As usual, things have been exceedingly busy since late November and Thanksgiving. At the risk of sounding cliché, it’s truly been a whirlwind, between prepping for my final running race, getting ready for ski season and starting my winter coaching gig. But even though the holiday has passed, I wanted to take a moment and reflect on the meaning of Thanksgiving — gratitude — as it applies to my life now.
It can be easy for me, as I think it is for most people, to get caught up in feeling bad about my situation, or worrying or stressing about the things I don’t have, or haven’t accomplished. As a constant striver, I think that, despite setting short-term goals, I can become dissatisfied about not being where I ultimately want to be just yet. But I think it’s immensely important — if at no other time than the holidays — to take a good, hard look at all of these things we do have, and acknowledge just how blessed we really are.
Okay, so I’m scrambling to balance four jobs and still just barely squeaking by (or sometimes just missing) on the bills every month, while still maintaining and working toward the goal of becoming an elite professional athlete: not exactly the ideal scenario. But, it’s what I’ve got, and I’ve got to work with it. And really, in the grand scheme of things, “what I’ve got” in fact makes me pretty darn fortunate.
For starters, let’s consider the fact that I can dedicate myself toward such lofty athletic goals, seemingly ‘unrealistic’ or not. I am able-bodied, healthy and happy. I am able to train long, hard hours and push myself to levels beyond the comprehension of your everyday ‘average joe’ walking down the street. And through everything I’ve done, and all the years I have trained and competed, I have stayed (relatively) healthy. Now that is a blessing.
I can run, with my own two legs — and run far! I can escape into nature on my own accord, leaving life’s stresses behind. I can chose to run slow, or go fast. I can bike up mountain passes, over peaks, across creeks and meadows or along coastal roads. I can go anywhere, really, and all on my own capacity — provided that the two wheels stay pumped up. I can swim across lakes, and feel the water on my face and between my toes. I can ski on virtually any terrain, whether in sunshine or among falling snow. To be able to do all of the things I am capable of — even if not yet at the level I am hoping to reach — I am so very grateful. I know there are others who long to simply be able do these things. So thank you, to my healthy, strong and capable body, for enabling me to train, push and compete. Thank you for taking me on incredible adventures, to unbelievable landscapes and to new heights some others may never reach.
And thank you also, to my mindset, for being as ‘crazy’ as you are. For being crazy enough, as most people say, to let me actually enjoy working out, getting stronger and faster, because I know this is a struggle for many. In fact, you are crazy enough to make me long for a sweat, dissatisfied without it. I can think of few things I’d rather do. For this, I am truly grateful. And thank you also, mindset, for being crazy enough to remain idealistic and maintain your desire to chase down these dreams that sometimes seem unattainable — even if you do prove to be unrealistic. For my mind’s ability to stay positive, focused and determined, I am grateful. I know this will only continue to make the difference for me, time and time again.
I am grateful, too, for the overwhelming support and positivity that surrounds me. While my training situation may be unideal in some ways, it is absolutely exceptional in others. For one, I am lucky enough to live in an incredible community. Trails are plentiful, adventures abound, the scenery is breathtaking and the weather is amazing. The training options here in Tahoe are unparalleled, all year long. For that, I am incredibly fortunate. But beyond the terrain this place has to offer is the community behind it. Truckee is full of incredible, passionate, active people. It’s inspiring and uplifting to be surrounded by so much talent, dedication and passion. I am consistently impressed by this community. And on a more personal level, I couldn’t be more fortunate than to have the family and friends that I do. From company on my adventures to encouragement during my races, I receive so much support, both physically and mentally, from those close to me — even when they are not around. I carry that support with me, and it pushes me through the tough moments, and makes the triumphs that much sweeter. I could not ask for more.
But above all, I am so very grateful simply to be able to be this passionate about what I am doing, and the goals I’m pursuing. I know many people search a long time to find a true passion. I have undoubtedly found one, and it is the fire and desire in my life, day in and day out. I can’t imagine my life without the passion I have developed for athletics, and all of the gains I have made as a person from the pursuit of my athletic goals. I don’t know that gratitude can really quite describe the feeling, but it is definitely a start.
So as the days go on and I continue reaching for more, working for more, and desiring more, I will strive to remember my gratitude for the foundation from which I am working. Because for that, I am truly blessed.