Building Castles

Anyone who knows me knows that I am an inveterate planner. If something exists in life that could potentially be put onto a schedule, you know I’ll put it there. Being ridiculously organized has always been a quality I appreciate in both myself and others, but being a planner has one tremendous drawback – it makes me tremendously risk-averse.

I can count on one hand the number of gut decisions I have made. Those decisions are so significant to me not because there are so few of them, but because each one represents a great leap of faith on my part; each one represents something great and life-changing that has shifted the course of my life into uncharted waters, challenged me, and refined me into a stronger person.

When I arrived in New York, I knew one person in a city of over 8 million. Before I moved, I had never made a snap decision of that magnitude before, and I found myself in uncharted waters. Living here has challenged me in ways I never thought possible, and I am grateful for those challenges because they have made me stronger, more motivated, and more self-aware. Theodore Roosevelt once said: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” For a planner like me, that was a daunting challenge, because I often feared taking action until I had mapped out the courses that various options could take. Often, I allowed myself to be challenged more by the logistics of doing anything than by taking on the task of any one thing and not looking back. Like I said – risk averse!

Two weeks ago, when I called the Team in Training office to get some general information about the upcoming New York City Marathon (something I have planned to do for many years, but I was not sure when), I was put on the spot by the staffer who took my call. After I had asked my myriad questions (that I had previously written out, of course) he asked me if he could sign me up then and there.
“As in RIGHT NOW?” I asked.
“Yup!” he responded.

I thought for a split second. My stomach flip-flopped, and my brain was firing madly. This was something I had contemplated, sure, but taking that first step seemed terrifying – like a wobbly toddler finding his balance, or Alice falling down the rabbit-hole. I didn’t know what would happen! I hadn’t planned to sign up TODAY!

“Let’s do it,” I said, “sign me up.”

The feeling of nervous exhilaration when embarking on an exciting and unknown adventure had taken hold of me. I couldn’t sleep and was relishing this incredible new path I was forging for myself. I was nervous, but thrilled. This was the first step – I had made the call and was now accountable for everything to come. Was I scared? Well, I had just signed up to run a marathon, and agreed to raise almost $4,000 in addition to running over 26 miles. I think that if I wasn’t scared, there would be something very, very wrong! But over two weeks later, I can say with confidence that I still feel that nervous exhilaration. I am doing this. This is happening.

I have always said that if or when I run a marathon, I would run for charity. In the past year, I have had several people close to me face battles with cancer that have inspired me to run for them. My choice to affiliate myself with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society was a deliberate one – few other organizations provide the resources they do to cancer research, while at the same time turning people with a goal, such as myself, into people with a mission.

Words cannot accurately express how grateful I am to those who have supported me as I start this adventure. Your encouragement and donations reaffirm the mission I have undertaken. Thank you. I am excited to pursue such a monumental goal, and tremendously lucky to know so many people who have already gotten behind me.

Today, as we start a new month, and as spring starts to bring us all out of the doldrums of winter, I am reminded of the words of Henry David Thoreau:

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

Thank you to all of you who have helped me begin my foundation.

[reposted from my TNT blog 4/1/11]

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