On The Run

Embracing Life With The Un-Canceled Project 2

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.” – Desmond Tutu

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.

33 thoughts on “Embracing Life With The Un-Canceled Project 2

  1. You are such a beautiful, thoughtful writer. I love all the insights you found. I am not at all shocked that with such thoughtful parents your son is so kind & thoughtful — although it’s still the rare child who is!

    I like this quote: 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. How true!

    For some runners, it’s all about the group. I do love running with others, but for me, right now, it’s not the right choice. Some can’t understand why I would choose to run on my own, despite knowing the circumstances that dictate it’s better for me, but for me it’s not just about the group. And so I run. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for this comment! I’ve always loved writing and reflecting on things, but I never thought that running would one day be my chosen subject to do so! But I really enjoy it and it’s a great outlet from the more mundane aspects of life. Glad I found running and writing at the same time.

      When I first saw that quote, it really resonated with me and so glad you were touched by it too!

      I’m like you in that I can run by myself and with others. And also that although I miss my running friends so much, I’ve also been quite happy doing my own thing too.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So sorry for the loss of your husband’s uncle. I agree that the themes of these final six weeks were SO appropriate and timely. Congrats on finishing all 12 weeks!!!! WE did it!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely post and a great summary of the Uncancelled Project 2, Shathiso!
    I also thought that many of the topics were nearly providential for that specific week. And I learned that I need to work on some aspects, like taking things more lightly (humor) and thinking about things I want to accomplish in the future (dreams).
    I love that your son Thiwa is so kind by nature! He must have learned it from the parents! 🙂 He’ll be an inspiring young man one day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. I can’t believe how much this project/challenge did for all of us. I never expected it to have the impact it had. And I must say you LIVED each and every theme. Your Kindness Post and the activities you did that week still stand out for me and will for a long time to come!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love all the themes and how they can be applied what is going on in the world! It’s certainly been a challenging year but hopefully we can all learn and grow from it. Or at least no longer take the little things for granted!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love all of the personal insights that you found along this process. It’s been fun to follow along on your journey these last 12 weeks. You really have persevered! Thanks for sharing and for linking up

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love your writing, I love your positivity – you are inspirational! I always feel much more motivated and inspired after reading your posts. Today’s run is going to be a good one!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Congratulations on completing the whole series! I did the Un-Canceled project 2 and I really wish I had jumped on board when it first started. It definitely gave me incentive to get my butt out the door to run!

    I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your husband’s uncle 😦 Losing a family member at any time is rough, but especially now it has to be very hard. Sending your whole family prayers.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love this! Thanks for sharing this with us. I loved everything you wrote about each theme but my favorite one was the one about your son and KINDNESS. He sounds like a great and sweet kid!

    Thank you for linking up with us!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What a beautiful post and lovely pictures and I’m so pleased for you that you got to go outside! What did you do for groceries? Did you have deliveries? And I love the stories of your Thiwa, what a splendid young man!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, we had the option of deliveries! But my husband who is a vet was considered an essential worker so he always had a permit for work which meant he was on grocery shopping duty. BUT we also set a challenge for ourselves and decided to see how long we could go without shopping. And we found so many “treasures” in our chest freezer including gammon and turkey that had long been forgotten, probably 2 years old?! So it was quite an eye opening experience for us and I think going forward we are going to be more careful about shopping in general and making sure we go through what we have before rushing out to buy stuff. The corona lessons keep coming!

      Liked by 1 person

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