Walking a Marathon. A painful, enlightening experience. If you can endure a marathon, you can endure anything.

In the early 90’s three friends and I signed up to walk the Chicago Marathon. The only walkers permitted were required to fundraise for juvenile leukemia research.  I have referenced bits of this experience in my blog post of April, 04. Click here if interested.

Preparing for the marathon meant grueling months of walking mile after painful mile.  Three of us, Gray, Mo and I, would rise before the sun to begin trudging through our neighborhood.  The fourth walker, Carol, usually trained alone.  I asked her how she kept boredom at bay.   She said she recited the prayers repeated when praying the rosary.  I’m not Catholic, so I just looked up what is repeated doing rosary beads.  It seems there are enough entreaties to fill several marathon walks.

When we were training for the Marathon, I was suffering from anemia caused by undiagnosed celiac sprue.  Chronically exhausted, I wasn’t fit to walk a marathon.  Gray, one of the most forthright women I’ve ever known, stated firmly, “Alice if you aren’t able to keep up, do not to expect the rest of us to slow down and assist you.”

The night prior to the Marathon we stayed in the city.  We rose before dawn to begin walking. We marched the first few miles in the dark. Finally, the sun rose over Lake Michigan, gloriously painting the sky crimson, pink and orange.

Shortly thereafter a herd of gazelle-like runners thundered past us.  They had long, lean, muscled legs, minuscule butts, and rippling abs.  I turned to Gray and asked, “If we run, instead of walking, will we look like them?”  She laughed and replied, “Those are the elite runners.  Those athletes run in marathons all over the world.”

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Next passed a group of good runners.  They weren’t as sleek as gazelles, but they were strong, toned, comfortable with their pace.

We were overtaken by many levels of racers that day.  The good were followed by the mediocre.  Eventually, we were confronted with hopefuls vomiting into the gutters.  Taking on a marathon isn’t for sissies.

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The most inspiring runners weren’t runners at all.  They were the wheelchair division.  Men and women with withered legs, propelling themselves ever forward by the strength of their good arms.

We saw them on slight inclines.  The temptation was to help.  But helping would be to diminish them.  They needed to succeed on their own terms, with their own hearts, pushing through the misery, accomplishing it alone.

I so clearly remember one particular wheelchair “runner.”  He had two useless legs, one dwindled arm.  Yet he soldiered on.  He was the picture of courage, determined to push himself over the finish line.

I too needed to cross that finish line without assistance.  Nearing the last mile I remembered Gray’s words,  “Alice if you are unable to keep up, do not to expect the rest of us to slow down for you.” And suddenly I grew astonishing resolve.  I gathered my soul together and willed myself to cross the finish line inches before Gray.

I, like all Marathon finishers crossing the finish line, was wrapped in a sheet of mylar.  A medal was hung around my neck.

In agony, I hobbled to the curb.  There, on the same Chicago corner, draped with mylar, was the man with no legs and only one arm.   He had reached the finish line before I did.  I can picture his slumped shoulders, heaving with sobs.  He accomplished the impossible. With merely one withered arm and a heart full of belief, he crossed the Chicago Marathon finish line.

That withered man didn’t, on the surface, have the skill set to prevail. Yet he did. He did because he believed he could.  Anything can be accomplished if we have faith.

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Positive thinking, Shel Silverstein and my marvelous Book Club.

In March of this year I had a profound, personal experience.  In spite of my willingness to share many intimate life struggles, my March reality will remain private.

The experience moved me so deeply I began my journey of learning how, exactly, the power of positive thinking can be harnessed.  Since March I’ve read several books about how to manifest the life you truly want.  The life I truly want is to be a published author.  My current read is The Circle. Author, Laura Day, says to tell yourself you already ARE the thing you want to be.  State it with conviction.  My statement, “I am a published author.  My life changed when one of my blog posts went viral and was seen by an editor at Simon and Schuster.”

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I am only about halfway through The Circle.  There are lots of things to wrap my brain around, and I still need to do the workbook section.   However, I have to put it aside because my book-club read arrived.

Our book club rule—all members must finish the book or just stay the hell home on book-club night.  I don’t want to stay the hell home.  I love our book-club.  We sit around dining tables, drink wine, share snacks and have the most interesting discussions– sometimes deep, occasionally hilarious, and never about politics.  (Remember, I live in Florida, opinons vary widely.)

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This is our current read.  The author uses the language with such brilliance . I am high-lighting certain passages.  Here are two short ones, “Ribbons of stars swirled like milk.” “…one eye on the horizon, my heart on tiptoe.”   How does a heart stand on tiptoe?  I love the mental picture those words create.  I don’t want to race through this excellent book.   I started reading early and will absorb it carefully.

But for today I have put Circling the Sun aside. There is another project on my desk.  I am coloring in all the illustrations of Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends.  This book is a favorite of mine.  The book, and coloring, are a gift for my seventeen month old grandson, Tate. I’m hoping he will love it as much as Nana does.  Where the Sidewalk Ends is 183 pages long.  I’m on page 115.

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I hope to get this enterprise completed before the kid heads off to college.  Determined to put my nose to the grindstone this afternoon, I decided to continue my  positive thinking learning by turning on YouTube. I stumbled across Oprah Winfrey.  She is the world’s best example of someone who truly manifested  her own destiny.

Even so, I surprised myself by choosing her.  I get her magazine and don’t like it. ( I can hear you asking, “Then why get it, stupid-head?” Answer– I never subscribed so have absolutely no idea why it turns up in our mailbox.)   The articles make me feel like I’m a “fixer-upper”, always making suggestions for how to improve myself.  I spent years struggling to learn to like Alice Katherine Jay.  I don’t want to be made to feel I need repair.

However, Oprah proved to be the ideal person to watch.  She shared the interview that most impressed her as proof that we control our future with our thoughts.  Oprah said, “That conversation was with Jim Carrey, of all people.”  While on her show,  Carrey talked about his early years struggling to become famous.  He said he would drive into the Hollywood Hills, look down at the lights and simply KNOW his rich and famous life was already out there.  It was in the air he was breathing and the moonlight on his head.  It existed and the Universe was moving it toward him.

Carrey, broke, wrote himself a check for ten million dollars, dated it five years into the future, and slid it into his wallet.  He said he carried that check around until it was thin as tissue.   Five years later he made that ten million dollars when he  starred in the movie Dumb and Dumber.  He believed himself into his reality.

I’m going  to manifest my future as published author.  I don’t know what sort of writing will be published.  Maybe I’ll come up with a book of wacky poems, ala Shel Silverstein.  Perhaps a coming of age story?  Whatever my writing future is, it exists right here and now.  And the Universe is rolling it my way.

  I posted the above in the wee small hours.  Early today, in my morning dream, a poem whispered to me.  The image–a line drawing– Tate, seated on my lap. I was reading him this poem— 

“Wibbely Wobbely Weebely Wooooo.  I’m in love! In love with you!

Wibbely Wobbley Weebely Wheee.  Are you in love?  In love with me?

I hope so.”