Appreciating Our Mentors
We were so energized by Sally's Mentor blog that we wanted to get in on the action! You can't always predict when an important figure is going to show up in your life, and sometimes only in retrospect can you appreciate their role. Here is a big thank you to these mentors, from CBabs, Feather, and I.
This is my body, move on. When I was an impressionable first year medical student at U. Penn, we were split into single-sex groups for clinical exam instruction. One of our professors, Sigrid Veasey was teaching us heart and lung exams: where to listen for murmurs, how to feel the PMI (point of maximal impulse of the heart muscle), etc. She was 7 months pregnant with twins, and without fanfare stripped down on top to just a sports bra. Her pregnant belly was glorious and impressive, and her PMI was hard to find between the top of her belly and the bottom of her left breast. And she didn't give a fig. "This a woman's body, this is what it can do. Just get your work done and learn how to do this exam properly." Beautiful message for a group of young ambitious women. I've never forgotten it. Reminds me of another one of my heroes (hey Fleshy!), and also helped me approach my own pregnancies.
How to be a mother. When I moved up to Seattle, I was excited to learn that one of my friends from running days was here: Mindy (Schneider) Leffler. I had trained with her for a year when I was out of college and she was still at Georgetown--she was always fierce and no-fuss. I was excited to reconnect with her. And then I learned that her oldest son (who is the same age as my youngest) had been diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. And I didn't know how to approach her, because the idea of bearing that burden made me want to turn my heart off. And then I started running a bit with Mindy, and going to her fundraisers for Aidan, and I started learning. A few lessons Mindy has taught me:
- Even when something feels unbearable, just keep going.
- There is no limit to the advocacy you can do for your children.
- Even when you have big problems, it doesn't mean small problems don't bother you.
- You learn the essence of people by how they respond in a crisis.
- It's ok to laugh, even when you are crying.
I am so grateful to have Mindy's beautiful family and wisdom in my life.
My high school coach, Coach Varvas. He taught me the power of setting goals and to not be afraid of the process and pain that you go through to achieve those goals. He showed me the value of hard work, positive thinking, and how your biggest breakthroughs often come in those moments where the risk of failure is greatest. I appreciate how he was always there to support me, encourage me, and push my buttons; never letting me settle for less than my potential.
Jenn, a mentor from high school. She has remained a friend and confidant through the years. She has taught me the importance of being vulnerable, staying true to yourself, and following your heart, even if it may not be what people would expect of you. I appreciate the way she listens and asks questions in such a way that forces me to discover what is right. Her encouragement to press into hard things has led to some of the greatest shifts in my perspective and understanding, which I would have missed had I tried to ignore it.
I have never in my life met anyone like Sarah Lesko. She's my muse. My mentor for work, for running, and for life. Her generosity and genuine care for others runs deeper than anyone I've ever met. I remember the first time I told her one of my goals in running, I felt really apprehensive about sharing it with her. I did my usual over explanation with lots of "I don't knows" and "maybe I can'ts", and she just looked at me and listened. And really heard me. AND really believed in me. That winter she jumped in workouts with me, asked me how I was doing along the way, and just generally supported me in my pursuit. I'm not a pro, but she made me feel like one. She made me really believe.
I'm not the only one she does this for. In fact, I see her extend her big heart to others on a daily basis. I strive to live life like she does, and inspire others the way she does. I hope to be half the mentor she is for someone else.