I went out for a run. There was a hill. Owie.

Today, like I do on many days, I went for a run.

It wasn’t meant to be long – I had a hungry boyfriend at home who was chomping at the bit for grilled cheese and tomato soup and I, quite frankly, was more keen on that than on the run itself. But I knew my body needed it, and so I stepped out into the blissfully cool and breezy dusk. That time of day. You know the one.

where all things are bathed in gold

a clean peace

the interim before the silent chaos of night

That’s how I picture it, anyway. Dusk, and those precious couple of hours before, is my favorite time of day. Just second to it is early morning (between 6:30 and 7:00 am, right about this time of year. Everything is bright and clean and shining. All things are new).

BUT I DIGRESS. I went for a run, intending to go for about 20 minutes. Just enough to get my blood pumping.

Except here in Western Pennsylvania, it’s never just a short run. Because there is no conceivable way that you can run any significant distance without encountering a monster hill (we are, after all, misty mountain people).

The street next to mine is one such street. It is so incredibly steep that my car complains when I drive up it. I drive a relatively new car. This hill should be a cakewalk (cakedrive?) for my car!

So I start up this hill, Arch Enemy blasting in my ears. Usually when I’m embarking on some sort of insane endeavor such as this one, I imagine that I have learned to play the electric guitar (by osmosis, of course) and am onstage with the band I’m listening to, being all metal and stuff. It helps me not think about the fact that my thigh muscles are disowning me.

I’m about halfway up when I realize that my heart is about to explode with effort, so I slow down to a walk. I guess it’s more of a climb at this angle. Should’ve brought grappling hooks. I’m disappointed, because I thought I could run it. I’m feeling kind of bad about myself already: I wore really tight shorts, and I know my thighs are ginormous, and not in a sexy Beyonce way, either. At least they feel ginormous right then and there. I catch my breath. I reach the crest.

And I know that once I reach the top, it’s a right and another right and then I’m home. I also know that most of the road leading back home is relatively flat, merging onto my own street in the form of a steep drop.

Up ahead, I see a dude walking, minding his own business. Lost in his own thoughts. I would ponder his life, his story, but my thighs are screaming, and my lungs are throwing a tantrum, so I just focus on that instead. The most brutal song War Eternal is on – it’s called “Avalanche” – perfectly timed to the end of my run!

I know right then what I must do. You know how Peter Pan sings “I’ve Gotta Crow”?

Well, I’ve gotta sprint.

I break into a decent run during the exposition of the song. Verse, chorus, verse, chorus. 

When the bridge comes, the singer growls extremely deeply. It’s as if she’s been holding in a burp for the entire day, and it turned into a gas demon that can only be exorcised to badass double bass.

At that moment, I break into a sprint. After about ten seconds, I’m DONE. I can’t do it anymore. It hurts. Everything is exploding and imploding simultaneously, which doesn’t make sense, but I don’t care, because DON’T YOU SEE I’M DYING?

But I don’t die. Instead, I somehow will myself to go a little faster for a little longer. I turn onto my street, slow down to a jog, and actually start fist-pumping the air.

Sprinting is absurdly difficult, but few things are more exhilarating. More freeing. More strengthening.

Looking back, this is how I feel I looked today while running:

566_two-leg-horse

But I know that to bystanders, including the random dude from earlier, I looked like this:

cute-penguin-running-on-slippery-ice

It’s OK. It’s not about them! It’s about me! And the faster I run, the faster I get my grilled cheese sammich and tomato soup. 🙂

Happy running, swimming, biking, professional eating… However you love to move. 🙂

Cheers!

-Lauren

Why Can’t I Finish This Drawing?!

I’ve been working on the below drawing for a few days now.

WP_20150718_002

And I can’t seem to bring myself to finish it.

I wish I knew why.

Like a lot of kids, I was really passionate about art early in life. I drew voraciously, particularly what I considered to be photograph-quality images of horses. Horses posing, horses galloping, horses jumping over other horses… there wasn’t an equine subject with which I wasn’t fascinated. As I grew up, I learned how to soften lines, master subtle shading, and even began to capture facial expression – and I became quite good. Eleventh grade was my favorite year because I had a fabulous art teacher named Miss Viola. She saw potential in me. She encouraged my creativity.

I was the art teacher’s pet, if there is such a thing.

After my eleventh grade year, my family moved from Clermont, Florida (if you’ve never heard of it, don’t worry – it’s become nothing more than a suburb of Orlando) to greater Orlando (as in, five-minutes-from-Universal Orlando). This means new schools for all of us.

Starting at a new school during your senior year is hard. My sister, Katt, was beginning her sophomore year, and my younger brother, Alex, was in middle school. We were used to being nomadic, but no matter how accustomed to moving you may be, picking up your life during formative teenage years is a challenge. But we acclimatized. We survived. 🙂

Something happened when we moved to Orlando. I enrolled in all AP courses, met one of my best friends, and graduated Magna Cum Laude.

But I stopped drawing.

I guess, if I think about it, it’s not shocking. Moving changes you. I’d spent three years at a high school with friends that I loved (and still love to this day!), enjoying teachers and classes that made me crave learning. I was an actress, too; exploring the spectrum of theatrical performance. I stopped that as well. I haven’t done it since, and I miss it terribly.

But why did I stop drawing?

My hypothesis is this: I lost sight of some important things when I turned 17 and moved to Orlando. My life became studying for AP exams, trying to master trigonometry, and haphazardly attempting to build new relationships with classmates. I forgot that I was more than just an academic; I was an artist as well. Somewhere, from someone, I’d absorbed this notion that the arts were a waste of time and energy.

What an absurd thought. Without the arts, we would live in a barren wasteland of a world. To be sure, it would still be a beautiful Earth, but I don’t think our people would be as beautiful. We would see things from a single perspective. Art tells stories, relates feelings, and sparks ideas. Art gives us perspective on the world. On each other.

So if you’re one of those folks who “used to” paint, draw, sculpt, write, act, make films – whatever it was that you loved – think about why you stopped.

Think about that moment. What pulled or pushed you away from that passion? Did you simply grow and change? Or was it some external force?

While I might not have technical skills or knowledge, I do have passion. I do have joy. It’s there. Color and line and poetry and prose and character and story live in me, and it’s time I opened the Pandora’s box that is my soul. 

Will you follow suit and open yours? 🙂

-Lauren

I didn’t wake up with the idea of starting a blog, but….

……here it is all the same!

Hi. 🙂

So, this is my first blog post! At this moment in time, I am experiencing two predominant emotions. The first emotion can be described this way:

1. Hey!!! I started a blog!!! I can post my thoughts, feelings, and opinions here, and people might actually read them!!! Woohoo!!!

The second emotion can be summarized like this:

2. Hey!!! I started a blog!!! Good thing this is a free service! Come on, Lauren, you know you’re only going to make a couple of postings and then forget about it. 

So the primary emotions are excitement and…. I guess I could be a downer and say the second emotion is pessimism. But I consider myself to be an optimist, so we’ll call it realism. I think.

Anywho. I should introduce myself. 

My name is Lauren. Below is a rough representation of what I hope I look like.

WP_20150708_008

I live in Western Pennsylvania, in the heart of the misty mountains. I am full to bursting with both romantic fantasy and eye-rolling pragmatism. Generally, you see some charming conglomeration of both. 

Some other stuff about me:

  • I talk a LOT. I’m trying to be a better listener. I love talking to strangers – on trains, in restaurants, in line at the DMV. You just never know who you’ll meet. 
  • I love science. I’m going for my master’s in biology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, which will certainly be an adventure worth chronicling. 🙂
  • The outdoors and nature are where I feel most at home. That and onstage. I like to think I’m an actress of sorts. 
  • Nothing is more important to me than relationships. A pastor I once knew and loved deeply said this on the regular: “We were made for relationships.” I believe this, and try to operate on this principle daily. My whole family is in Florida, so if I don’t reach out to them and build those relationships, I turn into a massive heap of quivering depression. Yes, it is as gross as it sounds.

I am beginning this blog on a whim, primarily because I read an amazing blog called Single Dad Laughing (go to danoah.com to read it; it’s hilarious and insightful and real, and just fantastic) and I thought I’d give it a shot!

If you’re reading this, thank you! I do appreciate your taking the time to peruse my little blog.

I’ll be back! 🙂

-Lauren