If my life was a road race, I think right now I would be on one of those deceiving hills – not too steep to look daunting, but deceptively long and hard. And just like a race, if you stop mid-hill, it takes a lot more energy to get moving again. The top isn’t usually in sight, and when you look back, sometimes it looks almost flat. “Why does this seem so hard?” you may wonder; “When will I reach the top?” And “I wish I could just coast right now.”
Truthfully, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t feel this way sometimes. Sometimes it feels like a marathon, and sometimes it feels like a sprint. Either way, the best way I’ve found to keep moving forward is to take a look at where you are, how far you’ve come, and keep sight of where you’re going and why you want to get there.
In my life right now, I am feeling kind of tired. I am missing my Nova Scotia family – and don’t know yet when I’ll see them all next. My practice feels quiet – and I like to be busy. Even my crossfit workouts feel sluggish. As a matter of fact, in all 6 of the workouts I’ve done in the past 2 weeks, I’ve had to combat a very loud voice that says “I don’t want to do this. I should just stop.” (complete with excuses for myself of why that would be ok) But stopping just isn’t an option – not in my mind. And I consider excuses to be a complete waste of energy.
And so – I am taking the advice of a great mentor of mine: “When you question if you are making a difference, or whether you are succeeding in certain areas of your life – just look for the evidence to the contrary.” (Thanks Arno!)
There is, in fact, a rhyme to my reason. There is a reason our bedtime routine starts with me asking my kids what they did well that day. It’s because there will be days that coming up with an answer to that question feels hard – and those days are the ones that it is even more important that we take stock of where we are winning. Even if it’s in the small things.
I’m not advocating living life with your head in the sand, avoiding problems, or taking no action. No – rather, I am advocating putting your time and attention on those things that are working – the areas of your life where you are ‘winning’ – simply to keep you in the mindset for succeeding. This then lends itself well to taking action that will eventually lead you out of that place/problem/mental funk.
If I look back in time, I can easily see that what feels like a quiet day in practice now would have been a busy day in practice 2 years ago. I can see that in the ten years since I graduated chiropractic college, we’ve grown in leaps and bounds. Our family has grown, our interests have broadened, our successes have been many (as have been the challenges). Even with crossfit, two years ago I couldn’t have lifted what I did today – regardless of whether it was fast or slow.
If I look at where I am winning today, I can appreciate the dedicated families who make time to come out to our workshops; revel in the excitement of having next week’s mom’s group full to capacity; and for the many couples booked for our prenatal class that is still over a month away. I can look at the kids and teenagers who lay down on my table for their adjustments, and appreciate that I have known many of them since they were babies and toddlers. I can look at the families I take care of and see all of the ways in which I get to play a role in their lives.
I can look at my family, and see Ethan and Audra’s happy, healthy faces. I can be grateful for the fact that Ethan still lets me hug and kiss him in the schoolyard, and for Audra’s warm little hand in mine as we walk home from school. I can be grateful for Dean, who loves me even when I feel like I am a roller coaster. I can be grateful for our dog Casey – especially when a year ago we thought we might be losing her. I can be grateful for those big things – and the small: a roof over our head, good quality food in our bellies, and the appreciation for the quality time we get to share together.
So, on the days that I feel like life is all uphill, I take the time to get present to all the ways I am winning. In the big ways and small moments. And I know I find it when I start to feel gratitude. In gratitude everything flows better.
Yes, I have to keep moving, but maybe – just maybe – one day I will look back on these moments to see that these days were the ones that made all the difference. And when I ‘reach the top’ – it will be that much more worthwhile.
Perspective is everything.