The alarm on my cell phone goes off at 4:45 a.m. I immediately tap it to snooze for 5 more minutes. I do it twice more before I actually get up. Lauren’s in our bed – another nightmare last night. They seem to be so vivid for her. It takes us several minutes to calm her down.
Last week, she had a nightmare was about Mr. & Mrs. Potato head rolling up the track while she was doing 800s. I kid you not. My kid was having nightmares about 800s. (Double that distance and you’ve got my the stuff of my nightmares).
I make a cup of crappy instant coffee and try to improve the taste with a generous pour of half-and-half. It doesn’t really work, but whatever.
I make my way upstairs to my corner office. Flip the lights on & dim them. Thankful, as always, that Dan had the foresight to put a dimmer in the office. Who would’ve thought of that? But it makes a big difference at 5 a.m. Less harsh. Less rude. Less obnoxious.
I resist the urge to click on the Facebook tab. It’s such a time suck.
I log in to WordPress and try to think of something to write about. I wonder for about the 10,000th time if anyone reads this stuff. Why I get up at 5 a.m. to write. I
could should be using this time to weight train or do yoga or walk the dog, but yesterday was busy and my nights are so full. By the time I could write at 9:45 p.m., I had nothing left.
So here I am at 5 a.m. in a dimly-lit home office, with my crappy Aldis coffee and about 45 minutes to write something profound or, at the very least, interesting for a blog that I often wonder if anyone reads.
But I got this email last week from A. He reads. He’s a 71-year-old man from Hermitage, Pa., who has been running and racing nearly all his life. “Dear Heather, I like your column Running Notes at Goerie.com. I am a runner and look forward to reading it every day. I especially like your Just Write day….”
A. says he lived in Erie years ago and likes to keep up with the race happenings. He was diagnosed with blood cancer last August. There is no cure, but he’s in remission right now, and he has a goal to run a 5K again. He says that, with care, he can run at least 10 minutes before he has to walk one. He has to be careful how he places his feet now, his bones have been perforated by the disease.
If A. can run, despite blood cancer, and care about the Erie running scene, despite distance, and take the time to write such kind and thoughtful words, despite having never met me, I can get up an hour early and write.
We, as runners — all of us — inspire more people than we can ever know, be that as a writer, cancer-fighter, single-mom, or a formerly obese couch potato.
I recently wrote a story for Her Times (the Erie Times-News’ women’s magazine that I started 8+ years ago and left 2 years ago) about four local women marathoners—two experienced, one new and one wannabe. They are all friends of mine. Friends
through because of running. At least two of them started running because of the women’s 5K that I direct in the fall. Ange is a longtime running bad*@# with biceps I’d kill for, who eats 17-milers for breakfast. And, Tracy S., is a mom who just decided to finally do something for herself.
When I contacted the women for the story, I told them….you just don’t realize how many people you inspire. You’ll never see it. You’ll never know. And, sometimes it takes years. But, some day, some woman is going to remember your story and she’ll try because of you. Because you did it.
We can draw strength from each other in this life. But, more importantly, we can give strength to others. And you don’t even have to try that hard. A smile and “Nice job!” to that back-of-the-packer, an encouraging conversation with the newbie runner in your office, sacrificing a workout at your pace to run with a slower friend, getting up early write a few words as the sun rises, sending a kind email to a tired blogger who sometimes wonders why she’s doing this.
“What a wonderful column you wrote this week about the 8-mile Bayfront run with 10 people who are becoming friends. Through your writing, count me as 11!”
Who will you inspire today? More people than you’ll ever know. Trust me.
About Just Write
“What ends up revealing itself when free writing is that everything has meaning. That is a magnificent gift of writing. If we write from a free heart-gut place, our souls start speaking.”