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What defines you?

I was reading Oprah magazine from February 2018 and in the section “What Defines You?”, there was an article about people who were told that they would not be able to achieve their dream. It took me back to when I was in college. I had just finished months of dealing with Mono and went to the health clinic at UCR. I was in pain and running was hurting. The doctor, who I will leave nameless because he is revered in Riverside, except by me, said “I don’t know why you run, because you will never be good at it and are fat.” It crushed me. I was horrified that someone would say that to a young girl. I didn’t say that I wanted to be an Olympian, I just wanted to be back in my sneakers running around the campus.

He died recently and I really wish that I could have met him again and both thanked him and let him know that he was wrong. Not only have I run and exercised my entire life, I now have the amazing opportunity to help others in their journey to have better health. I have now taught aerobics for 37 years, done triathlons, done century bike rides, hiked, run, and swim miles and miles and I can teach 15 classes a week with compassion and energy to guide everyone-thin or fat- to be their best selves.

I’m not sure what his goal was, but I can tell you that he succeeded in driving me harder than anyone ever could. His cruelty drove me to reach goals that I never knew possible. While I don’t suggest this way to get motivated, it moved me to strive to be my best.

The lesson is that we shouldn’t let others define us. Erik Cavanaugh was told he would never be a dancer due to his size, but he now dances.  Don’t let people tell you what you can’t do. You decide what you want. You set your own goals and you make them happen. I don’t have a J.O.B., I have a passion for helping others and it defines me and motivates me every day. Go find your dream and don’t let anyone stop you.

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