I accomplished a huge milestone this past weekend. It may seem simple to some of you reading this blog, though I hope you will get how important it was for me.
A few months ago Unity announced that they were hosting their first 5K Tower Run/Walk, and I immediately knew it was mine to do. It motivated me to organize a team for a walking program at work and to join a Zumba class. I even started walking on the treadmill in the gym at work during my break. I also joined with two other coworkers to work out with a trainer in the gym once a week. My plan was to be ready. This 5K was not going to kick my behind.
Saturday morning as we headed out I felt great. I was in the middle of the pack of those who were walking (the runners were long gone). I was walking at a pace that felt good to me. I had water. I felt prepared. Then I started realizing my pace was slower than those around me and every so often I was walking with a new group of ‘friends.’ That was fine with me. I didn’t have any desire to pick up my pace. I wasn’t in this to race anyone. I was in this to celebrate and honor my body.
Then the runners began to pass. You see in order to complete this 5K you had to make the circuit twice. They were passing me on their second time around WAY before I had completed my first circuit. In the middle of that last hill before reaching the finish line I began to ponder…is it really necessary that I complete the ENTIRE 5K??!! About that time one of the runners took the time to speak words of encouragement and praise. Just before I came to the finish line, where I could see others who had completed the race, a friend was volunteering and offering words of encouragement to the participants. Both were exactly what I needed to motivate me in that moment.
Passing that finish line the first time I felt like I was starting over. I felt the excitement of starting out again, this time with no one around me to compare my pace to. I was truly walking for me, to celebrate and “love this skin I’m in.” Then I came up to one of the checkpoints where there were volunteers with water celebrating walkers/runners from either direction…and they were out of cups (though thankfully I had my own water). The thing is, they didn’t even notice I was coming by as they were all facing the other direction (most likely assuming the last person had already come through). Another choice point…there had been a few in this day. My nose began to run (and of course I forgot tissue). Then there was a voice of encouragement beside the road that brought me back to center.
It really wasn’t important for others to celebrate and encourage me…I got it. That’s not what I needed. It was important for me to celebrate and encourage myself. To love myself. I even asked for tissue from someone passing by on a golf court…as well as two others who were volunteering alongside the road. The thing is about the third time I realized I was apologizing for keeping them there and making sure they knew I might be the last person and that I wasn’t worried about that. Clearly I was.
Choice point. I stopped. It didn’t matter that stopping was going to impact my finishing time. It mattered that I stopped and experienced the joy of that moment. The squirrels playing in the trees. The breeze blowing through those trees. The shadows playing across the roadway. The birds singing. The geese flying over. My ability to breathe deeply and freely in that moment (imagine that—a short time ago I couldn’t). I was ready to begin again. Choice point.
You probably already know this, yet I feel it important to point out that with every thought we experience a choice point. Some of them just feel bigger than others, especially when we consciously choose to love who we are in every way.
Walking up that final hill I could see that some of those who had been volunteering at the top of the hill had already left, yet there were three volunteers still there to cheer me on. Touched my heart (and this time I did not apologize, I choose to celebrate that I made it up that final hill). The finish line was next. On the way I came up to the point where my friend had encouraged me earlier and he was in a car beside the road with another volunteer. As they stepped out of the car to cheer me on I started to say “Please stay in your car.” Choice point. Change that to “Thank you!!! I really appreciate your support. Almost there!!”
Finish line in sight, and uh oh. The volunteers had abandoned their post. I stopped for a few seconds before crossing the line. Choice point. Time to remind myself why I said yes to this in the first place. “I love this skin, this skin I’m in. I love this skin I’m in” (if that makes no sense to you, see previous blog). I crossed that line with joy—and went to find someone who could give me my finishing medal!!
A monumental moment in my continued expression of health and wholeness. Did I stay there? Not completely. Yet as I walked around with that medal around my neck I continued to remind myself–and to be joyfully reminded by others–that I had accomplished what I sent out to do. Truly a celebration of life, and specifically the Life expressing through and as this particular body. Choice point.