It’s a School night. The kids are in bed and I have just finished watching, A Current Affair’s, ‘Trace’ conduct a big girl chit chat with the Ambassador for girl-power, Oprah Winfrey.
The Big O has always fascinated me. I haven’t quite worked out if I love her or simply want to be her. I think it’s a little bit of both. When the chit chat made a bee-line towards ‘Self Belief’, which ironically Oprah is actually good at, she spoke about an old boyfriend in her 20s and how he asked her “why she thought she was so special”. Clearly not an actual question, just a statement to make her feel ‘less than’.
At the time, Oprah agreed with this foolish young man – little did he know who he was actually talking to – and today she laughs at how much she actually believed him. You see, she was told throughout her childhood that she was ‘not special’. Her self worth was fractured and practically destroyed well before their paths had crossed. He would have been simply another voice added to the existing internal dialogue reminding her that she ‘was not good enough’ – a self belief far too many of us adopt.
And with that came my inspiration to write this article.
I met Llew Dowley a while ago now. She had just released her first book titled Crazy Mummy Syndrome. It was a humorous, but very honest, confession of what it is like to go through hell – it was a documented account of her personal experience with Post Natal Depression. Llew learnt first hand during PND mode what it was like to have monsters in her head. The thing with Llew though, is that she used these monsters to propel her forward and through things she either thought she couldn’t achieve, or was told were impossible. Like running. In her book she talks about how she was told, due to an injury, that she should avoid running… so she worked on it, and she started running.
To me, Llew is a little bit like Oprah – she is going to hate me writing that – she is one of those people looking for the next challenge to encourage more of herself to show ‘itself’. I think Oprah embarks upon this task by talking and listening, where as Llew embarks upon it physically. First it was running and then it was walking, sounds a little backward doesn’t it? It was however the walking that left Llew horizontal on the couch in salty puddles of contemplation and disappointment.
When I first heard LLew had decided to join the Oxfam 2015 100klm walk, I was not surprised at all! This lady is a go-getter who appears to have no perceived roof where goals are concerned and with Crazy Mummy Syndrome now somewhat behind her, things seemed different for Llew, she felt strong, and in her heart and mind she was capable of killing this walk no matter how far it was.
In August this year, Llew and 3 friends, Sian, Charley and Bridgette, joined hundreds of other ‘change makers’ to complete the Oxfam 100 Kilometre Trail Walk to raise money for people in need. 100 kilometres is a long way and when I asked Llew how experienced her team members were in attempting this sort of distance, she said they had very limited experience, but all knew it was something they wanted to do. Now this clearly isn’t a walk along the Esplanade. We’re talking peaks, mountains, foot holes and stairs that require miles of walking lunges. It is tough!
The girls trained. They completed 30, 40 and even 60klm treks prior to the big 100. Bundeena to Otford to Audley from 6am to 9pm. It was repetitive and challenging, but their mindset and training had them convinced that they could do it.
When I met with Llew to discuss how the walk went, she was clearly upset. She said, “Oh you want to talk about me not finishing it?”. As it turns out, by the 3rd check point an old friend had decided to join Llew. It was bad knee number one and surprisingly bad knee number 2. Incredibly swollen and in no condition to continue, she was forced to stop at 43klms. Devastated doesn’t describe what Llew was feeling. I think she felt cheated, ripped off.
Llew had put her heart into this, and in her mind she had seen herself succeeding before it even started. Little did she know that, when others would cross the finish line, she would be lying on the couch in tears wondering what went wrong.
Chatting to Llew I could see that it was the ‘not finishing’ that she saw the most. All I could think was, “You walked 43klms!. I have never walked that far! I’m not sure I could … maybe I should try?” The greatness I saw was the failure she saw, because she was brave enough to see more. To believe more of herself – in herself.
We need more people like Llew! More people to expect more from themselves. More people brave enough to attempt BIG things. More people who choose to stop listening to the monsters in their head. If Oprah had listened to that boy in her 20s would she be where she is today? I doubt it.
Maybe it’s time to stop looking at what you haven’t achieved and start looking at what you can.
[Llew and her team raised $13,000 for Oxfam, assisting people who need it the most.]
This article appeared in the 22nd issue of I AM Magazine.
It was written by:
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