failure: a meditation

I woke up this morning on day 4 of whatever virus is ripping its way through my body and was about 15 minutes deep into self-pity before I told myself to shut up. I flipped back through one of my old journals, where I often jot down quotes by people much smarter than I, and found a Winston Churchill excerpt that I needed to repeat to myself over and over again.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

I was 9 days into my “streak,” for lack of a better word, before I quickly got taken down by the seasonal sickness gods and found myself in Urgent Care first thing Monday morning being told to get myself in bed and not move until my fever broke. While I was never a great student when it came to school, I have done my best in my adult years to take good advice when it is given to me (unless I am the one doling out such advice to myself, then the stubborn German in me comes out.) I have always had a voracious quest for knowledge when it comes to personal health, likely stemming from having a family that was wholly unhealthy.

My mother succumbed to Breast Cancer at 44 years of age and many of my other family members dealt with early-onset of diseases most don’t deal with until much later in life, some not living beyond 60. Mom had the shortest life of them all. As I approach the latter years of my 30’s, I can’t help but think about the fact that, right now, at 36, she was already sick and being told she wouldn’t live out 5 years. But I also think about her lifestyle and the environmental factors, other than genetics, that led to her illness and her untimely death: She loathed exercise and literally didn’t so much as walk to the 7-11 down the block unless coaxed by someone else. She was a smoker until her very last breath. She drowned vegetables, and most foods in general, in butter.

You get the picture. I am not her. At least, not in this sense.

Because I have gotten relatively comfortable with staring my family’s medical history in the eye and the very real possibility that I, too, could face some of the same illnesses that have plagued my family, I have become somewhat of a student of, well, myself. I approach most things in life like a project, thus I have called my personal mission and promise to constantly improve myself The Pavement Project. While centered primarily around my passion for running, it really is much more than that.

And so, to get upset that, 9 days into my “streak,” some arbitrary goal that I set for myself, is futile because a running streak wasn’t the point. The Pavement Project was my focus on my own health and wellness kicked up a notch going into 2019. That meant doing everything in my power to make sure that, each day, I was doing something to honor my body. In that sense, I have not failed at all. Instead of stressing my system to get through a mile when I could barely get out of bed to get a drink of water would mean doing the exact opposite of what I set out to do in the first place. Judging by my nearly 75% recovery in just a few short days, honoring my body with the rest it was craving was 100% in keeping with my overall goal.

And yeah, I am itching to get back out there to pound the pavement, but doing so before I am physically ready would mean sacrificing my long term goals for short term satisfaction. So I am choosing to focus on these lessons learned from 3 days on the couch, and hopefully, at some point, the all-or-nothing part of my brain will quiet. 

Here are some pics of mom- my inspiration for all things, health related and otherwise. She always lived life with a sense of urgency, as if she always knew she was on borrowed time. I mean, we all are. Some just get more than others. It is through her life as well as her death that I have learned the value of not being a sleeping passenger on the train of your own life. Stay awake. Make all the stops you want to make. There is no reverse.