Category: running (page 1 of 31)

Iceberg Ahead

I knew when I started Cocoon that it would be bigger than I expected. I knew that no matter how much I thought about it and researched and learned before I started, there would be things that I didn’t know until I stumbled across them weeks and months into the project. I knew that I should give myself a generous amount of time to figure these things out—and then plan for it to take even longer for it to be ready to launch.


But knowing all those things doesn’t make it any less daunting when I continue to discover the depth and breadth of this project I’m tackling. And honestly, although I’d love to say that the reason I haven’t been checking in here on MotherRunner as frequently as I’d like is because I’m working tirelessly and diligently on Cocoon, the truth is that I have been more or less staring uncomprehendingly at the many facets of the project that keep revealing themselves, unsure what I should be doing right now.

Thankfully, I’m not the only one working on it. It seems like everywhere I turn someone more talented and knowledgable than I has been willing to step in and help. We have an actual team working on this thing now. And yet it is still going to be at least a couple of months before we are ready to launch. (That’s the beauty of an all-volunteer workforce who are on vacation for parts of the next two months.)

Also thankfully, I’ve been here before. We’ve all been here before. We start something new and it is hard. The first time we put on running shoes specifically to go running. That time we came home with a tiny little person who the world, apparently, expected us to keep alive. When we took up a hobby to wile away those nap time hours and it sprouted and grew into something we never expected.

It was hard. We were bad at it. We didn’t know what we were doing. But then we learned. And we got better. And it got easier.

Even knowing that, it’s still hard to push through. It’s hard to imagine that things will get easier. It’s hard to feel like I am neglecting this blog—and my writing in general. I remember, not so very long ago, how amazed I was at what I could do when I had to. I looked at busy days as a particularly delicious challenge and relished the feeling of accomplishment when I got to the end. I loved that feeling of stretching and discovering. And I still do. But right now I need to be more focused. I can’t think too much about all the other things I wish I were doing.


So I’m asking for your patience and understanding. I hope you’ll check in and see how Cocoon is coming along. I hope you’ll stay tuned for updates. And I hope you’ll still be here when things get easier and I can do more of the things I love to do.


PS Micah has been working much more diligently than I have been on the website. It’s still a work in progress and not all of it is functional, but it’s there.  You can check it out and sign up for the newsletter if you want. Or follow us on Instagram: @cocoonstories.

Make It Last All Year

Sometimes, the Muppets say it best:

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It’s in the singing of a street corner choir.
It’s going home and getting warm by the fire.
It’s true, where ever you find love, it feels like Christmas.

A cup of kindness that we share with another.
A sweet reunion with a friend or a brother.
In all the places you find love, it feels like Christmas .

It is the season of the heart,
A special time of caring,
The ways of love made clear.
It is the season of the spirit,
The message if we hear it
Is ‘Make it last all year.’ 

-It Feels Like Christmas from A Muppet Christmas Carol

I really hope you find a little bit of Christmas today and every day, all year long. Merry merry Christmas to all of you.

Just One Extra Mile

I still run. A couple of times a week, usually. The reason I mention it is because people have been asking. I suppose they are asking because I haven’t mentioned running here on this Mother Runner blog for a while. And the reason I haven’t mentioned it is because there hasn’t been anything to say. Running has been very ho-hum for me lately.

In the past, it has been a time for me to de-stress, to loosen up the mental and emotional knots I sometimes get tied in, to chase after inspiration or to let it stumble across my path. But for several months now it has just been something to do. I haven’t trained for any races or committed myself to run a certain number of miles or a specific pace. My focus has been elsewhere, and I’ve just wanted my running to be comfortable.

But then again, I don’t know where my focus has been. It feels as though a lot of my life has been in the same place as my running: comfortable. And while there is a big part of me that feels like that is exactly where I want to be right now—that I deserve a little bit of time to curl up and just be—there is that other part that is feeling anxious.

Anxious because I’m stressed about being comfortable. And I didn’t really realize it until today, when I was out running. I was trying to decide if I wanted to go an extra mile. Time was a little tight. Little Miss fell back asleep right after the boys went to school and took a long nap. We didn’t get out until almost lunchtime, and I had some other errands to run while we were out. Could I squeeze in one more mile and still make it to the store? Still have lunch and make it to pickup on time?

Almost as soon as I made the turn to take the longer route, it clicked for me. Suddenly this run was not ho-hum. Suddenly, I was living dangerously, running in uncharted territory. Suddenly, I had a challenge. And suddenly, I felt inspired. It all made sense.

Of course I haven’t been feeling motivated. Of course I haven’t been able to write like I used to. Of course my running has become so rote that I haven’t even seen anything worth photographing while I’ve been out lately. It’s because I’m not pushing. I’m not trying.

That little revelation led to a lovely afternoon in which not only did I push myself to shop and eat and shower and still get to pickup on time (this is me patting myself on the back), I also managed to daydream a bit and imagine what I could do and what I want to pursue when I’m ready to endure a little more discomfort—to challenge myself to see things with new eyes and to run in a slightly different direction.

I’m not quite there yet, but I’m looking forward to getting there.

ps In case you are interested in the conversation I was part of on HuffPost Live (see previous post), here’s the link.

To My Sweat Sisters


To Allison and April, who first showed me that running for fun was a thing.

To Diana, who challenged me to try it for myself and gave me something to aim for.

To Jen and Katrina and Ana who acted like it was no big thang to keep their legs moving for hours at a time—and took it for granted that I would learn to do it too.

To Christy and Suzie and Mara and Marin, who imparted more wisdom and strength to me on a handful of 3-milers than I had learned in the decade before I met them.

To Carrie, who put a marathon on my radar when it was the last thing I thought I could do.

To Shiloh and Valerie and Valerie and Heather and Elizabeth (and the menfolk, of course) for being my Ragnar team—where I learned, for real, that I could actually run.

To Abby, who inspired me with her determination to keep finish her first marathon, even when every part of her was saying, quite distinctly, “NO.”

To Becca, who is not ashamed to commiserate with me over the messy parts of running.IMG_5825

To Kathleen and Emily and Noelle, whose quick “Hi!” as we pass each other in the park often left me smiling for miles.

To Ashley, who keeps me running, even if it is only to see how many miles I can do in a month.

To Heather and Rachel, who took me in and cheered me on in Boston.

To Madison and Sharra, who made miles and miles in 20 degree weather not only manageable, but fun—and kept my mood high and bright all of last year’s long, cruel winter.

Ladies, if I had my druthers, every meeting between friends would include a run—a time and a place to move together, think together, to share a conversation or share the scenery in silence. It’s work, but it’s play, too. It knocks down walls and narrows your focus to what is right in front of you. It tunes you into the same wavelength and gives you an opportunity share laughter and tears without the awkwardness of eye contact. It can clear the air and cleanse your soul.

Wish we could meet up for a lap at Prospect Park tomorrow. But since we can’t, I’ll just say that I’m glad we’ve had a chance to share the road.



Sisters Tell Stories

You know that the best part of any girls’ night is the loads and loads of stories that come spilling out of everyone’s mouths. One minute you’ll be laughing so hard you can’t breathe and then suddenly you’ll be crying for real as you make an emotional 180.

As much as I love hanging out with friends, cracking jokes and musing about nothing, it’s really in the storytelling that friends become sisters.
Last night I listened as two wonderful sisters-from-church talked about their experience with divorce — shared their stories of heartache, loneliness, redemption, fulfillment. I knew these women before, had talked with them, had a sense of their strength and depth. But hearing their stories colored in the lines.

They talked about how much hearing other women’s stories helped them through their own difficulties. We have sisters all over the place, we just don’t know it until we hear their stories, or tell them ours.

“Story of my life!” and “I love that story!” one of my sisters-in-law always says.

Stories are our lives, and I hope that we love the stories we live, whether they are happy or sad, tearful or fearful. And I hope, too, that we share them with our sisters to strengthen and support them — to help them color in the lines of their own lives, of their own stories.

Sister Saviors: Guest Post by Livia Taylor

Babies babies babies. So much joy! So much pain! And so much we get to discover the hard way. But having sisters around to lead, guide, walk beside—and give the baby a bottle while we regain some sanity—can bring some order to the emotional/physical/mental chaos that is the postpartum period. Amiright? My friend Livia Taylor wrote up this story of how her little sister stepped up and saved the day (or many of them) after she had her second baby a few months ago. Thanks Livia!


Being six years apart, my younger sister and I didn’t have much in common for a long time. I moved out for college by the time she may have been considered old enough to become my friend. There were a couple of sporadic visits over the years when I was across the country in school, but we didn’t connect very deeply.

She eventually moved to the same state as me to attend school herself, and we started seeing each other on major holidays, when I hosted family and friends at my home to celebrate. When my daughter was born, my sister spent the weekend at my house and helped me pull myself back together as I dealt with postpartum. The first week I was home from the hospital, my sister called me every day to make sure I was alright.

In the four years since my daughter was born, my relationship with my sister has grown into more than just sisterhood; we’re friends. She has since served a mission and done a study abroad while finishing up school, but her influence is often felt in our home even when she’s gone.

I had my son about four months ago, and I was very nervous throughout my whole pregnancy that I’d have a difficult postpartum again. My depression flares up when I’m sleep-deprived and hormonal after childbirth, and it was scary for me to consider having another when I knew he’d be born while my sister was out of the country.

But then my sister gave me the greatest gift; she sent me an email letting me know she was rescheduling her flights back to America so she could make a pit-stop at my house before finishing her summer vacation with our parents in Maine. She ended up staying four days, and it was such a relief to me to have her help while I recovered from the chaos of hosting my son’s blessing and my daughter’s fourth birthday that weekend. I couldn’t have “caught up” on sleep (all parents know that’s not really possible, but you know what I mean!) without her.

My sister will thaw breast milk without being asked and feed my baby while I sleep. She knows how to wrap him tightly and rock him until he’s ready for bed. She can negotiate with my feisty toddler and tolerate her tantrums without skipping a beat. She insists on babysitting so my husband and I can have a date every couple of months. She helps with meals when she stays at my house and cleans up without being asked. She has made it possible for me to cope with having two kids while struggling with managing my depression. Just when I think I can’t do it any longer, my sister will take a break from her life at school and visit me, giving me the boost I need to be a better mom and wife.

I’m so grateful that my relationship with my sister has evolved to this. Our family has been through so much that could have turned us against one another, and I consider it such a blessing we have become real friends. My sister is an example to me of hard work and selflessness, and I hope I can someday return the favor if she chooses to have a family of her own (hopefully by then my baby will be sleeping as well as my toddler so I’ll have the energy to do so :) ).

Also, I feel like I owe her for all the times I’ve borrowed her clothes without asking while she was out of the country.

photo credit Mary Oveson

Second Guessing

So, this aired today:

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(It looks like it got cut off. Sorry about that!)

You know, I thought I knew what I wanted. I thought I knew what I was doing. I thought I wanted to be a mom who taught her kids, who gave them opportunities to learn and grow. I hope that by doing so, they’ll become strong, self-reliant, capable adults.

And I also thought I wanted to be a writer. I thought I wanted to write about life and motherhood and marriage, about continually finding happiness and joy in the most mundane and repetitive of circumstances.

But experiences like this bring all things into question. Like, am I raising my kids well? Am I endangering them by either giving them too much freedom, or by writing about them, or by not giving them as much credit and responsibility as they can handle?

Obviously, having people question my parenting choices would cause me to question them as well. I think that’s a good thing to do. I hope that I am always looking for ways to improve, looking for holes I didn’t see, looking for paths and tools and ideas for how to help my kids become the best they can be. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t want to get too comfortable in my motherhood, to think that I know anything. I want to be teachable and to be open to the idea that there are better ways that I currently know.

So that’s that. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to be part of this discussion. I hope it has been as enriching for others as it has been for me.

On the other hand, I’ve also had to question whether or not what I really want is to sit quietly and write about my life as a wife and mother. So I’ve questioned it and decided that it is what I really want in life. Really and truly. I find a lot of joy and value in it. And it seemed a good fit for me. I’ve joked that I have a face for radio and a voice for print, so writing is probably where I belong.

But then, I never expected to have the opportunity to try anything else out —to actually do live radio or live television, to speak on camera without a script. I can hardly say what I’m thinking in a normal conversation, so why would I even consider one in which I was sitting under stage lights, wearing a mic, with cameras rolling?

But I had the chance to consider it. To try it out. To do it. And now that I’ve done it, I feel like maybe I should question that, too. Just to see if maybe there is another way for me to say the things I want to say.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get there again, if I’ll ever be able to do anything but peck at a keyboard. But at least now I know that the keyboard isn’t my only tool. If I want to, I can reach for something else.

My Cup Runneth Over

20140912-232146-84106104.jpgEverything is a song these days. And we’re singing it out. Whether it’s “Can You Hear the People Sing” from Les Mis or the cheer the boys came up with to celebrate the occasion of finding a license plate from one of their favorite states (Ohio!), we’re belting it out and it makes my heart sing right along with them. Even after hours. Sometimes, after we’ve put the kids to bed, we hear what sounds like Manchild singing the triumphant national anthem of a distant country. Where did he learn that? Oh, right. It’s the national anthem of Paraparaparaparafeetland, a strange and funny country which Micah has been telling the boys about at random times over the past few months. Each addition to the story leaves Manchild red in the face and nearly doubled over with laughter. Micah knows just what buttons to push to get that kid rolling in the aisles — or singing in the top bunk. Neither of which are bad places to be.

But if we’re not singing, we’re talking. Mostly Little Miss, who seems determined to get this speaking thing down. She follows along when I read stories to her, saying what I say, testing out the words. Micah and I can’t help but say what she says right back at her. Her little voice is irresistible and begs to be heard again and again — even if our efforts are a poor imitation. It’s especially amusing to hear her talk about Pokemon or Shaun the Sheep — two of her brother’s favorite things. Sure, they fight and argue and wrestle and drive me nuts, but they are also really happy to be together and share things with each other.
With school starting, however, Little Miss is a bit on the outs. Sometimes she cries when the boys leave in the morning without her. But she and I have been spending more time together and that’s a treat. We’re learning the ABCs, matching mama animals to their babies, and chanting, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can,” (well, she chants, I man the controls) as we ride the bike to pick the boys up after school. And at pickup she isn’t afraid to lay her claim: last week she practically chased Squish’s class down and invited herself to be part of it. Squish held her hand as the class walked down the ramp to the meeting spot. Heart bursting

The start of school also means more running. The kids and I managed to get out about once a week during the summer: Little Miss and Squish rode along in the stroller, Manchild pedaled his own bike. We stopped at playgrounds and took water breaks. It was hot and hard and slow and not frequent enough for me. But it worked for the summer, and now it’s just me and Little Miss, cruising around almost as much as I please. We can get more miles in and do it faster and I’m starting to feel like running is part of my life again after a 3-month lull.

And here’s one last thing to share before I wish you a happy weekend: I loved this story by Peter Sagal about what to do if you’re going through hell. Give it a listen. I think there’s something to it. ;)

Monday on Good Morning America

It turns out that some people think it’s a bad idea for 7-year-olds to be left alone for short periods of time. Some people have even gone so far as to say that no one should be left alone ever. (Or maybe that was just one person, but still. No one? Ever?)

And it looks like a lot of people want to talk about it. This is a good thing. I think we should talk about it. I think we need to have a conversation about how to teach our children to be more independent and how to give them a little more freedom in a world that is so fearful for/about kids that we get yelled at if we let them ride their bikes half a block ahead of us. Our kids need to be given space and opportunity to grow into capable human beings who can take care of themselves. It’s our job as parents to be in tune with them enough to know when and how to give them that space and those opportunities.

This week I’ve been floored by the amount of attention my essay on Babble has been getting. It was picked up by the Daily Mail, I was contacted by several news stations and a radio show (if you want to listen, my segment starts at 20:17), and just tonight a film crew from Good Morning America came by our apartment to film a segment for tomorrow’s (Monday) show. (It’ll be in the second hour, in case you want to tune in. And I’ll post a link to it afterward as well.)

Even if I’ve been floored by the response, I stand by my decision: my son was ready for a little more responsibility and a little more independence and Micah and I prepared him and taught him and gave him a chance to spread his wings a little bit in a safe environment. If we keep this up, he may just be ready to be a contributing member of society when he reaches adulthood.


Just a note: I know that lots of people are expressing their opinions and that not all of them are being very kind about it. It doesn’t really matter to me. I cannot make good parenting choices for my kids if I am parenting to quiet the critics, so I don’t listen to them.

Beauty and Brains

“You may say most positively that ‘Susan is pretty and Sandra is bright,’ but all Susan will remember is that she isn’t bright and Sandra that she isn’t pretty.” — Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

We talk so much about teaching girls to be themselves, to nurture their talents, to not be afraid to do or be anything. But then we also praise them so much for being “pretty” or “cute” that it would be easy for them to get the idea that being pretty is the only thing to be. I am for sure guilty of this. My daughter is only 2 and it’s already a habit for me to praise her beauty every chance I get. It’s kind of a problem because she may get the sense that no matter what I say, her true value lies in being pretty.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

I have definitely felt that way. Growing up, I was the Sandra to my sister’s Susan. Everyone told me I was smart. It seemed like they were complimenting me. It seemed like they were trying to tell me that this was a good thing. And yet it felt a lot more like a curse. I was told that is was probably the reason I didn’t have a lot of friends and the reason boys didn’t ask me to dance (apparently, my big brain was super intimidating?). Even my youth leaders seemed perplexed by what to say to a girl whose “intelligence” outshone her looks. It wasn’t until I was receiving scholarships my senior year of high school that I started to feel a small amount of validation that being smart was actually something to be admired and celebrated.

I know that there could have been other things going on. I am a reserved person. My face is hard to read and that makes me seem unapproachable. But during those extremely formative years of my life, all I could see was that the “pretty” girls (including my sister) were getting a lot of attention, and I was . . . not. I felt like this trait that I had, these “brains,” was talked about it like it was worth something but it wasn’t really valued at all. It was worthless and so was I.

It has only been recently that I’ve started to unravel the truth that the value that I have as a person is something separate from whether I am pretty or smart or approachable. At that time, I had been working really hard to earn the love and attention of others. I wanted to prove that I was worthy. It was crushing when I felt like my efforts were ignored or unappreciated. But about a year ago something turned in my head — and my heart — and I could kinda sorta see that there were at least a few people who liked me because I am me, and not because I can bake pie or run fast or because I’m somebody’s sister or friend or because I am or am not “beautiful.”

Then last spring this idea came into focus a little bit more when I went to the Women in the World Summit and heard Ken Burns say, “Eleanor Roosevelt would not have become who she was if she had been made to feel like she was pretty.” So much of the work that she did — helping the downtrodden, fighting injustices, bringing attention to the overlooked — she didbecause she felt that she couldn’t get by on her looks alone, that she wasn’t worth anything if she didn’t do it. 

Later that same day I listened to a panel of women talk about how girls pin so much of their self-worth on whether or not the selfies they post online get a lot of “likes” or comments. It hit close to home for me. I admit it. I don’t post pictures of myself very often because I don’t feel like I get “good feedback” (or any feedback). And I let it tell me that I’m not beautiful, not worth praising, not worth anything — that people don’t like me. When Rashida Jones, one of the panelists, suggested that girls and women be encouraged to invest more in their “appreciating assets” — their heads and their hearts, rather in the “depreciating asset” of physical beauty, another small wheel turned in my head and this idea became a tiny bit clearer.

I’ve been thinking a lot since then about what it means to be “beautiful” or to be a “beautiful person”and last week I had the chance to sit down with a dozen other women to talk about it. There were so many insightful, thoughtful, and helpful comments. Some of the best:

“Every day I look in the mirror and I tell myself I’m beautiful. In fact, I’ve only seen myself ugly once. That was when I was angry. I told God, ‘Thanks for letting me see me ugly,’ and now I am never angry.”

“I want to tell people that I love them, but what I hear myself saying instead is, ‘You look beautiful today. I really like that dress.'”

“When I think of all you ladies, I don’t see what you look like as much as I see the things that you are doing, how you are helping others, that special moment I got to see between you and your child, your talents and what you are contributing to the world.”

“People don’t think about you as much as you think they do.” (Which is possibly the most freeing realization I have ever had in my life.)

“I have a friend whose default position is, ‘They like me.’ She just tells herself that everyone likes her, and then they do, because she’s not afraid of them.”


With all this coming into focus in my mind, I was bold enough to post a photo of myself (not exactly a “selfie” since Little Miss was actually the photographer) to Instagram. It’s not a glamour shot by any means, but it is me — my face, my story. When I first posted it, I held my breath a bit and waited to see if anybody would “like” it — or me. But then I talked myself down and remembered: people aren’t voting on how pretty I am or how much they think I am worth. I posted the photo to tell my own story, and whether or not they like it is irrelevant. It’s fun, but it doesn’t change the fact that no matter what people think of my looks or my brains, I can still be a beautiful person — someone who is kind, generous, thoughtful, patient, selfless, sensitive, honest, cheerful.

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