Transformative Thinking

What’s my excuse? That’s the first thought in my head when I saw this picture and read the article about Cynthia Arnold. She just ran a marathon (3 hours, 11 minutes), pushing her three children in a stroller (a total weight of 185-lbs), and I don’t go outside for a short training run because I think it is too hot (or windy, or dark, or cold, or ???). My question to myself, was instantly answered by myself: “I have no excuse!” Next question to myself: “If you don’t have an excuse…get going!”

Really, I have no excuse for my lack of running these past six months (i.e. all of 2019)! All I have to do is put my shoes on, grab a bottle of water and a hat and shuffle myself out the door and down the street. Instead, most days I have to do mental gymnastics to entice myself to go outside (or onto the treadmill) to go for a run. I think my excuse is this: I believe every thought that comes into my head! And rather than wait for a change of season, I need to have a change of thinking. Clearly, this change needs a catalyst; and I am so grateful for the spark which ignited my motivation anew by Cynthia Arnold and her story which was recently published in Runner’s World.

When I consider how Cynthia runs and trains for her race events, all of a sudden I feel LIGHT, UN-ENCUMBERED, and UN-ATTACHED! Hello, I wake up to my life’s stage and remember that I have the privilege to run whenever or wherever I desire…day or night, hot or cold…summer or winter! True, my desire to run ebbs more than flows these days, but desire is not everything. What I think and believe about my desire or lack of desire is of primary importance. My lazy, weak thinking (and believing) becomes my very own cryptonite! As I think I am…I become. How can I transform my tired, lazy bread-crumb dragging thoughts into energenic, motivational running thoughts? Is transformational thinking a matter of choice? Or is something more mystical required?

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What alchemy may I invoke to jump start my lackluster motivation? Is it as simple as seeing someone like Cynthia doing an amazing thing and believing that the same is possible for myself? If I think those kinds of thoughts, and follow that trail of thinking like bread crumbs on the yellow brick running path, is it possible that I can transform my running, mind and body, in three months? or six months? Perhaps…and as you can see in the picture above, I am a runner striving to run her best…even with weak thinking! And yet, when I consider how important running is to me, and how much I want to better my running and enlarge my accomplishments, it is these kinds of thoughts which begin to make me feel like a runner again. These are the thoughts which make me feel empowered…motivated…energized. When I consider what I have accomplished in my running past, I am propelled to believe that any running goal which I desire strongly enough is indeed within the realm of possibility for me.

So I have to tell you, and I am certain you already know this truth: It is very hard, solitary work, to strive towards achieving something big for yourself! Living life to the full or overflowing is not for sissies or weaklings of spirit. And this is why I so appreciate the running community, near and far; because runners of every shape, size and ability engage the same challenges when aspiring to run their best, whether in training or racing. Clearly, what makes a runner successful, or anyone else for that matter, is the strength of one’s desire and the will to train one’s mind to master the doubts of doom or gloom.

I have worked hard, logged a lot of miles, and try every day to be grateful for my physical health. I always want to be faster, better, and place higher. I enjoy competing and even when I’ve met my arbitrary goal for a race, I always pick apart how I could have done it even better.  I’ve failed a lot in my races, but I don’t let the failures define me. Instead, I choose to be happy about what I can do.  Carissa Liebowitz

So in all of this writing to and for you, I hope to become a part of the alchemy which may energize each one of us towards transformative thinking and moving and acting. I hope thereby to encourage you, if you are at all struggling with soggy-bread-crumb thinking or lack-luster desire. I hope you will read the stories behind the lives of successful runners like Deena Kastor, Carissa Liebowitz, and Cynthia Arnold. Read their back stories and remember, they believed they could achieve great things for themselves…and they were not afraid to work hard and keep their focus steady.

When I see the pictures and read the stories of my running heroes, I think they suffer not as I do. I think my heroes, young or old, are immune to weak thinking and struggle not with lack of motivation, or strength or confidence. And then…they remind me; they tell their story and they remind me; they wake me up to myself and my life as only I may live it. They share their experiences and in doing so, they help transform me and my thinking. I take their thoughts, and add them to my warehouse, to my repertoire of running possibilities.

 

 


Everything New

One week into 2018 and I am still thinking about the New Year and what I may accomplish in it and through it. And the idea of transformation and hope has persisted and continues to appear before my eyes in the things I’m reading and in the thoughts I’m thinking.

The hardest part is what to leave behind, … It’s time to let go!
– A. A. Milne (Winnie-The-Pooh)

To be transformed is to be made new, to be changed, to experience a metamorphosis; to become a new creation. Is this not the wonder and delight of crossing over into the New Year? This hope that the old things and old ways of doing things which don’t work will pass away, and the life and light of newness will attend us in the unfolding days of the new year.

When I let go of what I am,
I become what I might be.
– Lao Tzu

Why does the thought of a personal transformation so tickle my senses? Does it tickle you? Perhaps it tickles, perhaps it pings our collective intrigue because this is what we need…to be renewed, refreshed, revitalized!

Let’s touch everything we see
and change it to hope
Our hearts let’s change to flesh
No more stones of apathy for us!
Let’s look at everything that could be
believing it will be
if we dare
to walk on water
scared and hopeful.

Come, walk on the water with me!
Let’s wrap our fears in hope.
Across these waters we must go our lamps of courage high
Scared and hopeful we will go.
– 
Macrina Wiederkehr, O.S.B.

What needs transforming in my life? What needs changing? What needs to die so I may embrace a new way of being? Perhaps I need to learn a new way of relating? A new way of perceiving? A new way of communicating? A new way of loving?

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs;
ask yourself what makes you come alive.
And then go and do that.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
– Howard Thurman

It’s time isn’t it? Time to walk into the New Year with every expectation that I will be changed because I am ready. I am ready to be emptied so I may be filled again,  maybe even filled to overflowing with every good and needful thing. How about you? Will you go with me…will you walk out with me onto the waters of hope in 2018?