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Three Steps in the Dark: A Lesson in Gratitude

"Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever." - Lance Armstrong

I'm in St. Augustine, Florida, a beautiful and historic city. I decided to have an early run. I wrote about being away all week at the Bigger Pockets Conference in Orlando, and I was pumped to get back in my morning routine of getting some miles in. But, sometimes life throws a curveball. It was supposed to be a simple 5K run.

I mapped it all. (Forgive the quality of these pictures I was actually running when I took them.)

A nice run down A1A

Hitting up some cool spots like the Fountain of Youth

The Old City Jail,

Then I turn around as that’s about ½ of my 5k. But I decide to take a detour on the way back. An audible if you will, you know like I always do, looking for the road less travelled. Robert Frost says that made all the difference, and boy was he right, it changed everything for the next two weeks.

Right when I'm about three miles in I saw a path right next to the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, it’s a cool fort. Look how dark this path really was...

I still have this thought sometimes I'm going to make a vlog of my travels so that is an actual picture from the video I took.

This is the fort at night! Who would run up this path, I sorta noticed all the other people out running stuck to the main road, but hindsight's 20/20.

So I’m running up this little hill – a rare sight in Florida. And out of nowhere, I'm flying through the air, flailing like a Looney Tunes character. My landing? Well, it wasn't graceful, that's for sure. I landed on my right ankle that was described as the ankle of a 90 year old when I was back in high school due to repeated football injuries. I guess now it's the ankle of a 120 year old? Wow the years have flown by.

I'm on the ground, adrenaline pumping. You know that feeling when you've just taken a really bad fall, you do that body scan to see just how bad things are? Slowly, I stand up, scanning my body. For what just happened I wasn't critically injured, and I'm like, "I have hobble my way back to the hotel." Luckily it’s just a quarter mile away, I can almost see it because it actually has a well lit path surrounding it.

Three measly steps – that's all it took to flip my whole trip and impact my next two weeks.

The next day, my ankle's blown up like a balloon, and I'm in agony. Every little move hurts. This was my protocol for most of the day and night.

When I can't take a single step without some level of pain, I realized how I'd been taking all these simple things for granted. I’ve always had a gratitude journal, but once again it’s so humbling to realize that I’m still taking things for granted! Back when I was on the Appalachian Trail I became grateful for sheetrock walls at night. So this was just another layer of gratitude I was missing.

Lessons come from the weirdest places. Running in the dark? Not the smartest move. I should've waited until the sun came up, I should have slowed down, and I should have enjoyed the moment.

And you know what? Pain is a real eye-opener. It made me think, "What am I running from, and what am I running toward?" I had a lot of deep thoughts and really good journaling sessions. You start to appreciate the small stuff, like putting on pants without pain or just walking across a room without considering crawling. Every time you need to put more pressure on one foot, it's never been so obvious.

So, I hope this helps you remember, life's full of ups and downs, but it's what you takeaway, how you view it, and most importantly how you bounce back that really counts. Embrace the curveballs, and find the gold nuggets of wisdom hidden in the weirdest places. Three Steps in the dark helped me take some time to sit and think, embrace the unexpected, be grateful for the ability to walk without pain, and come back even stronger. You are the author of your story, so make it whatever you want.

And just for 'fun' I went to google maps and took that path, these are the 3 steps that changed me. I was running to whoever took this picture. Thank goodness my head didn't hit that wall!

I hope you can take a moment to appreciate and express gratitude without an injury.

If you would like daily thoughts and insights you can follow me on Instagram @playbooktofreedom I have a free education site on learning to trade the stock market, check it out


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