My goodness

Italian heaven for writers and runners

Christmas time is one of my favorite times to run. I have no choice but to feel festive. Tree sellers take over the sidewalks near my apartment. The pine scent overpowers the traffic exhaust and that classic New York smell of trash waiting to be picked up.

Strangers say hello on the street –in Manhattan!– while kids run around. Everyone seems happy. And that includes me. As I cruise down the quiet streets toward Central Park I count the blessings of 2010.

I got to spend high-quality time with a friend and my father in a magnificent spot in Italy, to write my first book. I was nervous about it, but looking out over the mountains every morning, and running down the deserted trails, I had no choice but to embrace the excellent calm of Collabassa.

In the fall I welcomed a terrific new colleague; met someone very special who cheers and greets me at every finish line; and delved into an important and gratifying work project (aside from my journalism). I was able to travel to Holland twice, to celebrate the book’s release, and later to stand by my parents as they moved out of my childhood home.

I met amazing people while reporting in Austin and Los Angeles, New York and Boston. A new ‘Litte Brother’ came my way just as 2010 came to a close. As Hen, my grandfather’s compagnon, passed away when winter arrived, I spent time remembering her, and Opa Kees – their love of life and each other.

All the while, I ran. I run. And I no longer wonder what I could have done in my twenties had I just focused, and done the work, and not smoked. Instead I embrace the speed and endurance –and passion– I have found in myself. The sweet age of 41 has brought consecutive PRs on the half marathon, marathon, 10K and 15K, all within the past three months. And…my very first age group award (3rd at the 15K race in Central Park last Sunday).

There is no denying it anymore: I am gaining the upper hand in the struggle with my former self and with my self-imposed limitations. So at the end of 2010 I feel grateful for what was given to me. With the help of many good people around me I am still finding the courage to change, which is really what my book is about.

Post PR joy

I borrow that phrase from the Serenity Prayer from the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. Forgive me if it has become a cliché through Hollywood and AA. But I have long felt inspired by these lines:

God grant me the serenity / to accept things I cannot change; / courage to change the things I can; / and wisdom to know the difference.

Merry Christmas, and thank you for spending a few moments with me on this blog during a good year. May the next be just as good for everyone.

Message for 2011, as seen on Madison Ave

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