Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I Get to Run

My friend, Amy Stewart once posted about the importance of thinking, "I get to run" versus the abysmal, "I have to run". It's a concept that has stuck with me ever since. I realized I have always thought the latter about running. Maybe I'd get a wild hair every once in a while and WANT to run, but it was the exception, not the rule.

It wasn't an easy task, reconditioning my thoughts about running, but I was up for the challenge. After months of rainy, dark evenings (a situation not conducive to motivation), I have found myself in the perfect storm of convenience. It is light after work now, the park where I run is interesting and challenging, I am actually home for a long stretch of time, and I am motivated to get in better shape for the summer.

I've run 5 times in the last 7 days and feel great. While I don't think I've run more than a 5k, I find myself energized and able to run farther with each attempt. There is a 1/2 Marathon in Rabat the first weekend in April. While I know I will not be ready to attempt such a feat, I may run/walk it. Having a goal will help motivate me to continuously improve until then, and hey, I'll get a t-shirt out of the deal.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A lesson for me to learn and relearn

Do you ever come across someone who just seems odd and rubs you the wrong way? Maybe they are gruff, their interpersonal skills lacking, table manners questionable, or they wear the most unfortunate 'animals of africa' neckties? I'm guilty of making snap judgments of people. If I encounter someone with the above characteristics, I gravitate *away* from them. And quickly. Especially if there are people around with whom I connect in a meaningful way (i.e. discovering someone else who also believes Lindsay Lohan definitely stole that necklace).

This week, several times, I did the dance many of us have done...circulating around the room to be closer to people you'd rather talk to. It's a delicate dance, ensuring nobody's feelings are hurt. This week I. Was. A. Pro. Close talker? Excuse me, I need to use the restroom. Your favorite adult cartoon show? I'm going to get another drink, you want anything?

But the week was long, and by today, I had lost steam. I sat in a chair, ambivalent to whoever might plop down beside me. African Tie. He asked me what was new, for the 50th time in the past few days. I'm not even sure how the conversation got started...but we started talking about evasion techniques in the woods, and he started telling me about some missions he went on back in his active duty Army days. As the story unfolded, I discovered he went on undercover missions in Bosnia, speaking Italian and finding war criminals, all without being 'made'. He helped catch a man who killed innocent women and children. He put his life at risk to bring men to justice, getting injured several times. He only stopped after countless missions, when an insider leaked his name to the press, and he had to be flown out and re-assigned. After our conversation, he asked me to mail out a dozen postcards for him. They were all for his children and grandchildren.

A lesson for me to learn and relearn: If you give people a chance, they just might impress you.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Stop flashing me.

Morocco is the land of no daytime running lights on cars. Lights are for pitch dark, when you need them. Duh. When you drive around in a US made car that has daytime running lights, or you're like me and turn your lights on when it's overcast, you will elicit the profound concern of strangers. They are not shy about sharing their concern. People driving by will flash their lights at you, people walking will make hand gestures that your lights are on, try to stop you, say things to you. You name it. They don't understand the need for lights during the day. And they won't stand for it.

However, crossing three lanes of traffic with no turn signal and cruising into position 3 inches from your front bumper? No problem.

I see other ex-pat/US embassy types driving with their lights on during the day, and I sympathize. Sadly, car light Nazis are the least annoying thing about driving in Morocco. Driving here is like playing Grand Theft Auto, without the car theft and guns.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Morning Run

Running always clears my head and lightens my mood. Why don't I do it more? New goal - if it's a nice day, go for a run. I won't regret it.

This morning on my run in the park, I was listening to a depressing song by The National called "About Today". The lyrics go:

"Today you were far away
and I didn't ask you why
What could I say
I was far away
You just walked away
and I just watched you
What could I say"

I can't help but love depressing music. I think it's the past feeling of loss it stirs inside - knowing that life goes on, and ultimately, life is good. As I was listening to the song, I passed a father playing soccer with his son. I thought about the struggle for democracy in Egypt and Tunisia..and how life is good when you can go to the park and play soccer with your son.

It made me feel so content, running in the park with the sun shining, seeing people out enjoying life and nature. That's how we're meant to spend Sunday afternoons...not sitting in front of the TV indoors watching reruns of The Sopranos. That's not life...that's distraction.

I ran past a man in the park sweeping leaves. He didn't look particularly happy or unhappy. I gave him a smile as I passed and he flashed one back. A smile that could sell peanut butter.