There’s always the dog door

There’s always the dog door

My brother and sister-in-law were in town for a wedding, staying in my guest room. Waiting for them to come home from the rehearsal dinner I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer, falling asleep on the couch. (Allergy medicine was involved.)

They came home and rang the doorbell. I didn’t stir. They knocked on the door. I didn’t stir. They called my cellphone, which was right beside me. I didn’t stir. They called my home phone. I didn’t stir. Finally my brother came in through the (large) dog door. (My dogs were away at camp.) I still didn’t stir. After I woke up I didn’t realize they were home until I went to the back door for something and saw their car in the driveway. They were already sound asleep.

Life is like that sometimes. Not the being so tired that you’re comatose part. But the part about having to find a different way.

I’ve been listening to a biography of Muppet Creator Jim Henson while in my car. Besides his manifold creative gifts, Jim had the quality of being able to hold things lightly. Over and over again he made pitches for shows that were never picked up. He spent hours working on a Broadway show that didn’t happen. (Just today Disney announced plans for a possible Broadway Muppet Show.) He pitched pilot after pilot to the network, not just creating a proposal but creating actual muppet characters and producing skits. Either the network suits didn’t get it. Or if they were enthusiastic, they couldn’t find a time of it. For years he worked on this dream of having a weekly television show only to be turned down time after time.

Meanwhile, at the insistence of Lorne Michaels and the network, the Muppets were part of the original cast of Saturday night Live. (Yeah, it sounded strange to me as well.) Obviously, they didn’t click with the cast and writers but Michaels liked Jim so much he didn’t want to fire him.

At this same time, through the work of his agent and connections made while doing a special with Julie Andrews (who herself had been given a special because her network show was cancelled after one season, a casualty of going head to head with Mary Tyler Moore) Jim was offered a syndication deal. Originally skeptical of syndication, Jim allowed himself to be talked into it.

The Muppet Show was born. When the agent called with the news Jim didn’t ask about money or budget. He simply said, “I love you.” There was, of course, no issue with Jim being let out of his SNL contract, and everyone parted with relief.

He had his dream. Not on the timetable he’d wanted. Not in the way he envisioned. But he had his dream.

Sometimes we miss what could be possible in our lives because we insist that they can be possible in only one way and on only one timetable. But the truth of the matter is, sometimes they have to come through the dog door.

What are you wiling to hold lightly?


Before you make your New Year’s Resolutions

According to University of Scranton Professor John Norcross, who studies such things, by June 60% of us will have abandoned our New Year’s resolutions.

Cheery thought, isn’t it?

A lot of things contribute to our failures. We make goals that are too big and too broad. I will never eat sugar again for the rest of my life. (There’s a reason people in recovery talk about taking it one day at a time. Forever is a big bite to take on at once.) They are too much of a leap from where we are. I will start running and do a marathon in a month. They are too vague. I will get into shape.

Good goals are SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound.) If I make a resolution to give up brussels sprouts that’s not relevant because I never eat brussels sprouts anyway.  If you’re into such things, here’s a worksheet.

But there’s another reason we drop out before reaching our goals. We define what we’re going to do but we never address the mess inside our head. It’s like trying to drive with the brake on. It’s hard to succeed if there’s a voice in your head telling you that you’ve always been a failure. (Here’s more specific information on dealing with the critical voices in your head.)

fitness motivationAs a mentor with the No Boundaries program sponsored by Fleet Feet (as well as in my own journey) I’ve seen how much our heads can get in the way of our feet. That’s why I created MindRight/BodyFit, a weekly podcast or PDF addressing an issue that can get in the way of beginning or maintaining a fitness program. You can read more about it (and even sign up!) here.


The beginning of a new year is a great time to set goals for living in healthier ways. Just don’t forget to take care of the unhealthy stuff between your ears.

A Worthless Walk

As I ran around the track this morning  I was joined by a class of kids from the high school up the hill. At least, that’s what  I assumed they were. They shuffled and strolled around the track while their teacher stood silently at one end, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they were ducking behind the tennis courts to take a short cut.  I am normally so supportive of anyone moving in any way, but I have to tell you: the day the doctor first let me walk around that track after five months of being non-weightbearing,  I walked faster than most of those kids.

Maybe because it was nearly the end of May but the teacher seemed to be checked out. There were no shouts of encouragement, no words of prodding. Just silent waiting. It was all I could not to revert to coach mode and start yelling at them myself.

As I watched them endure the torture of a lap or two around the track, I felt very sad. I felt sad for a group of kids who were so oblivious to such a fine morning and who were so disconnected from their bodies. But mainly I felt sad because they didn’t have anyone to push them to do better. They didn’t have it on the track. I wondered if they had it anywhere.  I knew what my own  running coaches and mentors meant to me. Three and a half years ago I could barely shuffle around the track. Last Saturday I ran ten miles. Between there and here I had people who pushed me to keep going, to take one more step, to do the things that my mind was convinced was impossible.

The late Wake Forest basketball coach Skip Prosser was found of using the quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Our chief want in life is someone who shall make us do what we can.” We all need people in our lives who will push us. If we have been open to growing as we grow up, we internalize those people. Eventually we are able to find inside our own selves that voice, that push, that word of encouragement.

Recently  I saw a tweet from the “life is good” folks: “You can give up, give in or give it all you’ve got.” We all need that part of ourselves that’s able to say, “Come on – give it all you’ve got.”

I was sad because those kids wasted their walk this morning. And I was sad because I didn’t know how many of them would also waste their walk through this life, shining less brightly than they might have done, doing less than they could have done, being less than they were created to be.

What about you?