Scrubbing Off the Rust

I am spending today on a series of trains.  As always, this makes me want to stretch my creative muscles, write and take pictures.  See the pictures on Instagram or Twitter.  For the writing, check back here in a few hours.

Oh, ps- did you notice that “here” has changed? New blog address: singingintothedark.com!

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1 mile per year and .2 to grow on

Those of you who have been reading me for a while will know that I have slowly become a runner.

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It was an accident, but somehow, I went from struggling to run a mile to running an entire marathon.  I transformed from the picture on the left to the picture on the right over a three and a half year period.

 

In thirteen days, I am doing it again. I will be celebrating my 26th birthday by running 26 miles – and .2 to grow on – in the Pittsburgh Marathon on May 4.

When I ran the Detroit Marathon last fall, I was doing it for me. I wanted to give myself a goal, to prove that whatever else was going sideways in my life, I could still be successful. Now, though, I’m running for a cause.

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The Pittsburgh Urban Leadership Service Experience was the reason I moved to Pittsburgh after I graduated from Notre Dame. I spent my year with PULSE volunteering with a non profit organization dedicated to meeting the basic needs of Pittsburgh’s East End. PULSE provided regular personal and professional development for myself and the other participants. We lived in an intentional community, sharing household duties and spiritual journeys. The seven women I lived with that year have become some of my dearest friends. One of them, Laura, is a huge part of my inspiration to run. The PULSE community has been so supportive of my journey into the running lifestyle.

It seems right, somehow, that I should run in support of them.

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I would like to invite you to support my marathon run and my favorite service organization by donating to PULSE right here through my marathon support page. My goal is to convince thirteen of you to donate at least $10.

I had an idea of writing out 26 reasons why you should donate to PULSE, but that would take a while and I value your time. Here are just a few of my favorite reasons and a bribe:

  1. PULSE actively seeks peace through a focus on community. Participants are encouraged to build community with each other and with the people in their neighborhood. One result of this is the Kincaid Street Community Gardens.
  2. PULSE believes art is a service to the community. Participants are given a cultural funds allowance, which can be used to attend events or purchase supplies for a project. Some participants even spend part of their placement developing their own artistic projects.
  3. This is the perfect birthday gift for me! What better way to celebrate my life than to support an organization that played such a role in shaping me?
  4. The first thirteen people to donate $10 or more in support of my marathon run will receive a thank you note on a hand-painted card, personally designed for you. All donors will receive hand-written notes, but I’m only promising to paint something for the first thirteen. All others will be handled on a case by case basis.

Every little bit helps PULSE on their mission to cultivate a community of young servant leaders.  Donate here on the website, or make out a check to PULSE and mail it to 5615 Stanton Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206. I am grateful for every bit of help you can give…

…and I’d appreciate all the prayers and pep talks you can send for me as well.

7 Quick Takes: Welcome to Lent

Once again, kind readers, we join Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes.

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Welcome to Lent!  I started off the season like a true millenial by taking a Buzzfeed quiz that asked what I should give up for Lent.  I got meat, which is what I had already decided to give up.  I promise I wasn’t aiming for that specific answer.  If anything, I was aiming for Coke, which is what I decided to give up as well, in case the marathon training and meatlessness don’t mix well and I start eating meat again.

The Coke is probably going to be harder for me to avoid than the meat.  So much for a secondary fast.

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Another Lenten discipline I am tackling is the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge hosted over at White House Black Shutters.

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I took part in this last year, but I never really had much organization or focus, and what little I had went out the window when I knew I was moving partway through Lent.  Packing has usually been the death of purging for me.  I hit a point when shoveling stuff into boxes and bins becomes far more important (and urgent) than sorting through and deciding what I actually need.  As I have lived in four dorm rooms, two houses and two apartments since 2006, I have done a lot of moving.  The boxes of unsorted junk have piled up.  Since I’m back at my parents’ house regrouping, it is definitely time to get rid of a lot of things and simplify my life.

There’s not enough room here for all my crap, anyway.

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I joined a Living the Eucharist Lenten study group at my parish.  We had our first group meeting yesterday.  It’s early, but I think it’s going to be a good thing.  I’ve been missing having a solid faith-sharing group in my life.

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I’m about a week into the #100HappyDays challenge.  I am posting a picture of something that makes me happy for 100 straight days on my Instagram account.  I was looking at my collection last night, and I realized that 5 out of 6 photos so far feature food.  This is all on a spectrum from coffee (which barely counts as food) to the Blessed Sacrament (the best, most nourishing food of all).  I have never considered myself much of a food person, but apparently, eating well (or eating in good company, or feeding myself spiritually, etc.) brings me happiness.

To be fair, who WOULDN'T be happy with a paczek and hot chocolate?

To be fair, who WOULDN’T be happy with a paczek and hot chocolate?

Still, I am determined that today’s post not involve food of any variety.

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I went to see Winter’s Tale last night.  I almost didn’t go, because so many people said the movie was so awful.  Still, it sounded like the sort of thing I’d like, so I went to the very last showtime it had in our theater.

And I loved it.  Sure, it was a flawed movie, and I could tell that the source material was broader and deeper than the film could cope with, but it was exactly the right tone and it inspired me to come home and write.  I now have the beginnings of a story idea, and I’m excited about it.

The moral of the story?  I know what I like in films and literature, even if it’s not objectively well done, and I shouldn’t listen to other people instead of myself.

Also, I really need to read the book by Mark Helprin now.

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I’m starting to get into marathon training.  I had a really rough start, and I’m behind, but I’m fighting to catch up.  I’ll be ready by May 4 (so God help me)!  It is so much easier to train when the weather is nice and I can run on the paths by my house.  In the meantime, I joined a local recreation center so I can use the track.  I have new running shoes that help my knees.  My legs are changing shape and I’m definitely getting into shape.

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It’s definitely the time of year for Irish music.  This is one I heard for the first time just the other day.  Enjoy!

7 Quick Takes: seven is the number

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This is the song that I’ve been grooving to this week.  It’s “Faust, Midas and Myself” by Switchfoot. I’m putting it at the top so you can listen as you read, if that’s your thing.

Life begins at the intersection.

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I’m really glad I committed to this seven posts in seven days challenge with Jennifer Fulwiler’s Conversion Diary.  I’m glad I do a lot of things that Jennifer Fulwiler suggests, including this here 7 Quick Takes on Friday thing.  I’m glad about this posting every day thing, because I’m getting my reflecting mojo back.  Reflecting on why I am so indignant about winter in general at this point, reflecting on what feeds me… there’s a difference between thinking and reflecting.  I can think myself in circles, but when I write, I have a record.  I don’t need to rehash everything.  I’m accountable to whatever insights I stumble across.

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I happened across this thing today, and I’m really considering signing up.  I’ve been complaining lately that my life is boring and I’m unhappy.  I’ve been getting restless.  So how do I fix this?  Maybe it starts best with a perspective readjustment.  So, if I spend 100 days posting pictures of things that make me happy, will that help me see happiness more effectively?  It’s probably worth a chance.

Plus, taking and posting pictures makes me happy, right?

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I have a new instagram account!  This one matches my new blog.  Check it out & follow me.

Also, did you know you can find all of my various social media accounts by clicking on that heart icon up at the top of the page?  I like all that info neatly tucked away, but I wonder if you friends can find it.

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This is a fantastic graphic showing every dress worn by a Best Actress Oscar winner since 1929.  It is lovely and beautiful and I am now wasting time looking up vintage photos.

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I’m a literature nerd and a tiny little bit of a grammar nerd, so this collection of famous first sentences properly diagrammed rocks my socks.

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I was going to post a picture for Throwback Thursday this week, but then I didn’t.  As I was browsing, though, I came across this picture, which is full of things that make me so goshdarn happy.  I thought I’d share it with you all.

fresh food, a fresh project and a warm mug of tea... not to mention the boyfriend who took the photo. :)

fresh food, a fresh project and a warm mug of tea… not to mention the boyfriend who took the photo. 🙂

Happy Friday, everyone!

Theme Thursday: Fences

This is day 4 of Conversion Diary’s 7 posts in 7 days challenge.  Since it’s Thursday, I know exactly what to post: my weekly photograph for Clan Donaldson’s Theme Thursday!  This week’s theme is fences.

What I thought of when I started pondering fence photography was texture. As I was looking for an interesting fence to shoot, I ended up looking for interesting surroundings. I probably looked like a crazy person sitting down at the coffee shop table with my iced latte in this weather, but it makes for a good shot.

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winter at the coffee shop

Be sure to check out all the other photographs linked up at Clan Donaldson , and tell me- what do YOU think makes for an interesting photograph?

Theme Thursday: Heart

I have one, love-filled, very-special-to-me heart photo to share today as I link up with Clan Donaldson’s Theme Thursday yet again.

This photo was taken last Thanksgiving.  I work in a movie theater, and so I had to work on Thanksgiving (also the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.  America needs to sort out its holiday priorities, but I digress.).  This was going to be a rough day at work for me, an early start to the day, which meant I couldn’t run the Turkey Trot downtown with my boyfriend like I had really, really wanted to.  My boyfriend is not in town all the time, and I was feeling the disappointment pretty sharply when we were hanging out the night before.

I got downstairs on Thanksgiving morning to fill my veins with caffeine and rush out the door only to realize that there was frost on the ground.  Great.  I would have to scrape my car.

My mother, however, was hanging up her coat.  She told me that she had gone out and scraped my car for me so I could make my coffee.  She also said that my boyfriend had apparently left something on my car, and she let it be, since it wouldn’t interfere with my visibility.

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Between my mother’s care of me and my boyfriend’s message, there is an awful lot of love in this one little photo (and the light in it is just great!) so I knew it was going to be my Theme Thursday submission.

…Which means I’m not using it as a Creative Week entry.  Thursday’s Creative Week project will be posted on Friday.  If you’re wondering what my Creative Week is, or want to see the projects from Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, I’d be really very pleased if you check them out.

Theme Thursday: Bare

It’s never really the new year until Christmas is over, is it?

Once the liturgical season ends, my family starts thinking about taking down all the decorations.  This usually means that everything comes down over a week or two.  What with everybody around the house all week, however (HELLO polar vortex!) pretty much everything indoors that reminds me of Christmas has been put away.  I myself took all of my ornaments off the tree yesterday and took the tinsel garlands off today.

All that is left on our Christmas tree are the lights, about half of which no longer work.  It looks wrong, both bigger and smaller.

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poor, empty, half-working Christmas tree

The same could be said for a lot of corners in my house now.  The space above the fireplace looks empty, and I’m constantly surprised when I don’t hit my head on the mistletoe & elf windchime that was hanging above the kitchen table.

It isn’t Christmas anymore.

And with that, I suppose, my new year has finally begun.

So I’m back blogging & linking up with Clan Donaldson for Theme Thursday again.  Woohoo!