I wasn't born to run. In fact, at 18 months of age I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and spent most of my early years in and out of hospitals. Luckily, I was fortunate to outgrow the illness, as many children with pauciarticular arthritis do. Nonetheless, it certainly made my childhood difficult and lonely. I didn't have the physical capacity to play sports the way my friends did and I was often sick, catching up on school work, and going to multiple therapy sessions with physiotherapists to maximize my daily function.
Today, watching me run 10km, 5 months postpartum, in under 57 minutes, you'd never suspect that I once slept with leg braces to prevent my joints from swelling locked at night. Running is truly a source of freedom for me. It's the feeling that the only person I'm competing against, is myself. I try to perform that mantra daily, in all aspects of my life. I have never found it productive to compete against others. It only leads to negative and destructive energy. Because, let's be completely honest here, there is always someone better than you at something. Comparison may, on occasion, make you feel better about yourself, but generally, it'll just lead to disillusionment. As I told my daughter during her swim meet this past weekend, don't worry about the swimmers next to you – just focus on beating yourself.
This past year, running has not only given me freedom, but it's kept me sane, for I've constantly had to remind myself not to engage in gloomy thoughts. After all, this year, I had a rough baby delivery and almost died. My grandfather died. My father died. The same week. Rithesh's best-friend had a major heart attack and is awaiting transplant. Our dream home turned into a Hollywood-style disaster.
But if I take a minute to pause and look at all these moments not as failures, but as moments of accomplishment, it becomes easier to springboard myself towards further success. I could have died – but I didn't. Why? Sure, because of my healthcare team, but also because I've worked hard to have a healthy body and mind, which gave me the reserve to overcome a situation many may have not. My grandfather died – but he was well into his 90s and got to enjoy a fantastic poutine before he passed. My father's death is difficult to look at positively, but he was given months to live when we found the cancer; and yet, he made it years and saw my little man born before he died. Rithesh's best-friend could have died, but he survived the impossible with strength and will. Our dream home is a disaster, yes; but it has made us realize that our dream home isn't a building. It is what we have found in this town: a welcoming community, amazing patients, wonderful friendships, and the time to create moments of wonder with our children. Rest assured, we've built roots in Drumheller and aren't going anywhere.
Mayor Colberg has put forth the 20/20 community challenge to get us all to pick up trash and clean up our neighbourhoods. I challenge you to push this concept even further: get rid of the trash in your thoughts and words. Stop picking up on the gossip and assumptions that float around like a plastic bag a la American Beauty. Stop engaging in comparison and criticism in order to propel yourself to achieve greater potential – a potential you may not even know yet is possible.