Overcoming obstacles with Optimism

It generally holds true that we always want what we cannot have.  You may have never heard of the over-priced product before you saw the ad.  Now you need it.  You had something in your possession for a year and never touched it.  You only recognized its value after giving it away.  Never before was I a runner.  Never before did I want fancy, high-heeled shoes that had straps running up my leg.  My strong desire of wanting what I cannot have is noticed more often now than ever before.

I walk through a mall and look starry-eyed at those pretty shoes.  What I would not give to wear those out of that store.  I talk to local friends, read social media posts and am awed at how many of my acquaintances are training for short runs and marathons.  I am so impressed with all of you that have the motivation to get off the couch and take that run.  Now that I cannot join you, I want to more than ever.  Everything has changed.

My body denies me this ability.  I used to have the leg coordination to walk in whatever shoes I wanted to.  Before, I never cared whether or not my shoes were fashionable.  My legs used to be healthy enough to run as far as my lazy motivation would encourage me to go.  I used to take these gifts for granted.  Now the lingering effects of a stroke have taken these gifts from me.

My body has been robbed of the ability to do these seemingly simple things.  According to physicians, I will never again be able to run any extended distance.  I usually make it around a block before I stumble and fall.  What I would not give to get back those healthy legs.  I would run ten marathons and walk home from each of them in my fancy high-heeled shoes!

Yet, in losing these abilities, I have gained a much different, but still just as harbored treasure.  I no longer have the physical ability to run, but I walk and I can share my story with others.  Enjoy the body you have, and utilize all the gifts that you have been given!  Four years post-stroke I completed a walk of four-miles.  That might not seem like very far to some, but to me it felt as if I had broken the tape ending the Boston Marathon.  I crossed that finish line with my daughters by my side.  We raised our arms in triumphant joy.  We celebrated all day.  The next day I sent out flyer declaring Four Years – Four Miles.  No, I did not finish that marathon I long for, but I climbed to the top of my mountain that day.  A mountain, four years prior, that seemed too steep to ever dream of conquering.

Yes, I deeply treasure the fact that I can still walk.  Nevertheless, I hold tight onto the dream that one day again I may be able to run.  I wake some mornings having filled the night with dreams that I am running once again.  I imagine that I am running through a field of tall grass and wild flowers swaying along my swift legs.  Please, do not be saddened by this repressed dream that comes to life only in my sleep.  I am happy to hold on to the hope of “maybe someday”.  I am also thrilled with how far I have come from roaming the hospital halls in a wheelchair.

Do not be sad, but please do one thing for me.  If you are out today, run down the block.  Please, just one block for me.  Recognize what it feels like when the wind pushes against your face.  Feel the pull in your legs.  Hold onto the pressure in your chest as your body begins to work harder.  I dare you to even push yourself for a solid two blocks.  Let me know how it feels, good or bad.  You are so lucky that your legs still work that well.  Hold onto the amazing qualities that your body has.  Do not take the simple things for granted.  Tomorrow you may look back with longing, wishing that you could have done something that you never took time or effort to try and long for what you can suddenly no longer obtain.  And, my friends preparing for their next big race – know that when you are getting really tired and ready to call it quits, I think you are amazing for pushing your abilities so far.  Thank you for sharing your motivating stories with me!

Comments on: "From the Couch to Dreaming of a 5K" (19)

  1. Oh Tara, you made me cry this morning. How I would love for you to come out running with me. I’m challenging myself with the Carlsbad 1/2 marathon in January and now my friend the training and hopefully the finish of it is dedicated to you! You got me thinking a bit this morning too, I think I should try to raise some money for this 1/2 marathon. Get in touch with me, I would love to raise some money for a stroke related organization of your choice! You are an inspiration!

    • Oh Kari that is so sweet of you!! We will definitely be in touch soon. I love reading people’s reaction to my posts. I am deeply grateful when my life experiences have the ability to touch others. Thank you, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me.

  2. Thank you for the reminder Tara! I forget the reason that I started running, which was to run away from that dark time after my surgery and radiation. I was so weak, not able to pick up my children or even walk through the grocery store. When I run I will feel grateful!

    • You have come an amazing way since your surgery. Everyone that knows you sees this and is continually motivated by your progress. Thank you Juri for taking the lemons that life had to offer, sharing your story publicly, and allowing us all to see the sweet success (aka lemonade) that you have produced by standing up to challenges and living your life so fully. Everyone that knows you benefits from your positive attitude. Thank you for being such a strong, great woman. Run on Juri!

  3. As a former runner (Chicago Marathon way back in 1999), I know how sad it can be to no longer run. And yet, I find my walks a bit sweeter now, knowing that I *can* still do them, and that they provide a different, but still delightful, experience for me. Recognizing the beauty of all the “small” moments that comprise our lives – that is powerful. And you seem to do it beautifully.

  4. P.S. Have you considered yoga? I am totally biased (yogayearbook.wordpress.com), but a proficient viniyoga teacher may be a cool compliment to your physical plans. Just a thought. 🙂

    • I have dabbled in yoga. Mainly in front of my tv through a video. 🙂

      My youngest daughter enjoys to do it with me. I have never hears of viniyoga I will have to look that up.

      Thanks for the tip!


  5. You are an inspiration, Tara! I found this by way of Bended Spoon and am so grateful! I ran my first 5k on 10/10/10 – it was the physical expression of my spiritual journey with God. When I run with Him, I’m amazed at the beauty I see along the way. Like today, with your blog. Thank you for inspiring!

  6. I am so glad that Bended Spoon directed you here: http://bendedspoon.wordpress.com/2011/02/18/finding-strength-to-stand-up-again/
    She has a great site!

    Wow, I am impressed that you accomplished your goal of a 5K. GREAT JOB! The run and life’s journey are all filled with incredible gifts. It is a blessing that you take the time and effort to seek those gifts out.

    Thank you very much for taking the time to read my post and leaving such a nice comment! I am truly grateful!


  7. […] will not prevent my toe from dropping causing it to catch and me to fall. Yet, I like to dream the chance of running a 5K is a reality. I like to make-believe the Easter bunny will be dropping off a basket of exquisite dark chocolates […]

  8. I dont know what to say after reading this…but then, allow me to offer a kilometer of my runs – daily if I can.

    • I will gladly take in the image of your run, the sounds of your feet hitting the pavement and the feeling of the wind passing along your face for a kilometer each day. You have brought tears to my eyes from your kind thoughts.

      I will continue to work on reconnecting my brain and my body. Someday I hope to get out there and not only watch but participate in the in your 50 mile run! 🙂


  9. My daughter had a stroke during brain tumor surgery 12 years ago. The stroke is what started her debilitating seizures. I’m so happy for you that you’re still seizure free. Bethany has been without seizures for 6 months. Hoping she stays that way

    • That’s great news Bethany has gone six months without seizures! 🙂 Wonderful! I wish her a lifetime of remaining seizure-free!

      About six months after I wrote this post, I had a breakthrough seizure. It was the one and only one post-surgery. I hope it continues this way. As for now, I am grateful for every day without seizures creating chaos in my brain.


  10. Wonderful post

    • Amy, it means a lot to hear you say you liked it. I am glad to know you can still take your, “strokey dog on (your) strokey walk”. 🙂 Your running post yesterday was terrific.

      The sources where we can draw our hope from post-stroke amaze me.


  11. I found this post while searching for info on running as an epilepsy trigger. I’ve had TC seizures since I was 18, but had a gap from 2006-2013 with none. I started trying to do c25k last October and had a seizure whilst out completely alone (I’d become hugely complacent!). I was gutted and decided not to run. A few weeks ago I decided to try again. The first two runs went perfectly, the third ended in a seizure. I’m still cut up about it, but reading your post made me think about it. There are a few things that could have increased my risk (sleep-deprived, dehydrated, not eating at the right time etc) that I could try to fix. I know I can run, and I really shouldn’t give up so easy. Thank you 🙂

    • Oh my goodness, Crystal, I am so sorry these seizures are chasing you. Don’t stop pursuing your dreams….Ever! I know first-hand how disheartening it is.Be safe when you go out.

      Keep in touch. Keep your risks minimum, and, please, do let me know how this goal progresses. Run on! Enjoy the wind on your face rushing by as your run.


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