One of the obstacles I had to overcome to tackle my dream of marathon swimming was sharing my dream. I had held it close to my heart for so long- so close many didn’t even know I longed to head out to sea. Even my family. Opening up and speaking about my passion was scary and felt like a rusty machine, covered in cobwebs, long forgotten and neglected- the muscles of joy that comes when you open up and share a part of yourself that you hold dear is enlivening and invigorating. It is also vital to give life to your dream.

To hear yourself talk about what you want in life enables you to act as your own sounding board- to define and refine the very language you choose to describe what it is you are aspiring to creates the mental space for you to paint yourself into that picture.

I’m blessed to have such friends that they took that leap of faith with me- in fact, my closest friends didn’t blink an eye at the thought of me swimming the channel- they assumed it as part of me anyway. It didn’t occur to them that it was outside of my capabilities, and that gave my poor neglected little voice wings. They believed in my dream.
Like a timid little creature edging out of the undergrowth, I tentatively started to mention what was on my mind. The mixed reactions are thrilling, humbling and sometimes almost soul destroying. When you come across someone that undermines your motivations or challenges your ‘right’ to dream, the lack of practice in believing in your own dream shows itself and dims your light. Having people to talk to that set you back on your own track are profoundly important- and I hope you never know the pain of someone close to you dismissing your dreams.

I’m not one to do things ‘to spite’ someone but learning to face opposition with no confrontation, but with a firm grasp on your own absolute right to follow your heart – and have that right supported – is a skill worth developing. Some are lucky enough to grow up with either the personality or the training/support to learn this young. I ended up in a wheelchair by limiting who I was to try to please. I made the decision to go for my dream and shaking off that invasive power that others can laud over you is winning in its own right.

Mostly, people are stunned and overjoyed to know someone who has the tenacity to go for a goal outside the norm- people want to share your joy and enthusiasm and that helps in the long cold hours of training. Hearing the denigrators and feeling the self doubt creep in actually hurts. It squeezes your lungs and inhibits your breathing. Learning to let go- that is marathon swimming for me in a nutshell- LETTING GO OF ALL THAT STOPS YOU ACHIEVING YOUR DREAMS- piece by piece. Stroke by stroke. Relaxing, reaching out, moving forward. Sloughing off all that holds you, binds you. Letting it play out in your mind without catching on to it you start to recognise these voices as not your own. Not evil either, just voices of others fears and limitations. I found it liberating to find the key to forgiving and letting go- so now the doubters, the shouldn’t do its’ all slide off like water off a ducks back.

Practice talking your dreams out. They make more sense when uttered- and you never know when someone turns round and says- ‘that’s the one for you! Go for it! Here’s how…..’