Taking the road less traveled….
She doesn’t know me yet but I know her. I’ve watched her from a distance through her triumphs and trials. From the time she collapsed next to a big oak tree with heatstroke in her very first running race, to her screaming out during childbirth. She screwed up in her 20’s and made some determined comebacks in her 30’s. She didn’t know she would ever meet me. I’m the me she is supposed to be. The one who is not tied to race performance or even motherhood but an artist, huntress, educator, and more. It’s hard to watch her struggle in pain, and without motivation. And although there are little wins, she was meant for so much more. The woman deep down knows this, yet conforms to less than what she could be.
We’ve all been there, you come up for air just to get your face shoved back down under the water again. Or we took a leap of faith and really poured our hearts into something just to have it backfire and not work out. It is a part of life and it is what builds character. GROWTH. How we pick ourselves back up from these so-called “failures” or how we handle them. How we can keep pushing forward even though we get the crap kicked out of us, even though it’s scary, and even though it all may backfire on us. Failure can build confidence.
One of my favorite quotes:
“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place, and I don't care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done! Now, if you know what you're worth, then go out and get what you're worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain't you. You're better than that! I'm always gonna love you, no matter what. No matter what happens. You're my son and you're my blood. You're the best thing in my life. But until you start believing in yourself, you ain't gonna have a life.”
― Sylvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa
It’s so true, isn’t it? I’m sure if someone said “there is a pandemic coming that is going to crush the world,” a few years ago, we’d roll our eyes and say “yeah right.” But that is the thing, we don’t know what is going to happen, but we can damn sure live life to the fullest now...and keep fighting back! It’s the same for the women’s rights movements and equality. Can you imagine if long ago women didn’t fight for the right to vote? How different would our world look today? Those women took the road less traveled, and I’m encouraging you to do the same no matter what the situation is, but mostly for yourself.
My point is, we need to keep fighting, challenging ourselves, and taking risks. But what does that look like? Aren’t risks bad? The definition is literally the chance of getting hurt or losing something. Can I just point out the “THE CHANCE” part? In my opinion, for most, it’s taking the chance and striving for self-growth. We constantly listen to the wrong voices, we compare ourselves to the wrong things and we think that is what our value, worth, and identity are.
I’m guilty too. For the last year and a half, I have found myself caught in another health battle. One in which has COMPLETELY robbed me of my elite athlete status, my function as a coach, a wife, and a mother. I caught myself telling my doctors how I feel as if I am the most dysfunctional wife there is. Not only can I not provide more children for my husband, but I don’t have the energy to play with my daughter most days, or even provide the 110% effort I like to give to my clients. I’m costing us thousands of dollars with medical bills and worse yet, my daughter is inheriting these diseases and health issues.
But instead of focusing on the negative, I forced myself to “embrace the suck,” and focus on what I can do. I could finish that holistic nutrition certification I always wanted to do. I could recertify myself in Colorado hunting so I could potentially provide for my family. I can trust others to serve my clients even better than I can (shout out to Coach Salynda :). And although my capacity is limited, I can provide great feedback with my business, manage my time to get the rest I need in order to have quality time with my family, and most importantly value myself as more than just an athlete, coach, mom, and wife. Although those things are very important and what I am most passionate about, I do believe there is still more to life in any capacity!
“Never settle in a race, never settle in life.”
These reflections didn’t just occur randomly, I have planned execution. I have made time to forest bathe (aka walk in the woods and did you know it can boost work creativity by 50%!), to get outdoors, to meditate. All of which should be a priority to everyone. The Japanese practice of shinrin yoku, or Forest Bathing, is good for both physical and mental wellbeing. It is proven to reduce stress hormone production, improve feelings of happiness and free up creativity, as well as lower heart rate and blood pressure, boost the immune system and accelerate recovery from illness.
One does not need to walk for hours, consider even just 15 minutes a day, and take the road less traveled. Create a healthy habit.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” ~ Matthew 7:13-14
But what the hell does any of this even mean? One can find great benefit and self-growth in taking time in the great outdoors for reflection. SLOWING DOWN, or being forced to slow down (covid, my health problems, yours?) One can also find a much fuller life in finding their independence by taking the road less traveled. It’s a scary step to take, most settle for less, but with confidence, community, and some time in the great outdoors one can find and be inspirational in their own way or many ways. I also challenge you to think about how none of your thoughts matter without any action. We all talk about our goals, but very few harness the courage it takes to risk trying for them.
“Confidence can make or break you. Have it, own it, and protect it. Those who are jealous will cut you down and tell you you are cocky, but without it, you wouldn’t be who you are or who you could be.”
Gaining Confidence: Write down 3 things that are hard (or scary or you think are impossible- aka OUT OF YOUR comfort zone) for you to do. And ask yourself these questions. Lean into #5... Does it give you butterflies? If so, you may be missing out on a fuller life!
1. Do I really REALLY want to be “x”?
2. If not, what is that about?
3. Do I believe I can increase my ability to do “x”?
4. Is there a part of me that doubts my capacity to change?
5. How would my life be different if I did accomplish “x”?
So what does your road less traveled look like? Is it even one you wanted to take or were you forced to take it? Do you shove it out of your mind and keep settling for less? You may not be there yet, but maybe some of you are...in hindsight was it worth it? Did it help you grow? For those of you like me, with never-ending health problems that keep robbing you of what you “thought” you were, have you RISEN UP? … despite the extreme fatigue, migraines, or disappointment?
It isn’t all you know, that isn’t all who you are supposed to be, you are and can be so much more!
“I will walk in faith even though I cannot see” Corinthians
Keep walking! Keep going, keep growing, keep on fighting! To be continued…