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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Stepping Out of Our Boxes

The purpose of the creative process is never to satisfy the cravings of the personality, but to go beyond it. It is a practice of unlearning, of unburdening, of shedding beliefs and conditioning. True creative energy arises when the impersonal and the personal meet. To let that magic happen, the personality, with its heavy luggage, has to get out of the way. To paint for process is to enter the mystery of the spirit by practicing the basic principles of being and awakening.” Michele Cassou

I’ve been thinking a lot about shedding old beliefs and conditioned ways of looking at the world and myself. To truly tap our creative center we must step out of the boxes we’ve put ourselves in. So often what we believed about ourselves as children follow us through our entire lives; beliefs like, I can’t draw, I can’t sing, I’m not the creative type, I’m not smart enough, I’m not athletic, etc…Often we don’t look at these beliefs and question them, we attach to them and define ourselves by them. When we become mindful we can decide differently, we can unlearn all of the self-limiting beliefs we’ve held for so long.

I used to think of myself as a non-runner. I had a good friend who ran marathons and I remember saying to her, “I could never ever run that far, no way.” I put her in a separate box from me. She was the one who could run 26.2 miles. I was the one who couldn’t, not ever. Until I did.

It happened slowly. I started with one. Then two. I remember how excited I was the first time I ran three. I was amazed. Suddenly I was someone who could run three miles at a time. I had become one of those people others were defining as a runner. And from three, I just kept going. One mile at a time.

On a rainy Sunday afternoon, while standing in the kitchen, cup of coffee in hand, I decided, with more resolve than I had ever felt, that I would train for the Portland marathon. I had spent the last few years pregnant, nursing and fully focused on my little one. I needed something just for me, something that would help me shed that extra new-mommy-weight and push me out of the funk I was in.

I clearly remember the first time I tried to run ten. I got out much later than I had planned, it was mid-summer, the middle of the day and very hot. I didn’t bring water. I hadn’t eaten well the night before or mentally prepared myself to run that distance. It turned out to be one of those very memorably bad runs. I walked the last mile or so, wondering how on earth I would ever possibly run 26 if I couldn’t even run ten. A heavy-kind-of-doubt crept in. When I stumbled back through the door, a sweaty, discouraged mess, I collapsed on the floor next to my husband. I told him I didn’t think I could ever run a marathon, that maybe it was just a really bad idea. He proceeded to ask me a series of very good questions, like, are you drinking enough water, eating well, mentally preparing yourself? No, I wasn't.

I knew at that moment that I could either quit, write it all off as a bad idea, continue to think of myself as a person who could never run 26 miles or I could refocus, get serious, push through the resistance.

So, I went out and purchased a water belt, started being more mindful of my eating, got a good night’s sleep the night before long runs and started saying sweet encouraging “I can do this” kinds of things to myself. And this is what happened. The following weekend I was scheduled to run twelve miles. I ate a great meal the night before, got a good night’s sleep and set out in the morning with my new water belt. I had about a half hour drive to mentally pump myself up. When I hit the trail, I ran and ran. For the first time I understood what others meant when they spoke of the “runner’s high.” I sunk into it fully. I smiled and felt a surge of emotion and energy. I felt an incredible sense of empowerment. I felt strong and capable. I felt like a runner.

I ended up running thirteen miles that day instead of twelve. My first half marathon ever. There were no fans, no one cheering, no time clocks or metals, no competition. Just me and my running shoes, the warm sun and dirt trail, and something from way down deep telling me I could.

I’m so thankful I went beyond the cravings of my limited mind, that I shed old beliefs and conditioning, that I chose to break through the resistance and kept DOing. Had I decided to stop training I would have gone on believing something that wasn’t true. I would have continued telling myself that I wasn’t a person who could run that far.

A few months later, I ran the full 26.2. I became a person that could run a marathon. I became a person that could push through pain and resistance. I became a person that didn’t give up when things got tough. With this new definition of myself, all kinds of limiting beliefs fell away. If I could do it with running, I could do it with anything.

I still come up against resistance (often) and doubts (plenty). But I know now that I must push through in order to come out on the other side. The side that is bright and clear, brings surges of inspiration and shows me very clearly that the limits I place on myself are unnecessary.

Each step of the way is an opportunity. We can choose to move beyond the heavy luggage of our conditioned beliefs and move into that magical, mysterious place that knows nothing of burdens or limits.

So, go ahead, step. Freedom will meet you there. I just know it.

2 comments :

  1. ...and the angels sing. Yes!! You are in the flow...keep them coming inspirational woman!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow! Powerful, friend. Thank you for sharing your process and your breaking through. So inspiring. You are brave and true.

    XO Brooke

    ReplyDelete

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