Everyone’s words of encouragement really go far. Thank you.

mel holt

This message above meant so much to me. I mean, all the encouragement does, of course. I am not, by nature, an endurance athlete. But I am a social person, and I respond well to positive attention. So in order to take on a massive effort like this, I need a LOT of prodding. Which is strange, because I don’t like to do little things. I am a big picture kind of person. I sent out over 500 letters in the last two weeks. I have organized Light the Night Teams and events and been in charge of some aspects of all sorts of things in my work, my home life, and volunteer activities. But getting off the couch is hard for me. These two aspects of my personality clash on a regular basis, but what can I say. I am a complicated person. Aren’t we all.

Now– as far as endurance. I need the encouragement because, like I said, I am not an endurance athlete. In high school I swam the 50 free. That is the race they put you in when you are nice enough to show up, but not really good enough for things like the relays and the 500. I was a slacker. Really! But there was one friend of mine, 15 years later, who said to just show up.

Just show up.

That can’t really hurt, can it? So I did.

A couple friends from the neighborhood had started to meet at the pool after they dropped their kids off at school, and they asked me to just show up. I started by swimming maybe 600-800 yards with them. I didn’t even know how many laps were in a mile (1800, approximately, so 72 laps is generally considered a mile in the pool). I didn’t start swimming a mile then. I had my gallbladder out that year, and I was able to use that as a valid excuse not to swim the Jordan Lake swim with them in May. But gallbladders are not nice when they mess up, and you feel rotten. I was barely over 30, and the friends I was swimming with were in their mid-late 30s, and they were in good shape.  I decided I wanted to feel like that, not a fat, slobby, slow person who had bad knees and a bad back and looked like she was much older that she really was. I didn’t feel like I belonged in the group sitting on the couch eating cheetos. I knew I did, but I didn’t want to look like I did.

So I signed up for the next swim, and instead of training hard, I just showed up. And I did fine. I was slow, but I was there. And so I kept working at the pace of just showing up, whenever I could. It was harder than sitting on the couch, but my cholesterol was down, my energy was better, and I was happier. Now I also have a positive outlet for my need for *do-gooding* with swimming. I also swim now when my mood is down, when I am tired, or when I need a pick me up.

And when a cause like LLS needs me. And so that is where I needed to go beyond “just showing up.” If everyone with LLS is working so hard to support the mission, if I do a minimum and put just a little effort into fundraising, I am doing them a disservice. I need to do more than showing up for something like this. People’s live are saved through the efforts of LLS.

Today my sister-in-law, the one who did the first campaign for Because Brothers back when Chip was diagnosed, wrote on my fundraising page that she was proud of what I was doing. Now, if I were going to just show up that would be a lie– that would be nothing to be proud of. So I will push myself off the couch, for her. She set an example for us that year– go above and beyond, and big things can happen. We have now raised over $100,000 for an organization that helped save our brother. It’ll be nearly $110K if we meet our goal in the next month. And I believe we will make it.

But in exchange for the support of our friends and family coming out to give to our cause, I have to do my part and keep moving forward, even though, honestly, the training is getting pretty hard. So the second message posted above is a reminder of the pledge I made to swim those three wet, rough miles. The friend who gently urged me to just come along, and do what I can, donated in her uncle’s name. He has CML, and I will be thinking of him, of Mel, and all our friends and family who supported me, as I push from one bank to the next. I’ll have plenty of time to reflect on the kindness that got me there, and all the people who are rooting for me and for a cure for leukemia, lymphoma, and all cancers. Mile after mile, your encouragement is getting me through this last month of training. Thank you all!

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