Hi. I’m Maery, a writer in the Twin Cities. Although I no longer have the body for extreme adventures, I love to bicycle, go horse trail riding and take hikes with my dogs.  

One thing you should know before you join me on my quest -- I don’t have a map. And I’ve been known to wander off course and stop to listen to birds and look for agates. I also have a few issues with fear and anxiety. In other words, I’m not a good role model or adventure guide. But in this time of uncertainty and polarization, I'm not sure anyone has a reliable map. We'll just figure it out as we go.


I recently completed the book “A Beautiful Work in Progress” by Mirna Valerio, an ultra marathon runner. Now, I don’t have a dream to run an ultra marathon. What attracted me to Mirna and her book was how she spoke about bodies – doing what you can with the body that you have. There’s so much societal pressure to have a certain body-type or look. Worse than that, people are made to feel as if they don’t belong in places or shouldn’t do things where they don’t meet that standard.

As I listened to Mirna on interviews and read her book I was mentally translating what she said about body weight into the language of being in an aging body that is festooned with wrinkles, spider veins and fear. The fear comes from all the “cautioning” women my age hear. Rather than encouraging us to take up activities to build strength and bone, I’ve been told to take some pills and “play it safe.”

I’m not preaching to completely throw out precaution. Most people my age who are still active acknowledge that their exercise routines have changed. They may do more repetitions with lighter weights. They may have modified their yoga poses to accommodate aging joints. They don’t ride mountain bike trails as fast as they used to. If they take up a training program, progression is often done more slowly and gradually than they would have done in their younger years. That’s called being smart.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t connect with statements such as these from Mirna Valerio:

“This body is fierce, beautiful, and unapologetic. It’s meant to move through the world as it wishes…”

“Physical fitness is not the exclusive purview of people who appear to be physically fit. Get outside, show up for yourself, and show your body to the world.”

I have discovered that I can do a lot more than I thought I could. And that’s exciting.

dog and runner

Besides the health benefits, taking up a running practice has taught me some valuable lessons about taking a goal seriously, pursuing it, and sticking to the plan – all of which I believe I can now apply to other areas of my life where I’ve been stuck in procrastination and overwhelm.

I recently wondered why I’ve been able to run, even on days when I REALLY don’t want to and don’t feel like I’ve got it in me. I think it’s because of the simplicity of running. There’s a very clear and easy to follow training plan. It get’s me outside and, believe it or not (I know I don’t), it has started to feel good.

When I feel like skipping a day or doing less than I planned, I have a rundown of simple statements that I say to myself that get met started or keep me going. It also helps to have role models to bring to mind like Mirna. Another inspiration for me is Catra Corbett. Besides her running ability, I am inspired by Catra’s bright colorful outfits and her just as bright personality. She has an adorable dachshund too. What’s not to love? (And she has a book, “Reborn on the Run” about her journey. Next on my reading list.)

Towards the end of Mirna’s book, she gave advice on how to take your training or exercise program seriously. One of the things she suggested was to start seeing yourself and referring to yourself as an athlete.

woman running

That advice sounds so simple and obvious that, at first, I didn’t understand the pure power of it.

So often I try NOT to take myself too seriously. Then if I don’t measure up to the standards I’ve set for myself (or the standards I perceive society has set before all of us), I don’t have to feel so bad about it. I thought I was doing myself a favor by not taking myself too seriously.

But I’ve found that saying that I’m an athlete makes me try harder. It means that I can’t put off the run or workout I scheduled. I can’t stop running after fifteen minutes when my plan says that I’m running for twenty minutes. Athletes don’t do that. They show up and they do the work.

I believe the same line of thinking will work when I take myself more seriously as a writer.

Is there something at which you’d like to take yourself more seriously? Maybe give it a try and see what kind of difference it can make.

Mississippi River


What do you do when you feel unable to do anything besides watch TV or sleep? My first response is to give in to that feeling. I’m sixty-one years old. Why shouldn’t I take it easy?

The answer is because I am sixty-one years old. I don’t have enough time to have the luxury of wasting it. And if I want to retain the mobility I do have and hopefully, improve upon that, I have to move!

Continue reading

books I'm reading

I’ve been reading mainly non-fiction for the past thirty years – books on writing, fitness, and health, along with memoirs. Books like “Yarrow” remain on my bookshelf waiting for me to sit down for a moment and enter their world.

I was searching the library shelves for something different to read (a bit of escapism) when I ran across “Except the Queen” by Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder. I was intrigued by the crows on the cover and a young girl with a tattoo on her neck. I read a few lines of the first paragraph,

“You are in the forest that is not your own. You squint at its brightness; the sunlight bleaching the familiar green, the scent of the trees dusty as pressed flowers. You have come out of curiosity, and shivering beneath the glamour you are wearing, you roam through the quiet pines and birch.”

With the image and scent of trees in my mind, I took the book home and over the next week, I read it like it was ice cream being enjoyed on a hot and humid day.

sun garden decoration

It had been so long since I’d become completely absorbed and lost in a book. In my early teen years, I loved reading Fantasy, but then I let go of my childish ways to become a more “serious” reader.

As I turned the pages, I found I still loved visiting the world of Fairies, Baba Yaga, Witches, Changelings and Demons that needed to be destroyed. There was a great deal of using herbs to treat illnesses, ward off evil, and also simply enjoyed in a hot cup of tea.

meditating garden gnome

I read about two beautiful young Fairy sisters who angered their Queen and were turned into pudgy old women. They experienced the invisibility that comes with growing old and no longer fitting into the world’s idea of what is desirable and beautiful.

At first they longed to return to their world and what they they had been before being cursed, but then they discovered the beauty of the friendships they made as older women and the enjoyment of looking beyond themselves to help other people.

After finishing “Except the Queen,” I began reading “Dealing with Dragons,” which is a YA book that I read when I was a teenager. It’s one of the few books that my memory banks have managed to retain.

I can remember the feeling of freedom as I rode my bike to the library, entered the lush garden of books, and plucked one after another off the bountiful shelves to strap to my bike and ride home. I would hide away in my bedroom for most of the day, escaping to another world where I was someone with magic and power.

koi fish in a pond

It makes sense that I loved this book with Princess Cimorene and Kazul the Dragon. Cimorene is like no other Princess you have likely read about, which is the main crux of her problem.

She is stubborn, smart, and resourceful. She attempts to learn how to fence, cook, read Latin, and do magic. Everything she does is greeted with a reminder that such things are “just not done” by a Princess. So she runs away to live with and serve the Dragon, Kazul.

Early in the story, Cimorene was discussing with a frog that she didn’t want to marry Prince Therandil, a marriage arranged by her parents. The frog asked her what she was going to do about it? Cimorene answered that she had talked to her parents but couldn’t change their minds. The frog said, ”I didn’t ask what you’d said about it. I asked what you’re going to do. Nine times out of ten, talking is a way of avoiding doing things.”

Wisdom can come from the most unlikely places.

However, it’s unlikely to come from these two…

backyard chickens

Over a week ago, I said that my next post would address how my 100 Days for Spaciousness is going after five weeks. As I said then, I’ve been ready to give up on myself a number of times. I looked back through my journal and found that I keep coming to the same realizations over and over again.

In simplest terms, my enlightenment has been this: “Make a decision and take action,” just like the frog said.

Talking or writing about the difficulties and how I need to change is just avoiding doing what I said I would do.

And searching for the right answer amongst all the information and opinions out there and trying out one after another and another is just more of the same.

marshmallow plant

My new Tarot deck, Bonefire Tarot, created by Gabi Angus-West, has been agreeing with that conclusion.

I drew the Page of Swords on Monday. The Page is said to be her own worst enemy. “Matters of your own making are out of your control.” You look behind you, trying to determine what went wrong and how to fix it.

The Swords in general can indicate thoughts that are ungrounded (floating in air). My mind holds so many differing viewpoints, I “can’t see the forest for the trees,” and useful action is unlikely.

Thoughts alone cannot solve much. Only when thought is accompanied by action do you get results.

There’s that frog again, croaking out the same answer…

He’s so damn smart. But I don’t need another expert opinion. I already knew that.


I’m not sorry for the time I’ve spent reading lately. It’s fed my starving imagination and brought back some memories of the things I used to love and found that I still do love.

I’ll continue reading, for an enjoyable break from writing and because reading is a good way for writers to learn what makes a good story and what can ruin it.

But most importantly, I’ll write.

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