Sunday, November 22, 2015

Blerch Kittens

At the Beat the Blerch 1/2 Marathon start, Nov. 14, 2015

One of my favorite comics is The Oatmeal (see for example "the terrible and wonderful reasons why I run long distances"), and my brother and I made a commitment to run his Beat the Blerch race in Sacramento. Although I had signed up initially for the marathon, after Twin Cities and my ongoing fasciitis/tendonitis, I switched to the half marathon. This was a wise move for my body, and it allowed us all to run together for the first five miles and enjoy each others' company and catch up. This social aspect is part of why I enjoy running. It's as important to me as the individual goals and meditative components that are also so beneficial for my mental health (I have a sticker on my bedroom mirror that reads: "Everyday is a good day when you run." True!)

We love California, and the weather there was perfect. I enjoyed the half, although it was difficult to work through the pain. But once I did (around mile 8), I found a good pace, knowing I'd finish, and finish strong. It certainly wasn't a PR--those middle miles were too cautious and painful--but I was fine with my performance, given the shape I'm in these days. As I wrote in the prior post, I've been stressed and anxious, and that always takes its toll on quality running. Time with family and old friends--including my Aunt, my sweet 18-month-old nephew, and a good friend from college-- also helped lesson anxiety sourced in work and all the things around the house that when at home, seem so important, and when away, seem so unimportant. 

Of course, after our return, we commenced a busy work week. But adding to the balance and richness of work was the service I enjoy: this included my appointment to the Cedar Bend Humane Society Board of Directors, and even better, the adoption of ALL FIVE of the kittens from the litter being fostered by our neighbor. Below are photos of one of the five, now happily relaxing and buddying up in his new furr-ever home!
Scruffy, now Cooper, Nov. 20, 2015

Cooper and Miles, Nov. 17, 2015
It snowed Friday--the day the last of the litter were adopted-- and now it seems the holidays and the stress they induce are upon us. I will try to not be stressed this year; to enjoy family, friends, and outdoor time. I read that depression is living in the past and anxiety is worrying about the future. I will remember this! And rather than worry, I will mindfully enjoy the present. I ran 3 times this past week, with very little pain. One of those days was in the snow, loving the quiet, the smell of the cool air, the effort of running on slippery and uneven surfaces. I am also mindfully enjoying my current obsession with all warm things--not only kittens, but especially hot sauce (I am in love with Sriracha! The Oatmeal is too: "Dear Rooster Sauce"), and smart wool socks!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Existential Rescuer: Regrets, Chance, Hope

I've been waking in the wee hours of the morning somewhat frequently lately, anxious and worrying about things over which I have no control. The specifics are about animals, past and present, whose welfare I care very much about, but the broader issues of not knowing whether the decision one makes or made is or was the right one weighs on every human soul.

5 kittens, November 4, 2015

At present, 5 wee babies are being fostered by the very same neighbor with whom I TNR'd 5 ferals earlier this fall. The babies' mama apparently was hit by a car. They're about 4 weeks old, and doing great. Of course, I worry about finding them homes, and I worry about them receiving the best care.

These babies won't go to the local shelter, because I know now just how chancy kittens' lives are, even at shelters (unless they are clearly no-kill shelters). Don't get me wrong--CBHS is doing all it can to help as many animals as it can--but there are so many and when they're full, that's it! They look for foster parents, but sometimes it's not enough. This is why, in the crazy hours of the morning, I start thinking about the foster babies from CBHS we had that we brought back to the shelter about a week before they were fully weaned when a few of them had contracted the ringworm fungus. Although I was told that they would receive medical care and later, that they were adopted, I always wonder... was the ringworm bath just too much for the understaffed shelter? Was there room for them at the intake building? DID the babies end up getting adopted? We had to bring them back to receive the medical attention they needed, but I will always beat myself up about it. While perhaps not a mistake, the chanciness of their lives was then in my hands...and I will never know their fates.

I also once advised a former student to call Animal Control to pick up a stray kitten she had found. I now regret having advised that, because municipal and sheltering resources just aren't there, and too many of the animals picked up never make it out. I don't know if the kitten found a home, or if the kitten would have been euthanized. Neither my former student nor I at the time had the resources or space to foster, and for her, calling Animal Control was the best option. It was an act partaken of need and taken with hope--hope that the local animal services could help, and with the animal's welfare as a priority. I look back though, and regret that I didn't try harder to get in touch with a no-kill foster only organization like Waverly Pet Rescue...but there too, I would have served as foster mom by default, which at the time, I couldn't do well.

Another regret I have is one where again, the chanciness of the situation will always make me wonder and worry. I was in Greensboro, North Carolina for a conference in 2013. On an early morning run, I was chased (playfully) by a pit bull puppy, probably about 8 months to a year old. He was a sweet thing, and he followed me to a nearby fire station, where the kind firefighters used a rope to tie a lead on him, and called Animal Control. Only then did they say that there was a breed ban in Greensboro on pits, and at the shelter he would probably be put down, unless a breed rescue stepped in. I then begged the gentlemen to keep him--obviously, I couldn't! After returning to the hotel and conference, I called and left numerous messages for the local pit bull rescue organization--but never heard back. I only hope that the rescue got my messages and stepped in...but I also assume they are probably so overwhelmed, that it was unlikely.

These regrets are borne of not knowing--first, of not knowing that calling the local animal shelter or Animal Control is not always in the best interest of an animal. Shelters and Animal Control are fine if it's a stray who probably has an owner, like a dog or cat that has escaped a yard, but for kittens and truly stray/homeless cats, it can be a 50/50 chance for finding a home or meeting the needle. I didn't know that well-- the realities of overcrowding and understaffing and lack of resources was not clear to me then. My experiences volunteering and learning from others has given me a broader view. And this is why I foster as much as I can and why TNR is such an important program--it keeps cats out of shelters, hopefully making more space for whatever strays do come in, from people like I used to be, who weren't yet educated or empowered to save on their own.

The other piece of not knowing is the not knowing about the fates of so many of these animals with whom I have come into contact. My prior ignorance put some of them in chancy situations. I like to think if I had more control, their fates could have been known, and good. Even still, Steve and I waffle back and forth on making a decision about our current foster, Mona. 5 cats in our house is too many, and Gracie beats up on her. But would she be happier somewhere else? We can't know that she would be, and we can't hand pick a new home for her. I know too, that even if we did hand pick that home, life happens. There have been a lot of animals that I know have had amazing fates--or at least, I know that for the first few years of their lives, their outlook is good, and assuming the homes they ended up in stay secure (we all know something like Hurricane Katrina or a lost job could turn it all upside down...), all will be well.

Ultimately, each of us has to act with knowledge and compassion, with the understanding that what is in our control we have responded to in morally and ethically consistent ways. Each of us can only act on the information we have and do the best we can with it, at any given moment in time. And when we make a decision and act, we HOPE that our decision will have positive outcomes, that our information and reasoning was sufficient and good. Once a decision is made, we have to move on, to acknowledge we did the very best we could, and that the very nature of the dynamic world in which we live means that chance may always throw a wrench in, despite our good, moral, and ethical intentions and actions. Of course, knowledge also allows us to predict and act preventatively rather than as a reaction. As Rebecca Solnit has written: "Hope and history are sisters: one looks forward and one looks back, and they make the world spacious enough to move through freely." Truly, that freedom is what every existentialist thinker seeks.

Foster! Adopt from a shelter! Never buy from a puppy mill or breeder! One day, there will be wait lists for kittens. Let's envision such a future.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Disruption and Change: A PW and BLM at TCM

Twin Cities Marathon, October 4, 2015
I ran Twin Cities Marathon for the 6th time last Sunday. My goal was to finish. As seems to have become a pattern every few years, I have injured myself. Notice the verb tense...I did it to myself, not a passive "I got injured." I need to take responsibility for running with pain and continuing to run with increasing pain. Ironically (or just bad luck?) the trail running goals that I set and blogged about in January seem to have exacerbated the pain by causing a lot of foot and ankle strain. In August, I did Mines of Spain 1/2 (more like 15.5 since I got turned around...) and since that early August day, my right foot has not been okay. I proceeded to get help from a physical therapist, as I had done in 2012-13, and I also asked for help from a chiropractor, for the first time. I honestly don't know what exactly is the root of the pain. Is it stress? Twisting and weakness and imbalance from trail running? A pinched nerve somewhere from some spinal misalignment? That's what the chiro thinks of course, especially since it's gone right/left/right in terms of foot injuries 2008/2012/2015.

My injury isn't the point of this blog (if you want to read more about mentally overcoming the frustration of injury, see my blogs from 2013). Suffice it to say that I finished the marathon and obtained my finisher tee-shirt (very important!). I also clocked my slowest time ever (PW! Personal Worst). But I am grateful! The point is to draw attention to the power of DISRUPTION and the importance of reflecting on the imbalance that causes the need for disruption. Disruption is a powerful form of resistance that can facilitate some healthy and necessary changes.

On the micro scale, the disruption of injury forces one to change one's activities--or continue hurting oneself to the point of incapacity. I personally need to re-adjust and rest and let myself heal. I need to acknowledge and be witness to the disruption my body is signalling. If only we as a society would listen to our Body too. There are integral and important parts of this Social Body that are injured and sick and only the DISRUPTION of something like Black Lives Matter or Occupy--the disruption of populist social movements-- might prompt the changes necessary to heal it.

In case, dear reader, you are unaware of the controversy that surrounded this year's TCM, the St. Paul chapter of Black Lives Matter (BLM) had announced plans for a disruption event at the marathon. This announcement caused quite a kerfuffle among the white-bourgeois-dominant running community who, perhaps, did not quite understand the inconvenience of a disrupted event is nothing compared to the "inconvenience" of systemic social inequality. The best essay I have found on the TCM BLM issue was written by the blogger at Run Vegan, and I encourage you to read it in full.

Disruption is a powerful force for reflection and change--even with seemingly insignificant changes (see for example, this NY Times blogger on how changing the direction of his yoga practice disrupted his world). I want to change, but it is hard. I am in the habit of running a lot, almost everyday. But I can change. It will be easier with support of friends and family, and those who are willing to call me out if they see me doing something unhealthy, especially now that I have expressed my desire to change these habits. I have decided to take action. Similarly, changing the presumptions, privileges, and the blindness, deafness, and dumbness of dominant society and media to the rampant racism and inequality of our Social Body is hard. It will continue to be difficult because our Social Body is in the habit of inequality and of justifying it through all sorts of tautologies. But here too, disruptions, and subsequent support and reminders are, and will continue to be, necessary. We have created this imbalance in our Body, and we can heal it, together, through mindful action. Let's remind each other, daily--in class, in friendly gatherings, at the gas station--wherever we see inequality and racism in action, call it out. Support and love those who are already calling it out. With love and compassion, let us work together to heal our Social Body.

From N. Scott Momaday:
House made of dawn.
House made of evening light.
House made of the dark cloud.
House made of male rain.
House made of dark mist.
House made of female rain.
House made of pollen.
House made of grasshoppers.
Dark cloud is at the door.
The trail out of it is dark cloud.
The zigzag lightning stands high upon it.
Male deity!
Your offering I make.
I have prepared a smoke for you.
Restore my feet for me.
Restore my legs for me.
Restore my body for me.
Restore my mind for me.
This very day take out your spell for me.
Your spell remove for me.
You have taken it away for me.
Far off it has gone.
Happily I recover.
Happily my interior becomes cool.
Happily I go forth.
My interior feeling cool, may I walk.
No longer sore, may I walk.
Impervious to pain, may I walk.
With lively feeling may I walk.
As it used to be long ago, may I walk.
Happily may I walk.
Happily, with abundant dark clouds, may I walk.
Happily, with abundant showers, may I walk.
Happily, with abundant plants, may I walk.
Happily, on a trail of pollen, may I walk.
Happily may I walk.
Being as it used to be long ago, may I walk.
May it be beautiful before me
May it be beautiful behind me.
May it be beautiful below me.
May it be beautiful above me.
With it be beautiful all around me.
In beauty it is finished.

[Acronyms! PW= Personal Worst; PR= Personal Record; TCM= Twin Cities Marathon; BLM= Black Lives Matter; PF= Plantar Fasciitis]

2008 TCM 4:41:29 (1st marathon; PF right foot)
2010 TCM 3:53:27
2011 San Francisco 4:00:24
2011 TCM (PR!) 3:49:34
2012 TCM 4:24:51 (PF left foot)
2014 TCM 4:19:54
2015 TCM (PW!) 4:47:08 (PF right foot)
BLM and 'Merica

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

How Was Your Summer?

We're getting to that time of starts on Monday, and everybody will be asking about each other's summers. Summer... those three months "off" for students and teachers. Of course, if one is a teacher or professor, one knows those three months are hardly a vacation! I relish summer of course, because I need the mental and emotional break and distance from all that teaching and being at University entails. Three months away from students, daily meetings, asinine emails, and the stuff that slowly wears one down is a wonderful and necessary span of time for mental, intellectual, and emotional refreshment. It's a time for re-establishing balance that so easily goes off-kilter during busy times, whether or not one is a student or teacher who follows the rhythms of semesters and academic calendars.

So how was my summer? Pretty great! It has been refreshing emotionally and intellectually. It was a time for doing all the things that needed to be done--that always need to be done--but that summer allows to get done. Indeed, while I love teaching and I love the stimulation of being among colleagues at a University 9 months of the year, I am extremely selfish about my alone time. There is so much constantly going on, not just 8-5, but evening events, weekend trips etc. etc. that summer allows the pace to slow down, allows one to be, to live, to remember that constantly plugging away or answering that email freak-out, or whatever actually doesn't matter that much. Because there is time. There is time for thinking. Time for doing. Time for being. The long days and the self-prescribed schedule allow each of us to expand our breathing into the space that increased time allows. Ahhhhhhh

I guess that's the point of a it vacation, really?

So how was my summer? What did I do? Even while it was relaxing, I still did a lot! In fact, what I do during the times I'm not on campus I find extraordinarily meaningful, and the experiences I have in my "free" time (is it free? I think it all relates to my being, purpose, and work...)  refreshes me for my students and my thinking and writing. The experiences I have off-campus shape what I do and how I think and how I teach during the year. Like sabbaticals, summers give us what we need, if we are aspirational and ambitious enough to know what it is we need--or as a wise former Dean of my college, quoting Madeleine L'Engle, said "Inspiration usually comes during work, rather than before it." Professors and teachers work in the summer, but it is work of different kind. Yes, summer or sabbatical is self-structured, so that helps. Summer provides breathing space, thinking space, and the opportunities for unexpected experiences and concomitant interconnected ideas that we allow our minds to link together in the spaces and expanded time without strict schedule, routine, emails, meetings, and classes. That space and time is absolutely necessary for the best work--the inspired work--to happen.

So what did I do this summer? Well, most importantly, I saved lives. Even though I want to say the highlight of my summer was the U2 concert in Chicago (ok, it really was!! Beer at a tap room and U2? Phenomenal!)

Really, lasting rewards are in the work with animals that also refreshes my scholarship. Not only did the school year end with the trapping of 11 cats and subsequent fostering in May and June of the remaining kittens (see June post), but we also are about to close the summer circle of cat care by trapping a few (hopefully 4-6) more black cats living feral on College Street for TNR. We are also fostering a darling 12 week kitten, Mona, who is available for adoption through Waverly Pet Rescue.
Mona--available for adoption!
I am sure that the black kitties scheduled to be trapped Monday are the relatives of Peanut aka Lil P, whom we found on campus last summer. I've also been walking tons of dogs at CBHS--they need so many walks--and I love that time. It can be stressful, in its own way, but it requires full attention, which allows my brain to relax, and solve problems my active mind couldn't. I find walking dogs extremely cathartic for that reason--much like running in "the zone." Total focus is required.

Somewhat satisfactorily, I wrote--a lot (always with the help of many friends and colleagues!). I wrote two IRBs (both approved!) and fellowship applications, a chapter for my next book, and the conference paper that summarizes addition to some reports blah blah blah. Less importantly, but necessary for my engagement with the modern world, I upgraded my material life. I bought a new (used) car (the first car I've ever purchased on my own! Shocking!) and I just finally upgraded to an iPhone. Ha! AND we're still in the throes of remodeling! AAND we put in a rain garden!

Goodness, we DID do a lot since May!

I ran a lot, too. I ran quite a few trail races--the Hawkeye 25K, Pilot Knob 15k, Grand Island, MI half-marathon, the Mines of Spain half marathon, and of course, other runs on the trails...[Taking Back the Trails was an important event this summer too, after a horrific violent assault in George Wyth State Park...]

I guess it's no wonder that the plantar fasciitis returned to my right foot, so that my running has been curtailed... even though mentally I feel refreshed after these three months, all this physical work afforded by the longer days has taken its toll on my human body! That...and all the running. Now to let that body rest while my mind works in class...

Friday, June 19, 2015

Until There Are Wait Lists for Kittens

Today I said goodbye to Ruby, the last of the three foster babies Steve and I have raised over the last month. We had had Ruby, JT, and Brittany since May 17. They came in to us at about three weeks old, still so young they were being bottle fed, and needed the occasional enema when the formula wasn't processing well.

These three babies were from a litter of four, by a mama who was spayed by Iowa Humane Alliance on April 27. Mama, along with 10 other feral cats near UNI's campus, were trapped by me and concerned neighbors. It was a community undertaking! We all came together, pooled time, money, and resources, and have, we hope, prevented the continuation of lots of babies who are difficult to keep healthy and for whom it is difficult to find homes.

11 Cats at 20th Street and Merner, April 27, 2015

Early that spring, Steve and I had helped trap 5 cats at North Cedar trailer park, in March, 2015. We were thrilled by the success of that enterprise, so when our friends and neighbors approached us about the situation near campus, we were ready to take it on.

At Iowa Humane Alliance
In both TNR cases, the homeowners made it easy. They had already established feeding schedules for the cats and getting them used to the traps over the course of a couple days was no problem.

Two litters were, however, born before April 27--the litter of four, and another litter of 5. The mama of the 5 returned to her litter after her spay, and those 5 were subsequently caught at 5 weeks, socialized, and adopted. The litter of 4, as mentioned, was a tougher go, since Mama didn't return. Taking care of them too, was a community event. We had volunteers bottle feed them and wipe their bottoms every 2-3 hours for the first three weeks. We also had help from Cedar Valley Vet. Drs. Paulsen and Christman and the vet techs there provided useful and compassionate advice and care at a critical period. One of the babies, Runty, didn't survive. He died at the vet with warm food in his belly and having had 3 weeks of love and care. Sometimes kittens have congenital issues that can't be overcome.

The remaining three--JT, Brittany, and Ruby, subsequently entered my care. I bottle-fed them, wiped their bums, gave them enemas, and eventually, weaned them.

Brittany, inspecting her enema implement at about 4 weeks old.

Brittany and JT, May 19, 2015 (just under four weeks old!)
Fostering is a rewarding and emotional experience. We have fostered many babies, and they always integrate into our home and hearts. I said goodbye to Brittany and JT on Wednesday; Cedar Valley Vet has them available for adoption. I know they will get excellent care, lots of love, and find good homes. Ruby went to her new home today, leaving me what felt like an empty nest. The energy and fun of kittens is good for our household of 4 adult cats and dog, just as it's good for the babies.

Even though it is always hard to say goodbye, I know the babies will be in good hands and grow up to be great cats, and that is partially because they were cared for socialized in foster care. Adopting them out means we can do it again....and again...and again.
JT, Brittany, and Ruby, at about 8 weeks

Ruby, on her way to her new home, June 19, 2015

Since we began fostering and TNR, we have saved a lot of lives. I'm listing them below, along with running events (some complementary) for my own memory...

In 2015 so far, the 11+5 TNR + 3 kittens in our care= 18

In 2014 I Ran 2014 Twin Cities Marathon and raised $1000 for CBHS and Waverly Pet Rescue.

In August, we found Lily, now "Mouse" in Fairfield she is now in a wonderful home there.

We also Fostered Jessie and her 9 babies in July-August of 2014 and found Panther 2, aka Lil P aka Peanut in July. We kept Peanut ("foster failure"!).

We fostered Benson, a cat from CBHS, in January, hoping he would integrate with us. It didn't work out, but he found a home not long after.

Omar (adopted from WPR in August)
Kima (Kaylee) (fostered in August and now in wonderful CF home)
Panther 1 found on campus between Union and the Library in July; she died a few days later from kidney failure RIP
Our cat Sophia died in March

I ran 2012 Twin Cities Marathon (supporting marriage equality in Minnesota)

I ran Twin Cities Marathon for Bolder Options
Fostered and adopted Gracie in July-August
Fostered Willa aka "Skidmark" in July-August

I ran Twin Cities Marathon

We fostered Cody, a papillon, in December-January

I ran Twin Cities Marathon for Childrens' Miracle Network

That's 38+ animal lives saved and improved (more if you include our already-resident cats and dog)! Here's to 50...and on and on, until, as a sage woman once said to me, "there are waiting lists for kittens".

Update 6/29/15: JT and Brittany were adopted by the same woman from Cedar Valley Vet! Ruby continues to be Miss Independent in her new home.

AAaand I am registered for the Twin Cities Marathon, October 4 2015 and Beat the Blerch, November 14!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Appreciating Mortality

Hawkeye 25K April 11, 2015

Appreciation can mean a lot of things, Some thing can "appreciate" by increasing in value. Similarly, a person can "appreciate," or value, some thing, or "appreciate", or recognize, the value or significance of some thing.

I ran my first trail race of the season, the Hawkeye 25K, in Solon, Iowa. It was a great course. The first 5 miles consisted of a wide gravel path along the shore of Lake McBride. It was pretty and I focused on listening and breathing the cool air. After crossing a dike, runners stepped through rock rapids. That was exciting! The trail continued in the woods, on soft dirt and leaves up and down and all around. I enjoyed it very much, and again focused on the sounds of the woods, the chirping of birds and frogs, the sounds of the lake. I was happy to focus on my breathing to control the ascents as well. I felt strong, pulling the air into my lungs and envisioning it spreading to my muscles, giving my blood and muscles oxygen and preventing cramps. The final four or so miles was on the paved road, up a few long hills. I felt good, and appreciative of my lungs, my legs. I thought about striking the ground on my forefoot, of keeping my turnover going, and breathing deeply with each strike. I felt strong, passing many other runners (to be fair, some probably were 50K runners!).

I am appreciative that my body works. I appreciate that friends and colleagues also enjoy running. I appreciate the volunteers and wider circle of runners who make these events happen. I appreciate nature, and those who care for it.

To appreciate my body and what it can do, I appreciate mortality. Not that I am grateful for mortality, but I recognize its constant presence. Every day I am older, as are family members and friends. Every day, my body ages a little more (depreciates?)--and at the same time, I still do a lot-- and so do so many others, much older than me.

I've been struck reading Being Mortal recently, and reflecting upon a desire to be appreciated. Gawande writes about how important purpose is to make living living--even if one is dying. I'm not (actively) dying, I have purpose and meaning (we create our own) in my life--much of that is from my work, from teaching, from writing. But often my students, young as they are, don't yet recognize mortality, appreciate the gift of education, the brevity and privilege of college, of vitality. Who does appreciate transient moments? Animals, to be sure, and the elderly, and those close to death. Gawande writes about that inverse dynamic. It's not necessarily being older or being wiser or more experienced so much as recognizing-- appreciating the mortality and transitory nature of nature.

So many writers and artists have reflected on this subject, a silly running blog can't do justice to it (Ecclesiastes, Thoreau, Solnit; Pieter Claesz, Nicholas Poussin, Andy Goldsworthy...).

Running though, and especially running in nature, enhancing mindfulness, reminds me of my mortality, in a very positive way.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2015: Inspirations and Goals

It's been a long time since the last post...three months. In that time, I've had some amazing experiences running and with animals that have shaped what I want to focus on in the coming year.

In November, Steve and I drove almost 3000 miles round-trip to Kanab, Utah and the Grand Canyon (north and south rims). It was a wonderful, scenic, and educational trip. Some of the best experiences we had were running trails along the red rocks in Kanab, and hiking the trails at the Grand Canyon.

Squaw Trail, looking at the summit around 8 a.m. Kanab, UT
On Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon South Rim
We were in Kanab specifically to volunteer at Best Friends Animal Sancuary. It was amazing. The sanctuary is the largest no-kill sanctuary in the U.S. and it is beautiful. We volunteered the first day at Cat World, and then we each did a shift at Dog Town and Wild Friends. The shift at cat world was incredible, awesome, inspiring, educational... we played with cats in Quincy House, a house that is dedicated to special needs cats, especially those with FIV, FELV, and manx syndrome. Many of the manx syndrome cats have deformed hind legs, or cannot use their hind legs, and/or are incontinent. Needless to say, these are the animals that are euthanized elsewhere. Hence most people (like us!) have no idea. And yet each one has his/her own personality, to be sure!! We played with them and walked them...

In addition to running the trails around Kanab, we ran some of the acreage at Best Friends. Running trails with vistas and hills (ascents that sometimes force one to walk!) was challenging, fun, and took my mind away from the habit-forming chains of time and distance that are so often how I think about my running.

So, for 2015, I have running goals that derive from these western experiences. Some are mental goals; some are physical. As we know, the two are linked... (mens sana in corpore sano)

1. Run more trails.
2. Be okay with getting lost. (See for example, Rebecca Solnit's Field Guide to Getting Lost...)
3. Be mindful. Breathe. Enjoy the scenery. Enjoy being. Enjoy the moment. (see earlier blogs on running with the mind of meditation...)
4. Run more trails in Cedar Falls/Waterloo. Especially along the creek to Hudson. Explore.
5. Complete at least three trail races in the midwest: Mines of Spain (8/8), Surly Loppet (9/26), and...?
6. Complete a race in the West...preferably in Utah,....preferably a trail race....
7. Continue to practice yoga, pilates, and build general strength.
8. Share it. Expand the community. For others' mental and physical well-being, including animals.

Over the last two years I have benefited enormously from an ever-growing running community (FASTR friends, marathon running friends, trail running advocates...). My running has become much more communal, external, and more rewarding internally for me as a result. I am so very, very grateful for all the support of my friends and family, particularly for your support of the causes I've linked to my running.

Here's to sharing health, mindfulness, and love in 2015!!