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What's the Point?

"Happened." Mabel, 20 months old

Spoiler Alert: I'm never going to be an elite athlete.

Okay, we all know that. I've always known that. I follow them, I'm mesmerized by them, I even work out pretty hard for _______________ (Fill in the blank. Nicely, please.) But I'm not going to be one. Still, for me, I train a lot and envision big things. So when life crashes a bit, my weight goes up and plateaus, and I'm in a car for hours on end, that mean girl inside of me unleashes. Never at a loss for words and with a memory sharper than my own, somehow, she puts her feet up on the dashboard, pops peanut M & M's and lists every flaw she thinks I have, every mistake she thinks I've made, and every dream that's just too big. This chick riding shotgun across Nebraska is either going to make you or break you.

Of course, she's figurative, but that did not stop me from quite literally pulling into a rest stop on the Iowa border and telling her to get the __________ (Fill in the blank. However you like.) out of my car. As I drove away, I said "Thank you, Mabel!"

Mabel is my great niece--20 months old. I had just spent a day with her in Colorado. Mabel rockets through life, like most toddlers, but whenever she fell down, fell off something or was struggling to do something, her mom calmly and lovingly stated what happened ("oops, you fell down!"), followed by an encouragement that she could keep going. Mabel, in turn, began to say HAPPENED after every event. Mabel would fall down, look at her mom, then say HAPPENED. Mabel would struggle, accomplish something, look at her mom, then say HAPPENED.

As I drove away from that rest stop, I began to rehash the mean girl's list of my perceived failures. I would say it out loud, and then I would say HAPPENED. It's 80 degrees, on Interstate 80, at 80 miles an hour--the windows are down, the music is blaring, and all that crap is just flying out of the windows. (Sorry, Western Iowa).

That voice in my head asking What's the Point, Diane? can be so destructive. And is just a big fat downer. It took 400 more miles and a pep talk from my coach, but I moved through it. What is the point?! Why do I do this if I'm never going to be an elite athlete? Well, let's see: because I'm alive!, because I can, because it makes me stronger, because it makes me a better person, because when I do hard things in this arena, I believe I can do hard things in all arenas, because it's fun!, because it keeps my spirit young, because having a goal teaches me to focus, because I've gotten stronger mentally. Because it's more than okay to be 54 and have big dreams. I am so driven to do this, learn about this, and be immersed in this. I don't have to know why, exactly, I just get to trust it, follow it, and see where it's going to take me. In every single step of this journey, the goals have been simple and straightforward, and the outcomes have been explosive and beyond my imagination. I do it because it keeps me reaching, still believing I might get to go across the monkey bars with ease; still believing I might get to see what it feels like to stand on a podium, just once. And because it opens up all the doors and windows in my life.

So here's to Mabel and her wisdom: Oops, I gained 16 pounds the last eight months--HAPPENED. Hey, I transformed my life in the last five years...Yep. HAPPENED.