Transcript: Thanks, Allan. This is David Brower and this is Part 3 of the Positive Forward Motion podcast as my friend, Denise Scattergood, interviews the 88-year-old Iron Nun. The oldest person to ever finish an Ironman Triathlon, Sister Madonna Buder.
SISTER MADONNA: It is again the draw to the great outdoors of mother nature. I can remember when I was training for my first marathon. I knew nothing about running and I did everything wrong. I was just beat to the core and no energy, but I knew I had to get this mileage in. Once I put my foot outside the door and ran and came back, I didn’t feel any worse for the wear because how could I? I was so down anyway. But, it actually does normally lift you up being out in nature as you indicated because there’s that freedom of being surrounded by mother, I love the term mother nature.
SISTER MADONNA: Everything else seemed so trivial. When you think of the great expanse, this is God’s cathedral. Why not get lost in it? You don’t know when you’re pampering yourself, “Oh, I’m too this, too that to get out.” Just even if you do nothing but stick your nose outside the door and sniff in some fresh air if you can find it, it will be helpful.
DENISE S: I agree. That reminds me of a story. I had a friend once who was, “I don’t know how to get motivated to get up and go out.” I said, you know, just put on your sneakers and walk out the front door and go for 20 minutes in one direction. And before you know it, you go 20 minutes back in the other direction home, you’ve put 40 minutes. Perfect. 40 minutes under your belt and that’s amazing.
DENISE S: Remember reading in your book and this stood out so strong to me and I’m going to have you elaborate but I’ll remind you a little bit about the moment in the book where you were doing a triathlon. This was before wetsuits were allowed during the swim. I believe it was an Ironman. You do all this training here you are you go in for the swim and I believe it was the right side of your body kind of decided to stop working.
SISTER MADONNA: Yeah. That was in … New Zealand. The open water, it’s cold. In those days we used to grease our bodies because wetsuits hadn’t been invented. But, I guess I wasn’t that fast of a swimmer and it was a goodly distance. I think I had at least 20 minutes left before I could hit the shore. I couldn’t feel my body anymore. It was absolutely numb.
SISTER MADONNA: So, I said, well, okay, I’m going to have to swim with my brain and that’s going to have to make that arm go out and the next arm go out until I get to shore. So, I think that’s what you’re referring to.
DENISE S: Absolutely. Yes, I remember-
SISTER MADONNA: Nobody else was around to get me in so somehow, I had to do it myself.
DENISE S: Right and you transferred that focus from … rather than that focus all on what was not working with your body, and I don’t want to misquote but I think I remember you sharing in the book and it resonated with me and I’ve used this many times as I was going through whether it was a mentally tough challenge or an emotional challenge or even a physical challenge being athletic, about you were like, “God, you gave me a brain which is a computer to my body so just tell my brain to tell my body what to do right now.”
SISTER MADONNA: Exactly.
DENISE S: Is that how it went?
SISTER MADONNA: Yeah, yeah.
DENISE S: And I love how you refocused that rather than, “Oh, it’s not working [crosstalk 00:05:03] and what’s going on-
SISTER MADONNA: [crosstalk 00:05:03] You know what else-
DENISE S: … and panicking. Go ahead.
SISTER MADONNA: This happened also a little further more recently in again, New Zealand at Christchurch. That water was ice, I think in the 50s and I was going to do this aquathon before the major triathlon which was in another lake. Thank god it was only I think maybe a half a mile swim. But, as soon as I got in that water, oh my gosh it was so cold.
SISTER MADONNA: But, I had never been in such clear water in my life. You could see the color on every pebble and stone below you. So, I said, oh, okay, God, let me concentrate on the beauty of that below me and not on your body. And that’s what got me in.
DENISE S: That is such a good message for finding the good with the podcast called Positive Forward Motion. I’ve always been very fortunate to have phenomenal mom and dad and my mom has always been the very positive in finding the good in every situation. It has really trained me from a very young age to stop and find the good. Even something sometimes simple as you lock your keys in your car and you can get very angry or very upset and, “Oh, my gosh, I’m going to be late,” or this or that.
DENISE S: Or, you can stop and refocus and say, “Well, maybe there is a reason my keys are in the car right now because maybe I should not be on the road. So, it’s directing that thought process and finding the good because I can’t change it right now so getting mad about it isn’t going to open the car door. But maybe taking that step back and looking at it differently.
DENISE S: I love in your book how many times that you shared and you’re sharing now that you would do that to have you continually move forward in your races that your focus is on something completely different than the hard task at hand and that gets you through it.
SISTER MADONNA: This what I call creative thinking. When these things occur and I’ve had a lot of them, that I stop and think, well, what can I do now due to this situation? Then you call on your creativeness and with these gadgets, that’s not going to happen. You’ll lose it. You have got to figure out for yourself your dilemma.
SISTER MADONNA: This is something I really want to pass on because it helps everybody even the people in jail. In year 2014 I acquired three major problems with my body and still squeezed in between the three a couple of triathlons. But the middle one was a torn meniscus and the doctor, of course, always suggest surgery. I’m saying, no, no. I don’t think I want surgery. I’m going to go home and think about it.
SISTER MADONNA: So, I went home, and I said, God, help me do my best and you do the rest. And then I thought oh, wait a minute. Aren’t you being a little bold telling God what to do? And then I can hear him laughing. “Well, it’s about time you asked me to help control when you’re out of control.”
DENISE S: I love that. I want to repeat that for the listeners. So, you said, “Help me do my best and you do the rest.”
SISTER MADONNA: Yes. God. Who you’re talking to? God. What do you want? Help. Help who? Help me do my best and you do the rest. Now, let me tell you that’s a winning team because God certainly is going to do his part. And as long as you do yours, everything turns out just hunky-dory.
DENISE S: Yes, it does. One of your quotes you wrote in your book I love too is, “If life didn’t have challenges, it wouldn’t be worth living.”
SISTER MADONNA: Yeah. Life is a challenge. Now, do you accept it? There are a lot of people who don’t. They don’t like life. That’s sad and I don’t know how to correct that for them. But, you know what, they just probably do not have the benefit of getting in touch with their creator and they think they’ve got to do everything themselves. Well, that’s pretty heavy burden to carry and it’s not necessary.
SISTER MADONNA: If we let God in our lives … This attitude, “God, help me do my best and you do the rest,” makes it easier to accept the consequences even when they’re disappointing because you invited God to take part in it and if that’s what he wants for you here and now, it’s easier to accept. It can’t be wrong. There was a purpose for it. Like you had indicated when something goes wrong, there’s generally a reason for it.
DENISE S: Yep. So, we could just step back. Take a look. Understand that we don’t know everything and that’s okay to have the faith and the belief to keep moving forward in that positive forward motion direction. Just one little step at a time. You are just such a true inspiration with your mindset. Your athleticism and the whole bit I’m going to say, oh my God, that’s incredible. But, to put that aside because it’s your mindset that has helped you get to every stage and that to me is such the message to the listeners to get a hold of your mind and you are in control of your thoughts. Because your thoughts create so much of your reality.
DENISE S: If you could elaborate a little bit on that of your mindset and thoughts and how you feel in that area of creating the reality and what’s going on around you.
SISTER MADONNA: Well, it’s not that I don’t get caught up in negativity. But, when I find myself doing that, I’m thinking, you know this is really a benefit. This is how our mind can turn a negative into a positive because if I’m in a period of darkness, if it weren’t for that I wouldn’t know light. If I weren’t in a time of suffering, I wouldn’t know joy.
SISTER MADONNA: So, the contrast of the two are very beneficial. Without the one, you would not experience the other. So, you turn the negative into a positive and say, “Thank you, God. Yeah. It’s a good lesson today.”
DENISE S: That’s very true and that’s a really good reminder for everyone because how would we know the light and the brightness and the good if there wasn’t the darkness. That’s a wonderful reminder absolutely for everyone. That’s great.
DENISE S: If there was one … and there’s so many thoughts to leave our listeners with. But, if you had one message for the listeners today that tied into their lives and keeping up what I call the positive forward motion message, what message would you like to leave the listeners with today to say, “Just put this in your back pocket and keep it there every single day.”?
SISTER MADONNA: Thank you for the breath of life. There is nothing more complimentary to God than our gratitude. That is why he gave us the free will to respond to him like none of his other creatures can. We miss the boat in so many instances when we don’t thank him even for what appears to be disappointments in our life.
DENISE S: So, have an attitude of gratitude and no matter how small or how much maybe somebody has to dig that day to find that one thing to be thankful for because sometimes people go through such darkness and struggles. But, to find that and give the glory and be thankful.
SISTER MADONNA: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yes.
DENISE S: That’s a very good reminder for all of them.
SISTER MADONNA: I love that [inaudible 00:15:12]. The attitude of gratitude. I just heard it for the first time said like that while I was away last weekend getting my presentations. So, you learn from everybody else just as they can learn from you.
DENISE S: That’s true. And I want to thank you so much. I am so thankful and I have an attitude of gratitude for you and your spirit and the way that you’re made and how often times you’ll go, “I really don’t like talking about myself, Denise. This feels awkward to me.” But, you are such a bright light for so many and especially my mom is 83 years old and I was sharing your story with her and she has such a great attitude and spunk and the whole thing. She’s like, “I got these pains in my back. I need to know her little secret to be able to get up and keep on going.” My mom has given a lot of her life to a restaurant for almost 60 years and standing and working hard. Her body is paying for it now but I’ll tell you, her attitude and her spirit and her positivity has never wavered.
SISTER MADONNA: Ask her if she would like to do this simple exercise because you mention back and that is so important. When you wake up throw your feet over the side of the bed and grasp your hands behind your neck and very gradually bend over until your elbows actually touch your knees and your head’s between your knees and then gradually raise it up. That’s stretching the back muscles and it’s the back that’s the hardest thing to get straightened out to do the rest of the day’s duty. So, stretching that back is a very simple exercise and it might really help her a bit.
DENISE S: Thank you. As soon as we’re done here I will call her and tell her that for sure. I know she’ll do it because she has a undeniable spirit as well.
DENISE S: Sister, I want to thank you so much for your time today. I know it’s snowing where … Is it still snowing?
SISTER MADONNA: I hadn’t looked out the window, but I think it’s not going to start until eight.
DENISE S: Well, my apologies for keeping you from snowshoeing today.
SISTER MADONNA: Well, tomorrow’s another day except it’s going to be a lot colder.
DENISE S: My second dream is next time I’m up in your neck of the woods, I’m going to reach out because I just want to come and play outside with you.
SISTER MADONNA: Oh, okay. That’s great.
DENISE S: That’ll be a date and many blessings to you and again, thank you so much.
ALLAN BLACKWELL: You’ve been listening to Part 3 of the Positive Forward Motion Podcast with Denise Scattergood and the 88-year-old Iron Nun, Sister Madonna Buder. Listen to the Positive Forward Motion Podcast wherever podcasts can be found.
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