Few leaves are actually left on the trees, and many of them are still telling the tale of Hurricane Sandy but mornings like this bring people out to enjoy the world around them because the days are now shorter and they know that the snap of winter will be here before long.
Since I’ve planned to make this month’s posts about thanks-giving, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about being thankful. While the true feeling of gratitude can be elusive, it is fairly easy to think about people in our lives whom we ought to thank and we can rattle these off without much effort because, well, it’s nice to do that and it’s a good practice that keeps us humble. There is one person, however, whom is often difficult to be thankful toward: ourselves.
Seriously, think about it. When’s the last time you thanked yourself for what you do well, for the things you feel and believe and for just being an awesome human being? If you’re like me, you find it much easier to let the harsh voice in your head tell you where you fall short, what you don’t achieve and how much more you could be doing. Well, lately I’ve been learning about personal credit reports. They’re really simple… Instead of beating yourself up about what you don’t accomplish in a day, for example, take a moment to give yourself credit for the things you’ve done. Go ahead and make a list, write them down, include everything. That’s your credit report.
So, many of you know that I’m a runner and that my story of running is that I believe it really saved my life, both physically and metaphorically. I don’t do too many posts about running because, while it’s a big part of my life, personally, this is not really a blog about running.
But yesterday, the way I enjoyed that beautiful autumn day was on a twelve mile run along the D&R Canal State Park in Princeton. As of today, I’ve been running for about 14 years. When I started running, I weighed 40 lbs. more than I do today, I could not run a single mile without stopping to walk, and five miles seemed like a marathon. Now I consider a five my short run and a 16 my long. I log an average of about 40 miles a week and my blood pressure is so low that I get turned down for blood donation. Aside from the physical benefits of running and the fact that I can do it anywhere (I always travel with my shoes and absolutely love location running), running has become a meditation for me and a place where I solve my problems, think about my goals and dream up ideas. I’ve written books, structured presentations and practiced conversations on my runs. As a creative person prone to overwhelm, procrastination and self-sabotage, running provides me with a necessary structured moment to focus on the things my brain likes to push aside during the course of a day that goes by much too fast. Importantly, a good, hard run also puts me in the right frame of mind after a disappointment or before a big task.
But I’ve also realized that running also lets me be an explorer of the world. I find that wherever I am, even in a bustling city or suburb, running makes the world more beautiful to me and I notice things that I would otherwise not notice in my normal day to day as I hurry from task to task. I was thinking of this yesterday because, just before my run, I’d picked up one of my favorite creativity books by Keri Smith, How To Be An Explorer of The World.
Smith’s mantra is quite simple: Everything is interesting. I love that. And I completely agree. She compares artists and creative folks to scientists because she feels that “artists and scientists analyze the world around them in surprisingly similar ways.” She goes on to say that when she looks at the work of all her favorite artists and designers they all have one thing in common, “they are collectors… this tendency to collect and document is similar to ethnography… the documentation and analysis of a particular culture through field research.” And to her, field research is simply a synonym for being alive. Keri Smith’s book is a nice one to have around because you can pick it up at any moment, turn to any page and find some new way to think about your life in that win-win, glass half-full way that I crave so intensely.
OK, so how does this all come together for today’s post? It’s my credit report, everyone! Today, it’s my turn to spill a little gratitude on myself and to say “Thank you, Me!” Thank you to Me for carving out the time to be good to this body, thank you to Me for making a meditative space for this often anxious mind, and thank you to Me for cultivating a desire to notice, revere and collect from this gorgeous, wacky, busy, wonder-full, weird and amazing world of ours. And, while I won’t bore you with the other, less-inspiring items on my credit report (laundry, dishes, errands, chores and the like), I will leave you with the Smith-inspired collection I made from yesterday’s amazing autumn day run (looking down, not up!) and encourage you to think about the possibility that, yes, everything is interesting.
“At any given moment, no matter where you are, there are hundreds of things around you that are interesting and worth documenting. All of your most important tools exist in your body! Use them. Collect as much data as you can–it may come in handy later on. Good luck on your journey.” ~Keri Smith, How To Be An Explorer of The World
TRY THIS WEEK: Do a credit report for yourself.