gratitude.

i woke up this morning with a sense of calm. and despite not going for a run and after feeling a sense of anxiety of returning to work after a week away, it didn’t come.

i methodically did my PT strengthening routine while waiting for water to boil and for the coffee grounds in my french press to steep. as i drank my breakfast kale smoothie and caught up on a few daily emails i receive, i actually couldn’t even figure out why i was feeling anxious on sunday afternoon to begin with. whatever it was had passed and i was ready, almost enthusiastically, to begin my week.

as i type this i sense a bit of sarcasm or a slight bit of surprise in my tone. it’s not that i dislike my job – i am just generally slow on mondays and while a run typically helps ease/jar me into existence, it didn’t take that today. and i’m also hugely a creature of habit and routine – so returning to a world of structure and demands from others after a week of mostly setting my own leisurely schedule could have been stressful, but it was not.

i drank my smoothie and then started in on my coffee and emails. one of my favorite emails to read first thing on monday mornings is my Ripples email. you see, i “met” Paul when he was a speaker at a youth leadership conference i attended somewhere around SOPHOMORE year of high school. yes, i’ll put that in easier terms for you – i have been receiving this email blast from Paul long before Facebook was a thing – honestly, i think i first subscribed in 2001. TWO THOUSAND AND ONE! people, that was 14 years ago. almost half my life. the year some of the girls i coach were born. *** subscribe here *** (seriously, do it)

can we all just revel in that for a hot minute?!

ok, back to it. i was reading the Ripple-y email and Paul shared a handful of quotes from an awesome guy, Wayne Dyer, who passed away over the weekend. there were four (of the six) that really spoke to me and one i’ll share with you now:

“We never sit anything out. We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”
-Wayne Dyer

i like that. maybe its because i feel a recent sense of being full and tipping. i think my week away from work helped me with that. i was getting to a point where there were so many things – not even bad or stressful things – just so many things floating around in my life and in my brain and a week of calm, quiet, move-at-your-own pace was just what i needed to let it all fill up and let some of the really good pour out. gratitude.

and there’s also this TinyLetter (you should consider subscribing to that one, too) i’ve been receiving daily for a bit now – Vanessa shared her thoughts on the word “happiness” which naturally, i took personally, because i’m Shayla and because i’ve been doing this little Instagram #happy project now for 388 days in a row and because i too, was a skeptic or something about the word “happiness” and about the documenting of it – that is, until i was in the thick of it. any for me, the project isn’t even about being “happy” all of the damn time – it’s really just about me noticing and taking in and observing and documenting at least a tiny piece of the world around me that i’m working so hard at being, really being in everyday – especially for the last 388 days.

so, worlds are colliding and gratitude is spilling over and semantics are where it’s at and then tonight, as i was finishing up trying to write myself a little 75-word biography about what i do besides coaching rowing, i got one more email (three! to round out the email karma for the day). it was from a Life Coach and friend of many friends here in Madison. her name is Darcy Luoma and one of the things she wrote in the email was,

“Here is something important to remember…you don’t need a reason to say no but you do need a reason to say yes! So, if it’s not an enthusiastic yes, then it’s a “hell no.”

her email was all about figuring out what’s important and learning how and when to say no. but what really got me was the subject of the email, “Replacing More with Better.” that’s a principle i try to in everyday life.

so back to the photo, and quickly, because i would like to get lights out here as close to 11pm as possible (mama’s getting old and needs her recovery sleep for a good morning run). i snapped the photo of the day today as we were heading in near the end of practice. i’d usually complain that it was too hot out – but the water was pretty darn nice. we had a slight breeze and the lake was not crazy-busy. my novice girls team is on the small side right now (meaning we only have 7 girls at the moment), but they’re focused and talented and mighty! what a gift to get to coach just a four right now. we had a shortened practice today due to some admin stuff, but the girls got out on the water and got right to work. they drilled and took some truly awesome strokes.

so all of the stuff i wrote above and the practice tonight sort of came crashing together to create something magical – at least in my own little mind-world. there’s something special about having the space to just be present and deal with the stuff right in front of you, the important stuff… whether it’s heading to work with a sense of gratitude or taking the next best stroke you can!

a sea of red. 

my staycation week was leisurely – I did some productive things and kept up my coaching duties, but I also slept in and admittedly, powered through and finished the Gilmore Girls series. one of the best things I did last week though was to stay on track with my running. knowing myself, I started off a little worried that without structure, I might also be too lazy and not workout, but instead, besides coaching, running was basically the only other constant in my week away from work. 

counting up the miles today, I realized I had hit twenty five for the week! 25 miles and I’m not feeling totally suck-tactic! huzzah. 

I know I still need to prioritize my PT work and get to doing it three times a week. and I also need to get to yoga class…but 25 miles – I’ll take it!

and today, I ran a really solid 10! I’ve been feeling a little frustrated for a while now – like muscle-y spots in my body have turned too flabby and like my weight has suddenly snuck up to a number I haven’t seen in a while. but in all honesty, none of it was sudden. not one bit. it is the culmination of almost two hard years – years in a yo-yo relationship that only heightened any insecurity I could ever have about myself. it is losing a bit of myself and my priorities in a hard time. it’s not suddenly and it shouldn’t be a surprise. not being able to run without pain and sometimes not even being interested in running should have been a sign – it was, and residual fitness helped me stick it out for a while, but lately, as I’m coming back to myself and taking proper care of myself and surrounding myself with good people, I know where I’m headed. 

about a month’s worth of consistent running in and a solid ten miler, my first double digit run in quite some time tell me that I’m on the right track…

after today’s run, I ran some quick errands and then sat down in what seemed to be a sea of red. I grabbed a coffee (see today’s Instagram photo) and sat down under a red umbrella, with my trusty red Believe training journal and reflected for a little bit. 

a sea of red isn’t something I usually embrace even though red is the color of my alma mater. I do bleed Badger red. during practice on Friday, I proudly donned my rowing unisuit, and today, sitting under the red umbrella literally surrounded by red – I felt it’s embrace. 

it’s getting late and I fear I’ve kinda missed my point – but I did want to share today’s photo and all of the goings-on in my brain surrounding it. 

goodnight, Sunday. 

runneth over. 

sometimes, life just seems like a cup that runneth over. I had to look that one up. I didn’t know where the phrase came from u till tonight, though it’s one that we use in the English language enough, that’s for sure. 

I sat in the coaching launch at practice this morning puttering alongside the eight – filled mostly with kids (teenagers) who are new to the sport of rowing. I could have thought about how miserable it is to sit in a boat, clad in waterproof rain gear (and luckily still in Chaco sandals which I will wear far longer into the seasons than is surely appropriate). I don’t enjoy being soaking wet. maybe that’s half my aversion to swimming with a purpose – being wet for the sake of a sport. (though I do so much enjoy propelling myself forward, so I don’t have an aversion to swimming, as a sport, per se, but that is a story for another time). 

where am I going with all of this?

I coached this morning and I felt wholly present and even more than that, so grateful that I moved to this city 11 years ago and found this sport and learned to drive a boat and can confidently say that I have something to offer these kids doing this sport. it’s a pretty cold feeling that negates damp butts in launches and feet that feel like raisins for hours and even waking up in the 5’s to coach rather than do a workout myself. it makes me feel grateful and like my cup runneth over. 

I think when you consciously focus on the good, it’s easier to see it around you and maybe to feel this way. it’s just a hunch…

after practice I pulled my phone out – it was tucked away while on the water this morning because of the misty rain and slippery hands. I’ve already lost one spends phone to the big lake in town. we are going to try not to be 2-for-2 on this particular thing. I pulled my phone out at the end of practice once we were back on land to find a sweet, honest email waiting for me in my inbox. last night I shot off an email to a new friend and I was pleased to see her response waiting for me. I think I was particularly pleased because it was the kind of email I would send. so I got what she was saying. that kind of thing provides me with more comfort than I tend to realize but it’s in the realizing that I feel full. 

and tonight, as you’ll see in my photo for today, I had a giant salad for dinner. whenever I make a salad, it seems to be a giant one. I don’t actually care for preparing salads (or I would probably do it more often). I love cooking something more laborious and complicated. I like my food to either be a labor of love or as simple as possible. tonight’s salad was alright though. I used my hands to chop a few veggies and some garlic and shook the dressing. it left me feeling full in more than one way. 

now I’m going for an earlyish bedtime and an earlyish wake up and a longish run in the morning. tiny habits turn into good stuff and keep me feeling full. 

it’d make you better. 

a little over a year ago I started this daily photo taking challenge. I had to post a picture everyday for 365 straight days – a photo of something that made me feel happy that day. sometimes I waited until right before bed. other times I enjoyed something so much I could barely wait to post the photo. once in a while I was enjoying my day so much that I forgot to take a picture and had to cobble something together. at times the challenge was hard because there are some days that are just not awesome. but I made it. 

and then I couldn’t stop. I felt satisfied and proud with my commitment to the project, and I didn’t want it to end because it has become a reflection period for me – posting everyday. so I kept going. 

I started the project at a time when I was feeling a little lost in myself. and while I don’t think that one happy pic for everyday made me feel more grounded or anything that profound, I do feel like it helped me to gain some perspective and to establish some new roots. 

I’ve been thinking more and more about writing and trying to be more creative and I’m still not sure what that exactly means, but one idea I had this afternoon as the Decemberista blared from my Corolla’s sound system is that maybe I’ll try posting my Instagram pic (or sometimes it’s a video) here and expanding a bit on my reasoning for choosing that particular moment for the day. 

my moment today was driving to practice in the rain. I decided a few weeks ago threat I needed to use some of my vacation days and spend some town out of the office. it gave me a lot of time to think. and some time to catch up on the Gilmore Girls (in full disclosure mode here). I slept in a lot. I ran a bit. I baked. I hugged some people I’ve been wanting to hug for a while. and I focused on my coaching and the kids and the great rowing club I am a part of – a lot! 

I soooo needed that. while I thrive on being busy, I also need to compartmentalize sometimes. to break it down and get away. I know now that, all things considered with how awesome my summer was – next year I’m taking a damn vacation. seriously, like a long one. I dream of driving east, and possibly west. hopping from city to city – and staying with friends for a day or two along the way. 

that’s a long way off, but as I told someone I met recently, now that I’ve got the idea in my head, it’s only a matter of time before I make it happen. and I can’t wait. 

who knew this ‘little’ photo project I took on last August would turn out like it has. it’s a piece of me. and while it hasn’t made me profoundly better, I’m certainly no worse for the wear. finding my stride again – pounding the pavement and otherwise.