Staying Flexible


Are you a flexible person? Can you easily touch your toes? Can you place your hands flat on the floor without bending your knees?

Me neither...

But maybe you're flexible in other capacities -  in the office, or with your friendships, or with your kids.  I've never been a terribly limber person, but I've still considered myself to be highly nimble in my own right.

Change the plans, I'll figure it out.  Move directions, fine.  I pivot well.

However, flexibility is a funny thing because it seeps away when you're not paying attention.

Do you know what I mean?

For instance, when you're three a tumble down a flight of stairs barely dents your shin, but at nine you break an arm and by 50 you break a hip.  Unless you're working a Cirque du Soliel job, hyper-disciplined with your yoga schedule, or stretching every day of your life, you are likely much less malleable than you once were.

Unfortunately, the same is true for flexibility in most areas of life.

This miserable fact smacked me in the face this past week.

We traveled to California to visit my family for Thanksgiving (we had a wonderful time, thanks for asking), and if there's one thing I know how to do well, it's travel.  I've been traveling for a living for 27 years, and you could put me in any airport in the world and I know the ropes.

Got it. Boom.

Except, as it turns out, I'm not as limber as I once was.

I don't stretch my muscles when I travel alone and even with Billy I don't have to flex at all. (Though he refuses to play the "how late can we get to the gate" game - something about a distaste for having to run for planes!)  However, when you add a couple of kids in the mix, things change.  There are, among other differences:

  • Increased bathroom breaks
  • Playing with the water fountain
  • Looking for snacks
  • Rushing for "front of the train" seats
  • Extra backpacks
  • Extra chargers
  • Extra everything
  • Checked luggage (see above)
  • Touching every piece of luggage in baggage claim
  • A constant need for hand sanitizer (which I never have)
  • And, of course, 1,000 questions

While all of this is acceptable behavior for a 9 and 10-year-old, what was disconcerting on this trip was the low-grade frustration I felt for not traveling "my usual" way (i.e., as if I'm running the final leg of the Amazing Race). I want more control when I travel, not less.

Ahem.  The faint snapping sound is my elastic breaking.

Without realizing it, my habits were becoming more than "efficiencies"; they were becoming calcified and inflexible.

This is the MAIN reason I have to travel with kids; someone has to stretch me, and I'd just as soon have it be the people I love.

But this principle applies to EVERY area of my life.  Adaptability is not only the key to innovation, but to survival!

Staying flexible means PRACTICING flexibility.

How adaptable are you?

If you aren't actively embracing changes, odds are you're not as pliable as you think you are.

Are you frustrated when your boss or colleague changes their mind? What if "the plan" is ditched after days/weeks/months of planning? Do you have a positive attitude when your expectations aren't met?

How well do you bend?

If you're like I am, you may need more practice!