I love the fall season. Cooler morning temps for comfortable workouts. Cross country meets. Beautiful colors of the trees. Apple picking. Sweaters and jeans (okay, if you know me at all you know I mean matching sweatsuits or leggings). Crazy Badger Saturday tailgates and cozy Packer Sundays.
The transition from the chaos of squeezing in chasing every last moment of summer to the acceptance that winter will be on its way.
In Wisconsin we are blessed with four full seasons that change throughout the year. The rain brings life and light of spring which leads to the warm sun of summer before the coolness of fall takes us to the snow and darkness of winter. And most of us shift with the seasons— our timelines, expectations, hobbies, and internal clocks follow the rhythm of Mother Nature.
Lately, as I have mentioned, I have been experiencing a lot of change. My roles as a mother are shifting, therefore my life as a wife is as well. I am aware of physiological changes in my body. All of this shifting has inevitably knocked my foundation a bit off kilter. I keep returning to my tools to try to rebuild a new one a little bit at a time.
The truth is that we are always changing, or shifting. And although change can be hard, it always has the potential to be good— either in the moment or further down the road than we can see.
We can see good when we believe that what is happening has value. When we remain grounded and like I mentioned last week, believing that we can experience and learn from the good, bad, ugly, and all in between. When we choose how we spend our time and who we spend it with. When we allow ourselves to shift at the pace that is needed to feel through it and come out on the other side as a new creation.
My longevity as endurance athlete is built on the ability to keep shifting—from short to long distance triathlons, 5Ks to 50K, and even endurance charity swims. The world of sports and fitness has so much to offer us to keep our physical bodies healthy and our minds challenged. First you must be willing to listen to your internal voice encouraging you to try something out of your comfort zone. Then build confidence and self trust by fully experiencing the journey of the goal. And when you stop finding value in the hobbies that are meant to be fun, or at least titillating in some way, it is important to try something new.
Change. It is healthy to shift with your seasons of life. It is even okay to feel like you need to start over.
The fall is typically a contemplative season for triathletes. For many, it signals the start of the post or off-season, a time when imbalances, niggles of injury, or weaknesses are rested before a plan is made to address them in the future. New goals are created. Coaches are hired. Dreams start to become reality with one shaky hand clicking on that long awaited “register now” button.
If you are in an off-season of your sport or in life, I urge you to show up in it—daily. Don’t hurry through it or gloss it over, making the next big plan or looking too quickly ahead for the next big thing. Stop reacting out of fear of losing fitness or changing body composition. Wait. Practicing presence and mindfulness sure will not automatically make every day easier or happier (hopefully by now you’ve learned that nothing will), but it will make you feel that your life is whole and complete. There is much to be learned in the down times, including but not limited to the restorative healing nature of rest.
And as you feel a shift in any of your roles move with it rather than resist. Let it be heart bursting joyful, as life can sometimes be so wonderful it amazes you. Let it be hard, as sometimes life is soul crushing that you feel like you can’t go on another day. Sometimes it is both at the same time or moves from one to the next so quickly that you feel dizzy. Priorities change as well, but don’t lose track of the importance of caring for yourself.
When you do have the space to breathe, take the time to rest and reflect. Don’t fill it too quickly.
Contemplate and then get ready to take on the next small, big, or medium goal. Formulate your “why.” Get a little shaky and scared in the best way. And then start to attack the whole process with a restored spirit.