Most people who know me well are going to laugh when they read this, well at least the title. Especially if they’ve known me a long time. I’m not a person who’s known for her patience, or flexibility for that matter. In fact, I think most people I know would describe me as intense, highly driven and not patient, at all. I like my routine and when I have a plan, I stick to it. So being flexible comes with a bit of resistance. But, over the past few years, the greatest gift I was given from all the injuries, set backs, failures, changed plans and more injuries, was the chance to learn about flexibility.
Through hardships and the unexpected are opportunities. I had to learn about these the hard way of course, to accept the unknown and to roll with it. To not know what the future held and say ‘ok, I got this,’ then find a way to solve each problem that came my way. But, even with a couple years of practice, I’m still not very good at it. I like to get in a routine, I like to plan, stick to that plan, and I’m annoyed when things get in the way of what I want to do. Especially when it comes to my training. I usually do it alone or with a few close friends, because we know each other, we know what needs to be done and we do it. No muss, no fuss. It’s easier that way.
But as I’ve learned and keep learning again and again, through the unexpected is where the magic happens. Surprises and changes to my routine is where I make new discoveries and find new things I like to do. Life opens up when I travel more, try new foods, run with a new friend, try a new sport or give myself permission to take a break from it all. It’s like there are two sides of me, one representing the free-spirit adventurous side, while the other represents the rigid, intense and extremely structured side. Can the two mesh? Are the mutually exclusive? I know, from experience, that it takes dedication, sacrifice and consistency to achieve great things. I want to be the best person I can be so, when I get in this mind set, I often get rigid, consumed in my work, schedule and structure. I like it. I feel accomplished and I’m super productive. But can there be a little room for error? Can I be a bit more flexible and still be just as productive, instead of seeing it as a disturbance to my ‘plan?’
This is where, at least I hope, those friends who were laughing at the title of this post, can see where I’ve made a little progress with flexibility. In my case, I might have been forced to deal with being more flexibly when it came to my injuries. When I couldn’t walk or run for months, I learned other ways to stay strong, I did things other than sport that made me feel just as fulfilled. I had to. And to my surprise, through being flexible, I even found other sports that I loved just as much as running (well, almost). Even though I was forced to be a bit more flexible, and as unnatural as it felt to be more open and try more things, it was the best thing for me. I learned so much about the world outside my own narrow vantage point. In fact, now, I even practice flexibility. I’m not mad or upset when the weather changes and I can’t run or ride or ski that day. I’m not upset when plans fall through or I need to entertain family or friends for a few extra days. I’m flexible enough to find something else to do and not let it ruin my day. Maybe at first I’m a little annoyed, but with a bit of coaxing (either from within, or the good influence of my friends around me) I’m embracing flexibility.
So, as we move into another year, I encourage you to not focus on cutting out or cutting back, but to focus on letting more into your life – a bit more flexibility and a bit more uncertainty. Maybe that means being more social, taking a chance on a new friend or relationship, traveling more or running a new route or workout, trying new foods or intentionally slowing down a bit more. For me, it involves all of these things because letting in a bit more flexibility allows me to grow, makes me a better person, and as difficult as it is sometimes, it’s the only way I can keep learning more about myself. I don’t know what 2020 has in store for me, but I’m pretty excited for all those twists, turns and new opportunities to stretch my flexibility.