I wanna see you be brave

July 12, 2018 – 30 days to go

It has been a very long time since I have sat down to write on this page. Many days and nights I have been close to writing, had thoughts of what I wanted to share, envisioned images and passages and quotes and inspiration to pass along, but there was always an excuse or a distraction or some reason it just didn’t happen. Today I am committing to writing more often, especially during the next 30 days. Read on to understand why…

Last fall, I was honored to be recognized as a Champion of Hope from the Miami Valley Hospital Foundation. At the awards ceremony, I made a bold claim, that I would commit to running an Ironman 70.3 race next year. This is a race that consists of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and finishes with a 13.1 mile run. Since that evening in early October, I have quietly but consistently been training for the race. Today, we are 30 days away. August 12, 2018 is race day for the Steelhead Ironman 70.3 in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

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After my experiences with heart disease and brain cancer, I have tried to commit to being as open, honest and vulnerable as I can. To commit to sharing my story, being proud of who I am, what I have overcome and not being afraid to fail. I have admittedly not always lived up to this desire, but I continue to try nonetheless. Other than the ceremony last October, I have not shared in a public way, my goal of completing this 70.3 mile endurance adventure. Friends and family knew, some co-workers knew, but I wasn’t comfortable announcing to the “world” that I would compete. The reasons for this are many, but the two main thoughts that plagued my mind were these: “What happens if you get sick again, your tumor comes back, your heart can’t take the stress, your body cannot handle the distance, and the doubts went on and on” and secondly “What happens if your healthy but don’t make it, you can’t complete the race, you don’t train enough, you get DQ’d because you’re too slow, and the doubts went on and on”.

I’m positive these are common thoughts for all those who have never completed a race of this distance and those who have been through serious illness like brain cancer.  These thoughts kept me from sharing this goal too loudly. As the race has gotten closer, I have felt the tug to share the journey more and more, but any time I felt close to sharing those two thoughts came bounding back louder and louder. It’s not that I am not confident in my ability, humbly I admit I have come a very long way. I have worked very hard, and trained many many hours to get to this point, I think it boils down to that age-old doubt of “am I enough”, “do I have it in me?”.

Today, on the way home from the gym, Hadley wanted to sing along to some music, something the girls and I do whenever its just the three of us. I said “Ok Hadley, what is your favorite song”. At this point a three year old normally would pick one of her kids bop songs, something from Moana, Frozen or another Disney movie, but tonight she said she wanted to sing the “brave song”. Sara Bareilles’ song “Brave”. I honestly don’t know the true context to the song and haven’t spent time digesting all of the lyrics to understand what the author was meaning, but what I do know is this: The song is one I first heard at the Oncology Exercise Program I attend, downloaded that day and since have listened along with the girls many times on the way to and from school (daycare). I’ve heard before that when it comes to parenting “more is caught than taught”. Meaning your children catch more life lessons from watching you than from any of the lessons you try to “teach” them. I hope this is true.

So the song goes…”I wonder what would happen if you say what you wanna say, and let the words fall out. Honestly, I wanna see you be brave. With what you want to say and let the words fall out. Honestly, I wanna see you be brave. I just wanna see you be brave.”

Maybe Hadley knew I just needed a push, that this feeling that has been welling up inside about sharing my journey to Steelhead is an opportunity to be brave. I just needed a reminder, that the doubts that creep in are not what matter, it’s the vulnerability to be brave that matters more.

So here goes, 30 days to go until the race. I initially signed up as a way to commit to staying healthy at the end of my cancer treatments, and thought of the race as a way to help raise awareness of the Gratitude and Grace Foundation, the non-profit we started to help provide hope, encouragement and support to those who are going through what we have been through. Today, I recommit to being more transparent about the journey, to sharing the struggles and the victories, and most importantly to being brave. If you want to join the journey, check back and read up, if you want to support the cause, visit the foundation’s website at gratitudeandgracefoundation.com. We are raising money to help share the message of being brave, fighting on, and showing that even after the darkest of days, there can be light. If you are able, donate here, all funds go towards supporting the foundation’s work of Hope.

Today’s lesson from a 3 year old: “I wanna see you be brave”.

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