Have you ever run a race? Be it a mile, a 5k (3 miles), 10k (6miles) 1/2 marathon or a full marathon – have you ever trained and prepared your mind and body for the physical exertion of running a course, with the intention of heading towards a finish line?
It is definitely a cliché’ but life IS a race. From the moment you take your first breath, you are (hopefully, slowly!) heading towards the finish line of your race in life. I don’t know many people who have a strong desire to WIN this particular race, but nonetheless, you should be preparing your mind and body, every single day you are alive, for the race you are constantly involved in. If you were training for a real foot race, you would be working on building leg muscles, increasing your stamina and mileage on a weekly basis, in hopes of finishing the race without any real injury. Life should be handled the same way.
However, in most of our lives, we rarely “train” ourselves for the race life requires of us. We rarely get enough sleep, most of us don’t eat the healthiest of meals, and it’s widely known that Americans don’t get nearly enough physical activity and exercise needed to maintain a healthy weight and life, in general. Yet when training for a marathon, I dare say none of us would let a week go by without running several miles, in preparation for the upcoming race. Why is it, we let ONE activity/goal/desire take over so much of our life, but we don’t think making healthy choices in other areas of our life are just as important, if not more so? This goes for exercise, diet, sleep patterns, as well as friendships, relationships, marriage, attention we give our children and the list goes on and on.
There have been many times I have had a serious talk with a friend about the person they’re choosing to date, and what a negative influence the person is having on them, or how unappreciated they are, by their significant other – but when a friend tries to point out my own negative relationships, I turn a deaf ear. These relationships are damaging hearts in a completely different way. Listen up Men and Women: If you are in a relationship, you should never need to question if the other person appreciates you. It should be a given. If, when asked what you like/love about your significant other, you have to pause before answering, get out of the relationship. There should always be more positives than negatives in every relationship – whether it be friendship, romantic or work-related. Always.
But I digress… I can’t tell you how many times mentally (if not verbally – yikes!) I have criticized another person for choosing to eat fried and fatty foods over salads or healthier options; yet after I eat my healthy salad with avocado (Always add avocado!) I go home and eat a nice slice of cake, brownie, cookie or some other processed, sugary snack. How is my “dessert” any better a choice than the saturated fat so-and-so consumed at dinner? It’s still, in the long run, damaging our body. For a very long time – much longer than I should have allowed – I have been damaging my own emotional self. I recently came across a quote I had written in a journal entry several years ago, that still rang true: “When too familiar with loss and disappointment, its easier to commit to caring, than to fully invest in love and vulnerability”. While this is a precautionary move to make and is fully intended to prohibit ones self from future hurt, it’s also damaging to any immediate and possible future relationships. Keeping your heart under lock and key takes away any chance of appreciating the wonderful things love can bring into your life.
After being emotionally killed a few years back, and before I met my now husband, I made the decision to never let anyone else get close to me, or my emotions. It was the only defence mechanism I could think of, to keep my heart safe from future breaks. There were several really good, nice guys who didn’t stand a chance with me, simply because I wouldn’t give them one. I even had a person say to me once “I have waited, and offered and tried to give you everything I have to offer, and it seems nothing will ever be enough to penetrate the walls you have around your heart.” Talk about figuratively slapping me in the face! Those words stung. But they were 100% true. The fact of the matter was (and always will be): No one can force you to move on, until you are ready. The same can be said for relationships. After being hurt and deciding I never wanted to allow myself to “fall in love” again, therefore guaranteeing safety from another broken heart- I realized I’d barricaded all the love, care, joy, happiness I had to GIVE. I was not only hurting myself, I wasn’t able to show someone else all the qualities I had to offer.
One day I found myself hesitantly wading back into the social “pool”. I went out with a few guys, let well-meaning friends set me up on more than a few bad “blind dates” and generally allowed myself to let loose and venture back to the “me” I had been hiding. I realized if there is one thing my Dad would have wanted and expected from me, it would be continue living life, doing whatever made me happiest. All of that has helped lead me to the person I am today. The same “Core” is still there; the girl who laughs at most any and everything, who can definitely laugh at herself, who makes dumb mistakes and rolls her eyes upon realization of what she’s said or done, the small-town-girl-living-in-a-big-city, who can name the handful of people who REALLY know her, and appreciates them all, who knows she is one of the luckiest girls in the world for all the experiences she has had in under 40 years of life, and who treasures her family and her REAL friends more than anything in the world, and who thinks children are the greatest things God ever made – besides Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownies. THAT girl is still here; training hard everyday to run the race set before me, until I reach the finish line – accepting that I will make mistakes daily, but learning from every one of them. Simply because, at the end of the day – mistakes are the greatest lessons you will ever learn.