I remember the sidewalk rapidly approaching my face . . . or rather my face rapidly approaching the sidewalk. Gravity was not my friend at this precise moment.
In about two seconds time the toe of my shoe hit the curb, my knee and hand hit the sidewalk, my bags flew everywhere, and as my face approached the sidewalk with alarming speed . . . (wait for it) . . . I suddenly whipped upright and bounded straight to a standing position like I was finishing a set of burpees at the gym.
Not what I would have predicted. Not what anyone around me on a busy sidewalk in Palo Alto was expecting. And as my new-found sidewalk friends gathered my belongings and reached for me I heard, “Are you OK?” “Your hands?” “Your Knee!” and my personal favorite from a lovely older woman, “It would be ok to cry a little bit.”
But honestly, aside from a slightly bruised knee (and a very bruised ego), I was totally fine.
Which got me to thinking about three things:
1) Physical Fitness: Thank you, thank you, thank you to Empowered Fitness, the gym I have been going to for years. In recent months I have become fairly obsessed with an interval training exercise program that I do with a bunch of other crazy people at 5:30 in the morning. I am sure that class not only makes me a healthier (and nicer) person, but it gave me the strength and muscle reaction to not end up in the emergency room last week.
If you didn’t already have enough reasons to get to they gym regularly, I hope my little story will push you forward to make it happen.
2) Resiliency: I am pretty resilient physically, but am I as resilient mentally? Um, simple answer: No. Physically I had a few scrapes, but mentally I was a just a little bit of a mess after this incident. My brain was sending out all sorts of cautionary warnings that I had inexplicably lost the ability to walk down a sidewalk without falling face first at any moment. I could feel the adrenaline coursing through my system.
So I stopped walking (duh). And I turned to my favorite coping mechanism—writing. After a four-page gibberish journal download in a nearby coffee shop, I was once again steady. I was even smiling and laughing and just a bit proud of my impromptu burpee.
3) Mindfulness: And last, I have to talk for a moment about why I fell in the first place. No, I was not on my phone; I was not texting or tweeting or anything to do with technology. I was taking a walk between meetings on a beautiful day and thinking about work and family and the farm and friends and should I get a new electric car and how are the kids and will it rain and what are we doing this weekend and what should we have for dinner . . . Well, you get the idea. I have some work to do on my mindfulness practice. If this sounds at all familiar, so do you.
Listen, stuff happens. Sometimes we fall on our face. The question is, how will you get back up? Check out this excellent article from Forbes published last year on the same subject. And just in case you don’t get to it, here are two extracts that really spoke to me:
The data indicating the link between physical and emotional health is airtight at this point. This is why I often suggest that people who want to build their emotional resilience begin by strengthening their endurance either through running . . . swimming or cycling.
Resilient people know that you need to keep a little fuel in the tank at all times. They know this isn’t being selfish or lazy, but is a strong choice to put yourself in the best physical and emotional state for when inevitable challenges arise. So take care of yourself, even if you find it hard to do at first: Exercise, do yoga, meditate, listen to music – whatever you feel builds up your mental/emotional stores, do it.