"Slow down! Don't do it alone!" the stranger said to me as he passed me on my morning jog. I tried to force a polite smile, but what I really thought was: "What kind of a guy has the audacity to tell me what pace to set as though he thinks he's my coach? And who is he to care if I'm running alone this morning?" I rolled my eyes after I passed him and kept jogging.
Then horns began honking, pink pom-poms were seemingly spilling out from passing cars, and in front of me a group of five women cheered in response. Then two more in front of them followed suit. As those cars made their way down the busy street, small little groups of women, flashes of pink dotting the sidewalk, seemed appreciative of the praise. I looked around in confusion, shaken out of my jogging rhythm.
Almost as soon as I became conscious to the energy around me, I quickly realized I was not alone in my jog today. Apparently my typical exercise route was being shared today with the amazing women participating in the Breast Cancer 3-Day Race for the Cure. They were seemingly everywhere on this busy street leading into the park.
Unknowingly, I had joined them on their course! And since my outfit was black and pink, I fit right in, looking like one of them!
I chuckled, feeling pride at what all these women and men were doing. My heart swelled with appreciation for their energy toward this cause.
Then I suddenly felt guilty.
Not only for being cheered as though I were steps away from completing the 60 mile, 3-day race (when in fact I was simply a girl trying to get a couple of miles in on a day that otherwise was a lazy Sunday); but also because I had appeared to be a solo jogging dissenter in an event that promoted community and walking.
If Life Could Be... I crossed the street and spent the rest of my run pondering how amazing life would be if we could model this race:
- Where who you do it with counts more than how fast you do it.
- Where in fact, pacing oneself for the long-haul is of higher value than speeding past someone.
- Where the journey matters more than simply reaching the destination.
- Where we care more about our health than our appearance (I saw some seriously 'over-the-top' outfits today! LOL!)
- Where slowing down to walk with someone who's tired is more the purpose than a delay.
- Where it matters more to us that we "all" make it, not just me.
- Where strangers feel bonded because of a combined passion for a cause.
- Where women cheer for each other, rather than compete.
- Where men look over-joyed to be driving in cars covered in pink, honking for women and their success.
Oh to live in such a world!
The Friendship & Breast Cancer Link
Consider the headlines we’ve all seen from research out of the University of Chicago: Loneliness Heightens Risk of Breast Cancer. While we all feel the pull to do more, be more, and be better than everyone else, a reminder that sometimes just increasing the stress in our lives (to be the one jogging up the hill alone) while everyone else walks in groups, isn't necessarily success.
And the New York Times reported on the 2006 study of nearly 3,000 nurses with breast cancer that found that "women without close friends were four times as likely to die from the disease as women with 10 or more friends. And notably, proximity and the amount of contact with a friend wasn’t associated with survival. Just having friends was protective."
I share the research not to add any fear or guilt, but to give hope. To remind us that when we feel tempted to withdraw, there is enough data to nudge us to reach out. And it's never too late to invite more love into your life.
Celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness! So this October, as we are celebrating National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, send your cards of celebration to the women who have survived this disease, and honor the memories of those who didn't. Wear your pink proudly and buy those products whose proceeds support the awareness and research we still need in this battle. Schedule your mammograms and value your breast health more than your breast size.
But above all, perhaps the wisdom of the stranger who cheered me on this morning might become your mantra this month? Words to be taken seriously: "Slow down! Don't do it alone!"
To subscribe to Shasta's Friendship Blog (a weekly article on friendship, relational health, and personal growth) enter your email address in the top right corner. Shasta is the Founder of GirlFriendCircles.com, a women's friendship matching site.
Easy Contest: A Save the Ta-Ta's Give-Away!
Ever since last spring when I met Julia Fiske, the founderof Save the Ta-Ta's (read about my mistake that almost cost me a friendship with her!)-- I've been a fan of their fun t-shirts that help fund research (they donate a portion of every purchase) while increasing the smiles on our faces. The one pictured on this posting, "now is all we have", is one of my fave's and they are going to send one of my lucky readers this awesome shirt! :)
To be the lucky winner who has this shirt, in your chosen size, mailed to your house all you have to do is re-post/share this blog on your facebook AND be sure to tag our facebook page (@www.girlfriendcircles.com) so we can track your share! Contest ends at noon (PST) on Friday, Oct. 28. Winner will be selected randomly from those who share this post!
Step-by-Step Directions: To share this post on your facebook page:
1) first make sure you're a facebook fan of www.GirlFriendCircles.com by liking our page so you can tag us.
2) Either copy/paste the blog post url into your facebook update or simply select the facebook sharing icon at the end of this post and it will do it automatically.
3) Write whatever status you want to share with your friends, highlighting this blog posting, and be sure to tag us by selecting the "@" key in your update, and start typing "girlfriendcircles" which should give you the option to select us, posting your update to our wall so we can track your involvement! (Should you have any problem tagging us-- simply share the post on your wall and come comment on our wall that you did it!)
THANKS! We'll announce the winner on our facebook page on Friday and contact her!