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A Story About a Weightlifter Who Lifted a Car

I was talking with a teacher of mine the other day, sharing with her my recent feeling that Spring’s arrival and the (wonderful) increase in daylight hours has also meant that my to-do lists are growing, and that my personal and professional plates are continually filling up. Sometimes it feels like there’s just too much to do - and, interestingly, I hear this sentiment echoed in many of my clients, friends, and family this time of year. I was explaining to my teacher how in many ways it’s very exciting, this transition from the shorter, quieter, more restorative days of winter into the longer, brighter, more active days of Spring. And yet at the same time, while the new season brings with it a lot of energy, I’m also craving more rest. I’m feeling the need for more recuperative and rejuvenating time to myself between all my projects and responsibilities. She then shared with me a story that hit home and left me with a new perspective on the whole thing. I later shared this story with a lovely client of mine, who said it was exactly what she needed to hear that day in the midst of her own very full schedule. And so, as I find it of value, I’d like to share it with you today, in case you also find yourself with a lot on your plate this Spring. The story goes something like this: There was a car accident that happened out in Grass Valley, California, in a residential area of town. Everyone in the car came away from the accident safe, with just a few scratches. But at the time of the accident, the car had flipped over, and people were stuck inside. Though unharmed, they were unable to get out, and passerby's couldn’t do much as they waited for the ambulance to arrive. It so happened that a heavyweight lifer was driving through the area, and, seeing the commotion, got out of his car to assist. He was an incredibly large, strong guy - one of those champions who could deadlift something like 800 lbs. With a bit of trial and error, he was able to lift the side of the car enough to allow the passengers to crawl out unscathed. Everyone was elated, and it’s no surprise that passengers and onlookers alike were enormously grateful to him and the unlikely good fortune of all involved. He was thanked, profusely, and all was well. But, here’s the thing… After all this celebration, after all was said and done, what nobody asked or even thought about was how did this guy feel the next day? While he was certainly capable and uniquely able bodied for this particular situation, and it was something of a miracle that he was around to help out, just because he could do it, just because he did do it and was graciously celebrated and thanked, doesn’t mean he didn’t experience the effects of it the next day. And that’s what struck me about this story. That just because we are able to do something, even if we’re really good at it or are prepared for it, doesn’t mean it doesn't have an effect on us and show up in how we feel the next day. And it doesn’t have to be lifting up cars and saving lives. The things we do, the actions and responsibilities, the to do lists and projects that we accumulate each day - they matter. They have a tangible affect on how we feel. I think it’s easy to disregard, neglect, or not even realize that this is the case. It's very common and even regarded as “the norm" to give a large output of our energy - a long day at the office, a difficult conversation, a bout of the flu or allergies, traveling, or maybe even just a long, hard workout - and when we don’t feel 100% the next day, it’s easy to chalk it up to “oh it’s nothing," or "I’m just not trying hard enough," or "I should be able to do more,” and we tend to push through it, knowing full well that we don’t feel great. But how might it be different if we were aware that the things we did yesterday have an effect on how we feel today? What might change if we simply acknowledged those times when we’ve done a lot, utilized a big amount of energy, and take that into account, paying attention to ourselves and the way we feel as we head into the next day? Here's what you might try out: the next time you wake up feeling a less than 100%, or find you yourself craving a nap mid-day, take a few moments to reflect on what you did the previous day. Acknowledge the time, work and energy you put in. And then pay attention to how that awareness might give you permission to do things a little slower, a little softer, a little less intensified today. The ways in which we rejuvenate and restore ourselves look different for each of us: maybe for you it's sleeping in an extra 15 minutes, or taking a few moments moments to step outside and listen to the birds before rushing off into your day. Maybe it's cooking nourishing food, or taking a quiet walk in the evening, turning your cell phone off and getting to bed early. You might be surprised by how much shifts once you start paying attention to what you're doing today, and what a significant effect it has on the way you feel tomorrow. I'm working on this in my own life, too, and I'd love to hear if and how it resonates for you. Feel free to write back, or leave a comment on the blog. Cheers and Happy Spring, Ashley

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