Sunday, April 24, 2011

Never Give Up!

Taken after completing the San Francisco Half Marathon
thanks to my friend Michele for taking the photo :)
With all the curve balls that life has thrown at me over the past couple of years I find myself this morning slowing down to pause and reflect. The latest diagnosis of a serious heart condition (left ventricular non-compaction) was one, I must confess, that took me by complete surprise! Because of this heart condition I am being told I can no longer participate in competitive sports, and that signing up for races (marathons, half marathons, even shorter races) is something I need to give up. Competitive sports has been a part of my life, especially when I was younger and growing up. I grew up in Thailand and at the age of 6 I remember winning my first gold medal in swimming. At the age of 9 I began representing Thailand in international swim meets. I was known as the 'water baby' .... 50 meter and 100 meter breaststroke were my events and I held the Thai national records for those events. Swimming and competitive sports had become a part of life, a part of my being. My mom would take us (me and my siblings) for swimming training before school, then right after school we would head back for more swimming training. I remember eating my breakfast in the car ride from swimming training to school ... i remember hard boiled eggs, although i'm sure we probably had more than just hard boiled eggs!! :) For a while I trained under an Australian coach. I remember the intensity of that training ... how during the interval training I felt like my lungs were going to burst and how I wanted to just quit. My coach pushed me, and pushed me, and pushed me .... I learned how to use my mind to push my body beyond what it thought it was capable of, and when I could not take it any more and I had reached my limit I remember wanting to break down, cry and just give up. I remember my coach looking me straight in the eyes and saying to me at these times, and at times when I didn't win the gold, "a winner is someone who gets back up; a winner is someone who doesn't quit." Yes, I won many gold medals in my competitive swimming days, but I have to say my biggest learnings where when I didn't win the gold medals, it's when I ended up with a silver, or a bronze medal or even nothing .. and I learned that I have to get back up and keep trying.

Competitive sports taught me discipline and it taught me to never give up. In many ways, I think it taught me that I am capable of so much more than I think I'm capable of. These past couple years with all the various health challenges, I find myself thinking of the Energizer bunny, and I smile as I imagine myself being knocked down over and over again .... and somehow, some way, something inside of me keeps telling me, to get back up and try again.

Even though I can no longer compete in sports or sign up for races, I have taken with me the most valuable learnings from these experiences and they are a part of who I am and the way I view life and all that gets tossed my way ... last November I completed the San Francisco Half Marathon which was a huge accomplishment for me on so many levels (physically, emotionally and spiritually) with all of my health challenges. And that morning in San Francisco the weather took a turn and I found myself having to face running 13.1 miles in pouring rain, with some incredibly hard downfalls ... up until then I imagined running in beautiful sunny weather. Early that morning I had to shift my thinking to welcome the rain and downpour ... it then became a spiritual cleansing experience for me and as I ran across the Golden Gate bridge, not once but twice, and my body drenched ... I looked up into the heavens and smiled as I could feel the raindrops on my face. I remember just feeling so grateful for life. So today, I am challenged to approach running from a new perspective ... one of moderation. I am also going to incorporate more play into my life .... my pup Mister is a constant reminder to me of living in the moment ... after all, this moment is truly all we have ... the moments string together, and it's up to us how we choose to handle all that life tosses our way. I don't know what's in store for me health wise; I don't know what my EP (electrophysiologist) is going to tell me next week after he reviews the results of the echocardiogram and consults with his colleagues about my heart condition ... what I do know, is that on many levels, it doesn't matter because I am alive today, and no matter what he tells me I really only have THIS moment ... and if it's meant to be, then I will have many more of these moments, and if not, then I will make the most of what I have.

Today is Easter Sunday ... a day for Christians to celebrate the rising from the dead of Jesus. No matter what you believe ... I think we all have the ability to rise again; to have new beginnings; and for us to have new hope.

A good friend of mine shared the following video on her facebook page this morning ... how appropriate as I was reflecting on 'never giving up' ... it's a very moving and inspiring video.

No comments:

Post a Comment