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Patience, not-so-young Grasshopper

I’m too impatient to think of a clever way to begin this post. Gah! So impatient! The cat is out of the bag. I’m impatient. It’s a toxic state of mind. The overwhelming desire to have something extraordinary happen overnight often thwarts the possibility of that extraordinary something happening over time. This is why it’s essential to enjoy and take meaning from the journey. Not because it’s so wise, because it’s 95% of the process. You may as well enjoy it. You can’t drive from California to New York overnight, so if you don’t find pleasure in staring out your window at the Oklahoma prairie or Missouri’s rolling hills, it’s going to be a long and painful drive. Learn to savor the journey; something I’m discovering about my endeavors as a children’s book author.

Earlier this year I actually, truly, really, actively, once-and-for-all began taking steps toward becoming a published children’s picture book author. I’d dreamed of such a thing since I was 6 years old, but other than a library of ideas messily cataloged in my brain I’d never pursued it. All that changed with the new year. Knowing NOTHING about the publishing industry I began with as rudimentary a step as possible. I bought Writing Children’s Books for Dummies. Hello, dummy. *Proudly points to self*

Not even knowing how to format a manuscript properly, I needed the basics. It’s actually quite a good book. I recommend it for publishing preschoolers like me.

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I read this book. I joined Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). I launched a personal website. I finished my first manuscript. I researched publishing houses accepting unsolicited material. I wrote a cover letter. I signed up for my first conference. I’m ready now! Do you hear me universe! I’m ready, so can this happen now? Oh universe, I know YOU waited patiently for 30 years for me to accept this as my life’s calling, but now that I’m ready let’s do this thing.

I don’t know if writing for children has led me to think like a child, but I am impatient with a capital I. Impatient. IMpatient.

So what has led to this impatience? Well I’ll tell you. Obstacles. There are numerous itchy realities that have put a little bee in my bonnet since I started actively writing. Here are the discouraging things I’ve learned since I’ve gotten myself in the game.

On average it takes 3-6 months for a publisher to respond to your manuscript submission. Most responses will be a rejection.

Many publishers require an exclusive submission so while you’re waiting SIX MONTHS for them to read your three page manuscript you can’t really even submit it to anyone else. This isn’t always the case but SOMETIMES. SOMETIMES!

If and when a publisher wants to buy your manuscript, which you can almost guarantee won’t happen with the first submission, it will then take 18+ months (at least) for your book to be paired with an illustrator, art directed, produced, and published. It can and does take years.

Once your beautiful book baby is born and there you are on the shelves of Barnes & Noble, unless you’re among the incredibly rare breed of New York Times bestselling picture book authors, your book will probably go out of print in 2 years and you’ll net maybe $5,000 of royalties once you make back your advance. It will most likely be 10-15 years before you’ve published enough books to quit your day job and write full time.

So here I am, eager as a little beaver for my life to begin, and all I see are obstacles and “Turn Back Now” signs. I’m not old, but I’m not young either. I’m considering children in a few years. I’d like to start saving for a home, and for kid’s education, and for retirement. I want my life to begin NOW. Now, do you hear me universe? I’m ready! Do I really have to wait years for my three-page manuscript to make it to bookshelves, if it ever makes it at all? There are no guarantees. This could all be for naught. I could be a hack. I could be delusional. I can’t wait years to find that out.

I’m realizing I’m at this point in the story:

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There are many things I don’t know but I’m fairly certain of one thing. For the first time in my life I feel that I’m on the right path. I’ve started my journey down that path feeling prepared and enthused, only to now come across a chasm of unknowns, of long periods of waiting, of inconveniences and obstacles. There are signs that say “Wait here for 6 months, then proceed… maybe,” and others that read “Please pay $500 to advance,” while still others read “Congrats, you’ve earned $5,000! Now make that last for three years!”

A famous actor can indeed make millions. As can a famous author. However the majority of actors are not famous. They work. They struggle. They hustle to make $2,000 for one week on a show they don’t even really like that much and pray they’ll make enough money in their careers for health insurance and maybe a pension. It’s hard. For most, it’s very hard, so if you don’t love it, if Jiminy Cricket isn’t whispering in your ear, “Yes, this is right,” then maybe don’t do it.

Who knew writing would be just as challenging? Well, probably everyone who ever tried to be a writer, but hey I’m new at this. The difference now is Jiminy Cricket is talking to me. I’m starting to sound a little crazy but you know what I mean. It’s there! Some sort of warm omniscient speaking heart telling me that it will all be worth it somehow. This is my story. This is my path.

Okay. I accept. I will wait. I will make the leap. I will stay on the path no matter how hairy it gets. I will employ patience by enjoying the view from the window of this moving train. And while I wait, I’ll keep writing. I’ll see what I see out the window and it will inspire me and I’ll write it down. Even if I’m never published and they line my coffin with rejection letters from Random House, someone will one day clean out my desk and they’ll find what I wrote and they’ll say “Hey, look what she did.”

Hey, look what I did. Look what I’m doing. All you need is patience, young grasshopper.

Or should I say… cricket.

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Walt Disney World Marathon Review, as told by Piglet and Eeyore.

Walt Disney World Marathon 2016 registration goes on sale next week. While I would absolutely love to go the distance at the World again I’m afraid my pocketbook does not allow. The trek to this event will have to remain a rare occurrence until I’m stinking rich, or some other stroke of fate lands me in Florida in early January. In honor of this fantastic marathon it’s time to share our official yet incredibly casual review of the 2015 race.

Brad interviewed Neiman and I the day after the race to capture our thoughts, good and not-so-good. I got super smiley sitting here at my desk re-watching this video. That day in Epcot, the day after the race, had to be one of my favorite days I’ve ever had on this earth. Fresh off the victory of finishing my first marathon, glowing with accomplishment, and spending the entire day in Walt Disney World with two of my favorite people. That was a good day.

Without further ado, here is our review!

What Running to Tahiti Taught Me About Money

I’m not bad with money, per se. Not horrible. I pay my bills on time, always, and keep a very organized record of my accounts. My problem is that I have bills in the first place. My problem is that I enjoy spending money and usually on things. I love things. Aren’t things awesome? I love shoe things and clothes things and book things. Yay things! Then I run to Tahiti, and I realize that things are not actually purchased with money. They are purchased with units of my life. Yikes. My life is made up of a lot of running shoes.

Money is just an invention, right? It’s a placeholder, but for what? For time. So when I spend $80 on a pair of discount Asics that I don’t reeeeally need I’m not giving away $80. I’m giving away approximately 4 hours of my life. You may be willing to trade cold heartless cash for cool stuff, but are you willing to trade your time?

Five days a week I trade in my time, eight hours a day, for money. Why? The marketing machine that is commercial capitalism wants you to believe that you trade your time in for money so that you can go out and buy things. Things will give you meaning (false). Things will fulfill you (false.) Things will make you happy (ok SOMEtimes). Then the rush of those things wears off and you have to go out and buy more things to feel that false sense of fulfillment. You have to work harder to get more money to buy more things, but you’re working so hard to buy those things you barely have time to enjoy them so their meaning diminishes even more but the quest for happiness does not and so you do it. You work harder, you take on another job, you trade in more of your lifetime, (Think about that word. Life. Time.) to acquire more things that continue to fail to give your life meaning. You’ve given away the precious time of your life for the acquisition of ultimately meaningless things.

Is that what I want my life to be? Running shoes and book bags? (Dammit if I don’t LOVE a good book bag). Not if I don’t have time to go running or to read the books I’ve put in my bag. I’m incredibly grateful to live in a country and a time that afford me the ability to work for a decent income; one that gives me a roof over my head, a steady stream of food on the table, a car to get around, cat food for the furry babies, and a little extra for a new hat. Good lord I’m practically royalty. Grateful grateful, I’m very grateful. I have just what I need to be comfortable, and then some. The trick is to not spend the “then some” but earmark it for an investment in a meaningful life.

This all seems rather logical but we’re brainwashed in the western world from such an early age to value things. Toys, video games, treats, presents. These are the epicenters of many an American child’s world. I don’t necessarily believe in complete deprivation of material goods to combat this. I truly loved my Teddy Ruxpin doll and Little Mermaid sleeping bag. At some point it’s an important lesson to learn however that these things did not make me who I am. What made me who I am are the friendships I cultivated at the slumber parties where I used my Little Mermaid sleeping bag, and the imagination sparked in my mind by talking to a teddy bear who could talk back. Friendship, imagination, kindness, play. These are the elements of my childhood that made me who I am, despite the fact that Disney and Toys R Us would have me believe it was the things themselves.

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And so no, I do not completely discredit the value of things. I am more likely to write a better story in a beautiful journal with a fancy pen than I am on a boring black and white composition notebook. I will walk with more confidence in an outfit that makes me feel beautiful than an ill-fitting dress I’ve had for 10 years. Just remember it’s the story that matters. It’s the confidence. The things are just tools.

A light bulb goes off as soon as we start planning our trip to Tahiti. This four-year endeavor has been its own form of internal currency trade, but I never realize the weight of that until I begin to think about giving the currency away. Each dollar we put into savings represents a hard-earned mile. So a couple of months ago as I research the cost of a diving expedition in Bora Bora, I feel this overwhelming resistance to lay down the $200 to pay for it because it’s not two hundred dollars I’m giving away. It’s two hundred miles! It takes us a lot of time, sweat, and energy to run two hundred miles and come time to give it away I have to make absolutely certain that it’s worth it. And that’s when it hits me. ALL of my money should be this precious. Why is it so easy to justify a quick afternoon blowing $50 on Zappos when it is so difficult to put down $200 for a once-in-a-lifetime experience we’ve been saving for years to have? Damn, my perspective is OFF. In that moment my paradigm did that shifting thing it sometimes does, and I no longer saw the numbers in my bank account as just numbers. I saw them as units of time; of my life. Very precious.

So what IS the point of money? Can’t we just get rid of it and all live in a utopia where money is obsolete and we help each other do what needs to get done? Then we don’t have to worry about all of this trading of time and money thing and we’ll just get straight to the happiness and meaning part. It’s a nice idea, but it’s not the way our world is set up and frankly I’m not interested in changing the structure of society. What I am interested in is a meaningful life. Stripping away things for only a moment brings quickly into focus what gives my life meaning: My family. My friends. Art. Connection. Travel. Animals. Books. Sunsets. Spirituality. Great stories. Adventures. My husband. My cats. Service. So what do I need money for? I need it for the security it affords me to spend time with my family. To see the rainforest before I die. To be with my community. To make art. To insure that the last 20 years of my life won’t be spent stressed out and panicked about debt but relaxed, and enjoying the people I love and cherish. Just the right amount of money can give me the security to infuse my life with an abundance of meaning. Too much (or too little) can make me mistake the money for meaning itself.

So thank you, whatever inspiration visited my brain and gave me the idea of Running to Tahiti. Not only has it been an incredibly fulfilling journey unto itself, it’s given me perhaps the most important life lesson I’ve encountered. Money can buy you happiness… if you spend it on a hard-earned plane ticket to Tahiti where you’re sure to have a truly meaningful adventure.

But only if you don’t blow it on running shoes first.

VIDEO: 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon Race Recap

Brad just finished our recap video of the Walt Disney World Marathon! I know I say this every time he makes a new video but I really think this one is the best yet! Maybe that’s because he gets better and better at cutting these recaps, or maybe it’s because each race is more magical than the last. Either way, this one is GOOD! Really good. Check it out. If nothing else at least watch the first minute for Brad’s magic moment with Winnie the Pooh. This doesn’t happen every day.

What a great race. Still reeling from our accomplishment. Great video Brad! Everyone, let’s tell Brad how great he is. I tell him every day but he’s used to it from his wife. Share your comments below or on YouTube!

Just a Couple Little Major Announcements

You know that feeling when you have so much to do that the weight of it all paralyzes you from actually doing anything? So you spend way too much time on Facebook. The final refuge of the paralyzed. You shop on Amazon for things you don’t need. You read Buzzfeeds about Disney princesses re-imagined as rocks. Anything to keep you from activating your brain. That’s my relationship to blogging at the moment.

I have the single biggest announcement to make about running since I started writing here at Running to Tahiti. Everything has led to this. It’s huge.

Follow that up with the SECOND biggest announcement to make since I began running over 15 years ago. So yeah.

Each of these announcements comes with deep introspection, analysis, and reflection that maybe no one really cares about but I feel compelled to explore. It’s the whole point. So I feel I can’t make these announcements until I can adequately collect my thoughts and articulate them clearly.

Who has the time for that? On top of these massive colossal running milestones are the myriad other report type articles I’d like to write. Race recaps, tips, running news, etc. There’s a lot going on.

And then there’s my personal life. Running a marathon gave me 6 hours to think about things and well, oh…

Woops.

I let one out of the bag there. I guess I’ll just tell you then. I ran a marathon.

I RAN A MARATHON!!!!!

So yeah, that’s huge. What can I say? Nothing I can say in this moment can adequately capture the significance of crossing that finish line. I’ll try again later, but until then, here are Pooh and friends:

Pooh Friends FinishI know, it’s a proof. I’m sorry! I DO plan on buying some of the official race pics but I have to wait until a payday rolls around that’s not right after a trip to Walt Disney World. I’m broke and those pictures are about $5000 a piece. For serious. Here’s some more though.

So yeah, running for over 6 hours straight. You should try it sometime. No really you should. I finished 26.2 miles and I swear within less than one hour I was thinking to myself “When can I do that again?”

Runners are so crazy. I love it. It’s like how that one time, during the marathon, when I was thinking about how we made it to Tahiti… oh.

Wait…

Let another one slip there. Big announcement. We made it to Tahiti.

WE MADE IT TO TAHITI!!!!

I know what you’re thinking. “You’re not in Tahiti, lady. You just posted a Daily Mile run in Santa Monica yesterday.” You would be right. I am not currently in Tahiti. But clearly you haven’t been reading my blog for very long. That’s ok. Here’s the short of it. 4 years ago Brad and I picked a dream destination. Tahiti. We looked up the miles between L.A. and Tahiti, and vowed to run the equivalent distance no matter how long it would take. We put $1 in a savings account for every 1 mile that we’d run, and now we’ve got a sweet little nugget of change to ACTUALLY get us to Tahiti. Because we ran there. So it’s like we’re there. Get it? Running to Tahiti?

We reached the shores of Tahiti somewhere around mile 10 of our first marathon. How sweet is that? I tell you what. I had quite the little burst of energy for several miles after that fact dawned me. The burst of energy came only after I stopped crying from joy of course.

The perfect words elude me once again. It’s best I just blurt out these announcements because my mind is just mushy joy right now and can’t formulate thoughts. Just feelings.

Pride, joy, relief, disbelief, awe, eagerness, electricity.

When I started this journey 4,109 miles seemed like, not an impossible distance, but quite a distant one. The number is just so big. Like saving for a mortgage, you never really feel like that extra $100 you put in your account from your paycheck every month is going to amount to what you need but somehow, day after day, month after month, you just keep doing it and slowly it does. Little tiny efforts don’t feel in the immediate sense like they can ever amount to much, but if you wake up every day with renewed commitment and HOPE… If you believe in what you’re doing… You get what I’m saying here, the whole Rome wasn’t built in a day thing. But really think about that! I don’t like the Rome analogy actually. It’s too elaborate, tangled up in complex political systems and evil emperors. There are too many people involved in that metaphor. It took too many people to build Rome. Personal achievement requires a more solitary comparison. A single steady force chipping away at a rock. Something much more simple. It’s like… the Grand Canyon. Sweet, smooth, steady water trickling trickling then rushing and gushing over a loooooong time. Water, when combined with persistence, did THAT.

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Constant. Steadfast. Relentless. Most of all, patient. That water didn’t wake up one day and obsess about carving the Grand Canyon by dusk. It just thought about finding a way downstream. Ok it didn’t think at all. It’s water. You get me though. We knew we wanted to get to Tahiti but the day we started tracking miles we just went on a run. Probably 3 miles. Then the next day we ran again. I know, it’s so simple. I’m sounding so prosaic. I told you I wasn’t equipped to talk about it yet. I’m really not. But I just want to tell you this one more thing. I’m going to sound like Bill Murray at the end of Scrooged but here goes.

Whatever it is you want in this world, if you really truly want it then you were meant to find it. If your heart truly dreams of something, you CAN have it and you should. I used to think it didn’t make sense for EVERYONE to fulfill their dreams because the world just isn’t set up for it. Some of us have to work the jobs that others don’t want to work. Some of us have to pick up the trash and flip the burgers and crunch the numbers. Some of us have to be unhappy. I was wrong though. I believe we all have a story to tell, a destiny. Maybe your destiny IS crunching numbers or flipping burgers. You have to listen very closely to your heart to find out. To find your purpose in it and your accompanying joy. It may be hard to hear, but listen more closely. We all were meant to tell a story. To be a PART of a story, a big story. Something is whispering directions to us. Listen and follow. Trust it. You can do whatever you want to do in this life and you can be whatever you want to be. It WILL NOT BE EASY. I can guarantee you that. It won’t always be pretty and you won’t always be happy. Sometimes the universe will appear to conspire against you. It’s not. It’s actually helping. I don’t know what those hard parts are really. Tests? Helping hands designed as obstacles? Maybe something more mysterious. I don’t know. I just know that you can do it. Be patient. Work hard. Don’t give up. Believe in yourself. Lord knows I’m not quite sure what my personal legend is yet, but I know this has been part of it. I feel that Brad and I achieved something huge together and now there’s an omniscient voice in this cosmic video game saying to us Congratulations, you may proceed to the next level.

So there you have it. Mental blogger mush, this post is, but I had to get it out. I didn’t want to let another day pass without announcing to my dear patient readers that we made it. 4,109 miles.

WE MADE IT!!!

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The Wisdom of the Hundred Acre Wood

I run the Walt Disney World Marathon in five short days. Many things seem to be conspiring against me, as they often do. I’m feeling very stream-of-consciousness like about the whole thing so excuse me while I regurgitate some thoughts bopping around in my head.

Two weeks ago I caught a nasty cold. Just two days before my scheduled 20 mile training run. I couldn’t run it.

The 20 miler got pushed back a week and I ran it in Kansas City over the Christmas break. It was 20 degrees outside. I was still getting over my cold. I hacked up a lung running that thing. I also think my body went into shock because of the cold. I’m a wimp about weather.

Because the 20 mile training run got pushed back a week, my taper period got cut short. I developed early symptoms of shin splints after that 20 miles and since my taper period is shorter, I don’t have as much time to nurse it and recover. I’m investing in KT Tape and I never take off my compression socks. My fingers are also all crossed.

My family is in turmoil. My brother is making life challenging in a way that is hard to put into words. It’s kind of private, although he is very public about the whole thing, so I won’t go into it. It sucks. Big time. I’m angry, frustrated, hurt, depressed, resentful, scared, and a few other negative emotions that don’t lend themselves to endurance running. I have to learn to battle these emotions when the running starts. I wish I was a Jedi.

But then there are things to look forward to…

AltraI have to be honest. I chose my running costume for the marathon because of how well it would match my shoes. Now that the marathon approaches I couldn’t ask for a more appropriate mascot. Piglet. The biggest heart in the littlest body. The most courageous in spite of danger, the most giving in spite of adversity, the sweetest little love to ever be written into existence. Piglet is scared and nervous most of the time, but moves forward anyway. Of course, he does so thanks to Pooh.

You can guess what I’ve convinced Brad to wear for the marathon. I know he humors me and thinks it’s mostly silly to dress up for these things, but I do see great meaning in it. In the most fundamental and pure of ways, Brad really is my Pooh, and I’m his nervous-nelly of a Piglet. He’s my best friend, my biggest cheerleader, my strongest support, and my love. When I don’t think I can do something he gently reminds me that I can. When I feel anxious about something he convinces me not to worry. And he’s the handsomest Pooh bear you’ll ever meet.

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Then there’s our Eeyore, who is also running the marathon with us and I’ve somehow coerced into a running costume. Our friend Neiman. He’s such an Eeyore. Everyone’s favorite little black rain cloud. Eeyore is such an interesting character in the Hundred Acre Wood. Milne is quite brilliant to include him when you think about it, because there’s no use pretending that darkness doesn’t exist. There’s no use ignoring the fact that some people can’t help but think “why bother?” Because once you accept those people, or donkeys, for who they are, you’ll realize what they have to offer you. Eeyore, despite his gloomy disposition, is a great friend to Pooh and the gang. Always saying yes to helping. Always there, even if he doesn’t feel like it. Sometimes you have an Eeyore in your life to remind you that sadness doesn’t blot out kindness.

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Photo on 1-5-14 at 2.01 PM #2Pooh and his pals in the Hundred Acre Wood practically raised me. I was obsessed. Something about the simple wisdom and whimsy of A.A. Milne rang so true for me. It nurtured my creativity, my friendliness, and my sense of poetry. I still have my very first Winnie the Pooh bear from when I was a little wee girl. I’ll never let him go. He’s funny looking and his red shirt never fit quite right, but I love him. I’m thankful for Pooh. I’ll try to be brave like Piglet. I won’t take Eeyore for granted. Now if only we had a Tigger. Any takers?

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Pooh & Piglet

And so in the spirit of Pooh-like optimism. Here are some things that HAVE been going my way lately.

I got sick three weeks before the marathon, instead of three days before the marathon. This makes me very lucky.

I get to go to Disney World.

I found a bunch of leftover KT Tape in our apartment last night to treat my shin splints.

I found the perfect Piglet running clothes. Photo preview coming soon.

I got a raise at work which means extra cash to pay for this trip which means less stress.

I have two working legs and two working feet.

I have support from my friends, my family, and from a slew of complete strangers. Go #teamRunDisney!

I got my new Driver’s License in the mail weeks before I was expecting it which means my airline ticket will now match my identification which means I don’t have to travel with my marriage license in the hopes they’ll let me on the plane which means I can breathe a huge sigh of relief.

I found out our niece will be in Orlando at the exact same time, and hopefully we’ll be able to share a celebratory beer on Sunday night.

In a strange twist of fate, I have someone to babysit our cats while we’re gone.

I managed to make dinner and Fast Pass reservations on Disney’s crazy new My Magic+ Experience without too much of a headache. Knocking on wood that that keeps up.

Oh and did I mention I get to go to Disney World?

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I’m scared, nervous, and trepidatious. I’m excited, eager, and bold. I fall asleep with anxiety in my heart that I won’t finish/will get sick/succumb to injury. I wake up with confidence that I can do this. I am Piglet! Hear me squeak!

“It is very hard to be brave,” said Piglet, sniffing slightly, “when you’re only a Very Small Animal.”

Behind the Scenes of a 17 Mile Run

Oh hi! So I’m training for a marathon. If you’re friends with me on Facebook or Instagram then you’re sick of hearing about it. If you’re exclusively a Running to Tahiti reader then you may actually be wondering “Is she still training for that marathon thing?” I haven’t written about it that much for ironic reasons. I don’t have time to write about marathon training because I’m too busy marathon training. I guess it’s a good problem to be too busy living your life to sit down and write about it.

Long story short, yes we’re still in training. The marathon is in approximately one month. I’m kind of freaking out. This is the furthest I’ve ever pushed myself to do anything. It’s hard. Really hard. I’m also surprising myself and making it happen, so it’s amazing. I’m also very excited to go to Walt Disney World in one month. Disney World!!!

Since we’re too busy running to write Brad thought we could kill two birds with one stone and record one of our long runs. We’ll let the run speak for itself. I leave you with this, a behind-the-scenes look at a run lasting almost 4 hours. That’s half of a full work day. Running. Just running. Think about that. Venice, Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Malibu. We had to hit 4 cities to traverse enough distance. This marathon stuff is not for the faint of heart, or the easily bored.

Enjoy!