Lessons from the Mud

Five years ago, I did a thing… or as my friend Leilani says, I survived a thing. 2014 was the year of doing a lot of new things and one of them was a Spartan Race. I couldn’t just do one in my state; nope, I had to go to upstate New York to do it.  I had never done any kind of obstacle course race and the only exercise I had been doing was running.

The great thing about this race was that my group had volunteers that went through the course with us to encourage us and to help us with the obstacles. Each obstacle was just that, an obstacle physically and mentally. If you look through my photos, you will see me crouched on a slanted wall. This was the obstacle that I had the hardest time on. I got to a certain point and then had a vision of myself falling backwards onto the ground. In that moment I froze. I literally could not move. It took a couple of volunteers to help me over that wall. Once over the wall and back on the ground, I was shaking. Then I turned around and saw the mud hill. We had to climb that hill under barb wire. It was worse than the wall.

Photo of Julie stuck on the inverted wall

Because of my job, my natural inclination is to act like I have things under control. That approach quickly stopped serving me in that moment and I had to ask for help. Every time I finished an obstacle and had the thought that nothing could be worse than that obstacle, a newer and more challenging obstacle faced me. But the volunteers were right there for me. They had my back and helped me through. Without them and the knowledge that the only way to the end was through, I made it to the end of the course. I got a few scars, but I learned that with a good strong support crew, I can face challenges that come my way.

Photo of Julie at the Spartan Race, standing in the mudThat’s how some challenges are in life. They are awful and messy and seem insurmountable. But you have to decide to just face them and then observe the strength that you gain. We had a few more obstacles like that; the kind where you just have to make up your mind that you’re going to do it, ask for help and just watch the courage emerge from inside yourself. Each of us will face a ton obstacles in life and it’s a little crazy to think that any of us can go it alone. We all need a community to help us face obstacles and challenges that present themselves. This is especially important for masters (35+) who have to take care of families, jobs, pets, and other obligations. None of us can walk this life alone. Even if you don’t have a partner or children, you are still part of a community.

Remember these three tips about community:

  • Community can emerge in the most unlikely places. When you find that community, don’t take it for granted. Thank them often.
  • Give back to your community. Make sure that you are giving support as much as you are receiving it.
  • Know that you don’t have to everything 100% perfectly everyday. Just do the best that you can with the time and resources that you have on any given day.

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