Wednesday, December 25, 2013

What Counts in Life

I'm not that much of a numbers person, but lately I've been counting everything in my life.

I'm counting my SPM, SPL, WPD.

That's strides per minute, strokes per length and words per day. Each one of these activities - running, swimming, and writing - are things that I love to do and want to do well. But to do well, I need to practice them as often as I can, every day if possible. And to measure how well I'm doing I have to count.

To improve at these I'm changing my form and trying to break old habits. In running, I'm working on a mid-foot landing and a quicker cadence, with a goal of 90 SPM. My pace is slow as I adjust to these new normals, but I feel the potential to improve down deep. Today my average was 88 SPM...but I was only allowed to run for 15 minutes. Can I do this for a 5K? For the Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile?

In swimming, I'm working on the bent elbow and the efficient pull. I resisted my swim drills over the summer because I was just trying to conquer the basic act of open water swimming and didn't care really how well I did. Survival was all that mattered. In my recent workouts, I've been proud to sustain 18-20 SPL. But what will I do in open water?

In writing, I have relied on the fire of inspiration that strikes hot and bright as words hit the pages. This fire has carried me through stories over 20,000 words. But to really progress I need to move past burning kindling and have real fuel behind my story. So I'm practicing outlining, developing backstory and describing my characters before I write. It's awkward and uncomfortable for me, but it will make me a better writer.  But I've never finished a novel outside of NaNoWriMo. I'm trying, again, to tell a story that I've attempted to write three times now. Can I do this time?

All of these are new things to me. Sometimes it feels so hard to re-train my body and mind. I mess up, a lot. It would be easier to just do things the old way.

But that wouldn't be who I am. If there's a chance to do something better, I truly feel like I have to try.  As people get to know me, they learn this part of my personality and call me idealistic or naive, and not in a kind way. That used to bother me, sometimes deeply hurt, but it doesn't anymore. Their labels aren't going to change me. I won't change this habit for two reasons. One, I now truly believe that being idealist is an aspect of my personality that keeps me sane. And two, I'm not going to change because I want my children to be idealistic about themselves and the world we live in.

The world we live in can really suck. It is full of heartache and tragedy. This month I honored the anniversary of Newtown and this month I experienced personal loss and heartbreak.

When I face upsetting, humbling and really horrible things in the world, I count my blessings. I start at home and count the four people I am so lucky to have in my life. And then I expand the circle and count my friends and family far and wide, my clients and business partners who have taught me so much, my coaches and mentors, and the strangers who have inspired me. I focus on the good in the world and try to add to it, because in life, in my life, that's what really counts.

Most of the time we can't measure if we are doing better. I don't really know if I'm doing well as a parent, if I am loving my children or husband enough, if I am a good enough friend or person or if I'm making the world a better place. I can't count those things like I can strides, strokes or words. But that doesn't stop me, the naive idealist, from trying.

Merry Christmas, friends!