When The Next Step Seems Impossible 

When The Next Step Seems Impossible

When The Next Step Seems Impossible

Why is it that I sabotage myself? Resist doing what I know will make me feel good? Put off the things that I know leave me feeling clear, calm and happy?

Exercise is one of those things for me.

After yet another round of intense negotiation and laboured bargaining with myself, I finally dragged my butt to the gym this morning. Took my sweet time getting there. Dawdled. Synced itunes music. Did just about all I could to procrastinate.

My legs begrudgingly ascended the stair climber. I told myself I only had to do 10 minutes. A manufactured justification that that was all I needed to do. Resistance was winning.

And then I saw her.

Eyes set on the space directly in front of her, with the railing as a guide, one foot slid slowly in front of her. Then the next foot.  Inching along. One excruciating step at a time.

Focused deliberate steps.

She is young. Twenty-six years old. Hair up in a pony tail, a ready smile and a quick wit betray what her body has been through. A tragic accident. Traumatic head injury. The right side of her body rendered frighteningly close to useless.

But, her light snaps me out of my shameful mediocrity. A figurative slap in my face awakens me to the reality of my able body. Instinctively I rise to the level of movement of which I am capable. Faster, more intense. My muscles ache but I keep my eyes on Megan. Without her knowing it, Megan’s inner light has ignited mine.

I am driven to give what I have got. How dare I consider being less than I am.

Every day this sweet light of a young woman arrives at the gym with a smile and a therapist who shadows her.

Days. Months. Years. Small steps. Painfully slow steps.

Progress is happening, but, it would be easy to miss the strides she has made if we were to only focus on what was lost.

She is so damn young to be in a body that works against her. But, Megan’s tenacity and light shine bright for all of us ‘butt draggers’ to see. Consistent physical action and persistent optimism propel her through painful, monotonous physical reconditioning.

What can we learn from Megan?

Megan doesn’t let resistance, doubts, and setbacks stop her from her taking consistent action. She does not focus intently on what she has lost – pining for what could have been. She doesn’t slow her pace because she isn’t in the mood. She doesn’t skip a day at the gym because she thinks it won’t make a difference. Her mind is set on a goal. Her body obeys the command. She inspires me to be what I am capable of being. To be any less is simply unacceptable.

Her daily example reminds me, yet again, that it is too often our limiting thoughts and beliefs that keep us from being more. Making progress towards our aspirations requires small, daily, often monotonous decisions to act – even when the odds seem stacked against us.

What can we apply to living with autism?

I cannot help but reflect on myself and others who are parenting a child with autism. The educators, the grandparents, family and community who endeavour to help an individual to fulfill his or her potential despite the challenges that autism bestows. Grief, fear, frustration, doubt and uncertainty can make the day to day journey very daunting – and exhausting.

Megan’s walk signifies that there is immeasurable value in small steps taken daily, supported by a loving presence who believes in your potential. Her tenacity and steadfast determination remind me that sometimes all we can do is keep trying, keep showing up even when we are tired and doubtful. Megan’s walk reminds me to give all that we’ve got to the small, seemingly insignificant steps and then trust that we are, in fact, making progress in becoming who we are called to be.

Your Next Step

For those people who strive to lose weight, regain physical or mental health, improve relationships, raise or educate children, or achieve personal goals, what does Megan’s walk tell you personally? What do you tell yourself? What thoughts are sabotaging your progress? What is keeping you from taking that next, or first, step?

Most importantly, what step can you take TODAY – right now to be all you are meant to be?

As always, please share this post with anyone you know whose life is touched by autism. 

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