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|This morning I had committed to running a 5k with my running group and my son. I even persuaded my best friend, Frances (who doesn’t run with my running group), to join us. We’d been looking forward to it all week. Last night, Orly and I went to bed earlier than usual, and I set the alarm. |
“I’m so excited about tomorrow!” he whispered before I left his room. “Me too,” I smiled back.
My heart sank when my eyes glimpsed at the phone this morning and the time read: 6:24 AM.
Panic set in. Anxiously I skimmed through my texts:
“Caro! Where are you?”
“Is she coming?”
“She’s not here yet!”
Then I saw the missed calls.
I’d slept right through all of it.
I was so disappointed in myself. I’d let my friends and my son down. My first instinct was to wallow in my pity party. But then I saw my best friend’s selfie. Feeling uncomfortable running with strangers, Frances had skipped the run and gone back home. But instead of climbing back into bed — it was a dark, rainy, and perfect morning to do so — she ran the 5k alone around her neighborhood.
The smile on her sweaty face showed an incredible sense of accomplishment. Her picture inspired me.
What happened next brought several moments of clarity.
I changed into my running gear and decided to run the 5k by myself. As I inhaled the crisp morning air, listened to the birds chirping, and moved my body, I began releasing the anger of having missed my event. I reminded myself that we don’t have to be defined by our mistakes, our failures, or our imperfections — it is part of our humanity. What defines us is what we do in the face of failure. Do we stay stuck there or do we move forward? Do we quit or do we get back up? So long as we’re alive, we can start over. Life is all about choices. The more I thought about this, the faster I ran. I could sense my energy and pace picking up, and I felt a wave of gratitude rushing over me.
I had not enjoyed a run like this since I’d been sick with pneumonia. The recovery has been slow, even though I have continued to do the work necessary to heal. For months I’ve been putting pennies in the penny jar — eating well, going for a ralk (running and walking), and doing other strength-training exercises—but putting pennies in the penny jar doesn’t generate immediate rewards. All this time I’ve had difficulty breathing. I get tired easily. I stop often to catch my breath.
But not today. For once, I was breathing well; I felt strong. Today, I was closer to my pre-pneumonia self than I had been in the last nine months. I have entered a healthier and stronger season. The penny jar is getting full. Investing in ourselves can often seem slow and arduous, but it’s incredible how one day it all clicks and you realize your investment has paid off. Suddenly you’re in a new season. This is “delayed gratification” at its best. As I rounded the corner of the street, my app notified me I had reached 2.5 miles.
Less than a mile left and I’m done.
Feelings of accomplishment replaced my initial feelings of disappointment. I thought about the affirmation I’d sent my Caro’s CORE Challenge Crew earlier:
|I’d shared with my members that looking at life like it is rigged in your favor is a choice you make even when things don’t work out as planned. It’s a perspective that there are always lessons, blessings, and meaning in what happens even when it’s inconvenient or painful. It’s a firm belief that things always work out. I have always subscribed to this mindset. It’s one of those parts of me that is so innate that I forget for some it is a learnable skill. On a day that things didn’t go my way, I guess that was the perfect affirmation to reflect on. I have no explanation for missing the alarm, the calls, and the texts this morning. Nor can I control that it happened. But I can choose to believe that missing that run was in my favor. Maybe I avoided a car accident on the drive to the run. Maybe my body needed the rest. Maybe my son shouldn’t have been running this morning. Maybe none of the above is true. No one knows why things happen sometimes. But the only thing we can control is our reactions and our decisions in response to the events that happen.|
I almost sat this run out. Had it not been for Frances’ selfie, I would have planned to ralked in the evening like I normally do or done some other exercise. I would have missed out on the feeling of accomplishment that I had set myself up for the entire week. But that is why community is so important. I borrowed the energy from her accomplishment to motivate me to run. Sometimes we are the ones who need to give the energy, and sometimes we are the ones who need to receive it.
I may have woken up late. I may have missed running with my buddies. But that just meant I was delayed. It didn’t mean I was doomed. This applies to everything in life. We often feel like we’re too late to the party whether it’s in business or in life. We feel like everyone around is ahead of us. They have more money, more success, or more accomplishments. We question why it’s taking so long for us to do the things we want to do. Sometimes we catch momentum, only to face a setback. It’s easy to get discouraged by this and stop trying. It’s easy to throw our hands up in the air and feel like we don’t deserve these things; We’re just not good enough; We are doomed. But that, my friends, is not the truth — it is just a paradigm.
|I hope no matter what goal you’re working on right now — no matter what you’re going through — you approach life like it is rigged in your favor. You decide that you will not be defined by your past, by your mistakes or your failures; you continue to put pennies in the penny jar. Because you get to choose how you write the rest of this story.|