Four and a Half Years. FOUR.AND.A.HALF.YEARS. have gone by since I last wrote in this journal. Like any transformation of a person's insides, it has been excruciatingly.... interesting? Well, not really. It has been mostly dull, actually, but it has been part of the story just the same.
From December of 2015 (after a dicey year in terms of workouts and wellness) until, well, honestly until just a few months ago, I basically did absolutely nothing equalizing "exercise" or even good, honest attempts at routine movement, other than that which I absolutely have to do as part of my daily life. Now, my daily routine is a bit different and not exactly sedentary, but that's a part of this story too.
I moved to a farm in the spring of 2016, fulfilling a childhood dream. There was/is a great deal of work needing done on said farm. It was particularly run-down in every, single way. Fences, roofs, water lines, land, house, buildings...all around me things were falling apart. These things are outside of the regular "farm stuff" needing done on a daily or seasonal schedule. Stuff like mucking stalls daily, getting water to animals, making hay, stacking hay, moving hay...always the hay, the hay, the hay lol... So, lots of work has gone into the place and that work will continue for quite some time so again, I've not spent four years on the couch. But....
I had no real place inside myself for a wellness routine of any kind. My "break-up" with part of me took a toll on my psyche, my identity, my ability to rationalize why I would even bother any movement "because it is good for you" or in order to be healthy or fit. It oozed into other areas of my self and life. It was very odd. Without that part of myself, other parts became blurred and uneasy. It seemed I was good at nothing, as if the confidence I had built around this persona as a "fit person" was all there was and without it, I had no footing in the world. As with many a break-up, there was the drifting back to what you know, whether it is good for you or not, because at least it is familiar... So there were brief periods when I would make half hearted attempts at something... Times when I thought, well, I'll just try "sort of" running "sometimes" (air quotes), or I'll go back to just lifting because I used to like it OK enough, maybe just three days a week, or... Nothing ever stuck. Nothing lit a fire in me or under me or even sparked a little candle that I could nurture.
It was pretty odd for me, actually, having always identified as a certain person, having always felt that I could fall back on wellness for support, having created this other being that was both protagonist and antagonist inside myself that pushed me forward, berated me, prompted me to excel, then told me I was failing. My life was my own and yet I had left behind the one thing that I insisted on being a top priority for me on a daily basis for almost 30 years. You would think I would put MORE time and effort into wellness, not less, or any???? None of it made sense to me. In the end though, only how I felt mattered and how I felt was decidedly, over it.
I realized out of the blue one day while thinking about "how fit I used to be" that working out had been my "escape" for so long. My escape from boredom, from dissatisfaction, from other people and situations, from thinking too deeply about how my life was at any particular time... But once I had nothing to escape from, I had little patience for something I didn't really enjoy any longer. Light bulb moment, that.
During a particularly physically unpleasant time when my inactivity finally caught up with me, I was having a discussion with some work folks about running and everyone was talking about their mileage and time - not bragging just...well, they love running is all. Like, actually enjoy it lol. Someone was talking about their eight-minute mile and I said that I had never done an eight-minute mile and never would, the best I had ever been able to maintain was a strong 10. We all laughed and agreed that was a good, solid number. For whatever reason, since I didn't run (or do anything else) anymore, my statement kept bothering me. And being a truth-seeker (one of my downfalls - lol) I jumped on the treadmill later that week to prove it wasn't a false statement. 16 minutes and 37 seconds. Um, wow. You are officially, OUT.OF.SHAPE.
Not only that, (because being "out of shape" is not really the point), I was officially not even trying to be "well". NOT.EVEN.TRYING. A person can certainly leave behind things that are not working for her. She can redefine who she is on the inside, get down into why she is no longer interested in a particular level of fitness or any other thing. But, I have always believed that I should take care of myself. Eat healthy, be active, be strong, plan for being independent well into older age. Beyond fitness for vanity or even escape, I had come to the point of actually (in my opinion) shortening my possible functional lifespan.
There was also how I felt after that run. I actually felt good. Sweaty and tired and breathing hard. I felt GOOD. I love to sweat. The pursuit of that feeling was always how I managed to finished every run, every aerobics class, every HIIT session, every "fat-burning workout" for 30 damn years. A candle sparked. I just worked for 16 minutes and my body feels good. What if I could....
And so it began. Differently. I decided that I would make a ten-minute mile my goal. It took me six weeks. I only ran two to three times a week. I started following the run with yoga, remembering how in-tune with everything I used to feel with a short run and then dark yoga on Sunday mornings. I started doing more yoga because for some reason it made my back feel good (duh) and my legs feel sore in the way I love for my legs to feel sore. One day I was getting dressed and saw my arm in the mirror and realized that yoga has given me more arm definition than lifting weights ever did. I thought "huh, that's interesting" and got dressed. Another day I realized I was not at all hungry after work and passed on dinner. I signed up for a 30 day yoga challenge and am actually completed it. Last weekend I noticed that I could breathe deeper when my instructor said to take a deep breath. This morning on the mat my mind emptied, just for a moment, but it was a moment just the same. I'm still running and it still feels good. I'm still struggling to master crow pose and it is fine. I'm eating less not because I'm trying but because I'm listening.
I find it odd that it has taken me so long to surrender to things that are actually good for me because I turned my back on a way of doing the same damn things. Couldn't I have just decided to impart some moderation into my life and put two and two together way back several years ago? Or was my mind protecting me?
In transition, we all need time. In that matter of time, everyone's clock is different. Whether we want to go faster really isn't the point. Our bodies, our intuition, our very souls...they tend to focus on the time-frame we need. So, maybe listening really IS the point. Maybe things happen when and how they are supposed to sometimes. Maybe priorities shift and/or transform and that is what growing is about.
Because the ability to express ourselves and care for ourselves through motion is something we should be grateful for...