I want to tell you a little story about power. Now, I’m not talking about the kind of power you typically think of. It’s not the power that comes with position, money or fame. The power I’m talking about revolves around deep seeded belief and faith. Belief, that we all possess the power to make our dreams (and fears if we let them) come true. What I am talking about is the power of the subconscious mind. I’m talking about taking each fear that is rooted so nicely in the deepest, darkest parts of your mind, the one that you probably aren’t even aware of. Let’s pick that weed, lay it out on the table and examine it. Is it true? Is it really, really true? And what if my deepest fear happened…what would it feel like? By examining and getting real with the things that block us, we can begin to release the imaginary chains that bind us. We finally realize at a soul level, that the only thing that was ever keeping us, was ourselves.
Easier said then done? Yes, I know. It’s one that I have grappled with myself and my hope is that in sharing a piece of my own story, it will encourage you to be a detective of your own life, thoughts and beliefs - to move past the fear and begin the journey.
There have been many pivotal moments in my life. But the ones I remember most were the days when I began to “wake up” to the many lies I told myself. As a young mother of two, I began to feel my identity lost, like many do to the endless and selfless care of another human being. I loved being a mom and was doing what I had always dreamt of - being able to stay at home and be fully committed to their little lives. But what I wasn’t aware of, was this looming energy that began to hover reminding me of all the things I hadn’t yet become or done. The dreams that seemed now like a fading image in my mind. Was it my soul longing to be seen and fill some dharma? Or just my bruised ego jumping up and down like a two-year-old wanting attention and respect?
During this time two very interesting things happened:
Both fascinating in hindsight. Both seemed like harmless fun in the moment – a fresh new room or a new medal (and lean body) for all those miles tackled. But what I didn’t know is that my soul was trying to tell me something.
I began running A LOT. What started as an efficient workout and time to myself, escalated into one of my greatest mirrors and learning lessons. I began running with a neighbor. Our daily runs and talks were wonderful. Although I struggled to make it out of bed on chilly mornings, I loved the feeling of connecting with another and my body. It was re-capturing a little piece of me.
When my friend declared that we should sign up for a half marathon, I was a little surprised and unsure. It was something I hadn’t ever considered but I said "sure." Unfortunately, as the race loomed near, my friend got injured and I was left to go it alone. Now, I was all alone at the start, on the path, up the hill, and in the moments when a race gets hard…really, really hard. But you know what happened? I made it through. I realized I was strong and I was hooked. Next race here I come!
Now the really good stuff started happening on my next stop. Being a Scorpio is probably all you need to know about me. I’m either all in or OUT! So toeing up to the next line, this time to run through the gorgeous vines on our way from Napa to Sonoma, I was ready. All of a sudden it was no longer okay to just “finish” the race, this time I had a goal in mind, and an aggressive one at that.
With only one race under my belt, I knew almost nothing about what could go “wrong” or racing strategy. The gun went off and I simply tore out of there. When I passed my friend and the coach of the nonprofit I was running for, they yelled at me to “slow down!” but I could barely hear them as I barreled down the path. And then something happened, something terrible happened, and I was only about 4 miles in. I started to panic. The fear grew so big and so fast I hardly knew what was happening. My legs started to feel like 200lbs weights and the tears began to swell in my eyes. What was happening? I couldn’t be tired; I ran this distance like nothing all the time. It wasn’t physical, it was definitely mental, but it was paralyzing my whole body.
Luckily an angel showed up at my side and willed me to the line. The coach came across my panic struck face and patiently tried to repair my mental state and now beaten down ego. I finished that day, without ever walking, but my body and soul felt crushed. I had done everything “right” to prepare, I even overdosed with water while traveling to ensure I wouldn’t be dehydrated. How, when I wanted it SO bad, could I have failed so miserably?
That’s not happening again my ego said, now it's time to get really serious about this running thing. Now, don’t let the story lead you the wrong way, not only has running been one of my greatest teachers, I also gained community, self esteem, greater autonomy and awareness from these days. It also began to teach me, the greatest lesson of my life, about the power of belief.
This time around, I had new goals in mind. I had been running with the coach’s girlfriend over the last several months who declared to me she wanted to qualify for the New York Marathon. Wow, never thought of that! That felt big, really big. Could I do that too? I put it on the table. I wanted it but not like she did. We trained hard, really hard. Even in pouring rain we were putting in the time. You know what happened? When race day came, even with all the anxiety and fear knotted in my stomach, by some miracle I made it. I qualified by seconds! I could barely believe it, which now also meant I had to keep going. You don’t qualify for New York and then say “Nah I don’t want to go". The bummer is my friend missed her time and so they swiftly passed me on to another coach who could help me prepare.
With this new coach things were different, drastically different. I had a plan and practices, but his language was much different. He spoke about “going with the flow” and the “grail.” What’s the “grail?” He talked about staying in the middle and now wanting it “too bad.” Now this was a mind bending idea to me. How do you work so hard for something and not “want it” or give it everything? But I respected him and so I listened. Something magical happened.
I started to re-connect with many of the spiritual lessons and interests I had from my early 20s when I couldn’t read enough spiritual books and practiced yoga almost daily. I began to realize how much of myself had grown quiet as I had placed my attention on dating, married life and then children. I started to “see” with new eyes again.
Early in these days, I had a half marathon that was to be just a “practice” to see where my fitness was at. Me, being my usual self, attacked it with all my will and finished “ok.” Again, set back in disappointment from the almost impossible expectations I set for myself. I plunged into sarcastic little comments to rebuff and hide the true hurt I felt. I can remember so vividly the simple words my coach told me:
“Be carful what you tell yourself.”
No explanation, just one simple sentence. I knew what he meant, but at the time I didn’t really know what he meant.
This marked the journey, the true journey into myself. Joseph Cambell calls it the hero’s journey. When we wake up and answer the call. I finally answered the call.
You see, over this time I had subconsciously gathered up all my ego’s feelings of regret and disappointment for all I had not done and become, and I channeled them into a mantra. The mantra in my head, and in my running, went something like this:
“You will never wish you had tried less, you will only wish you had tried harder.”
Middle...there’s no room for middle. I was determined not to be plagued by regret any longer. I suppose somewhere in my mind I had rationalized that if I “did this”, if I made “this time”, “finished this race”, somehow I would be “something.” I so desperately wanted to be seen, to be respected, to be acknowledged by another. At the time, none of this was conscious to me.
I finished New York Marathon and many other half and full marathons after that. Each race was another journey and insight into myself. Today, I still run but not like I used to. These days I balance my running with as much yoga (my true love) as I can. Each give me a key into myself, into the Universe, and into the inter-connectedness of all things and experiences.
Running provided me with a magical mirror in which to see myself. Over time, in disappointments and successes, I learned so much about our own power and about the laws of attraction.
My coach became one of the greatest spiritual teachers of my life. I learned how everything that shows up in our life is simply a reflection of our self. The people we attract, the situations that play out, all here to show us something deep within ourselves. You know what the say, hindsight is 20/20. I see now what I couldn’t see then, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have many fears that are yet to be faced. As I learn and grow, now when I bow my head to set an intention for my yoga practice, I ask God and the angels to reveal to me the unconscious. To show me what in me is blocking me to becoming all I dream to be.
You see, all the power lies in you. So open the cellar to the deep darkest spots in you. Let in the light and just look, it might not be as scary as you think. As the fearless Brene Brown would say, its time to “dare greatly” my friend.
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