Sunday, December 29, 2013

Excuses vs. Strength: A Different New Year's Resolution; or, My 2nd Post about Making Excuses

For the past several years, I have subjected my Facebook friends to a lengthy list of New Year's Resolutions.  They always come with descriptions and explanations of purpose (I've never been accused of being concise), but they boil down to the following four things:

1. Get great at the horn
2. Attain some kind of fitness goal
3. Be kinder to myself
4. Learn a new skill

I've experienced varying levels of success and failure in all four areas.  I've begun to feel silly about making the same statements over and over again, though, so I thought briefly about not making any resolutions this year.

A better solution came into my life last week.

I spent the five days before Christmas in a constant state of bliss in Northern Virginia and DC with some of my favorite people on the planet.  The night before I left, I grabbed a drink in Adams Morgan with my longtime friend Jeremiah.  Jeremiah is a phenomenal musician and teacher, and the founder of Harmony Rising: A Music School Online.  He's also a yoga and spinning instructor, and convinced me over an Old Fashioned to come to the spinning class he was teaching the next morning.  I hadn't been to a spinning class since undergrad- which, as I was reminiscing with my good friend Adam, is now longer ago than I care to admit.  Still, I knew Jeremiah would be an amazing instructor, so I dragged myself out of bed Christmas Eve morning and went to class.

I arrived early so Jeremiah could help me set up my bike.  The class began, and we all started pedaling. I felt exhausted after the first 15 minutes.  I began searching for every excuse possible to let myself stop adding resistance and just pedal at a slow pace for the remainder of the class.  It was at that point where Jeremiah- an extremely enthusiastic leader- said the following:

"Are you looking for excuses?  Or, are you looking for strength?  Either way, you'll find what you're looking for."

Ouch, Jeremiah.  That one punched me right in the stomach.  I knew he was addressing the whole class, but I felt like he was reading my mind. And, it worked.  I decided that I didn't care that my thighs were throbbing, that my face was beet red, that I most certainly looked ridiculous trying to keep pace with all of the fit people in the class.  I pushed myself as hard as I could.  I had a major case of jelly legs when the class was over, and it was awesome.  I felt I had already accomplished a great feat by 9:30am, and the rest of the day was mine for the taking.

Jeremiah's words have remained with me since he uttered them a week ago.  They've helped me achieve small victories daily, and have caused a great deal of contemplation.  Completing a spinning class may seem like a trivial accomplishment, but what if I applied the excuses vs. strength rule to all of life's struggles, major and minor?  How much greater would life feel if I persevered instead of lamented?  What if, instead of falling victim to my many excuses, I instead call upon my inner strength to achieve something better?

Can you guess what my new, improved and concise New Year's Resolution is? No?  Okay, I'll tell you...

This year, I resolve to have the wisdom to search for strength instead of excuses.

Happy New Year, friends!  Let's raise our glasses to a healthy and loving existence for all beings everywhere!

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