Wednesday, February 3, 2010



I spent some time at my parent’s house this weekend. This is their backyard.

Nostalgia hit me hard. Took me back to a time before I was mommy and wife. A time when life was all about me.

I was 18. University of Arizona Freshman. I studied every night until midnight to maintain my 4.0 GPA.

At midnight I came alive. Insomnia has never been far from home.

I put on my running shoes and went outside. The air was crisp and smelled of desert creosote and dust. Clean.

I whistled for my dog. Athena, named for the Greek goddess of war, was a beautiful yellow lab. She always smiled at me. I loved her smile.

“Hey, girl! You ready?”

Her response was a furiously wagging tail and happy bark. And again with the smiling.

“Let’s go!”

And we ran. We ran by the light of the moon and stars. There was nothing but us. Complete liberation from the leashes of the day. Run, baby, run.

Often I tripped on stones I could not see in the dark. I tripped and fell and destroyed my knees. I fell but I always got up. I STILL get up when I fall.

Athena licked my face as if to say, “You’re good! Let’s keep going!” So we did.

I ran with blood dripping down my legs and soaking my socks. My mother looked at me disapprovingly after these episodes and said, “AGAIN?!”

Secretly I know she welled with pride. Tough as nails. I keep reminder scars on my knees as a constant tribute to those runs.

On these desert runs Athena ran elated circles around me and laughed. She then disappeared into the darkness to chase a rabbit.

“Get it girl!”

She always came back to check on me. She checked on me every five minutes and then again disappeared into the night.

Sometimes she barked wildly and explained to me danger was afoot. The rattle of a Diamondback was sharp. A warning. I understood it. It said, “If you respect me I will respect you.” Mad respect, my friend, as I took my run in a different direction.

Athena got in fights with coyotes to protect me on my runs. She scared away packs of smelly, snorting javalina with ferocious snarls. Then she came to me for validation.

“Good girl! You get ’em!”

Water splashed up to my thighs as we ran through washes full of rain water. Athena loved the water. This was her favorite part of our run.

My legs were all muscle and exposed to the elements. Athena’s lean body rippled with every movement. She was a magnificent animal. We connected on a level far above words. Love is touching souls.

Athena, my canine goddess of war, fought for me as only dogs know how. Her complete loyalty and love were mine.

Athena was buried here. After years of chasing wild animals and sustaining rattle snakes bites to the face my friend was called home. The desert required her presence to nourish it’s soil. I’m sure she was happy to oblige. The desert had given her a life dogs and men only dream of fitfully.

I ran today. I ran 6 miles. I could swear I felt her running circles around me. I heard her laughing bark in the desert pushing me forward. “Let’s Go!”

I miss her today.


I ran today because my life depends on it.

The sky was dark and cloudy. I ran as if the devil were chasing me. I’m pretty sure he was. The devil loves to chase me. (Or so I’m told.)

I ran from the devil and I ran from doubt and fear. I ran from money and The Man and society and all of it’s demands. I ran from fashion and restrictive shoes. I ran from makeup and hair products. I ran from book clubs and flower arrangements. I ran from long church meetings. I ran from cleaning products and realtors. I ran from school lunches and report cards. And when they thought they were gaining on me I ran faster.

The pace I took made my lungs burn. The voices in my head gently pushed me onward, “Burn, baby, Burn. Don‘t stop. Don‘t ever stop. Run to a different country.  Follow the yellow brick road.  Run to the Emerald City.  We're off to see the wizard.  Oh I wish I had a brain.”.  (The voices in my head get silly sometimes when I'm trying to be poetic...)

My body purged itself of all things negative in the form of sweat. Sweat dripped down my neck and face. The salt stung my eyes. My white tank was soaked with tears of the body. Everything toxic within me escaped my pores in torrents.

My legs were long and reaching. My breath even. Arms and shoulders relaxed. Every stride deliberate and calculated. Control. I was in complete control. There are so many things without my control, but I can control THIS.  My heart beat steady and strong in my chest.

I ran past saguaros with their spiney arms reaching out to me. They represent strength. They whispered to me, “You too are strong.” They represent agelessness and wisdom. They whispered, “You too are ageless.” (I wanted them to say I was wise but who are we kidding?)

I ran and ran and ran. I felt a healing power that only comes of the connection between body, mind and soul. A hawk flew over my head and swooped close to the ground. A rabbit scampered before me and off again. I am part of the whole when I run. I am part of an enormous loving Universe. I, like the animals and plants I saw to day, will fulfill the measure of my creation. Only God knows the greatness and strength of my soul.

Catch me if you can....   RUN.