"My life is my message."
Are you running with your strengths?
Are you achieving your personal marathon of life?
In this world of diversity, it is easy to get caught up in what others are doing and where we are lacking. Yet, our natural talents can be owned, honed and focused so that we win the race of our own lives.
I was having breakfast with my husband when we were discussing this in our lives. We are too very different, complementary and similar individuals. This leads to some interesting conversations and our morning chat was no different. My husband is an athlete at a level that I just can’t hope to achieve. In the physical arena, he has trained and practiced his whole life and it is infused in him like breathing. I love my exercise, but my training and experience predominates in another field. I could never hope to run a marathon with him and keep up, yet he inspires me. I am a better athlete because of him. In the same way, there are areas that I run a different race. For me, the releasing of people to embrace their whole lives is one of the races I run. It is why I write and share and it is to those who read it to take what is beneficial for them. My hope for this article is that by reading and reflecting on it, you may:
- Get a clearer idea of a “marathon race” that you are running (or would like to run)
- Gain an organic template to approach the “training program” for your particular endeavour
- Understand the benefits of the various resistances along the way as well as the freedom of flow
- Implement personal strategies to be successful in your process
The first step is to find “our personal marathon”. This is easier said than done. This really comes home to me when I watch teenagers try to figure out what they “want to do for the rest of their lives”. Even though brain development studies and what is natural speaks to the clarity coming closer to the mid-twenties (and sometimes later), we, as a society, push our children to figure it out and to “help” we over-infiltrate them with ideas, strategies and judgments. Talk about muddying the water! Yet, this doesn’t just happen at this stage. It happens to all of us as we journey through life. While other posts will go into more detail, some key practices that may support us in this area include:
- Ask yourself what you are doing when you are “energized” and figure out how to offer that in the world. An example may be leading teams in online gaming and noting that the leadership of others and completing projects are important. Another area could be cooking and putting together healthy and savoury nourishment for the enjoyment of others. Feeling these moments of energy open up what we naturally gravitate to. We are finding the “athlete” inside.
- If nobody was influencing you and you were left to your own devices, what would you do? How could that apply in the world? Answer the questions and go from there.
- Feel how you respond when people give you their thoughts. Take what resonates with you and reflect on that. Act accordingly afterwards. If we were to ask 10 people a question, there would be 10 different responses. Some would personally make sense to us and some wouldn’t. That is our radar of what we need at the time. What doesn’t resonate, we may filter out.
Now that the fog is starting to clear on what your personal marathon is, you may develop a “training program”. Having a guideline and structure helps us focus our time wisely and use our life energy efficiently and not scatter it to the winds. It is important, however, to create an organic structure since nature and life do not move in straight lines. Some key elements I discovered when researching what goes into a marathon training schedule were: varied run lengths and speed, rest days, and cross-training. If we apply these principles to our personal goals/plan, they could be:
- Various approaches to the same goal: Someone takes the high road and someone takes the low road but they end up in the same place. There is never just one path to achieving our destinations and taking the journey in a variety of ways builds flexibility, endurance and resiliency. Online research, talking to people, building prototypes, running “pilots”, writing drafts are all ways of gathering information and fine tuning action. We need the creative brainstorm and variety of processes prior to implementation of the end result. How could ten different people approach your endeavour? Pick your favourites and build your organic training schedule.
- Balance output and input: All work and no play will get less done. We need our rest. It is when we integrate all the information and actions into something new. We are just working hard in the inner world. There is a lot getting done - we just may not “see” it externally. Think how a great “thought” or answer to an earlier question gets answered when we are showering or driving. When we disengage, we are working behind the scenes to deliver the answer. Cool, eh?
- Creative interconnection: Studies in creativity note that when we bring unrelated areas together, we come to new insights/heights that couldn’t come from the singular focus and it enhances both of the initial areas. By cross-training and being open, we can bring a richness to our journey to the goal. If we are striving to study in education and teach others, taking time to play music and engage our sensing self, we may become more attuned to the “music” of others and how they move in the world and be able to share our information with them in a more “in-tune” fashion. It also energizes us and keeps us refreshed and alive.
Once we explore and create our personal organic training plan, we are ready to run! But *#@%$, blocks, challenges and resistance soon appear. This is our “strength-building” time. Often with great intentions, others may start to tell us what to do, ask where we are at in our stuff at a too early stage, judge our way of doing things, plus plus plus. What is even harder is our own stuff that we bring up. Questions of whether we can do it, self-confidence demons, blankness and numbness, no energy, mind chatter/shouting, personal judgment. You name it, it very well may be there. How do we get through these seeming insurmountable odds at time? While this is an area that volumes of books could be written, a few guidelines are:
- Don’t fight and judge that there are blocks, challenges and resistance. It is going to happen. By blocking the blocks, challenging the challenges and resisting the resistance we actually create more. This doesn’t mean “address” every little thing. Much like meditation, note it and let flow through. To figure out which ones “need” to be addressed, read on…
- Feel the “core” of why you are embarking on this path and access the power of the meaning of your journey. If you need to, go back to the starting point to “feel” the energy of your personal goal and race. I once worked training naturopathic doctors and they had a clarity of their goals and purpose at the beginning of the program that needed to be remembered when they were in the midst of the pain of the process. That gave them the nourishment to keep going against the odds when the going got tough.
- When you hit a repeated or pattern of a certain obstacle that keeps tripping you up, address that one in the most energy efficient way. If it is beyond your current capacity, call in support in terms of someone or something that can be a resource. If I am prepping for a marathon and keep tripping on my own feet, I may need new shoes or expertise on my gait. Our blocks, challenges, and resistance call us to personally develop and strengthen ourselves.
Now it is your turn to put it together.
1. What is your personal marathon?
2. Develop your organic training program to get there.
3. Approach the challenges openly and transform them.
4. Win your race!!!
If you would like to explore more of Cheryl-Dean's programs, reflections and creative spirit, you are invited to her personal website cheryldeanthompson.com and some of her other websites: artisticgrowth.com (work site with online programs and offerings) and sacredhumanity.org (poetry and upcoming book).