In training, with purpose and passion

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Purpose is the reason you journey, passion is the fire that lights your way.
Author unknown

I went for a walk yesterday.  No big deal, yet a few things surprised me about this.  You see, it was a pretty long walk. I’d decided to head off for a 23 k stroll and, as Mother Nature would have it, it was blowing a gale with winter westerly winds reaching 41 kilometres throughout the day (pretty wild and woolly for an urban area). The wind chill made the already low temperatures of about 7-10 feel at least a couple of degrees cooler, and that’s pretty low for this normally tropical neck of the woods.

I concede,  these temps  and wind speeds  are pretty moderate, almost nothing in comparison to other places in the world. When I consider my husband sat atop Mt Cook in 169 km winds, I’m almost embarrassed.  Anyway, why am I proud of myself in light of this information? Well, to walk twenty-three kilometres  in a day is a serious undertaking for me and I usually balk at roaming about in weather, preferring instead to rug up, sip tea and read in a quiet, sheltered nook inside.  I can usually find, without much trouble, any small excuse to delay such an undertaking.

But yesterday was different. I was excited about heading off on this walk. I was focused on it and  determined. I’d packed, I had decided what to wear to minimise bulk and excess (should it warm up) yet stay warm. I had  transportable food for lunch, water for hydration. I was set. Not even the remote possibility of a coffee and a chat with my son, who was visiting, stopped me from stepping out the door and heading off into the wild blue morning.

So what was different about yesterday?  (I questioned this myself as I was on my home stretch.)

I had purpose and I had passion.  Two key ingredients to making anything possible.

Since returning from a life changing trip to Nepal I’ve had a hunger. A gnawing need to do something of value and I’ve had an itch to challenge myself physically, in ways I’ve not yet explored ( a crazy thing for someone who hasn’t been a sporting type and nearing, okay, past but just past, middle age). I am temporarily satisfying these burning desires by supporting research for Mitochondrial Disease by joining The Bloody Long Walk.  It’s a  35 kilometre one day walk across my fair city. I’m walking on my own, though I won’t be alone by any means and while I haven’t found anyone willing to join me for the outing I have had many wonderful people support my quest with donations and playful promises to cheer me on from their armchairs while sipping tea. I am heartily warmed by their faith in me, their goodwill and their kindness in donating to this great cause.

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So, I stepped outside, into a blustery day, to continue my training for this event. During a few days at the beach last week I extended my usual five kilometre walk to a few 12 and 14 k efforts before breakfast. It’s not to hard when you get to see the sun come up over the ocean. Look, I know it’s only a walk, it’s not like I’m running a marathon or doing a triathlon but 35 kilometres in a day takes some planning. With a 5 am shuttle bus ride to the starting line and a 7 o’clock kick off I wanted to get a sense of how long it might take me. Yesterday was a good gauge. I had some questions answered about equipment, supplies etc, which was handy. But most of all I really enjoyed myself. I packed my iPod, something I rarely use, thinking I might get bored. It stayed in the bottom of my pack.  Instead, I simply enjoyed just being. I was in the moment. There were no thoughts of what else had to be done, where else I could be. I was purposefully engaged and I was enlivened by it, as well as by the wind and the crisp air.

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Having this small challenge ahead of me is providing a focus and a purpose that is shaping my thoughts and actions in ways I am quietly amazed by. There is a saying that ‘the purpose of life is a life with purpose’ and boy does it make a difference.

What is driving you forward at the moment?

If you are interested in finding out more about Mitochondrial Disease and how you too can help, click here.

Shannyn

 

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Waves, Gardenias and Einstein

Do you ever have those times when you feel like everything is stacking up and you just can’t deal with it all, manage it all, find time for it all? Even the good stuff loses its shine and seems too difficult because there are so many competing issues to deal with, projects to begin, people to see, plans to fulfil? I’m in that spot right now.  It is like a massive wave has engulfed me and I’m rolling around inside, tangled, tumbling, tossing about without a level surface upon which to set my feet. I’m off balance.

I’m in a state of overwhelm, a state of ‘woe is me’. I’m in that place where it’s easier to throw my hands in the air and do nothing, to bury my head in the sand and hope it will all go away. Procrastination is my ‘go to’ behaviour in times like these.

Strange I should be visited by this devil, this monkey on my back now. Things have been going so very well of late. I’ve enjoyed a wonderful holiday, I’ve made some personal shifts that have been very satisfying. I had great intentions for the several projects I had in place. Why now?   Is there really a part of us that likes to maintain the status quo, that likes to keep us in a place of mediocrity, of longing, of never quite being where we want to be? If so, breaking that barrier, breaking the cycle of highs and lows is a challenge.

I know I won’t be in the whirlpool of my dispair for long. But I know if nothing changes I’ll be back at the beginning of the same pattern, the same cycle of longing and hoping that things will be different. I’ll come out of the whirlpool, I’ll pull my socks up and I’ll line up my projects again. Things will swim along pleasantly and happily for sometime, I will feel like I’m making progress  and, BAM, the wave will roll in and suck me under and into the turmoil, yet again!

What needs to change? What can I do differently to break the cycle, to cut the cord, to move on?

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That was several days ago. I didn’t have the answers but I faced my fears and took action. Action that I saw me emerge from the depths of the tumultuous wave, with my head above water noticing the brightness of the sun rather than the murkiness of the sea bed.

Firstly, I looked for something to be immediately grateful for and something to bring beauty into my seemingly helpless, hopeless world. I wandered into the garden and gave thanks for the newly budding flowers, the lush herbs and the gorgeous smell of gardenias, lavender, rosemary and mint.  I selected three beautifuly formed, pure white gardenias and placed them in a small crystal vase near my workspace.

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Then, beyond all impulses to run away, to hide, to procrastinate, I set about addressing the one critical task that needed to be fulfilled that day. I slowly worked my way through it, allowing time for small breaks to stretch and drink tea. I pushed aside my overwhelm to focus for the day on this one significant task and I am proud to say I achieved it. I ticked it off the list.

These two small acts, acts that differed from my past behaviour, achieved something akin to a miracle for me. Instead of being tossed about for weeks on end, sinking deeper into self pity and despair I now, just a couple of days later, have more energy, feel more motivated and have a brighter outlook than I expected was possible.

It wasn’t rocket science but maybe the key to changining the cycle is to do something different. I can see the truth in that old adage of Einstein’s:

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten”

I raise my cup of tea this morning and propose a toast to life, to the power in taking action and to breaking habitual cycles by doing things differently, one small step at a time.

Here’s to you too. Wishing you a wonderfully pleasant and fulfilling day.

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