One of the questions I get asked the most often is why I do what I do. Why do I run? Why do I eat the way I do? Why am I so invested and passionate about my health, my kids health and why do I freaking enjoy it so much?
Way back in high school (and I do mean waaaaay back), I was a shy girl. In some ways, that hasn’t changed but I *think* as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found a voice that is uniquely mine that I’m less afraid of projecting it. As a 16 year old however, I was this awkward (shocking, I know), skinny, pimpled faced girl with absolutely zero self-confidence.
I clearly remember a moment in time where I was out in the forest hiking with friends and we got turned around on the path we were on and being totally awesome and prepared, as most teenagers are, we had no compass or map to find out way back. These were the days before cell towers and smart phones were all the rage for teenagers (for the record…I’m 35 years old now…not 60 for those that may be wondering how far back we’re talking here).
As panic started to creep in, we eventually found our way but because it was late, we needed to haul you-know-what to get back to our ride before it left without us. We were running like crazy down the paths trying to get back to our meeting point and I was struggling to keep up with everyone else. I’m not talking just burning lungs and racing heart. I was physically unable to hold the pace my friends were running and they were very quickly getting lost from my field of vision. I had always thought that in a moment of panic, I would be able to sustain whatever was needed of my body for as long as it was needed. As my friends pulled further and further ahead of me, I quickly realized how wrong I was.
All in an instant, I felt alone and terrified that I would be lost in the woods forever.
Thankfully, I found my way out and did my best to down play the entire situation. In truth, not only was I embarrassed, I was utterly ashamed of myself. I was so out of shape that a 10 minute run was more than I could handle physically and emotionally. 19 years later, I still remember that feeling and how much I hated myself for thinking that being skinny was my exit pass from taking care of myself. That day, that moment really affected how I perceived myself. I was so mortified that I just stuck my head in the sand and kept it there for many, many, many years.
Eventually I got it into my head that that day in the woods was my starting point. I really couldn’t get any lower but I could certainly work my way to being better. More importantly, I learned that I was responsible for my outcome. That realization is what started my entire journey to where I am today. I’m not trying to be the best, to win races or be better than the person standing next to me. Quite the opposite. I want to walk alongside people who have been where I’ve been and are going where I’m going. Encourage those who are discouraged and lean on shoulders when I’m down in the dumps. All the while pushing myself to where I want to be. I don’t have all the answers (shhh…don’t tell my kids!) but I love learning and sharing the few tidbits of insight and knowledge I’ve picked up along the way.
I mean, isn’t that what community is all about? Building each other up, helping, supporting and walking through life arm in arm. Never hesitating to carry someone or to ask to be carried? Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could look at the person standing next to us and cheer them on no matter where they’re at? I know when I’m struggling with something and someone offers me encouragement, a pat on the back or a shoulder to cry on, I not only feel empowered to keep going, try again, work harder, I also feel safe. And I think that’s something we really lack these days. Safety to feel, be and act outwardly the way many of us feel inwardly. I want to not only be authentic and vulnerable, I want to feel safe in doing so. Tell me I’m not the only one out there?!