Outside yourself

I used to lie in bed at night as a little girl, crying about the injustices of the world.  I used to range between terrible sorrow and burning anger.  I felt helpless and powerless, and that used to make me very unhappy.

Those feelings stayed with me, particularly in the nights.  I hated that I felt so sad about so many things and couldn’t do anything about them. 

But something changed a couple of years ago.  I finally realized that the world is what we make of it, and that there is always something we can do.

We’ve all heard the Africa stories.  They’re shocking and surreal, and most of us don’t really believe them, because believing them would hurt too much.  It’s easier to dismiss them as exaggerations or as cultural issues.

But something in me has changed, and I found I couldn’t dismiss it any more.  I realized that I couldn’t change what had already happened, but maybe I could be a healing influence to someone who was hurting.

I am really shy by nature.  I don’t like to stand out, and I don’t enjoy a great deal of attention.  I was always embarrassed in gym class.  I hated to run or do anything physical in front of other people.

But when I learned there was a Run for Congo Women in Colorado last fall, I decided to sign up.  I worked as hard as I could.  Every morning I woke up early and went out running in the thin mountain air, gasping and in pain, and embarrassed by all of the cars driving by.  I thought I looked like an idiot.  But I did it for them.

When I showed up for the run, I was sick to my stomach with nervousness.  I had worked so hard to learn how to run for the first time in my life.  But I was so out of my comfort zone.  I mean, I was in Colorado, of all places.  The healthiest, most running-est state in the country.  How embarrassing! 

Or so I thought.

Instead of being surrounded by people who I had imagined would judge me and think I ran funny, I was surrounded by other people who also loved the Congolese women.  I was surrounded by people who cared.  Some were amazing runners.  Others were worse than me (if that was possible).  But it didn’t matter.  What mattered was the fact that we all cared.  We all hurt for the suffering women and children of the Congo.  And we ran together to help them.

The love was amazing.  And summoning up the courage to finally just run in front of other people for the first time since sixth grade?

Life changing. 

I will never be the same.

Here’s something I wrote that day:

It isn’t easy to put yourself out there, to do something that is really hard for you. It isn’t easy to keep going, when everything around seems to push you down. It isn’t easy to keep climbing the rocky hills, but you have to if you ever want to get to the downward slopes. Helping other people is never going to be easy to do. But it is worth every single struggling step, because then you are becoming your best self, because you are living outside of yourself.

This year, I am planning Yoga for Congo Women.  And if you think this is in my comfort zone….  It’s not.   It’s been exhausting, and I have struggled through a humiliating lack of self-confidence and more self-doubt in the past few months than I have experienced in my entire life.

So why do it?  Because I love them.   Because I hurt for them.  Because they should never have to go through what they are going through, and yet they still are.  Because I want them to know that they are not alone, and they they are loved and worth something.  Because what is happening to them is real, and they are real people.  Because I believe in hope.

A lot of people I have talked to about coming to Yoga for Congo Women have expressed fear, anxiousness, or nervousness.  It’s not in their comfort zone, and they feel embarrassed, so they’re apprehensive about registering.  I just want to say that I do understand.  I felt that way about running.  I feel that way about leading the YFCW event. 

But I also promise you that you will never be the same.  Putting yourself out there for someone else is life changing.  You won’t walk out of there the same person.

So please, if you’re in Colorado, and you’ve been nervous to come, just come.  I understand how you feel.  I won’t be including any advanced poses or tricky stuff.  Just come.  Come change a life.  Come save someone you love.  Come step outside of yourself for one morning.  Come be with other people who care.  You’ll be brave, and you’ll never be the same again.

And I am thrilled to announce, that if you aren’t in Colorado, you can participate online now, and for only $10!  So anyone can participate in this event!  So get registered, get some friends together, and change your life by saving another.  I will be so proud of you, because I understand.

(I’m really excited to announce, also, that The Sleepy Time Gal interviewed me on her blog on Friday.  She has been amazing in her inspiration, and has really taken up the battle cry for the women of the Congo.  She is organizing some exciting giveaways for those who register for the event, so be watching her blog.  I love her!)

Thanks for reading.  I love you.  Please think about joining me?  I promise, you will never be the same.  :)

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