Lessons in listening: Embracing the mud

If there is one certainty about spring in Vermont, it is mud season. Some might even call it our official fifth season. A few years ago, I drove smack into it when I offered a colleague a ride to work. My Vermont-driver hubris was no match for the thick, wet old country driveway. My wheels were all of a sudden a foot deep and solidly stuck — the push and rock method was my only option. Despite my efforts to turn the wheel this way or that, the result was (of course) me with a splattered face and dress, making calls for a few extra hands.
But isn’t that, honestly, the stuff of life? It isn’t if mud season comes, it’s when. My question is, how will we meet the mud in our lives?
For many of us, feeling stuck in the mud can be a familiar feeling.  This can be especially true when one is attempting a lifestyle or behavioral change. I have felt it myself, and I have witnessed many clients and patients struggle with getting just enough traction to move forward. During my time as a health coach, I’ve learned a few strategies to help manage this internal mud.
Acknowledge the mud. A first step is to acknowledge that you are in the mud and to bring a quality of curiosity and non-judgment to it. Like, for example, when I’m still lying in bed 10 minutes after my alarm buzzed instead of putting on my running shoes — I am in the mud. Hmmmm… I wonder why I’m choosing this path today? Maybe I didn’t get enough sleep. Maybe my body is sore. Maybe I’m mentally distracted or worried. We have various needs and desires, which leads to physical and mental challenges. That’s OK — it means you are human. What you choose to do with the challenge is what sets your life direction. Is the choice you are making serving you well? If not, the challenge can become an opportunity to explore another way of living.
Envision the lush, green grass. What do you truly want out of this one life of yours? I want a life in which I am able-bodied and pain-free. I want to be strong and agile enough to hike and play with my partner and daughter. Have the courage to listen to your inner self and connect to your gut. This helps you find solid ground in the vision of your optimal life.
Put on your mud boots.The first small steps count big. Have you had the chance to watch a toddler try to walk recently? You likely don’t remember doing it yourself — but you did. That tenacious spirit driving them to get back up after falling is still in you. You can handle the mud. You can roll out of bed and put on your running shoes. You may just need patience and encouragement to find that tenacious spirit.
Connect with your tribe.You are not alone. I know that with complete certainty because I am with you; getting my mud boots on, again and again. For example, if I don’t commit to running, I’m not going to be ready to run the Maple Run with my daughter. In fact, I’m going to call my friend and see if she can run with me tomorrow. Support and accountability can make a big difference in the success and sustainability of your efforts.
So, with that, my running shoes are on and I’m out the door ready for whatever this year’s mud season may bring.

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