Life begins just outside your comfort zone, and I’ve been uncomfortable all summer! I don’t know if it’s the self-reflective time that you’re promised when you turn 40 (I hit that milestone in January), or if it’s the sneaky way life has of presenting obstacles over and over until you finally learn how to clear them away (neatly and constructively, of course). The months have flown by and I’m not too sure all that I have to show for it, other than a reaffirmed belief of the strength and determination of a woman. I’ve experienced extremely personal trials this summer. I’ve faced some head on and have run and hid from others. I’ve learned a lot about myself, my relationships and my true limits. My world has been turned upside down and its foundation cracked. Yet, I still stand willing to fight another day. I’ve been rehashing the death of my beloved stepfather, over and over. It’s funny how you think you’ve moved on and one day you realize you’ve been standing in the exact same spot for three long years. My thoughts have turned inwards to inspect myself, my wiring, my reality … I’ve done some things right and other things wrong. I brought some people too close and pushed others too far away. I’m slowly coming to terms with the inherent imperfection that comes along with being human, and am trying to find a way to forgive, let go and move on peacefully. Obviously, my mind has been uncomfortable so I decided to make my body uncomfortable too. Through the practice of Bikram Yoga, I’ve learned to find 90 minutes of peace on my mat. There has been a lesson in this and that is that even in the eye of the storm, when you think you can’t go on any longer, you can dig down deep, breathe and find 60 seconds of strength. I’ve taken this lesson out into the real world with me for the moments when it gets too overwhelming — just breathe and look inward for 60 seconds of strength. Running has always been part of my life and I’ve continued to run consistently through this storm. It’s a physical and emotional workout — trying to put space between myself and my problems. They call running moving meditation because, like yoga, it gives you the opportunity to be in the moment and search inward for the strength to move forward. I have not solved the world’s problems while putting mileage under my feet, but I’ve found clarity of mind where there wasn’t before. As my body has gotten stronger, so has my resolve. For the first time I’ve really leaned on my closest friends. Shedding the happy façade and letting them truly see my imperfections in the harshest of light. They’ve laughed with me, cried with me, hugged me and have let me see myself through their eyes. I’ve drawn on their strength and will be forever indebted to them, and be a better human being for it. While I have not figured it all out yet, I understand that life throws curveballs at each of us from time-to-time. I understand that to appreciate the light, you must experience the dark. Sometimes self-preservation is ugly, messy, teary-eyed and complicated. But without question, there is nothing that can stop a determined woman. As Max Lerner said “The turning point in the process of growing up is when you discover the core of strength within you that survives all hurt.” I am searching for that core and feel well on my way to finding it. I’m sure there have been times that your story has been like mine. My hope is that you can find calm in the eye of the storm, put one foot in front of the other and press forward. Because in the end, there is nothing in this world that can stop a determined woman.
Shelley Davis Mielock
Shelley Davis Mielock is a certified business image coach and the founder of Mieshel Image Consulting, a Lansing-based firm that specializes in image development for individuals and businesses. She is also a co-host of In Her Shoes, a a weekly women’s talk radio show. To ask Shelley an image question, please e-mail her.