So often I am bragging about my dogs (cause in case you didn’t already know I think we have the bestest most beautiful dogs in the world!). But today I want to brag about the humans in Team Dew Claw. We are incredibly fortunate to have the support and encouragement of some of some really incredible people, and I try to share their stories as well. Like Kirstie and her work with Relay for Life. Or Sarah, and her family’s efforts as Team Axling walking to Defeat ALS. You have met my friends Walt and Janet through their wonderful Iditarod photos; they have joined us again this year and are the Grayling Checkpoint Sponsors.
But today I want to introduce my friend and longtime supporter Pendra; this year she has sponsored the Anchorage checkpoint. Anchorage, the start of Iditarod, is the perfect spot for her, because she has been with me since the beginning. In a way we met like a blind date. She had wanted to sponsor a female rookie, I was a female rookie, and voila a match was made. Now, not all blind dates work out as well as ours did. When we got together we realized we actually had a lot in common, and as we got to know more about each other the respect and friendship grew. We have shared recipes and photos, and kept up with each other’s adventures over the years. You see, in some ways we are a lot alike, and in others I aspire to be like her. In particular Pendra is someone with the ability to inspire others, and that is a gift.
Neither one of us is particularly interested in growing old. Yes, we age, but we plan on giving old age a run for the money! Through our facebook friendship I have watched Pendra motivate friends and co-workers to become more physically active, she organizes Kangooing get togethers (Google it), gets groups to join her for fun races, and runs mini fitness boot camps for friends. I see her pre- and post-race photos, with her and her friends all together enjoying the feeling of accomplishment that comes when you get off your butt and get out there. They are just like my wonderful Running Club North friends when we all come together for our events. We hug and cheer each other on, happy for our accomplishments at all levels. I know personally what a difference it made to have that kind of wonderful friendship and support as I started showing up at races, nervous and new to the sport (and not very fast to boot). It was the people that made it so fun, and kept me coming back. Pendra is one of those people who help make sure people like me have fun and don’t give up.
When I complimented her on all she does to help motivate her friends she said, “As for encouraging others, I feel it’s not only my right, but my responsibility to get others to move. If you stop moving, you die. If I can encourage even one person to improve his or her life then I’ve done my job.” Having watched loved ones struggle with poor health in their old age she realized she had a choice. “I’m fighting every day to NOT end up like them. Old age is a blessing but I’ll wait until I’m 110 or so to enjoy it!”
Time and time again as I see her post I am struck by how dynamic she is, getting people to try new activities and believe in themselves enough to want to do better. She is a motivator, leading by example and elevating those around her. And this is the way I most want to be like her.
Let’s face it, I am no beauty queen, prime of my life, things always go smoothly for me, *fill in more wonderful adjectives here*, it girl. Nope; I am a 40-something who looked in the mirror years ago and did not really like what she saw. Poor lifestyle choices had turned me into someone I did not want to be. The term for it is ‘cognitive dissonance’ when the ideas you hold about yourself and the reality staring back at you in the mirror are not in harmony. I did not want to think of myself as overweight and unhealthy, and yet looking at myself… So when faced with cognitive dissonance you have two choices, change what you think or change what you do to make the reality of your life fit your ideals.
I went for the lifestyle change, took back my life and decided I was going to do something that hadn’t been done (running the Yukon Quest and Iditarod back-to- back as a rookie). I pushed myself, and I grew in my strength and self-understanding. That is always what happens when you tackle great challenges. But let me be clear, it does not make me more special than YOU*! If anything I hope looking at someone like me would make someone like you think, “Hey I should be out there chasing my dreams!”
(*yeah YOU, I am talking to you. If I can do it so can you. It is not easy, nothing worth doing is. Take a cue from my friend Pendra and get out there and invest in yourself, you are worth it!)
There are so many things that inspire me as I continue to work on becoming the person I want to be, friends who encourage me, songs that move me, dreams and challenges that motivate me. I think finding these things is important for all of us as we face the obstacles life throws at us on this crazy journey called life. So, once again, I turned to my friend Pendra for advice; as she is already someone I look to as an example. And asked her, what do you draw on for inspiration?
She shared with me this story about memorizing the poem, Invictus, by William Ernest Henley.
“My ninth grade (yes, you read that right) English teacher made us memorize it. She said it would come in handy later on in life. Of course we brilliant kids knew she was full of crap. What did an old lady of at least 40 know about life??? Well, she was right. In many of my darkest, most painful moments I would recite that poem to myself. It pretty much reminds me that no matter what life hands me, no matter how many times I get knocked down, I can lift myself up and carry on. Only I can take charge of my life and live it. “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.””
Once again, she is right on the money. Thank you, Pendra, for sharing this gem. And thank you for your inspiration.