Saturday, March 2, 2013

In the "Spotlight" with Shawna

Meet Shawna who is courageous, strong and beautiful!
Yes you are worth it!

I am worth it!

I am not sure why, but I have the overwhelming desire to share my story today. I feel that many people are my 'friends' on FB or my followers on Twitter, but have no idea who I am or where I came from. I can see in your stories and the things you have shared with me that you struggle with things that I have experienced or continue to experience.

I have been told recently that people look up to and admire me. Those comments mean the world to me. There was a time I didn't like myself. I didn't like who I was or what I thought people thought of me. It took growing up, the love of my husband, my faith, and running to help me see that I am worth it. I am worth the effort, I am worth the time, and I am worth the struggle that I have endured. All of it combined as made me pretty amazing!

Here is how I got there:

My Dad was never really around. He drank and hung out at bars more often than he was home. When he was around he wasn't attentive. I don't remember any good memories with him. There was always

drama in my house. When I was 8, my parents split up for the final time. When I was 12 my Dad went to prison. For a very serious crime and for a very long time.

His prison sentence was horrible to understand. I took it as a direct reflection of me and who I was. I didn't want anyone to know where he was. When I was 14 we moved to Chihuahua Valley to live on my Grandparents' property. My freshman year of high school included a new set of friends, a new school (my 12th since kindergarten), and new fear. I didn't want anyone to know where my Dad was and I constantly worried about it.

I played softball then and constantly looked to my uncles for their approval. It never came. They were very good at comments like, "you throw like a girl, you run like a girl, you play girl sports." They were baseball coaches and their acceptance (or lack of it) meant a lot to me.

Just like every high school kid, I wanted acceptance and social standing with my peers. I also wanted acceptance from boys. All through high school I had tons of boy friends, but no boyfriends. I thought it was because I just wasn't attractive or popular enough for them to like me.

What followed HS was a horrible marriage to the absolute wrong man. Like many young girls feeling unattractive, I married the first guy that showed interest. We had a baby and a divorce within a year.
Divorced and a single mom at 20. I had no good prospects of a career, no college education, and no hope. I really felt horrible and useless.

Not long later I met Brady. He adored Lucas and I. He was so good to both of us. In the back of my mind I thought he would get bored and move on. Who wants to be the Daddy to a child that is not biologically yours? Apparently, Brady did.

Six months after we met he left for Marine Security Guard School. I was devastated. He made me so happy and the thought of losing him was crushing. His MSG tour was 30 months long (I only saw him 4 times in those months), and somehow, we made it through it. We were married 4 days after he came home. After we were married, we moved to Fort Lewis, WA.

While living there, I got pregnant and had Colby. We were so happy to have added this sweet little boy to our family. Brady also officially adopted Lucas. I knew our family would last, but I felt like I had married out of my league and was really lucky to have Brady. A small part of me doubted him when he told me I was wonderful and amazing. I didn't feel worthy of that praise.

Meanwhile, I got fat. Horrible eating habits and a complete lack of exercise added up to over 200 pounds. I was miserable in my own skin. We moved to Hawaii and I was too fat to wear a bathing suit. Too fat to enjoy the outdoors with my sons.

In late 2003, I took control. I lost over 50 pounds and began to really live for the first time in my adult life. I started walking, and then running. I ran my first 10k with Brady on Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Other Marines were saying things like, "How cool you ran together" and "I wish my wife would run with me, she's still in bed" It made me feel amazing. Not only physically, but mentally. I loved that I could run with Brady. I know it was painfully slow for him, but he didn't seem to care. He was so proud of me.

We moved to Uganda and then Barbados. I had Mimi and was faced with losing the weight again. I went back to running, which meant 1 mile loops in our cul-de-sac while pushing a jogging stroller. Upon moving back to Hawaii, I raced a few 5ks with that same stroller. Running was the key to my weight and so much of my confidence.

When Brady deployed to Afghanistan in 2008, many things occurred that took me off track. Our lives were turned upside down and running was completely abandoned for about 10 months. I gained weight and self-loathing because of it. Looking back on it, the therapy that running provides would have helped, but I didn't see past our problems to know that.

In the summer of 2010 we moved to California and I rediscovered my love of the run. To celebrate my 35th birthday and graduation from my PhD program, I signed up for the Disneyland Half Marathon. I used a training plan for the first time and loved the routine.

I was petrified to run 13.1 miles. I really wasn't sure I could do it. When I called Brady from the finish line he said, "Is there ANYTHING you can't do?" Turns out that finish line sparked an all-out obsession.

Since that 13.1 mile journey, I have run 16 half marathons, 22 marathons, and 9 ultras (including 2 100+ milers). I am always scared and experience self doubt a lot, but it doesn't stop me. I know that with the right determination and training, I really can do anything I set my mind to do. It has been a long journey, but I believe in myself. I love myself, and I can't wait to find out what lies ahead for me!

 You can visit Shawna at:

No comments:

Post a Comment