How to see obstacles as opportunities

There are a lot of parallels when I think about training for a marathon (or any distance) and the journey of life. You start out with a dream or vision of what you want to achieve (be that just finishing, enjoying the event or a specific time). You set a course of action to get you there that is not just physical but emotional, strategic and that requires continual course correction along the way. And then you move forward, sideways, sometimes backwards, gaining experience and growing along the way.

Which brings me to obstacles. There are soooooo many when you are training for a marathon. Some of them are planned - like running hill repeats. Others are spontaneous, such as a late night and hangover when you actually need to run distance. Then there are the toughest of all, the unexpected disappointments - life events, health challenges and injuries. 

On the weekend I was lucky enough to be a part of a weekend of yoga in Cape Cod, Massachusetts with my favorite teacher @theyogimatt. He is more than my teacher, he is a great friend.  He is also wise, spiritual and has a grounded presence. He started the weekend talking about Ganesha - the remover of obstacles. Which is what inspired this post. His message was life is full of obstacles but these obstacles, like hill repeats make us stronger and more able to tackle the mountain. In life the mountain may be true love, weight loss or a promotion at work. The hill a bad 'love' experience, health struggles or being overlooked for that elevation you seek. In all cases you have the opportunity to take a step back and shift your view. To recognize that you are indeed moving toward what you want, learning and growing stronger and closer in the process. 

I am now on day 10 of the Whole30. Overall I'm enjoying the experience. I am motivated and already feeling some benefits. But it's not without its hills along the way. The yoga weekend in particular was filled with healthy mind, body and spirit opportunities. It was also filled with good (non Whole30 compliant) food and wine.  This was the perfect challenge for me to strengthen my willpower muscle as I steadfastly said no thank you time and time again. I learned that despite the moments of temptation I have the self respect and determination to rise to them. I know there will be more hills. I am not perfect but these times are important in me fulfilling my ambition of getting the full Whole30 benefits.

As we drove home, the girls sharing my car had a conversation about how they felt flat that day after too many wines the night before. It was a real novelty (truth) for me to not be able to engage in the conversation. Apart from saying, it's a great feeling not to feel like that today. I will remind myself of this dialogue as similar challenges arise in the coming 20 days. That's right, just 20 days to go!

The lesson is this. Obstacles are part of life. You cannot avoid them. But you can learn from them. Next time you feel like it's all too difficult and you don't care anymore try this. Get some space.  Take time to reflect and figure out how you are ultimately learning, growing and gaining strength as a result. You will find that universe has your back. That in fact, you are better positioned to reach the mountain peak.  And with intention, just keep moving. 

Are you feeling challenged right now? How can you turn this around in your mind to understand what you are learning?  How are you growing?  Click on comments below to join the conversation.