One of Those Photos That Slaps You Awake

A few weeks back, Walt and I attended a TedX talk in Clonakilty, Ireland. As with any Ted talk, I learned so much from the speakers.

I learned what it looks like to be totally swept away by passion, to stand on a stage before hundreds of people with a zero self-consciousness, to be free and open and completely childlike. Alluring.

I learned what it looks like to be frozen in the limelight, to try way too hard to get the words absolutely right, to stare at the ceiling as you rack your brain for something that you were supposed to say. Off-putting.

I learned, once again, why I need to be OK with discomfort, to be patient with it, to appreciate its transience, because it ALWAYS accompanies a change of habit. It ALWAYS accompanies getting off the couch and putting yourself out there in the world. Inspiring.

But when Walt and I got up onstage for a photo opportunity—as a speaker, it’s a pretty big deal to have your face associated with a Ted sign—I learned something awful.  About myself.  I had lost my confidence. I looked stricken, defensive, and totally uncomfortable in my own skin.  I looked, in fact, like I was moments away from being taken out back and shot.


I realized that this is how other people see me.  This is how potential clients, new friends, my husband, folks in our tiny community see me. This is what all that inner tightness looks like from the outside. And that horrified me.

Walt?  Walt looked magnificent. Like a Golden Retriever on steroids.  That’s what he always looks like on stage.


I broke my ankle three months ago.  At first, I offset the damage to my well-being by focusing on nutrition and my mindfulness rituals.  I ate very consciously, meditated and visualized, did a lot of breathing exercises. You know, all the stuff I tell my coaching clients to do. Because I knew that the break in my routine—those things I do to keep my body and head in order—was a recipe for trouble.

Then I got “busy”.  And the whole house of cards came tumbling down.

For some reason, I have to keep learning this lesson:  The minute I stop connecting with myself, the minute I forget that I need time and space to breathe and think—which is what running, primarily, has always done for me— I turn into my mother. Darty-eyed and breathless. Driven by anxiety to complete one mindless task after the other. Completely detached from how I’m feeling, or what I need. Closed off. Unapproachable.


It happens the same way every time.  I get into that all or nothing mind set. I can’t run, so why bother with anything else. I let my nutrition go and put on weight. I became addicted to routine, to autopilot, to comfort. I stopped checking in with myself.

I told myself that I had too much to do anyway. I was busy building our business, finishing my book. Important things. I had no time for that extraneous woo-woo crap.

There’s a reason that Walt usually looks like this.  There really is.



He’s religious about his self- nurturing practices, particularly the ones that serve his emotional well-being.  He runs each morning, journals, meditates, keeps a gratitude journal, does incantations. I mean, he’s so disciplined, he’d probably run on a broken ankle, at least until it snapped off, which he’s quick to remind me of.

And what’s more annoying than living with someone supercilious and smug, a man who does everything “right”? He gets more things done than any 10 people I know.  Which totally destroys my I-don’t-have-time-for-woo-woo-crap theory.

That picture of me on the Ted stage really woke me up.  I got back to my journaling practice, my meditation.  I remembered the wellness triad Walt and I continually speak about. The one with emotional care at the base.  The woo-woo stuff.

Thanks be to God, I’m back at the running again. You’d be amazed at the amount of emotional sludge that is coming up in me out there on the open road. The stuff that’s been blocking me up.

And I can feel everything switching up.  The cycle taking an upward turn.

So when my friend, Maria, invited me to jump into an icy lake the other day, which sounded TOTALLY insane, I went for it.  Because I know I have to break my addiction to comfort.  I re-learned that at the TedX talk. I’m done with being closed off and playing small. I’m just done.


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