A Winning Spirit

Last Friday, I took Wil to his swim lesson, and another mom from our Down syndrome support group was there with her son. We started chatting it up as our boys swam, and she was telling me how her son also plays soccer. She explained how it is a “typical” soccer team, and the other parents and kids on the team, and on the competitors teams, are very supportive and encouraging of her son, even though he is quite a bit slower.
Then, during a particular game, there was this one parent who cheered on his child to cut past my friend’s son, and score a goal, which he did….http://christieleightaylor.com/a-winning-spirit/

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How Do You Find The Triumph In The Struggle?

I don’t think I would be training for an ultramarathon if I did not have a child with special needs. I have no way of knowing that for sure, but I’m fairly confident that is the truth.

Before Wil was born, I didn’t have any real emotional struggles in my life. I mean, we all have our stuff, our problems, our insecurities, but there was really nothing in my life that caused me to dig very deep within to deal with and pull myself out of.

I was an athlete, I knew about mental and physical discipline, but I still don’t think I would have ever pushed myself as far as I do now physically and mentally, without Wil.

When Wil was born, it was a struggle in so many ways. A struggle to accept his unexpected diagnosis, a struggle to handle the impact on our marriage, and the ultimate ongoing struggle of wondering if I was doing enough for Wil. Will I ever do enough or be enough for him?

Though all of those struggles bore with them their own weight, the last one is the one that hits the hardest. That “enough” question is endless. There is always so much out there, yet never enough.

So, it’s a question only I can answer to myself. It’s a tough one, because even the best of me is full of flaws, and insecurities. But, I have learned over time, that if I am always growing, always learning to find the lesson in the struggle, to find the triumph in the struggle, then that will always be enough for Wil, and for myself.

In the ultramarathon, people from the outside looking in may say, why run that distance? How far will she have to go until it’s enough? Will it ever be enough?

But, that is the wrong question.

The question is, how do you find triumph in your struggles? That is a very personal question to each and every one of us, and the answer is different for each and every one of us. And, one that is only answered in the moment, as we are always reinventing ourselves in our growth.

Right now, one way I have learned to find triumph in the struggle is in ultrarunning, but it didn’t start there.

I first found the triumph in the struggle in training for a half marathon. I was not a runner, so this goal scared me enough to motivate me highly, along with the fact that I was running it for a fundraiser for the National Down Syndrome Society.

I’ll never forget when I ran 15 miles in training for the first time. It was the longest run in the half-marathon plan. At mile 13, I’d had it. I didn’t want to go a step further. I was physically hurting, I was mentally spent. But, I had this race to run, and I wanted to run it well, so I pushed forward.

Every.single.step. was a mental struggle. Keep running, Christie, come on, one foot in front of the other. Oh, but I could walk, who would know? Just walk a little, it will be ok.

Yet, I knew, if I walked, even though it would be ok, it would make a mental change in me. I couldn’t honestly say to myself I had run a full 15 miles. At that time, running that distance was important to me. I had to keep running, for myself, for Wil, for NDSS. And, so I did.

Then, something happened. With a half mile to go, I just started crying. I’m running down Wampler’s Lake Road, with all these cars going by, and I have tears streaming down my face. I knew I was going to make it, I had found the triumph in the struggle, and I gave it all I had that last half mile.

I broke a huge mental barrier within myself. I felt sick to my stomach, but at the same time, I had never felt better in my life!

Immediately upon finishing, I texted my friend, Ema, who is a marathon runner, and a great one! I knew she would understand my feelings. She encouraged me every step of the way in training for this race, and I couldn’t wait to share with her.

She, as always, was very encouraging and full of smart advice. She texted something back I will never forget. “Those last 2 miles are always the hardest, no matter how far you run.”

How true that is, in both running and in life. The triumph is always found in those proverbial last 2 miles.

And, so, running, in a way, helps me train for life. It forces me to dig deep, and find the triumph in the struggle. Right now, I find that most in running greater distances. I may be exhausted and feeling like puking, but it is also a place the forces me to dig deep to find the triumph in the struggle. No one else can do that for me, it’s an inside job, and only I know if I have been fully honest with myself.

So, with all of this running, and also in raising Wil, I no longer ask myself if I am doing enough.

That is the wrong question.

The question is, How do I find triumph in the struggle?

And, the answer, well, you have to figure that one out for yourself.

CHI MARATHON 2014

Are You Being Honest With Yourself? Like, Deep Down Honest?

 

Are you being honest with yourself? Like, deep down honest? No comparisons with anyone else, not blaming anyone else or anything, just being honest with who you are and who you want to be?

When I find myself in blame or saying someone or something is holding me back from reaching my full potential, if I dig deep enough, I find that I am the problem, not anyone else. I am not asking for what I need, I am not doing what it takes, I am not taking the steps that need to be taken.


No one is to blame for not reaching my goals but myself. There is always, always a way.


Maybe getting there is not taking avenue that I envisioned, but if I am truly and brutally honest with myself about what I want, all those excuses, reasons, and blame fall away, and I begin to see new avenues to get there. I find that even though there are things and people who throw challenges my way, I can see my way through them, and I will get there if I only discipline myself to stay focused.


The truth is, no one has any power over your mind and your actions and reactions but you. Once you are truly honest with yourself, you will see your excuses for what they are, and other people who stand in your way are simply fearful because of their own internal dialogue and it really has little to do with you, and once you realize this, and discipline yourself to stay trained on your focus, but flexible in your approach, you will gain a freedom and inner joy and courage that simply can not be attained when hiding behind your reasons.


Get honest, drop the excuses, create a fantastic week for yourself, you deserve it because YOU ARE FREAKING AWESOME!!!!!  

View and share this post on my website: ChristieLeighTaylor.com christie 5

Hey Girlfriend, You Need A Body Image Readjustment!

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We women are inundated with articles about our weight and body image. They go from encouraging some crazy cleanse diet to embracing our fullness.  As different as these articles may look, every single one is saying the same thing: “Girlfriend, you do not love who you are, and you need us to tell you how to do that, and its all in your body image.”

They tell us to embrace ourselves, as if we are not able to do that without their validation, or to starve ourselves and then we can be happy because we’ll be the “skinny girl” and we all know happiness is achieved by being skinny.

GAG me with your honey and green tea cleanse diet spoon!!

The only articles about our bodies I find useful focus on healthy eating, different types of exercise and general well-being with absolutely zero reference to weight or body image. Those articles are not as sexy as the body image articles and they don’t call us girlfriend, but, they do give us the tools to own our body image, and when we own it, we have no need to be defined or validated by someone else.

Take care of that body you have been given, no matter how big or small your boobs, thighs or tummy are. When you exercise, eat well, and allow yourself to fully enjoy “bad for you” treats on occasion, you will be proud of what you are doing for yourself and not need an article to tell you to “embrace yourself as you are” or consume nothing but honey and green tea for a week.

It’s not that you won’t wish certain parts of your body are different. Believe me, I would love to have long, skinny legs but I don’t. Yet, I treat myself well and I love to run so I am proud of my curvy, muscular thighs. I don’t need an article to tell me to embrace their curves or get them skinny with some crazy cleanse diet.

I own my body. When you own it, there are no comparisons, crazy diets, or validation needed. Got that, girlfriend?

What fills you up?

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What fills you up? What gives you that filled to the rim feeling?

I get it from running and advocacy.

Last Saturday, I ran my first half-marathon for both myself, and to raise awareness in the National Down Syndrome Society Your Way Campaign.

Talk about being filled to the rim! My two favorite passions wrapped up into one. That run had meaning and then some!

Fast-forward to today, and that race is almost a week past. It’s over, fini, the end, all she wrote, the fat lady has sung.

I’m left with the feeling, ok, you did good, pat yourself on the back, now what have you done for me lately?

Its clear I have a touch of the post-race blues and its time to move on. I just need a little inspiration to do so.  I’m sure that inspiration will return by registering for another 1/2 marathon and joining another campaign.

During the training and campaigning I did for this first 1/2 marathon, I received many an “atta girl!” from friends. Even though I was internally motivated, my friends’ encouragement inspired me even more. The more inspired I became, by default, the more I found I inspired others.

So, I write this with both selfish and altruistic intentions. I write to inspire myself to get going again, and by default, to inspire you to move forward on whatever it is you are holding back on.

Keep on keeping on, my friends!

Best,

Christie

Finding your own rhythm

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I run, I breathe in the weather.

I find my pace, my rhythm.

No matter how smooth the run,

I always hit a place where my legs and lungs start to scream,

and my mind says stop,

its ok, just walk a little.

As much relief as the walk brings

It hurts that much more to get started again.

So, instead, I speed up with a quick burst,

arms pumping, legs following.

This acceleration feeds my body with the lift it needs.

I close my eyes, quieting my mind and completely lean into the rhythm.

My haggard breathing begins to smooth and fall in line with my arms and legs.

My whole body seems as if it is propelling itself and I am flooded with energy!

I am renewed, invigorated! The burn is still there, but I have my rhythm back and feel like I could keep going forever.

It is the runner’s high, the ultimate reward for working past the hurt.

This high doesn’t end when the run ends. Far from it.

It fills my day with energy, urging me to move forward rather than get stuck in overwhelming situations.

The desire to slow down, or stop, never goes away, it always tugs at me.

But, I know how much it hurts to slow down only to start back up again.

The reward lies in conquering my fears by jumping in,

and once there, lean in, listen to my inner self, and find my own rhythm.

Breaking Through

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I don’t know if its a mid-life thing, but I have been breaking through many of my comfort zones lately. As painful as it can be, it is extremely gratifying on the other side.

With every step outside of the zone, I find out more about my personal strengths, my true friends and the endeavors that bring me the most joy and inner gratification.

One literal example I have of a painful comfort zone breakthrough is with running. I enjoy long, easy runs, but have always wanted to be faster. I had resigned myself to the thought that I am just a “slow runner.”

I do circuit style workouts regularly, so cardiovascularly I can run 6 to 8 miles without much trouble. I only ran 1-2 times a week, and I never ran hard, but at a nice, comfy pace. Long, easy runs only 1-2x/week does not add up to being a faster runner. I was comfortable in that place, so that’s where I stayed for quite some time.

It was time to take a step out of my comfy place if I really wanted to be faster. So, I registered for a 1/2 marathon*.

As I am endurance-oriented, the 1/2 is a motivating goal for me, but, I also needed to incorporate speedwork to break out of my “slow runner” mindset.

I hate speedwork. It makes me very uncomfortable. It hurts and I feel like I’m going to throw up. Waaaa!

But, I wanted to be faster, so I found a 1/2 marathon plan that incorporated speedwork as well as endurance runs, pulled up my big girl panties, and got started.

I am now a few weeks into my plan, and I AM faster! I can not tell you how good it feels to glance down at my watch during a 6 mile run and see I am maintaining an 8:30 or better pace(the last mile I maintained in the high 7’s!) where only a few weeks ago running at 9:00 was pushing it. I have speedwork to thank for that.

I still don’t like speedwork, and I probably never will, but I actually look forward to it, because I can’t wait to see what I’m capable of.  I don’t know that I’ll ever be a 7 minute mile runner, but every day I’m stepping out of my zone and I know I’m improving myself in more than just running speed.

Keep on keeping on!

*My 1/2 marathon is on October 5th, and I’ll be running for Down syndrome awareness in the National Down Syndrome Society Your Way Campaign. You can check out my page at: http://ndssyourway.kintera.org/faf/donorReg/donorPledge.asp?ievent=1009924&supid=389620121

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