“I expected more from you, but you let me down.”

Open letter to a friend

“Dear friend. Here we are, the last day of 2017 and I decided to write this letter to you because I do not intend to take any of 2017’s baggage with me into the New Year.

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Some of you might know that I have had so much to deal with since July this year; the break up after 16 years of commitment, moving into a new place, which I hate, on 1 November, then my health issues and ultimately the operation that followed on 9 November 2017. The latter pretty much left me confined to my flat for weeks because I could not do much for myself.

Fact is, you were not there when I needed you most. Your promise of “Don’t worry; I (or we) will be there for you all the way….” did nothing but create expectations in within that lies the disappointment. You not coming through for me plunged me into profound sadness and enormous disappointment. When I needed you for the first time really in my life, more than ever before, you were not there. I this time I really just had a need for company. I expected more from you, but you let me down. I sank further down, into utter sadness. The one question I asked myself repeatedly was if this was now the time for me to change my view of others or dig deeper and rid of the expectations I had from others.

I think we have all been in that space before, where we needed someone, maybe because we were not feeling well, faces some challenges or dealing with some heartache of some sort, times when we needed nothing more than just a shoulder to cry on. However, what happens when no one is there, when no one give us that much needed attention? I thought about this long and hard during the past few weeks and the same question repeatedly; why is it that suddenly, nobody comes around to give a hand that we cried for in silence?

Friend, if you have not experienced this extreme boniness before, then blessed are you indeed. Be grateful. Believe me though when I say, there is no worse sensation than when you need someone more than anything else, and that that someone is not there for you.

For me the worst thing I realised in this time was that for someone, for that person that we consider a close friend, that individual we wanted to rely on, we needed to rely on, we simply do not exist. These negative feelings were the worst I ever had to deal with. It left me feeling abandoned and rejected.

My “therapy” through these hard times was to blog and to continuously putting my thoughts down in writing and this became my saving grace. One of my realisations was that there would come a time in life when we will be alone. Fact. It is as if other people have a limit in your life, they only reach a certain point. After this point, you will go on alone. Sad but true.

This is a difficult moment, a moment that many of us even try to delay, but believe me, inevitably, it will come. Nobody will or even can accompany you, nobody will be with you. You will be alone and you will walk alone. Nobody will need you, nobody will call you. This will be your worst time, your sense of abandonment so strong as to seem unbearable. I met this moment during the past few months, but especially the past few weeks.

Friend, stranger, whoever is reading this, since we were little, we have gotten used to doing certain things with friends, even with family, but what happens when we find ourselves alone one day? Although most of us know that we have to eventually learn not to depend on anybody to follow our path, do the things that we love to do or just be there for us, it is a fact. Fuelled by feelings of loneliness and an awareness of abandonment, survival mode will kick in.

The tough lesson learned through this time was that I cannot in any way continue to depend on others for company and support, but I have to find that strength and emotional crutches within myself. My self-esteem and happiness can also not depend on others, I had to dig in and find it deep within myself, within the stuff I love to do.

Friend, your absence during this time was loud and clear and although it brought about a lot of disappointment and hurt for me, I have learned to become friends with solitude. I realised that solitude is not necessarily a bad thing in itself. Solitude in this case rather allowed me to learn more about myself, because I became my own company in those dark lonely nights when I tossed, turned, and could not fall asleep.

Just one more though regarding happiness. I learned that I could not depend on anyone to be happy. My happiness does not have to depend on anybody, because when I do rely on others and they fail me it only puts me on a roller coaster of emotions that leaves me frustrated  and totally unhappy.

Friend, you failed me, you left me abandoned when I really needed you the most, so I learned that I have to learn to say goodbye. This is something life often does not teach us because it is seen as negative and sort of cruel and unkind, but it is very necessary. I have often heard this statement, “People will come into your life and they will also go out of it, they will hurt you, they will let you down. They will only be there for a season, for a reason.” Well, saying goodbye to them is something that is difficult, but something that we must learn, starting today. I will not reject you and I will have no animosity towards you, but that door to the inner me is now closed and shut. You or anyone else will not have the opportunity or pleasure to hurt me again in this way, unless I decide to open that door again and take a chance on humanity again. Time will tell.

I have chosen to not expect anything from anyone. In my case I know that often my expectations are too high regarding others and that is my mistake, I realise that, but it is because I am someone who always give completely. There are a multitude of images online with these words, “…expect nothing and you won’t be disappointed.” I can vouch for that. The only way to avoid being let down, is to not expect anything from anyone

To you, friend or stranger who reads this, if you’ve ever been in a situation where you needed someone who was not there for you, learn from my experiences and free your mind of the thought, “when I needed you the most, you were not there.” The only one you can really rely on is you. You will never miss yourself and you will always be there for yourself. That is the only given.

Do not look for any hand to help you, if it is there, grab it and appreciate it, but otherwise, resort to this, reach out and grab His hand, He who said “Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6). Through all this I still believe that God uses people to minister to people, God use ordinary people in extraordinary ways to attend to our physical and emotional needs. However, we as a people are not always obedient and or sensitive to His call to service, an in that we often find our disappointment, not because God failed us, but because people did.

Come to think about it, much of this has to do with the fact that we very loosely go about to use the word ‘friend’. Often you call me friend but I have never been to your house, or you to mine, we never shared a meal of coffee – just the two of us because you are important to me and me to you. You call me friend but do not know what has been going on in my life, do not know the challenges I face or the hardship I deal with. You often call me friend yet a visit or a call is conveniently avoidable because we have Facebook, WhatsApp and all other forms of social media fall back on. You call me friend but do not know my likes, dislikes, fears or even what makes me happy. The title of ‘friend’ should be earned rather than claimed or just grabbed out of thin air. Friendship lies deeper than just the occasional message on WhatsApp or Facebook. We became so impersonal because of social media and modern tech that we lost the real human interaction. This is a sad but brutally true reality. The last thought, someone said, “…it is not about not having time or being too busy, it depends on where you are on someone’s priority list. When someone or something is important to us, we will make the time and become un-busy”

My last words before I draw a line in the sand for 2017; I pray that when you are in a time of need, when you need a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on or just someone to emotionally bail you out, that you will find that hand to be there. My wish is that you will not experience what I have during the past few months and weeks because we all, yes and that includes you, deserve so much more.

It will be super unfair of me to let the opportunity pas by to thank the handful of people who did promise to be there for me and actually kept their word. Even if I try, I do not think I will find enough words to describe the gratitude I have. You know who you are and mentioning names is not necessary because I will show my gratitude by sharing it with you, on a personal level and not in an open letter. I thank God for you !

Wishing you and your loved ones the very best for 2018.

Sincerely yours,

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A compliment from a friend

It was Leo Buscaglia who said,

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

Today, this unexpected message from my good friend and mentor Dieter Gloeck totally took my by surprise. I once again realized how #blessed I am to live the life that I do. I cannot be more grateful for the “second chance” I got to change my own life into one worth living, to live my best possible life and for the opportunity to also help others do the same.

Thank you Dieter Gloeck for the kind word and for making this day a beautiful one. I appreciate it ! #MakingMilesAndMomentsCount #LiveLife#PayItForward Discovery Vitality #ASICSFrontRunner 

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Note : Of all runners Dieter Gloeck is the single person who knows me the longest; he met me through work when I was still overweight and a rather miserable person. Dieter really witnessed my whole journey from the very beginning. Read what he had to say about me and my journey at this link  http://myownjourney.co.za/self-discovery.htm on my web page.

As a Team – We will tackle his dream!

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I (me Douw) was more walking than running when I survived my 5 km race way back in January 2011. That experience was, however, enough to convince me to lace up permanently and develop into a full-fledged runner. I loved it. Here I am, six years later and still enjoying this wonderful sport.

Throughout my running years I have learned that runners and walkers are not made from a single blueprint. We come in a variety of shapes, sizes, sexes, ages, colours and abilities, each one having his/her own strengths and weaknesses.

During Comrades 2016 Cornelia Hutchinson and I ran for more than our own medals by supporting the Bible Society of South Africa’s Run4Bibles charity drive. We were overwhelmed by the love and support we received from our friends, family and even strangers. In the process we managed to raise a stunning R14,000 plus for Bibles.

This year my journey will be somewhat different. I have committed myself to run Comrades 2017 with a friend and to try ensure that his Comrades dream becomes a reality. Christo Kris Lourens will be by my side on race day. Our special challenge is that Christo has a hearing impairment and has a cochlear implant. When he runs without the transmitter unit, he is literally deaf and totally cut off from the outside world.

The main challenge for hearing impaired runners is always safety. Deaf runners always have to be constantly aware of their surroundings and watch out for traffic, not just cars, but pedestrians and other runners too. It is all evolves around their safety. For this very reason have I committed myself to assist Christo and be alongside with him – hopefully all the way.

Due to many factors, first and foremost the length of the events and the resultant exposure to numerous hazards, disabled athletes comprise a small minority in endurance sports. Christo and I decided that he can use this opportunity to inspire and motivate others and afford him the opportunity to serve as an ambassador for this minority group. It’s a role he shied away from at first, but he now understands that having overcome the odds for himself, he now has the added responsibility to defy stereotypes that exist about deaf people in endurance sports.

Christo is such an inspiration to me, because he is living his life to the fullest while he just happens to wear a hearing aid along the way. He has successfully completed various road races, half and full marathons and he has also hiked the Fish River Canyon trail twice.

Sport is a great equalizer. We may not all finish at the same time, but our efforts and the end results are often not far apart. Our times may differ considerably but that is not the final benchmark. We have to embrace and respect the diversity of everyone’s own challenge, and refrain from judging other athletes by ingenuous criteria alone. When we truly find out about the other person’s challenges, the chances are that they may just surprise you.

Christo runs all his races without wearing his transmitter. Cochlear implants are sensitive pieces of electronic equipment and they are at risk of breaking if they fall out of the ear during vigorous activity. Furthermore, it is not only the transmitter that can be damaged, a sportsman with a cochlear implant is always at risk of suffering a blow to the head on or around the site of the internal package – which may damage the internal package or external parts or the skin around the area. This can happen during a fall or a collision with another person. These risks may seem small, but they are certainly real and any injury would have severe consequences.

I met Christo through mutual friends and we ran our first race together at the Castle Walk 10km on the ninth of August last year. Little did we know how our friendship would develop and what was lying ahead. That single certainly led to an amazing journey towards Comrades 2017. Another proof of the unique ability of this wonderful sport to create meaningful friendships.

When the entries for Comrades Marathon 2017 opened last year, I told Christo that if he entered for this iconic and amazing race, I would commit myself to be at his side and assist him in any way possible on this journey to make his dream come true. And here we are in 2017, Christo has entered and we are on our #Road2Comrades2017. The TeamVitality and Magnolia Road Runners duo is now pushing forward towards the forth of June 2017.

To date we have run various races together, most of them half-marathons – but we are literally only days away from our first joint marathon, the Johnson Crane 42.2km on 29 January 2017. Needless to say, it is important for us to get the qualifying race out of the way first so that we can then start working on the finer details of seconding someone. As a running duo we have to work on our communication, figure out how we will get one another’s attention, how to keep eye contact while communicating, work out brief and simple instructions and start using pre-agreed visual signals to navigate our way safely though the massive crowd on the road. On all the races, but more so on Comrades race day, I have to be sensitive in order to pay attention to many aspects: how we run as a pair, our pacing and running conditions, and the physical and emotional state of my running partner. The responsibility rest firmly on my shoulders to get Christo safely over that finish line in Pietermaritzburg and I am determined and motivated to do just that.

Our running together is based on commitment and dedication but as we got to know one another better and started doing longer runs, I have noticed how the bond of trust has grown between us.  I realised that Christo entered Comrades on the basis of this trust and if it wasn’t for me he would have not done so. I am feeling blessed and so fortunate to share this amazing journey with him and to help him achieve his Comrades dream.

Meeting this amazing individual has forever changed my life and in the process added a new dimension to my own personal passion for running. Last year was a special Comrades Marathon when Cornelia and I ran for Bibles, this year will be double the blessing, running for Bibles again and helping a friend to realise his Comrades dream.

It seems that the above account carries two very important messages for everyone out there. When I started my own journey way back in 2008 I never thought to be living the life I do now. I literally afforded myself a second chance, gave myself a new lease on a happier and healthier life; started to run; lost 53kg; completed various half- full- and ultra-marathons, including three international marathons; and I will line up for my 4th Comrades this year.

In the words of Nelson Mandela, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” The impossible is possible! Through my running I also hope to inspire others to improve their lives. Sharing my humble wisdom and experiences through my own personal web page www.myownjourney.co.za and other social media interactions is aimed at achieving this. Christo also has a simple, but powerful message: “I love challenges and nothing needs to stand in your way to make your dreams a reality. I’ve been dreaming about doing Comrades for a long time, and this year I am going to do it with my friend and wingman Douw next to me.”

You will be able to follow our journey through my web page at www.myownjourney.co.za or find me on social media, Twitter and Instagram ( @myownjourney_sa ) You can find Christo on Facebook and Instagram

Written by DOUW PRINSLOO
Edited by DIETER GLOECK

PwC George Claassen Memorial Road Race 2017 : My Six Year Anniversary Run

This morning’s PwC George Claassen Memorial Road Race marked my six year running anniversary. This is where my running journey started, on the 29th of January 2011.

Let me take you back to that day real quick. There were more than 3000 athletes lining up that morning for the 10km and 21.1km races, but there was also the walkers and more specific, the 5km fun run group; I was lined up there. Although I was already two years into my weight loss journey, I have never done a single race in my life, and there I was, hoping to make the 5km with a combination of running and walking, hopefully no crawling. Well, I did finish with an ‘accomplished’ time of 00:30:20. For me the time was not important, I was just very happy to finish. I loved the whole vide of this event so much that I joined the Running Inn running club, bought my first running shoes, got my first ASA license that very day ( after the race ) and I guess I could then call myself a ‘runner’.

That morning Pieter Venter was also there, doing his first 10km race and also he never stopped. That day marked the beginning of new chapter for the both of us.

Following this event I started doing races on a regular basis and looked forward to every weekend because it meant, like I called it then, ‘races and places’. That gave birth to my current slogan I love to use – ‘Making Miles and Moments Count

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This morning, lining up for this very same event, I was overwhelmed with so much gratitude, feeling so blessed, that I can still do what I love and love what I do, running, sharing the road with so many awesome people and maintaining my healthy lifestyle and in the process encourage others to do the same, to live their best possible lives. Standing there at the start of this morning’s race I was taken back in time for a split moment to thàt first 5km fun run just a few blocks away from where we were this morning ( back then the race started at the back of Menlyn Park Shopping Centre ) and then an announcement by Pete brought me back to this morning’s event. I looked at Christo Lourens standing next to me and immediately thought of the #Road2Comrades2017 we are on, the road to his very first Comrades Marathon, my fourth. I thought to myself, ‘Here I am, six years down the road of my very own running journey and in a privileged position helping a friend to realize his very own Comrades dream.’ On the 4th of June I am determined to cross that finish line at Scottsville Racecourse in Pietermaritzburg with Christo Lourens next to me.

My message to everyone reading this is simple, ‘Let no one ever tell you that something is not possible, because it is.’ My favorite quote, the quote that carried me through my very first Comrades, are these words by the late Nelson Mandela, ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’ If you dream it, chances are pretty good that you can achieve it. With hard work and commitment the impossible is very possible. It is always within your reach to achieve extraordinary things. Believe it. Always remember, there are always something out there to help you achieve your goals, you just have to find it. For me, joining Discovery Vitality made a huge difference, helping me to stay focused, committed and determined to carry on and then also rewarding me for doing so. Never was it so simple to work out and get rewarded all at the same time.

Let me also take this opportunity to just thank everyone who was and still is part of my journey for your love, support and encouragement. No, it was not always easy and no things did not always worked out as planned, but, I never gave up, never quit, never opted for second best, I worked hard, pushed on, set new goals, leaned forward and reached out for what was ahead. All of you made that possible for me. If I had to do this alone, I am not sure that it would have played out this way at all. I’ve learned to never underestimate the value of a friend of fellow runner, because they are the people who lift us up when we need it most, when we are tired, discouraged and weary.

Happy running everyone and have fun chasing your dreams !

[ Read more about my journey here : http://www.myownjourney.co.za ] and follow me on Twitter or Instagram @myownjourney_sa ( links on my web page )

Making Miles and Moments Count

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I’ve been using this tag on social media for quite a while now and I still appreciate the value it adds to my life and to the lives of others.

#MakingMilesAndMomentsCount obviously refers to my running, but it involved more than just running, it represents the whole “package” if you will; races, places, people, medals. It is about getting there, the people you meet, the event itself, the medal. There is always a story to tell after every race we do and these are the memories, the miles and moments we get to remember. I also love taking pictures and sometimes going through the pictures it fires up lost memories and rekindle stories almost forgotten.

[ Click on the images below to enlarge ]

Today, a year ago, I was in Toronto Canada for the ScotiaBank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and this morning when I went through my photos to put together a Tweet to all runners, to wish them well, it brought back so many memories. The interesting things about going through these pics don’t just bring back memories about the marathon, but also about days preceding the race, the days before, on and after the race. I remember so many wonderful moments with new friend I’ve made, places I have seen and the city of Toronto I got to explore by myself for three days. My pictures tell a story of so many wonderful moments. For me also to get to share this event with my friends Karen and Chris, who for the first time attended a marathon event like this and because I was there and I was part of this, they also got to make memories of their own. This to me is what it is about.

In a few weeks I will jet off to Athens Greece. I won a trip for two, a competition run by Discovery Vitality during the Rio Olympics, and the prize, a trip for two to Athens Greece. Winning this prize opened the door to new opportunities to go and gather more memories. When I started to plan for this trip and was busy on Google and searched for races in Greece and I discovered that the Athens Authentic Marathon was coming up in November and better even, entries were still open. I was entered for this race even before we had any flights and or accommodation booked and confirmed. I just had to do this. So this means that Pieter and I will be in Athens for the 34th Annual “Athens Marathon. The Authentic” which will take place on November 13th, 2016 – marking 120 years from the first contemporary Marathon race, an event inspired by the ancient course of the legendary Athenian soldier hemerodromos (courier in Ancient Greece who would run for a day) after the Battle of Marathon. This will definitely be another awesome #MakingMilesAndMomentsCount opportunity.

I guess what I am trying to say is that we have to live life to the fullest, savour every moment and make every moment count. Today is all we have and it the gateway to tomorrow; make the most of it. And yes, if you can, take pictures, lot of pictures. These become so important later; when we go through them they trigger so many memories.

Have fun making memories !

Running together…what a blessing !

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#RunningBuddies @ Champberlains Capital Classic Half-Marathon

This morning I ran the Chamberlains Capital Classic Half-Marathon. I have to admit, when that alarm went off this morning I was not happy and not in the mood to get up, but nevertheless, I have entered so the rule then is, get there and line up. Just do it!

I once again realised how incredibly important the bond between running friends are. There’s a really close bond between you and your running buddies. Kilometre after kilometre you run side by side, sometimes chatting and other times in total silence. Hearing each other’s breathing is often all the conversation you need. Running buddies are willing to go the distance, understanding one another on a different level. I think there are clear differences between a running buddy and your non-running friends.

When we are on the road, and off, we are often more than just soles running next to one another, we push one another, motivate one another and support one another through all the various ups and downs running often present us with. Our regular friends don’t always understand the ‘running addiction’ as runners are so often accused of having, but our running mates understand all too well. They understand the need, the desire, and the passion to run. Running buddies just get the addiction.

With that said, I also think our “regular” friends will always support us no matter how many kilometres we log, but might not always understand why we do what we do, and that is okay.

When we lace up and start that race, we as runners become one, one with one another, one with the rest of the athletes and one with the road, one with nature.

My friend Christo always try to do our races together and this morning while we were working our way through those challenging hills all I needed was to hear his breathing next to me – that was enough conversation. We always try to mask the challenge with a little fun. On the first lap Christo’s dad joined us for the 10km and on the second lap another friend, Naomi, joined us and stuck with us to the very end. The thing with running a pace run is to make sure that you try and incorporate and accommodate the needs and running styles of everyone in the group and this is exactly what I did and by doing that we continued as “one” and finished as “one”. I once again realised what a blessing it is to be able to hit the road with running friends.

As a last thought, it is also not always just about running together, that social time before and after every race is special and should not be taken for granted. Those are special moments and the building blocks of great relationships between running friends.

I once again realised this morning how blessed I am to know so many awesome people on the road. I appreciate each and every one of you. We share an “addiction” for running: we run together, sweat together, suffer together but we also triumph together.

I close with the words from Christopher McDougall’sbook, “Born to run”,

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”

We as runners are all “sole mates” ( yes, pun intended ) !

Reflecting on 2015: A year On The Road

As the Christmas holiday will soon give way to a New Years, I am reminded that 2016 is right around the corner. This causes me to stop for a moment, and quietly reflect on 2015 as it nears its end.

For myself, in 2015, there has been a definite shift from the life I led prior to it, and as I “turned the pages” of my photos I am filled with so much gratitude for a year made up with so many wonderful moments. I am glad that the great moments once again outweighed the less great ones and I still feel blessed for the life that I have lived this year. If you look at this collage it reflects on yet another year on the road and it is embroidered with a golden thread called “friendship”.

It is impossible to capture all the moments, so these are just some, but they are all equally important to me as are the people adding colour to it and meaning to my life.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who has been part of my life during this year. Thank you for your love and support and for believing in me when I and some others didn’t.

Those who fell by the wayside are history and belong to the past, and that is perfectly okay, because they made way for more meaningful and precious relationships. I have always believe in this – “Regardless, life goes on !”

Wishing you all a blessed Christmas and a prosperous New year. See you all on the road as we start yet a new chapter, 2016 and I will then continue living out my motto, “Making Miles and Moments Count”

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