Road Runners Club of America Convention: Part 3

It’s a wrap!

The biggest takeaway from this convention is that I have a greater sense of how special the Richmond Road Runners Club is. I have a much better appreciation for our size as a club, the number of races we do, and how much of an integral part of the Richmond running community our club is. 

Networking with club representatives from other parts of the country, it was amazing to share how clubs are run, what activities they do, and how big or small they are. I’d say most of the clubs represented were smaller than ours, but also are the backbone of their running communities. 

We are lucky in Richmond to have so much structure in the running community. Especially with such great relationships with Sports Backers, with multiple smaller running organizations and groups, with other non-profits like #WeOffTheCouch and Girls on the Run, with improvements in places to run like the Virginia Capital Trail, and with retail running stores, it’s easy to see how Richmond was awarded the designation of a Runner Friendly Community from the RRCA. 

I learned so much from the seminars I attended. 

Running by the lake with the skyline in the background.

Friday began with a group run, where I met some new friends! 

The first seminar was about insurance. Not the most fun of topics, but many questions our own club had about coverage were answered here. 

The next was about growing club membership. The speakers were from a much smaller club than ours, but still had great ideas of how to improve recruitment, such as recognizing new members and updating language used when planning club events, such as having “tailgates” rather than “picnics.” 

Our speaker at lunch, Jeff Tan, told us the story about how he started running marathons and all of his crazy adventures trying to accomplish his goal of running one on every continent! He nearly didn’t run the one on Antarctica due to visa issues! 

I also went to a very inspiring talk by the organizer of the ‘Go Run group in Chicago, and non-profit that puts on free 1 mile and 5k races every weekend during the running season. The organizer was inspired by the Park Run programs in the UK. The club’s mission is to improve accessibility to the sport and encourage everyone to live active and healthy lifestyles. This will hopefully develop runners who can then join other running programs through CARA (Chicago Area Runners Association) in the city. 

The day ended with a reception in the Bank of America building. One of the best parts was seeing the views of the Chicago river from the reception room. 

With fellow RRRC members Mara and Allison at the Bean! Photo courtesy of Allison M.

Saturday began with a group run, then the RRCA board meeting. I went to a seminar about leadership transitioning, something that the RRRC has been working on. Our lunch was followed by national awards with a special appearance by Olympian Galen Rupp! And then I went to a seminar led by a clinical social worker and run coach about mental health management which was very good. 

Galen Rupp, accepting his RRCA Hall of Fame award. Photo by author.

On Sunday, everyone else with my club ran the Shamrock Shuffle 8k. I chose not to register, allowing my anxiety about checking out of the hotel and traveling get the best of me. But I did watch the coverage on TV and got to see many of the runners, as our hotel was on the race course. 

Obviously, we made it safely to the airport on time and home!

I’m grateful to my club for sending me to the convention. It was a great experience! But I’m also so glad to be home, and now with an even greater appreciation for how wonderful the Richmond running community is!

A fox hanging out near the Bean. A strange sight in such an urban setting! Photo by author.


Have you ever been to the RRCA convention? I’d love to hear about it!

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy. 

We Made it to Chicago!

Road Runners Club of America Convention Part 2

Traveling Southwest, I was a bit nervous considering that the airline has made the news lately for canceling flights. But the trip here was great! Staff were very friendly, and the plane wasn’t crowded at all. I had an entire row to myself. 

Midway is the Chicago hub for the airline. It’s a considerably smaller airport than O’Hare, which can be a blessing, I suppose. At least navigating the CTA to the hotel was fairly simple. Midway is the end of the line!

Once we got to the hotel, we quickly realized how famished we were, with our last meal at 8:00 AM, and our bodies thinking it was 3:00 PM, even though it was 2:00 PM local time. We were lucky there was a restaurant around the corner that had a vegan option. 

The first day of the conference was really about getting settled and connecting. 

We had an evening meetup with the Virginia area RRRC members who are in town for the conference, and then there was a reception. 

After the reception, we found another restaurant around the corner that serves Asian poke bowls and ramen with multiple vegan options. 

And now it’s time for bed. 

Tomorrow will be full of running and seminars!

With Richmond friends at the RRCA Convention.


I hope to have another update tomorrow!

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.

Am I Ready to Satisfy a Bit of Wanderlust?

Part one in my journey to the RRCA Convention 2023

I’m getting ready to fly for the first time in years. 

I’m the type of person who wants to travel but gets overly anxious about it. Typically, the trip to my destination is nerve-wracking but the trip back seems easier. 

One of the last times I flew was to St. Thomas in the USVI. My husband and I were celebrating our 12th wedding anniversary, and we took our kids and his parents with us. That was in 2011.

To add complexity to our travels, Mother Nature delivered Hurricane Irene that morning! The outer bands had just hit Richmond as we were boarding the plane to fly north to Philadelphia to meet our international flight. It was already windy enough that the airport couldn’t put up the walkway to the plane. We had to go outside and climb the stairs to it!

We did arrive in Philly safely, but instead of a leisurely 2-hour layover, we had barely gotten comfortable in the international terminal when they called us to board. The pilot wanted to leave early enough to get past the storm. 

He was eager to tell us all about the modified flight plan, taking us out further east over the Atlantic, and making our flight a bit longer. And when we were near the storm, the pilot alerted us, and we could see the outer bands of Irene swirling. We flew parallel to the storm! 

When my kids tell the story, they say we flew directly over the eye of the storm. They were 9 and 6 at the time. I mean, for your first time on a plane, that was a pretty remarkable trip!

I have flown since then, and it was to Chicago to run the Chicago Marathon in 2015. 

With fellow teammates in front of the infamous bean post-race in 2015. Photo by author.

Later this week, I will be returning to Chicago for the Road Runners Club of America convention. I’m excited to visit one of my favorite big cities, and I’m looking forward to meeting other runners and leaders in other chapters of our organization! 

I do love a good convention! I’ve never been to one like this, but I imagine it will be similar to a big race expo with some seminars on the side, with a healthy dose of active networking through receptions and group runs. 

I may also need to figure out how to fit in a 12-mile run this weekend. 

And if anyone has any advice on great Vegan places in The Loop, let me know! 

I’m now working on what to pack, how to pack, and how to get from the airport to the hotel. No anxiety here! 

I’ll definitely be documenting my adventure, so stay tuned!


I’m so grateful to the Richmond Road Runners Club for making this trip possible. Will you be at the RRCA convention this year, or have you ever been? Would love to hear about it!

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.

What Does it Mean to Be The GOAT?

The greatest of all time

Who do you think of when you hear The GOAT? 

Simone Biles is the first person I think of when I hear this. In my mind, she truly is the best athlete ever. She makes the sport of artistic gymnastics look easy, but the sport in this day and age is super complex and dangerous! It requires great stamina, strength, and kinesthetic awareness. (I was a gymnast in a past life, so I understand how difficult and complex a sport it is!) 

As an adult, I’ve taken up running as my fitness addiction. It’s been a productive way to blow off steam and stay relatively healthy. Unfortunately, I’m what most refer to as a “back of the pack” runner. I’ll never qualify for Boston, that’s for sure. But I am persistent. 

Despite my speed most likely being inspired by turtles, I’ve managed to run 15 official half marathons and 10 full marathons over my brief career in this sport. 

Endurance running has opened so many doors for me. I have a great circle of friends. I help coach a novice marathon training team. And I serve on the executive board and as assistant editor of the magazine of my local run club. 

Running has also taught me so much about myself. It has changed me for the better, both in realizing that I can do hard things and in being a part of a community devoted to this sport.

Some of my sway from last year’s half marathon.

I’m running a race this spring that uses the acronym The GOAT as its theme. 

The Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon has been dubbed America’s Toughest Road Race. Why did it earn this title? Because the total elevation of the course is 7,430 ft. If you run it, you’re the GOAT. Last year’s shirt even had a beloved goat on it, much like Simone Biles’ leos. 

I’ve run the half marathon twice, climbing two mountains, one of which is so steep, you can lean forward and touch the road in front of you. (I wish I was kidding!) And the full adds an extra mountain. 

What’s one more mountain? I keep asking myself. 

Will I make it to the top of Peakwood mountain in time to get the champagne and strawberries? Will there be any beer left at the finish party? All questions I will have to wait until race day to answer. 

Will I be able to run fast enough to meet the time cutoff? The perpetual question of a back of the packer. 

If I finish, does this mean that I will join the ranks of Simone? Eh… maybe not. But it will certainly be one of the biggest athletic endeavors I will have ever accomplished. Likely more challenging (and more scenic) than the 50k I ran in Farmville in 2021 that was on a flat rail trail. 

The thing is, our goals should scare us a little bit. And this marathon definitely does. 

For those who are running the double marathon (yes, that means running the course twice!), you have my utmost respect. I don’t think I could do it! But let me run the marathon course once before I make a final call on running that!

Even if we can’t be the best in the world at something, we can still strive to do our very best at the challenge before us. I think that’s what being The GOAT is all about. 

On top of Mill Mountain with the famous Roanoke Star at the 5k point of the half marathon.


Am I crazy for running this race? Maybe. But that’s OK, because I will have company in my insanity. I’m running the race with two of my friends. What are some of your lofty goals? I’d love to hear about it! 

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy. 

When Your IUD is a Pain in the Uterus

My body simply didn’t like it, and my doctor wouldn’t help

After giving birth to my second child, my OB-GYN convinced me that an IUD was the best form of birth control for me. After consulting with my closest girlfriends, I took the plunge. 

The insertion was the easy part. But even that wasn’t easy. I had no medication to open my cervix beforehand, and definitely no pain medication to prep for the procedure. I simply had to endure it. Surprisingly, the medical community hasn’t come up with a great protocol to manage the discomfort of insertion, and many doctors, like mine at the time, don’t offer anything. The cramping afterward was absolutely terrible. But eventually, my body seemed to adapt to this invader. Or so I thought.

Within a year of having it, I started to develop some weird symptoms. First, the strings were long. Very awkward, for many reasons. I also felt bloated all the time. I gained weight. A lot of it. And I had pain, mostly localized to my right ovary, which ranged from a dull ache to the feeling of a butcher knife stabbing me, which was super fun regardless, but especially when trying to work at a physically demanding job and care for young children. 

I never correlated any of the random, vague symptoms with my IUD, mostly because my doctor denied any connection. Instead, I went to a variety of specialists and underwent a barrage of tests to try to reach a diagnosis for my ailments. They were all inconclusive, and they cost me a few thousand dollars out of pocket. 

This went on for months until I finally met someone who had experienced all of the same weird symptoms. Hers was caused by, you guessed it, an IUD. The same one I had. The light bulb finally turned on. 

I called my doctor to make an appointment to have it removed. She refused to do so, insisting that I still had 2 good years left with the device. I was absolutely insulted that my female doctor could be so obtuse. I would have expected this treatment from a male physician, but not a fellow woman. It’s my body, after all. If I want it out, take it out!

Needless to say, we broke up. I found myself a new doctor in another practice. She agreed that my symptoms were likely related to my IUD. 

The moment it was removed, I felt a huge relief in my symptoms. I audibly gasped with the change. It was wild how immediate it was. It took about 3 months for a complete resolution of my pain and bloating to occur.

By the time I had it removed, the pain had become the center of my universe. My life was ruled by pain. I went to bed consumed by it, I woke up in the middle of the night because of it, and it interrupted my everyday activities.

Persistent pain should never be ignored, and it’s no way to live. Especially if there is an identifiable and treatable source. 

I regret getting an IUD, but the experience taught me to listen to my own patients when they have complaints of pain. I try my best to be an objective, empathetic listener and to help them in a holistic way. I might just be the practitioner they need to help them find relief.

The point of telling my story isn’t to convince you to not get an IUD. I have many friends who have them and have had positive experiences. I just have one of those bodies that didn’t like it. 

But if you have an IUD and have also noticed problems since getting one, don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself.


Have you had the frustrating experience of your doctor not listening to you? Did you have a similar experience with an IUD? I’d love to hear about it.

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.

He’s a Hunter

My cat is a savage beast

He may look all sweet and innocent, but don’t be fooled.

This baby boy wandered into our lives last summer and quickly made it his mission to become a part of our family. 

My daughters gave him a name. This was step one in the adoption process.

Step two was finding myself on the cat food aisle of my grocery store during a routine shop and buying him food. Once feeding him commenced, we had reached a tipping point in our relationship with said cat.

The third step was allowing him inside to interact with our dog. (Well, maybe it wasn’t really allowing him in. He simply made a dash for it every time the door was opened!)

And the final step? Buying him a litter box. And figuring out that he knew how to use it!

Chicken Nugget, as my kids named him, loves scratching our sofa, chairs, and any other upholstered furniture, is in love with the sound of cans opening, and deeply appreciates a lap to sit in. He has favorite spots to sleep in and is particularly fond of my husband’s recliner.

But have we achieved the next level in our relationship?

The other morning, he came to the back door asking for entry. What my daughter didn’t know when she let him in that he was bearing gifts! 

He brought us a bird. The poor thing was still alive. I had no idea what to do, and it was clear that the creature was not going to make it. We sent both of them back outside. Nugget was very proud of his prize. 

I’ve never had a cat who was a hunter. All of my previous cats were afraid of their own shadows. This is all new to me. 

But this boy lived on his own, maybe for several months. He hunted to survive. And he enjoys spending time outside.

I find myself in the midst of an ethical dilemma. 

I’m Anne the Vegan, after all. How could I allow my cat outside where he can hunt? But is it right to not let him go out? At least by spending most of his time indoors, we are reducing his impact on the local wildlife, right? 

I can’t change the instincts of a cat, that’s for sure. 

Maybe I should get him one of those cute collars with a bell so it’s less likely that he can sneak up on his prey. I wonder, though, if that tiny little bell is enough to alert birds to his stealthy presence.

Chicken Nugget, lurking as I work! Photo by author.

As a human and vegan, I don’t understand the drive to go out a pursue another living being to conquer, especially when I provide Nugget with a bottomless bowl of kibble! He will come and get me to bring me to his bowl to show me that he can see the bottom of it, asking for a refill. And he’s extremely punctual about his 6:00 PM can of wet food. 

By all accounts, he is highly domesticated. 

But one thing is certain: this sweet kitty has a fierce side, and I’m not so sure what to think about that!


Do you have a cat? Does your cat go outside? Does it bring you gifts? I’d love to hear about it. Short of keeping a once completely outdoor kitty inside, how can I reduce his ability to hunt?

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy. 

“Running While Black” by Alison Mariella Desir

Book Review

I was eager to read this book, and I ordered it as soon as it was available. 

In my research and writing for Miles and Minutes, my local run club’s quarterly magazine, I have discussed multiple aspects of inclusivity in our Richmond running community. A part of this discussion needs to include racial bias, and I did have this conversation with several prominent leaders in our fitness and running community who happen to be Black. 

Inclusion in the running community is more than just making it feel less elitist, but also in improving access to the sport as a whole, and shifting attitudes about who a distance runner should be. These are things that every runner, but especially leaders in running communities, should consider. 

Alison’s book is difficult to read at times, but equally difficult to put down. She keeps you engaged with the story, elegantly weaving in her own personal journey with running and community engagement with the rich history of endurance running. 

I love that her book begins with a timeline, featuring the history of distance running along a timeline of Black history in the United States. 

I appreciate Alison’s honesty in telling her story of battling to find a place in this sport while navigating not only being Black but also being a Black woman. She brings to light so many issues that maybe not many others have considered, but that echo what many of my peers who are Black have expressed as challenges in this sport. 

Concurrently, Alison discusses universal issues many of us can relate to, including battling bouts of depression, losing a parent, and becoming a mother. I found that some of these parts of her story resonated with me just as much as telling her readers how she fell in love with endurance running. 

I loved hearing about her efforts to organize running groups and how this grew into a much larger movement, beginning with Harlem Run. There were so many moments reading these parts of her story that gave me goosebumps. It’s truly inspiring!

As her influence in the sport grew, Alison was invited to run the Boston Marathon, and she had mixed feelings about this, even though she did end up running the race. Here’s why:

“If Boston is the pinnacle, what does that say about what we value? Exclusivity is antithetical to the belief that running is for everyone. A sport open to all cannot elevate faster runners as more deserving of a race, of being more representative of runners. Can we see all runners as deserving of space and place? It comes down to asking, what is it we truly value: inclusion or exclusion?”

Alison Desir

Indeed. I’ve asked this question a number of times now, as a coach, for my local run club’s quarterly magazine, and in my own blogs. 

There are still many aspects of endurance running that exclude others for various reasons. But then there are others: individuals, organizations, and run clubs, who are actively trying to reframe this sport. Because isn’t the point of all of this to promote active and healthy lifestyles?

She waits until over halfway through the book to reveal that Ted Corbitt, a Black man, was the first president of the New York Road Runners and was the founder of the NYC marathon. Corbitt was also an Olympian and a physical therapist. (I’m thrilled that I have one thing in common with him as a fellow PT!) What was most surprising to her, and to me, is why this isn’t common knowledge. It’s a lightbulb moment, for sure.

Alison’s book is as inspiring as it is important. She’s an amazing and engaging storyteller. Not only does she convey the meaning behind the title, but she also tells stories about everyday life that will resonate with all readers. 

Her book is now among my favorites about running. I highly recommend reading it and adding it to your library!


Have you read Running While Black yet? If so, what did you think of it? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.

When Running Causes Nightmares

But are double-digit runs finally becoming less intimidating?

I’m currently training for my 11th marathon. 

I’m also a person with high anxiety. This is both the reason why I run and why running can be so challenging at times. 

But it’s not the act of running itself that creates anxiety. That’s simply placing one foot in front of the other. It’s facing the big numbers attached to those double-digit mile runs during marathon training that scare me. 

I typically train for and run a fall marathon with the support of a very organized team. This definitely takes away a lot of the burden of planning with training. But in previous seasons, no matter how many times I’ve been through this process, nightmares emerged before these significant distances.

My pre-long run dreams usually involve showing up for my run in street clothes and wearing a 50 lb backpack. If I’m lucky, I also get lost on my route. 

Younger running me bought into this nonsense, ramping up my anxiety to new heights. Older running me laughs at myself while I’m in these dreams. Of course, these things wouldn’t happen. I prepare for my long runs like I should, laying out all of my gear the night before!

Preparing “flat me” before my long run is a huge way to manage pre-run anxiety. If I choose my gear while I have light (and so I don’t disturb my husband in the morning), gather my nutrition, pack my hydration vest, charge my Garmin, etc., I can rest easier. 

Last training season, my pre-run nightmares arrived right on schedule. But not this time. I’m surprised to find that I wasn’t nervous before a 16-mile run. I also can’t believe that I’m already at this point in my training season. 

This being marathon #11, I guess it makes sense that my nerves aren’t as big of an issue. It’s always just a matter of doing the work and chipping away at the miles. 

Since I’m not that far removed from the fall marathon training season, perhaps my brain doesn’t anticipate as much strife with these runs!

Running the Chessie Trail Marathon last fall, wearing my favorite Blue Ridge Half Marathon race shirt! Photo courtesy of Becky H.

So what’s different this time? 

Spring marathons have never been a thing for me. Half marathons? Yes. I keep a deep enough base in mileage that jumping into half training isn’t a big deal. But dedicating the time and wear and tear on my body this time of year to marathon training has never been a part of my routine. 

Maybe I’m experiencing a bit of the lobster in the pot of water phenomenon. I never gave myself an “off” season. I just kept running, and now my brain hasn’t fully caught on to the fact that I’m training to run 26.2 miles. Again. The pot is already simmering, though! 

I’m not new to running longer distances unsupported, either. I’ve done a few 12 milers and now two 14 mile runs on my own. And knowing that I’ve run a 50k before certainly helps to reassure me that I’m capable of accomplishing these miles. 

I have been running many of my weekend long runs with a small group, and I’m so grateful for a planned route. That saves me so much mental energy, and I’ve enjoyed exploring new places to run. Even though I may run some of these weekend miles without company, I know there’s someone waiting on me to finish or at least checking on me during my run. It’s comforting. 

But honestly, I have no idea how I got to this mental point in my journey. 

At the top of Mill Mountain and in front of the infamous Roanoke Star on the course of the Blue Ridge Half Marathon and Marathon. Photo by author.

There are 7 weeks until the Blue Ridge Marathon. Dubbed America’s Toughest Road Race, you traverse three mountains. I don’t know what I was thinking. 

The half marathon in this race series climbs two of these mountains. I’ve run the half twice now.

Before running the race the first time, many of my friends warned me that there were parts of the course where you could reach out and touch the road right in front of your face, the elevation was that steep. I didn’t believe them. But when I reached that part of the course, I started laughing! It was absolutely true.

Apparently, the extra mountain we run on the marathon course is even worse!

And have I been hill training? Not exactly. Although where I run most weekends is very hilly, which helps. Where the course is steep, there’s no running anyway; just power hiking.

They say your goals should scare you a little bit. This one definitely does, at least on paper. My inner brain seems inexplicably calm. My outer brain thinks I’m crazy. 

Next weekend I drop back to 12 miles. It will be a welcome chance to recover. 

My next big runs before 26.2 will be 18 and 20 miles. We’ll see if the nightmares return for these significant distances! And I’m certain the bad dreams will show up before the race. They always do!


Have you ever run a big race that made you nervous? Do you have nightmares before longer double-digit runs? I’d love to hear about it!

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy. 

Variety is the Spice of Writing

Why I shall remain nicheless

When I started my WordPress blog, I initially kept my focus on wellness. There are so many aspects to wellness, including spiritual health. And for me, wellness includes following a vegan diet and exercising on a regular basis, with my main fitness love as running.  

Running with my marathon training team. Photo courtesy of Bill Draper.

The first part of developing my blog was coming up with a name. I wanted to name it “Chasing Wellness,” but that name was already taken. As I went down the line of possibilities, I settled on Anne the Vegan. There’s a story behind the name. 

You see, I used to work in an office that was, in a word, toxic. Everyone else who worked there had jumped on the Keto bandwagon. I, the lone vegan, was a weirdo. (And, for the record, I think eating a diet that seemed to center around consuming copious amounts of bacon is weird.) 

I’m personally comfortable with being weird. But when I’m referred to as Anne, the vegan, with an appreciable inflection that seems like an eye roll, it sounds like a weapon instead of a description. 

My original blog logo.

I decided to turn that insult into something positive. It’s now my pen name. 

My blog took off right before the pandemic. My last “normal” post before the shutdown was a race recap from the One City Half Marathon which I ran on March 1, 2020. And then the world stopped. 

I began to talk about even more than just recipes, running, and race reviews, especially as we dealt with the many mental challenges as we faced so much uncertainty with COVID and with renewed racial tensions. 

My city, Richmond, became central to the debate about removing Confederate monuments. The most notorious of the statues on Monument Avenue was Robert E. Lee. It became a living art piece, changing with graffiti and tributes to those we lost to violence. I visited the site several times during its evolution, and it was surreal to experience it firsthand.  

The Lee Monument and pedestal on Monument Avenue in Richmond, VA, in 2020. A living, evolving art piece, both the statue and pedestal are now gone.

I definitely got more political with some of my posts, and for good reason. The stress of injustice deserves attention.

As the pandemic improved, so did my writing. 

I took on an assistant editor role with my run club’s magazine, and I started a Medium account. 

Being a part of a different community of writers, interacting on Discord servers, and through comments and follows of other writers has been inspiring. 

My family recently experienced the illness and loss of both my father-in-law and my own father. Writing about loss and grief was a new topic, and I hope I captured the many facets of this experience in a way to which others can relate. I realized that life is short. 

And with the support of a new community of writers, including the wonderful Bouncin’ and Behavin’ Blogs publication on Medium, I began to write about whatever inspires me. Niches, be damned! I think creativity is squelched by boundaries. 

I keep a running list of blog and article ideas in a separate document. I go with whatever my little heart desires. Because the satisfaction of writing is that it brings me joy. And if my words resonate with someone else, the joy is that much sweeter. 

Sometimes my writing is serious. Sometimes it’s funny. Sometimes it’s heartfelt. Sometimes it’s technical, like when I’m directing a post to my running team. But it’s always mine. 

Variety is certainly the spice of life. Why shouldn’t our writing topics vary, too?


Do you write nicheless, too? I’d love to hear about it!

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.

It Was a Long and Stinky Night

Tales of a tooting dog, interrupted sleep, and ominous dreams

After a long night of my dog trying to push me out of my own bed, unleashing almost lethal gaseous emissions that smelled like a skunk, the funk of which kept blasting me awake, and finally her begging to go out to relieve herself of the offensive waste in her bowel, I eventually found some fitful sleep. And I dreamed.

I dreamed about writing. Well, sort of. 

I was in a church. Not any church I’ve been to before. But I clearly felt the energy that it was a religious setting like one of those mega-churches. There was a circular stage, which I was somehow seated on, and my mom pushed a flyer into my hands and asked me to get up and talk about it. 

While waiting for my turn to speak, obviously flustered, I started to try and jot down some ideas about what she had given me.

It was a pamphlet about a girls’ group in the church, talking about ways to be good and faithful servants. In my awakened state, I think my subconscious was thinking of Girls in Action, or the GA’s, the Southern Baptist group that was supposed to be like the Girl Scouts. 

The church where I grew up had this program, and I was a part of it. You had to earn patches by doing tasks like memorizing a Bible verse, participating in an educational craft borrowed from a community in Africa that the missionaries served, or helping out with a community project. 

And although I loved making Batik prints that one time, my leaders rarely got us out into the community, and I never took memorizing the Bible seriously. 

GA summer camp was my one “vacation” without my parents each year. It was a week of Bible study, indoctrination, daily swims in a pool, and figuring out what treats you would buy from the snack bar. I didn’t dread going on these trips, but I also never earned the camp’s spirit award.

I can still hear the GA’s song in my head:

Girls in action. Girls in action. Mission study and mission action. Praying, giving money so, the world may know of Jesus’ love… 

Girls in Action song

This would progress to Acteens in high school. I think I made it to Queen with Scepter. My crown was made of flimsy plastic film taped together. 

Our leaders were very creative in finding ways to bend what we were already doing in our lives to fit the mold of the program to earn the points for the next level, the highest of which earned you a cape. And although the cape was pretty sweet, I didn’t want to do the work to earn it. 

I’m fairly certain that the seeds of deconstruction had been planted by that point in my religious education. 

Now back to my dream. 

In this dream, my mom wanted me to speak against the subjugation of girls and women. This seemed to fit. 

I tried to formulate something to say about raising girls to be leaders, independent of their fathers or partners. That girls and women can be effective without relying on male figures. I understood that my on the fly speech was supposed to empower girls and women, and would likely shock the congregation.

And as I was sitting behind the pulpit, furiously trying to write with a ballpoint pen that didn’t seem to want to write, I was also struck by the way in which my mom passed this task to me. She was calm, trusting, and caring. She handed me the papers, touched me on my shoulder, and left to find her seat, seemingly eager to hear what I would come up with.

The stage and sanctuary were carpeted in a deep, rich, navy blue, with dark walnut wood pews and trim. And although that seems gloomy, there was also light. Stage lights. The natural light that streamed in from outside. And my dress, which was white with small, bright flowers in all the colors of the rainbow. And I was definitely in my own body, not an observer.

But what does it all mean? Was this a passing of the torch moment that my mind created? Is this symbolic of processing the recent loss of my father? Is this a reflection of what I want to teach my own daughters? Does the dream mean that my mom approves of my writing and sharing of ideas? Who knows. 

I am, however, sincerely grateful that once my husband let the dog out, she stopped stinking up the bed. But once I woke up from this dream, my creative wheels started spinning, and sleep never returned for the night. 

I had to get up and write about it.


Weird dreams seem to be my thing lately. Maybe my dog’s interruptions of my slumber inspired this nocturnal vision. Maybe it was something else. Do you have strange dreams? I’d love to hear about it!

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.