“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”
As a new mom Kass Berry was struggling with a bit of an identity crisis. But she was able to find a strength within that she didn’t quite know she had. Now she’s getting ready to run Boston 2016. Come along with Kass on the unpaved trail this morning and see how she made the journey from uncertainty to personal triumph.
Soon after I gave birth to my daughter and decided to be a stay at home mom I joined the local YMCA. Upon registration I learned that every new member received three free personal training sessions to help their members identify fitness goals, craft a plan for success and become properly trained on the weight machines.
Albeit nearly four years ago the first day I met the trainer is still crisp in my memory. Determined to claw my way back to my pre-pregnancy weight I marched myself into the YMCA for my first appointment donning a pair of a little too well-loved Asics Gel-Nimbus’, cotton socks, frumpy yoga pants and an oversized t-shirt.
As I sat there waiting for the female trainer to arrive my thoughts were racing. Not only did I feel uncomfortable in my post-pregnancy body, I didn’t feel like myself at all. Who was the woman looking back at me in the mirror every morning? She is a mom, right? Yes, she is definitely a mom. But what else does she do? Who is she really? What are her passions? Her interests? The colors that comprise her rainbow?
I honestly didn’t know anymore. I had left what felt like a lifetime of years earning college and graduate degrees and a full time job to stay home with my daughter. Even though it felt so right to be with snuggled up my baby I was uneasy with being home all the time. Does that make any sense whatsoever? A mother whose child is her world and yet her world feels distant and disconnected from her passion, her spirit and her energy?
Once the trainer arrived we sat down and got to business: setting goals. In a simple straight forwards sentence the trainer inquired, “Kassandra, what are your goals here?” The question struck a chord with this SAHM and invoked a dormant part of my being. I looked this near stranger in the eye and with a hint of desperation in my voice I erupted, “I want to be strong.” I felt it then as I know it now, I wasn’t just referring to physical strength. A lost woman who was starving to feel confident, purposeful, happy and healthy, this meeting, the question and my response was a defining moment in my existence.
Five little words uttered in mere seconds have stayed with me for nearly four years. Why? Because I wanted to feel strong in all facets of my life, inside and out. Because I didn’t feel strong. Because I felt lost. Because a small part of me was desperate to be found. On that day and in that moment nearly four years ago that small part of me came out of her shell and made herself known. Since then she wouldn’t be ignored. That moment changed my life and my path forever.
Everyone feels lost at one point or another.
Whether it is with your career, children or relationships everyone has moments of feeling lost and confused. No one has it all figured out from beginning to end. No one truly knows where their path will lead until they take it. There are simply too many unknowns that a person will encounter throughout their life to be able to wholeheartedly plan the future: unanticipated career opportunities, newly discovered hobbies/talents and happenstance friendships that will take them to new places to make new memories.
The future, the deep unknown can mean many things: worrisome uncertainty or endless possibilities.
Endless possibilities. Opportunities for uncharted exploration. The pursuit of passion.
Yes, I like the sound of that.
Who chooses uncertainty over security? The rocky trail over the smooth, paved road? Self-inflicted pain over safety, comfort and ease.
Apparently I do.
In the face of uncertainty, discomfort and the unknown today I choose uncertainty and exploration. I choose the unbeaten path off of the rocky trail. I choose the unknown, no matter how much self-inflicted pain lies ahead.
Why denounce what is comfortable, safe and secure?
Because if you let them safety and security will take the colors right out of your rainbow. Because in your life if what is safe and secure doesn’t align with your passion then you have stunted your own growth. I am determined to grow, evolve and adapt. I am determined to feel strong in this body, mind and life. No matter how uncomfortable it may become I want to discover myself through and through.
Why choose the unexpected door number two that exposes your vulnerabilities? Why choose pain and distress?
Because we are stronger than we think we are. We may be vulnerable, have weaknesses and experience pain, but we are capable of evolving and getting stronger. Then again, we will only evolve, adapt and get stronger when we face our fears, challenge ourselves and take the road less traveled. If there is one thing I have learned in the past four years it is that everything worth doing is hard.
Where does this journey of self-discovery commence? On the run of course. Even more it’s already begun. Nearly four years ago I sat in the Quincy YMCA a determined albeit lost young mom. Three years ago I ran my first 5k and became swept up in the tidal wave of emotion that embodies the run-game. In many ways I haven’t looked back on the woman that once was and rather I spend more time looking forward. Who is the woman looking back at me in the mirror every morning? Who is she really? What are her passions? Her interests? The colors that comprise her rainbow? She is a loving mother, a writer, a coach and a runner. Those things I’m sure of. Running has helped me uncover these passions and strength. It gives me time in my busy day to quiet my anxious mind, focus and evolve. Running forces me to find my internal strength that would otherwise be lost in a sea of anxiety.
Four years and a new career later and I can’t help but wonder- do I have other passions, undiscovered talents or interests? When else have I chosen safety and security over forcing myself to learn, adapt and grow?
I’m excited (while also terrified) to report that stops now. Comfort, safety and security stops now.
I hope that the unpaved trail will teach me more about myself that I could have ever imagined.
Today I choose the road less taken.
Today I choose passion and the pursuit of happiness.
Today I choose self-exploration, discovery and uncharted territories.
Today I choose to feel alive.
Today I choose to feel strong.
Today I choose to be strong.
How will I get there? How do I get anywhere?
I run of course.
As I embark upon a windy new path in my life I am terrified. Where will the path lead? I don’t know. Is it a place worth going? I surely hope so. Until I find my way I’ll do what I do best- I’ll run my heart out. I’ll train through winter. I’ll race the Boston Marathon 2016.
I can’t stop. I won’t stop. I’ll never stop running.
Never Stop Running,
Kass/The Lone Runner
We applaud Kass for choosing uncertainty over security, and for finding in comfort in self-inflicted pain over safety, comfort and ease. That’s on the Level. Check out her blog: The Lone Runner.