Running Toward Abundance

By Paul Pustelnik
Kintsugi Run Paul Pustelnik

Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into. ~Wayne Dyer

June  2015

2015 had been a year to remember. In January, I completed a major web initiative for a wonderful company. It was time consuming and stressful but I pulled through with great success. This was also the time when I saw my Kintsugi Gifts business increase more than 500 percent (from October through December). In addition to my professional obligations, the holiday season had crept upon me and I found myself trying to balance it all and spend time with my beautiful children. This left me little time to take care of my health.

January was cold and I was sedentary. I had gained 12 pounds in the months leading up to it.. I felt uncomfortable, unbalanced. I leaned on my friends for insight. One of my best friends challenged me to find my spark and re-ignite the success of the year before. “I have books for you,” she said. I started devouring the words of Eckhart Tolle, Don Miguel Ruiz, Wayne Dyer and Paulo Coelho.

The journey of the year had begun.

I was open to anything and everything. My friends Debra and David invited me to a Tony Robbins conference. 7,000 intense people, four intense days. I ate it up. Here was yet another voice telling me to find compelling reasons to see the gifts given to me daily. My weight gain, the stories I kept feeding in my mind, the stressfulness were all nothing more than life pulling me back in the slingshot. All I need to do was wait for the release.

I began to see why people were put on my path, to find value in every good and bad encounter, to stop holding onto my stories. The universe is built for us to succeed. Look for the opportunities, the tools that are there for you. I began to believe that with all my heart.

Then I met a woman named Molly. She had just written a book, With Grace Under Pressure, about a woman’s journey from Liberia. It was a story of motherhood, friendship and personal achievement. Molly impressed me with her enthusiasm and joyfulness. I felt compelled to read her book, even though I initially had reservations about whether I could relate to the storyline.

The common thread through the book was “running.” Molly is a marathon runner and she had written about what she loved. After reading it, one thing was evident. I needed to run.

I never considered myself a runner. I am built to ram through a mountain rather than run around it. I have been telling myself this for nearly 35 years. And now, seeing that Molly was put on my path for a reason, I was ready to blow up that story.

I met Molly for coffee soon after finishing the book. I told her how much I enjoyed and was inspired by what she wrote. I told her what I intended to do, including some of my reservations (remnants of my story). She told me to just run as far as I could, then walk, then run again. She said, “Push through when you begin to doubt you can go any further. And when you finally run two miles, go for four.” What an incredible life metaphor!

So I started to run. My compelling reason and goal was to run a 5K race by the end of the summer. Just that, I thought, would be incredible since, despite always being very athletic, I had never, ever run more than ONE mile straight in my entire life.

I did a little research, got the right shoes, headphones and the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack to accompany me. Runkeeper was my app tracker of choice. Everything I had read and learned told me to place positive reinforcement into everything I do. I decided that, when I ran, I would smile as often as I could. Even if I was in agony, I would smile. If nothing else, it would freak out the other runners.

April 19, I stepped onto the park path and began to run.

I ran for about four minutes before the thighs started tightening up, the calves cramping and breath shortening. I had been working with a trainer twice a week before then (and had lost half the weight I had gained), but it was obvious my cardio was neglected. I smiled and started walking. Thirty seconds later I started running again. I did this for 45 minutes. Run, smile and then walk. Three miles later, I was spent. But, for the first time in my life, I was a runner.

I decided try to at least do 30 minutes twice a week which was about two miles (with the walking). First, I wanted to negate any walking, then I would work on running the entire 5K (just over three miles). Again, shooting for an end of the summer 5K.

Three weeks after that first step, something unexpected happened: I had reached my weight loss goal. Just like that. Six pounds gone. I was looking good. I had reached the weight that for the past 10 years I had told myself was the perfect weight for me. Another stupid corollary to my story.

I started running more. Not for the 5K, but because I enjoyed the smiling, the fascinating physical things that I was able to push through with positive thinking and the exploration of places I had always just driven quickly through. I had never appreciated the hilly terrain, the pine trees or even the sounds of life around those paths.

June 6, six weeks after I started, I ran 3.57 miles, no walking, blowing past my four-month goal.

I now use running to remind myself of staying attuned with all that is out there for me. In my professional life, I use it as an example of hard work paying off, of redefining goals to take advantage of my immense capacity for success. Spiritually, I feel more connected to my soul as I experience incredible gratitude for being given a mindful eye. My kids are thriving and use me as example of how to joyfully succeed. Running, a former albatross, is now my bird of paradise.

August 26, I ran that 5K. I did a church 5K on a Saturday morning. This was after I had run 7.5 miles the day before on one of my regular runs. I am down 32 pounds from that January weight. Most importantly, I revel in the abundance around me.

UPDATE April 2016: One year later I run at least a 5k three times a week. I've run two hallf marathons and my long run days now are at least 6 miles. I still find when my heart turns to gratitude I can run farther. This both pushes and fuels me. I will be doing my first triathlon (at age 51) late this summer.