Psst… here’s an ultra sneak preview of a feature I’ve submitted for the March edition of Lightworker Magazine on the subject of ‘optimism.’
The Journey of a Thousand Miles
When I first stepped out on the street after signing up for the New York marathon, I held my head high, pulled my shoulders back, and walked tall in a way I hadn’t for a very long time. Up until then, I’d been drowning in a quicksand of funk. No matter how many positive affirmations I tried, no matter how many pep-talks I gave myself, in my heart of hearts I believed none of it. Mind and body were at a disjunct — until, that is, I signed up for the marathon.
It didn’t matter I was grossly overweight, couldn’t run more than a few metres a time without turning a vivid shade of puce, and the marathon was less than six months away — I had a goal. But I’d also had enough. I’d had enough of the all-too-many broken promises I’d made myself and others. I’d had enough of my flakiness, my inability to see anything through to completion. I’d had enough of trying to be something I wasn’t — contented, fulfilled, happy with my lot — when, in fact, I was rotting from the inside out. And so, on that hoar frost of a pitch black morning, I gathered up what little resolve I had left and took it for a run. Or perhaps I should say, galumph. I went galumphing.
With breasts banging and clanging like beach balls filled with wet sand and the fat on my back jiggling like jelly on a plate, I galumphed off up the street à la Quasimodo. As winter turned to spring, however, my galumph gained momentum and was gradually replaced by a smooth and steady jog. Rather than trying to change everything in my life at the same time, I concentrated on my one goal of completing the marathon — alive and in one piece.
Soon, the fat began to melt away. Then, a curious thing happened: where the excess fat had once been, an inner strength replaced it, spreading through my physical body and into my psychic body — my soul. Unbeknown to me, while schlepping around my three mile route, the spirit of the marathon was feeding me, strengthening me, firing me with renewed enthusiasm for life.
Until then, I’d always attempted change from the head down; but I never believed what the face in the mirror was telling me. My words were hollow, lacking substance and body. When I began strengthening my physical body through jogging, however, that changed. With each step, I moved closer to a new reality. With each step, I proved myself to myself. With each step, I realised there was more to me than I’d previously dared believe. I was growing stronger, more confident. I no longer believed I wasn’t capable of being more, giving more, living more — I now knew I could be more, give more, live more and I knew it from the soles of my feet, up.
To withstand the often precarious Winds of Change, we must put down roots, ensure our footing is firm. The mighty oak tree, for example, has roots which run as deep as the tree is tall. When the Winds of Change sweep through, whipping and cracking all about it, it remains resolute and unmoved. This is how we must be. We too must put down roots, move deeper into our bodies so as to stand firm against the storm of trials we will inevitably face along the road.
Transformation, you see, means just that — transformation. It is not a mere modification process. When you set out on the path towards greater consciousness and decide to transform an area of your life, what you must realise is change cannot be compartmentalised. When I set out on the road to marathon, I didn’t know the strength gained on the road would spill over into all other areas of my life. When I first started out galumphing, I wouldn’t say I felt particularly optimistic about my future; but with each step, each mile, what started out as a faint fantasy of going the distance became a distinct reality, fanning the flames of self-belief.
When people made sly remarks, told me I’d never do it, rather than arguing back as before, I took myself for a run. Chewing over their words, I realised this was no longer about trying to prove myself to others, but about proving myself to me. And with every long run completed, with every relaxing post-run stretch and candlelit-soak, I basked in the warm inner glow that can only come from a renewed optimism and faith in oneself.
It wasn’t all plain sailing. I met with a myriad of obstacles and set-backs, disappointments and failures. The changes that swept through my life over the coming months threatened to break me on numerous occasions. But I was stronger, better able to face into and cope with them. My physical back and core were strengthened through running and Pilates — and so was my psyche’s backbone and inner core. Through my new Yin yoga practice, I’d developed greater flexibility, was better able to sway and move like the mighty oak tree. I became more grounded in my life.
In the end, it took three attempts at the marathon to learn my necessary lessons. But three marathons and almost two years after first stepping out on the street on that hoar frost of a pitch black morning, I crossed the finish line in Athens, Greece, a new woman. More importantly, a woman completely transformed — from the inside-out and from the bottom-up. I went the distance.
The strength, stamina and endurance I’d gained on the road translated into the book I then went onto write — a book I’d never dared dream of writing two years before. By becoming a marathoner, I healed the broken bridge between body and soul. By becoming an author, I took back authority of my life. And so can you.
Go the distance.
Buy a copy of Thea’s inspiring memoir Running into Myself from Amazon UK, Amazon US or, better yet, order a limited edition signed copy direct from her publisher here (also ships worldwide).