“I’m supposed to tell you…” The English words filtered through my murky consciousness in that blurry, sterile white surgery prep room, numbed out by all the painkillers and pre-surgery anesthetics. My unfortunate lack of Spanish meant that most of the talk between the Costa Rican doctors passed by me unnoticed.
But this technician looked down at me on the stretcher, just moments before going under the knife. “You’re probably going to have early-onset arthritis from all the damaged cartilage, so you’ll need to avoid any impact type of activities for the rest of your life.”
Just a few days before, in the end of November 2015, I had been innocently playing around in the waves at the beaches of Manuel Antonio, during a yoga and wellness business fellowship, when a massive wave took me (and my tibial plateau) down – big time.
Now, this bleak forecast drifted over me, as I passed out to receive the plate and seven screws that would put my leg back together.
In the weeks and months post-surgery, as I gained strength and learned to walk again, I continued to hear the same story. From my orthopedic doctor, physical therapist, and online forums from other tibial plateau fractures, the main message was clear: you’re basically fucked. Arthritis is in your future, and don’t even think about running again.
Now let me just say one thing here. Running has been my thing. But after running a marathon in Prague in 2012, I had felt a natural peak and release of the sport, for now – taking on yoga as my new physical drug of choice.
Yoga became a better match for where I was mentally and emotionally, and once I moved to Thailand, with its scorching climate and shambled sidewalks, I sort of just lost the drive to continue running regularly… I felt somehow sated for the time being in that realm.
But I was always a runner. And would always be one, at heart. My soul yearns to fly, push to its limits, stretch beyond comfort and feel the fire burn away the remnants of what I no longer need.
Running gave me that.
It was my moving meditation, my escape, my muse.
And I always knew I would return, when the time was right.
So to hear these doctors, therapists, and so-called “experts” tell me, again and again, that all hope was lost – to “give up” on the idea of ever bringing any impact onto my now-apparently-fragile knee – was pretty brutal.
At first, I convinced myself that I didn’t want to run anyway. That I had yoga now. And cycling. And hiking. I could powerwalk. Yeah.
And, I mean, the initial battle was just to walk again. So for months, I set aside my loftier visions and goals, and just focused on leg lift after leg lift, baby step, then squat, calf raise, hamstring curl.
Months later, I’d internalized this belief that I just “couldn’t” run again. Teaching summer camps the following July in Italy, I automatically counted myself out of coaching the running games. Convinced myself that my life was just different now, that I’d just had the “running” phase of my life, and it was time to accept that.
The inherent problem was this: my soul yearns to burn, to blaze, and to wildly express itself – and often, very fast and impactful cardio exercise is the way to do that.
You know what happens when we internalize shitty beliefs? We start to lose our spark, our fire. We dim and shrink down to the possibilities that other people determine for us.
A year later, I started to question: Why had I decided to internalize these shitty beliefs that obviously weren’t serving me?
If my soul yearned to run… why wouldn’t I just decide that I could run again?
I’d been working on my thigh, hamstring, and calf strength for a year and a half, ensuring that the knee joints would be amply supported and protected. My daily lunges and squats left me with the glutes of a champion.
And sure, I jogged a bit here and there, halfheartedly. Giving up after a few minutes, for fear of defeat and fragility.
Those voices of doubt and failure? They were still dominating my life.
I realized: Where else was this happening?
Where had I been letting shitty beliefs – whether acquired from society, people in my life, or my own insecurities – rule my reality?
You’re not ready to be a true leader…
You don’t have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur…
You’re a terrible public speaker…
You’ll never get over him…
People will judge you if you’re vulnerable…
You’ll never earn money doing what you love…
…You’ll never run again.
…You get the picture. 🙂
Enough was enough.
Fast forward to Costa Rica, Round 2. July, 2017. Back to the wild country whose waves annihilated my bones. 🙂
Teaching yoga at a gorgeous eco-resort… spending my days working, teaching, reading, learning, meditating.
Suddenly, I realized.
That fire in my belly… it needed to be unleashed – and not just through a dynamite Vinyasa practice, or low-impact cardio exercise on my mat.
Strong, fierce, and confident, I laced up my shoes, finding a gorgeous break between monsoon rain clouds high up in the jungle at Rancho Margot.
It was time to finally express fully what had been pent up for so long.
Count on the inner strength, and rewrite the beliefs that hadn’t served me whatsoever.
And sprint the hell out of that road. 🙂
Lungs burning, heart pounding, trusting the strength in my legs and my soul.
It felt great, it felt right, and in that moment… I knew that I wouldn’t be succumbing to this particular shitty belief anymore. Rewriting it was taking back my power, and creating an entirely new reality of my choosing – based in healing, mindfulness, fire, energy, and faith.
Why am I telling this story?
It’s not because it’s some big deal to run – most people can do that every day.
It’s because when we DECIDE to shatter the shitty beliefs that have been dominating our reality – something incredible happens.
We don’t just get to experience that thing we wanted….
But we BECOME someone NEW in the process.
It’s like shedding an old version of ourselves, of what our external world has made us… fiercely throwing that away, to reveal the powerful Self within.
We rise up and actually DECIDE the way our life is going to be.
Sure, it’s easy to let others decide for us. Whether we’re enough, whether we’re ready, whether we can or can’t do, be, or express whatever it is we desire.
It’s easy because it’s the default mode – the way most of us were raised.
We just simply weren’t taught that we can create our own reality using our thoughts and beliefs.
Right here, right now, I’m just challenging you to consider:
What if you decided to shed every last shitty belief that wasn’t serving you?
Just let it go, wish it well, and commit to stepping forever forward past its limits?
Before you interrupt me to say how unrealistic and woo-woo that sounds….just stop. And try it.
Pick a shitty belief. Believe me, most of us are holding onto plenty of them.
And rewrite it. Flip it on its head. Make it empowering. Even if it feels IMPOSSIBLE.
And focus on that shit until it becomes real.
Because it WILL.
And while that’s incredible in itself, it’s who you become in the process – a catalyst of fire and transformation, of true, authentic creation – that ends up being the real, life-changing magic.