Yesterday I was stressed. I went to the gym kicking and screaming. I didn’t feel like running, but I chastised myself enough to make it there. “You need this.” I said to myself. “Okay.” myself sighed in defeat. I was also annoyed that I booked late that evening to hand deliver a couple’s album so that they’d be able to view it for the first time together when they both arrived home that evening. What had I been thinking?! Those were just the book ends of the day. What about everything in between – all those mounting details and endless tasks?
As I dragged my feet forward in my day there was a moment of clarity. Why was I resisting everything? Why was I making everything more difficult than it needed to be. I was pushing so hard against it all that I was exhausting myself more than if I just simply leaned it the day and did it without thinking, painfully about every damn detail and what each one entailed.
Those of us who have a history of care giving are intimately familiar with the concept of “leaning into the discomfort”. Oh. We’re pros. Nearing glee, we take on the truly challenging moments as if we were anointed for such a time as this. We deem everything painful as deeply meaningful, looking for metaphor and lessons.
Those of us who’ve endured trauma and loss sometimes become experts in digging heels in deep during hard times. Sound familiar? The winds billow. The storm rages. Everyone takes cover and you’re just standing there like a Stonehenge. Someone calls out, “HEY! YOU OKAY? MAYBE COME INSIDE?” “Nah…It’s fine. I’m fine. Everything’s fine.” you respond. Survival at its best.
Yet, how is it that when we’ve experienced extreme success, joy, goodness and wholeheartedness we’ve struggled fiercely to lean into the comfortable – lean into the goodness? You know what feels insurmountable? Granting myself the permission to offer myself affirmation and celebrate the meaning of the choices I’ve made that have led me to reap all this goodness. That’s what’s difficult.
The reason I was at the gym was because I have the privilege of making my own schedule, because I’m my own boss and because I know myself well enough to understand that running is my tie to sanity. It keeps me clear headed. Running helps me sort out the wheat from the chaff of life. It feels so good to run, if only I give myself permission to lean into how wonderful it feels.
The reason I scheduled the late evening delivery was because I love my clients and I want them to have the best experience possible and because I want to be a part of that experience. I’m meeting them because I have goodness to give them. The story that takes me to their doorstep is that I designed one of the albums I’m most proud of to date. I’m hand delivering the beautiful piece of art that tells the story of one of the most joyful days of their lives and the one thing that will stay with them long into walkers and canes and octogenarianism.
I needed to purposefully remind myself of the joy and meaning that surrounds most of my days – truly labors of love. I needed to remind myself because I’m not good at leaning into the goodness or into the comfortable, but I want to get better. Ralf Waldo Emerson said that the only person you’re destined to become is the person you decide to become. We write our own histories and derive what we want from our experiences. Don’t get me wrong. Some things simply are just shitty and others are exquisitely magnificent, but all that stuff in between? That’s what makes up most of life and maybe, just maybe, we can grant ourselves enough grace to lean into the good when it’s there.