Saturday, September 11, 2010

An Exercise in Gratitude

Friday’s Run (9/10/10)

Of course there are days when I do not want to run, do not want to work out, do not want to do much of anything but collapse on my couch and hope that the maid will bring me dinner.  (Note to self: hire a maid.)  Sometimes, I indulge and I take a rest day, or I do something light and easy—some yoga, a few minutes of Pilates.  I do think that even a little bit of exercise is a good thing.  But some nights, I know that the thing I don’t want to do is exactly what I should do.  So I pull out my bag of tricks, and I try to find something that will motivate and inspire me.

Inspire.  To me, it means “to take in.”  Just like when we breathe, we take in fresh air.  Running is an act of inspiration.  The first thing I do to inspire myself is give my body some running fuel.  Yesterday, it came in the form of a blueberry-banana smoothie, one that was a delicious, frosty purple drink that I sipped while blogging and catching up on my internet fun.

Another Smoothie

The second thing I do is convince myself to put on running clothes and walk out the door.  And the third thing I do is try to think about gratitude instead of how tired I am, or the problems I’m having at work, or the inconsiderate thing some random stranger did to me.

Last night, once I started looking for them, I found lovely, inspiring things everywhere.  There was the way the air smelled, a delicious combination of grass, earth, and fried food, probably drifting over from a nearby restaurant.  There were the enormous, helicopter-like dragonflies that floated above me, almost in defiance of the laws of physics.  There was the cat lounging in a driveway, relaxing after a long day of chasing bugs and napping.  There was the peacefulness of a quiet neighborhood, where there aren’t too many cars driving by and I can run slowly and happily, admiring the flowers and trees along the way.  There was the way my legs and lungs forgave me for not running in a week, gamely accepting my challenge even though my running has taken a back seat to weekend bike rides to campus for work.

And there was the gift of time, time to run, even if I didn’t particularly feel like it before I started putting one foot in front of the other.  Running is always an upfront investment; you don’t get the rewards until you put in the time.  This time, I ran for an easy 20 minutes outside in the heat and humidity of another Texas evening.  It was a sweaty, sticky run, but still, I was grateful to be running, to be in good health and able to run, even when I was tired after a long week at work.

Finally, waiting to greet me as I came home from my run, there was the moon, a tiny crescent of a moon.  But it was there, and so was I.

Hello Crescent Moon

Showing up is always the first step in getting anything done.  That’s what I tell myself when it feels too overwhelming to start.  Just show up.  The rest of the pieces will fall into place, I promise.

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