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     It has been a year since the advertisement to apply for Biggest Winner 2013 came to my attention. Long story short, I dared to apply. They dared to accept my application. Oy gevalt!  What were any of us thinking?  I have struggled with a lot of regrets since the 2013 CHKM that I did not work the Biggest Winner Challenge like I had wanted, intended, or expected too.  One of the goals stated in my Biggest Winner 2013 Challenge application was that I wanted to run.  I had learned to walk again and now I wanted to run.  It didn’t work out that way.  I was bitterly disappointed.  I felt I had blown my chance of a life time.

     After the team disbanded, I continued on with my quest for spiritual, physical and emotional wellness.
I have gone back to walking the track where my quest started back in October of 2009.  That track became my safe haven. It gave me the motivation to get out of bed to watch the sun rise over the mountains.
I enjoyed the anticipation of the inky midnight blue sky of dawn come alive with ribbons of salmon pink before the sun made its appearance.  I took solace and comfort on the days when drizzle or snow would become my mantel surrounding me with the knowledge that life indeed goes on no matter what the weather brings.  I logged hundreds of miles on that track as well as pounding out a lot of hurt and tears through the soles of my shoes. Little did I know the metaphorical life lessons I would learn from those early years of walking away from the darkness of depression fear and panic attacks into the light of health wellness and wholeness.

     For the past few weeks I have been faithfully and religiously walking the track again. The mile track has benches every 1/8 of a mile. This past week I began to WOG walk/jog alternating an 1/8 walk then an 1/8 mile jog (albeit slow jog).  During those walks I have been trying to reconcile some of those regrets of a year ago.  There were many valuable life lessons learned that I am still applying.  I remembered those lessons I had heard our coach Missy Kane teach our team.  I remembered our manger Tonya Stott-brown and her smiling face and that “go-get ‘em” encouragement she had for us each every time she saw us.
I remembered the life coaching lessons facilitated by life coach Chris O’Hearn where he encouraged us to envision in our minds the individual desires or dreams we wanted for ourselves.  For me at that point in time it was running; knees to the breeze, elbows pumping, the rhythmic whoosh of my breath.
Imaging what it would feel like for ME to run.

     I remembered Joe “Suck it up” Mitchell who patiently walked with me on that first early morning training with the Knoxville Track Club and then later gave of his Saturday mornings at the Fort Sanders Health and Fitness Center when a calf and ham string injury rendered me to the recumbent bike.
I will always remember Joe’s unending patients with helping me overcome my fear of treadmills.
I will always appreciate the fact that he never verbally said “Suck it up, cupcake” (don’t even know if he was thinking that) as he helped me to understand and overcome my fear of treadmills.

     I will always remember my team mates who individually inspired me to greatness in their unique way.
How I miss them.  I remember thinking many times that my acceptance to the team was a mistake and the powers that be didn’t have the heart to tell me otherwise.  I was way out of my league with those folks!
     Fast forward to today when I accomplished the beginning of my hearts’ desire to run.  TODAY
my two mile loop consisted of a 1/8 mile jog segment, two quarter mile jog segments finishing with another 1/8 mile jog segment.  When I found myself actually running the first quarter mile segment the lyrics of the tune by Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild” popped into my head (no telling what else is in the dark recesses of my mind) and I finished my laps on that rhythm.  Feeling my body run, breathing even and body strong I had the knowledge that what I did last year was phenomenal.  How I processed and executed the opportunity was all a part of a bigger experience. Eighteen years stubbed up in depression, fear and home bound. I was only three years out of the house in my wellness journey, clear of mind. One year in volunteer work as a companion with home hospice.  This old girl, still morbidly obese even after dropping over 100 pounds DARED to apply for something that would thrust her into the public eye, photo sessions, TV news programs, interviews and a marathon of all things. The powers that be DARED to give me a CHANCE OF A LIFE TIME. 


Get your motor runnin'
Head out on the highway
Looking for adventure
In whatever comes our way

Yeah, darlin'
Gonna make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space

Like a true nature's child
We were born
Born to be wild
We can climb so high
I never wanna die
Born to be wild
Born to be wild

“Born to be Wild”from Steppenwolf: All Time Greatest Hits

Moving Forward and Abundant, abundant blessings,

Heidi Parunak

©Heidi Parunak/ rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten, broadcast, recorded or redistributed without express permission.

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