All We Have …

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In 1967, at the age of 20, Kathrine Switzer was just a kid who wanted to run. Ambition and had work were not enough, however, when the goal was as lofty as the Boston Marathon.

The Rules – Boston ’67

Women are not physically equipped to endure the rigors of long-distance running. The strain would cause women’s uteri to fall out; they would become musclebound and grow hair on their chests.

 

The Bandit

Kathrine, a field hockey player at Lynchburg College in Virginia, had just transferred to Syracuse University where she started working out with the men’s cross-country team. Arnie Briggs, a running devotee, took her under his wing, and soon Kathrine was running upwards of 10 miles per training session.

She brought up Boston during a running session.

If any woman could do it, Briggs said, you could, but you would have to prove it to me. If you ran the distance in practice, I’d be the first to take you to Boston. 

Hot damn, Kathrine had a goal: the biggest race in the world. She worked herself up to 25-mile runs, and persuaded Briggs she was ready. Not trying to prove anything, only knowing I could do it.

Excitement gripped the Syracuse athletes. Kathrine’s boyfriend, a hammer thrower training for the ’68 Mexico City Olympics, and other runners, entered the race. The team was ready, and it included a runner registered under the gender-neutral K.V. Switzer.

Boston, 1967

On the morning of April 19, 1967, bitter temperatures greeted the runners. As the race got underway, Kathrine remained bundled up in grey sweats, her bib number pinned on her sweatshirt.  

It didn’t take long before word got out: a broad was running the all-male Boston. Oh, the indignation caused by such nerve. Soon, the organizers caught up with Kathrine. The director, an angry man, lunged at her, grabbing at her bib number. Pulling and screaming, Get the hell out of my race and give me that number.

Kathy Switzer, one of two women in the normally an-male Boston marathon in 1967, evades Marathon Director Bill Clooney (in dark suit), who attempted to stop her from running. Ms. Switzer is among the co-anchor persons of the WGBH production, THE BOSTON MARATHON, _ at _ on Channel _.

The Friends

What happened next changed everything. Kathrine’s coach, her boyfriend, and other runners pushed the director and his men out of the way as spectators cheered.

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LET HER RUN

Katherine Switzer of Syracuse, found herself about to be thrown out of the normally all-male Boston Marathon when a husky companion, Thomas Miller of Syracuse, threw a block that tossed a race official out of the running instead, April 19, 1967 in Hopkinton, Mass.(AP PHOTO)

LET HER RUN

Spectators and runners alike could see Katherine was a serious runner. She’d worked hard. They wanted her to do well. And she did not disappoint.

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A story of unity and determination. And the beauty of it is …

She didn’t do it alone.

While Kathrine put in the hard work, decent people — men, for whom the rules had been written — stood up and said:  No more.

A fitting story, perhaps, for our time: divisive and devoid of any sense of oneness.

A throw back to days when folks had each other’s back. When runners shoved officials out of the way and said: She worked hard. She deserves it. When the crowd stood with one woman and her friends for all the rest.

Today

Today, music and poetry do a good job telling us to come together. What a wonderfully utopian prospect: the whole of mankind holding hands and singing, we are the world, as one.

Except there’s no such thing. We engage in divisive disputes all over the place — from coffee shops, to dinner tables, to social media — disputes that change no one’s mind, only make us angrier.

Sure, debate is important. Necessary. But when debate turns into never-ending dispute, the division deepens. We look to officials for help, each tribe with its own superstar statesman. In the meantime, those dividing us continue to prosper at our expense.  

Briggs and the other men did not line up behind officials. They lined up behind Kathrine.  In doing so, they earned the sympathy of a crowd who realized, as Kathrine crossed the finish line, that the rules were one-sided and ignorant. That the value of inclusion is priceless.

Because in the end, all we have is one another.

Hello November

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Welcome to November — the month of gratitude, holy souls, and vacations.

Arriving at this point feels as though life is moving way too fast. Here we are, near the end of yet another year. Ready to embark on a shopping spree, if we haven’t already. Planning time with family, ready to say thanks.  

This year, I’m extra thankful for the arrival of November. Our extremely long election season will soon be over. Come what may, we have to go on with our lives and embrace a time of tradition and joy.

Here are some of my favorite things about November (in no particular order):

Festivities

Everyone is eagerly looking forward to the festivities, don’t you think? The twinkly lights in the trees, the dazzling shop windows and bright Christmas illuminations, you can’t help but love November.

Food

Mmm, all that food. From pumpkin pie to hot chocolate topped with cream to mulled wine to creamy mash – are you drooling yet?

More Sleep

Thanks to the clocks going back, even your punishing 6 am start doesn’t feel so punishing.

More time to write/create 

More time spent indoors translates to more writing. A welcomed change for the busy writer. So, no excuses; get that project done. 

Thanksgiving

This is a big one. With festivities including parades and monumental meals, the whole land is celebrating.

Scenery

Here, in Southern California, fall foliage isn’t as spectacular as in other parts of the country. We do have some, but its beauty pales in comparison to anything in New England, for example. But, big BUT, the heat has died down, and we’re enjoying perfect temperatures. Chilly mornings and evenings, and perfection in the afternoon. And hopefully, just hopefully, tis the rain season. Fingers crossed.

How about you? What do you like most about the month of November? Or what do you like least, for that matter?

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Image: quotesideas.comgoodbye-october-hello-november-images

Blurred Reality

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How much of ourselves do we put in our stories?

Something I asked on this site not long ago.  Responses varied from not much to everything, and I appreciate your candid answers. 

Here is my take:  from a writer’s standpoint, short stories have a certain effect on me, somewhat different from novels. They take a peek inside, if you will, reach the broken, the defeated, the cautiously hopeful and happy parts of the self.

BLURRED REALITY, a short story about family and relationships, did exactly that while taking shape, before it decided to be something else; to take a familiar yet different course. Sure, the story portrays people I know, but it’s not their story — it’s not entirely about them — because, as we know, art takes a form of its own in the end, irrespective of our intentions.  It grows into something sufficiently distant from reality in order to exist.

So, allow me, dear blogging friends, to present BLURRED REALITY, a short story, published by Solstice Publishing, now available in ebook format.

Here he stood, his life a muddle of thoughts worsened by anger that had been stealing his peace since childhood. He should turn around. Go home and forget. Life had been good lately—a wife, a baby on the way, a well-paying job. Behind this door, he’d find a drunkard who had mistreated everyone and robbed them of a sense of family.

For more, visit:  BLURRED REALITY

The Mind and Plans

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So, my plan to catch up on blogging and get back to a weekly routine didn’t quite work. It came apart, it seems, like shattered glass, each broken piece echoing its demise.  Every time I sat down determined to focus, something else came up — an urgent idea for a story, someone needing something, the preoccupation with our remodeled kitchen that still needs finishing touches.

On and on it goes.

Life is a series of distractions, including a news cycle I tend to get sucked into more than necessary. So, I keep falling behind. Sometimes, irreparably so. Keep getting sidetracked. Diverted. And by the end of the day, overwhelmed.

Our weather in Los Angeles doesn’t help the mind quiet down either. There is a storm somewhere off the coast of Baja, California, that seems to have a measurable impact on mood and focus. Or maybe it’s just me. Maybe I really need to consider deep meditation. Stay indoors and meditate all day. Now that sounds appealing.

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Finally, at work

So, today, I pushed everything aside with a stubbornness that shocked the mind into compliance, and came here to chat … because darn it, it helps. You know what else helps focus the mind? Poetry of the calming sort. Nothing heavy, or thought-provoking, just soothing verse I found and thought I’d share. Verse celebrating the last few days of summer.

So, tell me, does art, in any shape or form, help you focus?

Beauty of Summer

By Nette OnClaud

A fleck of wheat along the bay / A quiver in the grass,

While daybreak shifts and ripples while / It mirrors clouds that pass.

Warm breezes drift among the trees / So calming to my ear

And only wistful eyes can seize / This dreamy atmosphere.

Then stars lend glitter to the night / To beam upon the dew,

Which reaches every tree with charm / As beauty thrills anew.

Image: http://www.pinterest/MikaBar