“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all” – Helen Keller
In loving memory of Nora Lynne Donnelley (1951 – 2008).
57km RUN4MOM, (technically 61km door to door) was a success and a grand feat to say the least. Most often races I compete in have a traditional start and finish line, timing chips and hundreds of athletes looking to break their PB and score a new PR, but this event was; in fact, was quite the opposite. This event, I most often run solo because it is a not a race against time, but a race to slow down time and reflect on the meaning and significance the run holds. To honor and pay tribute to my mother; 57 years of strength and courage, 1km for every year she was alive.
For many women like my mother, being labelled a victim of domestic violence and abuse and being diagnosed with a mental illness – is a large burden to bare, because it comes with an emotional rollercoaster of, not only navigating the system and showcasing to the world your most vulnerable moments, but the stigma of the societal miss conceptions of that ultimately looks to define who you are through the lens of “being a victim” or “being a survivor”. Even as a survivor, those labels shift the paradigm of how you live your life and where you fit into society.
This annual run aims to break the silence of stigma and labeling. It aims to showcase that we as “warriors” not merely, “survivors” will not be defined by our past, or by a label – we will be defined by our actions and our resilience to stand tall and stand beside our convictions. To use that emotional roller coaster as a means to filter, process and transform our past into more constructive means – to be a voice for those who may not be strong enough yet to stand with you. This run aims to honor the women who we have lost, whose memories and life must be celebrated. These women warriors are never forgotten.
61km in total… 5 hill climbs over varied terrain in 8 hours and 45mins. Were there times I wanted to give up – hell’s yes, but then much like any great feat in life – you remind yourself of the outcome, of the vision and your mission. Being on the road, out there going the distance is a test. A test of physical and mental stamina, or over coming obstacles and raising above for a greater purpose. We runner’s understand this oath, and it pledged forward with every step, forging onward.
The 5 Stages of Grief:
“There are men laying down their lives. I got no right to do any less than them. That’s what you don’t understand. This isn’t about me. – Steve Rogers
Doesn’t matter what the press says. Doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mob says. Doesn’t matter what the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. This nation was founded on one principle above all else; the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world – now YOU move.” – Captain America
We must face our reality head on, there are no blueprints or manual for the time it takes to process what happens to us, and denial is a simple way out, it is the path of least resistance, but sooner or later it catches up with you. After 2 years of nearly hitting rock bottom, I realized there was no bottom; there was merely a heightened sense of duty to my community. A” break-through” that lead me to retract my head from my a** and pull my way out of the darkness we all feel, but much like the 5 stages of grief, it wasn’t as easy as it sounds.
“I tend to see transformations in terms of anger, but what drives Rick is guilt. He can’t convince himself that he isn’t responsible for the Hulk. Even though I made the bomb. It’s all on me. Now he runs towards every big threat, always recreating that day, solving it over and over. Is that healthy? I don’t know that I’m qualified to say. I’m a physicist. All I know is he’s going to do it whether I want him to or not…and it makes him happy. There’s got to be room for a happy Hulk somewhere, right? – Banner
Letting go, is no simple task. Why? Because sometimes we think that letting go, means forgetting or letting someone down. Even with the best of intentions, letting go can be the hardest and scariest of places, because it means making it all real. It means dealing with those deep dark places, the vulnerability that seeps into our being and sabotages our best efforts to cope. Yet, within this comes the opportunity for a major shift or transformation in our lives. The reality is, identifying with anger and the act of releasing that which hinders does not require force or “to fight,” it requires us to not fight, to not resist. When we change our energy, we ultimately change the outcome.
Bruce Banner…aka… The Hulk struggles to keep that anger, which is inside of him at bay. “Don’t make me angry, you won’t like it when I’m angry,” is an iconic phrase in the Hulk comic world. Yet, even in his destructive phase, and in his fear, through the Avengers he is able to constructively use this strength and power to save humanity.
“True focus lies somewhere between rage and serenity” – Charles Xavier or Erik (a young Magneto)
Humans are often hard wired to think about the negative.
When we ask someone about love… they tell us about heartbreak.
When we ask them about happiness… they tell us what doesn’t make them happy.
When we ask someone what does their vision of life and success look like… we often hear stories of what they don’t want in their lives.”
Brene Brown says in her book “Daring Greatly;” Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” Understanding that the world is based on the theory of duality; where there is darkness, there is light, where there is negative there is positive… where there is full fat, there is non-fat.
Losing someone we love, those memories and emotions, never go away, they just shift and dance around. Most often we think about what we lost, rather than what we have gained. And it has taken the better part of 5 years to move from the space of hurt and fear of letting go, to a place of allowing those memories of serenity seep in and LET.IN.
It is by far the most liberating experience to remember the fondest of moments with my mother and to accept that those dark moments; just as important, are also my fuel to ensure we strive to end violence and abuse and to understand that mental illness is like any other (dis)ease – it does not define who we are.
“I believe there’s a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble, and finally allows us to die with pride, even though sometimes we have to be steady, and give up the thing we want the most. Even our dreams” – Spiderman
The art of self-sabotage, I like to think, is a conversation held by the person you once were and the person you have yet to become and the person I used to be… has some epic strategies of self-sabotaging my efforts to move forward. It’s that voice that says… “Don’t put yourself out there, you will be judged,” or “it’s too scary of place, you aren’t strong enough,” or “ what if they criticise you, what if you can’t finish what you start,” or my favorite…”the 12 minute pace bunnies will pass you again, you suck at this.”
The reality is that the loudest nay-sayer is always yourself. It’s there for self- protection and self-preservation, and understanding your own epic manipulation strategies gives way to putting into action the transference of using “who you once were” into the direction of “who you want to become.”
“Don’t put yourself out there, you will be judged” – transformation – “ Who cares, stay aligned with your purpose.”
“It’s too scary of place, you aren’t strong enough” – transformation – what defines strength? I am strong enough to endure; I am strong enough for this”
“What if they criticise you, what if you can’t finish what you start.” – transformation – “ I have never not finished what I start, even if it means, blood, sweat and tears.”
“The 12 minute pace bunnies will pass you again, you suck at this.” – transformation – “who gives a d*ck, I relate more to the tortoise than the hare. My only competition, is the one in mirror.”
“It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.” – Batman
“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself,” is a quote by Harvey Fierstein and one that resides with my always. The hardest job we do all day, as warriors, as survivors is accepting our fate and using it as a tool for positive change. It is a never ending cycle that shifts daily. Believing that are larger forces at work, that the universe offered you these experiences because you are strong enough to bare them, is what keeps me going – it’s what keeps me running. To live, is to have a cause to live for.
Every leader; Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Big “D” Dali Lama; all believed that true happiness is found through serving others, from helping your fellow man, animal or even plant. Whatever capacity you find yourself in, it is a larger calling to act. Through this I find acceptance and understanding in my own purpose and RUN4MOM every year reminds me of this path. It reminds me, that even though I am enough as is, I also realize that my story, when told – inspires others, and that, at the end of the day is enough for me.
Until next year…. This RUN4MOM was immensely successful, and I look forward to working with BWSS (Battered Women’s Support Services) and CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association) in our annual partnership to “Break the Silence. End Violence. (Me)ntal (Heal)th.”
Our donation site is open until August 5th, please consider donating to our RUN4MOM RUN4ACAUSE. Link Here: http://www.canadahelps.org/GivingPages/GivingPage.aspx?gpID=27748