Today was a rough day. One thing after another. I’m so glad that I had yesterday’s ideas to think about.
I took my camera along yesterday on a jog.
My head was full. I was feeling introspective, trying to organize my plans on getting back to “fit” status. I’d go a bit until I saw something that stopped me. I made myself take the time to take photos often. Then I’d go on a bit farther. I started to think through the photos I’d taken and realized they lined up with some of my thoughts.
I realized that a body is like a house. Something you live in. Sometimes, you get too comfortable, let things go. This was my body three years ago…
Gray, drab, shabby, falling apart, overgrown. Generally out of shape. I was 35 and my “house” had already become a shack.
My defenses were down. If you think of your immune system in relation to a house, you can easily imagine a fence. It surrounds your house-body, protects it. I like a picket fence, with spaces for the wild bits to peek out… but my fence had a huge gap in it:
All the baddies were getting in. I was sick. My immune system was attacking me. I was heavier than I’d ever been without the excuse of childbearing. And on top of all that, suddenly I had asthma. And apparently, I was stressed. This was hard for me to accept. I’ve been athletic my whole life. Up until my second child, I was always the skinny bitch. When I was 21, I was strong, lithe, “spikey”, tough, beautiful and challenging (to myself and others):
I was maybe a little more street smart and wary than the average 21 year old girl, I’d had a little extra turmoil to test my mettle.
I knew who that Me was. Past Me was a defined entity. Looking in the mirror at Current Me was an exercise in reformatting my perception of Self. Everytime, I expected to see Past Me… but there was Current Me, staring back, completely bewildered.
What to do? Cry? Well. Sure. After that? Feel stupid. I did a lot of that. How the heck did this HAPPEN???
I was a busy girl back then – at 21, I had a lot of ideas. Like one of my favorite critters, I was like a busy young bee, hopping from flower to flower, small but purposeful and bent on my tasks.
Even if I really didn’t know WHY I was busily doing certain things, they seemed important to me at the time. I can admit, sometimes I bit off more than I could chew. I had a boyfriend. [He’s still with me now, under the even better title of Husband.]
And then I got pollinated.
My world was wide open with beauty and wonder, and my sense of awe grew, my outlook more mature.
I noticed things, over the years.
You know – those nagging thoughts. You can see some changes happening physically, but you’re so focused on the minutae of day to day life, and sometimes the love you have for your children knocks you sideways – so you get lackadaisical. And it gets really easy to say, “I don’t care about that anymore.”
Until you’re 35, standing in front of a mirror, too young to be suddenly worried that you might not make it much longer, with a doctor threatening you with the spectre of wheelchairs or cardiac explosions.
I realized that chasing Past Me was doing a number on my perspective. I had to stop looking in the mirror hoping to see Past Me. Past Me had become distorted, surreal – hyper-realized and unrealistic- Past Me was a cartoon:
Now, I live in L.A. There are Past Me type girls all over the damn place. 20-somethings with hard bodies and the spikey surety of a pre-responsibility life. But, I’m not the jealous type. I was happy for them and hoped they enjoyed it while they could. I still feel that way. But, they all look the same to me, those girls. And from my freshly arriving perspective I realized there were a lot of them, and they all looked alike.
Young, trying to belong, not fully formed, but naively certain of themselves, like anything that hasn’t been cut off the vine yet, forced to live on it’s own.
But that wasn’t me anymore. Not only that, I realized, I didn’t want to be that anymore.
I like Current Me, I decided.
I felt beauty in me still, but it was warm and strong, with sturdier thorns wrought by time and trial, peaking out from my rusted defenses – but it was there – and my purpose now had direction and meaning: family.
Current Me was something definite too. Current Me was a whole new emerging person.
Was I going to let that person live in a broken down house, with a gaping fence to protect it?
Then I got mad at Current Me.
Gray and dreary. And that daring, risk-taker I’d once been had been swallowed whole. I knew that was important enough to me to get back.
And my always healthy body had turned on me. Current Me was sick. I felt like I was staring at this:
And then there was the little matter of all the dead wood I was carrying around,
like a 40 lb. albatross around my neck, stressing my lungs and my heart, impeding my already challenged immune system.
Hey, shit happens.
And at 35, with two kids, and multiple pets – shit was one thing I knew how to clean up. And more importantly, I wasn’t willing to allow this shit for one more second.
It was time to make some changes.
So I did. I made the hard choices. I prioritized. What was truly important to me? Everything else was extraneous and it got the hose.
I knew what I wanted. I wanted my life to be A Real Life. A Full Life. Not a life on the sidelines. I wanted off the bench.
So, three years ago, I made a plan. And that plan included running, and moving my body, gardening, family – keeping my perspective clear and free of junk.
My circle of friends were like the foliage in my garden,
But I decided to keep my bench handy. Not so I could take myself out of the game again, so I could give myself time to admire my progress.
Now my bench allowed me to sit, breathe, and admire the color my world had gained with my fresh perspective. No more gray and dreary.
I put my plan in motion. Over the last few years: I simplified. I started to run again. I dropped weight. I almost never use an inhaler. My immune system is stronger than it’s been in a dozen years, my body is healing magnificently. I’ve pursued long-neglected interests. I’m singing again. I even ran a marathon. I don’t look back, except to mark my growth and be thankful.
My road lies ahead, and my family is coming with me.
Life is warm, fuzzy and complicated.
Just the way I like it.
I’ve been a little busy lately, so a few pounds have snuck up on me, a few old habits trying to resurface – but I’m still strong, motivated and able. Life’s surge has receded and I am taking advantage of the ebb and flow, moving forward always.
Current Me is rebuilding,
One picket at a time.
I wonder what my house will look like?
(All photos taken on a jog, June 6th, 2011.)