The One Common Denominator
I was supposed to open a gym in the Fall of 2008. The building contract was started, the plans were drawn, the business plan was perfect. I had the logo, the schedule of classes, the equipment list. I even had my main employee hired and ready. The meeting was all set to sign my name and hit the GO button. The economy crashed that week. Months and months of dreaming and planning went down the tubes overnight. It was so close, so tangible, and it evaporated into thin air.
I had taken a job away from the health and fitness industry at the time. I had exchanged passion for more security, more money.... and more misery. I hated it and now I was stuck. To say I became a horrible employee is an understatement (not that I have ever been a great employee....). I had no idea how bad things were going to get, though. It didn't take long to get fired. Ironically, in a bad economy, a crappy employee isn't that appealing. Two days later, my husband at the time got fired from his job, too. In a matter of weeks, we had both found employment but our income had dropped to less than half what it had previously been. And just to add to the fun, I discovered that I felt so crappy because I was pregnant.
Hindsight is such a fascinating thing. Here I was commuting 70-90 minutes each way to work, sick as could be, in a less than stellar job, barely paying the bills and so utterly clueless. I lost that baby. Just outside of the first trimester, at a doctor's appointment, I listened as the heartbeat slowed and disappeared. Just typing that brings tears to my eyes. I was devastated. The surgical procedure to take care of the lost child raped my already dwindling bank account and I fell into complete despair. I was fired again two weeks later. Jobless, broke, sad beyond belief.... I was as close to hopeless as I had ever known. I can remember talking on the phone while stuck in traffic...
"If I hit the gas as hard as I can and ram into the semi in front of me.... do you think everything will be better when I wake up?"
2009 got worse and worse. I could see no light in the darkness. My husband and I started to talk divorce, we dipped into the last of our savings, I became unrecognizable as a human, and my dog even died a terrible death. Had I been a country music star, I might have been able to write my breakout song. I avoided being at home, hiding in the need to log hundreds of running miles a week. I was physically punishing myself for the loss of my child, my marriage, my job, my savings... I would workout to the mantra of "Nothing hurts as bad as the reality of how bad you suck." I recited this over and over in my head to push me further and further. In September, I traveled to Ohio to attempt to run a Boston Marathon qualifying time at the Akron Marathon. My husband and I agreed we would dissolve our marriage upon my return. It was an angry run, completely joyless. I crossed the finish line and was greeted by a friend telling me to call home immediately. My husband had been riding his road bike and was hit by a pickup truck.
A year earlier, I had been excitedly making plans for a dream to come true. Now, I was sitting in my living room next to a husband lying on a cot with broken vertebrae in his back. At that point, I finally cried. I turned my eyes inside and saw for the first time that the only thing responsible for my misery, the only common denominator in the whole deal, was me. That was the day I turned on the lights and looked at everything. That was the day I took ownership. That was the day I DARED TO DREAM that my life could be much much different.
Today, these rocks rest on our bathroom rug. Everyday when we step out of the shower onto them, we are reminded that "To Dare" and "To Dream" is uncomfortable. The rocks dig into the tender muscles under our feet and our weakness is exposed. But, if we relax into that discomfort, if we face it every day over and over, it becomes a source of comfort. Our feet become pliable just as we have become pliable. I have come to understand the value of relaxing into what makes me uncomfortable, taking responsibility for my response to it and taking action to make it better. Every problem has a solution, without one it could not be a problem in the first place. The common denominator, the one constant in everything that makes you miserable.... It's you, my friend. The change that needs to happen will be in you. And when you DARE TO DREAM that your life can be different, you can bet it's going to require that you get uncomfortable. And when it gets real super uncomfortable... take a deep breath, relax into it, and remember..
It is struggle that creates STRENGTH,
movement that creates INERTIA,
and HOPE THAT ANCHORS THE SOUL.