Got My Privacy Back!

Been a while since I have written.  And I thought I should update things after my last blog post. 

I didn’t realize how stressful that camera was going to be…. Is…… yet I still found a way to work through it….. at least I tried.  Hard. Every. Day.

I spent the week after the camera first went up, just trying to ignore it.  Harder said than done for me.  But I did try. 

I kept my blinds closed.  But that made me more stressed because I couldn’t look out and enjoy my flowers, the sun or the birds with the blinds closed….so I opened them.  And tried not to look toward the camera.

We discovered that our over-sized umbrella was a good privacy block for our patio, one door and two of our windows.  So, every morning the first thing I did was go out and put that umbrella up and angle it to block the cameras view…. At least then I could sit on my patio without being watched.

And when I realized that one of the windows in view of the camera was reflecting the images from the pool….. and us in the pool…. well, I found a way to jimmy-rig a towel to cover the window and prevent reflection of our pool from being viewed…. Now I could swim in private. 

I wrapped the biggest towel….a blanket towel…. around me when I walked out to the pool just to stop the camera from seeing me in my swimsuit…. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am not super comfortable in my swimsuit and don’t like to be seen unless I invite you into my space….. I have to trust another person before I am that comfortable (part of why I like a pool in my backyard, so I don’t have to go to a public pool). 

So, I was dealing with it and trying hard not to let the camera and the feeling of violation rule my life.  And each day got a little easier….. until I would see the camera and well….. maybe I made a little hand gesture toward the camera a time or two…. Oops…!

I was doing all of this while my husband and I were trying to find a way to block the camera that would also be enjoyable to look at and not break the bank.

And we found it.  The day we ordered the decorative privacy panels was the day a weight lifted off my shoulders.  There was relief coming.  There was a way to be in my own private space again.  And that made me happy and just a little less stressed.

My wonderful husband worked hard, over two days to install nine privacy panels.  And they are beautiful.  We have planted vines on each end of the panel wall, planted more palms and hibiscus plants and put lights behind the panels so they look awesome at night.  As the vines grow and fill in the top of the panels, we will have even more privacy than we do today.

Good things always come from uncomfortable or bad situations, at least that is what I believe.  It may take time, but good does come.  Yes, this started in a really uncomfortable place for me and took me back to a place where I never want to go again.  But the result is wonderful.  The cinder block wall looks a little less prison-like behind the pool now.

It feels even more like a resort oasis in our backyard.  And as our plants grow and bloom it will be even more resort like.  We have our privacy back in the spaces that matter the most to us.  Our windows are all now out of view of the camera and so is our patio and our back doors. 

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I can sit outside, like I am right now writing this, and be alone with my thoughts, knowing no one can see me unless I invite them in. 

Trusting my husband with my discomfort paid off.  He found a way to make me feel safe, give us back our privacy and create ambiance along the way.    

Be That Safe Place For Someone

It comes out of the blue.  Completely unexpected.  And when it does, it shakes me to my core. 

The memories.  The feelings.  The fear. 

Sometimes it is right there, under the surface but I don’t know quite what is going on…. Sometimes I don’t realize the impact until…. BAM!

I am a survivor of child sexual abuse.  I am a survivor of teenage sexual assault.  This is a part of my story.  A part of who I am.  But it does NOT define me, most of the time…. Which is why I say I am a survivor, NOT a victim.  I survived.  And I am who I am today, because of all I have survived and been through in my life.

I don’t share the details of my abuse, not even with my husband.  No one needs to know the details.  But I do share the effect, the emotions, the pain.  It is hard to talk about.  If you have survived sexual assault or abuse, then you know how difficult it is to talk about.  How hard it is to say it out loud. 

I don’t like to talk about it.  So why am I writing this today?

I find myself in the midst of emotions right now, and memories are popping up again and I am feeling somewhat discombobulated and unsafe.  Not a place I like to be.  Not a place I seek out.  Yet, here I am.

There is usually a catalyst that brings me back to that little girl who can’t find a safe place and feels so violated, scared and ashamed. 

Twelve years ago, I went through a major AHA in my weight loss journey.  And it was while losing the weight, that I started sorting through the excess baggage of my life.  I dealt with the baggage, one at a time… one memory, one moment, one abuser at a time.  As I sorted through the baggage, long hidden memories surfaced and shook me to my core.  I had to deal with them.  I had to face the fear.  I had to make the little girl feel safe.  So, I dealt with each moment and memory as they came back to me, sorted it, faced it, comforted the little girl, and when I couldn’t face it any longer, I closed that bag and rested.  Then when I was ready, I started sorting through the baggage again, throwing away those parts of my life that did not help me and keeping the parts that helped me to grow and become the person I was meant to be. 

That was hard!  REALLY hard!  But I got through it and moved on to a better place.  I was a survivor.  I am a survivor, and NO ONE will EVER make me feel unsafe or violated again!  NEVER AGAIN.

I even got to a point where I was able to forgive my abusers, yes there was more than one.  I never told them.  But I wrote letters to each of them.  And at the end of each letter I found peace and forgiveness.  Forgiveness was more for me than for them…. Which is what forgiveness is really about.  By forgiving them, I was able to let go and be free.  I was able to take the power away from them and stop being the victim.  I took MY POWER back! 

Seven years ago, I went through a really rough period and once again emotions, pain, shame and fear popped back up, coming from no where and completely unexpected.  My father’s death and a difficult person in my life were the catalyst, and there I was again.  I still had some work to do, that obviously I had not been ready to deal with previously.  I faced it again.  It took time, but I got through the memories, the pain, the shame and the fear.  I AM a SURVIVOR. 

For a couple of days now, I have been feeling….. fear…… unsettled….. discombobulated….. and have this underlying feeling of being violated.  It came out of the blue.  Once again, I did not see this coming.  But here it is.  This time set off by a camera put up on the back of my neighbor’s house, high up near the roof line.  The camera points into their yard and my backyard…. my back yard that is surrounded by a 7-foot block wall.  No one can see me when I am back there (well sometimes you can see the top of my head…) and no one can see me walk from the back door to the pool in my swimsuit.  I can sit back there and know that I cannot be seen… Not from the street or my neighbors’ houses.  We purposely looked for a house that had no 2 story homes behind it, because we wanted to be in our backyard and in the pool we would build without being watched.  Something very important to me. 

I didn’t know how important until this week.

Our neighbors sent us the screen shot of what their camera sees when we asked.  And yes, the camera sees my yard, my patio, my windows, my grill, both of my back-doors.  My neighbors are nice.  We like them.  And they said they would try to adjust the angle away from our yard.  My mind knows they are probably not sitting there watching us….

But….

Here is the thing about sexual abuse survivors, especially ones who were children.  Being watched, the perceptions of being watched, having a private space invaded and no longer private is disconcerting and feels like the violation is happening again, right now.  Being watched without my knowledge or my permission is a violation that transports me right back to the unsafe space that the little girl lived in.

I know my neighbors are nice people and they are not doing this for any nefarious reasons.  But when I walk outside to grill or swim or read…. or walk by my window and catch a glimpse of the pool or birds on the wall, I SEE the camera.  IT IS THERE!  Seeing the camera EVERY time I step outside rips the band aid off all over again. 

I feel violated.  I feel unsafe.  And I can’t stop the feelings. 

I should feel safe inside my own home.  I should feel safe in my private backyard.  I should not fear walking outside.  But here I am.  Feeling re-victimized again.

As a survivor, I still deal with the memories, and they come at me at unexpected times.  In unexpected ways.  And usually I can deal with them.  The catalyst that causes it goes away on its own or I remove it. 

But this time, I have no control over that damn camera.  And no control over the feelings of violation that the invasion of my privacy is causing me.  Or the memories it is bringing back to me. 

I will work through this. I will get to a safe place eventually.  I always do.  But right now, in this moment, I am scared.  I find myself covering up more (and it is really HOT here right now, too HOT to be wearing things that cover me completely) and I am keeping the blinds closed more, which prevents me from enjoying the view of the birds in my yard and my pool and my flowers.  I hesitate in going out the back door, because I know I am not alone out there any longer.

For most people it can feel like a violation when they are being observed on a camera and their privacy is invaded, but it doesn’t cripple them… makes them angry maybe, but not fearful.  But for sexual assault and abuse victims, it is a gut punch…. And then we are right back there, where it all began, feeling the terror, the shame, the pain…. It is as if we are being victimized all over again.  It is a creepy feeling to be watched when you think you are alone. 

Why am I sharing all of this?  Why talk about the current catalyst?  Because every person, knows someone who has been sexually abused or assaulted.  And I think we need to see some things through their eyes.  My husband is bothered by the camera, but it doesn’t stop him in his tracks when he wants to go outside and swim.  He is upset, but not crippled.  I am.  I am frozen.  I am fearful.  It is crippling me.  The tears are flowing, and I cannot stop them.  And I don’t want to feel this way.  I wish I could just ignore it.  I wish I could just brush it off.  But the memories are there.  The memories I will never forget.  The memories that sometimes shake me to my core and take me to a place I don’t ever want to be.  THAT is what is happening right now, every time I walk out my door.  And I cannot control it.  The camera or my memories and the emotions they bring up in me.  Deep in me. 

So, comfort that person in your life who may be struggling a little right now with memories of that long-ago abuse.  Understand that what doesn’t seem like a life altering thing to you, can destroy another.  And understand that a victim of sexual assault and abuse can and will survive but being a survivor does not mean that the affect of that abuse and assault won’t rear its ugly head.  Know that anything can be a catalyst to the volcano of emotions that erupt unannounced.  Don’t tell them to get over it, move on.  Instead comfort that person.  Let them know they have a right to feel that way and deserve to feel safe. 

Before you put up your security camera, check with the neighbor whose privacy will be violated by your video and make sure they are okay with it, they will appreciate your kindness.  Remember, not everyone wants “big brother” watching their every move, especially in the privacy of their own home or private, non-public outdoor space.   

I am lucky.  I have a wonderful husband who has been with me through all of this, who helped me sort through the baggage and made me feel loved, wanted and most of all, safe! 

Be that safe place for someone! 

Nature’s Music Soothes the Soul

I had been irritable for a few days.  Little things were bothering me that normally didn’t.  I was short with my family.  I was just plain irritable.  Life was off….. and I wasn’t sure why.

Until….

This weekend when I got up early, before any of my neighbors or my family and got in the pool.

It was so quiet.

It was so calm.

The sun was just coming up and I was alone.

I needed to do my lap swimming, part of my summer exercise routine.  So, I set out, swimming.  Still feeling irritable and off, like I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed… again!

It was so QUIET!  There were no flood lights shining into my backyard, blinding me.  There were no loud phone conversations, to which I should not be privy.  There was no base booming in the air or reverberating through the water and up my spine.  It was QUIET.  PEACEFUL. SERENE.

I didn’t need music.  I didn’t need my phone or TV.  I was disconnected from the very connected world we now live in.  It was just me and I could enjoy this morning, with the birds and yes the bugs!

I swam, different strokes on my back and on my stomach.  Listening to what was going on around me.  Ducks flew over my head.  Birds I had never seen or heard, were on the wall and trees singing to me, beautiful songs.  Birds I was used to seeing, sat on the wall watching me and making sure I knew they were there by the sounds they made.  The gentle breeze through the fronds of the many palm trees in our yard and in our neighbors’ yards created a melody that was soothing.  The sound of the waterfall into our pool soothed my weary soul.  Bees buzzed my head to land in the pool and take a drink (I didn’t enjoy that so much!).  And a beautiful, red dragonfly, like none I had ever seen before, swooped and dived around my head and my pool, following me and entertaining me.  This was Nature’s music.  This was Nature’s dance.

What a beautiful song it was!  What a spectacular dance it was!

And halfway through my lap swimming, it hit me.  THIS is why I had been so irritable.  I was missing my quiet time…. not just any quiet time, but the time I spent outside enjoying Nature’s music.

It is HOT here in Arizona, so outside time is limited to water time, which for me means pool time.  It is too hot to hike.  It is too hot for walks.  It is too hot to be outdoors. Period!  (For me anyway.  Yes, others get outside and hike, bike and walk, but NOT me in this heat!  I don’t like to sweat!)  I was missing the outdoors.  Last year, I was able to spend every morning and every evening in the pool, exercising and relaxing and enjoying the birds and bugs, the sunsets and sunrises, and the stars.  But this year I haven’t been able to enjoy it as much.  My quiet time had been hijacked and I didn’t realize how much I needed it or missed it.  Until my swim on Saturday morning.

I need time outside.  I need time in nature.  I need time disconnected from a very connected world.  I need to turn it all off and just be….. and time outside does that for me.  That is why we have created the backyard oasis we have spent the past year and a half building.  It gives us a place to get away.  A place to disconnect and breathe.  Something I really need.

Whether it is in the woods or the desert…. on the beach or on a mountain….. at the ocean, by a lake, on a river or in a pool…. in a national park, a forest or my backyard…. hiking, walking, swimming or just sitting….. I NEED to be outdoors.  And I need nature’s music to sooth my soul.  And outdoors, in the natural world, is where I feel closest to God.  It is where I feel spiritual.  It is where I can clear my mind and heal whatever my heart needs healing.  Nature is wondrous, a magical place with healing attributes.  Nature shows me what a mighty God I have and ALL that He has created.

At the end of my very long swim, I was at peace.  I was smiling.  And the feeling of waking up on the wrong side of the bed was gone.  The irritable feeling was gone.  My equilibrium was back.  I felt like me again.

All I needed was to be outside, where I could hear nature singing to me.  Then I could finally breathe……

A lesson in Change Through a Trip to the Store

I have been in this store a million times in multiple states.  And the store has been the same wherever I went….well maybe there were a few small differences, nothing to really throw me off or make me notice them. 

There are quite a few of the stores near me that I can shop at, making it easier because I know if I can’t find it at one store, I will find it at another.  And I can stop in, no matter where I am going because there are so many to choose from.

So, this week I walked into a Target store near me that I hadn’t been to in a few months…. I stopped in my tracks when I walked through the doors.  Where was I?

Really??  Where were the electronics…. They were here near the door the last time I was here.  Ugh!

The ENTIRE store was changed.  I didn’t recognize it AT ALL!

REALLY??!!

Why rearrange the store?  Where did everything go?  I was on a mission with a time constraint and I couldn’t find anything…. Nothing was where it was supposed to be.  Seriously?? 

Change is inevitable.  I get that.  I used to spend all day rearranging the kitchen, or the living room, or the dining room, or my kids rooms, trying to get the rooms just right in the house where we were living at the moment, because I wanted it to feel like home, even though I knew we would be moving again.  I was freaking out, feeling lost and uncomfortable because NOTHING was where it was supposed to be…is that how my boys or my husband felt when they came home after one of my rearranging days?  I wanted to turn around and leave the store and not return until it was back the way it was used to be…. Did my kids and husband want to turn around and run from the house when I changed things?  Hmmmm…..

I was beginning to see how change affects me.  I have always had a difficult time with change.  Change was not always a good thing for me.  It didn’t always bring positive things to my life.  But some change did.  Still, change is uncomfortable.  I want to control the change in my life (thus my rearranging when I WANTED to). 

And well, I figure that after 30 years of standing beside my husband as he served our country in the Air Force, after ALL the moves, ALL the TDY’s (when my husband had to go away for training or other reasons also known as Temporary Duty for those not familiar with military lingo), and after the ALL the deployments, missed holidays, missed birthdays…. Well you get it…. After all the change that was required of us by the military and that was completely out of my control, I think I deserve a “change free” life for the rest of my life!

Yeah.  Like that is going to happen!

My trip to Target proves I will NEVER have a “change free” life. 

Shouldn’t each individual have an “out-of-our-control-change” quotient and once reached, then only change that we can control is allowed?  So, Target should have checked with me before they changed the store!  Shouldn’t they have known that only change I approve of and control is allowed for the rest of my life?

I guess they didn’t get the memo!

So, I cannot control change around me.  I cannot stop it from happening.  But I can control how I handle it.

Yes, it freaked me out to enter a store I did not recognize, when I should have.  But I have gone to new places and not known where things were and it didn’t make me want to run away.  So why did this completely throw me?  Because it was familiar before and now it wasn’t.  When the comfortable and known becomes the unknown it also becomes uncomfortable.  So, how do I make it more comfortable?  By pushing past the discomfort and moving on.  By trusting and taking a leap.

Change is inevitable.  It is going to happen whether or not I want it to.  It is going to happen whether or not I like it.  It is going to happen whether or not I control it.  And though change in my younger years was negative and brought about a lot of pain, NOT ALL change will be negative.  There is positive change in life.  And there is something that can be learned.  Something that can be taken from change that can help me grow as a person, even the negative change. 

Walking into my favorite store this week reminded me that stepping outside my comfort zone creates growth.  And showed me that if I just go with it, then it will soon become comfortable and familiar and it will make shopping their easier in the long run.

Maybe that was Targets plan all along! 

I finished my shopping trip, found everything I needed (though it took me MUCH LONGER than it should have), and my day was NOT ruined by this change.

I just need to take the leap and push through that discomfort, whatever it is, and growth will come!

(I still don’t like change, but I am learning to accept it and learn!)

Beauty Found in the Desert- A Daily Reminder

To many who have never visited or lived in Arizona, the state conjures up images of the desert, where life is difficult, and water is scarce.  Dry.  Dusty.  Brown.  Dead.  Much like the deserts depicted in Old Western Movies. 

As a young girl growing up in the Pacific Northwest where everything was green and there was plenty of water, the desert did not seem desirable.  Or livable.  As a young girl, all I could picture was a brown, dry, harsh environment where life was difficult and not much survived.  Much like my own life felt….

And then I visited Arizona the summer after my mother’s death.  My dad, 2nd stepmom, her daughter, my sister and I took a road trip from Washington, traveling south through Nevada to Arizona and then back to Washington via Hwy 101 through California and Oregon.  It was a long trip in a very hot car with the windows rolled up and cigarette smoke swirling through the air.  Thankfully we did not spend long days on the road, that would have been hell!  Us three girl’s road in the back seat together and took turns being the one in the middle, because the unlucky one who sat in the middle ended up with the other two laying on her while they slept…..yes, a very long road trip. 

The BEST part of the entire trip was the drive through and the stops in Arizona….the usual stops like the Grand Canyon and Phoenix and then the unexpected stops to see ancient ruins, enjoy a lunch along Oak Creek and a night in my favorite spot, Sedona. 

It was my first time in the southwest and I loved all the things we did and the places we saw in Arizona.  As we drove along the highway I would stare out the window, the others sleeping beside me.  I was mesmerized by the rocks, the shapes they formed, the colors all so varied and unique.  And I felt I would miss the beauty and natural art if I fell asleep.  Next to the ocean, Arizona became a favorite place. 

But it was the RED that drew me in.  The red in the rocks that contrasted beautifully against the blue sky and green of the pine trees.  The red in the dirt that stained my feet as we walked along the trails.  And the red of the sunset, that fire in the sky. 

Yes, I fell in love with the southwest that summer and though I did not live there, my heart desired to be free, living among the red that permeates this state. 

Nine years later, my husband, our oldest son and I drove through Arizona, stopping at the Grand Canyon and other National Parks, as well as historic sites along Interstate 40, heading east….we were on our way to his first Air Force assignment in North Dakota.  Again, I felt the pull, the longing to be in the southwest, to let my heart sing amid the red. 

We did not return to Arizona for another 24 years and it was a road trip that brought us back here.  Just my husband and I.  And it was that road trip that changed my husbands view of the state that had long ago captured my heart.  He, like so many others, thought it was just a brown, dry and dusty environment.  And he loves his trees, all the green of the northwest, and his mountains.  We drove to the Grand Canyon and then south through Flagstaff to Sedona, just so I could show him what I loved here.  He was surprised by the forests of pine trees.  He enjoyed Oak Creek… yes, there is water in this dry state!  And he began to see what I saw.  Yes, this mesmerizing place was drawing him in, too. 

And to my surprise, when he retired from the Air Force a few years later, my husband chose Arizona as one of the states we could live in…. and then we moved here.  He was still thinking that the Phoenix area would be flat and dusty…. and he was pleasantly surprised to see mountains around the valley. 

But the desert is a harsh environment.  It is dry here.  There is not much water.  It is HOT in the summer!  And yes it is dusty.  A very harsh environment where it can be hard for life of any type to survive, let alone thrive. 

But life does thrive here.  There is beauty in the desert.  What once looked dead, thrives when it rains.  Plants and animals adapt… not just surviving but thriving in this harsh environment. 

Here in the desert, in one of the harshest and at times ugliest environments, beauty grows, beauty shines, and life can thrive. 

Every place has its own beauty.  And though I love and miss the Pacific Northwest, I know I was born to live in Arizona. 

I was born to live in a place where I am reminded that despite the difficult challenges, despite the harsh environment, despite the lack at times of the components necessary to live and to grow, there is still life.  There is beauty among the spines and beauty in the dusty arid climate.  We just have to look for it.

The desert reminds me that we too, can bloom.  It reminds me that even those of us who have grown up in the harshest of environments, in abuse and neglect can still thrive.  The desert shows me every day that even without all the things needed to thrive, and with the thorns and spines that a challenging and harsh life has us growing in order to survive, we can still bloom where we are planted.  We can still thrive.  Despite the ugliness of the harshest life, there is still beauty.

It does not matter where my life began.  The loss, the abandonment, the challenges, the abuse… none of that keeps me from growing, blooming and shining.  Just like the wondrous and amazing life in the desert.

There is so much beauty in the harshest climates.  And when we look beyond the brown, beyond the dust, past the thorns and spines, we can see the beauty all around. 

Out of the harshest of environments, beauty shines. 

The desert is proof of that!

I am proof of that! 

 

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Answering the Question-Where will I take this?

So. Many. Words.

So.  Many.  Thoughts.

Every day my mind is filled with words.  Words that I would like to share.  My thoughts about the world around me and the adventures I experience.  My thoughts about the little things that delight my heart and the difficult things that make me grow.  And thoughts about the state of our Mental Health and Judicial system.

I have spent the past couple of months trying to figure out where I want to take this blog.  And I have questioned just what I am doing here with this blog.  Lots of questions, yet no answers came, until this past couple of weeks.

Things have settled down in my life.  I am finding my footing.  The equilibrium is returning, and I feel like we are getting back to somewhat normal.

My son is doing well.  Getting help and finding his way through the challenges he faces.  It has been two years since his last arrest and there is light at the end of that very long tunnel.  Finally.

There are still challenges we face and that he faces.  Questions we are seeking the answers to.  How will he support himself?  Where will he move to when he finally has the means and the freedom to choose?  How can I keep working toward reform in our mental health system and in our judicial system?

We will get those answers.  And work through the challenges.  And I will continue to learn and grow in my life and look for ways to step outside my comfort zone.

So, back to the mess in my head…. Those words….. those thoughts.  And the question, where do I want to take this blog?  What do I want to focus on?

I want to continue to share our experiences as we continue this journey with mental health issues, addiction and the judicial system, because it is all a part of my life and I still believe reform needs to happen, stigma needs to change, and compassion needs to be found.  As I work through my advocacy I will share what I am learning and how things are changing.  But I also want to get back to why I originally started this blog.  I want to continue to take leaps…. Leaps of trust… leaps of faith and see where they take me.  So, I will be writing about the adventures my husband and I take, the things I learn as I step outside that comfort zone and how I grow as a person…all the reasons I started this blog.

So, I took a leap last week and stepped outside my comfort zone and started a second blog.  I know, what was I thinking?  This new blog (Perfectly Imperfect Journey) will focus solely on my weight loss and weight maintenance journey.  It will be for accountability for me.  And it is an extension of the weekly note I wrote and sent to the members who attended my meetings.  All my future healthy living, weight loss and exercise thoughts and experiences will now be found on my second blog which you can find here.

I must have lost my mind!  But the changes I have made in my personal and work life, have led me to here.  I have more time because I am focusing on taking care of me. And I eliminated some very unnecessary stress that was weighing me down.  Getting rid of the stress in my life, the stress that I could eliminate, was extremely freeing… and energizing!  All leaving me with more time to enjoy the moment… lunches with friends, hikes, walks, dinners out, reading books, writing, scrap-booking, organizing and so much more.

I am so excited to see where this life takes me and where both of my blogs take me…. The journeys, the lessons, the growth!

I hope you will continue to come along with me….

Circle of Inspiration

Yesterday morning I completed another 5k, the She Power 5k.

20190128_152212_hdr copyI had signed up for this 5k back in July 2018.  A while ago.  I had done this race in February and loved the race and the medal, so I knew I wanted to do it again.  And the medal this year was beautiful!  Who doesn’t want the bling from a race, isn’t that why we do it?  Well I also signed up with the intention that this was going to be a PR for me.  My fastest 5k race was in January 2009, 10 years ago.  I was 10 years younger and 20 lbs lighter and had trained for a couple of months.  6 months was plenty of time to get ready to make this 5k a Personal Best.  Sometimes the greatest intentions don’t always work out…..

I did not prepare for this race other than a couple of walks here and there and a 5k in November that told me I was REALLY out of shape…. But I still had time.

Everything was pretty much stacked against me for yesterday’s She Power 5k… no training, extra weight, my husband wouldn’t be able to be beside me and encourage and motivate me along the way…. Yes, things were stacked against me.  And thoughts did enter my mind that maybe I would just walk and set a goal for next year, putting off my goal for a future date.  The problem with that is that the future date usually doesn’t arrive.

Yes, circumstances, lack of preparedness and my thoughts were threatening to keep me from this 5k, until….

My Circle of Inspiration.

We all have a Circle of Inspiration, made up of friends, family, co-workers, strangers we meet or see on TV or read about, individuals who walk into our lives for a moment and so many more.  Many individuals form our circle, inspiring us along the way.  And we find inspiration and give inspiration within this circle.  The great thing about a circle is it has no end; the inspiration is all around us.  What a wondrous thing to be able to find inspiration in so many ways, from so many different individuals.

I have a wonderful and wide-spread Circle of Inspiration I can draw from.  And it is in this circle that I find the strength to fight on, to work harder, to keep going when all I want to do is quit.  Whether it is about just getting through my day, getting out of bed, stepping outside my comfort zone, continuing my journey of health, facing hard things in life or crossing a finish line when I don’t think I can, inspiration is there.  My husband, my sons, my daughter-in-law, my extended family, my friends, the strangers I have met and so many others inspire me to just do it, to take the leap and fly!

20190127_073024 copySo, with everything against me, what made the difference for me yesterday morning was these ladies, part of my Circle of Inspiration.  Some had done a 5k before and for some of them this was their first.  And they inspired me on my journey.

When I worked as a WW Coach (formerly known as a Weight Watcher Leader) I had the privilege of getting to know many individuals who inspired me every day, every week.  These women met in meetings I led.  And I was blessed these past couple of years to have been a part of their journey.  I have laughed with them, cried with them, celebrated with them, and commiserated with them.  And I have had the privilege of getting to know their individual stories.

Each of these women came to this race yesterday for their own reasons and with their own goals, inspiring each other along the way.  That Circle of Inspiration.  Some struggled with physical limitations, and some faced mindset challenges, yet each of them was willing to set aside the challenges that could have kept them from walking this 5k and instead they chose to step outside their comfort zones.  I have often said that stepping outside that comfort zone is where our greatest growth happens, and these ladies were proving that to be true.  Having the privilege of knowing their personal stories gave me the strength to show up and to cross that start line.  And they gave me the courage to push myself beyond what was comfortable so that I could finish strong.

We gathered before the race and lined up at the start together.  When it was time to go, we went at our own paces.  Each of us had our own personal goal we wanted to reach.  And that was scary for some of us, maybe for all of us.  But because of this Circle of Inspiration, because of the support we found in each other, we were able to push forward.  One-step-at-a-time, literally!

I was inspired by all of them, whether it was their first race or one of many…. I was inspired by their enthusiasm and excitement at completing a race.  I was inspired by their determination to push past the physical barriers that had kept them from even 20190128_152234_hdr copydreaming of doing a 5k race, those physical barriers that at one time kept them from even walking around a block, let alone 3.1 miles.  I was inspired by how they changed a mindset from “I can’t” to “I think I can” to “Yes! I can”.  I was inspired by the support and encouragement they showed each other.  I was inspired by those who conquered their fear and were willing to do this race with little preparation. I was inspired by seeing the empowerment that comes from believing in oneself.  I was inspired by the resolve to finish faster than the last one.  I was inspired by their faces, the joy, the pride after finishing this race. I was inspired by the courage shown to finish a race despite a fall and injury, and not just finish it, but finish strong, something I am not sure I could have done.

To say that these ladies inspire me is an understatement.  Each one of them is an inspiration and I am so very blessed to know them and be encouraged by them!

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Congratulations, my friends! You thought you could and you did!

We all finished this race yesterday morning, proud of each other and proud of ourselves.  We each met or exceeded our personal goals.  And yes, we are ready to do it again!

I know that without these ladies I would have still done this race, but I am not sure how hard I would have pushed myself without my Circle of Inspiration, those who inspire me every day in my life and these ladies who gave me the strength and courage to push myself faster and to see what I was capable of.

I didn’t finish with a PR, but I finished faster than the She Power 5k 1 year ago and faster than the 5k I did in November.  I walked and I ran, knowing these ladies were somewhere amid the sea of women and they were pushing themselves too.

I was just 3 ½ minutes slower than my fastest race 10 years ago……imagine what I can do with a little inspiration, a little training, and being a little healthier….  Next year will be my year, I have no doubt!

With a vast and far reaching Circle of Inspiration, WE CAN…. I CAN …do anything!!