I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I don’t get tired of the fact I’m able to walk these days. I mean, don’t get me wrong – there are definitely days when I’m not exactly mindful. I don’t believe there’s anyone in the world that wakes up every single day and appreciates everything fully – but I’d say I’m generally pretty appreciative of where I could be, if things had turned out a lil’ different.
Lately, it’s been on my mind a lot – presumably because I’ve been making my first forays into the world of running (or rather, jogging, flailing wildly and hoping I don’t fall on my butt. Same thing.)
It’s something I said I’d never do – so when I lace up my trainers and hit the pavement, the voice in my head is the same one that said I’d never be able to climb up stairs unassisted. The one that figured if something dropped on the floor, I’d need one of my parents to drop by to pick it up. And the one that thought I was fat, and would be fat forever.
It’s kind of hit me that there were a solid couple of years in which I wasn’t really living, in the awake-and-aware sense of the word. I’d given up on myself, and dammit, I look back a lil’ despairingly at that person who wasted – conservatively speaking – a solid 700+ days of life watching the clock, waiting for my next round of painkillers, or some other distraction from the fact I was miserable as hell.
As time’s gone on, though, I’ve realised that every day is kinda special, in some way or another. One of the biggest influences on me, and the way I think, is the speech ‘This is Water’ by the late, great David Foster Wallace – and if you’re not familiar with it, I’d suggest you read it here. It’s about choosing how to think – and making the conscious decision to see even the boring, infuriating moments that make up everyday modern life as somehow special, in and of themselves.
Personally, I think that’s one of the most important things you can learn – because even though some days, it seems like there’s nothing to be particularly pleased about, it’s worth remembering how you experience the world depends on how you look at it – and what you choose to think you can do.
So when I came across the Willow Foundation – the chosen charity of my fabulous workplace, Mash Staffing, for the Electric Run tomorrow night – I’ll be honest – I lost a good half hour to reading through their case studies, trying my level best not to get emotional on my lunch break. They’re a charity who support seriously ill 16-40 year olds, offering them the chance to enjoy their own special day – either as a way to finally see a dream come true, or to escape the realities of diagnosis, treatment and illness.
In short, they’re giving people hope, inspiration and joy, just by allowing them to have one day that doesn’t have the shadow of illness hanging over it. Because when you realise how precious life is, every single day – special, or otherwise – can make an overwhelming difference.
Given my current situation – having had a recent freakout on a hill, and an emotional wobble on my first official 5k – and the fact I’ve spent the last month wandering around with the dazed expression of someone who can’t believe their own luck – I was floored, and weirdly compelled to see what I could do to help.
Y’all should know: this is an unusual move for yours truly. I may be many things – but a willing volunteer for charity challenges? Notsomuch. I leave that to Davina. Because while I’m confident in my own ability to a point, the pressure of someone or something else resting on my success is something I’ve had the fear about for quite some time.
I mean, my knees are awesome. Seriously awesome. But I’m yet to escape the feeling that I’m using ‘em on borrowed time. They’re not perfect, and they’ve got some interesting quirks that give me the fear (and, it turns out, they make weird noises when I run more than 9k in a week. Go figure.)
But with all that said: I think to make amazing things happen, you’ve gotta do amazing things.
And so, I’ve signed myself up for three challenges this year that I hope will raise money and awareness for the work the Willow Foundation do – and prove that, while I may have been the girl that couldn’t walk, with the right motivation I can be the girl who can run.
It begins with the Bupa London 10k, on my home turf – on the terrifyingly close 25th May. Which is in four weeks.
And later in the year, I’ll be doing the Willow Foundation 10k at Hatfield House, and – probably most terrifying of all – the Rock Solid Race at Silverstone, where I fully expect to burn, drown or fall to my death.
(That last sentence is not an exaggeration. I committed to it way before I realised what it actually was.)
But it’ll be worthwhile, if it helps to make things like this happen – because as I’ve said, time and again, treating every day like it’s an opportunity to do more, and achieve more, is one of the great privileges of being awesome. Everyone has that choice, and I intend to make the most of it.
So, alongside my amazingly talented sister (seriously, I’m not just saying that – you can find her here) who has volunteered to be my trusty sidekick and/or coach, depending on how you look at it – I’ll be spending the next few months pushing myself to do the things I never thought I’d do.
In other words, that year of trying new things?
Want to sponsor me and my sis? Click here – and help Willow make even more days special.