Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Just Picture That!

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

I remember back in November of 1995. My son was six weeks old. My mom and I took a few days to go to the North Carolina coast. We loaded up her car with diapers, plenty of food and our need for some quality mother-daughter time.

The solitude offered by winter’s beach is just so palpable. The quiet of it... beaches raw and exposed; the wind is wild with its restless howling, flying uninterrupted in the cold space above the waves and around the dunes. Sunlight’s edges, unhindered by summer’s humidity, are crisp, cold and sharp. Rays of sun cut through winter clouds, piercing the landscape of some far-away horizon.

One afternoon I was on the porch, rocking Hank as he lay nestled in the crook of my lap. The dramatic play of ocean’s waves, wind and sea gulls were performing only yards from our front-row seat. I was reading a book that at the time was very popular. “Reviving Ophelia” was the first of many-to-come books which addressed the deep and profound impact gender-roles and stereotyping had on tweens and pre-teen girls.

About 75 pages into the book, I could read NO MORE. Majorie Pipher’s words were pulling up memories from my own past—painfully revealing wounds not yet healed, only bandaged with alcohol, relationships, people-pleasing and a host of other quick-fix solutions.

The rising warmth of winter sun was tenderly falling down upon the two of us…me and my boy. I watched him sleep and marveled at the occasional flutter of eyelid or twitch of baby-finger or foot.

Tears slowly emerged from the corners of my eyes.

Surely, there is more to life—my life—than covering up, bandaging and running from the wounds of my past. Hank, my baby-- like spring’s first sprout, sprig and blossom, rested so peacefully in my arms. He was my son, my future, the hope of all that is good, beautiful and possible in me, in him, in all of us, in the world.

I closed my eyes, leaned back to fall gently into the lap of that rocking chair, to take it all in, the peace, the wonder, the gratitude, the joy and desire for something greater not just for Hank, but for the girl in me and the girl in all of us.

When I was struck by it—the first clear vision of IT. I was running through the streets of an unknown city. I rounded a corner, when there she was—Molly—me, at age 8. I motioned to her to join me, and she did. We ran together for several steps when another girl, I didn’t know, joined us, and then another. Slowly, but surely they emerged and began to run with me, hundreds eventually. Women were now in that mix, a huge pack of us, running through the streets, when we came to a large set of steps, a hundred or more of them lay before us. We paused and then one by one and step by step we climbed to land at last at the top. All of us there--a sea of women and girls; we lifted our arms, hands held, and rejoiced together.

As simplistic as this sounds, I hold onto this vision with faith and strength anytime I’m feeling challenged by the operational side of what has become Girls on the Run International. I hold tightly to this vision when I’m not sure what path to take, both at the personal and professional level. I feel the presence of it now as I write to you and the power of my own potential, the challenge of life’s climb and the strength I gain in its ascent.

Since that amazing November afternoon, there have been only a handful of visions as clear as this, but they have all been glimpses of my potential, the potential of my children and of this organization. As large as our numbers are these days, I can’t get a real sense of our impact. My finite brain is just that…finite. But I can revisit that vision, those steps, those hands held high, the sea of faces, smiling, empowered and rejoicing.

What vision have you seen with such clarity that it defines the path your life now takes? How has your vision been challenged and how do you stay on course?

I’d really like to know. Comment here or email me at molly@girlsontherun.org.

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