Athens in Layers

Athens is a city alive. It hums with life at all hours...motorcycles blasting by inches from where you stand, laundry hanging across balconies, flowering vines climbing ancient marble walls, old women carefully picking out fruit on the corner, old men arguing soccer scores at the neighborhood newsstand. As you walk the streets, there are small signs everywhere of how long people have lived and died and made their homes here. From the hilltop in the First Cemetery of Athens, you can stand next to a headstone from the 19th century, look over at the Parthenon built in 447 BCE, and bow your head in solemnity as a group of mourners make their way past you to the funeral taking place that very moment. It is city of layers, of new lives built upon old ones, of modern history overlapping ancient. Signs of some of Greece's current economic crisis butt right up against signs of its history as the world's leader in philosophy, art, and democracy, a reminder that greatness rises and falls, that cycle is inescapable, that we all have our own moments of enlightenment and decline. There are lessons to be gleaned from this, insights into our own sustainability, a call to dig into our own overlapping layers.

 

 

In The Heart

As I've mentioned here a few times lately, I recently traveled to Greece to document Terry Cockburn's solo marathon in the birthplace of the marathon. In the heart of Athens, she woke in the pre-dawn hours, not for a medal or fanfare, without support or spectators, but for the simple joy of the work and the beauty of the challenge. She met unexpected obstacles along the way, a planned route that had to be scrapped, brutal hills, high temps, traffic that never yields to the pedestrian, and yet she ran on, continuing to put one foot in front of the other until she reached 26.2.

It's never easy to push ourselves, to step out of what we know and away from what is comfortable to pursue a goal, and I would argue that that is especially true when the goal is seemingly arbitrary and comes without public accolade, when it doesn't "count" for anything "official". It's in these kinds of pursuits that true character shines through, in these moments that a person's real mettle is truly tested. Pride can't carry you- no one is watching. There is nothing but the internal dynamic, the potential dialogue with our inner self-critic when inevitable doubt creeps its way in during a moment of exhaustion, the choices we make about which of the stories we tell ourselves we allow to become truth. 

Terry is an athlete in the truest sense of the word. She is one of the most disciplined and driven and focused people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. She is a runner and a yogi and a teacher and a mother and a wife and a business owner and a writer, and that doesn't even scratch the surface of all that she puts out into the world. Her dedication to this challenge and the mental acuity she brought to the pursuit was fascinating to watch and an honor to be a part of.

Be sure to read more about Terry's run here!

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Nothing like a little yin yoga during a layover to keep things loose...or checking email...the realities of being a business owner...

Getting a sense of the city...and realizing that the marathon route planned from home wasn't going to work...

Miles of walking the hills of Athens in pursuit of a new route...

Game day. The route was still a little shaky, but Terry wasn't. Long before first light, she was ready.

A little dynamic warm-up, and off she went.

Running past the Panathenaic Stadium at first light...

...along the National Garden...

...and into the First Cemetery of Athens...

...and to the Acropolis, through the throngs of tourists that began to gather as the hours passed...

A quiet finish among the crowds in the Plaka...

Who needs a medal when there is gelato and waffles?

Locked & Loaded

As I’ve mentioned once before here in this space, I have packing issues. Like stupid ones. But I’ve been working on it and there has been some serious improvement. I admit that this is partially due to the fact that I simply don’t have as many choices these days…I donated he majority of my clothing when we moved into the camper and have been living with less in general, so I have less to choose from and am more comfortable than ever re-wearing things a few times between washes (this obviously doesn’t extend to undergarments, just in case you were concerned). And there is just the plain fact that I’ve come to deeply appreciate simplicity…being able to carry-on and not deal with lugging heavy or ginormous bags around an airport or down a city street is just easier and more comfortable.

I aspire to always carry-on and to someday be able to do that almost regardless of the length of my trip, but given the nature of my work and the fact that it’s imperative that I bring the right equipment (and back-ups) to do my job well, that won’t always be possible. But this trip to Greece is short and happening in reliably warm weather, so I’ve managed it and thought you might be curious about my packing list (I’ll be sure to add an update with any regrets/mistakes/wishes when I get back!), so here’s what I brought along for a week of travel:

In my backpack (goes in the overhead):

In my LL Bean leather tote (similar to this one)(stays with me):

  • MacBook Pro & power cord
  • 2 WD Passport harddrives
  • Journal
  • 2 Scout Books (pocket-sized for jotting quick notes as I go)
  • iPad mini (loaded with Kindle books, downloaded magazines, Skillshare classes, etc)
  • phone (loaded with audiobooks, podcasts, etc)
  • headphones
  • small pencil pouch with pens
  • A few travel snacks
  • money/credit cards
  • hand sanitizer

Clothing on plane:

  • LL Bean long knit dress in black
  • grey cardigan sweater (not sure where/when I picked it up…)
  • scarf
  • Chaco flip flops (had them forever…similar to these)

Annnnnnnd….that’s it! It’s definitely possible that I will be the stinky girl on my plane ride home, but I’m cool with that...

I can't wait to share some Greek adventures with you when I get back! In the meantime, feel free to follow along on Instagram!

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