A few weeks ago, I shared my experience with The Un-Canceled Project organised by Run The Edge and spoke of how the challenge had helped me channel so much positivity during the lockdown by getting me to focus on key themes each week – gratitude, hope, humour, inspiration, courage and commitment. So successful was the challenge that it was extended for another six weeks with more uplifting themes. When The Un-Canceled Project 2 began on 10th May, Botswana was still in a lockdown but with slowly easing restrictions. On 22nd May, we no longer needed permits to go out and on 3rd June my kids returned to school. So the challenge was definitely easier than the first time round but what I found amazing was that each theme resonated with what was happening in my life that week, and sometimes even globally.
The theme for Week 1 was DREAMS which I found so appropriate for this stage of the lockdown. At this point, I had somewhat grown accustomed to my new life and reality and I had more time to think and reflect on things, what I’ve achieved and all the things I still want to do. Sometimes in the steady structure, routine and certainty of life, we focus on our “must-do” and often, mundane tasks that we stop dreaming of all the possibilities beyond our carefully constructed boundaries. For all the chaos and changes the lockdown brought, I found some quiet moments to reflect on some of the dreams I’d long put aside and mused on how many were still within reach if only I just chose to focus and fight for them.
“Let your dreams be bigger than your fears, your actions louder than your words, and your faith stronger than your feelings” – Unknown
It was in the week of dreams that my most immediate dream came true – to run outside! The Government announced that we would be allowed to run outside from 15th May. While on the treadmill, I had dreamt of all the places I wanted to run again and had designed new routes and outfits to go with them! The very day we were allowed out, I used a black bandana as a mask and ran about 7K around the neighbourhood. Having been inside for 6 weeks without even a trip to the store, I was extremely nervous! But once I found my stride, it felt so liberating. It was so quiet and peaceful and I had a beautiful run, returning home just as the sun was setting.
The second week was about KINDNESS and this theme fell the week of my son Thiwa’s 6th Birthday which, given my son’s kind nature, was so fitting. I grew up in a home where we were taught what it means to be kind but my son in his 6 short years has shown me that whereas many of us need to be taught kindness, there are some for whom it comes so naturally. He finds it easy to be kind and we’ve never even had to teach him to share. At kindergarten when a kid was celebrating her birthday with a cake, Thiwa asked if he could take 2 pieces, 1 for his sister. So many times he has whispered to his dad to bring home a cappuccino as “Mummy likes it”. He brings our old dog Coco’s bed closer to the heater before even Coco realises he needs it.
“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” –
The theme for the third week was JOY and Run The Edge wrote so aptly that, “We always have a choice to make in life: we can either allow ourselves to be swept away by the gloom, or we can rise up and choose to seek joy even in the darkest of places.” They encouraged us to look around us and find all the little things that bring us joy. This week, I ventured further afield on my runs and was so happy to visit my favourite buildings and monuments again. And a few other things brought me joy that week – spending so much valuable time with my kids, having meaningful conversations with my husband and baking the perfect loaf of gluten-free bread!
When Run The Edge chose Week 4’s theme, COMMUNITY they had in mind “the world coming together to weather this storm” with particular reference to the pandemic. They never could have foreseen just how important community would be this week. Protests broke out all over the USA and in many parts of the world over the killing of a black man, George Floyd, by a police officer on the street. As I did my 15K virtual race on Sunday morning I thought about the Kalanga proverb my dad had shared with me “Lume ling’ompela alikombi chiwulu” – loosely translated, one man cannot round the ant hill. In other words, it is hard to do something singlehandedly or alone. There are some things so big that need us all to get involved. Real change only happens when everyone sees social injustice, inequality, prejudice and racism for what they are – wrong, no ifs no buts. And change will only come when the whole community rises and says enough is enough. We will always be stronger together.
Week 5 was dedicated to PERSEVERANCE and Run The Edge reminded us that there have been many moments in our lives where we’ve wanted to give up but we didn’t, we persevered. This week I reflected on my journey as a runner and how far I’ve come in three years. There have been lots of bad runs and moments where I just wanted to throw in the towel but I kept putting in the work. For my 18K run this week, I set off in my “Don’t Stop, Won’t Stop” top and when I was done, I shared this quote on social media by Paul Maurer, “Running is about being on a lonely road and running like a champion even when there’s not a single soul in sight to cheer you on. Running is all about having the desire to train and persevere until every fibre in your legs, mind, and heart is turned to steel. And when you’ve finally forged hard enough, you will have become the best runner you can be. And that’s all that you can ask for.”
The final theme of the challenge was LIFE. This week was tough as my husband lost an uncle who was very dear to us. At his memorial service, my sister-in-law spoke about three key life lessons she had learnt from Uncle Chris and one of them was living life to the fullest. When I ran on Saturday, I thought about that a lot – we only have one life and it’s up to us to make sure we live the best life we can. That means taking chances, not being scared to follow our dreams or make mistakes, learning how to fight for what we believe in and to stand up for injustice. Living our best life truly means in the organiser’s words “embracing the best of what makes us human”.
“Life is from the inside out. When you shift on the inside, life shifts on the outside” – Kamal Ravikant
When I look back at the 12 weeks of this challenge, I realise how much I’ve grown. It’s in times of crisis that we are tested and these last few months have certainly been challenging for us all. But this project helped me to nurture those human qualities that are important to living a good life. There are some themes like commitment and perseverance that come easier to me but others like gratitude and kindness, I realise I need to work on. We are only in the first half of the year and how many times have you felt like fast-forwarding to next year or starting the year over without all the drama? I’ve certainly thought of both! But maybe all this chaos and drama has been a reminder for us to be more grateful, kinder, more focused on our dreams, more resilient. What if the ultimate lesson here has been for us to feed those qualities that make us human. Going forward, when I have doubts I’ll have this gorgeous medal to remind me what’s really important in life. Thank you to the Run The Edge Team for these valuable life lessons.
I’m joining Kooky Runner and Zenaida on their link up, Tuesday Topics. I’m also joining the Runner’s Roundup with Mile By Mile, Coach Debbie Runs, Confessions of a Mother Runner, Runs with Pugs, Running on Happy and Organic Runner Mum! Be sure to read their blogs and catch up with other runners on the link-up. Such inspirational posts from around the world.