One Tough Mudder

I’m not sure where to start this story! (Happens all the time.)

Last year? When I watched my husband do his first Tough Mudder obstacle course – when I decided, maybe, since it was coming to Buffalo in 2013, I’d do it, too?

With the Dirty Girl Mud Run I did last year? (The post is here.)

In April, when I wrapped up my ECC course and decided I could add running to my schedule without going nuts?

Or 11.5 years ago, when my first post-partum hemorrhage started my body and my health on a slow slide toward fatigue and chronic pain, so you will know this isn’t entirely about me being a badass? That it’s about getting strong again and reclaiming my self, my power? For so long, I felt like one more setback might actually break something important.

Right! Start with action!Mudder clown

The Tough Mudder is an 11.5 mile obstacle course designed along the same lines as the one done by the British Special Forces during training. Or something like that. You can read all about it here. What it means to me is mud, fire, electric shocks, ice-cold water, and running farther than I have ever run in my life. But I paid my money. I trained. (Well, sort of. My husband said if I could run 4 miles without stopping, I’d survive. I could run 5 by the day of the event.) It dawned cool and rainy. We drove to the site which looked like this: mud.

Clean kiss
A kiss before…

What was I thinking? I’m glad the sun isn’t out so we don’t get a sunburn. Running that far is going to be brutal, but I’m going to do it. That Cage Crawl looks like a mindfuck. Don’t think about it. There is no way I can do the Funky Monkey bars without falling into the mud pool. Not enough upper body strength. Chicken out or do it? Do it. Walk the plank? I haven’t willingly jumped into water in a decade. 20 foot drop. Shit. Do it. Arctic Enema. Hell on earth. I hate being cold, can’t even think about it. Gonna do it. Mt. Everest. Nobody can lift me up for that one. What if…

So, yeah, we got our numbers pinned on, written on our heads, arms, and we went over the wall into the “whipping up” pen – the holding tank where one of the most inspirational speakers on earth got us ready to run. The National Anthem. And then we were jogging. In mud, rocks, mud puddles, and more rocks. Slow going. First obstacles were 15-foot inclined wood walls.  My husband, Ben, lifted and Mark, our other teammate, boosted, and I dropped down the other side. Done.

It was good to have two strong guys on my team, guys who would never, ever, leave me behind. This was Ben’s third Mudder, and Mark has run several marathons. I wasn’t worried about them having trouble. I was free to obsess on my own bumps, bruises, burning lungs, 400-pound legs, etc. I kept jogging. Next obstacle was that 20-foot drop into a deep, muddy swimming pool. I’d read Don’t think about it or you won’t do it. Just jump. My husband asked me if I wanted to go first…so I jumped.

It’s not a good idea to scream before you hit water.

But at least my glasses were clean now. I did it!

Honestly, the smaller obstacles and first few miles were just bumps on the road on the way to the obstacles I feared…like the Funky Monkey bars. Which were closed! I was secretly thrilled even though the guys were bummed. Who likes failure? The bars spanned the length of an average-sized yard and they were peaked. Up one side. Down the other. There was not a doubt in my mind I would fall. We ended up getting rerouted and making our way back to the monkey bars later, when I was totally Zen from endorphins and having run at least double what I had ever run before. I did fall. And I screamed again. I felt muddy water go up my nose, and I spit it out my mouth when I broke the surface. Both of the guys made it across, and it was fun to watch them be so strong. I didn’t care about falling by that time. Lots of big brawny dudes fell, too. Those bars were slippery little suckers. (CLICK THE RED BOX BELOW TO READ TIL THE PAIN!) Continue reading “One Tough Mudder”


To the plotters, the pantsers and the puzzlers – I say yes. Trust your process.

Easy, right? We are writers, of course we will write! We are published, our stories will be good. Hmm. It doesn’t always feel so simple in the middle of the creative process, does it?

Believe. In yourself. I give you permission.

It’s there. You’ve got it all going on. Your charts, graphs, collages, legal pads, spread sheets, blank computer screen – you don’t have to explain them or justify them to anyone. You just have to have faith that whatever you are doing will get the job done because you are talented and experienced.

It’s a little like being a chef. Unless I’m baking, I don’t use too many recipes anymore. When I do use a recipe, it’s a jumping off point. Or perhaps I’ll look at three recipes for the same dish and create a hybrid. I can do that because I’ve done a lot of cooking over the last twenty years, and I can sense how the food is going to turn out. I couldn’t have done it in culinary school, maybe not even five years after graduation… but I can do it now.

I’ve decided it’s the same with writing. This isn’t my first manuscript. It’s my sixth. I’m winging it with confidence, counting on all the things I’ve learned to make this my best story yet. I’m not allowing the Oh God, you suck demons to plague me when I don’t meet my word count. I’m not worried that I have a half-empty four-act sketch tacked up on the wall. I’m not freaking out because I wrote the beginning, then the end, and now I’m writing the middle. I’m allowing it to emerge in sprints and halts, music, notecards and photographs. The story is there. I can sense. I will write it.

And you’ll write yours too. If you are good at what you do, if you care, if you put in the time and effort to learn more about your craft, then you should trust your abilities. Let your confidence carry you through the convolutions of the creative process. Let everything else fall away. You know what you are doing.

You know you do.


Scary World of Publishing

Pessimistic writer-life books and blogs are stalking me lately. A friend gave me The Accidental Bestseller by Wendy Wax, a book about four friends at different stages in their romance writing careers. Go ahead, romance writers, read it. I dare you. Nothing against the book. It is well-written, engrossing and strikes many familiar chords. But it isn’t cheerful, at least not yet. Another pal posted this link on a writers loop You Don’t Want To Be A Writer. I pulled into a Barnes and Noble when my car began to overheat because I thought B&N would be a nifty place to wait for a tow truck. I started reading Teresa Medeiros’ Goodnight, Tweetheart. It’s about a writer whose career feels like it is… spiraling downward. I was really getting into it, too.

This is not good. I’m about to hop on the publishing carousel. I’m excited! I’m not expecting a brass ring, but I am hopeful. I have had a book in my hand, backpack or purse ever since I learned to read. I have always admired the people who created imaginary worlds for me to visit. I have “keeper” books with characters that are truly real to me. I’m thrilled that my daughter just read The Black Stallion and a thirty-three year old copy of Julie Edwards’ Mandy. I’m grateful to the authors who enriched my childhood, made my teen years bearable and my adulthood fun and interesting. I’m going to be one of those people to someone. I hope. Maybe. And my children need those people too.

So stop it already, okay? Have a little publishing shake-down, a little backlash, a little faith, a freak-out, a pity-party – whatever. Get used to e-readers. Buy books. And writers – write! The world needs books.