I want you to do something for 24 hours – stop saying “I have to” and start saying “I get to”. It’s an exercise to practice changing your perspective.
It’s almost Thanksgiving up here in the Great White North aka Canada and I wanted to take a few minutes to write about being grateful. 2019 has not been an easy one for me – it’s kicked me down more than once and has made me question everything I love doing including my career path. I’ve found myself in a dark, lonely place more than once yearning for the past. I let the self doubt and mean voices inside my head take over – “you’re not good enough”, “you’re so slow, you’re not even a runner”, “you’ll never be strong enough”, “you’re a failure as a mom”, etc.
The worst was this past summer when I lost my love of a sport that I fell in love with 5 years ago that changed the path of my career and ignited a fire inside of me. That fire fizzled out and I struggled to find that girl that loved getting out there on the race course. I thought about skipping almost every single race I signed up for this year. I almost didn’t run three of them but was glad I did in the end. I watched friends race with enthusiasm and while I was happy and proud for them I just couldn’t muster up the same excitement that I’d once had.
In the meantime my girls were growing up and away from me. They no longer wanted to hang out with me and I wasn’t the person they wanted to confide in and tell everything to anymore. My youngest turned 10 and started going out with her friends to the park and around the neighbourhood for hours on her own and while I was happy she’d made friends I missed her. My oldest turned 14 and wanted to text and “snap” with her friends and sleep until noon then go out in the evenings, she didn’t want to come to Bootcamp with her old mom anymore and go on adventures with the family.
I think every mom loses themselves at some point in their lives – we go from wife, to mom and then in a blink of an eye we’re left standing alone while everyone else grows up and away. The friends that we once met for play dates are no more – their kids make their own plans now too. Old friends we lost touch with when we had kids are at a stage we were at 5 years ago. We struggle with the idea of going back to work or being home for those important after school chats (when they decide they want to talk to us). We struggle to make our own plans while being the mom taxi that drives the kids to said activities they plan with their friends. And all the while we keep a smile on our face and make sure the house and family life runs smoothly. It’s exhausting. Emotionally and physically exhausting. And lonely…so lonely.
So that’s the dark cave that I’ve been stuck in for most of 2019 – I’ve been trying to climb my way out but the extra 15 pounds I’ve gained from stress eating and good old peri-menopause makes it extra hard.
This brings me to today – October 2019 – the year is almost over, the decade is almost done, and I am ready to change my perspective. Instead of saying “I have to” I am going to start saying “I get to”. Instead of mourning for the past I choose to take on new opportunities and paths for the future and to find joy again in what I used to love.
I decided to go back and really think about what made me fall in love with obstacle course racing in the first place and it was that feeling of “omg, I just did that??!”, it was the feeling of pride and amazement I felt after those first races of doing something I didn’t think I could do. That’s why I love helping people train for these races – especially that first one (whether it’s their first Spartan, X Warrior or first Trifecta). It’s not about winning and how many Trifectas you can get in a year – for me it’s about that feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction in knowing that the training and hard work paid off. So yes, you will still see me on that race course in 2020 but I am going to be selective and only race what works for me and my family’s schedule and I will be the one encouraging and chatting and laughing with others enjoying every moment.
Something else I spent a long time thinking about was what I love about running – I love that it’s a sport that when done consistently and with the right strength and mobility work – you get better. You see improvements if you do the right things at the right time consistently. There’s no scale or inches to measure to decide if you are successful. You’re successful because you put in the work and no number can take that away from you. For me trail running is my love – my feet and achilles thank me when I run off pavement and I want to do more of it in 2020 and so I will. I’m grateful that I get to run and that we have so many great races and opportunities to enjoy the beautiful landscape that we are so lucky to live close to.
Finally, my kids. Yes, I still sometimes wish that they still ran up and gave me the big hugs and kisses that they used to but I’ll settle for a one armed hug from my teenager and an intelligent thoughtful conversation with my 10 year old. I am grateful that we get to go on trips with them now and laugh as a family instead of trying to entertain them along the way, we get to watch scary movies and shows like Big Brother together, we can find new things that we can do together like run a race or volunteer to walk dogs. And now that they are growing up it gives my husband and I a chance to figure out what we want to do together and go on a date night without the cost of a babysitter.
But most of all I’m grateful for new opportunities and opening the door to new things and people that fill my cup. I think the last couple months of 2019 are going to kick the first 10’s butt ;).
So in closing, choose to be grateful and when you find yourself saying “I have to do xyz” try instead to say “I get to do xyz” and you may find that it changes how you feel about it.
What are you grateful for this year?