Friday Five – July 6, 2018



Another Friday, another Friday Five.

I’m curious – any of you check out the links I’ve been posting? Either to the gear or videos?

Here’s this week’s list…

  1. A Film: Pacing Hardrock by Jeff Pelletier – Just an inspiring film for an incredible runner and filmmaker on the 100-mile race, the Hardrock 100. Will never qualify to run this race, but it’s so amazing to watch. I’d love to get to CO someday to watch this race in person.
  2. Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History – The news has gotten me feeling very anxious and distraught. So, I keep on pouring my energy into Eleanor. I’ve been reading this book to her at night.
  3. Billy Yang Podcast – A great discovery. Billy Yang is a superb creative, who makes films, runs long races, and also hosts a podcast. I love that he dives beyond the obvious (running), and challenges guests to discover what and why they do the things they do.
  4. Campfire Smores GU – I’m not a big GU gel fan, sadly. But this is one of the gels that I can’t get enough of.
  5. Ann Arbor Running Co. – Love shopping local, and I love a good running store. Really happy to have discovered this great place right down the street from work. Hoping to get a bit quicker and then join the crew for some group runs.

Friday Five

Photo from Topo Design website

Here it is again, five things from the past week.

  1. Ikea Kitchen Sale – We’re about to get ourselves neck deep in a kitchen remodel, and this Ikea Kitchen sale is a dream come true. 15% off and free shipping. “But Paul, why not get real wood cabinets.”  No thank you.
  2. Bird by bird – A book on writing and life written by beloved author Anne Lamott. If I’m being honest, I haven’t really read much from her, but I’m enjoying this book. If you’re a writer (or an artist) it’s a good, easy read.
  3. Chacos – Just picked these up a few days ago, and I really love them. A far cry from the damn keens I had been wearing, why Grace not to subtly reminded me are ugly as hell. I got a simple black pair so I could wear them with anything, and I don’t much plan to take ’em off.
  4. Patagonia Swimsuit – I haven’t really had a good relationship with swimwear, especially since gaining weight. I grabbed these for a work function and not only did they fit really well, they stayed comfortable AND (AND!) they didn’t grab ahold of my junk when I got out of the water like most swimsuits do. Game changer.
  5. Topo Designs Klettersack – Saving the best for last. Man, oh man do I love this bag. Man, oh man do I love Topo Designs. If you’re not familiar with the company, get yourself to their website. A great company with great people and great values.

    The bag fits everything I need for a day at the office. I’ve used it while biking and it fits snuggly, no problems. Easily holds a 15″ MacBook, plus several books. I also grabbed their camera cube, and have slipped that in there, too. You can expect a more complete review of this gear coming soon.

*I’ll add that I’m obviously not sponsored by any of these companies (though maybe someday that’ll change). These are just the things I love that are worth a little love.

Third times the charm


Photo by Myke Hermsmeyer


He did it.

Jim Walmsley set a new course record at Western States.

100 miles in 14 hours and 30 minutes. That’s 8:42-minute miles in one of the toughest courses on the circuit.

It’s a testament to the notion that we learn from our failure. That we only get further ahead when we first fall and fail.

People probably won’t remember his first two failures. Ten years from people will be talking about this legendary race and they won’t mention the year he took a wrong and got miles off course. They won’t talk about the following year when he got sick and took a DNF.

But they should.

Nobody starts at greatness. You get there after years of failure.



If I build it, will they come?



I haven’t posted in a while, but FlatsandPines hasn’t been far from my mind.

We’ve been busy.

New jobs, a new home, a new city. Eleanor – our daughter – started daycare, and we’ve been sleep training, too.

I had hoped to share all of it as it unfolded, but that just didn’t happen. But now we’re a bit more tucked in – now that we have some new routines, new patterns – I’m coming back to this space wondering what it can be.

Will anyone even care? Will more than the twenty friends and family that read anything and everything I write get anything from this?

Obviously, there’s no way to answer that question. Sometimes…

Sometimes you just have to build things because the reward is in this work, not the result. So what if no one comes. If, at the end of the day, the only thing that comes from this is a record of our lives, a memorial of my daughter’s childhood, the adventures we had, and the lessons we learned, well – that’s enough for me.

So as we continue to settle into our new lives, I’ll be building out this space. I’ll try new things and see what feels good to me. Hopefully, something somewhere in here will be meaningful to others, as so many other sites and blogs have given me meaning and purpose over the years.

5 years in the making

This was five years in the making, but more like 28.
This was endless nights of hard work, studying, reading, memorizing.
This was passion redefined. Reimagined.
This was dedication. This was love. This was a dream.
And this dream – this dream became reality.
Five years of tireless work and now Grace (oh, my beloved Grace) is a doctor of medicine.
A woman with a gift. A duty. A desire to help and heal.
A woman who will – mark my words – changes the lives of thousands.

This could have easily been a dream.


This could have easily been a dream.

Your laughter, I mean.
Your blue eyes. Your silly smile showing those six teeth oh so determined to poke through that we were the only house on the block with our lights on at 3 am.
Your hair and how it parts perfectly after a bath.

This could have easily been a dream, the way you looked at me for the very first time, on your mother’s chest, crying wildly. I said your name—I said Eleanor—and you turned your head to me and your eyes opened. For the very first time in your life, your eyes opened and you saw me, your father, and it could have easily been a dream.

Like the way you learned to say dada first.
Like the way your mouth made a perfect little “O” when you saw something new.
Like the way you looked out the second story window of our small apartment in Detroit, waving waving waving as I left for work.
Like the way you learned to blow kisses by placing your hand to your mouth and clicking.
Like the way you brighten up a room the moment you enter it.
Like the way you brightened my life the moment you entered it.

This could have easily been a dream, this past year. It could have easily been a dream and I could have woken up at any moment and said I knew it was too good to be true and continued on with another day but that never happened.

You are here. And yes, it is too good to be true, but you’re the closest thing to the truth I’ve yet to find.

This could have easily been a dream, but it isn’t.

You are here.

You are here and you are everything, love.




Friday Five


Still from Ethan Newberry’s film Where Dreams Go To Die



I’ve been wanting to start a few different series-style posts where, week-to-week, there’d be a post dedicated to a similar theme. The first in this fashion is going to Friday Five, where I recap five things from the week that are worth checking out.

Short, sweet and to the point. Because we don’t have time for bullshit.

  1. Where Dreams Go to Die — A documentary that follows along Canadian ultrarunner Gary Robbins as he attempts the Barkley Marathons two years in a row. This documentary left me shaken for several days. You can download it here.
  2.  REI’s How to Run a 100 Miles — Another video, I know, but it was so well done it made me want to sign up for a 100 miler, which is some crazy shit. Pretty sure I couldn’t finish a marathon right now if I wanted to, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t look for races after finishing it.
  3. Hoka One One Clifton 4s — I picked up a pair of these while on the west side of Michigan from a great running company, Gazelle Sports. I’ve only got a few miles in them, but damn they felt good. (Or maybe my Ghosts were just really shot!)
  4. My Field Notes— I always have something on me. I want to remember the little moments with Eleanor. I’ve even thought about bringing a notebook along when I run.
  5. International Women’s Day — What an awesome, important day. As the husband of an incredible, bad ass woman who is close to becoming a doctor; as a colleague of many important

Get fired and great things will happen

Get fired and great things will happen

Woof. I recognize that’s a hell of a headline.

But I think it’s true.

When I was laid off two years ago this week, I would have not-so-politely told you where you could put my foot.

But two years ago I wasn’t living in an iconic, historic and major city in the midst of an unprecedented comeback.
Two years ago my marriage wasn’t nearly as healthy.
Two years ago I wasn’t a father.
Two years ago I wasn’t the senior copywriter for an exciting brand. I wasn’t even writing. In fact, two years ago, just before I was laid off, I was told that my writing was disappointing. That it needed work. That I wasn’t a good writer.

All of that’s to say that two years ago I wasn’t nearly as happy as I am today, and losing that job is a big part of it all.

At the time it felt like the end of the world. It wasn’t.
At the time it felt like I was a failure. I wasn’t.

Now, when I write its with a sense of purpose. Now, I work knowing that I shouldn’t leave anything for tomorrow. Now, I’m not waiting for someone else to tell me whether I’m doing a good job—I’m holding myself to the higher standard.



5 Tips from a New Dad


Screen Shot 2018-01-20 at 7.19.35 AM

One of the things I quickly grew tired of hearing from other parents, especially when we were still expecting Eleanor’s arrival, was “Enjoy every minute. It goes by so fast.”

We get it. They grow up.

But here we are. It’s been 9 months since my little wonder woman was born, and I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned along the way that I’ve passed along to friends who are expecting children.

  1. You got this. To any parent, no matter you who are, but especially to new fathers…you’ve got this. New dads have a lot of worries heading into parenthood. Are we going to have a connection with our children? Are they going to like us? Will we like being a father?I can assure you, with certainty, that you’re going to be great so long as you listen and love.
  2. Sleep. I’m actually laughing while writing this because it’s the stupidest thing I have ever written. BUT, there’s truth here. You’re at your best when you sleep. So figure out a way to get what you need so you can show up for your family day after day.
  3. Drink beer. Or read a book. Or go for a run. What I am saying is do whatever it is you do that makes you feel like your “old self.” Becoming a parent isn’t about losing your identity. Far from it. Your family needs you, not some reformed version of you. Of course, becoming a father has a way of making you reflect and change, but if you run every day, then keep running. If you love craft beer, enjoy one after that baby goes to bed. If you dress in lady’s lingerie and sing Whitney Houston…for the love of god, keep singing.
  4. Love (and listen to) your partner. If you’re in a straight marriage, and your wife or girlfriend has just taken on this new role as mother, they’re (probably) scared shitless. Sometimes the best thing you can do is listen. And love them, with flowers, or an extra hour of sleep, or kind words reminding them that they’re beautiful and valuable and worthwhile. Or a home-cooked meal. Or takeout. Or notes around the house. Or an hour to do whatever they do.

    Same is true if you’re in a same-sex relationship. Becoming a parent is hard, and you know this first hand. So find ways to give your partner some love and space.

  5. Write it down, or take some pictures. Do something that will help you remember just how incredible these moments are because…yes, it really does go by too fast.

[Photo: Anastasia McKendrick]