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I want YOU! To write a guest post, that is.

My blog has felt a little empty in the months since its FTIAT guest blog series concluded. I’ve missed introducing the thoughtful, moving words of my writer friends, and seeing the impact of those words on readers.

I’ve toyed with starting another series for a couple of months. Most of the ideas that have meandered through my brain weren’t worth entertaining for more than a couple of seconds, but one theme finally took hold.

Has someone you love and admire ever expressed disbelief in your ability to accomplish one of your goals, from finishing college to running an ultra-marathon to thriving in a non-traditional career path? Did you go out and achieve that goal anyway?

graduation 3

If you’ve had such an experience, as I believe most of us have, I’d love to read and possibly share it. Below are the criteria for my new Oh, Yes I Did! guest post series:

        • There is no set word limit, but 400-800 words is a good range for which to aim
        • Write what feels right. There’s no right tone or voice for submissions. I love being able to feel a reader’s heart by the unique way she expresses herself, which has little to do with whether she puts her words together with consistently awesome grammar or textbook perfect phrasing
        • The post should be positive in tone overall, emphasizing your accomplishment instead of an “in your face!” dance. That’s not to say there’s no room for a little basking in the glow of proving someone wrong, but I’m more enduringly touched by witnessing the joy when someone proves themselves right (versus proving someone else wrong)
        • Pictures are welcome, but they must be your own or used with their takers’ clear and unambiguous permission
        • Posts must be received by 23:59:59 Pacific Time on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 . I can’t guarantee I will publish every post I receive, but I will commit to writing each author within one week of post’s receipt to communicate status provided I’m not inundated
        • If you have a blog and are not posting anonymously, your blog must point readers to the guest post on or around the day it’s posted. If you don’t have a blog or wish to post anonymously, this requirement obviously doesn’t apply!
        • Depending upon the response to this post, I might have to update these criteria. Please subscribe to comments on this post for any updates

Questions and posts alike are welcome at this email address. I don’t have much time on the weekdays, but I’ll do my best to respond to questions on the weekends.

I thank you for considering part of this new series, and for being here to read this invitation at all!

9/11/13 ETA: Adjusted the post due-by date to add a week 

“Almost there, 6287!”

“Only three miles left! How’s that feel?”

“Like hell,” I spat through gritted teeth.

Rightfully not taking my grumbled response personally, the lady laughed and offered up some orange slices. I offered the heartiest thanks I could muster as I nabbed these while cruising crawling up a molehill that felt like Everest.

I hadn’t planned to run that first marathon. In fact, I’d only started running because I figured I could complete an entire run in the amount of time it would take me just to travel between gym and home. Pacing wasn’t an important part of the running I’d been doing before I started the 2004 L.A. Marathon, which I did for no greater reason than that my roommate said a couple weeks beforehand, “You’re running so much, you should run the marathon!”

I started the marathon the way I started most my runs: with as much speed as I could muster. I raced through the first ten miles at a 6- and 7-minute per mile clip. I was on top of the world!

Around mile 17, I learned how running a marathon is not like going for a two-hour run around your neighborhood. You’re in it for the long haul, not just for as long as you feel like running.

Around mile 24, I was barely moving. I was so lost in the effort of making it one more step (and praying I’d pass out so I could stop running), I didn’t have enough energy to believe in myself.

Weak middle? That’s cool. It’s the finishing you take with you.

Fortunately, others not only believed in me but vocally urged me onward. Someone would yell, “Almost there, 6287!” and I’d think, “You know, they’re right! I am almost there!” I’d push myself back up toward speeds almost qualifiable as running speeds, and keep them going for a full minute or two before I flagged again.

When downtown Los Angeles came into sight, my fists flew up in an unplanned demonstration of primal glee. Right after that, I thought, with a lot more swearing, “I don’t like the telescoping lens effect in horror movies and I like it less here. @#$)@#*%!”

I kept running.

By the time I rounded the last corner, a block seemed like an eternity. Keeping up a crawl was taking everything I had.

“6287,” someone shouted. “You’re looking tired!”

No sh!t, Sherlock, I thought graciously.

“You’re looking tired, but you’ve got this! Sprint it! I know you’ve got it in you!”

I couldn’t see the person who yelled this encouragement, but I believed him. I looked at the finish line looming and thought, “Hell, yeah, I can do this!”

I steeled myself and I ran. I didn’t crawl, I didn’t doubt, I didn’t do anything but run.

I crossed that finish line and I wept like a little girl who’s told she’s never going to have ice cream again. Ever. But my tears had a different source: I’d done it. And I’d done it, in part, due to orange slices, high fives, and people shouting me on when I didn’t have enough room in my heart to believe in myself.

It’s been ten months since I ran my half marathon in Portland. In those months, until this morning, I’ve run only twice. The first run was twelve minutes; the second, sixteen.

This morning I told myself I’d run fifteen minutes. Instead, I ran twenty. I doubtfully ran even one-tenth the distance I covered in either marathon I’ve run, but it was a challenge nevertheless. It’s always a challenge coming back to something after a long break. Am I still good for this?

I thought of all those folks who cheered me on when I so needed it. I thought, too, of all the kind words you have shared when I needed them here, and the way you did the same in response to Darla’s raw, personal, breathtaking reflections on gratitude.

Your words mean something. In the end, it’s the runner herself who will or will not find what it takes to finish that marathon, or to push the “Publish” button no matter her doubts. But I believe more and more each day races are finished with the support of the people whose faith in us helped us overcome our own doubts before and during, and whose Gatorade and movie marathons afterward remind us that we’ll make it through the challenges to come, too.

Thank you for that, dear readers.

Thank you, “Sherlock.”

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