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Vicky, the Most Enthusiastic TNTer @ Elkhart Lake Triathlon 2010

Look How Far We’ve Come!

Creative Commons LicensePhoto credit: indywriter

Sometimes you gotta look back at your past and smile at how far you’ve gotten.

— Tony Mendoza

How far we’ve gotten.  We don’t often think about that.  Many times when we’re looking backward, we’re remembering our life before.  Before husbands and jobs and kids and more responsibilities than we ever imagined.  Back then, we were eager for all of that challenge.  Now, caught up in our lives, we often forget what it took to get here.

Unfortunately, when we look forward, we often only see the distance between where we are and where we’d like to be.  The biggest problem with only looking forward is that without the perspective provided by our past, we don’t realize how much we’ve accomplished and the momentum we’ve built up.

We need to remember that we’ve all come a long way, baby!

Every Step Counts

We got here one day at a time.  Decision after decision, action after action, we built our future.  Now, it is our present.  We got here the way everyone gets anywhere, one second, one minute, one hour, one day at a time.  They add up.

At work, we have a steps contest.  Its objective is to encourage people, who work in a sedentary environment, to get up out of their chairs and move.  For some of us, this means that we get up and walk around the building or around the floor.  All the participants put $5/month into the pot.  The pair with the most steps wins and they get 50% of the pot.  The other 50% goes to supporting recognition of birthdays, service anniversaries and the like.

Over time, we’ve come up with the phrase, “Steps is steps.”  What we’re basically saying is that all movement is good.  No reason to complain because the meeting is on the other side of the building, these steps count just as much as the walk you want to take.  All steps are equal in the competition.  It doesn’t matter why you took the steps, you took them.  They all count in the effort to become more mobile and less sedentary.

We don’t need to make a forever decision to walk 10,000 steps every day.  We just need to decide to do what is necessary, now.

We’ve Been Through a Lot

Life experience is the same as the steps in the contest.  It all counts.  Some of it we got because we had no choice.  Some of it we chose.  Either way, it all counts in creating who we are today.

When Ellie and I began writing this blog almost three years ago, I believed strongly in the power of resilience.  I still do.  At the same time, I am amazed at how naive I was at the ripe old age of mumble, mumble.  In the time since we posted our first article, in our little group of friends, we have witnessed amazing strength, courage and resilience in the face of ongoing struggles with physical illness, injuries, financial loss, mental illness, and the deaths of many loved ones.

These were not necessarily journeys we would have chosen, but we have kept moving and we have come through life experiences that we might have predicted that we could never have “survived.”  We don’t know how strong we truly are.

We didn’t know that we are:

  • Flexible
  • Powerful
  • Courageous
  • Persistent
  • Creative
  • Resilient
  • Survivors

We were afraid that we didn’t have it in us.  Now, we know.

We’ve Got It!

Back in the day, when I read M. Scott Peck’s [amazon-product text=”The Road Less Travelled” type=”text”]0743243153[/amazon-product], his first statement didn’t even make me stop and think.  It read, “Life is difficult.”

Oh, pshaw.  Of course, life is difficult if you don’t have the right – attitude, skills, perspective…  Back then, I was even more naïve.  Blame it on youth.  Blame it on luck.  Blame it on hubris.  Me, the 20-something thought I understood difficult.  I didn’t have a clue.

Life has been difficult.  Today, things seem to be getting “better.”  The unemployment rate is dropping.  Some people are actually choosing to change jobs.  This is a good sign because it means that there’s some confidence that moving from one job to the next won’t result in long-term unemployment, reduction in salary or status, or financial disaster.  Even so, for many reasons, many of us are struggling.

Lately, I had the opportunity to pass on some good news to a couple of friends.  It wasn’t a big deal, but it turned out that it was for them.  It was a ray of sunshine at a time when they really needed encouragement.

It seems that despite improving conditions, many of us are still very, very stressed. Our stress comes from gas at $4.45/gallon, slowly recovering from the Great Recession, parental illness and caretaking, children who are struggling to find their way, and for some of us, our struggle to find our own way forward.  It comes from change that we can’t control.

But there are vaccines for stress.  Some of them you already know – exercise, meditation, sharing with friends.  There’s an additional vaccine I’d like you to try.  Look back.  Remember your successes.  Remember how you felt when you started – overwhelmed, unsure, ignorant, stressed.

You overcame.  You fought.  You won.  You are still standing.  Don’t let your current troubles make you forget what you’ve accomplished.

If life gave medals, you’d have a chest full.  Instead, you got gray hairs.  That’s Ok, you know that they (the medals AND the gray hairs) exist even if no one else does.

Remember those accomplishments and build a platform for yourself.  Use it to launch yourself forward into the fray.  No you can’t control life.  None of us can.  But we’ve got the experience.  We’ve thrived before and we will again.  We just need to remember where we’ve been.  We need to aim for where we’re going and one step at a time, we’ll get there.

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