How much time do you spend worrying, instead of doing something that you love?
I’ll be the first one to tell you that I worry and feel anger by first nature. In coming to a place in life where that becomes dysfunctional, you can’t simply change the core of who you are. That is however the moment to redirect and learn to channel those energies into something motivating and functional. No one else can hold you to higher standards for you, so it’s up to you as an individual to decide that you want better.
Your attitude determines your altitude.. I’ve mentioned this before. In my former religious studies, I remember learning that when you don’t have a job you still get up every day as though you do. You shower, brush your hair, dress, and prepare for the day because you still have a life and a purpose. If you are not ready to meet it, then it isn’t going to show up and land in your lap. This is something that I have had to implement for my own present goals. My heart might stop tomorrow but I want to be remembered NOT for my illness and injuries but how I dealt with their presence, and how I lived – presumably as a warrior, a fighter, an athlete even if challenged. I want to be better than the person I was 30 yrs ago when I was not nearly as challenged, and when I was young enough to have greater ability much easier. Don’t be that person that takes your greatness to the grave rather than embracing and nurturing possibilities. There is something to be said for “fake it till you make it”, as my friend Dina reminded me a few days ago. It’s necessary to set your mind and your heart to a thing before your hand will connect – the real battleground being between your ears. I face that every day when I first wake up, before I even decide to open my eyes. One day I may struggle to meet the challenge of just doing the ordinary, but that doesn’t mean that tomorrow I don’t need to aim again at the extraordinary. Every single day it’s important to keep setting your mind on reaching that extraordinary.
I took the title of this entry from my favorite of motivational speeches. That speech is encapsulated in this statement:
“When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you will be successful.”
When I first started out really training, walking trails again, I had to say that to myself out loud so that I heard it in my own ears over and over, “How bad do you want it?” I hung on those words when it became difficult to breathe, and my muscles were cramping and giving out, and I just wanted to stop. I relied on talking myself into continuing to improve with those words, and challenging myself to be better than the former versions of myself. I am not just speaking to my cohorts in outdoor adventure and fitness here, because this is applicable to even ordinary daily life. This is however the entire foundation to getting to the place I am now – you have to get angry enough to want change. Some people need to stop fighting with their doctors and their families, and get in a fight with themselves! That’s where the real fight is at.
I usually end up issuing a disclaimer on posts like this one. I don’t like it, but I do it because this is to remind everyone that I’m not a complete idiot. If you’re in organ failure and in the hospital, I don’t expect you to get up and run around the block. I hope that’s obvious enough for everyone to understand where I am coming from. If you’re not in organ failure, and you can get up and move, you better move. Or not… but if you don’t, then don’t try to tell me that you really want to. Every single morning, you face the same choice that I do. Assuming you want something more than wasting away, if you have to modify how you move, then do that… but you still have to move. If you really want better then you have to get it. It doesn’t manifest on wishes alone. Visualizing is the first point. After that… something physical must be done to connect tangible energy to the thought.
I am talking about the process that got ME off of the floor nearly 10 years ago. I almost can’t believe it has been that long.. but 2016 will be one decade since I couldn’t walk for the better part of a year. I could still be there. I could still be crawling half the time, or in a wheelchair, and very easily. That’s fine if it’s necessary but in my life it turned out not to be in the end. Not yet anyway, and I’m working on keeping it that way! If it’s part of your reality, that still doesn’t mean you stop moving. Facing down the physical pain seemed at that time to be my biggest enemy and the worst thing in my world. I was weighted down by a lack of clarity (medication), and a lack of knowledge (thanks to not being treated or even diagnosed properly), and being on the other side of the experience that I now own. The reality is that the physical pain I was buried under was nothing compared to what was going on in my mind, and THAT, my friends… that is the foundation we all need. Control your thoughts. Decide where you are going to dwell. Don’t set up camp in that sorry place where everything is crushing you. The truth in all it’s ugly glory is that you have to learn to be in love with the process, not just the end result.
Not enough awareness advocates and activists are saying that it’s not only okay but necessary to confront the challenge, go THROUGH the pain, and reach the goals at your pace. At your PACE. You have to be in motion to have a pace! Are you hearing me? I’ll say it again: Some of you need to stop fighting with your doctors and your family, and get in a fight with yourself. It may need to be the kind of knock-down drag-out fight that I had, like my friend Dina has had, or it may be a little less violent. It all depends on how deep that hole is that you dug for yourself. She and I have been through the incapacity and then hit rage, and we have both had to use that rage to climb out. She and I have had the same epiphany and the same reaction, and gone to the same places with it all – that’s the mental battleground and how it affects your body. Some of us have to hit a point where we get angry enough to put on a war face and be willing to scream, cry, sob, cuss, hurl our guts up if it’s part of that process, but WE GET OUT! There is a determination that will carry you through an awful lot in this life. It’s no different for anyone. It hasn’t been an easy process for me, not for her, not for anyone that has gotten here. Where am I? Someplace self-determined. Someplace capable. I am the one that defines what my capability is within that, and no one else. Where I am is in a place where I can now direct the energy of those emotions into something more constructive in my life. Friends have called me brave, and called me strong, and said that my determination impressed them… but under their breath sometimes I think I hear them saying that they can’t do the same. I don’t have access to anything that is unavailable to you. Stop telling yourself that you are not that person, and you might just find out that you really are. Learn to love the process. Find your confidence in accepting the accomplishments made in the first few steps you take. You can’t go through it until you create motion.
My most popular posts and blog entries are the ones that talk about how difficult our life is with autoimmune and neurological conditions. The ones calling for compassion for the reality of living with invisible illness and disabilities always get the most hits. Those are important for educating the public, and I am ecstatic that so many people can find something to identify with, connect with, and share with their loved ones. That’s fantastic! Will you share this one with the same vivid passion as those? I ask that of you now. The flipside to this coin is right here on this page today… it’s in taking responsibility for your own choices and actions. It rests within not using the compassion for our illness as an excuse to stop putting in the work. You have to be hungry for something. Everyone has proven that they are hungry for compassion, understanding, and information. How hungry are you for improvement of your quality of life? How hungry are you for squeezing every ounce of experience out of the years that you have on this planet, in whatever capacity that you can drive yourself to accomplish? How BAD do you want it? Do you want quality of life… experience… accomplishment… the joy of reaching a goal as bad as you want TO BREATHE?
It will always boil down to fear. If you embrace that more than the fire, it will own you. The secret is that you can put that fear – your own demons – on a leash. Do it.
When it comes to making a big change in your life, you have to want it more than you fear it.
I have both cardiac and respiratory health conditions. Some day they may truly limit me, and some day they may kill me. But not today. NOT RIGHT NOW. I have a shirt I got from Ranger Up that says it all:
Almost dead yesterday. Maybe dead tomorrow. Gloriously alive today.
All due credit to the artist that created this, because it is stellar….