In The Long Run: Four Miles, An Obsession, and Art

Don’t you love it when an artist gives you a pep talk?  Those are the pep talks that are full of words that sound beautiful, even if you are not sure what they mean when applied to you.  Like the other day when my artist friend Karen said to me, “Outlaw Mama, you have to get the focus on yourself and your own expansiveness.”  I am pretty sure it was a tough love moment, but the word “expansiveness” hung in the air like a colorful hot air balloon ready to take me to a new, happy place.

Karen gave me this advice after she generously let me vent for 12 minutes over some Cajun food (at Wishbone, for you locals) about how jealous I feel about other people’s successes.  People like my friends.  Or everyone who has ever been Freshly Pressed (a blogging coup). Or that minx Meryl Streep, who is hogging all the Oscars. (No, I don’t act, but why does she get all the big awards?)  This jealousy and competitiveness burns me up inside. It’s more addicting than my iPhone.  Hell, it’s more addictive than if my iPhone was covered in dark chocolate and being palmed sensuously by a J. Crew-clad Ryan Gosling.

So, yesterday I went on my run, and I decided I would turn this obsession (with other people) into art.  Here was the assignment I gave myself: During my 4.5 mile run, I had to stop and take a picture of whatever was in front of me the minute I found myself ruminating about the great fortunes that have befallen other people. (Awesome huh? Maybe this month’s check for therapy should be signed over to Dr. Outlaw Mama.)

You can’t imagine how many pictures I had to take. I am surprised my iPhone didn’t burst into flames. Around mile 2 (and picture 47), I noticed that I was starting to have fun.  I started to see what was around me. By the time I hit mile 3, I was almost looking forward to catching myself thinking about someone else’s book deal; or 50,000 followers; or long, skinny legs so I could take a picture of what I saw with my own eyes.

Under the El

Under the El: The sound of the train grinding overhead is better than listening to the sound of my thoughts

Here is a miniscule selection of what I like to call my “I Hate Everyone Who Has Something I Want” “From Obsession to Art” series:

Wigging Out

Wigging Out

When I stopped in front of this wig store, I spent some quality time thinking about how wonderful it is that there are lay away plans for wigs.  It was a “life is beautiful” moment.

Here’s my favorite bridge, where I am always afraid I will be struck by lightning when it’s storming.

Chain Link Fence Over Highway

Chain Link Fence Over Highway

Sweet Emmit’s, which smells like warmed beer expelled from the gut of a fraternity boy.  How I love thee more than my thoughts!

Watering Hole

Watering Hole

I love a good bridge.


Bridge Over Kinzie Street

And finally, I had almost arrived at my destination downtown, where I was able to appreciate the hum of the lunchtime rush and its delicious aliveness.

People Making Their Way To Corner Bakery For Lunch

People Making Their Way To Corner Bakery For Lunch

Quite a variety, right? And that’s all I am asking of my brain.  A little variety, so it’s not just a constant loop of thoughts about other people and their successes.

That’s not asking too much, is it?


16 thoughts on “In The Long Run: Four Miles, An Obsession, and Art

    • I am going to need to run with a gigantic camera for all my obsessions!! Maybe I will get a better workout for my arms. I WILL look like MIchelle Obama after all!

  1. Christie, if only you realized that there are people jealous of you. Like me. You’re like the ultimate blogger extraordinaire. Every time I sit down to write a post, Outlaw Mama is taunting me in my mind. “Oh Stephanie, your blog will never have the personality or fire that Outlaw Mama has.” It’s kinda like when I’m writing a novel, I can’t allow myself to read other novels similar to mine or else I’ll emulate their style too much or compare my writing to theirs and then just get down on myself for being such a smuck. Same goes here. When I read your posts, they are always so damn good that they make me feel like a sub-par blogger. A fake. A phony. A wannabe.

    • I thought I was the only one who felt like this? Do you think it’s human nature? I try to let myself be inspired…. Like when I read Little 15. But some times it crosses into a malaise. Thanks for letting me know your experience. What if we all can be great and fresh and expansive?

  2. So many of us feel anxious that are stuff isn’t good enough and compare it to others. As if comparing will help us define or capture the essential essence of whatever we produce, but we need not compare, rank, order or otherwise look outside of ourselves for a gauge of our own worth. Not if we are already sure that we are good enough and that our own work reflects our authentic and unique identities. At a certain point in our lives we stop searching outside of the confines and constructs of our own minds for proof of our intrinsic value. And it is only then that we will feel at peace.

      • Good that you are working your way back–but not good that peace eluded you this week! The more I write and feel confident that I am creating something, the less I worry about all of the stuff you wrote. Sometimes I do get frustrated when other people gather in an excessive number of accolades but it doesn’t upset me so much anymore (unless their writing sucks or they are total witches in real life, LOL). Oh God, you’re getting my “it’s after midnight punchy” Elf-comment-maker. LOL. Am I still making sense?!

        Oh, and I agree with Stephanie (who is a great writer) that you are awesome. And I don’t read other novels when I am writing mine. Okay, I will stop yammering. Now.

  3. I have the same problem. Book deals, bright shiny pretty blogs (like yours) with great content (like yours), many followers, funny, relevant, skinny, great arms, great clothes…yep, uber jealous here, too. Maybe I’ll take to working out every time I have those thoughts. I’ll be a size 0 before I know what hits me:) Your blog is great. You should be Freshly Pressed. And get a book deal.

  4. I love all your posts and this one may be my favorite. I think you and your writing are extraordinary. And just this moment I can say that with a happy, generous heart. My grinchy heart must be taking the night off …

  5. As a new blogger, I definately agree that you should realize you are the object of other people’s jealousy (being the sweet Texas gal I am, I will only admit to extreme appreciation of your talent, both writing and jogging).

    And as inept as I feel most times, I am sure somewhere there is a jealous, hairspray deprived person who wishes they had my big hair.

    I live on the fringe of a gorgeous neighborhood. I love to walk in the neighborhood and look at the gorgeous houses and wonder about the lives of the glamorous people who must live in them. And then I noticed I was making myself unhappy. I mean, who wants to come back from a 5 mile walk feeling worse about themselves than before they went? I finally told myself I had to be content with who I was or I needed to find a new route. And because I didn’t want to give it up, I just decided to be glad they pay the huge housepayments and lawnscaping so I can enjoy my walk. I get it free, they have to pay.

    In the words of the immortal Sheryl Crow: “It’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got.”

    • Oh yes, I do love a good Texas gal! I love the story of your walk. My fantasy was that you live in a tony section of Dallas– Highland Park. Anyway, I love how you decided to either get a new route or get over it. And, excuse me, a five mile walk? Do you do that in the Texas heat? Now I am jealous of your stamina!

      • I’m not certain if I should shatter that fantasy or not, but I live in Amarillo. We have zero percent humidity and it was 63 for the high yesterday. I am unable to live in Dallas due to the fragility of my giant hair that gets reduced to a frizzball if I even think about traveling that way.

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