Saturday, February 16, 2013

Coerced or Inspired

Perspective is what defines a situation for a person. Each of us sees the world from a different and unique context. Our background, education and experiences are only a few variables that shape our beliefs about the world, and as such, our response or reaction to stimuli.

Growing up, independence, strength of mind and body and a hardworking attitude were modelled and encouraged, by my parents. The message to me was, "you don't have to be the best, you just have to give your best". This is the perspective from which I see the world, myself and others. Others might see things differently.

I have a strong will and a strong personality. A few might even say I am bossy. I say I am directive. They might say I'm obnoxious. I say I am outgoing. Your definition of things is directly dependent upon your perception of the world, yourself and others.

A 10km run isn't a big deal to me because I have been training for a marathon. Someone who is not accustomed to this distance might find it intimidating. This week, Paula, a life long friend of mine, took a big step and registered for the Toronto Yonge Street 10k #TYS10k. This is an important commitment for her because this will be the first 10k event she has participated in. To her, this is a tremendous undertaking. To her credit, she didn't put up much of fight when I suggested she do it with me. She asked a couple questions, while I was busy trying to sell it to her and before I could make my third point, she advised me that she had registered. Though her experience would suggest to her that this task is weighty, she's doing it anyway, because some other life experience tells her that she can do it.

Paula and I have been connected since before we came into the world. Our parents were friends long before we were thought of. From the time Paula was born (six months after me), we have been linked. We grew together as toddlers, through learning to walk, toilet training and her habit of biting me. We graduated from elementary school and moved into secondary school (where she refused to skip classes with me). We matured into 16, 17 and 18 year olds (where she refused to participate in under age alcohol consumption with me). At some point when we weren't looking, we became young adult women. We spent 2-4 nights a week in bars (which are now called "clubs", despite being the same establishments). Paula didn't drink much, as I recall, but I drank a lot and often, so my memory about that may not be reliable. When I drank abundantly, I would smoke (yuck! I know) and one time I tried to make Paula smoke with me (you guessed it, she refused to join me). Now here we are, very grown up women with many responsibilities.

At the end of December I decided to get a very meaningful tattoo and you guessed it, I asked Paula to join me (and she did). This week I asked her to join me at the TYS10k and she will. Two years ago, I sobered up and gave up alcohol. I started running again. I eat a plant based diet. Perspectives can change with experience. Mine have and Paula's have.

I know from experience that Paula is going to have moments of doubt, uncertainty and a little anxiety about her training over the next eight weeks. I also know that if she trusts her training and does the work, she will be fine. On April 21 when she stands at the start line, with thousands of other runners, she will be excited, nervous and maybe nauseous. Her perspective may even be that I coerced her into doing this, as I have attempted to do, so many other times. My experience also tells me that as she crosses the finish line and is filled with the pride of accomplishment, her perspective will change. I hope she no longer sees me as the one who coerced her into running 10k, but as the one who inspired her to achieve her goal.

Note: On race day, please do me a favor and hold a sign high, for my friend that says "Go Paula V.--Christa is proud of you".
Please send me a picture of you holding your sign!

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