Hope [noun, verb]

1. The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.

2. To look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence.

The two definitions of hope, courtesy of Dictionary.com. I wanted to start out my Winter Camp Care post with these definitions just to show how broad hope can be, how there are so many ways one can have hope, and how there are so many reasons to have hope. Almost any situation, event, or object can fit into one of these two definitions. We all have different hopes. For ourselves, for our loved ones, for the world, the list could go on and on.

As I mentioned in my MM post (I hope you enjoyed those songs!), hope was the camp theme this session. Our shirts were printed with Faith. Hope. Love. on the back; hope a little more bold and upfront than the other two. We all knew this was going to be an amazing session, but we always think that.

Our morning inspiration started off with one of the therapists reading the Rich Mullins essay, 23rd at 32. It’s a moving story about fear, faith, hope, and the balance between the three. Check it out at the link above. I was playing both sides this Camp; patient in the AM, volunteer in the afternoon, but my session wasn’t until midmorning on Saturday. It ended up being nice enough outside that we took some of the kids (in coats and hats and gloves, don’t worry moms!) to play wonderball, and soccer, and whatever else they wanted. Some kids could run around on their own, some had to be pushed, and some had to be carried. Either way, everyone was having a good time! And we definitely have some future soccer stars at Camp! 🙂 

I played photographer for a bit outside and will post some of those pictures when I get them. Capturing these moments through the lens is always as exhilarating as it is to experience them first hand.

When I went in for my Bootcamp session, which started out with another mini Crossfit workout, I was less than thrilled. I’ve been feeling “stuck” and like I don’t do enough for myself outside of PT sessions. This tends to be a recurring thought every 6 months or so.  With that feeling, I wasn’t really expecting the bootcamp session to go that well. Plus, I’m still getting used to this whole “crutches only” lifestyle I’m trying to live. It’s hard to explain, but there a safety in the walker, knowing that if you let go to lift something over year head, it’s behind you if you lose your balance. With crutches, if you lift an arm over your head, you’re also lifting half of your stability. Without going into major details, it was much harder for me this time, because it was much more active.  Which also gets my brain playing the “this shouldn’t be so hard” game. I don’t recommend it. Not that fun of a game! The second hour stretching felt amazing, though! If someone could come over and decompress my spine for that long everyday I’d be a very happy girl!

My absolute favorite part of Winter Camp is the Christmas Show. It’s a performing arts showcase, but on by the Skating Club of Hartford. They sing, dance, and dress up (no skates!) to perform different Christmas Carols and love-themed songs to represent the Christmas season. The kids love seeing Santa, Rudolph, and Gingerbread men dance around for them, and I love watching the joy on their faces. In the middle of the show,I wish I could tell you what song it was, I broke down crying. I’m not ever sure what sparked it, but something got to me. 

The theme was hope. And with these children, these families, these volunteers, and these therapists–this is the place I feel most hopeful. I sat there for a minute just taking in my emotions and having one of my ever-popular silent conversations with God; wondering where this came from and what I was supposed to do about it.  I made up my mind that whatever He wanted to do about it would be done tomorrow, because all that was left of the day was indoor activities while the 3rd bootcamp session went on.

The third bootcamp session. The deeper I got into conversation, I knew He was willing me to be at the 3rd session. After the way the first session went, I didn’t know if this was such a good idea. But I’m learning it’s better not to question. 😉 Apprehensively, I drove back to Crossroads and asked my PT if the 3rd group was a specific group of kids, or if I could join again…and downstairs I went again. Since all of us in 3rd session had already been stretched in the morning, it was much more active. We worked on core strength, kneeling, crawling & patterning, and sitting. Yes, sitting. For all of us in the group, sitting on the floor unaided either cross legged or otherwise, can be really challenging and quite a workout. I hadn’t worked on sitting or really been able to, since Summer Camp. Or so I thought. It wasn’t easy, but I was able to do it for about 5-8 minutes. And everything else. All while this was happening, two moms were telling stories about their sons, both young adults ages 18 and 23, who had been told to have no hope. Doctors had written them off, therapies had been cut, nothing seemed to be going anywhere. Until they decided to take control, both by coming to Crossroads and Camp and by doing something for themselves and working toward something. The stopped using everyone else’s lack of hope for them as an excuse, and found their own.

As you can imagine, being in a room with 12 other people, all fighting as you have fought can really play with your heart. As one of these moms was speaking for her son Chris, who has very limited verbal ability, all I could do was stare into his eyes, and sit a little taller for a little longer, even though I was getting tired; to keep fighting as he does.This was my moment of awakening, my moment of finding my own hope. I don’t want to say I’d lost hope in the past few months, but it wasn’t easy to find. I was still using every excuse in the book to my advantage. I was still afraid to try. And I still had not found reason for me to hope for myself. That all changed this camp. I realized that it’s not magic fairy dust that gives me the ability to do very well in a PT session, but then not at home. It’s not environmental. And there’s no outside force to blame. Yes, therapies have been cut and doctors have expressed their lack of belief, but it’s been 2 years now. I can’t keep using that as my shield anymore.  It’s all on me. I’m the one putting in the effort or not putting in the effort. And I’m the one holding myself back or propelling myself forward.

There you go, more life lessons learned via Camp Care. Hope you enjoyed!

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but Freedom can never be found behind those walls

…so just let ’em fall, just let ’em fall.

Well, here we are! The official “Camp Care 5k Recap”. As I’m sitting in bed, still trying to stretch parts of my body I didn’t even know existed before yesterday, I’m still in a state of shock and awe over how amazing yesterday was. I’m going to try and walk (no pun intended) you through as much as I can, but I’ll just say upfront that there is not much I remember after seeing the mile 3 sign, except praying my body would keep moving until I saw the timing truck and the finish line!

We arrived at the race about an hour early; plenty of time to get checked in, stretch, and let the nerves really start to build up! My sister had decided to come run the race with us (with jogging stroller and 14 month old in tow!) and my mom, aunt, and uncle came to see us off at the start. I met up with Dan and a few other friends that were running the race and it was nice to stand around laughing for a little bit before we had to part ways until the finish line. We were all standing around and out comes the video camera and Dan asks me what my goal time was. Something I had picked out in my head, but wasn’t planning on sharing at all!  I looked away for the camera for a minute, then thought of that saying “if you don’t declare your goals, they’re nothing but thoughts.  Armed with fear and anxiety, I declared 1 hour and 45 minutes as my goal.  I completed this race in 2:11:33 last year, so this seemed good to me. Plus, that meant an average of about 32 minute mile, so I figured I could try for it.  On this course, there is a .3 mile walk to the official start, so about 10 minutes before start time, I decided I’d had enough standing around worrying and stressing–it was time to go!

Heading down to the start line I had all sorts of thoughts circling around my head. What if things go wrong? Should I really be doing this? Again? Why, exactly, am I here? Why is it SO cold? Wow. That old guy’s shorts are REALLY short! But most importantly, the last thought I really remember thinking was I belong here. I belong on this start line, with these people. I sent up a quick prayer to the Loving Father to watch over me and all of my friends running the race, that we’d be safe and injury free, and that He’d show me my way if I started to lose my thoughts or feel like I was losing Him, over the next few hours. My aunt came through the crowd of runners to give me one more good luck hug before we started and my sister and I waved good luck to each other from afar. I decided to move up a little closer to the start line so I would waste too much unnecessary energy, and saw Dan one more time. We exchanged a “have a good race boss” and that was that.

I went into the day telling myself I was going to take things slow, save up my energy, and just focus on finishing, but as soon as that gun went off pure adrenaline was coursing through my body.  I don’t know if it was that I was in the middle of a pack of actual runners, or that I was just so nervous I had to go, but I took off running. Literally. I really wanted to stay with people as long as I could, and that’s what I was going to try to do. I kept up a running pace for maybe a half mile, then decide it was time to back off a bit and just focus again on the end goal.  I also was going to try to only stop every mile if possible. So far everything was working out. We got to the mile 1 time check at 28:21; 4 minutes faster than my target time and 5 minutes faster that the previous year! I was ecstatic! 🙂

All I really wanted was the time check at mile 1. I was feeling good and didn’t think that stopping for a real break was necessary yet. Half a mile later, we were reaching the main road of Rt. 66 with traffic speeding by us (luckily there was a wide shoulder) and the hellish 1.5ish mile hill up ahead. It was a good place to stop, take in some water, and mentally prepare myself for what was to come. This hill and I have a history, a very long, angry history. It’s slow, but painful. Yet I’ve now learned it looks much worse than it actually is. Last year on this hill, I cried. A lot! I was mentally and emotionally defeated before I was even halfway to the top. I stopped at least 10 times. This year, I took off head down, and was determined to push through. About a quarter mile up the hill, I saw my sister running toward me, having finished the race and come back to make sure I was okay. I have never been more excited to see a member of my own flesh and blood. Just having her there gave me a little more energy to keep going. Fast forward to about half mile left, and I see a white hat coming over the top of the hill, running toward us. I had to wait until I saw something more than just a hat, but I knew it was Dan. In that moment, I’m pretty sure I started crying. Only for a second though, because my energy needed to be on the pavement beneath me. I was not expecting this at all. I knew he was going to finish with an amazing time, and expected him to be waiting at the finish with everyone else if anything. I was doing fine, it wasn’t that I needed rescuing, but we have a unique friendship in that we know what makes each other tick, what buttons to push, and just what to say to motivate each other in a time of need, whether it’s through pissing one another off or lending a heartfelt comment (in my case, it’s usually the first that works best!); something that’s innate within the both of us, and makes us both thank God we were luck to find each other as friends, and I knew I’d need that in this last leg of the race. And I was right. I did need it.

FINALLY, we saw the stoplight indicating we were on the downhill and almost ready to turn onto the little over half mile finishing straight (which was straight, but definitely not quite flat). My sister turned to me and said “Okay, Molly when you get here you can’t stop, you just have to finish” and I was going to try my hardest. My steps were getting slower at that point, looking back now, I think it was definitely a bit more mental, knowing I was at the end and wanting so badly to be done, but more on that later. Really the only thing I remember from that point on was all my friends and family around me telling me I could do it, to keep going, Dan telling me to keep turning over each step, and the State Trooper in the car behind us blasting Hey, Soul Sister. Yeah Train! When I saw the timing truck and the owner of Crossroads/director of Camp Care at the finish line, adrenaline kicked in again. I managed to squeak out one little run/sprint to the end and crossed the line with the biggest smile and sigh of relief known to man.

I heard the timing company report my time of 1:54:16 and, while I couldn’t be happier I beat last year’s time by 17 minutes! I couldn’t help but think I was only 8 minutes off of my goal time and thought of spots where I could have pushed myself harder. Part of this comes down to my training, or lack thereof, and how that would most definitely help my times and endurance. I tend not to train as formally as I should or could, solely because I don’t take the time to modify training plans to my needs or don’t think that it matters since I’m not an elite runner.  The thing is though, it does matter, because I do go out to these races looking for my own PB times. Personal Bests. The other half of this is the mental component. As I blogged about prior to the race, I tend to shut things off mentally before I even give myself a chance physically because I believe I know how it is going to go. I was much better about not doing that as much this race, but old habits die hard and it definitely hindered me a bit!

One more piece of this 5k puzzle. The title of this post and opening line come from another track off of Matthew West’s new album The Story of Your Life entitled “The Healing Has Begun”. It’s all about carrying the weight of the world and your struggles on your shoulders and finally realizing that you don’t have to do that. That there is someone else who holds the key to your freedom from those weights and those struggles, and sometimes you just have to let your walls fall down to find Him. It really hit me during and after the race yesterday, that I am starting to embrace that Freedom. In ways both large and small, the walls are slowly coming down, and I’m committing myself to believing, working, and fighting until my battle is won; whichever way I find most important and for however long it takes. Maybe I’m not running full 5ks right now, but I’m going to start training as soon as I can feel my legs again. It may take a year, it may take more, for me to reach my goals…but yesterday I was led to a key that unlocked a door to one more way to Freedom in my life.

Thank you all for supporting me through this race. On Twitter, on the blog, phone calls, e-mails, and prayers. I felt every bit of it! I’ll try to post some pictures and videos soon! They’re being temperamental right now. Happy running, walking, or whatever it is gives you your Freedom!

A winter of…running?

I started this blog post a month ago in an effort to inform all of you loyal readers about my newest endeavor to run another 5K in April and talk about how I was going to train for it using a training plan that any “normal” runner would use. Well, the title of the post is still accurate, but my topic has changed. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m still going to be running the 5K, it’s just not what I feel the need to share right now.

What’s on my mind is running of a different sort. Running from my fears, running from change, and running from the one thing I so desperately want. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past few months. And it took a car accident, some extremely tough love, and a lot of tears for me to figure this out. I’ve always been a dreamer. I strongly believe that we are nothing without our dreams and our dreams, hopes, and aspirations are ultimately what make us who we are. So, you’d think for someone who believes this, I’d have no problem following my own dreams, right? Wrong. I’m the one that everyone loves to share their goals will. I’ll believe in you unconditionally. It’s in transferring that belief onto myself that the problem starts to develop.

I love adventures. I love that adreniline rush of doing something that you never thought you could–that everyone told you you couldn’t do. Lately though, I’ve been running. I’ve been running in the wrong direction, listening to the voices of those who tell me I should just live this life like it is, and I’ve been trapped by my fears. I pretend like I’m moving through them and going after my dream, but I’m actually just going through the motions.

Fear is such a strange emotion. It can motivate you or it can paralyze you. It may not seem that you can control the outcome, but I’m starting to learn that you can. You have the choice to let that fear become real, or to take that adventure and be willing to fall…and hope you succeed. As I’m sitting here writing this, I’m realizing how ambiguous I am when I write sometimes. So, for once, I think I’m going to put it all out there and be honest.

That one thing I so desperately want: to walk
My fears (maybe in a particular order, I don’t know though): falling, failing, proving everyone right if I do fail, wasting my time, it not being enough–it never being enough…just to name the few that are almost always on my mind.

I feel like I’m just rambling. I promise I do have a point. It just might not tie into a neat little package like you’d want it to. Life never works that way. The other night, I was having a particularly rough time with this whole fear thing. I’ve recently been blessed with some great opportunities and some that I thought would be great and “the answer”, that ended up getting cut too soon–or so I thought. Here I was, thinking that I needed someone to tell me exactly what to do and when to do it if I wanted to succeed. Since I didn’t have that person, I didn’t think it could happen. This has been a pattern of mine for years. Luckily, I have someone in my life who can spin me back to reality every now and then and tell me to suck it up, face my fears, and do what needs to be done.

I was–and still am–afraid to be alone, afraid to be out there with myself and trusting myself to succeed. But, this isn’t for anyone else, but me. I’m starting to see that the people around me care; but their worlds aren’t going to crumble if I don’t succeed. They have their own goals and fears to deal with. This has to be for me; first and foremost, and when I succeed and am happy…THEN everyone else that I want so badly to include will be there…they can’t hold my hand all the time, because then I’m not walking alone. Literally and figuratively.

Where does this fit into running? Well, I told you we’d get there. This winter in still the winter of running for me. While I’m literally running to try and take on this 5K on April 25, 2010 with a time less than my first of 2:11:31, I’m also running away from these fears that have trapped me for far too long and toward my dreams. Each day of training, each step whether giant ot extremely small, will, without a doubt, bring me closer…because now I know, more than ever before, that I am giving my all–for me. On that day in April, my ultimate goal of walking by myself across our graduation stage will be liss than one month away; and while there is a lot of time and hard work to be put in between now and then, there is one thing I know for sure. Because I’m willing to let myself fall, and do this for me, my committment to this goal has never been stronger, and will not falter.