On the Pause

It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?

Henry David Thoreau

Next week is going to be a fun week for me. My best friend is coming to visit me from California, and besides some beach side bonding, we are going to Disney World. I have signed up for two 10k races this year (so far) and next Saturday is my first RunDisney event. Usually by this time, I’m in a maintenance training mode. But unfortunately, I fell a few weeks ago walking and bruised a rib, pulled my shoulder, and badly skinned my knee (not even an interesting story to tell why this happened, just a combination of being a klutz and utter exhaustion). So I haven’t even run a mile the past 6 weeks. To top off my inability to train, I have gained 5 lbs because let’s face it, when I’m at business dinners non-stop I find it difficult to refuse the steak, cocktails, and dessert. The past month and a half there have been too many of these events, as our work place has once again tossed all the pieces of the puzzle in the air, and we are rushing to catch them and put them back into a picture of what can be. In addition to this, I have been unusually distracted outside work and done a few not well thought out things, one that landed me in trouble that luckily my squeaky clean record helped mitigate. So all this is telling me: I need to pause.

In life we don’t always have the luxury of an easy situation, but we do have the choice to control the things we can. Sometimes, things may spin so far out of control that you find yourself in an unfamiliar place (as I did when I saw red and blue lights flashing in my rear view mirror last week). Like the verbal warning I received, this was definitely not just a sign to obey speed limits when you have an out-of-state plate, but of something more fundamentally off kilter. Chalk it up to bad energy floating about, or stepping on a crack in the sidewalk after a black cat walked in front of me, the reality is that things feel unstable. And when that happens, my best plan is always to step back and take a deep breath. Pause. Assess what is going on. What is the cause? Is it external, internal, is my reaction exacerbating an already difficult situation? A combination of some or all of these factors? I try to define and understand the problem, because usually there isn’t really a good chance that things will naturally realign themselves (at least not in my life). This can leave me feeling like I’m chomping at the bit when instinct says “do this” to fix the problem, but my brain tells me “wait.” Because in these times, I am so upside down I’m not even sure my instinct is to be trusted until I have a firm handle on the root cause of the issue. So, I pause.

Indecisiveness in my life is something I have worked hard to overcome. Surprisingly, it’s not my nature to be decisive, but it is a lesson I learned in graduate school and it has been invaluable. These past few years I have had to be “overdecisive” (if that is a word), and perhaps this current pause is telling me to take a break and slow down. Weigh options and be a bit more judicious in my choices. Think things through, which in my busy life can be challenging to find time to do. There are a few large things looming in the background, with fundamental impacts, that deserve perhaps more than the “trust your gut” approach with a few facts and figures to point in the best direction. And at the end of the day, I wonder, am I just glossing things over and making a decision to make a decision? Because if I understood the problem fully, it would be too heartbreaking or I would be too paralyzed by fear and not able to move forward? Is any decision just an elaborate avoidance of the true nature of the problem? These thoughts whirl in my mind with no resolution.

Someone, upon realizing that I have a 10k coming up, told me I shouldn’t run because I may have a heart attack like someone he knew. After all, he told me, you’re almost 50 and your training has been light. You might die of exertion. Normally I’d say, you’re an idiot and ignore the person; I’m pretty stubborn when I want to do something. But as it just came up again by this person, I’m wondering, maybe I shouldn’t run. Not push myself next week when I am not prepared. I know in my heart I can do it, but my mind is saying, whoa girl. Maybe this person is sending you yet another message that this is a challenge you shouldn’t risk. After all, my best friend is with me and we could enjoy more time at the parks and together if I skip the race. So I sit and flounder, indecisive. Pause. Think. Self reflection is never a bad thing. So next week when I pick up my race packet, I will probably go back to my room and take a look in the mirror and truly assess whether I am ready to run or if I am just kidding myself that I have done the requisite homework. Because if I am honest, I know that even if I run the race and collect my medal, I didn’t put my all into it. And that is short changing myself. And if I’m truly honest? Maybe that’s the root cause I need to address in my life.

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