This is a re-share of an article that was originally published in March 2015
When I was five, I had a clear plastic baton.
Inside were sparkling green glitter strings, and the ends were affixed with multicolored, shimmering strips that crinkled and gleamed when turned. While most young girls who owned such a baton would dream of leading their own parade while twirling, leaping, and dancing, I used it for a much more practical purpose: I used it to walk.
It was my cane.
We had a poster in our basement when I was growing up, featuring a child, proudly posed on her twin bed, with her legs crossed and her face beaming at the camera. She was happy, without a care in the world.
The poster is now carefully stowed away in a storage space near my parents home, but here’s that smiling girl, age 6.
You’d never know from the photographs that this girl was fighting a battle.
She was waging a war with her body, struggling to get out of bed every day. You’d never know, that is, until you read the caption emblazoned at the top of the poster:
“This little old lady has arthritis.”
That “little old lady” was me.
I was the poster child for the National Arthritis Foundation.
Before being diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, I used to wake up every morning with pain in my knees so unbearable that I’d crawl out of bed, and using my sparkling green plastic baton as my support, I’d hobble my way to my parents bedroom, with tears streaming down my face. The pain was too much to bear.
With a diagnosis came a plan for treatment and a road to healing. But with it also came a label. It gave a name to a silent battle that I’ve had to wage with myself and the world since a very young age. It came with good days and bad days, and it began to create a very important piece of who I am today.
Growing up, as you can imagine, I was sheltered from activity. I gravitated to the arts and music instead of sports.
My expectations when it came to being physically fit were low.
I was made to feel as if I was not allowed to move. It would cause to much pain. Doctors told me to stick to low impact activity. But my ambitious nature never felt challenged, so I just strayed away from living an active lifestyle altogether. Gym class was my nemesis because I felt less than adequate inside, which of course shaped my negative performance outside. My peers would let me know it too.
The physical limitations and early battle with chronic pain were was my first real experience in learning how our expectations (both from others and ourselves) can and will shape our experience.
When you’re told your whole life that you’re not capable, you’re not able, you’re weaker than most; it becomes your reality. So you don’t even try.
Because the expectation that’s been built up around you is that you’ll fail.
Photography and blogging was really one of the first times in my life where I was able to release any low expectations I held inside and walk instead, into a realm of possibility.
As I blogged photos early on, I received feedback that my work was good and I should keep at it. Keep sharing. Keep trying.
Amazingly, when someone starts to believe in you, you begin to believe in yourself.
So I kept on my journey of blogging and photographing. It felt good, filled me up, and eventually it completely changed my life in amazing ways.
I opened my heart up to what was possible, showed up, and went for it.
In the realm of possibility you give in to fear, you show up for yourself, you release expectations all together, and you follow your heart.
Then, last November I watched my husband and sister finish a 5k race together. I felt that familiar tug of sadness that I was not able to join them. That I would never be capable. I sat with the feeling for awhile, and then a week later admitted to my husband that I’ve been dreaming of running (not walking) in a 5k my entire life.
Those past expectations about my lack of physical ability were right there mocking me. But, with his encouragement (and lack of expectation or judgment) I decided to give it a go.
I’ve tried to run in the past. My longest stint with running was about 7 years ago. I could go about 2 miles before I found myself gasping for air and felt the pain seep into my aching knees. So I stopped.
I was hesitant to begin again and my inner monologue went something like this:
“The doctors frown when you tell them you run. Your parents worry that you’re not taking care of your body. You worry that you’ll ruin your knees beyond repair. You fear what will happen if you get injured.“
But the whispers in my head were beckoning me to move. To get active. To try. So I released any expectation of the outcome.
I didn’t have to run 5k in a day. I just had to move. So I did.
But, I also put a proper plan in place too. One that would set me up for the most successful outcome possible.
I went and got fitted for the best cushioned running shoes (thanks to a former Momtographie student who works at the local running store)! I loaded some upbeat tunes and podcasts onto my iPhone. I downloaded the C25K app to ease into the process. I ensured I was taking my medicine on time and on schedule to keep my knees happy.
I proceeded with optimistic caution.
3 months later, I’ve once again seen how the realm of possibility can crack us open wide and take us on an incredible journey.
This coming Saturday I’ll be running in my first 5k. I’m clocking about a 12 minute mile right now. It’s not the fastest time, but it doesn’t matter. I’m running (pain free!). Which is all I ever wished for.
I’m moving in the right direction.
Showing up for me.
Free of expectations and ready to rock this world of possibility.
How about you? Are there places you’ve been holding back in your life? Clinging on to expectation instead of dipping into what could be possible? Do you have a bigger vision for your life but are getting stuck in a cycle of fear and not sure where to start or how to sustain your dreams over time? I’ve got a virtual 6 week mentoring program coming up soon, open to 10 special ladies. It’s called the Resonate Intensive and I’d LOVE to share the details with you. Connect with me via email HERE if you want to know more.