Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.
Body pushes through
heat, humidity grasps skin,
slows movement and breath.
I love the Olympics. I do. Summer or winter, no matter. After a lifetime of an uncooperative body, I enjoy and admire watching other people who are physically strong and able to move with grace and efficiency. I love it all: swimming, diving, gymnastics, running, javelin throw, every event, no matter the gender. I don’t pay much attention to sports otherwise. I don’t even care who wins; I just love watching their bodies work.
I’m not an athlete, never had a body that cooperated with my intentions. I’m fat, now, and arthritic. I have my water work-out routines to keep some range of motion three times a week. I’ve never had much dedication to daily workouts; it’s hard to maintain, though I’ve done it in the past. Excuses, excuses. If you set your mind to it, you’ll find time to do it. That’s the theory anyway.
I learned early on when I was a child how clumsy I am. My ankles would turn under when I ran, I couldn’t see the ball in whatever ball game we were playing and it was worse after I got prescription lenses, jumping often resulted in face-plants. But I remember the joy of how it felt when something worked. When the somersault went all the way around and I came up sitting. When those opposite working arms and legs actually got me to the other side of the pool. When the ball finally connected and was knocked out of the yard. Running safely to base and not falling. Returning the ball over the net. Feeling the music and letting it move me. When, and how weird, I did well on the high jump, loving the feeling of flying – no pole! – through the air for those few micro-seconds. When I hit 4 miles per hour walking on my own two legs.
Then there are the other less fun memories. Falling when the ankles turn. Not being able to coordinate breathing with arms and legs to be strong enough to be a lifeguard. Falling off the rope two knots up. Falling off the pommel horse on the first try, and the second try, and the third try until the PE teacher refused to test me again. Tripping up the stairs. Falling down the stairs. Being chosen last for any team sport. The dance teacher who told my mother not to waste her money.
When I was 20 I took a yoga class. I loved yoga. You didn’t have to be coordinated. You didn’t have to be fast or agile. You didn’t have to worry about falling. You could go at your own pace. You could move your body. You could stretch as far as you could and it didn’t matter if you stretched as far as the person on the next mat. You could compete with yourself getting better and stronger every day if you wanted.
I loved yoga so much I did it twice a day. I had a whole room devoted to it, never having to move my mat, positioned just right so the breeze from open windows could float over my skin. Soft cotton Indian print cloth hung from the ceiling and walls fluttered lightly in the breezes giving the room a calming aura. Essential oils and subtle fragrances soothed me as I moved into each position. I burned incense in there only when I wasn’t doing yoga; yoga is about breathing so no smoke while practicing.
I did yoga daily for several years. Each time I had to move households, I would recreate my yoga space and retreat there before breakfast and after work. It gave me a modicum of control over my often uncooperative body.
Until the day the hubster said “Why do you do it? It takes time away from us being together and it doesn’t do you any good.” So I stopped. Worst decision ever listening to him on this particular issue. We still found plenty of time to be together.
Yoga did, in fact, do me a world of good. When I did yoga I maintained a “normal, average” weight (for these definitions of standards at five feet almost five inches I weighed 130 pounds). I was round, I had large breasts, a soft belly pooch, and curvy hips. Even at this size and weight I was called fat because of the big boobs and curvy rest of me, but I was flexible, had strong muscles, joints that did not hurt, and a straight back. When I stopped, within three months I gained 30 pounds and kept on gaining, despite no change in eating habits. I lost flexibility, strength, and endurance.
Please don’t suggest I should have kept the yoga habit and gotten rid of the hubster. I took a vow.
I have tried several times to re-create that twice a day routine. I come at it now from a hundred pounds over “normal, average” weight for my height. The fat gets in the way of mastering the positions. All manner of stuff has made the fat. It is what it is. Bodies cannot always be manipulated into having a certain appearance.
Here’s the thing about yoga. Anybody can do it. Anywhere. Any time. Any age. Any shape. You put it into your schedule and make it non-negotiable, like I did with swimming. Swim times are non-negotiable and if the city council meeting takes place during swim time, I am at the pool. My health is too important and I can write a letter to city council if I am impassioned about an issue.
You won’t have flexibility and strength and endurance to start, but it is like every one of those Olympic athletes says. You work at it every day. You skip some of the other stuff and you go to the gym or the pool or the yoga mat and you do it. You don’t try; you do it. Fat or no. The best you can at the moment. One day you surprise yourself when that position you couldn’t do a year ago is now comfortable and you need to move on to the next level. Practicing yoga probably will not make you look like you did when you were 20, but it will help you feel good about your body. And don’t make yoga practice about weight loss, because it’s about flexibility, strength, and endurance.
Millions of dollars are spent every year trying to convince women to feel poorly about their bodies, which results in body image issues. What’s really weird is when I think of myself I see that body I had, the one with strong toned muscles, I don’t see the one I have. When I look in the mirror I am startled at my body; there is this cognitive dissonance – yeah, I know, psych 101 – between what I see I my mind (and how I think of myself) and what I see in the mirror. Everywhere a woman looks these days it seems the goal is to make us feel like we women are worthless if we do not fit a defined standard of beauty; we can take comfort in the strength we create for ourselves, each in our own way. This is one of those things nobody can do for us; we do it for ourselves.
So like those Olympian athletes, do it for yourself. Walk those 3 miles at night after work no matter how tired you are. Go for that bike ride with the kids and pretend you are racing in a bicycling Grand Prix. Sing the Olympic theme song as you jump into the comfort of warm refreshing pool water and do your workout one more time. Take up yoga again, or tai chi, or dancing. Just keep moving in a way that makes you feel good and call it Olympic if you want. Do it for you, for your own good, and don’t let anyone tell you it doesn’t do any good.
Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – Cosmos, so many shades of purple. Roses still coming on, some until frost, this peachy orange harbinger of autumn. A fire striped lily, note the critter in the one on the left.
Current View – Viewing on hiatus for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Currently Reading – Homegoing (2016, fiction) by Yaa Gyasi. A novel of a family history going back to the slave trade in the 1700s. I like family stories, stories about multiple generations, family histories, the struggles and challenges that make us what we are. Though this story is a work of fiction, the family is overt, yet hidden in death and the loss of the family stories is a re-telling of the American Negro experience. I feel slightly uncomfortable stating this is a story of the “black experience” because in our modern society we should be done with race differences now; there should be no “story” based on the difference of race, but, it is as if, especially in America, we have never gotten over ourselves enough to erase the non-differences of race. As disgusting as it is that racism should still be a contentious element in modern American culture, knowledge, even in fiction form, helps us fight against discrimination in any form. Born for This: How to Find the Work You Were Meant To Do (2015, psychology) by Chris Guillebeau. I usually find a nugget I can use somewhere in self-help books. I often wish the authors would use fewer words to get there.
This week I have been grateful for:
- My aquatic center’s staff clapping at my rendition of the Olympics theme song as I climbed into the pool.
- Working on healing and moving forward.
- Garden tomatoes, French bread, mayonnaise, drool.
- Oregon berries. Lemon blue berry anything.
- Those dedicated farmers and gardeners who bring their fresh produce to the market every week.
- Second round of chive growth in my little patio pot. Such a nice touch on a baked potato.
- Warm summer evenings and refreshing soft breezes.
- Natural air conditioning.
- Our human body and all the things it does for us. Like seeing and hearing and breathing and blinking and thinking and typing and moving and hugging and communicating and making babies.
- Getting my 4th of July tablecloth put away and a late summer cloth on the table. Rather liked having the red, white, and blue on the table for the first week of Summer Olympics.
- Art, creativity, and imagination.
- In honor of the 2016 Summer Olympics: All of you. My readers, who have read me in 43 countries around the world. The magic of the internet! Maybe you are just one reader who reads me wherever you travel to. Perhaps you are many readers in many places. Either way thank you for reading me. For listening to me rant and rave, for aging with me, for sharing me with your friends and family. Thank you wherever you are!
Hoping you have a lovely week.
Namaste. Peace. Blessings.
Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch