Since MILE 9, whenever I feel uncertain or afraid, I think about what I achieved the time I persisted through my fatigue and my fear. MILE 9 is that certain unstoppable something inside of each of us that gives us the courage to continue against the odds.
It was a major turning point in my life when I completed a marathon on March 29, 1998 — that’s 26.2 miles. I almost gave up after MILE 8, but something shifted inside of me at the next signpost, and I have never been the same. I wrote a book about it ten years later called MILE 9.
I had spent my life eating junk food. I was in my late forties and more than 70 pounds overweight when I started the training, and still 40 pounds overweight on race day. It took me over nine hours to reach the finish line. I jogged a little, I walked a lot, and there was some crawling involved. Ha! But I finished.
Today was another anniversary of that day and sweet memories fill my head and heart. It was the most physically and mentally challenging thing this couch potato had ever done. The feeling of exhilaration at the end was indescribable. I did it. I didn’t quit. I finished a marathon.
Although I don’t know if I’ll do another one, life is like a marathon, isn’t it? You just keep going. You just keep putting one foot in front of the other. It’s all part of the Grand Journey.
I spent my whole life
wanting someone to like me.
And then, one day,
I decided to like myself.
87 years old. She walked out onstage — with a cane and an assistant, but she walked out. Wow. She had broken her back in two places and was performing anyway. She sat down in a wheelchair and sang her heart out and told her stories for almost two hours. She assured us that the wheelchair was only temporary until her back healed. After the standing ovation at the end, she sang “Imagine” without a mic. It was beautiful. Barbara Cook at the Annenberg in Beverly Hills last night. So glad I went.
You gave me permission to embrace all of who I am and showed me I am a citizen of the world. You held your pen like a fearless torch — sometimes it illuminated, sometimes it scorched. You dared to tell me my experience was as Universal as anybody else’s, and that the rhythm of my speech was music. Music. You were the example that emboldened me to go ahead and use big words. You had the audacity to write in your own voice and call it poetry. You were a living and breathing symbol of everything that was possible for a girl like me. And while I had to share you with the rest of humanity, you were a very personal angel. An angel who will live on in my heart forever.
When I was a child, I loved getting my Easter Basket! There was so much candy and so many colored eggs, it would last for weeks. Eventually though, it was all gone.
And so it is with life. There are times of abundance and times of scarcity. But I now know that Easter is about much more than a basket of candy, and I know what kind of joy is everlasting.
The world is cold and it burns.
But if time has taught me anything
I have learned that with every single passing day
The burn will smolder less and less
Until, one day, it will be nothing more than a tiny, flickering ember that has settled among the icy ashes of a memory that one more time I went through the fire
Look for the blessing in everything that happens to you. Always look for the blessing.