I'm not going to tell you to go run (or swim, hike, walk, or whatever). If you're on the couch, into a second beer, halfway through a bag of chips, and depressed, I'm sorry and will do you this favor: I won't tell you it all gets better when you get up and moving. Screw that. About all that's likely to do is piss you off.

There are good thinkers I read regularly. Leo Babauta is my favorite. Trigger warning: most of these are self-help people. Self-help is a laughable category, but sometimes I need someone to help me help myself. You know?

Most of this year those thinkers haven't gotten me to move far or often. At least physically. Mentally, I'm no longer in a terrible teaching job partly due to things I read. But physically it has been a different story.

I've been a runner for a while. Last year I ran thirty-five miles in loops run with a different friend or pair of friends. Last spring and summer I ran five or ten miles most every day to get ready for the big run. I was as motivated as I've ever been. Running was natural.

This year, not so much. I mean to run, but haven't made the time, haven't gotten into a routine, haven't set up a schedule. Not that I want a training plan. Even last year I didn't have any plan other than to run most every day. I'd head out the door, start my watch, then let my whim decide whether to turn right or left at the corner. I don't need a plan. I don't have goals. I just know I'm happier when I run.

Don't worry. I'm still not going to say that you will be happier if you run. Who the hell am I to decide that? And who wants to hear that crap? Not me.

I've meant to run. I've wanted to run. I just haven't run. And no amount of motivation has worked on me. Not the numbers on the scale, the aches in my potato body, or the understanding that running makes me feel better. None of it has worked.

But in the last seven days I've run four times.

My daughter joined her high school cross country team. She has friends on the team and needs the spirit of belonging to a team. She got the usual August mailing from the dance studio listing classes they'll allow her to take. Looking at it her face kind of fell. She likes dance but hasn't much enjoyed the dance school. It's a different kind of spirit. One that hasn't served her. She's going to run cross country in search of a different spirit. Last week she joined the team but her forms hadn't been processed.

"Coach says I should start running each day until I'm cleared to join the team. Will you go for a run with me?"

You bet your ass I will.

If you're feeling unmotivated and depressed, I'm sorry. I have no words of encouragement or life hacks. My solution involved my wife and I deciding to have a second child sixteen years ago. That might be longer planning than you're in for.

Still, nothing moves me more than my girl asking for time with her. She wants me to run with her? I'm in shorts and strapping on my sandals. Last year I ran thirty-five miles. If she asked me to go thirty-five today, I'd run until I couldn't any more. That's motivation.

Don't take this as advice, but if you're on the couch, maybe go see what your kid wants to do with you. Self-help turns out to be easy when it's not so much about the self.

Good Day, Eh?

My latest newsletter about being sick, I received notes wishing me well and prescribing remedies, which I appreciate. This cold threw me off a cliff but I'm on a slow mend. Today was a day in which my head still felt full — music sounds muffled which is a damn shame because Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers deserve perfect clarity — and I was weighed by fatigue, but mildly enough that I was able to walk and talk with my wife, build something with my daughter, and make dinner to celebrate my brother's birthday. School's out too. You've got a happy boy here.

To walk and talk my wife and I brought the dog. She needs to exercise and poop (don't we all?). Our best talks happen on the move as though we are Aaron Sorkin characters (don't we wish?). The talk was heavy and layered. She has things on her mind, both good and troubling. I work things out by writing. She holds them in a swirling mix, then talks through it all. It's one of my favorite things about her.

The fresh air did me as much good as the talk did for her. She's often labeled quiet by those who don't let her get started. Once she's going, she's an engine of ideas and clear-headed. She knows both sides of most arguments. I relearn that when I fight what I misinterpret as an attack that is really a statement of the way things are and a question as to how we should proceed. This morning I mostly listened and my brain could keep up. The cold really is clearing.

Later, my daughter suggested we build a scratching post for our cats in the way my father taught me. He never had a cat, but had spare lumber in the basement and garage, tools at the workbench. He had screws, glue, nails, and ideas on hand. We made the scratching post without a trip to the lumber yard, hardware store, or craft shop.

There are few things I enjoy more than building things out of wood. The sounds of table saw and chop saw, the feel of a drill, the smell of sawdust, the mark of a pencil held against a square, all of it is just good, good, and good and is better with my girl who says oh-no when I ask her to drill a hole and who leaves the room when I cut wood because the saw is too loud, too loud. We built a great scratching post.

The cats still haven't thanked us, the ungrateful wretches.

Then I made fried rice for the family which tonight included my brother and mother. It's my brother's fifty-third birthday. My wife made carrot cake from scratch (Carl Sagan's: If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.) I chopped vegetables, threw them in the wok, scrambled eggs, made a sauce from honey, soy sauce, and white wine, and mixed the whole shebang. It was delicious.

Everyone at the table thanked me for the rice and my wife for the cake. Take that, you damn cats.

I did what I wanted to today. I felt up to it and now I'm tired. This is what I'm after. That's all I want. I was happy all day, which is a luxury since I was only shooting for content. It's so nice when things work out that way.

Bring on tomorrow.