From a Rhino to a Unicorn

Cara the Unicorn

 

From a Rhino to a Unicorn

                Cara Jones is a spritely 5 foot even mother of three from Washington transplanted to Northern California. With a presence comparable to a burst of sunlight through cracked blinds whenever she enters a room Cara could best be described as a firecracker with a natural knack for love and compassion with a seemingly endless capacity. A successful career in Human Resources has put her charm to good use as she has somehow found the time to incorporate marathon running in between the rigors of maintaining a family and a social life to boot. Americana personified, Cara has done it all with a smile on her face and an eye flutter that will make you melt. Funny how initial impressions are never quite revealing as to what truly resides behind someone’s castle walls…

                When you see a person sprint by you at full speed on the street there are two ways you can interpret the situation; they are either chasing something or running away from something. Those who are perceived to have it all are often assumed to be chasing success like a lion after an antelope. Rarely is the other end of the spectrum in that scenario visited which is the possibility of a desperate attempt at running away from struggles constantly nipping at their heels and diverting focus towards overwhelming undertakings leaving no room to worry about the real issues left behind. In Cara’s case both perspectives happened to be true. It also happened to be that the real issues were gaining speed and catching up fast…

                Growing up smack dab in the middle of the grunge movement in its prime brought with it plenty of stories and experiences worthy of a furrowed parental brow but a lesson in irony occurred swiftly when she had her first child at 16. Motherhood forced an early adulthood as she quickly set herself on being the best mother she could be with her family by her side. Running away from a childhood cut short led to a devout work ethic and drive to take the best care of her newly arrived little one the best she could. She only had to travel through a small handful of different jobs before finding herself a good management position with a lot of potential for a reputable entertainment group. All of this required the kind of hard work and perseverance that had become second nature by this point. There in lied the time bomb waiting to explode…

                Through all of her endeavors, Cara always found herself needing to put her absolute everything into all that she did. By no means is this a bad thing, but lost in the shuffle was HER. No longer did she care about her needs for there simply wasn’t any time for that! To put effort towards herself was to take away from the livelihood of those closest to her (so she felt) so to be that selfish was unfathomable. Her mother had also happened to be the closest thing to a living saint one could imagine, so her standard of caring for others was damn near unobtainable. The one vice Cara gave herself was a smoking habit that had started before she could legally see a PG-13 movie. She wasn’t proud of it but found smoking helped manage the stress better than anything else so it was an easy decision to keep it up. I’m sure there are quite a few of you can relate to that one…

                After a smoking habit spanning almost 2 decades the shame of the addiction superseded the anxiety management component of it and that was when she set out to kick it for good. It wasn’t easy, but it was doable and after quitting cold turkey on her nephew’s birthday… it was done! Afterward however a slow transition into a new replacement drug occurred. The new drug of choice; food. Making matters worse was that her entire life Cara had always had a petite frame that matched her stature, so when she gained 30 pounds after quitting cigarettes it was an unfamiliar road she had NEVER traveled down before. She suddenly found herself lost in her own psyche when that was the LAST thing she could afford to have happening (I’m sure a few of you can relate to that one too…)

                With a dedication to a more holistic eating approach and a passion for running infused in the process, Cara found herself shedding the weight she’d gained and emerging healthier than she could remember being in a long time… but something still wasn’t right. By dropping the weight Cara had anticipated an intangible burden lifting off of her shoulders at the same time. Instead, all of the insecurities she had come to face during her fight with “food for comfort” and the depression that followed lingered like fruit flies at a picnic on a hot day.  It was the love of a particular Unicorn picture and a conversation with a loved one that happened to set everything right…

                Along her journey to figure out why she could be doing all the right things and still feel like something was weighing her down, Cara had posted a photo of a rhinoceros on a treadmill staring at a picture of a Unicorn as it ran. She made the image her profile picture because it reminded her so much of herself; running in place in pursuit of something you most likely will never be anyway. When asked about it by a friend one day, Cara told them her reasoning behind it and why it was the first thing you see when you go to her Facebook page. Her friend gave her a look like she was crazy and Cara couldn’t help but ask what it was in her explanation that warranted such a response.

“You’re not the Rhino in that picture… You ARE the Unicorn!”

                That subtly suffocating weight resting on her shoulders unexpectedly started to lift at that very moment. An epiphany clicked like a seatbelt connecting to a buckle. All this time she thought that her struggles cast an ugly shadow on life’s potential that lay waiting at her fingertips which kept her from reaching that happiness peak and basking in the sunshine of self-worth, when in reality she was every bit the “Unicorn” she aspired to be all along! The very things in her life she thought were responsible for cloaking her true beauty happened to be defining points of her shine and grace. We all know pain and struggle, yet to carry that back breaking load on your own with the assumption that you’ll never be “like the rest” is what holds most of us back from seeing the amazing spirit that lives in every single one of our heartbeats. In essence, we’re ALL Unicorns… We just don’t always see it.

                To see that picture will forever be a reminder to Cara of just how far she’s come and just how important including yourself in your list of priorities happens to be. In fact, her connection to the picture grew tenfold once she realized what was REALLY happening:

The rhinoceros wasn’t on a treadmill looking at a photo… it was looking in the mirror.

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

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