praying for miles


This past year of running has been a unique journey for me of discovering my own strength and weakness. After taking 15 months off from regular running after Henry was born, I started running again regularly in January, during the depths of winter: the least attractive weather New York City has to offer. I struggled through those early miles and soon increased my runs from once or twice a week to two or three times, and by February the miles weren’t so much the challenge as the single-digit temps and frigid wind chills. I bundled Henry up in the jogging stroller, covering him with blankets and hats and the rain cover, and made it out despite the winter weather. Every run felt like a little victory: first run below 30 degrees! First run below 20! First run alongside the frozen Hudson River. First run so cold and windy that I had to stay on the track. First 3 miles! First 4! First 5! I felt stronger each day and was proud of my diligence. I had missed running during my time off — I always knew I would get back to it during a different season of life — and it felt good and strong to be entering that season.

The previous fall I had entered the lottery for the NYC Marathon (as I had every year since 2015), and in March I found out I had a spot. Luckily, it still seemed far away. The winter eventually gave way to spring, and I trained for and ran in a half marathon in Queens, another milestone and moment of strength as it had been several years since my last half. The best part was having my family there cheering me on, and seeing them made each mile worth it. During the run, another runner caught up to me and said, “hearing your kids cheer for you has been the best part of the race for me!” What could I say except “me too!”?! I loved that even my running could be a family endeavor.

Marathon training started in earnest in the summer and I enjoyed the regularity along with the challenge. I appreciated never worrying about whether I felt like running; I just cobbled together a running plan that seemed vaguely doable and then followed it. But as the weeks wore on, I grew frustrated that my pace seemed to be slower than it had been in the spring, and also slower than what I had thought I could achieve based on my training four years ago (my first and only other marathon; training had gone well but I got the flu a few days before the race and was not able to run my best). Instead of feeling strong after my runs, I felt defeated. I was working hard — giving what I thought wise given family commitments and other work and everything else I was juggling — and runs felt good, but they were all slower than I wanted.

I no longer felt stronger, but instead had an acute sense of my own weakness.

Eventually, I realized my 2019 body is different from my 2015 body, and I needed to have grace for myself. This body has done a lot in those last four years: it has grown babies and worked hard and not slept and breastfed and played concerts and written articles and started new jobs and shuttled children and strollers into and out of more subways than I could possibly count and cleaned floors and cooked one thousand meals, and I should celebrate that instead of chastise myself. Every run since that little “breakthrough” has been some form of making peace with my own limitations, learning to be okay with where I am — accepting my body’s weakness.
The more I’m able to do that, the more I’m able to continue enjoying running for what it is and what it means to me — the time spent talking to God, time alone, time enjoying the wildest and most beautiful parts of Manhattan. This summer on my runs, I felt so deeply thankful for the beauty of our city and for my own health to enjoy it on my own two feet. I adore living by the river, I love the hills and the trees and the water, the quiet I get to experience in the midst of a busy life and busier city. Living in Manhattan with a family has been a struggle for me, but the miles during this season have made me so thankful for it: for the beauty of living on an Island (!) and by the water; for the amazing quality of free programs, concerts, education available; for our particular neighborhood with its nearly empty running path (during the week) and eclectic mix of families and artists and Dominican grocery stores and new wave coffee shops; for the precious community God has given us here.
And so here I am: just a few days away from the Marathon (which is Sunday, Nov 3rd!). My running has become a part of the family’s routine and not just mine, and the kids now ask how many miles I’m running (or ran) during breakfast, did I go by the lighthouse, how many skunks did I see (during my pre-dawn runs). Harrison and the kids have had some special times together during my Saturday morning runs, and he planned several fun excursions where we’d meet up at the end of a long run: in Battery Park for a playground picnic or the Bronx for an Arthur Ave outing. And then there were the runs that felt bad, the ones when I came home disappointed or when my doubts got the best of me — and these all became opportunities for us to talk with our kids about the importance of doing hard things, of not quitting. Nearly every day, at least one child complains about practicing the violin, or about homework, or about how hard or how unfair everything they have to do is. Talking about marathon training — getting up and running when I don’t want to, when it’s hard — is a great opportunity to show them that we are all doing hard things, and that sticking with hard things makes us stronger. I share with the kids when I feel weak, and they are first-hand witnesses to how I don’t quit when its hard — a helpful reminder when Hannah Grace wants to give up on bike riding or Jacob is having a frustrating practice.
This season of running has been unique in its mental challenges, but it has been sweet, too. Please pray for me as I approach race day: that I won’t let doubt enter my mind, but can enjoy the run and the crowds and stay focussed on prayer. You can also pray specifically that I don’t start too fast in the first 6 miles. 🙂 Here’s to 26.2!

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by hook or by crook

I grew up in Texas, and one of the many parts of that home that I carry in my heart is a love for warmth, sunshine, and all things summer. I am also a runner – ever since middle school basketball didn’t work out – and every winter this poses a problem. To be honest, it only took a few years in the Northeast before it stopped posing a problem – I just assumed that I would take 3-5 months off running outside, and then started going to yoga, joined a gym, swam laps – whatever it took to do the bare minimum while I waited for the spring.

As I got married and our family began to grow, my priorities and exercise routine shifted dramatically as I cycled through the months of pregnancy, post-partum recovery, breastfeeding, and sleeplessness (wait, was that last part supposed to be over?). I took 9 or 10 months off running after our last babe was born – I missed it, knew I would get back into it someday, but I just couldn’t quite manage. Continue reading


Filed under contentment, identity, motherhood, running, Uncategorized

celebrate what you have

A bottle of champagne has been sitting in our fridge. First, I was saving it to celebrate when my husband got the new job he applied for. The job was offered to someone else. Next, I was saving it for when our daughter got into the elite school for gifted children, where she was in the final round. A few weeks ago, we found out she was not offered a spot. And the list goes on: each time an opportunity arose, I secretly planned to open the bottle to celebrate once things worked out in our favor. The problem was that nothing worked out. And so the bottle continued to lie at the back of our fridge.

One of the more disappointing “no’s” came this week, and ever since I’ve been fighting to maintain a broader perspective, remember that God cares more about my life and my family than I can possibly imagine, and cultivate an attitude of patience and gratitude as we wait for whatever comes next. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster – at 9am I find myself content and thankful, but by 10:30, I’m sad, disappointed, and discouraged. Again. My head knows all the right truths to preach to myself, but my heart just can’t seem to consistently get in line with the teaching. Continue reading

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One of the things that I dislike the most about motherhood – and there are a lot to choose from (cleaning up during and after a family stomach bug is definitely high on the list, for example) – is brushing and flossing my oldest son’s teeth. Every time, he pitches a fit. He wiggles and squirms and cries. He tells me I’m “horrible at” brushing his teeth and he hides under the bed. And yet, I persist. I do my very best to brush the teeth of a child who is screaming, crying, kicking, and resisting. Brushing the teeth of a dog or an antelope or a gorilla or pretty much any other creature suddenly seems more appealing. And this happens every day. Theoretically, twice a day.

At the dentist this month, we found out that he has two cavities. Two cavities that need expensive and painful fillings. Two cavities, despite my very best efforts and attempts and all the persistence I can muster. Continue reading


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saying yes (to a poem)

img_0757Lately I’ve been trying to simplify my schedule, opting for Nover Yes; looking for ways to streamline and pare down. It’s not just that the holidays are busy, or that family is busy, or that applying to schools in New York is busy – although all of those are true. I am realizing that my longing for less is a sign that should not be ignored. It’s not laziness and I’m not in danger of becoming bored if I take a day off. My brain cells are not all going to wither away and dissolve into nothingness if I say No (to the contrary, that’s when I will finally have the time to think and to create again).

But. I said Yes to something this past month. I almost dismissed the idea altogether – without even considering it – and then, hesitantly, opted in. And it has been surprisingly, refreshingly wonderful.

I said Yes to writing a poem every day during Advent. Continue reading


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obstacle course

Last night when I lay

sleepless, thinking,

I turned my problems

from back to front,

then front to back,

trying through worry

to wear them down

to nothing.


If anything,

I only made them

loom larger, by slipping

one next to another,

matching craggy edges

until I had fashioned

an insurmountable

wall. Continue reading

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what’s done is done


Today is Henry’s first day (well, partial day) of day care. I dropped him off at 10, rushed to Jacob’s violin lesson, and now have settled down with journal and poetry in hand. It did take me 20 minutes of searching to locate the journal…I was sure that I had one, somewhere, and was fairly certain that it was green. But I had no idea where I put it or when I last actually used it.

And so now I sit here, at a coffee shop, enjoying a “fancy” soup (cauliflower mushroom…or is it mushroom cauliflower?) and my first solo time in thirteen months (although let’s be real: between the violin lesson and picking up my daughter from school, I have almost 115 minutes). It’s a battle, to stop the thoughts whirring in my head: should I have handled drop-off differently? Should I have fed Henry a snack before we left home? Packed him his favorite snack to have once we arrived? Sent one last email about his schedule and what he likes? Will he nap? Will he be okay?? Should I have just kept him at home???

But then I hear a phrase echo in my head, a phrase that I overheard another mom say to her three kids yesterday on the subway: “What’s done is done.” They repeated it after her, almost automatically – a household mantra, I guess: What’s done is done. So I try it out, saying to myself and the whirling thoughts in my head: What’s done is done. You chose to start him at daycare today. This is how you decided to do it. What’s done is done.

It feels good. I stare down at my open journal, the date on the page. What am I supposed to write? It has been so long since I’ve written in a journal that I’m not sure how to start – and while I have a vague idea that I should write about “how I’m feeling,” it’s been so long since I’ve actually thought about how I’m feeling that I’m not sure, honestly.  Continue reading


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every time I hold your hand


I want to remember it. Every time I hold your hand.

Earlier this month, my family visited some acquaintances who own a small home and cottage in the Hamptons. They had invited us to stay in their cottage, and we accepted. After a slightly harrowing drive out of Manhattan, we arrived late morning on a Tuesday, spent some time relaxing on the property listening to the sound of lazy lawn mowers and chirping birds, and then walked the 400 yards to the “bay beach” at the end of their block.

As per usual, I carried the family backpack and had a little hand in each of my own. Jacob scampered about, holding my hand for a few yards and then running up to his dad and then back again. Hannah Grace, as per usual, clung tight, my fiercely independent girl who always likes to have a hand to hold (as long as she can choose to hold it). Our host caught up with us and fell into step with our slow pace. Hannah Grace immediately requested her hand as well: “I hold your hand?”

Anne seemed both pleased and surprised. “Of course!” she exclaimed, and eagerly shifted her bag to the other arm. “It’s so nice to have someone who wants to hold my hand,” she remarked casually.  Continue reading


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Lessons from Vacation Bible School

This summer, my kids participated in our church’s “Vacation Bible School” program (aka, VBS). Every day for a week, we left the house early to trek down to the church’s building, where the kids attended the opening and closing assemblies and rotated through crafts, music, Bible, snack, and movement classes each day. I mostly volunteered in the preschool Bible class, performing various roles in Bible skits for over 100 little ones. The whole week was exhausting for me.

Despite being surrounded by Bible verses, memory points, smiling people with what seemed like boundless amounts of energy, and energizing pop songs about God’s love and forgiveness, I felt spent, exhausted, and alone. The transition back to New York City after over three weeks away was a difficult one, and I realized in hindsight that I had not prepared myself or the family well for the adjustment. (I actually made lists of things to do differently next time. I love lists.) And to make things more difficult, it was a hot week in New York, my husband was working out of town, and I was 7-something months pregnant. And my kids weren’t sleeping.

Each day I’d show up, feeling beaten, and run into dozens of people I knew, some fairly well, most acquaintances I hadn’t seen in a year – and everyone was all smiles and “it’s great to see you!” and “how wonderful that you’re expecting!” and hugs. I didn’t feel like smiling, and I didn’t feel like it was great to see anyone, and I didn’t feel like it was wonderful to be expecting. It all felt like hard work.  Continue reading

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10 Years

I walked by a shuttered restaurant recently – not an unusual sight in New York City, a place that’s always on-the-go, always changing, always moving. This particular restaurant was not an amazing eatery, but it was one filled with memories for me. It was close to my first two apartments in New York, and I’ve had dozens of conversations there. I’ve shed more than a few tears at its tables and gotten into at least one noteworthy fight. I’ve been there with friends, with guys I was dating, with my boyfriend-then-fiancé-then-husband. I’ve been there with one of my kids. And now it’s gone. The old is being replaced by something new.  Continue reading


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