Just Run: Celebrating Boston and the Strength of Our Running Community

You may have noticed the “radio silence” on my blog (as my writing and blogging friend Melissa so aptly put it). There are many reasons it has been quite here, but one of the main ones is that I’ve been working on putting together my new running blog. It’s called Run Be Run (www.runberun.com).

I’m sharing one of my first posts here with you now, which celebrates the strength and diversity of the running community. If you like what you see and you’re interested, you can swing by my new site and check out what’s brewing. I’d love to know what you think.

I’m still planning to continue with this blog too–hopefully more consistently. I’ve missed being here and connecting with all of you!

Run Be Run

If the goal of the Boston bombers was to defeat the human spirit, clearly marathon runners were the wrong group to target.

They accomplished nothing with their cowardly explosives last year.

That’s right. Zero. Zip. Zilch.

They did not weaken us by their senseless act, but only made us stronger, more fierce, determined and connected. They didn’t scare anyone away, but instead bolstered an endless pool of support for Beantown and every other major marathon city out there, inciting legions of runners from all around the world to train harder just to qualify for Boston this year.

On April 21st, thirty-six thousand runners, the largest field ever, will run the Boston Marathon, despite the bombers. And not one person will give them a moment’s thought. They will be busy celebrating the honor of running in one of our sport’s most prestigious races, and reveling in the joy of being part of one of the strongest…

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Favorite Five Friday: Places

Thanks for making last Friday’s Favorite Five so much fun. Here’s this week’s topic:

Favorite Five Friday Places

Where are your favorite five places? It could be in far off lands, the chaise lounge in your backyard or simply somewhere in your imagination. Drop me a comment. I’d love to know what places inspire you most! Oh yeah, and please don’t strain your brain (it’s Friday, after all). Take five minutes or less and see what comes to mind first.

The Answer…

To Yesterday’s “Where in the World Are You?” Photo Contest is:

MICRONESIA

This was a tough one! Thanks to all of you who participated in the contest. I loved all your guesses, and I especially loved having so many first-time commenters (is that a word?) leave their two cents.

Unlike Bali, Tahiti or Thailand, Micronesia is not a common travel destination, so I can see why nobody got the correct answer.

The official name for Micronesia is The Federated States of Micronesia. It consists of four island states: Yap, Chuuk (Truk), Pohnpei (Ponape), and Kosrae–all in the Caroline Islands (I know, islands within islands are a bit confusing). Take a peek at the map below to get your bearings, and just know that Micronesia is located about 3,200 miles west-southwest of Hawaii, above the equator in the Pacific Ocean.

Map of Micronesia

Jeffrey was photographing a travel story here many years ago for Continental Airlines and captured the fisherman in yesterday’s photograph as he cast his net at sunrise on the island of Kosrae.

When I reviewed Eric Weiner’s book, The Geography of Bliss last November, I asked Jeffrey to rank some the happiest places he’s worked in the world, He described Micronesia as being the 4th Happiest Place. If you’d like to know why and see a few more photographs, you can click on my previous post: The Geography of Bliss (once you click on it, scroll half way down to get to Micronesia).

 Fisherman in Kosrae, Micronsia
Photo of Truk Micronesia

The most significant change to Micronesia since Jeffrey worked there in the late 80s is the impact global warming has had on the island chain. Micronesia, as well as many others in the South Pacific, are alarmed by the rise in ocean levels, which threaten low-lying islands with flooding and, eventually, submergence.

Now that has a way of putting our environmental issues into perspective!

Hope for Burma: Aung San Suu Kyi on the Road to Democracy

For the first time in more than two decades, Burmese people have something to celebrate, and because of that, so do we.

According to an article in Sunday’s edition of The New York Times, Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s democracy leader and Nobel Peace laureate, has unofficially won a seat in Burma’s Parliament (click on the link above to read the entire article).

The utter joy and disbelief expressed by the people in this photograph below says everything.

Screen capture NYT Aung San Suu Kyi

Even though she will be joining a government that is still overwhelmingly controlled by the military-backed ruling party, it is a powerful symbolic step in the right direction.

Time Magazine with photo of Aung San Suu Kyi

Many of you may remember that Jeffrey photographed Aung San Suu Kyi in 1989 when she was first placed under house arrest during a brutal military crackdown.

If you missed my posts describing those heart-racing moments, you can click on the two links below to read about it and see what life is life in Burma (now called Myanmar).

Beyond Rangoon Part I

Beyond Rangoon Part II

During the past twenty-three years Aung San Suu Kyi has spent the majority of her life under house arrest, and when she pulled off a stunning political victory in 1990 (even though she was was under detention and forbidden to campaign), the elections were promptly overturned by Burmese generals.

After so much time and so much suffering, it’s exciting to think that things may finally be moving in a positive direction for the Burmese people and Aung San Suu Kyi, who has sacrificed everything for her country. Let’s hope this first step is one of many to come, which will lead Burma in a brave new direction.

“The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.”–Thucydides

Favorite Five Friday: Verbs

Each Friday I’m going to list a topic, My Favorite Five ____, and each Friday I hope you’ll join in the conversation by sharing your Favorite Five.

Here goes…

Favorite Friday Verbs

What are your favorite five verbs (at least this week)? If you’re like me, they probably change often. Don’t strain your brain too much. Just see what comes to mind in five minutes or less and drop them in the comment box. Your participation will be like a virtual high five for Favorite Five Friday, and it will inspire me to start thinking about next week’s topic.

Thursday’s Picture of the Week: China

Photo of a man doing tai chi in Rutan Park in Beijing, China

Behind the Scenes: The year is 1995 and Jeffrey is photographing on assignment for The New York Times Travel Section in Beijing, China. He’s there to do a story about Ritan (Temple of the Sun) Park.

This expansive park is one of the oldest sites in Beijing and is like an oasis in the midst of a teeming metropolis. Commissioned by Ming Dynasty emperor JiaJing in 1530, it is filled not only with massive trees, gardens, pavilions, and small lakes, but many places for people to gather and recreate. Tai chi and ballroom dancing are common forms of exercise found here.

When Jeffrey comes upon this elderly gentleman wearing a traditional Mao jacket, fully immersed in the solitude of his early morning ritual, he knows he has captured the essence of Ritan Park and also created a wonderful symbol of ancient China–still alive and well in modern day Beijing.

At its core, tai chi is a martial art (also referred to as shadow boxing), but it is now commonly practiced to strengthen and promote mind/body health. Jeffrey loved how the man was entranced in the shadow of his own dance, and how the traditional Chinese red wall and green tiles melded with the shadow and gesture, creating pure harmony.

This image was created with a Nikon F4, a Nikkor 85mm lens and Fuji Velvia film.

Postscript: A week after it was published as the cover of The New York Times Travel Section, Broadway’s legendary song and dance man, Tommy Tune, wrote a letter to the editor extolling the artistic merits of Jeffrey’s photograph and how he captured the magic of the moment.

“It was quite an honor coming from Tommy Tune, whom I admire for his artistry and accomplishments in the field of dance,” said Jeffrey. “The fact that he would take the time to write a letter to the editor…there really is no higher compliment.”

Name That Photographer

Name That Photographer GraphicSee if you can NAME THAT PHOTOGRAPHER from the following five clues:

1) He was an American photographer born in 1923.

2) He once said, “If a day goes by without my doing something related to photography, it’s as though I’ve neglected something essential to my existence, as though I had forgotten to wake up. I know that the accident of my being a photographer has made my life possible.”

3) His portraits are easily distinguished by their minimalist style, where the person is looking squarely in the camera, posed in front of a sheer white background. He is also distinguished by his large prints, sometimes measuring over three feet in height.

4) His obituary published in The New York Times said that “his fashion and portrait photographs helped define America’s image of style, beauty and culture for the last half-century.”

5) His son was famous for writing a book about an exotic and distant land.

Find out if you know the correct answer by clicking here: ANSWER. After you take a peek I’d love to know what you think of this legend’s work. Which are your favorite photographs? If you’d like to see more, click here: MORE PHOTOGRAPHS.

The Art of Gratitude in the Blogging Community

If there were one word to best describe the blogging community, it would have to be “SUPPORTIVE.” In the short time I’ve been blogging, I’ve been bowled over time and time again by the extreme kindness, generosity, and unwavering support of fellow bloggers.

And now I’ve been knocked over once again–this time with awards from several writers whom I enjoy and respect immensely. Each brings brightness and creativity to the web, and makes blogging not only uplifting, but infinitely fascinating.

Kreativ Blogger awardDeborah Batterman at The Things She Thinks About has nominated me for the Kreativ Blogger Award. Deborah is not only a talented blogger, but the author of a wonderful collection of short stories, entitled, Shoes, Hair, Nails. She is perhaps the most generous author/blogger/social media whiz I’ve met–continually creating exceptional content for her own site and also sharing relevant, entertaining and just plain cool stuff with us via Facebook, Twitter and SheWrites. I have no idea where she finds the time to do all this, but it’s definitely worth seeing what Deborah is up to. Click on the links above or follow her on Twitter: @DEBatterman.

Candle lighter awardMelissa at Play 101 has nominated me for the Candle Lighter Award.

“The Candle Lighter Award is an award for a post or blog that is positive and brings light into the world.

The Candle Lighter Award belongs to those who believe, who always survive the day and who never stop dreaming, who do not quit but keep trying.”

It is a tremendous honor to receive this from Melissa because she exemplifies this award. Melissa is an extraordinary writer (former journalist, news anchor, all around smarty pants—in the best sense). She writes about life and children, and always leaves you wanting more. Not only is her blog filled with thoughtful content, but the comments she leaves on other blogs makes you yearn to write (and think) as eloquently as she does.

Hug Award GraphicArindam at Being Arindam has nominated me for the HUG Award (Hope Unites Globally). Arindam is a blogger who lives in India and shares his universal views on love and life through his words and pictures. His posts are always heart-felt, adding a glimmer of insight and hope about the broader world. I’m honored to receive this award from him.

The HUG Award© is for people with an expectant desire for the world, for which they: Hope for Love; Hope for Freedom; Hope for Peace; Hope for Equality; Hope for Unity; Hope for Joy and Happiness; Hope for Compassion and Mercy; Hope for Faith; Hope for Wholeness and Wellness; Hope for Prosperity; Hope for Ecological Preservation; Hope for Oneness.

“People do not have to give up or compromise their own religious, spiritual, or political beliefs to qualify for the Hope Unites Globally HUG Award©. They qualify for the HUG Award© when, without bias or prejudice, they use their resources and gifts to make the world a better place for everyone.” (see this link for all the information regarding this award: HUG).

The Kreativ Blogger Award asks that I share seven things about myself with you that you don’t already know. This link tells about as much as anybody could ever possibly want to know about me: A Bazillion Things That Make Me Happy and Grateful (click on it if you’re interested).

The best part of receiving these awards is nominating others and paying it forward–sending a virtual hug and a high-five to fellow bloggers. Please check out their blogs and see why I’m thrilled to be nominating each of them.

I AM NOMINATING THE FOLLOWING PEOPLE FOR CANDLE LIGHTER AWARD:

Tracey Baptiste at Knitting with Pencils

Kay Bess at Sometimes Life…doesn’t turn out like you planned.

Brenda Moquez at Passionate Pursuits

Jessica Winters Mireles at Allegro non Tanto

I AM NOMINATING THE FOLLOWING PEOPLE FOR THE KREATIV BLOGGER AWARD:

Amber Dusick at Crappy Pictures

Harper Faulkner at All Write

Cindy Brown at Everyday Underwear

I AM NOMINATING THE FOLLOWING PEOPLE FOR THE HUG AWARD:

Sifting the Grain

Nancy MacMillan at Blog of a Vet’s Wife

Tina Barbour at Bringing Along OCD