Allow me to share with you a little convo I had recently…I was chatting with a small group, and one woman asked about my upcoming race. In the course of convo, I told her that there are check-points that I need to make it to by a certain time. I said the last check-point was at mile 47, only 3 miles from the finish. I joked that if I was pulled they’d have to catch me first I want that 50 mile finish so bad 😉 She then said that’s why she sticks to the 10k in her local race and doesn’t attempt the 1/2 marathon because she doesn’t want to get pulled if she doesn’t make the time cut-off.
When I was a little girl, I would look at the great swimmers my dad coached and wish so much I could crawl inside their heads and see what they were thinking. They had such passion for their sport. I wanted what they had. I didn’t figure it out until much later in my adult life. I came to many realizations, but when everything started to make perfect sense, was about the time Wil was 2 years old. His diagnosis at birth of Down syndrome was a shock, yes, and I had lots to figure out. But it was when the initial shock wore off and the real day-to-day was happening about 2 years later that I finally started to understand. It was after the crazy first blurred year of doctor appointments and therapies, and adjusting to life with 3 kids under 3. I finally started to settle into a routine and it was time to steer the ship.
I found a great passion in what I was doing: learning new ways to help Wil, working with the therapists, enjoying life a as a mom, and meeting other moms who had kids with Down syndrome who shared this passion. This level of thinking allowed me to take risks. To try new things even if they had a chance of failing. Sure, there were the “I told you so’s” from the side-line critics, or those that always “knew a better way” but the interesting part is now that I had a passion, their comments didn’t sting like they used to. I was the one in the middle of this life, I knew the day-to-day nuances, and now I had friends that also lived a similar life so they just “got it” with no need for explanation. I could turn to them when I needed to, and they could turn to me, and I grew a deep, core belief in what I was doing no matter what outside forces said or thought. I began to expand these beliefs into other areas of my own life.
I ran a half-marathon and my God I was scared. I had shared my training with friends and on Facebook. What if I bonked? What if I went out too hard and I failed and in front of everybody? Then, I reminded myself I was doing this for me. I had shared my passion with others, and sometimes that involves failing. I was going to do what I learned in training, put myself out there and do the best I could. Not in spite of, but because of my fears, the finish of that 1/2 marathon was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life! I even placed! I was hooked. What if I listened to my fears? What if I stepped down and said, well, I tried? All that I would have lost out on!
I then trained for a full marathon during one of Michigan’s most brutal winters. We had record lows and many snowfalls. I hated my alarm clock when it went off at 4AM. I cursed myself for signing up for this. Then, I reminded myself what it FELT like to finish that 1/2 marathon. How could I conjure that feeling again to get me through this training? I took the big piece of cardboard off of the back of one of the twin’s drawing pads, then went online and printed inspiring quotes and photos. I went in the twin’s art box and took stick glue and glued all these cut-outs on the cardboard and put it right on the bathroom counter so it was the first thing I’d see when I got out of bed. My husband thought I was nuts, but what’s new? 😉
Running on those cold, dark winter mornings taught me I can get up and get out of bed for anything if I want it bad enough. Concurrently, raising a child with special needs has taught me something very important: GET EASY OUT OF YOUR HEAD! It’s not going to be easy, and if you want easy, you are going to be disappointed A LOT! I don’t care about easy, I care about the experience. I care about the forward steps and growth and the lasting exhilaration from that growth process.
Some days it’s a victory just to step out in the cold to get something done. Some days it’s a victory if Wil says one new word or displays one new action. They all build on each other. They are all forward steps that propel you to the next one. But if you stay in your cocoon, your safe place, you will feel comfort but you won’t feel the exhilaration of the cold on your cheek, the stride across the finish, the thrill of a new word or action that has been worked on for 3 months.
So I shared with this woman that she would already be miles ahead just by making a new choice. Wouldn’t it be exhilarating to know you took that step, that you did it for yourself, no matter where you landed? That you went after the race you before only dreamed about? Sure, there are no guarantees. Lots can happen. And yes it will hurt a lot if you don’t end up landing where you wanted to. But that is because you dared to care. That is because you put a fire in your belly to go after something. Go for it! And she said, “Well, you are infectious, I’ll give you that.” Then smiled, gave me a little chuckle, shook her head, and left the room like I was crazy.
Maybe, just maybe I planted a seed, got her thinking. That’s all we need, is one seed planted to allow our crazy to grow 🙂