Optimism at its best

I survived!  I was sore all over, I was tired, I may have been slightly hungover and still, I made it through another crazy interval training session.  It was truly something to behold.  Granted, I cheated several times when the trainer wasn’t looking and took more water breaks than everyone else, but I really deserved the final four minutes of relaxation pose.  I was feeling pretty good about myself and my ability to defy the odds.  I decided to share, not only my inspirational success story with you, but some others you may also deem noteworthy.  After doing some preliminary research, I have been put back in my proper, humbled place.  People are incredibly strong and capable of achieving great things.  True, you can find inspiration all around us.  True, people you know overcome hardships daily.  True, you should be able to give yourself a pat on the back for achieving the little things.  It is also helpful, however, to take a look at what the human spirit is really capable of.

1.  Jessica Cox – Born without arms, this young woman can do more with her feet than I can do with both hands, both feet and a full staff.  She is the first person with no arms to become a pilot – yes, of a real plane.

2.  Michael J. Fox – I still like to think of him as Alex P. Keaton, but he has come a long way since Family Ties.  Diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1991, he is the leading advocate and fund-raiser for treatment research.  The title of his memoir speaks volumes to his optimism – “Lucky Man.”

3.  Randy Pausch – He is the Carnegie Mellon professor who learned at 46 years old, that his children would soon be without a father.  He made the choice to use his terminal pancreatic cancer diagnosis to inspire people, delivering “The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” on September 18, 2007, which went viral.  He died on July 25, 2008.

4. Elizabeth Murray – This admirable woman was born to HIV-infected, drug addicted parents, lost her mom at 15 and still managed to graduate from Harvard.  How is that for not using your childhood as an excuse or a crutch?  I feel bad for myself that I never went to Disneyland.  I am going to make sure my kids hear about her the next time they complain.

5.  33 Chilean Miners – Unless you live under your own rock, you know the saga of these men who were trapped 1/2 mile underground for 69 days.  That they were able to hold onto the hope that they would be rescued is miraculous in and of itself.

So, I guess making it to the gym was not such a big deal after all.  My optimism this week does not allow these inspirational people to make me feel small.  Rather, I am acknowledging that we are all made out of the same stuff.  (I know this because I took Anatomy for 6 months and believe me, we all look the same on the inside.)  If some of us can achieve great things and surmount great odds, we are all capable of doing so.  O.K.  I am starting to sound like Tony Robbins.  That’s enough for today.  Go climb a mountain or something.

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