It makes me sad to hear people complain first thing in the morning.
Yesterday, at a 6 am aerobics class, I listened as the other attendees made small talk before the instructor arrived.
“I hate daylight savings time,” one woman barked.
“Why is it so cold in here?” complained another.
“I hope she does a new routine today,” grumbled a third.
As I said, it was 6:00 in the morning. How could things so bad that already, already they felt moved to gripe and whine and spread negativity?
I felt so sorry for these women. I wanted to touch their arms and tell them that everything was going to be ok. “You’re alive. You’re physically healthy enough to take an aerobics class. You’re mentally aware enough to clothe yourself, drive yourself to the gym, and make exercise a part of your day. Isn’t that enough?”
Of course, it might have been fear talking. Maybe these women felt intimidated by the class. Maybe they were nervous about looking silly or botching the dance moves—it only takes a second for a great mood to deteriorate when we’re scared.
I get edgy and curt when I’m worried about something—a big run, skiing in unfamiliar terrain, routefinding. When it’s over—when everyone’s standing at the car sweaty and safe and happy—I’m fine; the relief makes me downright giddy. But before the starting gun goes off, I’m a wreck.
I felt wonderful yesterday, though—happy and calm and able to focus on the good. Even when work felt overwhelming by 9:30 am, I was able to take deep breaths and keep things in perspective, remembering that no matter how stressful work feels, I have a wonderful family, a kind and loving husband, two dogs who delight me, and a very, very good life. I chose to remain calm and positive; I felt totally in control.
Then I got an email from a friend with some unwelcome news, and at once I felt everything spinning away from me—like I was physically losing my grip.
This took less than 30 seconds.
But yesterday, for the first time I can remember, I caught myself.
I reminded myself that my response was fear-based—fear of something that hadn’t even happened yet.
It was fear masquerading as protection—fear that saw me surrounding myself with imaginary couch cushions, keeping people out.
It was a clinging fear that, after a decade and a half of shielding me from unseen amorphous dangers, had done nothing but strip me of experiences and relationships.
It was getting me nowhere; it was time to set it free and take some chances,
This took less than 30 seconds, too.
Sometimes that’s all it takes.