Start with a Single Step… Then Take Another One

July 17, 2017

Woman walking start with a single step... Then take another one

A few months ago I returned to the gym after a long absence.

During that absence, I had surgery on both feet. Even after I was cleared to get back up and walk upon them, I chose instead to stay on the couch.

I basically took my health and handed it back on a platter.

It’s as if I said, “No thanks, I don’t want good health, let me have anxiety-induced insomnia, too many carbs and glasses of wine, and a giant bowl of cortisol-laced stress! Let’s just see what happens.”

It wasn’t pretty.

It didn’t feel good.

It was a poor plan for the long run, it turns out.

So I made some massive changes and came back to what was – essentially – starting all over again. I returned to my Crossfit program to do what I could do.

My goal was to just keep moving. Day by day. Week by week.

Is it hard?

You bet.

Like, really, really hard.

Want to quit kind of hard.

Was I sore?

You bet.

Like, really, really sore.

Can’t get down the stairs or out of the car or up off the toilet kind of sore.

I started telling myself maybe this soreness, this hardness wasn’t worth it.

I have this problem when I work out that I often can’t get out of my head. There’s that little voice stuck in there that says, “This is too hard! It hurts! Stop!” And another annoying voice that accompanies the first that says, “You’re so bad at this!  You’re so slow!  Why are you even here?”

I ask participants of my storytelling workshops, “Who’s your narrator?” If your narrator is anything like this annoying voice, it’s time to turn down the volume on your inner Negative Nancy.

It’s why I wrote “Fire Your Narrator! A Storyteller’s Guide to Getting Out of Your Head and Into Your Life.

And so, in order to ignore those awful, unhelpful inward voices, I turned my attention outwards. I’d try to stop thinking of my fatigue when we’d run the mile by looking around me.

And that’s when I saw her.

Noot another member of the class striding by at full speed as most seem to do, but an elderly woman walking with the help of both a walker and a companion aide. She looked fragile, slightly stooped over, yet she was methodically putting one foot in front of the other.

Maybe she was rehabilitating from surgery.  Maybe she just needed help to walk. But she was there, moving down the block, one step at a time.

And I thought, “What am I complaining about? I’m here and physically capable of pushing myself through this workout. She’s here and doing the same despite how hard it must be for her.”

And I silenced those voices in my head and just kept moving.

Day by day. Week by week.

Then, a really great thing happened.

The following month I noticed the woman out there again, making her way down the block, using her walker and methodically putting one foot in front of the other. Except, this time there was no companion assisting her. She was on her own. Just her and her walker.

Day by day. Week by week.

I got a little faster. A little stronger. Apparently so did she.

Just last week, I saw her walking again.

Something was different. Something missing. It took a moment to figure it out.

She was without her walker. Her stride looked a little more secure, a little more purposeful.

She’s not breaking any time records but she’s out there, now on her own, walking that walk. Still moving.

I don’t know who she is or her story. But one of these days I will pull my slowest mile ever because I’m going to stop running so I can walk beside and talk to her. I will tell her how she has inspired me. I want to find out what motivates her to be out there every day.

But I think I know.

She just wants to get a little bit better. A little faster. A little stronger.

Day by day. Week by week.

It’s what I’m doing too.

At times, the improvement is hard to see, and the pace is glacial.  But I’m sticking with it because I know where I want to be and every step gets me a little closer.

You can too. Just keep moving, one foot in front of the other.

Valerie gordon your story matters web start with a single step... Then take another one Valerie Gordon is a 10-time Emmy-winning television producer, author, blogger, and founder of career and communications firm The Storytelling Strategist. She helps clients and audiences find the power in their own stories for career growth and personal success and satisfaction. 

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