Chandra Ziegler’s new book Extraordinary Endurance: A Training Plan for the Marathon of Life is a unique book that gives the reader a glimpse into the beauty of its author’s soul as she tries to juggle the many aspects of life. While Ziegler is a marathon runner, hence the book’s title, running is only part of the content here. Ziegler shares stories about her many other sports-related activities, like skiing, but she also shares experiences from other aspects of her life, like being a teacher and a mother. His purpose in offering this potpourri of material is, as he states from the beginning, “to help propel you to live your best life. I want you to live your happiest life and achieve all your dreams. Do you know why? Because when each of us collectively is full of positive energy, we can change the world!”
Ziegler has been a fan of endurance sports from the beginning. In fact, he started training while he was in his mother’s womb; his mother won a ski race while she was pregnant with Ziegler. But beyond endurance sports, he realizes that we must endure the marathon of life, and we all, including athletes, need tools to stay positive and grounded through whatever ups and downs come our way. By supporting and encouraging others, we can be that positive example that changes the world.
Ziegler has organized the book into seven sections, each linked to a specific chakra. She explains the role each chakra plays in our lives as part of our “training plan.” She also includes training tips, meditations, poetry, and blank pages titled “Be Extraordinary” for the reader to jot down notes, draw, record miracles they witness, or capture anything that inspires them. The pages of the book are also decorated with colorful and fun illustrations by Melanie Bess-Haight that encourage the reader with a special energy to live life fully and creatively.
Extraordinary Endurance is too eclectic to discuss in detail, but I’ll share some of my favorite passages and some of the advice Ziegler offers. As a reader and book lover, I love beautiful books, and this book is certainly beautiful, I loved it when Ziegler described her own love of books and her dreams about them:
“I also dream of my personal library being organized in the order of the rainbow on bookshelves lining the walls of my house with a sliding ladder like the one Belle has in Beauty and the Beast. And I dream of turning an old school bus into a meditation retreat on wheels that I will call Pearl It will feature a relaxation area in the back with cushions, glow-in-the-dark stars and a diffuser with the perfect blend of oils to suit your needs It will feature book shelves, a mini kitchen to cook delicious nutritious meals, space to do yoga, comfortable places to sit and write, inspiring art and words of wisdom everywhere you will have everything you need to fuel your body, mind and soul. I remind people to ‘look for the pearl.’ If you can’t find a pearl, I’ll invite you to get on my bus and let you find one yourself.”
Searching for the pearl pretty much sums up Ziegler’s life. He has found the pearl in many places, from teaching to running. Running has especially helped her connect with her spirit on a special level. She states:
“I really crave the state of flow during a run or a ski where everything else shuts off…even myself. I’ve had out-of-body experiences during long runs, where I feel my true self, my spirit-looking down at my physical self from above. I love feeling that complete disconnection from all the distractions of modern life and all the chatter in my brain. It’s the feeling of being light and free and connecting with the earth beneath my feet and the air that sustains my lungs. In that state comes enlightenment, self-realization, the ability to tune into other realities, and complete clarity.”
Ziegler also knows that the pearl is not just about grounding ourselves or finding our own inspiration or realizations, but about taking what we learn from others. Part of that process for her is being a teacher. She has taught language arts in early kindergarten, kindergarten, second grade, title one, sixth, seventh, and eighth grades, and high school language arts at an alternative education center. But she also knows that true teaching goes beyond the school system into our life situations, and that the children she teaches will teach others, including her parents. She states:
“We need to use our spiritual gifts to do the most good we can, to lift others up, to build bridges, not walls. Amen? We are all connected. We are all members of the human race. We are all worthy of education, literacy, decency and love! That’s why I teach. To honor children, to make a difference in countless lives, to influence tomorrow’s change agents.”
Life is rarely easy, but Ziegler is always reaching for the goal of happiness and purpose, while learning and enjoying the journey. She calls on others to do the same, using the career metaphor as a larger reminder to the reader:
“You know what got me to that finish line? You could call it stubborn determination or something else. I call it love. I finished because I love myself. I show up and I don’t give up. I dream then I act. I did it for myself and no one else… When you love yourself enough, you finish what you start.”
I hope you love yourself enough to read this book and begin to see your journey in new ways. Part memoir, part self-help book, part diary, Extraordinary Endurance will inspire you to harness your inner strength, live your best life, and achieve all your goals, big and small. Do not miss this extraordinary reading journey.