Saturday, September 25, 2010

It Takes A Village...

My Dad and friend Julie, are literally holding me up.
After I complete most runs longer than a mile, I find that my balance becomes frustrated,
but only really once I stop running... today was no exception.

So I had a plan in approaching the 5K run today and for the most part I stuck with it. I broke it a little last night by not getting to bed by nine o'clock. It was well worth it though. 

I convinced my Dad that he’d love to be my date (seeing as how my husband is currently deployed) to a benefit event for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation

At this event it was announced via a representative of our local government for Utah that September 25th (Chris Reeve’s birthday) would now be recognized as Christopher Reeve Day for his and his family’s efforts in motivating and inspiring those that have been impacted by spinal cord injury and paralysis. 

It was a very nice and worthwhile event. I was able to actually meet Christopher’s mother - way cool! So last night I fell asleep thinking about the things I had heard and experienced from the Reeve Foundation event.
When my alarm sounded, it rang in a vivid memory of a little tom-girl, whose parents took her to see the Superman movie (starring Christopher Reeve) after having bought her a new pair of tennis shoes. 

After the movie this little tom-girl (i.e., me) ran around the house, yard, and neighborhood thinking that the shoes, in conjunction with her newfound superhuman strength, were making her run faster. 

But now, as an adult, I’ve come to the quiet realization that, I know I can do it. I’ve run so much in preparation for this. This is nothing more than just another run. 

I’m not superhuman, I’m just determined not to let my ailing body win this go-around. Today I got to win [insert huge grin here].
My only goal was to finish without having walked any of it. I got to the race, meditated, stretched and some of my friends and family started to arrive to join me and cheer me on. 

Physically and mentally this was my best run to date. I had the best 5K play list sounding in my ear and I simply tuned out the world and enjoyed my run. 

I not only ran without stopping or walking, but felt good the entire time (minus one scary moment going down the last hill). I bested my practice time by nearly six minutes (total run time 35.19 minutes). But I didn’t do this alone.
There’s an old proverb that states: “It takes a whole village to raise a child.” This indeed was the case for me, but recently I’ve seen that, it also takes an entire support group to help an individual succeed. 

I feel like I’ve won something so much bigger than a Grammy or Emmy Award, so I feel inclined to give an acceptance speech...
Thank you, to those who believed in and motivated me. Bill & Meagan for simply even coming up with the idea that I should try running with a jogger stroller to help lend balance. 

To my brother-in-law, DC for figuring out how to properly weight the darn stroller to work best for me. For various family members and distant friends (via Facebook) for believing that I can do this. 

For my trainer, Dave, who consistently motivates me and kicks my butt. Jeanie and Julie, who have supported me on countless training runs. 

And for Josh, who has continually and energetically supported me with his heart and soul - though currently on a Middle East deployment, he’s done everything he can to make me feel like I’m a better and stronger person than who I see in the mirror. 

And to God, for giving me the strength, energy, and determination in the first place.
I am blessed. Thank you!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

We Are Never Alone

Last Tuesday I was enjoying an emotional pity party. I think it finally dawned on me that some of what made me feel motivated not all that long ago had been deployed to the Middle East. 

I wanted to go for a run (mentally), but my physical self couldn’t muster the oomph required. Later I found out it was actually a mental oomph that was lacking (not my body), as my body eventually overcame the mental fatigue. 

I thought about the elliptical in the basement and then realized I needed to leave the house. It’s too quiet there! So I went to the gym around the corner to see what my leg could handle on the stair climber and then use the dry sauna. 

In the gym parking lot I sat and stared... getting upset I moved and said to myself out loud, “if not now, then when?” and “What else am I going to do tonight if not this?” So totally ticked off, I stomped into the gym.
I exceed my expectations on the stair climber, did some other leg workouts and headed to the dry sauna. Already in the dry sauna was an Asian woman with crutches outside. 

I recognized her as the woman hobbling through the dressing room when I first arrived. I usually meditate in the sauna, but suddenly I felt myself compelled to talk to her and I’m very glad that I did. 

I found out that “Julie” is from Vietnam and has been in the United States (Utah) for about four years while pursuing her study at the Salt Lake Community College. 

At the age of four Julie became ill with Polio and now as an adult woman uses crutches to aide her in walking. Julie’s parents both died many years ago and her three brothers and three sisters are still in Vietnam. 

I think that Julie is about my age, maybe a little older. Somewhere in the middle of conversation, she got sullen and said that she feels alone. 

She wasn’t saying this for sympathy; it was simply a factual and sad statement. I felt compelled to give her my contact information and invited her to reach out to me anytime, especially during the holidays. 

I’ve no idea if she actually will, but I simply felt so much love and a need to express that she’s indeed not alone. My heart is still swollen from concern and empathy for her.
I can’t seem to get this experience out of my mind. She was so kind and quiet and though I could barely understand her I wanted so much to connect with her. 

This just made me think of the social phobia people have in associating with people who have disabilities, or not knowing how or wanting to communicate with people not of your race; then compounding the issue with both disability and being a minority - with no relations present. 

Who am I not to reach out?
The look of loneliness I saw in her was a look I’ve seen before, in the mirror. The circumstances may have been different, but the emotion of fear, loneliness, and isolation is universal. 

Even in the apparent desolation of our darkest hours, God is there if we but recognize. I’m not the only one who has MS, who has ever been sad, unmotivated or felt alone. 

We may have moments of somber solitude in our lives, but taking in the entire picture we can also see the beauty of the earth and our place within it. 

Our personal light, no matter how dim it is, often times acts as tremendous illumination for the lives of those around us. We are never alone; oftentimes we are the light that brightens the way for others. Thank you Julie. God bless you.