Friday, October 22, 2010


My day began at 4 am today when I got up to catch my 4:30 cab to get my 5 am train to an 8 am event in Philadelphia.

And it’s been worth every lost minute of sleep. And you know my deep affection for sleep.

Spent the morning commute catching up on blogs and personal emails, treated myself to a caramel macchiato when I arrived at my destination, found myself seated with some of my favorite colleagues, listened to some amazing poetry courtesy of the Philly Youth Poetry Movement and remembered that spoken word isn’t just for intellectual blowhards at indie coffee joints. It can be real. It can be powerful. It can break your heart with its truths.

Not that intellectual blowhards don’t have their own truths.

Next up was Anne Mahlum who founded an organization called Back on My Feet which engages the homeless population in running. Yes, running. Why?
“Running is one of the most empowering activities there is because there is no end. There is always another mile, another road, another right turn. There is no buzzer and there is no referee. It has taught me so much about life, especially the simple notion that to get anywhere, you have to take it one step at a time."
Go check out their website and blog to read Anne’s story and the events that led her to lace up her shoes, and then get others to join her on the journey. She’s a terrific speaker. I hung on her every word. Probably because I felt like she was speaking to me. Directly to me. Especially when she said running made her “feel like [she] could fly” and that starting the nonprofit “made her life make sense.” She talked about how running doesn’t discriminate, and is so easy to start – “all you have to do is show up.” And for just showing up, folks that participate in her program earn points towards grants they can use to get themselves back on their feet.

And she’s so young! And has great hair. Tangent. Sorry.

Of course I found her after the event and thanked her personally, told her just a smidge about me – My babies died. I started to run. I kept running. It changed me. It heals me. It forces me to rely on my body again. And focus my mind. It has nothing to do with being physically fit, but everything mentally. I am pretty sure it saved me. Thank you. Thank you for everything you said and for what you do, and for encouraging others down this path.

How’s that for an elevator speech?

So, yeah, I basically spent the whole morning hugging people, tearing up, hoping no one turned the lights back on while my eyeballs were full, and wondering to myself, what is MY life mission? What is the thing that is going to make my life make sense? Make me feel like I am in love?

I don’t know yet.

But I do feel like there are some pieces that are coming together and some people coming back into my life that are reawakening some long-dormant urges. Urges to, you know, like help people and shit.

For the longest time, the very notion of volunteering made me cringe, because working for a nonprofit often makes one feel like you’re donating time all day. Especially when you see your paycheck. This, after years of pre-adolescent and teen years being a pretty vocal and active spokeskid for various charities and events, had been my prevalent train of thought. What I do during the day is enough. I don’t need to cut into my happy hours and Gossip Girl watching time. The concept appealed to me even less after our loss. When the therapist suggested we do something to help other people, both M and I held back snorts. Why the fuck would we want to do THAT? Aren’t we here to talk about US? C’mon lady. Focus.

But, hmm, I don’t know. I feel like there’s something brewing. Something ready to maybe make itself known. I’m not withholding information or burying the lede on you here. I honestly don’t know what that something is. But…

Side note: is there anything cooler than Galaxie 500 covering Joy Division? Wow, Pandora. You know me. You really know me.

Can my day getting any better?


Brenna said...

Thanks for sharing this! Back on my Feet sounds like an amazing organization. I'm off to look it up to learn more.... Back when we lived in DC, I worked with a nonprofit that advocated with and on behalf of runaway and homeless young people. It was amazing to me to learn their stories and to work alongside them to try to ensure a better, safer and more understanding society for everyone, regardless of race, gender, sexual preference or identity. What a great event! So glad you found this inspiration.

Annie said...

I'd say this is all leading up to a fabulous 5K tomorrow!

Under 31 minutes here you come!

Smiling said...

I am so curious about all this pandora stuff... I keep forgetting to try it when I am actually in a USA IP address zone!

Love this post.

"what is MY life mission? What is the thing that is going to make my life make sense? Make me feel like I am in love? "

I so needed someone else to ask this out loud today. Thank you for being that person. Something tells me something is brewing for you:) I think it has been for years.

Loved the photos. Delirious happy. That is what cameras are for!

TracyOC said...

I read the Nick Kristof article about Maggie Doyne this week and I've been wandering around for the last couple of days wondering what I ought to do when I grow up. I feel like it's just time to get out of this torpor I've been in and start doing something purposeful.

So, this was a timely post for me. Let me know when you figure out what it's going to be and how I can help...

bibc said...

i am sadly, still living with the twin weight. i have not been as inspired to move my body as you. i am trying though, slowly but surely. i have to tell you though, that my sister was in the room when my girls were born. she started running soon after and hasn't stopped since. i think it saved her too.
thinking of you and hoping that tomorrow brings you even more peace.