Be Kind

At 3:40 PM yesterday, I felt my first twinge of Race Registration Anticipation. Not for any race in particular — I just had an out-of-the-blue thought that I might want to run a race sometime in the next year. Or whenever.

And then, at 5:46 this morning, I slipped back into my neglected little Brooks Adrenalines and I retired from Zero Week.

The run itself was unremarkably perfect.

I ran in Central Park, around the lower loop a few times and once around the Great Lawn. I ran without my watch — as I plan to do for the rest of the year — and I didn’t listen to music. The park was dark and quiet.

I felt good and comfortable. I was never heaving and I was never walking. I don’t know what my pace was and I’m not sure how far I ran. I’m learning to be OK with not having exact data after every run.

It was the ideal return to running.

But I didn’t run today because I was craving mileage. After some time off, I thought I’d be kissing the ground in Central Park upon my return. Instead, I ran because, truthfully, it was convenient today. I wanted to work out this morning but I’m fresh out of SoulCycle dollars and nothing good was happening at my gym. So a run it was.

I didn’t have to drag myself out of bed and I was looking forward to getting out there. The fact that it was 45 degrees helped. And as soon as I started my little jog (yes, it was more of a jog than a run today), I was happy to be out there. I was happy to be back.

As for Zero Week, which turned into Zero Eight Days, it was pretty solid. I’ll tell you about it tomorrow.

The lights at Columbus Circle. I watch them twinkle every year during the holidays, and every year they amaze me.

When I started this post, my plan was to write about my run-less week. I wanted to tell you all about the fun classes I took and the calf soreness I felt for two whole days.

But I don’t know…I don’t feel ready to hop right back into enthusiasm-mode.

As soon as it happened, I never wanted to blog about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. I spent much of the work day last Friday glued to the live stream news coverage on my computer. That night, as Brian and I watched the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater perform at New York City Center, I lost control of my emotions several times. I would laugh when the company did something clever, and then I instantly felt guilty and remorseful for feeling anything but utter sympathy and devastation for the Newtown victims and their families.

A captivating sunset on a very dark day.

We all grieve differently.

As for me: I am a crier. I cried a lot this weekend and I had a hard time stepping away from the news and being productive. I watched the same repeated coverage — those same photos, those same details, those same news mistakes — over and over, and I let them sink into my brain, eventually letting the tears stream out of my eyes.

I was riding the subway on Saturday and a little girl — five years old — was sitting with her mom, happily chatting about The Lion King exhibit they’d just visited. She was precious. And then, out of nowhere, she looks up at her mom, her eyes wide, and asks, “What’s violent?”

I couldn’t hold it together and I had to turn away so the little girl didn’t see me cry. It completely broke my heart.

I don’t have anything to add to this traumatic time that hasn’t already been said or written — and done so far more eloquently than I ever could. What happened on Friday in Connecticut — not far from where I went to college and lived for several months afterward — was shocking, terrible and heartbreaking. We all felt it. We all have a million questions, the most concerning being, “Why?”

And now it seems trivial to jump right back into reality and write about my weekly workouts when this country is in a state of turmoil. But that’s what I’m here doing. I’m not sure what else to do or say, honestly.

…and the sunrise on Sunday. It was hard to see the world as a beautiful place when something so ugly had just happened.

I’m a writer without the right words.

Some people will acknowledge what happened in Newtown publicly and others won’t. Both options are fine. There’s no precedent for this. I just think now, more than ever, is a time to be compassionate and respectful, not just of Newtown’s community, but of each other, too, no matter how far removed from the tragedy we are. Let people get through something like this however they choose. Let the judgment guard down for a few days.

Be kind.

In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, Ann Curry is encouraging a campaign promoting 20 acts of kindness to honor each of the children killed on Friday. I say make it 26 — children weren’t the only victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I’m in. Who’s in?

The emotions will eventually pass for most of us, and we’ll go about our routines without checking the news every few moments for breaking updates. In a few days, I imagine the front pages of the newspapers won’t show the candlelight vigils in Newtown. It won’t feel better and no one will forget what happened, but people will begin to move forward. Until then, keep the hugs and “I love you’s” flowing. They may not do anything to help, but I don’t think they can hurt.

WILL YOU BE KIND? I’ve been at a loss for ways to help Newtown in any way. I know you can donate to the United Way and find other charitable organizations seeking help, particularly if you’re a licensed counselor available for grief counseling. I don’t have much spare cash right now and I’m certainly not someone who can handle grief counseling. But I can absolutely commit to 26 acts of kindness in honor of those lost. It may not do much to help or change what happened, but I think it’s a lovely idea. (Check out the #20Acts or #26Acts hashtags on Twitter for some heartwarming acts people are sharing.)



21 Responses

  1. I honestly can’t watch the news about this, the pictures bring me to tears and I can’t, I just can’t. I have a 7 year old and I honestly can’t even imagine. I’m starting to tear up right now just trying to. Such a horrible, horrible event. Children should be worrying about what Santa is bringing them, not people coming to their school and shooting them.

  2. I am such a crier too.. can’t handle watching any news lately. Hey Ali, I’d LOVE to get at least one of your I <3 sweat shirts… but I want a relaxed fir short sleeved. Is there any way you'd carry them in xl, or 2x? Thanks!

    1. I won’t be ordering any more shirts — sorry! For a relaxed fit, I recommend ordering one of the men’s shirts.

  3. I’m a crier too. I cried several times this weekend as well and ugly cried at Obama’s speech on Sunday night. I wish there was something that we could do, and I hate that this happened in the world we live in. I don’t think anyone wrote perfect words; I don’t think there are perfect words for any of us. I hope that as we all go on about our lives we keep those children and teachers and the events somewhere in our hearts to remember what it means to be kind. Thanks for your words.

  4. I’d rather do something more meaningful, like vow to never cast a vote for a politician who does not explicitly stand for sensible gun laws. I’m really sick of the safety of our kids being jeopardized because of sleazy, paranoid, conservatives with machine gun fetishes. We don’t have to keep living this way.

  5. I find it hard to watch any of the Sandy Hook coverage. I have a six year old son, and it’s just too close to home for me. Every time I see one of those precious faces on the news, I feel like I can’t breathe. Kindness is my only answer for how to cope.

  6. I’m also a crier. About half an hour ago, I had to call a principal from one of the local elementary schools for a story about something adorable, and she was talking about the students and how excited they were about this adorable thing the school did. Had to go cry in the bathroom.

    26 acts of kindness sounds like a great idea. Count me in. Except maybe we shouldn’t place a limit on it and just be kind all the time?

  7. You very eloquently put how many of us are feeling about this terrible, terrible tragedy. I have a four and a half year old daughter – I sobbed when I heard the news. I just couldn’t imagine the horror those poor children went through and now the survivors who saw the destruction of once was a safe haven for them, a school, and the deaths of their classmates, teachers and school staff. I love the idea of the acts of kindness! I’ll see what I can come up with. I know there is also a virtual 5K and half marathon on that is for the SHE tragedy so several of us runners/walkers are doing that next month.

  8. I think a lot of what I’ve felt over the past several days is useless. With something like a natural disaster, the ways to help in the aftermath are obvious. Donate money, blood, clothing, etc. There are physical needs that are easy to meet. That’s not the case here and while I want to help in some way, there really isn’t much (I thought) I could do. I love the idea of 26 acts of kindness. I’m going to try that as well. It isn’t much, but it’s a start.

  9. Yesterday I was watching the news at the gym. Tears were running down my face because my heart is simply broken. And I looked around and at 5:30 am and majority of the people at the gym were teared up. Since I do anything Ann Curry tells me to do, I am already into the acts of kindness. Mine are insanely simple acts. Like yesterday at the crazy, crabby post office I made sure to wish the postal service workers a happy holiday and that I am very thankful for their help and patience

  10. I love this. I’m a teacher, and my best friend is from Newtown (and her mom worked at SHE for 14 years) and since Friday afternoon, I have felt simultaneously helpless, afraid, angry, sad, etc. I don’t know how to make myself or my students feel any safer, nor do I know what to do to make sure this never happens again. On my run yesterday, I started to brainstorm ways I could feel productive and useful—I was trying to think of ways I could volunteer, etc. I hadn’t heard about this idea yet, but I LOVE IT. And I love your addition for the adult victims as well—these teachers, these heroes, deserve our remembrance as well.

    Definitely doing this, Ali. Thank you for passing on the idea.

  11. I’m a crier, too. I can’t watch the coverage of it without crying. It’s especially hard because I don’t live in America anymore. In England, not many people actually own guns. Even the police don’t have guns. So I have to explain to my British friends and peers constantly about why this happened or why people do what they do… and it’s hard keeping it together.
    26 acts of kindness is a great idea. I will definitely join from across the pond 🙂

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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