I wrote a couple years ago about my five-minute journal practice. It’s a morning check in (with optional evening one) that’s short enough not to be too burdensome every day. (Confession: I don’t do it every day.)
I made the changes in response to an interview I heard with Evie Serventi on the RunnersConnect podcast. She is a sports psychologist and has her clients do a number of things to get mentally prepared for races. One is to have them check in with themselves each day and write down how they feel physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
I decided this is something worth doing for me. I’m a 3 on the Enneagram, and it’s easy for that type to get focused onproductivity and achievement, to the point that we lose touch with our own inner life.
So here is my new five minute journal. (It still only takes about five minutes!)
On this day, 74 years ago, three young adults placed their heads beneath a guillotine and prepared to die. Their crime? Speaking out against the Nazis with graffiti and hand-printed pamphlets. Their names? Sophie Scholl, Hans Scholl and Christoph Probst. It was a violent end to a peaceful student movement known as the White Rose—one that used the power of language to resist the horrors of the Nazi regime.
4. This dude caught a baseball bat as it helicoptered toward him:
6. Every New York Times Cover Since 1852. This quick video shows how and when images began to appear in the paper of record. It’s arresting and oddly poignant, to think about all of the news that came and went. We survived all of the things reported there. Perhaps we will survive today’s challenges too.
Been wearing my running shoes around the house as I rest and recover.
This Saturday I’m signed up to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon here in DC. It will be my third time running it.
Or… it could be my third time.
It might be?
I’m having trouble with the verbs here, because I’m not sure whether I’ll be at the start line. And if I get to the start line, will I get to the finish line?
Last Tuesday I went out for a six-mile run. Half a mile in, I started to feel a dull ache in my shin, disturbingly similar to the sensation I got eighteen months ago.
Back then, I didn’t know what it was, but little aches and pains happen all the time in running, so I kept going. I logged at least another 25 miles before I ultimately got diagnosed with my tibial stress fracture.
But when you know better, you do better. Last Tuesday I stopped immediately, walked slowly home, and haven’t hit the pavement since. I’ve been icing and rolling, and I’ve done two pool runs (a great non-weight-bearing activity) and a little strength training, but that’s it. I need to rest it if I have any hope of running RnR on Saturday.
It’s an example of the hard thing being the easy thing. It’s really hard for me to put my training on hold and rest, when I really want to run, try it out, or do the hop test to see how things are healing. But the harder thing in the short term is much easier than taking 6-8 weeks off because I couldn’t leave well enough alone.
So I’m doing all the good things I know to do.
But it may still not be enough. I will find out tomorrow, when I go for a test run. And even if tomorrow goes well, 13.1 on Saturday might still be too much.
I was training for a personal record, a PR. Now I’m hoping I don’t get a DNS or DNF–did not start/finish. I’ve had a few DNS’s, most of them when I was injured. I’ve never had a DNF.
Experiences like this can bring to light deep spiritual clutter we didn’t know we had. As a pastor and spiritual companion for all kinds of people, I’ve spent a lot of time with the question, “What did I do to deserve this?” Most of the time, there’s nothing the person did. I don’t believe that if we behave well we’ll get rewarded with a cancer-free life. Kindness to animals or paying our taxes on time doesn’t inoculate us from a job loss or a divorce.
Yet I think deep down, many of us do believe we are rewarded or punished based on our actions. We just don’t realize we believe it until something happens to us and we start casting about for explanations, or maintaining our innocence.
Eighteen months ago, I did a lot of things wrong. It was a perfect storm of ignorance, slightly worn out shoes, too many miles, and cambered streets. So yes–sometimes we suffer as a result of our actions. No denying that.
This time, I didn’t do anything “wrong” in my training. I’ve gone over it all in my mind and am fairly confident I didn’t make any egregious errors. Besides, I came back from an injury, stayed injury free, and ran two half marathons, a marathon (which I PRed) and a Ragnar relay. That’s a success!
Rather than be comforted by the fact that I did everything right, it annoys me that I may be injured anyway. (My annoyance is compounded by mildly injured runners all over the Internet who do stupid things, and yet somehow their bodies let them get away with it more than mine seems to.)
But ultimately, what does any of that matter? Would the fact that I did everything right change anything? Tomorrow’s outcome is gonna be what it is. Sometimes stuff just happens. Things go down that are out of our control.
I hate this, by the way. But it’s reality. I study and write about improv, not because it comes naturally to me, but because it doesn’t–I fight the unforeseen every step of the way, and denial + bargaining is a favorite tool. I did everything right, universe! Shouldn’t that count for something?
No, it doesn’t count for anything.
The only thing that matters in the end is what we do with the stuff life hands us. Where is the Yes-And? That is my question, or will be, if tomorrow doesn’t go well.
If RnR is off, I get to attend a workshop on Civic Engagement with some friends.
Instead of the sprint triathlon in May, I’ll sign up for the aquabike (which sounds like a fun contraption but is just a swim + bike event).
And I’ll take several weeks off, and I’ll start over. Again.
The next round of edits for Improvising with Godis due on Friday, so I’ve got just a few to share this week in lightning-quick fashion:
1. This quote from George Saunders, shared by my friend Sharon Core on Facebook last week:
So here’s something I know to be true, although it’s a little corny, and I don’t quite know what to do with it: What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering and I responded … sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.
The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
2. This image posted by Rachel Hackenberg on Instagram:
Ana will talk to liberals and conservatives, religious leaders, writers, activists, and people you should know for a show that’s about listening instead of arguing. And this isn’t just about figuring out why some dude in Michigan voted for Trump. Though that’s part of it. We should figure that out. It’s about actually exploring division instead of putting it in side-by-side boxes on television, whether it’s a conversation about politics or religion, race or gender, or belief itself. Ana has accrued a bunch of unlikely friends in politics, and she has strong disagreements with those friends, like this one guy whose name rhymes with “whoa far borough” for example.
The first episode is with a Wisconsin pastor who talks about how his community voted for Obama… before voting for Trump. Now doesn’t that sound interesting? And maybe even a little healing to listen to?
A little Lone Star braggin’, but this entry relates to the previous one, actually. Consider #5:
5. When New Hope’s mayor, Jess Herbst, came out as transgender and the extremely conservative town of 600 was like *shrug*.
I heard Ana Marie Cox interviewed about her new podcast, and she talked about the disconnect between how mean we can be to one another online v. how much we take care of one another in our physical communities, even across political divides. Certainly there are exceptions to this, but I’ve found it to be generally true. She said, if we were as nasty to one another face to face as we were online, maybe there’d be no hope for us. But we’re not. So there is hope.
Teen suicide attempts in the U.S. declined after same-sex marriage became legal and the biggest impact was among gay, lesbian and bisexual kids, a study found.
The research found declines in states that passed laws allowing gays to marry before the Supreme Court made it legal nationwide. The results don’t prove there’s a connection, but researchers said policymakers should be aware of the measures’ potential benefits for youth mental health.
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for all U.S. teens. Suicidal behavior is much more common among gay, lesbian and bisexual kids and adults; about 29 percent of these teens in the study reported attempting suicide, compared with just 6 percent of straight teens.
“What improv really does is create a safe and fun and authentic environment in which to practice, where mistakes really don’t matter,” says Jim Ansaldo, a research scholar at Indiana University.
Ansaldo runs Camp Yes And, an improv summer camp for teens with autism. He says improv-specific programs for children with autism are rare — he knows of about a half dozen — but their number is growing.
He refers to improv as a technology for human connection and communication.
And Janna Graf, Shaw’s mom, says she has seen how it has helped her son.
She says he can ramble, but recently she saw him introduce himself at a church group: “He said, ‘My name’s Shaw; I’m 8-years-old,’ and then he actually took his hands and waved it to the next person,” Graf says. “He’s learning to wait.”
We like to call Baxter and Rey “God’s Perfect Killing Machines.” Of course our cats are inside cats, so the most they’re killing are catnip toys, dustbunnies and laser pointers. But I maintain that you can tell if someone’s a cat person based on whether they see this quality as a feature or a bug:
7. Alan H. Green sings “Nobody’s Listening.”
I’m sinfully proud of my friend Alan Green, Broadway actor. (We were in a show together in college and he graciously calls me his “first leading lady,” but we all pretty much basked in his incredible talent.) Here he is singing a song from a show amusingly called “How to Steal an Election.” Start around 3:00 to get right to the song.
8. Cookies! I continue to bake my way through Dorie Greenspan’s Cookies cookbook, which is delicious fun. But I’m also keeping track of what I bake each week and for whom–which has been a great way of marking the weeks of this year. Our latest was Two Bite One Chip Cookies, which are fun to make with kids.
9. Building a Park: Tons of us love Humans of New York on Facebook and Instagram. This one from Brazil touched me especially.
10. Superheroes! Japanese photographer Hotkenobi has put together some whimsical shots using action figures. Many more at the link, but here’s my favorite: