So here’s the thing that is a basic fact. For something to be strong, it needs a solid, well constructed and well laid foundation. Whether it’s something physical, like a house, or something less tangible, such as a way of life or company. It all starts with the foundation. If the base is strong and secure then it will support whatever is piled on top of it.

About 6 or 7 years ago I hit a point in my life that I took a long hard look at my structural integrity and at what I had chosen to lay as my foundation and I realized that there were some serious issues going on that needed attending to. Nothing that was going to cause things to crumble but just that it wasn’t quite “right”. So I started to do what is needed.

Let’s use the analogy of a house, for ease of the written word meandering and the mind’s eye conjuring.

When you look and see cracks in the foundation or notice that it was built faulty, you fix it. Maybe the original plan for the structure of the house was good but over the years, the purpose of the house took a different angle than what it was originally built for… and the foundation isn’t quite right for what it’s meant to support. Maybe an extra load was built on top and now the foundation needs to be reinforced to bear the force that it’s being asked to carry. Maybe there have been some nasty storms and damage and the base has been hit hard by some quakes and it needs some rebuilding. All very much fixable and what you would do when you notice it needs doing. Simple.

So I did that. I saw the changes needed and I started. Chipping away here and there to work away the rot and angles that just weren’t right. Paying close attention to the areas that needed shoring up and some extra ground work done to make the base capable and substantial.Along the way, with every strength built I saw the stability and the confidence of the structure of me grow. It went that way for a couple of years. There were some storms in there that hit hard and knocked me back a bit, but the foundation was setting as it was laid. A work in progress, yes, but very much progressing.

Then something happened that not only halted the work, it pretty much blew the whole damn thing apart. Torn apart, the structure was gone in a split second. A blast of loss that hit hard enough to shatter the base as well. Never mind cracks,most of the foundation was just simply not there anymore.

Quite simply, the roots of me that had been struggling to find their grasp and dig in were gone. Feels like they are still gone. My confidence in my Self, my abilities, my capabilities, it’s broken. My belief in Me – fundamentally fractured. Damaged.

There was a time when I may have had the odd bout of issues with self confidence or doubting myself but on a base level – I knew my power. My strength. My will. I never had any doubt that I would be ok at the end of the day. I knew, without a doubt that I was solid and unmovable. I knew Me, who I was and what I was capable of – and it was something to be reckoned with.

Loss, and grief, took that. Still has it actually.

There was a time that I knew my skills and my abilities – knew them and felt how good I was at them. There was a time that I may have had nerves going on but they were never because I didn’t think I knew my stuff or that I had the right to be giving the presentation or facing the room. I knew the truth of my capabilities.

There was a time that I didn’t doubt whether my lover would find pleasure under my hands or with our time spent intimately together. Times that I didn’t doubt if I was worth someone’s time.

There was a time that I didn’t doubt whether I could pick up a new skill or technique. I knew I could. I knew that all I needed was to be shown and to learn and that I would get it. Without a doubt.

Now, after that blast three and a half years ago, still rebuilding, I do doubt. Deeply and profoundly. Deep enough to feel shaken and to question the very base structure of my Self. Every little bit of groundwork laid so tenuous and loosely balanced it feels like it can be blown off with a whisper – and it is, often and repeatedly. Only to be picked up again and laid back in place, trying to make it stick. Trying to rebuild.

Thank you to the lies. You have taught me to be more mindful with where I place my trust.

Thank you to the pain. You have allowed me to see what I can endure.

Thank you to deception. You have shown me to question and to not just accept.

Thank you to the struggles. You have proven to me my ability to overcome.

Thank you to emptiness. You have made me appreciate when my heart and my arms are full.

Thank you to sadness. You have shown me the joy in simple happiness.

Thank you to grief. You have shown me to appreciate and be thankful for my life.

Thank you to loneliness. You have shown me how to love being alone.

Thank you to hatred. You have helped me learn to let go.

Thank you to my darkness. You have shown me how to love the depth of it as a part of me.

Thank you to the days that felt like they would never end because of the hurt. You have taught me to savour the days that go by too fast.

Thank you to the ugliness of life. You have allowed me to see the beauty that is life as well.

Why do we challenge ourselves? Why do we set goals and specific things that we hope to achieve? What is the difference between hoping to, and actually realizing that end?

Speaking for myself, this past year has been one that I have taken on a number of personally set challenges… and achieved a fair number of them…so it’s something that has been on my mind as my year wraps up.

I had someone ask me recently why I had done something. We were talking about events of the past year and I mentioned that I had just completed a race on November first. It was an outdoor, mud-based obstacle race. I had commented on how crazy I thought I was at one point when I realized that I couldn’t feel my hands from the cold and still had to use them. I was running. literally, with my hands tucked in my under arms trying to get them some feeling back. She looked at me like I was indeed crazy and asked simply “Why in the world would you do something like that?” My answer, after a second or two to ask myself that, was just as simple. To see if I could follow through.

For myself, it comes down to one thing really. Seeing if I can go from conceptualizing a goal, setting it as a goal, actually doing it and seeing that to fruition. It’s not even so much about how hard I can push myself or whether I can achieve something physically. The physical act of reaching my challenge is merely how I achieve a much bigger goal. One of knowing that I can do what I set my mind to. It’s not about the specifics, it’s about the bigger picture.

When I signed up for a 10km run that was in June, I knew that physically, it wasn’t that far of a reach. I was regularly running 5 – 7km a few times a week and had run a 10km distance a few times in the previous months so it wasn’t so much the physical. It was, somewhat unconsciously, a decision to commit to something and see if I could follow through. Even up to the day before, I was fully considering not going. I can’t stand crowds, I am not a fan of running with hordes of people in my way, the pre-run “warm up” that I never do… the list goes on of why I don’t do organized races. But I needed something to set and achieve. And I did it. In a great time; surprising myself and giving me a feeling of accomplishment more than a simple 10km race should have in my mind.

The next thing beyond that was the first of two of those aforementioned mud based obstacle races. A recap of that is here.
Coming out of that event and knowing just how hard it was physically was a huge sense of accomplishment for me. More than that though was the happiness that I felt not because of what I had achieved with the endurance or the strength but it was the mere fact that I showed up and did something that I committed to. It was something that scared me and I conquered it. Having to drive up island; knowing that I had signed up,solo, for a race that predominantly is run with people in teams; going into an experience not knowing details. I’m a control freak and hate the unknown. That race was a case of just show up and do what you have to as they don’t divulge course details other than the start location. So much more to that than just “can I do it”. Far more emotional than physical.

That alone, for me, is what this is all about. Being able to reflect and see a tangible result of my following through is more needed than any run or race to be honest.

Why do I do it? So that I can have a physical manifestation of personal achievement. That’s what is sorely needed.

Setting and achieving a physical challenge gives me proof – necessary proof – that I can do what I need to. Translate that to emotional and mental health. Can I feel joy and happiness and achieve the long game of living my potential? These little physical challenges show me “yes” and belief in that… hope… faith in my Self… that’s what it’s about. That’s why I do it.