So. March happened. Whew.
As you can guess, although I appeared to have lost the password to my blog, I was actually running like a crazy hamster in a wheel in "real" life. And when I say running, I mean jogging. But I'll get to that.
Although work occupied most of my time, I did find a few spare hours to do something creative a couple of weeks ago.
When Spoonflower announced their Project Selvage competition with Michael Miller Fabrics, my first thought was, "Ooh, shiny!" A competition to design fabric for baby boys! Yay! Fabric! Boys! After I got past my native magpie reaction, I raced from idea to idea, imagining whole collections, doodling, making notes. And then I remembered that I hate to compete.* So I put all that stuff aside. Because I know how much amazing talent there is out there—I didn't stand a chance.
When I was a kid, I was, shall we say, socially challenged. I had a hard time using my powers for good. It's not that I was a hard-hearted or mean kid. I was just nervous and weird and a little inside my own head. I still am. It's just that now, I don't worry that this means I should expect exile to a desert island at any moment. But when I was 9? 12? 15? Not so much.
One of the chief ways I isolated myself from other kids was by staying inside. By the time I was twelve, I had convinced myself that I was not good at outside-type things. You know. Things requiring coordination in excess of well-timed page turning. But the truth was, I was just fine at these kinds of things. Sure my elbows flew out at weird angles when I ran. And I had a wicked air ball. And, ok, I was not exactly the picture of grace on a pair of skates. Of course, if I had stepped outside of my head for even a second, I would have realized that hardly any of the kids I knew were destined for Olympic medals.
But perspective was not my forte. So I withdrew further and further into my persona as the athletically-challenged brainy girl.
Then, in 9th grade, the jig was up. I met my match. The Presidential Fitness Challenge. Every 9th grader was required to take P.E., and the fitness challenge was he centerpiece of the spring semester's curriculum. Things started off auspiciously. Sit ups. I can do sit ups. Sit and reach. Seriously? If flexibility were a sport, I could totally letter in that. Pull ups. What? No problem. All the girls were terrible at pull ups. One mile run... Cue the sound of the needle skipping across the full radius of the record.
At the age of 14 I had never sat behind the wheel of a car. I had no concept of how long a mile was. All I knew was that it was the single longest unit of measure I'd ever encountered. It may as well have been the distance to the moon for all I knew. As the day for the mile approached, my dread kept pace with the mounting spring South Carolina humidity.
The assignment was simple. 4 times around the track. Anything under 12 minutes would be passing. Our PE teacher made it clear that anything less was not just failing. It would be the stuff of Greek tragedies. She may as well have shod me in lead boots on Mars.
The gun went off. I kid you not. She had a track gun. Overkill? You be the judge. Either way—it went off, I took off. And I was actually fast. For approximately 9 seconds. At which point I began to feel a searing pain goring me from between the ribs shielding my heart. Which seemed poised to explode. The next few minutes is a blur, but I think I made it around the track at least once before I lay down in the middle of the track just beyond my PE teacher. I may have been out of breath and losing my mind, but I still had my flair for the dramatic, dammit.
Eventually, I got up. I walked. I whined. I shuffled. I walked some more. And as the stopwatch clicked to 12:01, I crossed the finish line. Somehow Greek tragedy works better when your name is Antigone or Electra.
So, yeah. I failed the mile. It was 10 years before I ever contemplated running another step.
On the last day to enter the Project Selvage country, I got my head out of my you-know-what, and I put together a design that had been in my head for weeks waiting to be born: old-fashioned baby toys who run away to join the circus.
To my great delight, the design made it to the semi-final round of the competition. 75 designs are competing by popular vote to be one of the 10 finalists. Voting ends tomorrow, April 6 at 12 PM EST. If you'd like to vote for my design (or any of the other wonderful designs—you can vote for as many as you like), the contest voting is here. It'd be swell to make it to the top 10—finalists are expected to turn their first design into the anchor for a collection of 6 patterns. I'd love to do that. But it's been fun, no matter what.
It's been more than 20 years since I failed the mile. For years I let that moment define me. I'm just not athletic—no big deal. I'm uncoordinated. So what? I exert myself mentally, so I don't need to do physical exercise. Makes sense, right?
At the end of January I got on the scale and saw that I weighed the same thing I did two weeks after my son was born 5 years ago. Er. Whoops.
So I started running. 30 seconds at a time.
Last Saturday, I joined nearly 40,000 other people in running across the bridge that is the central landmark of my town. And which is very, very long. With the help of a lovely pair of running buddies, I put one foot in front of the other and jogged every step of 6.2 miles.
Six. Point. Two.
My time will not give rise to legendary stories of race-day glory. But that wasn't the point.
When I finished, I called my husband, who related my son's central concern: Did you win, mommy?
It all depends on how you define winning.
*This is just a genteel way of saying, "I hate to lose." Go with it.