When I was dancing with cancer in 1997, the book title, You Can't afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought, rang particularly true for me. (I never owned the book, but still the title proved invaluable.) For years prior I had berated my body with the actions of bulimia, coupled with unkind words like fat, ugly, unworthy and unlovable. Fighting leukemia, I desperately needed the body I betrayed to work with me. I couldn't afford the luxury of a negative thought. Instead I fed my body a steady diet of positive affirmations, happy music and words of wisdom. The weird thing was that I actually believed it all. Funny how a life-threatening illness has the power to kick stupidity in the butt.
Fast forward 15 years: I find it quite challenging to maintain all the lessons I learned while facing disease-- without the disease. Ironic, but true. Very true.
I recently signed up with Team in Training so I could stay present with the cause and give back. So the other evening I went for a training run. Running frees me. It's like meditation. Unfortunately, for this run, my Monkey Mind was with me. I ran (jogged) up to the UCSC track-- the gradual inclination challenged my lungs and tested my hamstrings. My intention was to run (jog) the prescribed five miles. After one mile of the incline I chose (had) to stop and walk.
Monkey Mind: Yeah, Michelle, like you'll ever be able to complete a half marathon. You're such an imposter. Bow out of Team in Training now. Spare yourself the embarrassment. Who's an honoree? You must be joking!
Shut up, Monkey.
After a short (long) recovery I was off again, determined to make it to the track.
Well, maybe I'd make it to the bus stop.
No-- just to that tree.
I chose (had) to walk again.
Monkey Mind: Seriously? You can't even make it to the track? C'mon, Loser Girl! Get out while you still can! Hahahaha!
Still, I plodded forward. One. foot. in. front. of. the. other.
Let's break down the obvious: Who is my worst enemy? I am. Who holds me back? I do. Who is sick of singing this overplayed, unoriginal song? I AM!
In spite of my monkey mind, I finally made it to the track and was welcomed by four deer feeding on the grass. Their serenity rushed through me and I remembered the title of the book from fifteen years ago that I'd forgotten...
You Can't Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought.
MICHELLE: You Can't Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought!
Truly, I don't make enough money. I can't invest in this destruction and I can't charge on a promise of unattainable perfection. Not then, not now, not ever. Uh-uh.
And so I ran. And I ran. And I ran a little more. And for the rest of my run I was disease-free, monkey- free, and debt-free.