1/19/2020 - Grazie Mille! (The Quitter's Day mantra)
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Coach MK and I will be relaunching the Morning Mantra on February the first with a brand new season, but today I have a special teaser episode for you (and it contains some profanity, for reasons that will become clear in a minute.. You see, according to Strava, today, January 19th, is QUITTER’S DAY, and all of us here at the Morning Mantra pod have some choice words in response...namely...FUCK THAT SHIT.
Hi! This is Coach Sarah, and this is the Morning Mantra!
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Hi, my name is Sarah Axelrod. I'm a run coach and a lover of poetry, and a person who cares about your well-being. You don't have to be an athlete to be #coachedandloved, and if you need an anchor to hold onto as you move through a tough situation, you've come to the right place.
Today’s mantra is: “Grazie mille!”
Since January 1st, my e-mail has been STRONGLY suggesting that there is a LOT that I need to do in order to become the most ideal version of myself. Fitness habits I need to break, fitness habits I need to create. Sleep habits I need to cultivate. Mindfulness I need to practice. Also airline sales I need to take advantage of, because in 2020 MOAR AIR TRAVEL is what we all need, right? All of these things are being sold to me with a tinge of resolution. I resolved to treat myself better, didn’t I? Here’s what I can buy to inch closer to that ideal!
And if that weren’t enough, a few weeks ago I got an email from Strava - Strava! I like Strava, I am a daily Strava user! - informing me that “Quitter’s Day is coming. It’s the date most athletes break their New Year’s resolutions – January 19. Keep your focus and don’t let your motivation fizzle out.” Now, Strava probably knows what it’s talking about here - it collects a shit ton of data on its users (data that its users freely give it, I should note, the ONLY reason anyone thinks it’s remotely valuable) and it probably knows when people’s consistency drops off with that level of accuracy. But. To use that data and that positioning to FIRST pressure people into setting 2020 goals and THEN coining a phrase like “quitters day” to otherize them when life gets in the way...I have WORDS.
I am lucky to work for a company that has taken an exuberant and defiant stance in opposition to the concept of the New Year’s resolution, I am no less surrounded by a culture that otherizes quitters. I overhear conversations on the bus, at pickup and dropoff, and even at social gatherings among people I like, about cleanses and diets and no-excuses-this-time, get-my-butt-in-gear workout regimens. But it’s less what I overhear and more what I’m asked to respond to. What do I do with these WORDS, the words I have for Strava and the WORDS I have for NO EXCUSES and all that nonsense? When am I in a position to say something effective, that might potentially resonate? I have to choose these moments carefully.
When I was an Italian professor, I was a magnet for people’s Italy opinions. Venice travel tips, Berlusconi takes, that kind of thing. Now that I am a run coach, I have started to become a magnet for people’s bad runner math. I am not sure exactly what people want from me in these moments - the moments in which they tell me about their new diet, their new 30-day challenge, the ways in which they plan to change their bodies, the races they intend to run and how much they want to PR by. I am not unsympathetic to the quest for validation, and I give it out FREELY in response to things that I think will make people happy. In response to the bad runner math equations that I am presented with, I am sometimes at a loss. Recently, I got to hear all about someone’s new commitment to a betting app for runners: basically, you stake money - real money! - on your ability to complete a run-streak-type challenge, and if you miss a day, your money is gone. If you complete the challenge, though, you and everyone else who completed it get to split all the proceeds, which includes the money of the people who lost. Again, I have WORDS. Do I use them?
When I used to get lectured about how I was doing Italian travel wrong and told that these were the things I really needed to see next time I went to Rome, and this is how you really do a trip to Tuscany correctly, I imagined that my educator was, in their own mind, doing me a kindness. They thought that there was no greater gift than this wisdom and forthrightness about how to do things properly. Sometimes, there would even include a flash of desire to debate me on pronunciation (even Harvard students mostly knew better than to do that).
In those moments, I knew that no good could possibly come of my engaging and attempting to prove that I knew what I knew. There was nothing to be gained by flexing or getting into an Italian-off with these generous advice-givers, and I learned to effect a grateful smile and a just-imperfect-enough “grazie mille!” Thank you for your kindness and generosity. I am logging it away and will think of you every time I pull it out and admire it.
You, too, may be on the receiving end of some bigtime flexing right now. You might be fielding a lot of questions about YOUR new year’s resolutions, and that might be just an opening to become the audience for someone else’s. You might have gotten a “quitter’s day” e-mail from Strava, too. So when you’re in a situation in which NO GOOD can possibly come from challenging the notion that new year means new you, you get to decline to participate. You get to smile the beatific smile of the one who is receiving the most gracious, generous, HELPFUL wisdom on the Planet Earth and you get to channel Coach Sarah with a totally random “Grazie mille!” Say it with me. “Grazie mille!” And if you don’t ordinarily speak Italian, this has the added benefit of being a SUPER weird response, and you now have an opening for a subject change.
You are fabulous. You are fabulous no matter what words you deploy in these moments, and you are fabulous today, on quitters day, whether you are observing it or not.
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You are Coached. You are Loooved, and you ARE winning at life. And if you need MOAR reasons to believe that, follow @morningmantrapod on Instagram.