Review by Tyler R. Tichelaar
New Book Inspires With Words, Poetry, Art, and Wisdom
Chandra Ziegler’s new book Extraordinary Endurance: A Training Plan for the Marathon of Life is a unique book that gives the reader a look 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, such as skiing, but she also shares experiences from other aspects of her life, including being a teacher and parent. Her purpose in offering this potpourri of material is, as she states early on, to “help propel you into living your best life. I want you to live your happiest life and achieve all your dreams. You know why? Because when each of us collectively is full of positive energy, we can change the world!”
Ziegler has been an endurance sports fanatic from the beginning. In fact, she began training while in her mother’s womb—her mother actually won a ski race while pregnant with Ziegler. But beyond endurance sports, she realizes we must endure through the marathon of life, and we all, including athletes, need tools to stay positive and grounded through the ups and downs that come our way. By enduring 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 write notes, draw, write down miracles they witness, or capture anything that inspires them. The book’s pages are also decorated with colorful, playful illustrations by Melanie Bess-Haight that encourage the reader with a special energy to live life fully and creatively.
Extraordinary Endurance is far too eclectic to discuss in detail, but I’ll share a few of my favorite passages and some of the advice Ziegler offers. As a reader and book lover—I love beautiful books, and this book certainly is beautiful—I adored when Ziegler described her own love for books and her dreams about them:
“I also dream of my personal library being organized in rainbow order on bookshelves that line the walls of my house with a sliding ladder like Belle has in Beauty and the Beast. And I dream of converting an old school bus into a meditation retreat on wheels that I’ll name Pearl. It will have a relaxation area in the back with cushions, glow-in-the-dark stars, and a diffuser with the perfect blend of oils to fit your needs. It will have shelves of books, a mini-kitchen to cook delicious nutritious meals, space to do some yoga, comfy places to sit and write, inspirational art, and wise words everywhere. It’ll have everything you need to feed your body, mind, and soul. I will drive it around wherever I go and constantly remind people to ‘look for the pearl.’ If you can’t find a pearl, I’ll invite you aboard my bus and let you find one yourself.”
Looking for the pearl pretty much sums up Ziegler’s life. She has found the pearl in many places, from teaching to running. Running has especially helped her connect to her spirit on a special level. She states:
“I truly crave the flow state during a run or a ski where everything else gets tuned out…even myself. I’ve had out-of-body experiences while on long runs, where I sense my true self, my spirit-self, looking down on my physical-self from above. I love feeling that complete disconnect from all the distractions of modern life and all the chatter in my brain. It is the feeling of being light and free and connecting with the earth under my feet and the air supporting my lungs. In that state comes enlightenment, self-realization, the ability to tune into other realities, and complete clarity.”
Ziegler also knows the pearl is not just about grounding ourselves or finding our own inspiration or realizations but taking what we learn to others. Part of that process for her is being a teacher. She has taught early kindergarten, kindergarten, second grade, title one, sixth, seventh, and eighth grade language arts, and high school language arts at an alternative education center. But she also knows that true teaching goes beyond the school system to our life situations, and that the children she teaches will themselves teach others, including their 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 the children, to make a difference in countless lives, to influence the changemakers of tomorrow.”
Life is rarely easy, but Ziegler is always trying to get to the finish line of happiness and purpose, while learning and enjoying the journey. She calls upon others to do the same, using the race metaphor for a bigger 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, and then I take action. I did it for myself and nobody 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 journal, Extraordinary Endurance will inspire you to tap into your inner strength, live your best life, and achieve all your goals, big and small. Don’t miss out on this extraordinary reading journey.
For more information about Extraordinary Endurance, Chandra Ziegler, and Melanie Bess-Haight, visit www.DreamStarDragonfly.com.
Chandra Ziegler is a proud public school teacher, free-spirited dreamer, and the author of Extraordinary Endurance. Part memoir, part self-help, part journal, Extraordinary Endurance will inspire you and fill you with ideas on how to tap into your inner strength, live your best life, and achieve all your goals, both big and small. Chandra has been an endurance sport fanatic for more than twenty-five years and has completed thirty marathons. When not teaching, momming, running, writing, or studying to become a certified Social Emotional Learning Facilitator and Yoga Instructor, she can be found playing in the outdoors in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with her husband, three daughters, and two black labs.
Extraordinary Endurance: A Training Plan for the Marathon of Life
Written by Chandra Ziegler
Illustrations by Melanie Bess-Haight
Dream Star Dragonfly (2021)
— Tyler R. Tichelaar, PhD and award-winning author of Spirit of the North and When Teddy Came to Town