There’s a time for everything. A time for quiet, for speaking out, for being stubborn and for giving in. Lately, it’s been my time to play it cool.
Busy. So busy. Play it cool.
Meetings, conferences, deadlines and rush. Play it cool.
Don’t neglect your friends. Drag yourself out of bed to have a drink with a heartbroken bud even though you need to be up in 5 hours. Play it cool.
Writing, writing, writing. Edit. Write some more. Play it cool. Wait, did I run yet today?? Play it cool.
Playing it cool is just surviving with an easy expression plastered to your face even if your shoulders are tense or even if there’s butterflies playing smash bros. in your stomach. Generally I’m laid back, but this is a new level of mantra-ing even for me. What is this mantra-ing I speak of? It’s the secret to success. Too far? I actually don’t think so.
A mantra may sound like I’m going all hippie/yogi on you guys here, but it’s actually so much more universal than that. It’s the secret to playing it cool. I discovered mine more by accident than in active search. Somewhere on the side of a hill that just wasn’t ending, my brain was trying to logic my body into keeping its stride. Logic just doesn’t have the upper hand when it comes to lung capacity though and my lungs were pretending they had no more space for the oxygen I was sucking up. ‘Liar,’ I accused. Another deep breathe. ‘Breath. Push.’ Those words, that’s all it took to set my pace again. It reined in all the logic-ing, all the complaints and refocused that frustration. A good run wasn’t going to end on a crappy note just because a few kilometres back I had thought ending at the top of this hill was a brilliant life decision.
Each time my foot hit the concrete I would think the word ‘push.’ It was the metronome to my run, to my pace and stride, distracting the ache and playing off my naturally stubborn nature. At the top of the hill I stopped, resting my hands on my hips, huffing like the classiest of struggling civics and didn’t think another second about the magical words. (Because come on now, you aren’t thinking anything at the top of a hill while resembling a dying honda).
Days later the words would slip back into my mind amidst another physically trying, self-induced adventure. Then again a week later. Sometimes the words would change on me. I caught myself picking only one word to mentally yell at myself, or changing it all up completely. I was going farther. I was getting faster. I had discovered magic. Or, less Hogwarts-y, my mantra.
It wouldn’t be until I was suffering writers block and feeling the burn of being over-worked and generally just feeling grumpy that my magic words would sneak up on me without the pressure of a hill beneath my feet. ‘Well then. This is a thing then, huh,?’ I had thought. My collection of playing it cool worthy mantras has since grown and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
My ‘off-the-top-of-my-head’ mantra list:
1. (The classic) Breath. Push.
2. I’m stronger than I think.
3. Don’t Whine.
4. You’ll be proud later.
5. Be better than yesterday.
6. Keeping writing.
7. Get your shit together.
8. You’ve got this.
9. Go with it.
10. It’s worth it.
These words, my mantras, have a power to them. They’re so simple. So classically unassuming. But heed my warning: they’re not to be solely relied upon. If you start whispering these lines to yourself, your world isn’t going to flip and you’re not going to turn superman on anyone or anything. Self control, confidence and an inclination towards stubbornness are highly encouraged. You ARE stronger than you think and a mantra is meant to be used as a tool. It’s helpful but not a problem solver. It won’t jot down words on the page for you or transport you to the top of the hill, but it can encourage, focus and keep you in the moment.