Tuesday, June 15, 2010

These Sneakers Were Made for Walking

A week or so ago I spent the weekend walking through Chicago.

I cried a little.

Cheered a lot.

Snacked quite a bit.

And drank even more.

I also thought about things. Just things.

Every year I participate in the Avon Breast Cancer Walk traipsing through 39 miles of a different city for two days flanked by sis and my buddy K. Just us and 3,000 or so other like minded women and men.

You would think that I’d be too busy, distracted, focused on blister prevention to spend a great deal of time contemplating anything other than the next rest stop.

But no. Over the course of eight years of these walks I have created and broken down life plans, made pivotal decisions, written poems and mourned opportunities missed – all while trotting along in a sea of pink.

Sometimes these discussions have been in conversations held with sis and K. More often than not however, it has just been me and my conscience working it out silently step after step, mile after mile.

I believe there are two reasons that some of my best brainstorming, self-realization and inspirational confabs with myself happen during these walks. First, when surrounded by such examples of strength as breast cancer survivors, I cannot help but assess my own self worth and challenge myself. And second, 39 miles is long…unfettered time to think stretches ahead of you. No matter how many folks are walking with me, nobody can talk for an entire 39 miles and even if they could I’d probably kill them by mile 25.

While walking over the years --

I decided to be a whistle blower. A decision that was right but still haunts me.

I overcame my fear of having a healthy baby. For the most part --- I now have a beautiful baby girl … and a recently diagnosed ulcer which according to everyone is because I stress too much about things out of my control.

I wrote a novel – well, the beginning and end – which is currently residing unpublished in my head. Someday I will hole my self up in a cabin on a lake in Tuscany or the local Starbucks and it will get written!

Admitted to myself that I regret the professional path I have taken.

My now languishing personal shopper business plan was developed and subsequently launched -- briefly.

In Chicago I weighed some hefty thoughts. I rolled some life choices around in my mouth, to see how they would taste. This year’s theme was life in ten years. I have always been addicted to movies where the homely lead actress has a makeover or books where people work to recreate themselves. Fiction is always easier said / written than done.

But looking around at the women and men walking with me I realized that they had made over their lives and come out stronger. And they had no choice. No marathon walk to weigh the pros and cons. The survivor whose dreams were put on hold until she beat cancer. The son who lost his mother before he even got to high school. Lives changed – redirected – remade – redefined.

This year I will not leave my musings on the road. I will not take for granted the fortitude that accompanied me on my 39 mile journey.

They say we show our true strength in times of crisis. I wish to show my true strength every day. For if the Avon walks have taught me anything, tomorrow can change your life.

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