They called me, Olive Oil.
You know, from the infamous and old Popeye cartoon.Pretty sure that wasn’t a compliment or a term of endearment way back then..I was all skin and bones. Long skinny legs with knobby knees and matching arms, as long as a monkey if I might add. I was that girl. My given name and the term, athlete ,were never,like ever used in the same sentence. Ever. I was not the least bit athletic. I knew it and so did everyone else on the track team…I was that girl. Oh you know, the one who fainted doing one lap around the track. That was me. Another time, on a hot summers day, while spending time at the local beach with friends, I just out right,fainted. I was such a lightweight. I was that girl. In more ways than one.
And then there were the school sports. Starting with kickball. Yeah, almost picked last every time. I even tried out for basketball. That was, shall we say, rather comical. Granted, I had the long arms and the legs for it but definitely lacked the agility needed to be on the team. I certainly didn’t have the confidence to try out for cheerleading ,though secretly I wanted to because I wanted to have that sense of belonging and popularity. That was a no go. I was that girl! So I just looked on with envy from afar. The other longing that I had had since I was a little girl was to be a graceful ballerina, complete with bun, however that wasn’t in the families budget at all. They looked so elegant,so poised,so graceful. I was not. Once again, I was that girl.I was the one who watched and admired from afar. As I always did. I was that girl.
Until my Dad took ill later in life.
As I saw my Dad lose his mobility from limb to limb, something in me, well snapped. For real. One day , while visiting him in the hospital, he sadly just pointed to his legs and I knew then, he couldn’t feel or move them. No words were spoken between us at that moment but “the word”came alive in me that day. I’ll never forget it and am forever grateful for the epiphany that made this long legged,clumsy and rather insecure girl start believing she could do anything. Anything. Not even within reason mind you. I became that girl. I was determined to start living my best life even if it killed me. Pardon the pun.
Dad was slowly dying and yet I was fully alive. I refer to that day as the day I was became, fully alive. I became that girl.
It was time to take a deep breathe. Breath. It was as if I suddenly realized that I had the breathe of life. Like suddenly. I had legs that could walk, jog, run, skip, swim or do just about,anything! Didn’t matter what anyone thought of me or my limited abilities. I became that girl.I still had all my extremities and organs in tact. Dad did not.
That realization flipped the switch in my foggy brain. Realizing that my body is the machine that keeps me alive, I reasoned, I best start using it mindfully. I may have been a little slow to enter the fitness race but friends, I entered with gusto. I became that girl.Thanks to my Dad.
I decided to a start jogging. Well, okay, more like “wogging ” because I would walk a bit,then jog a bit all the way to the hospital. Daily. It was a mile each way. Back then,that was a huge feat for me. But it didn’t stop there. I joined the Y.M.C.A. I started lifting weights and getting stronger and feeling stronger little by little. I started gaining muscle and that was a big deal to this skinny girl. I even joined a running club where they gave me the nickname was “Skinny ‘of all things… Wasn’t that original but by then it didn’t matter because I felt like I mattered. I was becoming that girl.
My dad would remind me quite often how I’d better be careful because of my past running history in high school. I’d thank him for his concern and run anyway and then head to the gym to train. Because I was no longer “that”girl… I became THAT girl.
That’s where I was personally challenged by a caring coach. She saw something in me. This girl. She saw my determination, not necessarily my ability, but absolutely, she saw my perseverance. She was relentless in asking me to enter a Super Sprint Triathlon. It was for a good cause she said…
Excuse me, are you talking to me? Olive Oil, Skinny Girl? You’ve be got to be joking. She didn’t back down and practically stalked me while I was sweating like crazy on that crazy stair climber thingy that the Y had then. She invited me to try out swimming and at least meet the team of swimmers. Ummm,Swim Masters no less. You’ve got to be kidding me. This girl? They were like graceful swans on a lake. I on the other hand couldn’t complete a lap without feeling like I would drown . At one point ,I actually thought that maybe I had COPD like my Dad. It would have been easy to give up at that point. But giving up was never apart of my natural make up. Determination was. Determination in itself, is a sport set apart for those who never give up. Now, that was me. I was that girl.
I was determined to beat my body into submission,if not my mind. Yup, I became that girl.
Thats what it takes you know. Determination and perseverance not necessarily skill. Just saying.
Because of my perseverance and determination during a very gut wrenching season with my Dad, jumping into fitness kept me sane. Exercise became my daily therapy. Literally. There were days I would jump in the water, tears streaming down my face and just swim,stroke after stroke, I’d pray. A few times, while swimming, I even hit my head on the wall because I was so lost in thought or prayer. I was that girl.
Exercise helped me sort through a lot of mixed emotions at that time and still does. It most definitely helped with the endorphins and serotonin levels I needed to withstand the darkness and depression within the hospital walls.
Encouraged by other athletes at the Y.M.C.A. I entered countless Triathlons. ( until I completely overcame my fear of them) I even a couple of Olympic Tri’s, tons of 5k’s, 1/2 marathons and crazy competitions over the next several years. I became that girl.
I even did a race called “The Widman” triathlon in honor of my Dad, a month after he passed away. That was wild! I became that girl.
But guess what ?
I won! First place and hardware! Yup, first place in my age group. I was the only crazy one in my age group, but hey, I did it! I was that girl.
Its never to late to be who you were always meant to be. I am that girl and so are you!
In every way! Become THAT girl!
I am an athlete. I am capable. I am possible. I am that girl. I am running this race with endurance… (Heb.12:1)
Nothing shall be impossible to those who believe .
Believe you are that girl!
Start declaring who you are,not who other people say you are, (i.e., olive oil, skinny, fill in the blank) or even worse ,who you’re not and you’ll be witness to your own prowess power! YOU ARE THAT GIRL !
You are brave, you are courageous, you can do anything you put your mind to! YOU ARE THAT GIRL!
Get it girl… I did!
In honor of my Dad. I believe he would have been so proud of me now.
In honor of me. I am so proud of me…now!
I am that girl! So are you if only you believe.