No matter how well I plan — and how well executed my plan is — there are just times when I bottom out.
Sometimes it follows extended period of high demand, either professionally or personally. It may be in the lead up to a daunting project, with a giant mountain to climb on the horizon. It may be when either my personal or professional life swells up and steals more energy and thought than usual. Or it may be a time like right now now, where all of those things kind of converge.
In this moment, I am coming off an incredibly engaging (but demanding) few weeks at work that involved the interviewing and hiring of a new leader and boss. I’m knee deep in a few projects that are still murky and have a distance yet to go before I reach the other side. I’m grieving the slow but determined progression of advanced cancer on a loved one who is much too young. And I’m finally beginning to heal from a ridiculously prolonged cold and cough.
Oh, and it’s February. Cold, snowy, ugh February.
On any given day, I’m the glass-half-full optimist, the idealist. So when life and work are just harder than usual — when things just feel belabored but I don’t feel physically, mentally, or emotionally up to the challenge — I lose myself a little. I fall out of touch with the one who relishes a challenge, knocks out a to-do list, gets fired up about opportunities and the future. After wandering in this sense of bewilderment for a few days now, I’m ready to shift gears. I’m ready to get back in the ring, to trade this fog for focus. (Evidently I’m also ready for generous use of metaphor.)
And it’s starting. Today at lunch, I sat and laughed with my eight year old. We watched part of a Myth Busters episode. He told inappropriate jokes, and rather than assume my maternal posture, I just laughed. He laughed even more.
I will try to go for a run today. My runs (and physical activity of nearly any kind) have been all but absent over the past several weeks, no thanks to the viruses in my body, a demanding work schedule, a legitimate need for more sleep than I was getting, and the 12″ of snow and ice on the ground. But today the sun shines, the temperature rises, and my body needs to move again.
When I treat myself well, I’ve found that the universe responds. I will assemble dinner for my family, laugh with my kids, ask my husband about his day, put away my basket of clean laundry and (probably) sleep better tonight than I have in too long.
But first, I will run.
I’m sure it will be slow, as it will take time to regain my previous level of fitness. And it will probably be short because I’ll be tucking it into a spot of time between leaving the office and picking up my daughter from day care. But it will be fresh air. It will be sunshine and vitality.
The sun may be in my eyes, and I may be behind. But even running on empty is still running. It’s time.