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Bird by Bird

1019081251a1_2 The great danger in having friends who both train with you and read your blog is that they can hold what you write against you.

And so it hapened on Sunday morning.

I had my first official nutty of the 2008-09 season in the parking lot of Widewaters Marina in Lockport. Earlier in the day the enormity of what I had signed up for started to hit me. I am training for my first marathon. I am training for my first Half Ironman race. And I'm doing it all by myself. Granted, my position is favorable for many reasons, including the fact that I don't have to balance a husband and children in my mix. Granted, I know that women balance career, family, friends and serious athletic training successfully every day.

But Sunday morning when I saw the pile of dirty dishes in the sink and the basket of unfolded laundry and the stack of game notes and press releases in my home office to plow through, well, I started to feel slightly overwhelmed about the prospect of doing all these things by myself.

And it's only October.

This may prove to be a very long year.

Luckily, I was with a good friend at the Niagara Fronter Bicycle Club ride who reminded me that one of my goals for the year was to reduce my negative self talk. He also gently reminded me that another one of my goals was to keep it simple and remember that this is not an all-or-nothing proposition. That one misstep along the way will not wreck my preparation or hinder me from achieving any, or all, of my goals.

He was right.

Don't you hate it when your friends are right about those kinds of things?

So I settled in to enjoy the nice day and the ride to Becker Farms where we had the best donuts perhaps ever deep fried (see my picture of enjoyment?).

It reminded me of a book I received as a present a few years ago, Bird by Bird  by Anne Lamott. The book is primarily about writing -- a type of instruction manual for writers -- but is so witty and has so many applications to every day life it should be mandated on a high school or college summer reading list.

The title Bird by Bird comes from her chapter on "Short Assignments."

"Thirty years ago my older brother, who was 10 years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three months to write, which was due that next day," Lamott writes. "We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said, 'Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'"

Lamott continues to elaborate: "You don't have to see where you are going, you don't have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice about writing, or life, I have ever heard."

I concer.

I don't have to run a marathon, complete 70.3 at Muskoka or even scrub my entire house all right now.

I just have to take it bird by bird, workout by workout, moment by moment, until one day it all comes together without me even really knowing it.

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