Geralyn Wichers

"Life is a great adventure, or nothing"

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Does anyone ask you the questions you desperately want to answer?

People ask me all kinds of things, but rarely am I asked about what really matters to me.  These are the things I want to talk about, and truly be listened to.  In the presence of my friends and family I talk about them, unasked.  But I feel that they don’t want to hear about it.

Do you feel this way too?

I want to be asked.

I want to be asked “What have you been doing at work lately?”

Silly, right?  People ask “how is work?” all the time.  But that’s the sort of question you’re required to answer ‘fine’ to, or ‘busy’.  Maybe they’d accept a long answer, but I get the distinct feeling that if I went on a five minute rant about the product I was coating that week, and what went wrong, and about how I nailed that one coat to the exact percentage, their eyes would glaze over.

I want to be asked “How were your runs this week?”

I’d love you forever if you’d listen to me talk about running Abe’s Hill for the first time, and my 5k on the weekend–and then ask “then what happened?” like you mean it.

I want to be asked “What are you reading these days?”

Plato–The Republic, and Lord of the Rings.  Ask me about Plato, and why I’d even pick it up.  Ask me about what I’m learning from those books.  Gosh, look at the size of the three-in-one volume of Lord of the Rings.  Doesn’t it just beg to start a conversation?

Ask me about my writing projects and don’t look too shocked when my eyes light up and I expound on clones, and the archetypal city, and the righteous poor, and the adventures of some ‘made up’ character.

The problem is…

The problem is that I don’t ask the right questions either.  If I were observant, and not all wrapped up in myself like I tend to be, I might know the right questions to ask YOU.  The questions that make your face light up like a Christmas tree.  The ones you can deliver a spontaneous fifteen minute lecture on.

I stumbled across one of these questions by accident, this summer.  I’d had difficulty connecting with a coworker, a gentleman from Bangladesh, until one day I asked him “Are you following the FIFA World Cup?”

Yes!  Yes he was.  He was following Argentina.  He’d followed Messi since the soccer star was a much younger man.  He (my coworker) had actually played soccer in college.  And off we went–because college led to discussions about our families, and once you start talking about your families you have lots to go on.

I began checking the World Cup stats every morning so I’d have something to say to him when we passed in the hall.

Doubtless, asking a good question won’t always have the same success.  But I’ll warrant that if I’d regularly pose purposeful questions, I’d often stumble on good answers, perhaps even on a new friend.  But this won’t happen if I’m not looking, using Sherlock Holmes powers of observation to discover what makes people tick.

I’m not good at that, I admit.  But I realize now that I can’t make people take a genuine interest in me.  All I can do is provide that loving courtesy to others, because I truly believe that to listen is to grant deep respect and honour to another.  We need to be listened to.  It is psychological oxygen, to borrow from Dale Carnegie.

What to ask?

So tell me.  What do you want to be asked?  What is that thing, buried deep in your chest, that you NEED to talk about?

I WANT to ask.  Forgive me if I forget to look.

 

 

 

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An excerpt from my recent novel, We are the Living, a post-apocalyptic love story.  A more tender scene–at Mom’s advice :)

I examined his face. There was the beginning of a mask tan on his face. “Do you have to wear the mask all the time?” I asked, in a feeble attempt to redeem myself.
“No,” he said, no elaboration. He took another forkful and chewed slowly, the muscles of his jaw bunching and relaxing in slow, deliberate movements.
“I’m sorry. Perhaps not while you’re eating…”
“No, it’s fine,” he said after he swallowed, “I get along well there.”
“Yeah,” I said, half-laughed. “It looked like you’ve hit off with them.”
His lips twitched. “Heck of group of soldiers, in their own way.”
“Soldiers?”
He shrugged and laughed sheepishly. “Not really. None of them actually are—heck, they have MP5 submachine guns from the army, but about all they know about them is how to pull the trigger. It scares the hell out of me.”
“Yes it does!” A man about my age with a respirator hanging around his neck plopped down beside Liam. He fixed me with a stare that was a little wild. “After Liam teaches us, we’ll know which end to point.”
“Oh, shut up.” Liam grinned, but his eyes flicked toward me. “Even Kayla knows which end of the gun to point, and she’s probably better shot than you.”
“I don’t want to think about that, Liam.” For all my big talk, I didn’t want to think or talk about shooting. Panic, like bile, rose in my throat. I’d had dreams of the grey-eyed infected, still wearing a business suit, flying backward in a pink spray.
I felt Liam’s gaze on me again.
Max leaned in, his rubber mask clunking on the table. “Is he right?”
“Leave it, Max,” Liam said.
“You’ve shot infected?” he asked.
Liam grabbed Max and pulled him back onto the bench. “Leave it!” He turned to me. “Sorry, I shouldn’t have brought it up.” His navy eyes said he could guess what I was thinking. And then his lips twitched. “And Max is generally an idiot. Ignore him.”
I pushed away my plate. “I’ll be fine.” I’d be fine, but I wouldn’t be eating. I couldn’t expunge the image from my mind that quickly.
Liam sighed, elbowed Max, and stood up. “Walk with me?”
We slipped out of the courtyard, across the piazza, past the rusted-out Siena truck, and meandered down the road toward the east wall, all without speaking.
As we turned around at the far end of town in front of Rudy’s wheat beds, we paused and stood facing each other in the middle of the road.
“Are you sleeping any better, Kayla?” He asked.
“A little.” It seemed that my sanity had returned after joining the greenhouse crew, as if belonging brought life back to me. “You?”
He shrugged. “About the same. Listen, when Max was… yammering back there. What did you see?”
I looked up at him and gulped. It all flashed before me again. Grey eyes. Lipstick. Poof! The gun knocked me on my ass as her blood sprayed all around. I forgot to breathe.
His warm, rough hand closed around mine. “You tell me yours, I’ll tell you one of mine. No judgment, I promise.”
I swallowed. “I saw… I saw me and Simone in the back of that truck we took from the GI. We drove into the pack of infected, and I shot this one. She was in a business suit and then she just… disappeared.”
Liam flinched hard, and I could almost see the scene play out on his eyes. “I didn’t see that. I’m sorry.”
I swiped at my eyes. “Your turn.”
“I keep dreaming about Alex,” he said. “I’m driving faster and faster toward Torino and I can hear him screaming in the back of the truck.”
I was gut-punched. “He didn’t scream.”
He pressed his lips together, hard. “When we get to Torino, it isn’t him dead in the truck. It’s you.”
“Oh God.”
We stared at each other, with the full weight of our shared horror hanging between us. It drew us together slowly, and I sagged against him, my face pressed into his neck. We didn’t cry. We were past sorrow.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered into his warm skin.
His hand slid up and caressed the back of my head. “Just don’t die, okay?”
“I’ll do what I can. Same to you.” I lifted my head and stared him in the face. “You take care of yourself, okay? Wear your mask, and sleep, and talk about… talk about this stuff.”
His face tightened and he sighed, “I’ll see what I can do.”
We began walking up the hill, slowly. “It bothers me that you aren’t armed here,” Liam said.
“That’s not Father Lucien’s style.”
“It’s my style,” Liam said, then quickly added, “Though I wish it wasn’t.”
“But do you need to fend off the infected any more?”
Far away a truck started up, and Liam glanced up the hill before looking me in the eye. “We’re not concerned about the infected. It’s the GI.”
The words I’d planned to say disappeared from my mouth. I blinked up at him.
He propelled me onward. The piazza was in sight. “I haven’t seen them recently. Don’t worry.”
“I wish you’d stay.”
“For my safety?”
“Yeah.”
We paused at the tailgate of the truck. Max and the other guy were already in the cab. Liam would be riding in the back, alone.
“I know I’m being stubborn about this,” Liam said quietly. “But I have my reasons, okay?”
“I’ll take your word for it,” I whispered. I reached out and touched his hand, and the look in his eyes squeezed the breath out of my lungs.

We are the Living is available on Kindle and Paperback through Amazon, as well as on Kobo.  You can read further samples here.

Notime

“I’m afraid to die before I’ve really lived,” he said.

Funny the things you talk about on late shifts.  We stood over our tank of coating suspension, the peristaltic pump chugging the soupy, white mixture from one tank to the other.  I don’t know why we were talking about death–death by drowning, death by fire.

I paused.  In my hand, the hose bucked and splattered goop on the shiny steel receiving tank.  “Yeah, I know what you mean.”  But in my head I thought, but how do you know that you’ve really lived?  As I thought over my twenty-four years, I realized that I’d packed lots into them.  I’ve travelled, I’ve graduated from college, I’ve written a book.  But had I really lived?

A couple weeks later, a school friend’s nineteen year old brother died in a drowning accident, and it brought the subject back to my mind.  My own brothers were going out to the lake, and inwardly I shouted don’t go!  I want to keep you here!

I suspect that the years we have are never enough once they’re gone.  I had twelve happy years with my Grandma (Mom’s mom) before she died of cancer.  But when I think about her I remember that, the last day I saw her healthy and alert, I spent playing video games.  Would that one more day have been enough?  No.

It annoys me that people say “Two more days until Friday.”  When I catch myself saying “My shift is half over,” I rebuke myself.  Heck, we spend tens of thousands of hours at our jobs, but we’re so eager to just get them over with.  My Grandma (Dad’s mom) told me, today, that the older you get, the faster they go.  It’s like being pinned to a railway car, flying downhill toward a brick wall (she didn’t say that–I did).  But we are unmindful.  We try to make our railcar go faster!

What are the chances we get to the end of our lives and decide we’ve ‘really lived’?

I’m realizing that I need to be a heck of a lot more deliberate with my time.  I’ve got to dream, then make goals, and then work my butt off before my railcar reaches the bottom of the hill.

Dan Waldschidmt said “We all want that extra 6.25 years of conquest.  But when we have a zillion minute by minute considerations just to decide whether to stay in bed or get up and ‘conquer,’ most of us choose comfort.  It seems small at the time–after all, it’s just one hour.  But the results are life changing.  Literally.  The decisions that you make hundreds of times a day build your future.  They all count.”

I’m not doing well in this area right now.  After the release of We are the Living, I hit a big-time slump.  I’ve yet to pull out entirely.  My blogging has been sporadic.  I have little interest in social networking.  I don’t feel like writing.  My new project has been neglected for days at a time.

It’s time to kick my own butt.  If I can make myself go running after an exhausting workday, when my knees hurt, or when it’s cold and raining, I guess I can make myself write (do what I love!).

There isn’t a moment to waste, is there?

 

photo credit: Ebowalker at Pixabay.com

Last night I ran around a section near my childhood home (a section being a square mile of land).  I parked my car at my former church and warmed up in the silent parking lot.  The sun blazed in my eyes as I huffed and puffed the first mile.  As usual, I wondered why I was torturing myself again.  But I settled into a nice, easy rhythm, and turned the corner onto the next mile road and into the shade.  The humid air sunk in around me, redolent with sweet poplar sap.

How many times have I driven these roads?  First, in the back of Mom’s minivan to and from Grandma’s house, and church.  Then, I’d drive myself to youth group and early morning music practices.  I know them so well, but on foot they are unfamiliar.  Which houses have dogs that might chase?  The roads are silent, and I can hear the slightest crash in the bush.  Probably a deer, or a bird, but what else?

“I’ve become such a city girl,” I lament.

Runkeeper tells me I’ve travelled two miles.  I begin the third side of my square.  The sun has sunk behind the trees, still sweat trickles from the knot of hair on the back of my head.  I look up as I pass by the faded red barn, and the complacent cattle on the corner.  Three miles.  I turn the corner, and can see the ancient evergreens by the church, one mile away.  There are dead garter snakes on the road, and I imagine that they raise their heads and nip at my heels as I go past.  I close the square, and walk back to my car.

As I showered off at Mom and Dad’s place, I realized just how absurd this seemed.  Never, in my childhood years, would I have dreamt about running those gravel paths.  They seemed too far to go, even on a bicycle.

Times, they are a changing.  I contemplate which miles to combine to run a 10K, or even a half marathon, and I smile.  Maybe that is not so impossible after all.

In a few hours it will be my birthday.

I’ve been absent from the blogosphere this week, due to the pendulum swing of my schedule.  While on day shifts, I try to make up for the lack of social life while I’m working evenings.  My brain has been packed, and much of what I’ve come up with to write is so snarky I don’t dare infect you with it.

So, in hopes of soothing my soul and inspiring you, I’d like to share ten things I’m thankful for–at the dawn of my 24th year.

In no particular order…

1. Strawberry the Car

20140305-205529.jpgThis week I’ve logged a lot of miles in my magic carpet.  I picked up the print edition of We are the Living from the courier (an hour and fifteen minutes away), I went to dinner with two college friends, and before the week is out, Strawberry’s little wheels will take me to my second 5K race.  Since I got my own car (after 5 years of waiting) I’ve been granted a whole new level of freedom.  I’m grateful for that.

2. A job that challenges me.

I’ve worked at the pharmaceutical plant for a year and a half now, and the job has yet to get easy.  That’s perfect, even if it is frustrating at times (like today).  As long as it keeps me learning I won’t get bored or stagnate.

3. I work in pyjamas all day!

Scrubs, actually, but they’re just as comfortable.  Some people don’t like wearing a uniform, but I wouldn’t change it.  They’re loose, modest, and save on laundry.

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4. Coffee

Mmm… coffee.

5. Autumn is coming

Now, this also means that winter is coming, which in Manitoba is a six-month affair… but let’s not think that far.  I look forward to the crisp air, the falling leaves, and pumpkin everything–except those fake pumpkin syrup things every coffee shop hawks at us.  Ew!  Pumpkin cheesecake (sugar free, low carb) is on the birthday menu tomorrow.

6. Stevia

The secret to healthy living, as far as I’m concerned.

7. Coworkers who are also friends.

I’ve had some excellent coworkers over the last three years, and I’m pleased to still call many of them friends.  Work is so much better with them!

8. WiFi at home

Wow, what a relief to not have to drive, walk or bike to find WiFi!  As a blogger, it was getting a bit ridiculous.  I was single-handedly supporting every coffee shop in town, I think.

9. The Electric Donkey

Also known as my next 5K race, and what has been motivating me for the last month.  I’m so excited!

10. My family

We’ve had some wonderful visits lately.  Our bonfire pit has added another six inches of ash to its layers, I think.  They’re the best people to hang out and drink coffee with on a Saturday evening, and I look forward to celebrating my birthday with them tomorrow.  I’ll bring the cheesecake!

So tell me?  What are you thankful for?  Feel free to comment with your own lists.

 

 

In honour of Labour Day weekend, here are two awesome videos that made my eyes well up.  Never mind that one is a commercial for scotch and the other for life insurance.  These two commercials got it right.  Watch and enjoy.

Geralyn

Unsung Hero

A young man’s kindness may not bring him fame, but it will make a difference.  Wow, this one nails it!

I Read Your Book

An elderly man learns to read for a special purpose.  Oh this one made me choke up!

 

I don’t know why we ask these things.  We can’t seem to help ourselves.

Let me set the scene.  You’re seventeen.  It’s May.  You’re graduating in less than a month.  What do people ask you?

Right!  What are your plans after school.  Aunt Agnes asks.  Grandpa asks.  That person who knows your Mom, but you don’t know them, and they meet you and your mom in the grocery store–they ask too.  You cringe and you stammer a well-rehearsed answer. Face it, it’s as much a part of grad as the mortar board.

If you say, “I’m going to University,” the asker will nod and smile like you’ve answered correctly.  You may wonder why they are so keen on putting yourself in tens of thousands of dollars of debt.  Or you’ll be like me and say, “I’m looking for a job,” and you’ll imagine that they’re thinking “Can’t get into college, eh?  Poor soul. Destined to slave in a menial job for the rest of her life.”

They aren’t thinking that.  To them it’s just a question.  But to us, it is something that pokes at our deepest insecurities, or some of the biggest decisions we’ll ever have to make.  Why do they ask it so casually?

What about this one?

Are you seeing anyone?

This is the one your aunts and uncles and older family friends will ask, perhaps with greater and greater frequency as you get older. They’re just curious, of course, but if you haven’t the faintest hope of a date, you may hear “So, no one’s taken you yet?  Don’t worry.  I’ll put out an ad.”

Take a guess

And if you are seeing someone:

So… When are you getting married?

“But, we’ve like, been on two dates.”

“So?  Chop chop.”

And then, once you are married:

So… When are you having kids?

A professor of mine had a good answer for this one.  He’d say, “Thursday–after supper.”  It was quite effective.  I mean, they didn’t really want to know.

I hate kids

Actually, maybe this would be a good approach to all the questions.

“Are you seeing anyone?”

“Oh yeah, I have five or six guys on rotation.”

“What are your plans for after school?”

“I was thinking about joining a monastery.”

What gives us the right to ask these things?  Do we ever think about how insecure the ‘questionee’ might be about the answer?  What if they’d like to go to college but they failed one class and now they can’t?  What if they’re convinced they’ll never get a boyfriend because they’re ‘fat’ or ‘ugly’?  What if they can’t have kids because of infertility?

Oh, twist the knife in the wound, will you?

I guess I’m touchy about this right now because people keep asking “so, how are your book sales?”

Do you want me to tell you how much I weigh and my yearly income as well?  They think it’s a simple question.  It’s not. It’s just my biggest dream, my greatest battle and the culmination of years of work. It is going exactly as it should at the very beginning: slowly and with great effort.  Momentum isn’t working in my favour–yet.

Yet.

This is a great, big, hairy word in the world of dreams and success.  Yet.

George R.R. Martin, author of Game of Thrones series, said that writing requires “being ready to accept rejection. You can work on a book for two years and get it published, and it’s like you may as well have thrown it down a well. It’s not all champagne and doing interviews with The New York Times.”

From what I’ve read, success in anything can be like that.  But the word is ‘yet’.  I’m not there ‘yet.’

Martin said, “I’ve been very lucky. There were times when I was afraid I would never sell another book, but I never doubted I’d write another book.”  Yes, even George R. R. Martin, who’s been more successful than most authors would dare to hope, feared he’d never sell another book.

So right now I get to suck down my ire, smile, and give my well-rehearsed answer.  I hope we can consider this when we’re tempted to blurt out these stupid questions.  There is so much backstory behind the answer, and so much ‘yet’.  Do you really want to know?

And yes. I did go nutty with my meme-maker for this one. Call it stress relief. :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The typical American reads five books a year, according to the Pew Research Center.  I suspect Canadians are not much different. When I discuss books with friends, I almost universally hear: “I should really read more.”

Reading, as important as it is to our personal growth, doesn’t feel urgent.  In the press of our insane schedules, it seems impossible to squeeze in.  I get that.  I work full time, and am self-employed as a writer.  Still, I love to read and I manage to read three to four books a month.  Here are three ways I’ve learned to get my pages in.

1. Learn to Read in Short Snatches

The reading throne.

The reading throne.

Many of the people who say “I should read more” also say they have to sit down and read for half an hour in order to make it worthwhile.  If you can get in half an hour of reading two or three days a week, more power to you.  But I get most of my reading done in five and ten minute increments.  When at work, one of my breaks is dedicated to reading.  I pick up a book at breakfast, or just before bed.  I read for the minute while I’m brushing my teeth.  I even read on the toilet.  Yup.

I find this gives me a ‘bite’ of information to digest at a time instead of a whole meal.  It may, in fact, make reading less intimidating.

But to read in short bursts, you’ll need to…

2. Have 2 or 3 Books on the Go

Instead of focusing on one book, have two or more books on different subjects in progress.  This way, if you become bored of one, you can switch to the other.  You can have a heavy read and a light read, and alternate as you have mental energy.

I like to have three books going at one time–usually a novel, a book on personal development, and one on another subject.  Right now I’m reading The Lord of the Rings (Tolkien), Self-Editing for Fiction Writers (Browne and King), Twitter for Writers (Hall) and And Justice for All (Woodward).  That’s one novel, two books on my craft (writing), and one book on political theory.  Of course, you should tailor your reading list to your own interests and profession.

3. Have Books Everywhere

The easiest way to get a chapter in here and there will be to have books available at all times.  I keep one in my locker at work and one in my bathroom, and there is often one either on my nightstand, or on the kitchen table.

Another trick: download the free Kindle app to your smartphone.  E-books are cheap, and you probably carry your phone everywhere. I read a good chunk of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5 in various checkout lines. No one need ever know you’re reading.  They’ll think you’re on Facebook. :)

By the way, if the book is boring, unrelatable, or just plain stupid, don’t finish it.  Time is too short to waste on a bad book.

A word of caution.  Reading is brainwashing.

20140824-121142-43902833.jpgAs Stephen Covey said, “Begin with the end in mind.”  Decide what kind of person you want to be, or what you want to be an expert in, and let books point you that way.  I tailor my reading toward my writing career (novels are important, therefore), with a hefty dose of personal development because I’m not the person I want to be, or need to be in order to be successful.  I strongly limit my exposure to romances, especially those with explicit sexual materials.  I want to view people as brothers, sisters and friends, not sexual objects. Again, this is based on personal conviction and interest.

Read with an open mind. I’ve learned life lessons from the most unlikely books (such as lessons on fear that I learned from Georges St. Pierre’s book).  I’m learning to read, not just see what the book is about, but to find answers for questions I have.  I mine many blog post ideas from books I read.

I hope these tips are helpful. I believe that reading is one of the most valuable tools we have to make changes in our lives, and the more we read, the faster we work on ourselves.

Happy page-turning!

 

 

photo credit: publicdomainpictures at pixabay.com

Combat veteran Liam’s steely calm has not failed, but after the traumatic death of one of his friends, his facade slips and we get a glimpse of his past.  A scene from We are the Living.

I walked out to the truck and looked at the bullet hole through the tailgate, at the piled boxes, the scattered bottles, and the blood—a dark dried stain that stabbed me harder than any cry. Just like that, fury overtook me.

I slammed the tailgate down and jumped inside. One sweep of my arm, and half the boxes flew aside. A blue vodka bottle rattled across the truck bed, to my feet. There was a bloody handprint around it. I picked it up and hurled it out the back. It shattered against the building, scattering blue shards all over the packed earth. I took a bottle of water in each hand and poured it over the truck bed. Then I stripped off my shirt and began scrubbing at the stain.

The grey fabric turned burgundy and brown. I was only smearing it. I needed more water. I needed…

“Liam?”

I swung my head around. Simone, grim-faced, stared at me from the tailgate.

“Oh.” Her face sagged a moment. “Good idea. But let me get some water.”

I shoved the t-shirt across the blood again. A moment later the truck wobbled as Simone climbed up.

“Move over. I’ll pour it.” She held up a big plastic jug of water.

Mute, I crawled out of the way. She poured the water, and Alex’s blood streamed toward the tailgate. She just kept pouring, until it had all ebbed away. Then she set it down and came to hunker down by my side.

Everything she had done barely registered. My body shook, white light flashed behind my eyes.

Oh God. Oh God, no, no. Keep it together, please!

I shut my eyes tight, and the scenes that were so familiar played before my eyes like a movie—but worse, because it was not just before my eyes but around me, in my lungs, in my nostrils. One second, a laugh is burbling from my throat, next the screech of tearing metal and the boom of the explosion. The seat I’m in separates from my body and the roof parts as I pass through it. I hit the ground. I see Breanne, sprawled beside me, her eyes catch mine, her mouth parts, the light goes from her gaze. And then everything goes dark.

And it never truly became light again.

I didn’t want to, but I whimpered.

“Liam.”

This is my fault somehow. If we’d switched spots… if I hadn’t been…

“Liam.”

My eyes cleared, and I saw Simone’s heart-shaped face and bloodshot blue eyes staring up at me. She grabbed my bare arms and my confusion and anger gave way to shame, yet I forced myself to meet her eyes.

She shook me gently, “Liam, this wasn’t your fault. If anything, was it not mine?”

“What does it matter?” I looked down, past her.

“But it is what you are thinking, is it not?” And then, before I could react, she leaned in to me and her warm hands brushed up my arms to my neck. She kissed my jaw with rough, chapped lips. “Because it’s what I’m thinking too.”

I grabbed her shoulder, if only to brace myself against her. My skin could not decide if it should recoil, or tingle with warmth. A rough laugh squeaked through my lips. “I don’t know if you can call it thinking. I haven’t been so confused since…”
She reached up and touched the scar along my hairline. “Let me guess.”

I nodded.

“It’s okay,” she said softly. “I’ll cover for you.”

I stared into her eyes, trying to formulate a response. Her head bobbed closer, and my mind made itself up. I pushed her gently away.
She looked down. “Sorry.”

“No, I’m sorry,” I said. “I just can’t… right now.”

She laughed breathlessly and backed away. She rose up into a crouch and scrunched her face into a smile of sorts. I had a feeling it was her brave face. “Well, we’d better find you a shirt. Can’t have people getting ideas.”

I laughed half-heartedly and followed her off the tailgate. The heaviness pushed away just for a moment, and then swooped back in deeper and harder than before.

We are the Living, a zombie apocalypse/love story is now available on Amazon Kindle, as well as other E-Readers through Smashwords.  The print edition (which I’ll admit I’m super pumped about) will be available within a few days!  

There was never a less epic race, but in my head it was a huge deal.

I’m still not sure a 5K is called a race, but friends have called it a marathon to which I would always say “It’s not a marathon!”

“So what do you call it?” they’d ask.

“I dunno. A race?”

The night before I watched Inception, and then tried to go to bed early. I couldn’t sleep—first because I was thinking and rethinking through the complicated storyline of Inception, and then because I was so dang amped up about the ‘race’ the next day. I got up before my six o’clock alarm and put on my gear.  In 45 minutes, I was driving Strawberry down the deserted road to the rural village where the 5K would take place.  My coffee churned in my stomach.

I got there far too early, but Grandpa was already there. If you’ve read my other posts about running, you might remember that Grandpa was the original runner in the family. He ran several full marathons, even in his sixties, and ran competitively into his seventies. He is highly active in the Manitoba Runners’ Association. So he’s pretty pleased that I’ve taken up the sport, to say the least.

He started advising me almost as soon as I stepped out of the car. “People are going to take off like a shot,” he said, “You just start out at a reasonable pace. You can pick them off later when they’re tired.”

I’d be lucky to, I thought.

Verna, who’d been my training partner by correspondence, showed up and we expressed our collective nervousness. I went through my usual stretching routine. There was still twenty minutes until the race began. I shivered from the cool morning breeze, and buckets of nervous energy.

Then, they called for us to come to the start. I shoved my headphone in my ear and began my tailored ‘Race Day’ playlist. They shouted out instructions for the course, but I couldn’t hear them. Then an air horn went off.

Oh! They’re starting? Okay. Off I go!

I set off at a lope, my heart pounding. People were passing me. I was panting in a hundred yards, bursting with adrenaline. Oh no, Oh no! went off in my head.

Easy. Settle down. Settle down. It’s okay. It’s just another run. Just another run. I settled into ‘cruising speed’ and found a rhythm.

One kilometre in, I could hear someone gasping for air behind me. I felt good—no fatigue, no burning in the lungs. Two kilometres, I passed someone who was walking. Just like Grandpa said, I picked off a couple of runners—and got picked off by a couple of runners. I was feeling really good.

Am I running too fast? Should I slow down? No, I can slow down later!

Around 3K, I passed a chick who was walking. As soon as I passed, she started running and passed me. A minute later, she was walking again. I passed her and never saw her again.

I turned the corner at the 4K sign and decided to pick up the pace just a little. Then, suddenly, I felt tired. Was there nothing left in the tank? Darn it!

But then I saw the corner before the finish, a turn into the school yard. Beyond it was the parking lot, and there was my family’s SUV. They were there to see me finish! I made the corner and sped up. There was the finish. I saw my family. I saw the clock. It was under my goal time. I broke into a dead run, ran past my family, and pumped my fist as I crossed the line.

Green Valley Run

And now it’s over.

I realize that ‘real’ runners can do so much more. There are people out there who can run 5K in half the time I did. When I realized this, I felt a bit depressed. I remind myself I’m a writer, ultimately, not a runner. That’s my call, as best I know it. But if I think that at the beginning of the summer I would have laughed at the thought of running 5K, or that six weeks ago I thought ten minutes was a long stretch to run, well… I’m floored.  Honestly, I still feel like a poser.

I started a new running program today, and I have another 5K in three weeks.  I’m not sure where this is taking me, but I’m excited to find out!

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