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Monday, September 22, 2014

I Believe You Can Fly

    It's been a while since I posted here. Months actually. Here's what happened. When I posted the last couple of pieces, a friend of mine criticized it. She said that I was wasting my time, and, that I was never going to help anyone this way. I was angry with her, and I put some distance between us after that. You see, I write this blog because it is something that I feel called to do. I write what comes out. And although I knew she was wrong. I know that it doesn't matter if my messages reach one soul or a thousand, for some reason, I still stopped writing. It's not like me to allow anyone to stop me from doing something that I know is important, but this person was someone I really respected, and her words affected me in a way that I didn't even realize. I didn't intentionally stop writing, I was just sort of blocked.
    So here I am. Sitting at the computer on my lunch break thinking about what I want to tell you about and that's the first thing that came out. How dare I let someone else's opinion decide what I am capable of? How dare I let my own insecurities get in the way of my potential. I know I'm not alone here. How many things in your life have you wanted to do, dreamed of doing, but gave up on because of one voice of poison telling you that you will never achieve it? Well no more! You have an unlimited potential. If there is something you want to accomplish, the only thing standing in your way of doing it is your willingness to get started. Let me tell you what I have been doing for the past year.
     In July of 2013, I was sitting at a BBQ feeling insecure about my body (as usual in the heat of the summer), when one of  my best friends came over to me with her phone in her hand and said, " Meliss will do it. Do you want to do this with me?" and she showed me the website for the Long Island Adventure Race. It had pictures of people covered in mud, climbing over stuff and having a great time. My first response was, "I would love to. That looks awesome, but I can't do that." Sure I practiced yoga regularly, but I wasn't a runner, and though I always had a natural physical strength, I certainly wasn't strong enough to do those monkey bars or anything like that. But, then she said to me, "Why not?" And  then I said, "I don't know why not." And she encouraged me. A LOT (which she always does!) So I said I would do it. And I started running. Slowly. At first in short increments, and then for longer periods of time. And when the day came, I was really nervous. I slowed her down. She had to wait for me to catch my breath more than a couple of times. There were some obstacles I could only do part of, but I knew I had to accept my current limitations lest I  should get injured. Step by step, I finished it, and that felt amazing. (I wrote about it last year.)
The beginning at the Finish

 During this time, no one ever told me I couldn't do it. The voice of doubt was always my own.
     That was the beginning. Prior to the race, I had said some prayers to Archangel Raphael, (the angel of healing) to guide me to optimal health. It didn't occur to me at the time, but that this first race was actually an answer to my prayer. I say first race because I knew immediately that when I was done, I wanted to do more. But I wanted to do more better. I wanted to be stronger. I wanted to be one of those fit people I saw climbing and jumping and running. Suddenly I had a goal. I began researching OCRs (obstacle course races) and I ran 3 more that season. Then I came across the Spartan Sprint Race. It's a 5K on steroids with crazy hard looking obstacles. I understood at that moment that I was no where near ready for something like that, but maybe I could be.... in a year or so? Maybe if I really start training, I'll be able to do it. It seemed crazy at first. I showed it to Mr. Jones who had since became my race partner. (And my 9 year old too. It became a family event. How could it get any better?) I showed him the Spartan website, and at first he though I was crazy. I said, "There is a race upstate in June. That's 9 months away. If I really train for it, do you think I could be ready." He said, "I think so. I would do it with you." And we had a goal. We didn't tell anybody about it  because we didn't want any negativity, but eventually, I was feeling so good about the changes I was seeing in my body as I got stronger, that I started saying it out loud. "I am going to run the Spartan Race in June."
     Winter was tough. It was really cold (for Long Island), and I was training mostly in my kitchen while my daughter did homework. 2 days a week at the hot yoga studio, 2 days of strength workouts in my kitchen, and a 5th day of running or abs or something different. I counted down the weeks. I read the Spartan blogs.
Almost there!
 I worked my way up to the Spartan workouts. I joined the Spartan Chicked page on facebook (which has changed names twice since, but is still Rad), and began to find inspiration in the stories of some amazing other women. That's where I met Tammy. Tammy was also doing her first Spartan on June 7, and she was just as nervous as I was. Tammy had lost 100lbs, and completed an iron man the year before. She has plantar facitis, and her feet were giving her some real problems. Tammy and I became FB friends and began to write supportive encouraging things to each other. She is a daily inspiration to me.
Tammy and me at our first Spartan

     In the mean time, I was gradually changing my diet. I was thinking constantly about how to get stronger, and so I started to see food as fuel.  I began to realize that much of the food that I was eating was loaded with toxins: sugars, preservatives, carcinogenic chemicals. I began to research clean eating. I started eating healthier because I wanted to perform, and when I ate crappy, I felt crappy. It was that simple.
     Before I knew it, it was June 6. We loaded everyone up into the car and made our way upstate. The morning of the race, the butterflies were raging! The energy at Spartan was electric! The course was difficult; 4.5 miles up and down the side of a mountain with over 15 obstacles.

I didn't completely rock it. It took us over 2 hours and there were some obstacles that I needed help with, and some that I just couldn't complete (which meant I had to do 30 burpees as a penalty.) So I did my burpees, and Jason and I trudged up and down the mountain until we saw the fire that you have to jump over to get to the finish line. I never felt so strong as the moment I
sailed through the air through the smoke, feeling the warmth under my feet.
That medal they gave me was the most precious metal I ever put around my neck.  I was so elated that I wanted to buy everything with the Spartan logo on it. At the merch stand, the man working looked at us and said, "So, are you guys going to do the NJ Super race in September? It's like this one, only longer: 8.5 miles." "No," I said, "I don't think we're ready for that."
... Guess what the Jones did in September?

(He literally supports me no matter what I do.)

So what's next? You guessed it. There's a longer race called the beast. And I still have yet to ring the Spartan rope climb bell. I did it a local race last week, but not at Spartan. Not yet. And then there's the monkey bars.... I have plenty more goals. Don't worry about that!
     So why did I tell you this story? 2 years ago, if you had told me that I would become an athlete at 36 years old, I would have laughed in your face. I never in a million years thought I would be capable of doing some of the things I can do today (flip over a 350lb tire?! What?!). I didn't see my own potential.
     What potential do you have that you can't see? What is the little voice in your head telling you that you will never do? Shut that son of a bitch up! Don't let ANYONE EVER tell you what you can or can't do. Especially not the demons of insecurity. You make all the choices in your life. No one else. So make the choice to do something wonderful. It doesn't matter if anyone else thinks it's wonderful. (Most of my friends have no desire to crawl under barbed wire through the mud or carry a bucket of rocks up the side of a mountain,)  Whatever it is. Maybe it's not a physical goal. Maybe you want to accomplish something in your education or career. Do it. Don't worry about where you're starting. Just start. Make the choice. Take the steps. One step at a time make your way there, You can do it. You owe it to yourself to see your unlimited potential. I believe that you can. Now you just have to.

Wishing you light and love as always! >3!


  1. love it!! You should be so proud and u are my inspiration every day moving forward from June 6th.
    U are so special and have all the qualities anyone would die for. I promise you thru hell or high water you and I will be crossing the finish line at the Beast in 2015. I'm trying everyday to improve and heel my feet. I love you Mel more than you will ever know , for being you and for making me believe I can be a better person inside and out. ARROOOOOO my spartan sister.

  2. Thank you for including me on your journey. I just invited you to the first one - you've continued on your own! It's all you! <3

  3. Melissa I have not seen or spoken to you in many many years, but this article and others I have read that your sister has posted are beautiful. They remind me of the positive confident free spirited girl I first came to know in an elementary dance class. Being who you are and sharing those trials, tribulations, ambitions and accomplishments with the world is such a positive thing. The ability to share what you feel empathize in what others may be going through like yourself and perhaps inspire more to do the same and make a change in their life is a gift. No one has to listen but you put it out there. I think you are brave and kind, never stop being who you are. You and your sister are some kindest people I have come across in my lifetime, thanks for the words! Korin