For the past few weeks I’ve been getting up a little earlier each morning and running. I’m not going to lie, it’s not been easy. Every time my alarm goes off, I gain a whole new appreciation for those who get up that early (and earlier) because they have work or other obligations pulling them from their beds. However, the minute my feet hit the ground and I wash the sleep from my eyes I become filled with determination.
The other day I sneaked quietly down the stairs, careful not to wake my four sleeping children, and slipped out the front door into the chilly air. The dawn was just peeking up over the edge of the hills and the sun’s rays had not yet spilled over them to warm the cold shadows of the valley below.
It was so very quiet and peaceful. Birds chirped happily as fog rose from the trickling river. My feet quickly found their pace. My breath huffed out, crystalizing with each exhale as my heart pumped hard, pushing blood throughout my body. It was not long before my legs ache and my lungs burned, but I continued to push myself further. Working to steady my breathing, I thought, “Breathe. Evenly, in and out. Just Breathe. You can do this!”
And for some weird reason that simple thought was so profound to me… I CAN do this. There is no reason for me not to do this. I’m out of shape, but my lungs are healthy, my heart is healthy, and I have nothing preventing me from doing this. Even with my body pushed to its limit, I am able to get up early and run or walk. I am not filled with cancer; I do not suffer from disease, depression, anxiety. My body gave birth and fed four beautiful children. I am so blessed.
As I thought this I began to think of others who are sick, who are dying, who are not able to walk, run or get out of bed. And my heart ached for them. Tears filled my eyes as I thought of all of the suffering and sadness that people have in their lives. And I ran harder, because I can. I realized that my body would adjust, it was my mind that had to overcome the idea that it was hard, that I couldn’t do it.
As I ran; as I pushed my healthy body, I realized how blessed I was and prayed for those who are not. I thought of their families who are left with holes in their hearts as they watch the people they love suffer.
Although my legs ached and my mind wanted to stop, walk, slow down for a little bit… I refused. I thought of my beautiful niece who, not long ago, stood on the very step of Death’s door. Emaciated, with no muscle, and no lungs she walked for her life, with the help of eight people, to qualify as a candidate for a double lung transplant.
I thought about the light-weight, pink sneakers that her father bought her- to champion her on as she fought to prove she would survive. I thought about how she could barely wear those sneakers, because they felt like lead weights strapped to her feet.
I thought about her sister whose constant, chronic cough wracks her tiny frame as her body tries to rid itself from the ever-growing bacteria in her lungs.
My lungs are healthy, my legs will carry me without the help of eight people.
So I ran and will continue to run, to walk, to take care of my health body. I do this because there are so many who cannot. I do it for those who are sick, suffering and dying. For those who are sad and heartbroken. Their fight, their suffering has shown me how blessed I am.
It was an awful lot of perspective and emotion for so early in the morning. But sometimes, in the quiet hours of dawn, the simplest thoughts can be the most profound. I have never been more inspired to be a healthy person and I wanted to share it with you. Not because I’m looking for accolades, but because I think maybe my inspiration might motivate you as well.
Do something good for yourself. Be grateful for your health. Put down your cigarette, grab a carrot stick; go for a walk. Do it, because you can.