Tag Archives: inspiration

Monday Runday: You Can Do This Hard Thing

[Yes, I’m a day late posting this. But Tuesday Runday doesn’t have the same poetry.]

Back in May I attended a concert with one of my favorite singer-songwriters, Carrie Newcomer. She sang a new song that was inspired by her (now grown) daughter, who attended a Montessori school. When the children were getting ready to do something new that was going to be a stretch for them, the teachers would say, “You can do this hard thing.” This phrase acknowledged both that the task was difficult and that everything they’d previously done had prepared them for it.

I shared this phrase with my Moms RUN This Town group after the concert, and I’ve been happy to see it take on a life of its own. As group members set goals, run marathons and come back from injury, people are now reminding one another “you can do this hard thing.”

Here’s a video of the song. It’s not a pump-you-up running tune, but the message is still there.

Tomorrow morning I will run 1/2 mile, the longest distance I’ve run in 12 weeks. If all goes well, I’ll continue running that short distance every other day, then gradually, oh so gradually, increase the distance. (If it doesn’t go well, we’re gonna need to go on MaryAnn Mental Health Watch, because enough already.)

It will be a hard thing. But I can do it. And let’s face it, there are harder things out there, which is important perspective too.

I loved this story from this weekend’s New York City Marathon:

Kyle and Brent Pease have completed two 140.6-mile Ironman events together, so they felt more than ready for the New York City Marathon on Nov. 1. Of course, this was before the right rear wheel on Kyle’s wheelchair broke into pieces after the 12-mile mark.

Kyle Pease has cerebral palsy, and the brothers have been competing in racing events for several years now.

Brent carried Kyle for about a half mile before he realized that wasn’t going to work. Then the NYPD escorted them to a nearby bike shop, but they weren’t able to come up with a good solution. And then:

A fellow runner named Amy noticed the brothers struggling with steering, so she joined Brent’s side and steadied the chair as he pushed it forward. Shortly after that another runner named Cameron joined the team and helped stabilize the other side of the chair.

Image courtesy of Amanda Gordon / The Kyle Pease Foundation

“The three of us shouldered the weight and helped cover the remaining miles together,” Brent said.


To find out more about their foundation, click here. And go do a hard thing today.

Art to Inspire… Plus a Giveaway!

The Blue Room is undergoing a few changes.

No, not this website—the actual blue room, our dining room-turned-office and craft space for which this website is named. The Blue Room is a symbol for the stuff in our lives that doesn’t work that needs to be reimagined to embrace the way things are, not the way we think they should be. With three young children, we never used our formal dining room. But I did need a study at home. And the kids would benefit from a place where they could play around with glitter, paint, glue and stickers. Preferably a place without carpet…

So during Snowpocalypse of 2010, our Blue Room was transformed from a useless place to a space for life and creativity.

I realized recently that despite the symbolism of the Blue Room, the walls have been adorned with the same artwork I’ve had for a long time. I don’t remember when I got this labyrinth poster (scroll down for the only image I can find online), but it was well before the 1999 gathering being advertised.

And Jane Evershed’s First Supper has been with me for many years. As a former Baptist who grew up with a blond Jesus and very male-centric images of God and Jesus’ closest followers, I love Evershed’s table, with 12 multi-racial and beautifully adorned women raising their glasses into the air. (Which one is the host at the table? Which one is Jesus? None of them. All of them.)

But life moves on. And now I have one of these, a rendering of the cover of Boston Magazine from last spring:


Peace, love, and running.

Here’s poster #2. Brain Pickings is one of my favorite sites, and Maria Popova recently published Seven Life Lessons from her work on the site. The folks Holstee Company came up with a beautiful graphical rendering of it. It arrived last week and is hanging on the nail I used for the Evershed poster. The placement isn’t quite right in the room, but I love it. A closeup from their website:


Which brings me to the giveaway. The Holstee company initially sent me their manifesto poster by mistake. The corrected the order, and asked me to keep the poster. But I want to share the love. So comment here or on my Facebook page with a recent “Blue Room” experience: either something you’ve reconfigured to fit your life as it really is, or something you know you need to reconfigure. (Or a general “hi” is fine too.) Each comment will be entered once. Submissions are due by Friday August 22 at midnight EDT.

Here’s Holstee’s manifesto poster (actual size 18×24″). Good luck to everyone!


What’s Inspiring Me

Here are a few things that are inspiring me today… and I want to know what’s inspiring you:

1. Robert and I have season tickets to Signature Theatre, and we saw God of Carnage last Friday night. It’s funny and dark and absurd. This Friday should be even more fun: a revival of Xanadu. I’ve never seen the live musical, but the film version was the first “grownup” movie I ever saw as a kid. It’s a wretched film, but I love the music, and apologize to Robert and to whomever will sit in row C seat 107, because it will be hard for me not to sing along.

2. These time lapse photos of the earth (and skies) from the space station:

Check out the storms:

3. I am making my way through The West Wing again, and I just watched Two Cathedrals. I never tire of that episode.

4. Sister Gramick. Check out this short profile of this remarkable woman. Money quote:

It was essentially a spiritual cease-and-desist order: no more speaking or writing about homosexuality, period. Gramick took some time to reflect on the command and then wrote a response: “I choose not to collaborate in my own oppression.” In effect, she treated the Vatican’s order as a suggestion—and politely declined to follow it.

Oh how do I love the “politely” here?! I’ve been pleased to know and work with a number of Catholic nuns in my life and almost to a person, they are kind and feisty… and Christlike. No wonder the Franciscans have come to their defense.


That’s what’s inspiring me today. And I need all the inspiration I can get. The typseset PDF of Sabbath in the Suburbs arrives later today, which means I’ll be giving it one last painstaking look.

Your turn…

What’s Inspiring Me

Brene Brown is the older sister I wish I had. A recent blog post listed some things that were inspiring her. I bought the Willie Nelson album on her recommendation—it’s great, though it makes me melancholy. I miss the Motherland.

I’d love to know what’s inspiring you today. Here’s what’s inspiring me:

Tiny Church. This past Sunday we hosted a senior symposium that brought together experts in the field of seniors and aging in place. We had lunch and a panel discussion with presentations and Q&A. I was so proud of our people, who had never done anything like this before. Best of all, I had very little to do with it, other than working with the coordinator to help her feel supported in this new thing she was doing.

Tiny Church is waking up.


Can’t resist.

My spiritual director. I’ve been in spiritual direction since 1997 or so, and I don’t know what I’d do without someone to help me listen for God, to ask generative questions, and to suggest practices that integrate what I know, believe, and wish to believe more fully.

I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with ministry and life lately—so many great things going on, but there’s just too much. And ministry is so much whac-a-mole. My spiritual director suggested writing it out. There’s something about getting it out, physically, through one’s arm and out on paper, you see.

You’d think that someone who writes as much as I do would not need to be told and reminded of the benefits of personal writing. Yet I do. Thankful for people who tell me what I need to know, or what I’ve known but forgotten.


My kids. We recently got some things shipped to our house that came in large boxes, and the three amigos quickly commandeered them and moved in, with flashlights, towels and pillows, and cutout windows to let the light in. They are such a delight.


This OnBeing podcast featuring Gordon Hempton, an acoustic ecologist who records sounds from around the world: rain forests, the sound of the surf moving in and out of hollow logs, and more. If you are feeling the need for silence and more acute listening in your life, this podcast is well worth your time.


Robert’s Amazing Ice Cream. Robert recently got a book of amazing ice cream recipes and OMG. He’s done fluffernutter (PB and marshmallow) and a deep rich chocolate so far. Thank goodness I’m no longer losing weight and am simply trying to maintain, but even that is a challenge with these delicious flavors around. Next up: malted dulce de leche.


The Avengers. It’s just a really fun, solid summer movie.

What is inspiring you?

Friday Link Love

Away we go:

Man Barely Able to Stand Does the Unthinkable — YouTube

I would like to know more specifics about how the yoga teacher helped him, but yes. Amazing.

h/t: Teri Peterson


Neil deGrasse Tyson Gets Sidetracked While Singing Children’s Songs — McSweeney’s

They get his gee-whiz pegagogical voice just right:

Actually, some might call the wheels on the bus a “discovery” more than an invention, as most things in this world are a discovery of invention, rather than a fabrication out of nothing. This brings up something I want to discuss briefly here, if you will allow, because I think the misconception that a lot of people have, uh, concerning, concerning SCIENTISTS. Oooo, “Scientists.” That word. Strikes fear into the heart of some, and amazement into the heart of, well, me. And probably you, since you are here today in this planetarium, listening to me go on and on about my love for this… hang on a sec, let me… okay, so, we often find people BLAMING scientists for, for, for, these discoveries and inventions… being misused or being funded for misuse. We must remember that the discovery itself is not moral or immoral, it is the application of said discovery that is required to be held to that standard. Also, how cool are wheels on busses, right? And circles, in general. The fact that you can take a circle and divide it by its radius and you get pi, everytime, is astounding to me. Gives me chills every time.

More at the link. And for those keeping score, this is the second week in a row that I’ve featured NdGT on Friday Link Love. Why? Because he’s kind of a big deal.


The Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen — That Organic Girl

This post offers a list of foods that are most important to buy organic (if possible) and a list of foods for which organic isn’t that critical.

I’m a pretty half-***ed consumer when it comes to organic goods—I basically get what’s available and what my kids are likely to eat. (Caroline just informed me that she no longer likes the big three: apples, oranges, or bananas. C’mon, WORK WITH ME KID.)


Speaking of food,

The Anti-Diet — The Londoner

As I wrote on my Pinterest boards, “Best overview I’ve read on how to lose weight without dieting. Covers exercise, emotionally based eating, sustaining a discipline, the importance of enjoying food… I don’t know about the cravings piece (e.g. if you crave carbonated drinks you need more calcium) but it’s interesting.”


Traditional Marriage: One Man, Many Women, Some Girls, Some Slaves — Religion Dispatches

Just so we’re clear:

Time to break out your Bible, Mr. Perkins! Abraham had two wives, Sarah and her handmaiden Hagar. King Solomon had 700 wives, plus 300 concubines and slaves. Jacob, the patriarch who gives Israel its name, had two wives and two concubines. In a humanist vein, Exodus 21:10 warns that when men take additional wives, they must still provide for their previous one. (Exodus 21:16 adds that if a man seduces a virgin and has sex with her, he has to marry her, too.)

But that’s not all. In biblical society, when you conquered another city, tribe, or nation, the victorious men would “win” their defeated foes’ wives as part of the spoils. It also commanded levirate marriage, the system wherein, if a man died, his younger brother would have to marry his widow and produce heirs with her who would be considered the older brother’s descendants. Now that’s traditional marriage!

More. Much more.

Last week a conservative member of my denomination told NPR, “From the Old Testament and throughout the New Testament, the only sexual relationships that are affirmed in scripture are those in the context of marriage between one man and one woman.” To quote my friend Michael: biblical scholarship FAIL.

You want to be against gay marriage? You can do that. But the Bible doesn’t help you as much as you think it does.


And just for fun, and to fill my quota on posts from Colossal:

Gale-Force Winds Directly to the Face — Colossal

So very entertaining and bizarre. It’s exactly what it sounds like:

Have a great weekend, all.