Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Midweek Motivation: Impossible

One of my favorite movies ever is Princess Bride. One of my favorite scenes is when Vizzini keeps saying "Inconceivable!" when the Man in Black keeps catching up with them and Inigo Montoya tells him "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." Well, I'm starting to feel that way about the word "impossible".

Just last night Logan was telling us that going to the moon was impossible. So Kayley helpfully pointed out that while riding your bike to the moon would be impossible, people have flown to the moon, so it's not impossible. Yes, riding your bike to the moon is impossible, but you can still get there...finding something that is really, truly, impossible is quite a challenge.

Three years ago, I would have said that me running a mile without stopping was impossible. Two years ago I would have told you that me finishing a marathon was impossible. One year ago, I would have told you that me mentoring other runners was impossible. One month ago I would have told you that me going 30 days without eating sugar was impossible. Four "impossibilities", four pretty major undertakings, four things I always assumed only really driven people could accomplish, four things I never imagined I would do...all made possible, by me!

The roads to accomplish these seemingly impossible tasks were not easy, they had their hills and potholes and detours, but once I got to the end of those roads, I kind of looked back with a shrug of my shoulders and said "Hmmm, that wasn't so bad". Our "impossibles" seem scary because we don't know what's on the other side of them, we are going to be challenged on the way to making these things possible, but once we realize that we are capable of doing the "impossible" they don't seem that big anymore. Now, don't get me wrong, these are amazing things we should celebrate accomplishing, it's just that we are so much stronger than we think we are that once it's done, we might not seem so surprised that we did it.

So take some time today to think about your "impossible". That one thing that you really want, but are just sure you can't accomplish. Then, just put your head down and go for it...because even though you keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means!

Happy Wednesday Runners!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

I hate to admit this, but I am a chronic apologizer. I used to think it was out of my innate sense of politeness that I was constantly saying "I'm sorry" to people (I was born "Minnesota Nice" ya know). But it wasn't until a few years ago when my husband, after I had apologized for something inconsequential for the millionth time, finally said "Quit apologizing! It's annoying!" that I started to think of it as a character flaw. My husband calls it "Catholic Guilt". I've recognized it as "Mommy Guilt"...whatever it is, I have worked hard to get better about it, but it's a very difficult habit to break.

Several years ago, I attended a seminar at a work conference. The topic of discussion was how to relay potentially unpleasant information to our customers using good customer service skills. We had to write a series of announcements about facilities being closed, or classes being cancelled, etc. Almost everyone in the group ended their announcements with "We apologize for the inconvenience". Our presenter asked us "Why are you sorry? Did you do something wrong?" And we all agreed, no, we didn't do anything wrong. The facilities were closed for maintenance, or the classes were cancelled due to lack of enrollment, we didn't cause these things to why were we apologizing? The presenter told us that apologizing gives a negative spin to things that aren't necessarily "bad". We are implying we did something wrong so we need to apologize, instead of setting it up as a positive choice that benefits everyone in the long run. She said instead of being sorry you inconvenienced people, end your announcement with "We look forward to seeing you when we reopen with new pool filters!" Or "Kathy will be back next week to teach an energizing class!" This made so much sense to me, and ever since that seminar, I have never written "We apologize..." on the bottom of an announcement. So, why can't I look at my personal life in the same way? Why do I continue to feel guilty about my decisions, why do I feel the need to apologize when I haven't done anything "wrong"?!?

As parents, choosing to take time for ourselves seems like a choice between being selfish and being there for our children. We've all had that stab of guilt, "Instead of going for a run, I could be playing with the kids". And then on top of that, the knife might further turn when we think "I'm going for a run, which means my husband is home taking care of the kids instead of doing something he wants to do". But for me, it goes even yesterday, I was going to meet a friend for a swim and spin class in the morning, but my kids slept in and we didn't get going early enough for me to make I decided to bail instead of trying to rush my kids out the door. However, instead of thinking, "Great, now I have time to enjoy a leisurely morning with my family", I thought, "I'm a bad friend for skipping the workout". I wasn't as present for my kids as I should have been because I was thinking I had disappointed someone else. And I know that I am not the only one stuck in this vicious cycle. Whatever its name is, Mommy Guilt, Wife Guilt, Catholic Guilt...I owe it to myself, and my family and friends, to let it go. Diane got her workout in yesterday, I didn't do something "bad" by not showing up. My kids know that running makes me happy and is important to me, I am not being a "bad" mom by going for a run. My husband, more than anyone, knows that spending time exercising is necessary for my sanity, I'm not being a "bad" wife by taking the time to work out.

I'm not advocating being selfish and neglectful, but if you, like me are a chronic apologizer, stop and think before apologizing for something. If the urge to say "I'm sorry" pops up, ask yourself..."Did I do something wrong?" and "Did my decision cause someone else harm?" If the answer to either of those questions is truly "No" then stop beating yourself up about it. The only thing we are accomplishing by feeling guilty is putting a negative spin on something that is likely out of our control, or vilifying something that we have decided is in our best interest. Your kids will understand, your husband gets it, your friend will still invite you to go exercise with her next week...they have already forgiven let yourself off the hook!