Personal transformation is a jokester. It sneaks up and bites you on the butt when you least expect it. This happened to me this weekend on a hotel balcony overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
I snuck out of bed before the sun was up to see if I could meditate a while. We were at Virginia Beach for a soccer tournament, and I knew these would be my last quiet moments before the chaos that follows a team of 14-year-old boys ensued.
I’m still an amateur at meditating, but I’m trying to work in 15 or 20 minutes each morning. Ocean scenery proved to be too distracting (like I said, I’m an amateur). I wanted to see the waves hitting the sand, the sun emerging on the horizon, the gulls soaring against the backdrop of the brightening sky.
Movement eight floors below caught my eye. The sun wasn’t up yet, but runners were bobbing along the boardwalk and the beach.
I told myself, “Today I’m giving myself a day off of running, or any exercise for that matter. I deserve it. I’m on vacation.” (Yes, it’s sort of pathetic that I’ve come to view soccer tournaments as vacation.)
I started running three years ago as a means to reduce my risk of breast cancer recurrence. The fear of not being around for my kids’ weddings provided the motivation to work my way into an activity that I had never enjoyed (for more about that process, check out my essay Soul Run by clicking here).
The resulting improvement in my mental health helped me put running (or other sustained cardio exercise) into the same category as brushing my teeth. It wasn’t particularly enjoyable, but I had to do it for my own well-being. There had to be a really good reason to take a day off.
Watching the runners in the half-dark–a man with three boys trailing behind him like baby ducks along the water’s edge, two women keeping pace under the lights of the boardwalk, a bald man and his buddy doing their pre-run stretch–I tried talking myself into staying in my balcony chair.
Finally, I couldn’t stand it any more. The awakening day was just too beautiful, the air too clear and just crisp enough to be comfortable. I still had time for a half hour run before my husband and son woke up. The missed opportunity would weigh on me all day. I wouldn’t get this morning, this moment, back.
I crept back into the bedroom and grabbed my running clothes. When I stepped onto the boardwalk a few minutes later, the orange disc of the sun had just taken center stage.
Joining the ranks of the runners, I realized with some surprise that this had become something I enjoyed doing, not just something I had to do.
Isn’t that the essence of transformation in a nutshell?
I’d love to hear your own stories of how mind, body, and/or soul transformation has manifested in your life. Another way to look at it, have you been able to successfully incorporate a healthy habit into your routine?