Apr 5, 2007

A Real Page Turner in the Making...

The last three weeks have been especially challenging and stressful. No matter how hard I work, I never seem to get caught up. And no matter how long I work, the day is too short. Well, this evening my appointment called and rescheduled. My evening was happily free! I had so, so , so much work to do, but instead, I decided to head to the gym to run off my stress. Gotta take care of myself.

As I was getting ready to head out to the gym I visited my "library", as I always do before a run, and during my visit I pick up my Runners World Magazine that has been sitting next to my throne for a week now. (I know, this falls under TMI - too much information.)

I read an interesting article on Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to compete and complete the Boston Marathon. This historical event took place on April 19, 1967. A mere 40 years ago, women were not allowed to run marathons - amazing.

Switzer was a college student, trained, and had her coach/friend run with her. Her boyfriend ran with her as well. She paid her entry fee and filled out her application, signing it "K. Switzer." Once the race began, the officals and press became aware that a woman was competing in the race - the horrors! Switzer was attacked, jeered, and rentlessly questioned by the press as she ran. "When are you going to quit?" was the question of the day for Switzer as she ran the race. It was never ending.

Switzer recalls the pain - the bloody blisters, sore muscles and relates her thoughts from some 40 years ago:

"My mind was whirling, but that couldn't distract me from feeling the very big blisters in my arches that soon would burst. I could handle that; pain was nothing. It was part of what made you a hero, doing this, overcoming it, relegating pain to the incidental for a higher purpose."

What a powerful statement - read it again - slowly. She made history for herself and changed the course of sports for all women with the pain she endured. Inspiring to say the least. But as I continued to read the article as I made my way to my front door - I stopped in my tracks!

Kathrine Switzer's bib number, in that historic race was: number 261...look at the above photo....261!! That photo is my bib from my very first marathon - number 261! And how ironic that my first marathon - the More Magazine marathon, was a women-only marathon! I couldn't believe my eyes. I actually teared up as I read this.

I went to the gym and as I worked out, I kept thinking about my first marathon, the bib number and how Switzer made history while enduring her pain, but never losing sight of her goal - to finish. She just wanted to finish it. How many times have you put a goal in front of you, but even with odds against you, even with others around you telling you to just quit already - you endured - and you completed it. That is your personal history. It may not make headlines or be recorded in history books - but it is your history. You know the saying: "I'm closing that chapter of my life." Or "This will be a new chapter in my life." Well...where do those "chapters" go? Your personal history book, of course.

I thought about this as I ran this evening and I realized that all my stress, worries, and hard work these last several weeks meant I was simply "relegating pain to the incidental for a higher purpose." That lifted a lot of weight off my shoulders - it gave me more focus. It made sense.

In the running world we have a term "PR" which means "personal record." While racing, most runners have a goal of breaking their personal record. To do better than the last race. To be stronger, faster, and yes, just to finish - and to accomplish this means to endure even more pain than the last race. With each new goal or ambition requires more strength and endurance than the prior goal - in other words - we are creating our personal history. Another chapter. Our own book. (Sometimes I think I am creating a novel!)

Number 261 will always have special meaning to me. And what an unexpected honor to have ran my first race with the same number as Kathrine Switzer. I am glad I didn't know at the time, the significance of the number - it would have been intimating. But knowing its significance right at this moment is just the inspiration I need and the assurance that I am simply making my own personal history - and that it all has a higher good and purpose.

Whether your goal is to go back to school, start a business or maybe own a home - know that while your endurance and pain probably won't make it in the news papers, you are making history - your personal history. May your personal history book be filled with inspirational and accomplished stories to someday share with those who have yet to begin to write their own book.

Thank you for allowing me to share a page or two of my personal book with you. My hope for us all is that when all is said and done our personal history books will be a real page turner!

From my house to your house,


cathypentonatelier said...

As always you make me smile just to be me and know you... I am so blessed, what an inspiration you are to us all...

Anonymous said...

Wow! Must have been fate! You know there are no such things as coincidence.....it all happens, when it happens, for a reason! Thanks for the story.

Abby Kerr Ink said...

Hi, Elizabeth--

Thank you for posting your thoughts on enduring pain for the purpose of a higher good. I *really* needed to read that this morning! I am a boutique owner in Ohio (and by the way, I love your blog and adore your style!) and face many challenges similar to the ones you describe throughout your blog...similar to the ones faced by all independent retailers!

The biggest Challenge before me right now is a personal one (not related to my business) and lately I have felt my focus faltering a bit. Your words this morning reinforced my spirit and gave me a little extra push to keep on going! Thank you for being such a blessing to me and, I'm sure, to others. I hope to be able to visit Elizabeth House one day.


maggiegracecreates said...

I have just been given a most significant gift, and it came from you. I just said to a coworker that I wanted to be part of the solution to a problem but I just did not know how. Thanks for sharing this part of your life. Teresa

Anonymous said...

Wonderful story! As a runner myself, I understand that sometimes the mental anquish is greater than the physical pain. Overcoming and balancing them can be the greatest accomplishment. Even with out a new PR. I'm sure you will cherish that worn bib number for years!

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Thank you Teresa, Cathy, Melange, Abby and the rest - how nice of you to write. I am glad that sharing my experience last night helped you in some way. While not a "design" or "creative" posting, I think taking care of our spirit is needed in order to create and give.

So nice to hear from you all,

Anonymous said...


I keep reading this blog.I have never read a blog before this and quite frankly will probably not read any other like I have yours. I found your page about three weeks ago when I began some serious research for my store. I have zero extra time to camp on the computer and yet I have managed to read ALL of your past posts as I await new ones. I dont always agree or relate to the subject matter (me and marathon in the same sentence would be a bad joke) and yet you always leave me thinking about things going on in my life with a new perspective. I have wondered many times in the last couple of weeks how I could pursuade my husband to take me to Missouri :) I never imagined that I would crave a complete strangers advice and ideas like I am about my own boutique.The way you talk about your store makes you feel familiar, because I enjoy a lot of the same distressed yet beautiful things you do. I am awaiting more of your "Shop talk" as I yearn for your opinion on opening a store. Thank you for being a familiar stranger.


Elizabeth Maxson said...

Hello Amberly,
What a thoughtful comment you wrote to me - I appreciate it so. I like your term "familiar stranger." I feel very close to all those who write me, and yet, except for a few, I have never met them in person. I promise to write a Shop Talk very soon - and congrats on your new venture. Very proud of you - it is hard and so exciting at the same time.


Gypsy Purple said...

Wow...very powerful and inspirational!!!!!
May you have a blessed and happy Easter

Stina said...

Thank you for your words.
So nice of you.

You have a Lovely blog too.
Big Hug from me. Stina

Lotta said...

Thank you very much for your words. You have a lovely blog!

Hope to see you on my blog again!

Hug / Lotta

savvycityfarmer said...

I believe that when our bodies and our minds are worked out and challenged then we can make more of a difference to others...well being plays such an important part of daily life...why even losing 5 pounds gives a different outlook...
E...feel like I know you and now have a glimpse into your soul.

Elizabeth Maxson said...

City Farmer -

Yes, whether it's losing 5 pounds, reaching the goal of walking around the block three times, or running a 5K, the spirit is lifted as the body is challenged. And a lifted spirit helps us to challenge our bodies - see how that works? Pretty neat when you think about it. Glad you see a glimps of my soul - maybe we are kindered spirits? :-)

For Love Of Home said...

While reading this post I had goose bumps. You never know what your purpose is here on earth, however you are very in tune with yours. I enjoy your blog and your inspiration to all women.
Have a safe and wonderful Easter.

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Thank you Cindy - and I hope you have a wonderful Easter as well. I have no doubt that your purpose is something very special.

Happy Easter,

Penny said...

What a great post! It especially spoke to me today as I just began training for the Danskin Women's Triathlon. My goal is TO FINISH!

I will be coming back to this entry often as motivation! Thank you for the wonderful entry!

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Hello Penny!

Congrats on your training! I did the Danskin triathlon in Austin, Texas in 1997...it was great! Keep me posted on your process!


Anonymous said...

Hi Elizabeth....
What an amazing story! It goes right along with your amazing blog! Several weeks ago I stumbled upon your website through the curious sofa blog. Before I read your blog tho I picked up a magazine on my desk and it happened to be Home Companion Feb/Mar 2004 and there was your beautiful apt. Talk about a coincidence! I immediately found your blog and spent several hours after midnight that night reading all your past posts. What an amazing journey you have been on the past few years! Reading your newsletter about your weight loss has inspired me to join Curves and change my eating habits through South Beach this past week and I hope to start running also in the future(although this 52 year old body might not cooperate!) I have enjoyed your blogs about running a store and I really love your style. Not just in decorating but your style of writing is so encouraging and intimate I feel like I know you like an old friend. I hope to one day soon make the trip from NE Texas to Missouri to see your store and meet you in person. Until then, keep showing us your beautiful photos of your store and projects. It is so wonderful of you to share your talents with all of us readers. I can't wait to see your next project! Many blessings and thanks again for all the inspiration and encouragement!

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Hello Patti!

My! I sure do have a big ole smile on my face as I type this - your comments touched me. Congrats on the decision to lose weight - you won't regret the effort in the least. And thank you for feeling like you know me as an old friend - I know this sounds weird, but when I read comments from my readers, I actually "hear" their voice as I read - every single one of my readers talk to me through their comments and it makes me feel closer to them - how nice to know that you feel close to me. I hope we do meet some day!

All my best,

Anonymous said...

Hi Elizabeth....Thanks for answering my post. I forgot to ask you if you would share with us your paint colors and type of paint you use on your furniture. I've got a couple of old pieces I've been wanting to try something on but I'm not sure what to use. I love all your creamy whites and black in your apt. I tried to find the colors you used on your walls but Behr must have had a "name change" on their colors. Appreciate any info and instruction you could give. Have you ever thought of doing a "How to" DVD. I'm sure there are lots of us who would buy it! You could include video of your store and decorating projects and rooms you have done and your apt...etc. I don't know if there is anything like that on the market but I think it would sell.

Anonymous said...

Hi Elizabeth, I found your blog a couple of months ago and come back to visit quite often. I think your posting about Katherine Switzer,and the point of doing your best to complete a personal quest was just what I needed to read. Thank you. By the way April 19, 1967 was my first day of training to be a nurse. This coming weekend my class is celebrating our 40 year reunion. Karen Z.

Anonymous said...

What an inspiring post! What an inspiring woman! Thank you for telling us about Kathrine Switzer and, of course, about you. And you're right...our lives really are our personal books. It's up to us to make them interesting!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this, it was very inspiring and made me think of things in a ways I had never stopped to think before...suddenly those annoying challenges are not small but a part of the bigger picture, what can I take from them and learn from...how can I help others...thanks, Elizabeth!

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Hello Patti,

I am just getting back from my cruise and now getting to my emails. As far as the paint - if Home Depot changed the paint names, then I can't help you. However, even if they didn't, I don't use "straight painting" which means I mix and match in a custom manner differently every time I paint. My furniture paint in creams and blacks are a custom mix that I mix in my workshop - and each time I mix them, it is slightly different according to the weather and the technique I am going to use. My best advice is to just mix and try and mix and try. That is what I did years and years ago until I came up with my way of doing things. I know this isn't helpful, but I promise, you will find the right combo.

Take care,

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