Last week I dropped a series of very loaded questions at the end of my message, starting with:
What do you want to do tomorrow, next week, and through the year?
This was purposely phrased to be a bit dramatic, and not really intended to be answered in one moment. As I mentioned last week, I do like to think the new year can be a good time to intentionally reflect and consider how we want to move forward from where we are. But, I don’t want to fall into the cultural trap that treats a new year as if it is some kind of brand new beginning, one where we will magically wake up with the energy and motivation to become the most “perfect” (aka unattainable and unrealistic) version of ourselves.
My personal answer to this question lies in some words/concepts that I didn’t decide to start leaning into on January 1st. But, since I have your attention, and I believe in the power of them, I guess there is no better time than now to share.
My goal this year, and every year, is to live with curiosity, to be more grounded, to have more patience, and to connect to and more deeply love my physical body. To accept, rather than “fix” myself.
And, I want to stop running toward arriving at being content, when I know that I can do so right now.
I will continue to practice living with ease.
I am guessing that nothing about these words and concepts sounds “easy.” It is not. But, I know life isn’t, or isn’t intended to be, easy. Living with ease is not the same as living an easy life.
According to Brad Stulberg, in The Practice of Groundedness, “ease manifests when you are fully in the moment, letting things happen on their own time, neither focusing nor rushing your process.”
Stulberg calls the opposite of living with ease, living with excitement.
If you know me you know that I love excitement. Always have, and likely always will. Whether it as small as a well received Instagram reel or as big as finishing the Ironman 70.3 World Championships, or seeing Snoop Dogg live (I have to jokingly keep referencing this for those who have heard about it ENOUGH 😉
My brain looks for excitement. It craves it. And when it isn’t obvious, it creates it. And… it is not always positive. Sometimes it is in the form of drama. Or I make something insignificant way bigger than it needs to be. Or I overlook the important impact a small thing can make on one individual. I often find myself easily bored. Less content. Yearning for more.
There has been little “letting things happen on their own time.”
But, I do believe that with awareness comes the possibility of change. And I want this to shift in my life. I want to live with more ease.
Can living with ease align with my passion for charging into hard things? Can I actually become a better athlete, coach, mom, wife, friend, sister, daughter, human by doing so?
I know it can, and I am excited to keep seeking out the ways. As I continue to unpack this concept, I want to start with a few simple truths about living with ease.
It is not:
- Shrinking yourself to be small and out of the spotlight of life.
- A free pass to not show up to what you know you want to live as the most authentic version of yourself.
- Secretly or vocally reacting to fear.
- Trying to hide or cover up what society perceives as the negative parts of yourself.
- Blanketing your life with a shoulder shrugging “it is what it is” attitude.
- Rushing from one moment to the next.
- Mindlessly completing a life as a daily long to-do list just to get to the next moment of rest, the weekend, a vacation, or eventual retirement.
- Presence combined with patience.
- Surrendering control and trusting the process. Letting things unfold, but with some intentionality.
- Awareness and wholly feeling.
- Acceptance of your full self–the good, the bad, and the ugly. Believing that you don’t have to “fix” what is perceived as bad, but viewing yourself without judgement. Knowing that you will never, and are not meant to, arrive at whatever is defined as perfection in your mind.
- Fully living.
In endurance sports it is learning from the daily workouts. It is being present for each stroke, revolution, or footfall in a race versus focusing only on the finish line. It is showing up to workouts with an understood purpose and remaining curious and connected to your body throughout. It is letting it unfold. (Check out Stulberg’s story about elite marathoner Elide Kipchoge training and racing with ease).
As this is a new concept that I recently started to explore, I don’t have a tidy to-do list to wrap up with today. And, I know I will share more on this topic in the future. But, I will leave you with a simple moment and example that recently help ground me, and make me even more of a believer.
As you all know, dragging myself to the pool in the early morning in the winter is quite a personal feat (that I do mentally celebrate every single time I do it 😉 As I started a recent swim I was aware of the tension in my body and the resistance to the hour ahead. I mentally continued the fight by trying to force myself to “just think about something else.” My mind wandered far ahead, and behind, and even sideways. I thought of things that needed to be done later in the day, weeks ahead, and through the year. I thought of how I needed to get this swim out of the way so I could get to something way more exciting. When that didn’t improve my outlook, I tried shaming myself. Then I tried motivation through fear.
And then I remembered that I want to live with ease. (How is it so easy to forget?)
I told myself, “I am going to let this swim unfold.”
I didn’t resign to just floating along and calling it good enough. I had my workout memorized and I completed it with intentionality. It required some hard physical work, but it did not feel like force. I was in it, rather than ahead of myself. And every time I started to think about any positive or negative “excitement,” I repeated my mantra.
I let the swim unfold, and although it wasn’t easy, I felt more at ease.
In the end, I had more of a sense of accomplishment. I felt calmer even though I had worked harder.
I felt free and alive.
I hope you can find some ways to practice living with ease. Let it unfold.