I'd say I've got a #GratitudeAttitude about 97% of the time. I reserve 3% for those less than graceful "Oh, bless her heart" break down moments we are all susceptible to, but for the most part just being upright and breathing is all I need to remind me how fantastic this whole living thing really is. To top that off, I live in a country where I can vote, drive myself, get an education, get a job, and love whomever I please. The US of A ain't perfect, but that's a hell of a start, and I'm grateful to the service men and women (and their families!) who sacrifice so much to keep us safe. The list of what I'm grateful for is rather inexhaustible, especially when I got to kick off ThanksgivingDay 2017 with a gorgeous hike atop the Golden Gate Bridge, but the SLL mindset is all about seeing silver in the gray. Here's a few 2017 struggles I wouldn't have had any other way:
This is sure to offend some, and I really don't care - "45" could have been a republican, democrat, or a NYC street rat, but it doesn't matter how he identifies himself or the party you align with. His brand of bigotry clearly has a market, and the unleashing of "otherness" has been a hard pill to swallow in a year filled with natural disasters and domestic terrorism. And yet, his ascension has unleashed a political activism unseen in my generation: the women's march, children's march, march for science, march against hate, town halls, airport protests, rallies, meet ups, phone banks...and in recent weeks women are coming out right and left to hold men in power accountable for less than acceptable actions in the work place.
So, perhaps 45's election isn't the worst. When you've got a leader that embodies some of your deepest darkest secrets & flouts them openly - racism, discrimination, hate - you've got no choice but to talk about it and face the issues head on. Maybe, just maybe, we can use this massive derailment of decency to course correct, confront our failings, and be better for it.
There's nothing like physical feats to remind me how lucky I am for a healthy body and mind. I've qualified for the Boston Marathon twice, commuted by bike alone all over Austin for years, and now hike gnarly Bay Area hillsides on the regular. Each experience leaves me grateful for my aching quads, screaming lungs, and tired tookus. But if you've never tried to row 2000m for time, then I can't necessarily advocate that you give a whirl because it is absolutely terrible. However, it's also incredibly humbling, and, as I learned this year, there's nothing like a painful physical flop to keep it real with yourself.
I've been working out at Roark Gyms in San Francisco for about a year now, and one of the ways they measure physical strength and endurance is with a 2000m row for time. Last year was my first 2k row experience, and I crushed it, coming in 2 seconds ahead of the women's standard time of 8:15. I had only been training at the gym a few months at that point, so this year when it came time to retest, I figured I'd be able to make an 8:00 time no problem. But I didn't. I flopped. HARD. Why? Because I got cocky and stopped doing the little things that make a big difference.
When I first started at Roark, everything was new to me, so I payed attention and did as told. I warmed up before class, and I cooled down after. I foam rolled. I stretched. I took the prescribed days off to recover. But then...hubris got the best of me. I started getting stronger and leaner, so I started skimping out on the warm ups jumped into the workouts because, hey, I could handle them. I didn't take the recovery days off because #beastmode. Incremental improvements? Lame. Go big or go home, right?
Wrong. Not listening to my body, not going the course of the slow and steady was a complete disaster. I slid off that row machine onto the floor and puddled into a pool of sweat and embarrassment for all to see. That's where getting ahead of yourself gets you, and you can bet your ass I won't be there again. Sometimes you've gotta level yourself completely to build yourself back up. It was, no doubt, the worst, but I'm grateful for the reminder that I can't accomplish the big things I ask of myself every so often without committing the little things every day. Consistency really is the key, and it's a lesson I'll do well not to forget.
The Sunday Sads
I used to just think this was a natural progression of adulthood, that everyone's Sunday ritual included anxious afternoons and activities spent suppressing the sadness brought on by the work week ahead. Boozy Sunday brunch? Yup. Can't be sad when you're carafes deep in mimosaland. All day hikes outside? Heck yes. Can't be sad when you're surrounded by nature's bounty. Shopping sprees? Of course. Can't be sad when I'm busy being broke and fabulous. But, inevitably, Sunday night rolled around, and no amount of mimosas or melatonin could save me from that omniscient inner voice creepin' in, keeping me awake, saying over and over, "this shit just ain't right."
Sometimes I hate how well yourself knows yourself, and how ferociously stupid and futile it is to ignore your own truth. But, it was a good run while it lasted, I suppose. Without the weeks, months, years, spent trying to abracadabra my anxiety away, I wouldn't be here where I am today: accepting of the admission that truly this shit just ain't right, that lawyering in its current form is not the gig for me, and that's completely okay.
How did I get here, you ask? I kept talking to people about the Sunday Sads. Turns out, most knew of them, many had them, but a few had managed to defeat them. Unfortunately, those successful at overcoming the Sunday Sads didn't banish them the easy way with brunch or buying stuff. They did the hard work of confronting themselves, listening to their inner voice, and letting that give way to the next, right step.
Is it freaky to admit to yourself that a degree you spent three years and thousands of dollars on took you down a professional path you no longer recognize? F yes. Is it worth it to be freaked out but finally free to follow your heart and recognize you must create for yourself the life you want to lead? Also, F yes. Do I have any tangible idea what that means for me today? F no. But I know I'll get there eventually. And that admission alone was all it took to silence the Sunday Sads. Not all battles are won on a field; self acceptance is a private revolution of the soul.
Choosing to see the silver in the gray is just that - a choice. The follies, flops, and frustrations are going to occur regardless, but you alone control how you react to them. The lessons learned, hope garnered, and wisdom gained from these SLL experiences make each one worthwhile instead of worrisome.
Please comment & share the 2017 SLL stories you're most grateful for, and my best wishes to you as we enter this holiday season of celebration and togetherness!
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