Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Standing in Place

As I continue to contemplate life after cancer (that is, after my Dad is finally well, which we hope will be in the next few months), I am pulled in two directions.

On the one hand, I find myself being drawn to traveling abroad again, working for an NGO, doing research on my story ideas, etc etc etc. And on the other, I am drawn to staying put (wherever I am, which has been changing a lot). Maybe even spending 6 months or a year doing a work/trade at a retreat center or house of hospitality where I clean/cook/farm in exchange for quiet, prayer, service.

This morning I came across an article that SO speaks to me, I feel compelled to share it. The author, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, reflects on his earlier habit of moving and traveling, of seeking out meaning and purpose abroad, doing service work, in looking after the OTHER, and of how he has come to realize that standing still, looking around at the world in which you are currently, and planting roots HERE, is sometimes a better way to find meaning and stability within and without.

Funny, even the idea of seeking "stability" seems so foreign to me. It's a word I don't think of much, at least not in the more traditional/American sense (partner, money, career, house); but I am not deceived into thinking I lack a desire for stability. We all do.

Rather than looking for stability in what I have, I seek stability in who I am and how I live. The stability I hunger for is satiated by moments, little epiphanies, that affirm who/how/where I am. YES! What an amazing conversation. YES! Thank God I was able to be here for this friend in the hospital. YES! I loved smelling the eucalyptus and feeling the dirt underfoot on my run. YES! I have time to hear your story. YES! I want to walk with you and make photographs and be consumed by the power of live music.

Stability comes for me when I feel I am where I "should" be, doing what feels right, being in the world in a way that I feel called to be. The ground might be moving below me as I travel back and forth across the country to be present to my father and family, but the continuity, the stability comes in feeling that I'm fully present wherever I am, to whomever I'm with.

Wilson-Hartgrove's reflection is informed by what he's read from the mystics to Barbara Kingsolver, many of whom I've been reading with greater interest of late, and there is much here that resonates with what I'm contemplating these days.

Standing in Place is published in Conspire Magazine, a publication of a grass-roots organization called The Simple Way, which Marcy told me about (thanks...they are way cool!). The Simple Way is somewhat like Elizabeth House, and the Catholic Worker model, working in a poor section of Durham, North Carolina, guided by a call to go out into the world in love. Simple as that. They're feeding the homeless, greening the neighborhood, partnering with a hospital in Iraq... but, of course, it's not about what they're doing but how they are being that inspires and speaks to me.

Today I seek to remain in the moments I am most Myself. Not the ego-self, but the self that is the same as all other selves. The mystery that is within me and within you. More accurately, it's the self that knows no distinction between within and without. In that place, in this Me/You/We I find stability and security and meaning. The where-what-when answers will come in time. For now, I remain standing in place.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Goals for Girls

A couple of coaches.
A handful of documentary filmmakers.
A team of young girls from a slum in Buenos Aires, Argentia.

Put those together and you have the film-project: Goals For Girls, Goles y Metas.

The boys won't let them use the dirt field. The parents expect them (but not the boys) to do chores and babysit siblings before getting any play time. The culture looks down upon women playing soccer. And their economic circumstances likely means many lack adequate food, let alone shoes or equipment.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Climbing Out of the Rubble of Haiti

A friend-of-a-friend was volunteering on a literacy project in Haiti when the earthquake hit. She was trapped under a collapsing building as she attempted to run for safety. She has since lost her right leg below the knee.

Christa Belsford, the 25-year old Alaskan native, is a PhD candidate studying Sustainability at Arizona State University. She's also an avid rock climber (that's how she met my friend, Shannon) and outdoor enthusiast. You can hear her interviewed on CNN.

She's grateful to be alive and is asking for support of Haitans who can't afford or access the great medical care she is receiving.
In addition to supporting Haitans (Christa's brother, who was also injured during the quake, suggests Haiti Partners.org), Shannon has made the following appeal on behalf of Christa:

     "A lot of us have faced the potential of losing that which truly makes us alive—whether it be climbing a rock, carving a wave, or even tinkering around on the piano.  A fund has been started to help defray some of Christa’s expenses, and to purchase for her one of the things she will need to start climbing again: a specialized foot to be used once her residual limb has shrunk enough to accommodate a prosthesis.  The cost of the foot alone can be thousands of dollars and often insurance companies pass on the entire cost to the patient, deeming it 'medically unnecessary'.”
You can donate to the “Keep Christa Belsford Climbing” fund.
Spread the word. And the prayers. And the love.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Runners High Documentary

Runners High Film Screening
Thursday, 21 January 2010
400 Hawthorne Ave on Pill Hill, Oakland

Students Run Oakland, a non-profit youth development program promoting health (physical fitness, mentoring and nutrition ed) among Oakland public school students, is hosting a screening of their documentary, Runners High.

The award-winning film follows low-income Oakland kids training for the L.A. Marathon. Some of us in the Touchstone Running Club are training for the upcoming Oakland Marathon and Half. Let's all rally to support the next group of students who will be running with us on 28 March!

Check out the trailer below.

The screening will take place at 400 Hawthorne Ave., in the Bechtel Room, of Samuel Merritt University near the Alta Bates/Summit Medical Center (aka "Pill Hill") off Broadway in Oakland. It will be followed by a student/mentor panel for Q&A. Tickets are $25 and go to support Students Run Oakland. You can buy tix at the door or by emailing Christine Chapon [ christinechapon AT yahoo DOT com].

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cowgirls of Montclair

Read about a mother-daughter duo who are selling ranch-inspired clothing, accessories and household goods to support animal rescue.

I wrote/shot this assignment last week, and it was published in the Contra Costa Times on Friday, 17 December 2009.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Running in Ramadan

A story I wrote and shot for Running Times magazine is now available online here.

It will print in the December issue of Running Times, which will hit the magazine rack in the next week or two. Check it out...the layout is great!

The article features Moroccan Olympian Abderrahim Goumri, who recently took second at the Chicago Marathon.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Legendary Lebow

It's not yet November, and summer is only just arriving in Berkeley, but I've been reminded of the upcoming New York City Marathon and am hoping to get a copy of the documentary, Run for Your Life, that's been made about Fred Lebow, the legendary founder of the legendary race.

A review was written by A. O. Scott in the New York Times last year
Tale of a Marathon and Its Guiding Hand
Published: October 29, 2008

The New York City Marathon is one of those institutions that seems to have always been around. Every November, throngs of runners gather at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and crowds of spectators line the route that snakes through Brooklyn and the western edge of Queens before dipping into Upper Manhattan and the Bronx and ending in Central Park. A new documentary, “Run for Your Life,” offers a salutary and touching reminder that the race, like nearly everything else great about New York City, was largely the creation of an odd, stubborn visionary.

Until his death from brain cancer in 1994, Fred Lebow was more than just the director of the race and the president of New York Road Runners. He was a fixture of city life, instantly recognizable for his skinny frame, neat beard and ever-present cycling cap. An immigrant from Romania (where he was born Fischl Lebowitz) with a background in the garment business, Lebow helped turn running from a solitary and eccentric pursuit into a major sport and a staple of American culture.

He did this with a mixture of showmanship, quasi-evangelical zeal and entrepreneurial hustle. Using on-camera interviews with friends and colleagues, and archival film and video clips, “Run for Your Life,” directed by Judd Ehrlich, is mainly an affectionate portrait of the man, whose every foible and virtue is noted with fond tolerance. The film, which is being released simultaneously on DVD and in a Manhattan theater, also offers a history of the marathon, from its beginnings as a sparsely attended four-lap race around Central Park through its apotheosis as a wellspring of civic pride and corporate sponsorship.

Along the way, moments of glory are recalled — Alberto Salazar’s world record, Grete Waitz’s nine victories — along with a few episodes of ignominy, without which this would hardly be a New York story. I’m sure Lebow would have been just as glad to forget the name Rosie Ruiz, who traversed most of the course in a subway car in 1979, but viewers will probably be amused by the memory of the scandal she caused, or tickled to learn of it for the first time.

The film’s words and images also create a time-lapse picture of New York’s renewal, a transformation that Lebow, without necessarily intending to, surely helped along.

In the mid-’70s, when the marathon became a high-profile, five-borough event, the city was suffering from a crisis of order and morale that seems almost inconceivable now. In that context, sending thousands of people in shorts on a Sunday jog through the streets must have seemed marvelously mad. But now, with the specter of hard times before the city again, the race is a marvelously reassuring fact of life.

Check out the trailer here: