Winter. Some months feel like the dates continually move backwards. This February, I have experienced an incredibly wide range of emotions as I have committed to trying to use this month for the purpose of being real, but also finding focus to dedicate time to my goals. It can even feel like you are trapped in a pit unable to crawl out. Today, is the 15th, and even though it is half way through the month, I have had days where I lacked motivation and enthusiasm to push forward. There are days I am on fire, and everything seems to fall like a string of Dominos. However, there are days where I literally wonder how I will do what I set out to for the year.
I am finding that the best thing I can do is just get started. Even when I don’t feel like it, and am not inspired, and am wondering how I will be able to do good work; the best thing to do is take one step forward. I love Mel Robbins’ method of using a countdown system: 5 4 3 2 1 and go. I find that if I tell myself I will work, run or do something for 20 minutes, I have permission to stop when the timer is up. I almost always work longer than I set out to, and am motivated by the traction I start to make. The previous two strategies are ones that I use with my own kids at home, as well as in the classroom. There is momentum from accomplishing tasks and being productive. The more I accomplish on my to do list, the more I am motivated. I can get easily distracted with good things. I am starting to recognize that procrastinating by cleaning, scrolling Instagram, and sometimes reading are my mind’s way of trying to stall. It is true that some of these are good things, and sometimes I do need a break. However, it is also true that the more I postpone what I need to do, the more overwhelmed and negative I feel.
Life can feel dull and routine at times. And, when we don’t accomplish the goals we set for ourselves it is easy to feel stuck or to make matters worse, feel as though we we are going backwards. It can feel like we are living the month over and over again with no way out. A week ago, I had one of the worst races of my running career. I had set two different time goals for the 5K I was about to run. I was trained, motivated and really excited as I visualized my plans for the race. Upon completion of the race, and coming to the realization that I had placed second, as well as the glance at my watch that confirmed I did not meet my time goal; I was crushed. I was mad at myself. I couldn’t believe that I was not able to run a time that I had been successful at running many times before. I wondered how I would even meet the big audacious running goals I wanted to if I couldn’t hit a particular speed for a short distance. I lacked any motivation to want to make new running goals, and wondered if I should give up on having dreams for myself as a runner. Modifying my goals felt cheap, and made me wondering if that meant I was giving up. Not only was I stuck in February, I was stuck in a deep, dark and damp pit with no way out.
When I reached the bottom, I had the opportunity to get real about myself as a runner, and discover just how blessed I am. I had a good runner friend who after only a few words on a text message got exactly what I was feeling. I was able to vent to her, and be real and honest. I felt heard and she gave me permission to be upset and grieve my run. She was the person who literally came and got me by climbing into the pit, when I was at my lowest. This friend has done this a few times- and it makes me realize that we all need someone who can help us navigate the dark times. My husband also reminded me that I was a good runner, had an amazing life as a runner. My focus needed to be on the awesome things that I would accomplish over the course of the year and not on today’s run. Lastly, talking to another good friend that evening, reminded me that it was okay to take longer to accomplish the goals that I was setting for myself. She gave me the permission to take twice as long to meet my goals. The more I thought about it, the freedom and permission that I could grant myself just might be enough to make my dreams a reality and get February moving again.
Later that day, God realized that I needed some inspiration in the midst of my bad attitude. I was at the library when I stumbled upon a Shut Up and Run, by Robin Arzon. The title of the book could not have been more perfect for me. It was packed with just the right amount of inspiration that allowed me to start to rise above my own negativity. “Shut Up and Run” is becoming one of my new running mantras. I have found that I need to get out of my own head, and quiet my mind. The best thing I can do right now, is just run. Last Saturday, I wasn’t sure where I was going. I felt lost and stuck. Then creativity happened. I realized that I needed to do something different. I felt like I was ready for a journey. I love the number 6, so I thought why not do something for 60 days and see what I could discover. And since doors have always fascinated me, I decided
#60 doors 60 days would be my new project.
Each day for 60 days, I would post something to twitter or Instagram explaining the metaphorical door that I had found for the day. Day #1 represented a closed door that had literally been slammed in my face. But, after only a few days, I am finding that I am really excited noticing things, and finding my “Door” for the day. My doors have been everything from a map to a conversation with someone. Day 5, after talking to another mom who feels incredible physical pain all day long; I started to realize how blessed I was as I had the opportunity to be mad about not accomplishing a running goal.
And, today as I woke up early I read a post from a Peloton community member who is going through breast cancer. She had gotten an infection and was back in the hospital. Her request was for someone to ride for her today as she was not able to keep up her cycling streak as she was currently receiving treatment. Today, I reached out and connected with this mom of 3, I found out that she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer last September. Her request for someone to ride for her today really choked me up as I cycled for her today. I realized that the request is exactly what I would ask If I were in her situation. It gave me a completely new perspective. In addition to running, I will be cycling for her each day until she is strong enough to cycle for herself again. When I think about this athlete, I visualize myself opening a door for her. I am in awe of her bravery and courage. Rather than just living though a month of frustration, and feeling like she is going backwards, she asked for someone to help her while she is in the pit. That is true strength. Today, with thousands of people across the United States in a community of athletes, I crawled into get her, and will stay there until she is ready to climb out. Maybe being passionate and focused on kindness is what I was supposed to learn this month.