If I could bottle up the sea breeze I would take it over to your house and pour it loose through your garden

Heya Stranger,

When I was a kid, my father would come home after a particularly grueling day and exclaim, “What-a-day.” When he didn’t state that while walking in through the door (yet looking very much tired and overworked) I would ask if he had a whataday. I just had a whataweek.

When it rains it pours and I just had two tough days of interviews and helped pull off a fairly successful event (we had over 75 people show up and I got our Twitter followers to 107- and I stood up in front of the entire crowd and introduced a speaker AND talked about myself, so… go me!). I’m drained.

Do you ever do that thing where you can’t think of the right thing to say so you don’t really say much of anything only to have all the perfect responses at the tip of your tongue at a time when they won’t do you any good? This is how I feel about this past week. Did you watch Lost? I had a total John Locke moment where someone told me they didn’t know if I could do the job and I wanted to tell them “Don’t tell me what I can’t do.”

I feel like my entire life has been spent proving to other people that not only can I do things, I can do them the best and with the most spunk and the highest sincerity. In kindergarten, Tammy Bitton was so god damned good at coloring inside the lines. I was more curious about how the wax and pigments blended from different colored crayons, but her neat, controlled drawing style was the preferred result so I learned to stay in the lines and went on to win “Artist of the Year” awards in school and later, scholarships in college. In third grade, Jessica Caywood got accolades for being the best at math and by the end of fifth grade I was one of the top students in the accelerated math class. In fourth grade I learned “Ode to Joy” on the recorder. My brother is an amazing pianist and was already playing entire pieces by Brahms and Chopin, but I taught myself to play the Beethoven staple in each key on the piano.  In fifth grade, Mr. Erikson said something to another girl about her  being a natural on the flute, but by the end of middle school I was first chair and frequently soloing at concerts.

In high school, I was on cross-country. My freshman and sophomore year, we ran races that were around two miles. When they increased the distance  to three miles my junior year, not only did I spend the entire summer conditioning to compensate for the additional milage, but my times were at least 5 minutes faster total. In undergrad, I took a 300/500 level art history course, and when no one else could answer an obvious question, I finally put my hand up in the air and with hesitation, the professor called on me. To his chagrin, I answered the question eloquently and with succinct wording clearly supplying the comprehension that the graduate level students could not.

I’ve never been the best at anything initially, but I’ve learned how to work harder than everyone else. I don’t know if I have any natural talents other than the fact that I will not give up, and if you challenge me I will rise to the occasion. Every. Single. Time. I will try so hard that you and your mom will be rooting for me.

I’m still examining the bits, trying to find glimpses and flashes of the luxury in the delay. I went for a run in the rain today. October and November have been especially difficult in logging miles. At best, there were a few weeks where I could barely make it around Green Lake, when after a spring and summer of running eight to 12 miles a day transitioned into just wondering “what’s the point?” I have found the pinnacle of resistance that was bogging me down throughout these fall runs. There is a point at about 4.2 miles where I just want to stop. It happens at the exact same incline, every time. What’s the point. But you know what, I want to beat this. I want to log at least 6 miles, because that is the optimum to physically feel my best. I have to push through because if a little uphill stopping point will get in my way, what else?

I’ve never for one moment expected anything to get handed to me. I am so thankful that I’ve had to work so hard, even in those times where I might as well be one of those Jesus footprints on the beach pieces, complete with the impressions of what has to be a giant log.

So can I do this challenge? You bet your sweet cheeks I can. Do you know why I was able to solo or sit first chair? I practiced, took lessons and accepted coaching. Do you know why my three mile time was faster than my two mile? Every day I put all I had into improving myself. Do you know why I taught myself “Ode to Joy” in every key (and can still play it to this day)? Because that is a fucking cool song and I wanted to prove to myself that I could, and can do it.

Maybe I’ll get the chance, maybe I’ll have to look for the next opportunity. I’ve started speaking at public things, so maybe I will be speaking at conferences in 5 years after all. Step after step, at least I believe in myself. So now on this Sunday evening I brace myself for another whataweek. I’m going to up my miles this week. I’m going to write more concise tweets and more articulate articles. I’m going to take my own advice and Be Better.

Again, all over the place. I’m loving the Snaps so keep sending them my way. Sorrynotsorry for all the cat videos from my bed. They are just little fuzzy potato muffins and hell, against all odds I’ve kept them alive for 12 years.

Yours,

N.

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