstone.

From where, you ask?  From a much-anticipated, 9,084-mile, state-bagging road trip from our home base in New Hampshire.  We headed west in mid-June, crossing the northern plains into the Canadian Rockies before starting a slow meander down the mountains all the way into New Mexico.  We completed the loop back east via the southern states, and by the end of the trip, we had traveled through 24 different states and 4 provinces.  We slept in 16 of them, and ran in 13.  And in the six weeks we were on the road, we posted here on WPG exactly six times.

Why just six times when I had early visions of blogging every day, of sharing our adventure as it unfolded (or at least shortly afterwards)?  I’ve given that question a bit of thought lately, and here’s what I’ve concluded. (more…)


Life as Art…Art as Life

L: Me transformed into Kafka on Dusni Street in Prague (2012); R: J as part of an installation at Musee d'Art Moderne in Paris (2011)

L: Me transformed into Kafka on Dusni Street in Prague (2012); R: J as part of an installation at Musee d’Art Moderne in Paris (2011)

Conceptual art, or idea art, is an art form in which the concept (or idea) that generates a piece of art is more important than the art itself. For example, poet Kenneth Goldsmith (of @ubuweb) recently announced his plan to “print out the internet.” Clearly, Mr. Goldsmith’s idea is loaded with intention. The idea, and the public’s response to the idea, is the art. I hope we never actually see the internet on paper, but the idea has given us much to contemplate.

Another common aspect of conceptual art is the rejection of self-expression. Once the idea and rules are set by the artist, expression is abandoned and the piece becomes what the rules and form allow, nothing more. Many would compare this to the process of computer programming, although I would argue that this comparison ignores an enormous amount of human variation, innovation and expression that exists in the programming and software development world (another blog post altogether).

I, however, am a believer that self-expression cannot be taken out of art. The moment an artist makes a decision (at the highest or lowest level) that influences the piece, self-expression has occurred.  But I often wonder if there is an opportunity to embrace the self in conceptual art. (more…)


It’s National Poetry Month…and We’re Headed to NYC!

L to R: Manhattan as seen from the Empire State Building in April 2011; Beer & Books...the new PB&J; and one of my favorite quotes from NYC's "Library Way," the sidewalk on E 41st Street.

L to R: Manhattan as seen from the Empire State Building (during an April 2011 visit); Beer&Books…the new PB&J!; one of my favorite quotes from NYC’s “Library Way” project (embedded in the sidewalk on E 41st Street).

As you might know, April is National Poetry Month, 30 days during which we remind each other (and ourselves) that art and beauty and rhythm and rhyme and lyrical acrobatics and words that move us to tears are generally good things, good things that should be read and heard and experienced and celebrated.  Unlike run-on sentences.  And fragments.

As you also might know, M is one of 85 poets participating in the Pulitzer Remix project sponsored by the Found Poetry Review.  He’s crafting one found poem per day based on the source text of a Pulitzer Prize winner in fiction—in his case, Conrad Richter’s The Town (from 1951)—and posting them on the Pulitzer Remix website.  You can access all of M’s poems here; new ones will be added daily through April 30th.  By the end of the month, the 85 poets will have created 2,550 new poems from old text…art begetting art in a funky-fresh way. (more…)


Choosing Joy

Soccer shenanigans (c. 1986) and grown-up joy (c. 2012)

Soccer shenanigans (c. 1986) and grown-up joy (c. 2012)

M and I emerged from winter hibernation to attend a writing conference in Boston last month.  One of the seminars we attended was on the topic of teaching writing at community colleges, and one of the panelists, in sharing his personal experience, said that many students arrive in the classroom having had negative experiences with writing.  Specifically, in students’ pasts, writing frequently had been used as punishment.  So beyond having no current “relationship” with writing, many of them had a well of negative emotions associated with the topic.

Unexpectedly, my own latent writing memories rushed forth, strange elementary school flashbacks of writing the same phrase over and over again until I filled a piece of lined paper or writing an essay explaining why our class misbehaved for a substitute teacher.  For many students who have similar experiences, writing becomes permanently associated with negative events or emotions.  They never return to writing freely or for their own interest or benefit.

Fortunately, I had a pre-existing positive relationship with writing, even as a kid.  (more…)


When in Doubt, Do it All!

L to R: Contemplating our next move at Spirit Mound; downtown Vermillion heating up on a Friday night; logo of the USD Coyotes (or ‘Yotes, to you…); and the view of the Dakota Dome outside our just-off-campus motel window.

For the past several months we’ve been debating our next move.  Not where we will go tomorrow, rather where we will go in 2013 and beyond.  Once we finish our self-prescribed creative sabbatical, where will we go?  Who will we be?  How will we focus our time and energy (because we have a lot of energy…)?  Over the past month or so, we’ve effectively narrowed our search:  in addition to being happy and centered together, we’re either going back to school in search of creativity, community, higher-learning and adventure, or we’re starting our own business in an effort to help others find wellness and fitness while we make a living doing something we love.   There are many pros and cons to each of these, many risks and possible rewards. (more…)