You have to climb the mountain to be on top of the world.

You have to climb the mountain to be on top of the world.

We all love a good success story. We love triumph, overcoming the odds, rising strong. We loved cultivated badassery, we love the moment after everything clicks and you start smiling a devious smile at mile 40. We find comfort when the story has come full circle. We find relief knowing things worked out in the end. But let's be real, we don't like the hard parts. We don't talk about when we are in the middle of things, knee deep in the shit. We don't shine a lot of light on the moment when we are face down in the arena, as far away as we can imagine from rising strong. It is difficult, it is ugly, we don't know how to reconcile. The brain craves the completion of the story. But you can't have the completion, the triumph, the overcoming without the struggle, without the hurt or loss, without the uncertainty. You can't learn the lesson with being tested. But let's be real, we don't like to talk about that part. We don't like to sit with the ugly, the uncomfortable. We want to hide that part away, we want to obscure it from view, make it private, disappear from view, gloss over it, beat it into submission with platitudes. But why? The hard parts are part of being human. Each and everyone of us struggles with something in our life at some point. Our lives ebb and flow, we fail and we triumph. Life isn't just the pretty part, it is the nasty, ugly bits too.

The month of March has been a really, really hard month for me. I am knee deep in "40 miles of suck". First, I was struck down with the really nasty flu that was going around and not only was incapacitated for more than 10 days, I had to cancel 3 races including my three week trip to Cape Town to do African X and Two Oceans. Then, as I was laying in my sick bed, I was dealt another blow. I was starting to feel like, "can a girl just get a break?". I struggled feeling worthless, as some days I could hardly get out of bed. But the illness passed, I was back on my feet and I made plans to go race this weekend at the Chuckanut 50km and support my friend Krissy in her awesome race. And then on Monday those plans went out the window after I totaled my 6 month old car in an extremely terrible and terrifying car accident. Everyone walked away thankfully, but that kind of near-death trauma affects you deeply. I was already feeling like my emotional reserves were low and the accident is a lot to handle. I do not feel strong, I do not feel badass. I feel hurt, scared, guilty, shameful, sad, and angry. I felt like this month was too much. I felt like I wanted to go hide in my closet with a jar of frosting and a bottle of whiskey and wait for March to just be over and maybe April too just to be safe. I have run myself until exhaustion, I have cried myself to sleep, I have dreamed of being chased by rabid dinosaurs. I am face down in the arena and I know I will have to work to rise strong. 

But here is the thing, I know I can get through it. When I stop for a moment like I did today on my run and realize that I can, in fact, choose to embrace the suck. And in embracing the suck, I know it will get better. Doesn't in this moment mean the dinosaurs stop chasing me or that when I close my eyes I no longer see the moment of impact, but it does mean that I see the potential for post-traumatic growth. I have in fact, just happened to have started reading SuperBetter this week- a book which talks about adopting a gameful mindset to deal with trauma, living a happier life and enabling post traumatic growth. I am a big fan of self-growth, I love cultivating badassery, I love self-work and self-challenge.  I do prefer, as I am sure most people do, to do this via post-ecstatic growth instead of via post-traumatic growth. Post-ecstatic growth is struggle via the challenges we take on consciously, the quests we undertake willingly whether that is running 100 miles, writing a book or starting a new business. These things challenge us and we grow. We undertake this things willingly knowing it will be hard, it will take work, but ultimately the growth and reward for the undertaking will be worth it. The hard times, the suck, the weakness, the trauma then too must be embraced. That doesn't mean glossed over, it doesn't mean made pretty, it doesn't mean it will be any easier, but it will mean that out of this time of my life, I am going to gain value, I am going to grow. It means I may not be smiling now, but that I know if I persevere through the darkness, if I allow myself space to be weak, if I seek out support and receive it from friends and love ones, if I face the pain head on, it will get better. I will come out the other side. I will make it to the mountain top, even if it means I have to climb 1,000 switchbacks through the mud to get there. Being knee deep in the suck is real life. We all find ourselves there at some point in our life. Life is not all about perfectly curated social media profiles, expertly staged photos, or even satisfyingly complete stories of overcoming. Sometimes we are weak, we are hurt, we are lost and that is ok. Being in that space is ok. But I also know that even if I don't know how I will or can right now, I will make it through this. I will choose to put my head down and grind out each painful step forward back to the light. I will gain hope from knowing that even if it doesn't feel good, if I simply choose to take another step, another breathe, I am growing, I am healing, I am rising strong. I will be patient with myself and I will remember to have faith in my power to be my own superhero. I will never let weakness convince me that I lack strength. 

I am worthy

I woke up this morning with a hangover. No, not the booze induced kind. The emotional kind. The I let myself get flipped, turn upside down, which was is up kind. The feeling of going from confident and empowered to weak, confused, self-doubting and self-deprecating. This morning on my run, I had to dig deep to work my way out of the tailspin and get back on firm ground.

I am someone who is a lifelong believer in self-work. I search myself for the root of things, look in the mirror face on and continually try to be the best person I can be. I want to be the best me I can be, the most genuine, the most real. For myself and for others.

In my life, one of the things that I have had to work hardest at is not externalizing my self-worth, not depending on others to validate me or tell me I am good enough. I have learn the lesson the hard way, hurtful ways, time and time again. But as a person dedicated to self work, I have gradually learned the lesson. I have learned that the price you pay for that external validation is often too high.

Two weekends ago at the Trials, when the gun went off, I was not brimming with confidence. I didn't necessarily feel like I belonged. For the first two miles of the race, I focused on a single mantra, repeating it over and over again to chase away the self-doubt. "I am strong. I am fast. I am important." By the time we reached the 2 mile marker, the self-doubt had melted away and I was ready to just run my butt off. I knew I belonged. I believed that I was worthy. I found the validation within myself.

Since the Trials, I had not relinquished that self-empowerment. I felt excited, empowered and enthusiastic about the possibilities moving forward this year. Over the past year, I feel like I truly came into my own as a runner and with that, my understanding of myself as a runner. I was feeling self-directed and that I was training and racing the way that brought pure joy and happiness to my life. I felt free of expectations and the need for external validation. It is such an amazing feeling to wake up passionate every day about the life you are living.

But self-work is constant work and old habits can die hard. When you think you are safe, it is often the time to be most vigilant. And yesterday, I relinquished my feelings of self-worth and let others dictate how I felt about myself. By the end of yesterday, I was no longer riding the high brought on by my empowering run at the Trials, I was, instead, my own worst enemy. By externalizing my feelings of self-worth and validation, I simply moved farther and farther away from actually feeling that way. Every attempt to regain it externally pushed me farther down the rabbit hole. I could not talk myself out of it.

So when I woke up this morning, the feeling of being emotional steamrolled lingered. As Nathan and I took off on a run, I immediately started negative self-talk and self-depreciation. I beat myself up.

But as we ran, I pulled myself up short. I stopped punishing myself and being my own worst enemy. I forgave myself for relinquishing my power and my self-worth externally. I simply stopped. I realized that, despite a perception of the world being turned upside down, the world was still exactly where I left it. Nothing had actually changed except my perception of it and my perception of myself in it. Just because I was now telling myself I was unworthy, the world was no different than when I believed I was. It may seem like a very simple thing, but the way we talk to ourselves has infinite power to shape our perception of the world.

People say self-deprecating things about themselves to me all the time. They tell me they are not as good a runner, they can't go that fast, they can't do xyz and it always bothers me. I always tell people that what they are doing is amazing and it is not a matter of comparison. If 3 miles is your 50 miles, then you should feel amazingly empowered by that. To say to yourself, "I am worthy" creates an energy and power inside yourself that makes you feel like you could take on the world. Yesterday, I was reminded that whatever it takes, I need to keep the mantra replaying over in my head. We all do. Our worth is our own. And we should protect it vigilantly.

I am strong. I am important. I am smart. I am beautiful. I am worthy.