This last week I signed up for my first triathlon, Iron Girl. Imagery provokes and motivates me so I went in search of an image, a visual prompter for my newest undertaking. I found this image of a young woman shooting upward in her red rocket space suit. I was drawn in by how she looks you right in the eye and how her heart is a beam of light shining out. The feeling she invokes is one I long to witness in the young women I work with when I am a leading our leadership events for CatalystYLP. Often these girls, on the verge of womanhood, come with a hard armour of protection and a matching lack of true confidence behind their bravados. While, I know, underneath it all is a beaming heart.
Preparing for my first triathlon is making me source self love in continual waves. My swimming, biking and running this course on the shores of Lake Tahoe(a place of sacred significance to me) is part of a tour I am creating this summer. On July 5th I will celebrate my 25th year of survivorship from cancer (also my 45th birthday) and the finishing of my memoir (title is almost formulated).
When I shared the news of also making Team Courage (the cancer survivor component of the race) on top of it all with a dear friend I got the response, “I already thought you were on that team.” Ironically I don’t really remember consciously needing to gather a lot of courage to get through my cancer treatments at the age of 20. I was more focused on how I was now even more different than the rest of my peers. Then one in nine people got cancer (now it is every third woman and every other man) and most were older. My confronting mortality at the beginning of my adult life has been the catalyst for my professional work since. Over twenty years ago I envisioned our “health care” supporting us whole-istically. This vision was the agent for my gathering my degrees and certifications to become an Integrative Health Coach© (my work now). I am grateful this evolution in our culture is finally coming to be a reality.
Being an Iron Girl is a chance for me to continue my own revolution of sorts; pushing myself to once again get out of the box I created years ago post-treatment. The box labeled in big bold black ink “NOT STRONG ENOUGH” “CAN’T RUN BECAUSE OF PERMANENTLY SCARRED LUNGS” “DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO SWIM, SCARED OF THE DEEP” and on and on. Yes, I have these thoughts too! Over the last five years I have slowly been making myself defy each label. First it was riding for miles and miles to raise money for cancer awareness across the Texas desert. Before one of the events I was acknowledged with the national LiveStrong Challenge award for my decades of dedication to promoting health and for supporting and advocating for people with cancer. Then learning to swim, still working on the deep water part. The next year going to Africa and climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, higher than I’ve ever been on any of my weekend trips in the Sierras. Last year I started to run, barefoot style, and am slowly working up my mileage and breath capacity. What is taking the greatest courage of all is to continually push the boundaries of my mind of what is possible. Several years ago a friend told me, “ You need to write your story so folks can know what is possible.” It is because of his words I started to write my memoir. Being in the realm of possibility is where I focus and for some reason I am still surprised when folks say I inspire them. Tour Inspire is the name I have chosen for my trip west this summer. My aim is to share my story, teach yoga, train for the Iron Girl tri and continue to create a legacy of hope and inspiration for others and myself.
One winter camping in Baja I had an extraordinary moment where I came eye-to-eye with a whale. It is one of those moments impacting your whole being, one you never forget. I have a feeling coming across the finish line at Iron Girl will be another one of those moments for me.