One hot fall day in the mountains of Kentucky’s Natural Bridge State Park almost 15 years ago, my husband and I set out for a long hike. We had prepared the day before for the 9 mile hike by filling water bottles and freezing them. We knew that it was going to be hot and we wanted our water to be cold. Inexperienced as we were, 9 miles didn’t seem overly far so we only brought a bar each to eat sure we would be back at our cabin in an hour or two. Much to our surprise, the hike took several hours and despite the heat, the water bottles never melted. By the time we got back to the trail head, we were parched and famished!
At the time, I wasn’t yet a runner, but I have always been a dreamer. Regardless of my lack of running experience, I remember telling Kenny during that hike that I had a dream of running a marathon one day. Forget that I have never even run a 5K. Given how difficult the 9 mile hike was though, I grew afraid that I would never be able to accomplish that goal. I distinctly remember thinking, “How is a marathon even physically possible?”
Looking back on that day, I realize how, in that moment, a marathon was genuinely something that I couldn’t do. And I was the voice telling myself self “You can’t”! Somehow here I am 15 years later and I have run 5 marathon, two 50Ks, numerous half marathons and more long training runs than I can count. Of course all this in addition to the 5 and 10Ks that I got started with when I first started out. I have proven to myself time and again that I CAN DO all the things that I have and others have told me I CAN’T.
What’s more is that I have accomplished these endurance goals while also building a successful career at a younger age than most, having two beautiful little boys, buying our first home, selling it and repeating 3 more times, living in Tennessee, Eastern Oregon, Oregon’s Willamette Valley, Western New York, the Oregon Coast, Wyoming, back to the Oregon Coast, Oregon’s Willamette Valley again and now in Phoenix, Arizona. (yes, in that order…crazy huh!? Even crazier, Kenny left the Army so that we wouldn’t move a family all over the country!)
These experiences and many others like it have taught me that when I face the unknown, the scary, the seemingly impossible, I need to pause and look for the path that will get me through. It is always there, though maybe overgrown by brambles or difficult to traverse. The road through isn’t always easy, often the exact opposite, but it is there. And the more times I take that road, the more I come to embrace the challenge.
Today when thinking about what’s next, I ask myself, what scares me? What seems impossible? For what things does my heart always say “If only”? This set of questions helps me to head in the direction that will be most fulfilling in the long run.
So where do the next 15 years take me in terms of accomplishing things that I once or currently believe I CAN’T DO? What dreams do I have at this moment where the road through isn’t quite clear (or maybe completely hiding!)?
By stating these dreams out loud, I can begin to give them thought and weight, which only allows action to be that much closer to achievable. This list will grow and change, stuff will be added and fall off, but what will not change is that I will continue to DO what I believe I CAN’T