I am on a four month temporary assignment in Washington DC. I did a short work trip earlier in the year, my first time in DC, but didn’t get a chance to see much. Being in this city is quite amazing. Of course I wanted to see the sites, but I don’t like the crowds that accompany tourist locations.
So when Saturday dawned a few weeks ago and I needed to figure out where to go for my run, I decided to mix it up and do a running tour of DC. When I first got here, I learned how to ride the metro, a necessity in DC. I’m sure I looked like a country bumpkin at first, but it didn’t take long to get the hang of it. I took the metro to the Smithsonian and stepped onto the National Mall.
For a few minutes, I stood and turned in a circle, looking at the history that surrounded me on every corner. It was spectacular. I started near the Capital Building and ran west along the National Mall towards the Washington Monument. Passed the White House, the monument and along the Reflecting Pool to the Lincoln Memorial. From there I crossed the Arlington Memorial Bridge which brought me out by Arlington National Cemetery, which I toured the weekend before. From there I wound my way back to my apartment along the Mount Vernon Trail.
It was a very fun twist on a run and a reminder that running is meant to bring me joy, not just fitness. There is absolutely no reason that a run has to be a slog!
Along the way, I was able to stop and take pictures, reflect on how our country came to be and how far it has diverged from its noble roots. The current environment throughout our country is so divided. Not just our politicians, but the very people that make up this great county. It is easy to become cynical and spend a lot of time and energy complaining, waiting for someone else to find a solution and fix it all.
Why won’t our nation’s leaders work together? Why can’t we see positive change? How come those who need the most help aren’t able to get it? The list of worries could go on all day long.
I have found myself spiraling into this despair at times. But living with depression has taught me that if I want to be happy, I have to do the hard work to make it so. No one is going to hand me happiness. In fact, life hands me despair and sorrow a lot, so I get to practice choosing happiness on a daily basis.
It is my choice whether I will accept that wicked gift or vehemently say, “No Thank You!”
Each day, I have to make a choice how I want to feel and think about the world around me. When I struggle to get out of bed, I have to choose that I will not let my depression rule the day. When I want to cry because I can’t find passion in my work, I have to choose to carry on because I know that the public service I provide makes a difference. When I am convinced I am ruining my children, I have to look into their eyes and see their love and know that I will continue to keep doing my best and be honest about my mistakes.
When Saturday dawned, I did not want to run. I did not want to enjoy the sunshine and feel the sweat on my brow. I did not even want to get out of bed. If I let my depression choose, I would have curled up under the covers and wallowed in my own misery. Instead, I chose to view my need to run as an opportunity to remind myself that there are many ways to motivate ourselves if we are only willing to be a little creative.
By changing my perspective and viewing my run as an adventure rather than a workout, I ended up having a lot of fun and really enjoying myself. It turned my whole day around. Sometimes that is all it takes – changing our perspective. When my son gets in a foul mood, I literally spin him in a circle and tell him I will stop spinning him when he is ready to change his perspective. Inevitably, he is laughing and rolling on the ground by the time we are done. Works almost every time.
Try it for yourself. You never know what great things lie around the corner if you are willing to look at the world through a different lens.
The journey continues……