Choose Optimism

Let me preface this by saying that what works for me may not work for you. Yes, I'm a glass-half full kinda gal but I'm also totally down with a solid pity party. Throughout my adult life, my most successful weapons against the mopies have been 1. [great] personal style and 2. intense physical activity. While this combo will not be the answer for everyone, these two things combined have been the methods I've used to both heal and reassure myself.

It's why I style and it's why I teach.

In 2007 I screwed up my knee... and yes, of course, I was dancing. Now, almost nine years later to the date, I've re-injured my knee in a similar fashion. But this time my ability to teach is on the line, not just daily work outs. It doesn't sound like much, but my mind depends on working out rigorously even more my body does.  It's been eighteen days since I last taught at Cyc Fitness. I've felt sorry for myself and gotten angry with my body. I've doubted my strength both mentally and physically and worst of all, I've doubted my future as a spin instructor.

This morning I woke up in South Carolina at my parents' house. My knee was stiff and swollen; it immediately pissed me off. I put on a pair of baggy sweat pants from high school, an orange bra, a maroon tank (no, I'm not a VT Hokies fan) and a tight black zip up jacket.  Right before I left my bedroom I looked at my disheveled state in the mirror and said out loud, "we're not doin' this."  This not really getting dressed thing is an indicator for me. I saw my clothing choice as a way of saying "screw it... I'm not in amazing shape, I'm not proud of where I am, I'm feeling sorry for myself and I'm upset about my stagnancy."  Typically, I dress for my outlook on life, my personality and my attitude: adventurous, strong, feminine, spicy, bold, the list goes on!  And the antithesis of those adjectives is expressed in what I put on this morning.  I'm not denying those feelings... that I feel sluggish and my morale is down but I'm also not going to let myself wallow there. 

I rolled the tired sweatpants over my bum knee and let them drop to the floor.  I changed my bra to something that actually fit under the tank... and wasn't neon. I layered on my cozy but sexy new kit & ace top (black) and chose a comfortable pair of striped gray lululemon leggings. I looked over at all the fun (heels and wedges) shoes I'd brought home in hopes of being able to wear them once the swelling left my knee and then decided that UGGS (rolled down) would be totally acceptable for working from home today.  I washed my face, slapped on a little mascara and lip liner, glossed my lips and put my studs on.  

There. I thought. Better. I said out loud.  You can do this.  I chanted.

Have you ever noticed that you dress in accordance to how you feel about yourself?  What do you see?  What do you wear?  What's your best and what's your not-best?

What modifications can you make? You will not always be able to do everything you want to do, when you want to do it, the way you want to do it.  Suffering arises when we want what we can't have immediately AND/OR when we don't want what we have, in the present.  

Try. Just try to switch to gratitude for what is available in the present. Identifying gratitude does not mean a list of "it could be worse" comparisons. There is no reason to compare sufferings with someone else just to beat yourself up over being "better off" than the other guy. Leave that shit out of the narrative. Write out five things, people, experiences, gifts that make your life so incredible RIGHT NOW.  Here are mine:

  1. My clients. You guys are the MVP's who, upon hiring me, make the decision, the leap to be a better version of your already incredible selves. Not because you suck the way you are, but you because you believe in best-case-scenarios. I get you and you get me. Thank you.

  2. Kimberly, Caroline, Alexi, Courtney and the rest of my Cyc Fitness family.  They've encouraged me, covered my classes and continue to take great care of our studio's riders as I figure out next steps with this knee issue.

  3. UGGS and the ability to wear them stylishly (red dancing emoji entered here.)

  4. Fresh coffee, brewed by the cup in my parents' jura coffee maker thing. #gloryglory

  5. SADIE! My parents' amazing dog, who doesn't know what's going on "in real life" but can tell when I'm down and makes me giggle without any effort.

Yeah, being injured sucks.  Not getting to do what I want to do, when I want to do it, the way I want to do it sucks.  But I've got this incredible box of tools to put to use when I'm feeling down. And at the root of it all is the choice to be grateful and the ability to choose optimism.