Tag Archives: Chicago

Achieving a Goal

by Erin Kelly
October 20 2013

A week ago, my boyfriend Bryan Weber ran the Chicago marathon. It was his first marathon he had ever run. When I asked him why he decided to run it, he said it was because he was bored. I knew that was his way of saying that he needed a challenge in his life, a goal to work towards. And when I look back at how he came to achieve this goal, I realize that he definitely found what he was looking for.

Bryan used to run cross-country in high school but it had been a long time since he had really gone running. In fact, after I returned from the 3-month journey around the world with my mom to make the film Opening Our Eyes, exercise was not a regular part of his daily routine at all. But everything changed in March 2011 when he bought a bike. He started riding his bike everywhere, to work, to class, etc. Before he knew it, he had lost 60 pounds and I could see his outlook on life start to shift. In September 2012, he started running again. It began with 2-3 miles each run and suddenly he was running every day, 4, 5, 6 miles at a time.

In February 2013, he said to me, “I’m running several miles every day now, why don’t I try to run 26.2?” I have to admit, I was a little skeptical at first. His knee had been hurting him and a marathon seemed like a big jump for someone who had just started running again a few months prior. But I certainly wasn’t going to discourage him and I told him I would support him with whatever he decided. He signed up and carried on with his running. He didn’t really follow a specific training program. He didn’t even tell that many people that he was doing it. He just kept doing his thing. And by the time October rolled around, he had lost 40 more pounds.

Bryan at Mile 11

Bryan at Mile 11

The morning of the marathon, I could tell he was nervous. He said he just wanted to be able to finish the race. I had no doubts in my mind that he would not only finish, but fly through it. And he did, in 4 hours and 14 minutes. I saw him 4 different times throughout the race. Each time I saw him, he had a huge smile on his face, even at mile 25.

When I found him after he had crossed the finish line, he was so full of energy and I couldn’t understand how that was possible after what he had just went through. But then I realized that this was a goal that he had been working towards for months and months and he had just achieved it. Can you imagine what that feels like? I was so full of pride and admiration for him at that moment, but I was also thinking of what goals I could work towards and what challenges I could tackle in my life so that I could feel that way. He inspired me to do that.

Bryan and I after the finish line

Bryan and I after the finish line

As I think about Bryan’s journey and how he went from not exercising at all to running a marathon and being 100 pounds lighter, I realize that any goal is possible if you put your mind to it. Everyone is capable of overcoming some challenge or achieving something in his or her life. And oftentimes, while they are striving towards that goal, they are inspiring others along the way.

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A Sad Day

by Gail Mooney
September 16 2011

This is out of the norm for this site, but I post this news to remind everyone to live their life each day as if it were their last. It’s a reminder to us all,  to not put off those things you want to do or leave your words unsaid.

I write when I have something on my mind or feel that I have something to say and pass along.  Today, I write because I’m heartbroken.  I need to share some thoughts and then close out.

Willie “ Big Eyes” Smith – legendary blues musician, passed away – suddenly from a stroke.  He was one of the seven Delta blues musicians that I interviewed for one of my first short documentaries back in 2002, The Delta Blues Musicians.  They are all gone now – but one.

I’ll always remember the day I sat down to talk to Willie.  It was relaxed and we had the most wonderful conversation, sitting on the porch of an old sharecropper shack at Hopson’s Plantation in Clarksdale, MS.  I feel good that I captured his thoughts and words that day and preserved them for future generations.  I feel that my purpose in life is to do just that – to document, record and capture the peoples and cultures of our times. I feel that is what I am here to do.  When I stay on that course, I have peace inside.  When I drift from that – I don’t feel right.  I think I’ve always known that – but nowadays I try to stay focused on that path.

Willie’s passing reminds me yet again, how precious life is and to appreciate the now.  For the most part, I do live in the now.  I try to live my life as if this may be my last day on earth.  It frees me from a lot of needless fears that stops lots of people from “doing”.  It reminds me to tell my people that I love them because I may not get that chance again.

We all put things off or leave things left unsaid. Seven years ago,  mom died suddenly, without warning. It seems like yesterday because the pain is still real and there is a hole left in my heart.  I remember quite clearly the week before she died.  It was a busy week and I had planned to give my mom a call because it had been awhile.  I never did get that chance – and those words will go unsaid – forever.

We lost another blues legend earlier this year, Pinetop Perkins.  Pinetop and Willie had just won a Grammy for the album “Joined at the Hip” that they worked on together.  I had been meaning to head down to the Delta next month to the Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival – I had missed the festival last year and I wanted to hear Pinetop and Willie play. Sadly, I won’t get that chance to see and hear them in concert again.  But I do have their records and I’ll always have their words, both on tape and tucked away in the recesses of my mind.

We’ll miss you Willie.

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The Third World

by Gail Mooney
December 31 2010

Even spending over three months in third world countries, didn’t prepare us for this past week’s events.  The day after Christmas it snowed – a lot.  In some places in NJ there were 32 inches of snow on the Sunday after Christmas.

Erin had come home for Christmas.  She only had a long weekend because she is still new to her job and had to report back to work on Tuesday of this past week.  She was scheduled to fly out of Newark on Monday, but we anticipated the flight being canceled, so we rebooked it for Tuesday.  Then the airline canceled her Tuesday flight and couldn’t get her on a flight back to Chicago until Thursday!  Erin knew that it would be hard to justify to her bosses in Chicago that she wasn’t able to get on a flight to Chicago until four days later, after the storm.  Chicago knows how to deal with a snowstorm.

We spent the better part of Monday, trying to get through on the phone to the airlines but  their lines were overloaded and they weren’t even placing our phone calls on hold.  Just disconnecting the calls.  A real catch-22 because we couldn’t get through to rebook the flight.  Then we started looking into trains and saw one last seat from New York to Chicago, but before we could finish the transaction – it was snatched. That left either driving or taking the bus.  The bus left at 1:15PM the next day and would get her to Chicago at 5:00AM the next morning, Wednesday  – a full day earlier than the airline was promising.

So on Tuesday, two days after the storm we headed to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in NYC. It took twice the amount of time, due to grid lock, snow clogged streets and lack of services in general. But we made it just in time for Erin to board the 18 hour overnight bus trip to Chicago.

She made it to work on Wednesday morning. There was another glitch in Cleveland but like Orson Welles says  “If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.”  She and thousands like her did what they needed to do to get to where they were going.  When an airline isn’t getting its passengers rebooked until more than a week later in some cases, you have to be your own advocate.

I was quite impressed with Erin’s attitude and commitment, but then again I learned that about my daughter during our trip.  She is one of those special people that you know you can really count on. Its so much easier for most people to just make excuses, so they do.

I couldn’t get over the irony though. After traveling, virtually mishap free on over 30 flights, on a 99-day journey around the world, on 14 different airlines – Erin couldn’t get a flight from Newark to Chicago until four days after a snow storm.  I’m not quite sure where the third world is anymore.

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