Kathy Sebright

Writer. Speaker. Believer. Runner. Truth Enthusiast.


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The power of one

You hear it a lot. What’s the point? I’m only one person. What could I possibly do to change anything? The answer: absolutely anything! Does that surprise you?

holding_500One of the most powerful interactions of my life happened a little over a year ago, at the hands of one random stranger. I had escaped to Target for a few minutes to clear my head while my youngest son Emmett was in the hospital with my husband to keep him company. I was wandering aimlessly when I ran into a couple of old coworkers. As I filled them in on the newest details of my life and how my son was doing, a sob escaped against my will. I was embarrassed: basking in the fluorescent lighting and surrounded by party supplies, this was NOT the place to have a breakdown. I tried to hold it together but before I knew it, I was crying steadily, awkwardly, with barely comprehendible words coming out in between sobs. And then she appeared out of nowhere: a woman I had never seen before in my life and she was tightly hugging me and whispering calming words in my ear. She was telling me about her son, about his life, offering prayer, comfort, hope, and matching my own tears with her own. A complete stranger, just one woman, crying with me in the middle of Target for my son, a child she had never even met. The compassion and love poured out of her with such ferocity that I may have not believed it if I hadn’t been there myself. I think about her from time and time and she continues to inspire me to want to live my life the same way I imagine she must.

Last Saturday, I was running and chatting with a random woman at RunGR. In our ramblings about training, I mentioned the fact that I am a Road Warrior for the Fifth Third River Bank Run. My new running partner gasped and said “I know exactly what that is!” It turns out she was passed by an (unknown) Road Warrior at the Resolution Run this year. She didn’t even know exactly what a “Road Warrior” was but saw it boldly printed on the flashy yellow jacket. She couldn’t believe the ease in which she was passed and it made her want to kick up her training. She went home and looked up the Road Warriors, saw that we trained with RunGR, and went and signed up for RunGR herself! She’s been going ever since, loving it, training hard, and going in a completely new direction. All because she was inspired to do something more. i-am-only-one-helen-keller

What do these two stories have to do with each other? Everything. No, it’s not the same woman. It’s the power of one. Just one person. Whether it is a deliberate act of compassion like the woman in Target or you never even know it happened, like the woman from RunGR, one person can have a tremendous impact on the world around them with simple, small acts. When I filled out my Road Warrior application, I actually wrote that I wanted to change the world. It seems lofty and maybe a little arrogant, but that doesn’t make it any less true. One person at a time, slowly but surely, I have to do something. You better believe people are watching you and your behavior as well, whether you realize it or not. Are you leading by example to your friends, family, coworkers? Do you want to do something more? You have a choice. That person that just dropped their entire bag of groceries in the parking lot, that person in line in front of you digging desperately for just one more dollar to buy their food, that runner walking alongside of the course crying, that kid that everyone else is making fun of – you have the chance to not just witness it but intervene. The power of one is strong because together we are a lot of ones and that absolutely has the potential to change lives.


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The road less traveled

Originally posted at www.miles4moms.wordpress.com/2014/08/07/the-road-less-traveled/

What can I say to a group of women’s hearts I understand so intimately? I know from experience I can’t take away your pain with words. I know from experience that no amount of understanding and empathetic head nodding will heal your broken heart. I know each of our struggles are both very different and yet very much the same. Our children are different and we are different because of it and that is what makes us the same regardless of the specifics. Whether you were given a shocking diagnosis in a small sterile room, or you always knew something was wrong and actively searched for an explanation, or your child was completely healthy until one day they just weren’t – we are all traveling the same road. It’s a long, lonely, overwhelming, and painfully joyous road. It’s a road filled with such deep lows and such great highs that there are no words to adequately explain it. But I don’t need to explain it to you because you have been there like I have. You’ve seen the monsters in the trees, you’ve felt the wind forcing you backwards, you’ve tripped and stumbled over some of the same roots I have. And like me, you’ve stood back up despite the fact that it would just be easier to lie there on the road and wait for someone to come rescue you. You’ve stood back up, gritted your teeth, and kept walking with no real destination in sight. Thus is a mother’s love. Endless, enduring, always moving forward even in the wake of fear, pain, and doubt.

Having been a very dedicated distance runner for about 9 years, I had loved running for a long time. I knew who I was when I ran, I knew where I was going, I knew what I wanted to do in this life, and I was so sure of the road ahead of me. That all changed when my baby boy was diagnosed about 2 years ago. I was blindsided. Life fell apart around me. Even more so, I fell apart myself. But I kept running, day after day, out of a sense of obligation to my old life and my old self. I was going through the motions until one day I felt a spark of hope. I found power I didn’t know I had and I found the feeling of freedom at last. The road stripped away all of my defenses, all of my pretending, all of my noble intentions of being “strong” and exposed me for the truest person I was underneath. I could run as hard as I wanted, cry until I couldn’t catch my breath, scream in anguish, pray desperately, collapse on the ground in the dirt, and then get back up and do it all some more. The road didn’t judge me. It didn’t matter what was wrong, only that I was there trying to lose myself in the miles. But when all was said and done, I didn’t lose anything at all because in reality I found my new self in those miles. I uncovered the person I am today. I ran into her, almost literally. Kathy for blog post

The freedom offered in running is intoxicating. It is life itself if you just let it in. The wind in your hair, the sound of your footsteps, the sights blurring by, even the pain in your legs can become a trusted companion. When so much of your life is devoted to taking care of a child that is not well, it can be hard to justify doing something for yourself. It can be downright scary too. We spend so much of our life facing the big great unknown, but what if this unknown could bring you to a new place? What if this great big unknown could change your life? How will you ever know if you don’t try? What lies ahead on the open road is vast. I know it’s hard but I encourage you to keep running, keep walking, or get out there and just put one foot in front of the other. We must love and nourish ourselves in order to best love and nourish our children. It’s for us but it’s also for them. Thus is a mother’s love. Endless, enduring, always moving forward even in the wake of fear, pain, and doubt. kathy and Emmett


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The Sign

Originally printed in the Penasee Globe – December 21, 2014

It was cold, dark, and snowing as the brisk wind cut through me. My headlamp illuminated the snow covered road beneath my feet as I ran. There were no tracks to follow. No one had been here anytime recently. There was only me. And I was making my own path.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the road. The road with the house with the sign, that is. Almost 2 years ago, I had been slowly plodding through some serious snow in this same exact place, when I saw the sign on their garage. In cutesy black script, it proclaimed “Life doesn’t get much better than this.” When I saw that sign 2 years ago, I was struck with an irrational and overwhelming urge to pull it down and attempt to break it in half beneath my feet like I would a brittle tree branch. Things were so very different then (although strangely the same). I took off for a long run one particularly bad morning and that’s when I saw the ridiculous sign that almost seemed to mock me.

A gust of wind brought me back to the present. As the snow swirled around me, I found my feet angling themselves to turn onto that road. It was a decision I didn’t consciously make myself. I looked at the sign as I got closer. It was unchanged by the previous 2 years. What a difference. It was my polar opposite. There wasn’t anything about me that remained the same. Everything about me had been touched in some way, shape, or form by what life had thrown at us. IMAG1916_1

I closed my eyes and the past 2 years flooded through my mind. Pools of blood from my son’s broken skull.  My son’s laughter from the next room as his big brother tickled him. Screaming mid run in fear and sheer desperation. Laughing until I cried in the ICU with my husband. My son unconscious and seizing on the floor in front of me. Clutching a friend’s hand so hard it must have hurt, trying to convey everything I couldn’t say. Crying on the floor of a hospital room that smelled faintly of floor cleaner. It was devastating and beautiful and painful and amazing all at once.

I’m not sure when exactly the change took place. It was gradual and it snuck up on me. One day I could clearly see what I couldn’t before: hope, gratitude, and life. I found myself smiling at the sign, seeing it now with different eyes. I turned and continued to run, unsure of my destination but sure of my ability to blaze my own path.

It’s so easy to focus on everything that went wrong. Even at Christmas we all can lose sight of what matters. The greatest gift I have ever known was finding hope, gratitude, and life despite our circumstances. I wish everyone the ability to see things with different eyes and the persistence to make their own path.