Karla’s Korner: Finding Victory in Struggle
Finding Victory in Struggle
English American author and political activist Thomas Paine wrote: “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow.”
In 2014 Kayla Montgomery clinched the North Carolina high school state title in the 3,200-meter race placing her 21st in the country. Kayla has multiple sclerosis (MS) an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord that will eventually leave Kayla unable to walk. As she begins to run her body heats up causing her to lose all feeling in her feet and legs and yet she continues to run. Learning to pace herself without physically feeling her legs has been a real challenge but she does it and has become one of the fastest long distance runners in the country.
I first heard about Kayla while watching an ESPN documentary titled “Catching Kayla”. Intrigued and completely in awe of her determination to run and defy the odds as long as possible it became evident that her support system was equally as incredible as Kayla herself. Because the feeling in her legs disappears Kayla struggles to cross the finish line and slow down. Instead she relies on her coach to literally catch her as she finishes each race. When she stops to rest her body temperature returns to normal and the MS symptoms subside. Kayla knows that the likelihood that MS will one day cause her to lose her ability to run is high but she refuses to stop and wait for the disease to win; for now she is winning. During her last high school race Kayla took a fall, something that would cause most to give up the hope of winning. However, with her determination and encouragement from her family, friends and coach Kayla got up, caught up and won. Referring to Paine’s quote, Kayla’s conflict was hard but by working harder she was triumphant; Kayla is a winner.
How often do we stop doing something because it’s too hard or too difficult? What is it that makes us give up working and expect life to hand us what we want? For more than twenty years I attempted to lose weight and get healthy; for nearly twenty years I failed miserably. Trying every quick fix, hurry now and get two for the price of one fad diets available it wasn’t until I realized that in order for me to have success I had to work for it. There are no permanent quick fixes; it takes time, hard work, faith, determination and desire to reach our goals; success is not free. Once in a while when I feel like staying home and not working out I remind myself of Kayla and others who have worked through their conflicts and struggles to obtain what Thomas Paine says is “glorious triumph”. When we work for something we are more likely to appreciate it more because we have a vested interest in it. Like Kayla the victory is sweeter I think because she has worked extremely hard to defy the odds and run.
This week and throughout the New Year I encourage you to set goals for yourself personally and/or professionally. Determine what it is you will have to do in order to achieve those goals and then get busy working toward them. Life is short and full of opportunity and it is up to each of us to make the most of the life we have. If we sit on the sidelines of the game of life and wait for stuff to happen we will be missing out on playing the game and enjoy victory. When asked why she runs Kayla replied: “Running makes me feel normal, and whole, it’s difficult to live with a disease where your own body’s fighting against yourself; so when I’m running I feel like I’m battling that, I feel like I’m safe from myself. As long as I’m running, everything’s fine.” Ready. Set. Run……
I think we all need a touch point a place we can go to be inspired. Karla is my children’s teacher, a good friend, and a person with a heart of gold. I hope that her words will inspire you to do more. We are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. It is important to listen with your heart and proceed with your eyes open. Enjoy!
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