For the first time in 6 years I’ve made the cross country pilgrimage to California to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with my family.
Eight hours of travel with a precocious 5 year old proved to be surprisingly peaceful, despite the obvious. The thought of coming home, to the land I love the most, was more than enough to fuel me for the long, exhausting trip. That, and the promise of a double-double “protein style” from In n Out Burger, of course.
Here we are, on the best coast, cooking, drinking wine and generally enjoying life. My family is highly dysfunctional (whose isn’t?) and somehow we are managing to treat each other with kindness, respect and most shockingly-love.
My road to this point has had many peaks and valleys, and the collective experiences that have brought me to where I am today have ultimately fostered an environment of growth and extreme self-awareness. In a nutshell…I’m happy.
I have my health, a beautiful son, a career I love, an incredible “chosen family” and a supportive, albeit often deranged, assortment of blood relatives. I have everything I need and a peace within me that grows with every passing day; yet somehow I still find myself wanting. I still have the occasional complaints and am often struck with irritability, negativity and envy. Every once in awhile a sobering realization puts me back in my place, and leaves me thankful for the depth of riches I possess in my heart.
Today that realization comes in the form of movement. My mother, whom I am visiting in Southern California, is a talented Physical Therapist who has dedicated her practice to those who lack the basic ability to locomote.
She’s dealt with some of the toughest cases of paraplegics and has had the honor of helping people walk again who were told by physicians they would never do so again. In true mom fashion, whenever I would complain as a kid, she would remind me of my ability to walk and how my trivial lamentation paled in comparison. Spending the holiday with her has reminded me of this amazing gift that I too often take for granted.
Every single time I feel like bailing on a training session I remind myself how lucky I am. I have the ability to move freely, with grace, precision and strength. Every time I miss a clean or a snatch, or get frustrated at the rate of progress on my weighted pullups, I remember that some people lack the ability to perform those movements.
How many times have we all said we lack the “time” or the “energy” or the “resources” to exercise? How can I even begin to utter such things when there are inspirational people running races with prosthetic limbs and competing in powerlifting with one leg?! I have the gift of movement, and for that I am infinitely thankful.
In an effort to embrace this gift, I decided to start off my Thanksgiving this year with something I rarely do and often chastise. That’s right, I went for a run. *gasp*!
I never run. I prefer to sprint since I get pretty bored doing anything for more than 30 seconds, and ever since my knee surgery running has been a bit cumbersome. But today,
in a beautiful park in Redlands, California, I put my headphones on and tuned into A Tribe Called Quest, running up and down steep hills and through a plethora of orange groves. My joints felt great, my mind was clear and my heart was bursting at the seams with gratitude.
I stopped mid run at a paved lookout point (mostly because my calves were very pertrubed at what I’d put them through) and decided to do an impromptu yoga session. It seemed like an appropriate place and time for sun salutations.
I felt so thankful to have the have the ability to express myself through movement. That is, after all, what we as coaches and athletes do. Training is our craft, our expression and our passion. Without the ability to move I would be missing a significant part of my inherent character.
It was then that I made a distinct and profound decision that had been weighing heavily on me for some time. I chose to let go. I let go of all the animosity and resentment that has been polluting my heart and mind. I let go of the envy and the jealousy and the preoccupation with people and things that do not bring me happiness and inspire me to grow. I’d held on to so much toxic, negative energy for far too long.
It was time to let go and live; to make room for more productive emotions and thoughts. I made a decision to let my heart be so full of love, that anger, jealousy and fear would have no room to grow. This affirmation fueled me to keep running, to find pure enjoyment through the fluid movement of my body.
When all was said and done, I got to the bottom of the trail and was struck with an idea that deterred me from heading back to the car. I drew an agility ladder in the dirt, and went crazy. Agility drills in an interval fashion, complete with dancing rest periods…in public. I have no shame, and I had an absolute blast.
I left the park feeling invigorated and refreshed. Not only had I spent some time exercising outdoors, I had done some important self reflection and thoroughly enjoyed myself in the process. I am completely consumed with gratitude for my body and it’s capabilities. I’ll remember the magic of this day the next time I feel like skipping a training session or being generally lazy.
I will be grateful for all of the things my body can do as opposed to what it can’t. I will be thankful for movement.