The Element of Surprise

I lost track of how many times I told myself I was too tired to keep tackling things on my to-do list this week. Training for a 50k was eating into all my free time while a trip to Alaska marched closer every day. Work at the campground kept getting steadily busier, throwing a routine I had established out the window. Our old dog decided that midnight and five AM are the best times of day to relieve himself of fecal matter, so even on the rare day that I got eight hours of sleep it was disjointed and fitful as I woke up in a panic multiple times to the scent of dog shit (Fun fact, one of the unspoken joys of tiny house life is the inability to escape a smell once it’s been released). 

So I walked back from the office on Monday evening fully expecting to skip my weekly strength training workout. This kick ass, fast paced routine of plyometrics and balancing exercises leaves me shaking and dripping with sweat after the first ten minutes. I had skipped it the previous Monday to allow myself adequate recovery time between an accidentally long bike ride and a long run that were only two days apart. Despite how vital this weekly workout is to my ability to stay healthy while running absurd distances, I found myself exhausted, drained, and fully prepared to skip it again. 

My stopwatch was out of battery, so I took fifteen minutes to charge it, change clothes, eat a banana and listen to some get-pumped music (thank god for Debussy’s Suite Bergamasque, am I right?! …no, just me? Ok, that’s cool.) As I sat at the picnic table dreading a workout in the evening heat, I gave myself full permission to fail. No rep goals, no time goals, I didn’t even have to finish the workout. The only requirement was that I start. So I walked my tired self into the clearing of trees I call my workout studio and got to work. 

The funny thing about starting is that it makes stopping seem a lot less appealing. Forty minutes later, I collapsed down to my mat after the last set of planks, rolled over, blinked through streams of sweat at the trees above me and grinned. By giving myself the space to fail, I had also been given the space to surprise myself. 

The next morning, I had a hard time getting comfortable during my meditation. I warmed up with a four minuted guided session and then started a self-timed session. While I usually opt for silence, I accidentally hit play on one of those hokey new age background tracks. “Ugh, I can’t handle ten minutes of this crap.” I thought, getting ready to start over. A small voice in my mind reminded me that meditation is about sitting through any emotions and experiences that might arise during the session. I thought about how surprised I had been by what I was capable of the evening before. So, I gave myself permission to be surprised again. Eventually the hokey music faded in with everything else. I opened my eyes after the ten minutes was up feeling refreshed, energized and thrilled by what I had accomplished. 

I didn’t think I was going to write this blog post. I had so much going on and my trip to Alaska started during my prime writing hours (aka The Last Possible Minute). I didn’t get it written before I had to leave for the airport, and for various reasons I would be leaving my laptop at home. If ever there was an excuse, this was it, right? I boarded my flight and settled down into my seat. I scrolled listlessly throughly my podcasts, but nothing sounded good. I thought about what I would say to my readers as an excuse, “Off to find more adventure! Be back next week!” Life gets crazy, I knew you guys would understand. 

I stared down at the phone in my hand. 

I opened the notepad app. 

Surprise!

2 thoughts on “The Element of Surprise

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