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My Birthday Wish

My birth month starts tomorrow.

I see some of my friends asking folks to donate to various charities for their birthdays.

That’s awesome. And I considered it.

But after I spent 2018 doing stupid shit and begging y’all for money to support Girls on the Run in my quest to run Chicago, I’m moved to go a different route.

Plus I’m still borderline poor until my new FT pay kicks in at the end of September. So any charitable donations I’d ask for would need to come to me.

I’ve seen and heard some things lately.

Friends saying they need to lose some weight before they can try yoga with me.

Other friends saying they wish they could do something like a Spartan.

Still more friends saying, on repeat, “Ugh. I need to get back into running/working out/yoga-ing/anything remotely healthy and active.”

Have you ever heard my rant about people saying, “Oh, I could never foster a dog or cat. It would hurt too much to let them go.”

I know some of you have said or thought that. And I’m gonna go ahead and apologize ahead of this. Because I love y’all. And I know that y’all good people. But seriously. That phrase makes me want me to punch you in the face a little bit.

Totally out of love.

But really.

Yes. It hurts like hell to watch them go. Very much like it hurts to watch your child go off into the world. But also, you want them to go off into the world, right? You absolutely don’t want them living in your home the rest of their damn lives. Would you rather know a dog or cat was dying inside a lonely cage or feel a little bit of hurt yourself when they get adopted? Because you had the balls to help them. Because you were willing to put their happiness above your own. Because…

No. That’s enough. That’s not what this post is about. I’m gonna back up off of that rant and refocus. I think I explained it well enough in my book.

But this is like that.

You do NOT have to lose weight before you treat your body well. You absolutely CAN do a Spartan. Or any other ridiculous thing you “wish you could do.” You definitely DO need to get back into whatever healthy activity you’re missing. Now. Immediately.

If Magical Erica Austin hears you say some mess about needing to lose weight before you can try yoga, she’ll dropkick yo ass. Lovingly. And then she’ll position you into a downward dog as she presses magically on your back and makes you feel all the feels. And she can do both. She’s fucking magical.

And Spartan? Anyone can do Spartan. ANYONE. Don’t believe me? Check out the photos from any damn race. We raced behind a chick in a wheelchair for a bit on Saturday. A wheelchair. She had no use of her legs. And she did one of the most challenging Spartan Super Races on the east coast. Or the husband and wife that are both dangerously overweight and are using Spartan as their push to get healthy. And so so strong. Honestly, I was ugly crying at some of the stories I read in my Southern Spartans group. I mean, my hormones have flown completely off the rails lately. But still…

And I think that it probably is harder to get back to it when you’ve been away from it for a while. Or to see your friends doing ultras and triathlons and shit and realize how much of a struggle something like that would be for you now.

But damn, y’all.

Look. It’s hard. Those first few steps are the absolute worst.

It hurts. It’s wildly uncomfortable. Running absolutely sucks. Lifting up heavy things absolutely sucks. Stretching your body through yoga … well, that just feels amazing. But I’m sure there are people just starting out that think it sucks, too. Because inflexibility is hard. And so awful for your body.

But once you get past those first few steps? Well, it’s still awful. But it’s also amazing.

Because that’s where you’ll find your people. Somewhere between those first few horrible steps and whatever ridiculous adventure you end up joining.

Your people will be the reason you drag yourself onto North Mountain. At 2:30pm. On the hottest day in forever. And face down spiders and rattlesnakes and thunder and lightening. Rather than enjoying a nice jog through your neighborhood in the early hours before the sun gets going.

Your people will welcome your disgusting, sweaty self into yoga, and still press their magical hands on you to give you the most exquisite stretch ever experienced in human or nonhuman history.

And maybe one of your people is a former flight attendant who will get right up into your face and, in her best flight attendant voice, say, “Hello. It’s nice to meet you. Where the hell have you been?” Because maybe you don’t make it to yoga as often as you should, and your people miss you when you’re not there.

Your people are missing you, dammit!

Your people will post the worst rendition of “you are my sunshine” ever on Facebook because you missed full body day at PlayFITStayFIT. And it’s awful. But also endearing. (But probably don’t ever try singing again, J-V.) Or maybe when you do show up, they’ll throw a 100 pound punching bag on your lap during your six minute wall sit as punishment for dancing through the 5 minutes of pop squats. But maybe you need that kind of discipline in your strength training life. And maybe it will feel amazing when you’re done. Because you just did that! And maybe you’ll love every minute of that awfulness with your people. Because maybe Fall Risk is right there beside you, suffering in her unique Fall Risk way that makes you laugh through the awful.

It’s the best kind of awfulness. Because the bonding and friendship that occurs in the midst of suffering is indescribable. Undescribable? Indescribable. Whatever. I can’t describe it. You just have to experience it.

And that is what creates the addiction.

The addiction to replace all other addictions. Except maybe coffee. And Doritos.

So, here’s what I want for my birthday.

Pick something you’ve said or thought you couldn’t ever do. You’ve been too afraid to do. Too intimidated. Too lazy. Too shy. Too whatever. And do it.

Do. It.

Do the thing.

Maybe it’s running. Or strength training. Or yoga-ing. Maybe it’s something completely different, like talking to other humans. Going back to school. Doing that creative thing. Sharing that creative thing with the world.

Whatever that thing is that’s been sitting there in the back of your brain nudging you for weeks. Months. Years. Asking, please can we try this? Let it out.

Embrace the terror. The fear. The discomfort. The pain. (Um. Within reason. Don’t go all Endong and climb out onto the edge of a cliff and hang there like a monkey. Please. I can’t be responsible for that. I’d hate to have to use my mom voice on you. Please don’t break anything.)

I promise you. I PROMISE. The experiences that wait on the other side of that fear are the most amazing experiences in the world.

You just have to be willing to be a little uncomfortable for a little while.

And then. One of two things will happen. Either that discomfort will disappear. And that thing will no longer be terrifying. Or the discomfort will remain, but you’ll learn to crave it.

Either way, magic is waiting for you somewhere out there inside of the uncomfortable.

Go get it.


Just reading and writing and running and looking for my happy place.


  1. martywinn says:

    This is super inspiring.

    1. Perfect! That’s what I was hoping for!

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