Sometime back in February I happened upon a notification that Ant Middleton (him of SAS Who Dares Wins fame) was touring. What struck me at the time was what could he be possibly ‘touring’? He was ex SAS personnel who now appeared on TV every year for a series where he made people test their physical limits. I admit I was confused and intrigued to know what he could possibly be ‘touring’ with? Don’t get me wrong, I was a fan of his no nonsense approach, his can do attitude, his nonacceptance of failure, an expectation that the job needed to be done and it always would be. His ability to be straight talking had also endeared him to me – in most walks of life it’s frowned upon to tell someone to ‘sort your s”t out or f”k off’. I often envied that honesty to just get to the point!!
After a quick search, I realised he was touring as a motivational speaker and my interest piqued. This man, who I observed as an absolute machine, fit for purpose in his own environment, was delivering a motivational speech? It intrigued me. So much so, I bought tickets immediately on a whim. When I informed the man cub I watched the same scepticism in his eyes. Would this be any good? Were we wasting time and money? What would we get out of this?
Ever the optimists that we are, we have turned up today for the matinee show. Radiotherapy is due to start on Tuesday, a brutal 20 day regime (excluding weekends!) so it feels good to be out out! Queueing up with the most bizarre range of audience members I have ever seen – they ranged from the father and son bonding, older men looking to relive military days (I surmised), couples like us who like the man on the TV so lets see what he has to offer in straight talking real life, and the Hen Do that happened to take up the entire row behind where we sat (of course they did – such is our luck) – we still had a small level of scepticism.
The tour was called Mind over Muscle. And boy, did it have us on the edge of our seats for the entirety. Once the fan girls behind us had got over their swooning and were three drinks in so weren’t listening but drooling, I was able to concentrate on the content. My take home points have been this:
- Mind over muscle – makes absolute sense when it is explained well
- Fear should equal excitement
- Failure equals learning
- Integrity is a moral compass
- Make a positive out of any negative
- You need to know yourself and recognise your weakness
These are just a few of the quotes that stood out from the two hour show and don’t even begin to touch the edges of how inspiring I found those two hours. I have just walked out of a venue and had my mindset questioned, my challenges seem more surmountable in some ways. I can feel an energy in both of us that we have felt wane through this damn cancer journey that we have been on so far. I feel like I can deal with the next stage of this journey – radiotherapy – with a renewed vigour.
I honestly have never paid to see an inspirational speaker before in my 40 years of life. Today has felt odd, inspiring, a little bit weird, and enlightening all in one go! I’m pretty sure I would have booked tickets anyway to see this show regardless of the current situation we are in. But would I have found it as amazing – probably. Would I have taken so much to heart and still be talking about it five hours later with the OH – probably. Will I keep looking back on this and trying to instil some of this belief system and learning into my life – probably. Would it have had such a profound impact on me – probably not. I guess that’s the point I’m trying to make. In the majority of things we have done and dealt with over the last nine months we would have probably lived the same way, done things with the same outcome and tackled things head as a team like we always do. But there is always a point where we have been tipped. Either a little bit off kilter or over the edge in some instances. That is when we have had to find strength that we haven’t had to find before.
I am quite proud of us though. We have found a strength that we didn’t know we had. I can resonate with some of the messages from today and can apply them to some of the crazy situations we have been in. I feel like we have done good. We also have a cub who is doing good. Surely that can only be a positive.
There is just a small matter of 20 (week) days to get through from Tuesday (goddamn you Easter Bank Holiday Monday!). 20 days of a mission of a journey each day, a 10 min blast of radiotherapy, a mission of a journey back to work and then an eight hour work day, collect the cub from school, normality of bed time routine, rinse and repeat. Twenty times. 20. It feels better to write the number than the whole word. Just 20.
So after an amazing and inspiring day yesterday I have got off my backside and plodded out with my boots on to continue preparation for my 26 mile hike. My second practice walk. My lovely work colleagues have already started their practice miles which I just didn’t feel up to and have nine mile route booked in next weekend so I want to try and make that. If they can practice then I need to feel like I am also doing something. Bear in mind I have done only one previous walk of 4.26 miles (in April, with the parentals and cub so it was slow and meandering!) and no other physical activity of any degree (my walk to work is up a steep hill which last two minutes!) since active treatment started.
Today though, I marched (I mean marched) out with the parentals. I mean, they dragged me out to be precise. If they hadn’t been persuasive then I would have probably (easily) left it another week before I built up to anything. But no. They plotted a route that started and ended at my house and I put the Strava on to measure my success.
I have achieved 6.45 miles. In two hours. Wow. On a very flat and sedentary route. We dealt with nothing harder than some barbed wire fencing that wasn’t supposed to be there and no hills in sight. The 26 mile route has hills. And when I say hills I mean mountains. And when I say mountains I mean vertical uphills and downhills. So this walk was pathetic. How am I going to do 26 miles? What am I even thinking I can achieve here.
I have no idea. But if the last two days have taught me anything I can use mind over muscle and fear should lead to excitement. So I am just going to channel that right now and say I have this. I really do!