Redefining Strength

During a recent walk, I spotted these strong little flowers, surviving in the shadows.  They were blooming between a multi-storied parking lot and a busy two-lane street.  All along the rest of the path were just bushes and small trees, each covered with leaves that seemed to be stretching for any chance at sunlight.  And among them were these few little spots of pink.

These little flowers are not the most beautiful in Portland right now, or probably ever.  That glory belongs with all the tulips in bloom or the cherry blossoms that burst after the latest rain storms.

But they stayed in my mind for the past few days because they are survivors and strong in a way that flowers don’t get credit for being.

I’ve been learning more about the idea of strength over the past year, since the leap from a full-time job and through training for my first ultra marathon (which is in four days: AACK!).  Strength, I’m learning, is not about how many pounds you can lift, how fast you can run, or how long you can hold a plank.  And it sure as heck has nothing to do with your shirt / pant / dress / or any other size of clothing.

Strength is pushing yourself beyond your own assumptions and far beyond those of anyone who tries to hold you back.  That means you can be a strong runner by getting up and running one mile at a 15-minute pace.  And you can be a strong student by working your butt off for that “C”.  And you can be a strong employee by quitting and saying you are worth more than that job.  And you can be strong in ways that no sees but you.

Strength is not beautiful; its powerful.

Those pink flowers are strong as hell.

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