True personal story. When I was in 5th grade, I found sheer joy running hurdles in track and field. Hurdles came to me naturally by combining the leaping grace from ballet and the sheer power of gymnastics, two sports I did since basically birth. The gym teacher watched me and could see I was unaware of my talent so she took extra time to encourage and coach me. On the 6th graders’ Field Day, she had me run in the hurdle races against those big, scary, older kids. I won. She then signed me up to run at a 7th and 8th grade track meet, being held at the local high school. I was excited to have my eldest sister drive me and off we went in our family’s white, all metal, no seat-belts, station wagon…Ol’ Betsy the Tank. As we walked closer to the track, the hurdles grew and grew and grew. They were not grade school size but high school size which appeared almost double in height over anything I had ever jumped. As I walked to the start line to do a warm-up, I looked down a long row of what appeared to be solid brick walls that felt almost as tall as me.
It’s times like this experience, you have several options. First option, claim stomach problems and run to the bathroom where you hide until the race is over. Second option, let the fear psych you out. You don’t believe in yourself, so you half-heartedly run the race and crash into every hurdle. You limp away with bruised shins and ego…and never try again. Third option, tell that negative-nelly-voice in your head to go back to the station wagon. Then with an ounce of courage, just start running. Remembering the hard work during the hours you committed to training, you trust your body will take you where the mind can’t believe. Like most of my life, I did the last option. In a storage box in my garage, I still have the first place, blue ribbons from that day.
There are many times the hurdles of life have jumped up and grabbed me by the ankles and yanked me down. Just when I thought I would be soaring above a problem, I got a smack-down. Literally and figuratively. I know choosing to speak and write on abuse is like jumping hurdles that appear to be huge brick walls. Abuse is currently a taboo subject. Most people are super uncomfortable even hearing the word, let alone discussing it or admitting it to themselves and to others. People don’t know what to do with the topic because it feels too big, scary, sad, overwhelming and potentially life shattering. But that view is exactly why we don’t see un-health and abuse in our own lives. We often feel the word abuse only applies to monumental or horrific events where people are carted off to a jail, hospital or morgue.
I see the topic of abuse more like track hurdles. A first glance, it looks very scary, overwhelming, complicated, intimidating, and very, very big! Being open to hearing about abuse takes the bravery of walking up to the starting line. Seeking awareness of how abuse might be in your life, is as “comfortable” as standing in itty-bitty shorts (why are track shorts so little?!) and under a spot light as they announce your name with all eyes on you. Telling someone for the first time about your abuse is scary…like running as fast as you can toward a brick wall and hoping it changes into a safe hurdle. I speak and write on all forms of abuse because I see how they share commonalities of cycles, codes and typically they all start off as little as red flags and progress into unhealthy relationships and behaviors. The unhealthy situations can quickly slide down the slippery slope into abuse.
There is a process that helps me to shorten the distance from a “negative experience” to a healthy outcome. I see “negative experiences” (ranging from unpleasant, to unhealthy, to abusive) not as an immovable brick wall but as an obstacle. My high school math teacher, Dr. Mutchmore, had a poster in his room that I stared at whenever I didn’t know a math answer. The reason I still remember it, is because I stared at that poster…A LOT! The poster pictured an enormous rock with jagged cliffs, located in the middle of a bay, with a sailboat heading for certain collision into the rock. The caption read “An obstacle is what you see when you take your eyes off the goal.” I used to imagine if I were on that boat, I would make a dramatic sailing maneuver and just barely miss crashing into the outlying rocks. Or magically my boat would become a 17th century Man-of-War ship and I would blow up the rock with cannons and then sail straight on through where the rock once stood. Or docking the boat and hiking over the top of the rock and then jumping in the water to swim to the opposite shore. The point is, I saw the rock as not as an obstacle but as a challenge. From my athletic training, I learned every challenge is an opportunity. An opportunity is fantastic because we get to try something different, overcome an old fear, build on a strength, gain a new skill and create unshakable moxie! (I explain my version of moxie in an upcoming blog, “Oh yeah? Watch me!”)
I saw an opportunity to transform my hurt into health and share my lessons learned with others. So, I coined the term “Awareness Creator” because it fit my vision of what I want to do in my next stage of life. Create….awareness! From my life experiences, I’ve seen numerous brick walls and crashed into many hurdles. I’ve blown up a lot of obstacles as well as got stuck a time or two in some riptides. Throughout all of this, I’ve passionately spent time and energy creating a healthy life filled with truth, understanding, integrity and lightness….and my favorite: Love, Respect & Kindness. With diligent work, I became aware of the hurdles in my life and how to overcome them. I share my awareness so others can get up-and-over the hardship hurdles in their life with more ease and strength. Even better, I want to help others recognize the red flags of un-health so abuse can be avoided. By avoiding abuse, we prevent it. By preventing abuse, we together will end it. On my scorecard, that’s better than a million blue ribbons!
So currently, what in your life looks like a hurdle? A big brick wall? A roadblock? Where in your life do you feel unhealthy or abused? What obstacles can you convert into a good old-fashioned challenge that makes you dig a bit deeper so you can rise higher?
There is no “good time” to face your brick walls, so you might as well make a commitment to overcome them right now…today! Make a plan where you train your mind and body to be aware, understand and conquer your life hurdles, brick walls or roadblocks. Develop your ability to not focus on the obstacles, but see them as what they are…opportunities! (More on this when I blog about another coined word…“Flip-a-Dip!” turning hardships and obstacles into strengths and successes!)
I’m cheering for you! I can’t wait to hear about your trials, attempts and successes. You got this!
For more information or to schedule: Coaching, Workshop: Healthy Relationships & Leadership (for work & schools), Keynote Speaking and other Programs, please contact us at: 720.219.3631 Abigail@AbigailGManning.com
ENLIGHTEN. EMPOWER. END.