Sunday, March 11, 2012

Beginning again is not beginning again, it's just life

I've written a couple of posts over the years about how frustrating it is when life derails you. And it seems like life derails you just when you a getting into the swing of things. Just when you've been going to the gym for two weeks, just when you've avoided desert for a week, just when you are starting to feel strong.
You go out of town and you eat like crap on the road. You begin to get strong and you get injured. You begin to develop a routine and you get sick.

But these aren't things that are sabotaging you. This is what happens in life. It's not "Are you going to get interrupted" it's "when are you going to get interrupted, how much does it rock you, and how long does it take you to get back after it?"

It's a lot like bump skiing. You are going from the top to the bottom. You are going to get knocked out of balance at least once. At least one of those bumps is going to be bigger than you guessed it would be, the hole after it will be deeper. But you are still moving down the mountain. What do you do when you hit it? How do you regroup?

Do you give yourself grace? Can you make a compassionate choice in the midst of super-frustrating chaos? Yes, your house is a mess and you have over-committed yourself again. What is the plan to get the train back on the rails?

In my own experience, while I was trying to change my life, to re-become a person who had nutrition and fitness and health as a top priority, every time I got sick, or injured or had to travel, or ate poorly, it felt like the road back to the right path was a difficult one.

I was counting in pounds - they seemed so hard to lose, and so easy to gain back. When I looked at life that way, it seemed next to impossible to gain ground. When I had three jobs and no money for yoga, I felt stymied.

But I finally opened my eyes to the fact that I could go for a walk with my kids, and if that was all I could do that day, so be it. I did something.

I realized, somewhere along the way, that if I just kept starting again, eventually I would just be living rather than starting over.

And I realized the other day, when my head touched my knee in yoga, a position my (excellent and talented) surgeon was pretty sure would never happen, that I had started again after surgery, by waking up from surgery and asking to take a walk. That desire to move, because movement leads to healthy, helped me heal. I put my scale away. I stopped counting my health in pounds.

It is true here that I needed to be willing to listen to my wise friends who had been through surgeries like this before me when they told me, "your job is not to get strong right now. Your job is to heal."

That was a hard thing for me to keep in perspective, it was hard for me to know when was pushing to hard, and when I was doing all I could in the boundaries of good healing. My body told me, and I learned to listen to it, and my friends.

It was a three month practice in patience. And then two more months of humility and more patience. My body would get strong in its own time, if I helped it, if I let it, if I asked it consistently, but didn't push it. I had to let go of my fear of being weak, of losing ground, and just be where I was, doing what I could do.

I knew I needed to get strong to make it to the tryout. I lost a huge amount of muscle in the 16 weeks after my surgery in september. I was weak. And flabby. And tired. And in pain. And I had to start again.

But something about this time was different. Maybe I just didn't want to atrophy, maybe it was having the surgery only a few months away from the tryout, but I was motivated to heal. And I didn't have a lot of cash, September and October are not terribly lucrative months in the ski biz. But I got some help from my community, and I looked to people that had been there before me, and I Reprioretized some things.

As soon as I could get a hundred bucks together, it went to the yoga studio. Because I knew that being in the hot room would help me heal. And it became a matter of health that I wish it had not taken a major surgery to teach me. I wish I could have felt permission from myself in my life earlier to do that. To go every day. Because it makes me strong, and healthy, and whole.

Because it gives me energy to play with my kids and do better at my job and it encourages me to fill my body with good, healthy food.

But it took the surgery, and that's okay. And after the surgery, I got healthier. And then I got sick, and I didn't t have to start over. I just went back to yoga after I felt better. I cared for myself long enough to recover and then I went back to the studio. And this time, it didn't feel like a long road back. It took six years to get to a place where I crave exercise. The kind that used to make me groan.

I could get there, after about three weeks of hard work, I could look forward to a workout. To a summit. But I never looked forward to the suffering. And now, the work doesnt feel like suffering, it feels like celebrating, it feels like living, it feels like necessary and wonderful care taking of my body and heart and mind.

And the journey back after a life event (rather than a setback) is just a re entry, not a starting over.
And here's the wonderful part. Now that I've stopped dreading the long journey back, the journey back has gotten shorter. Sometimes, it only lasts an afternoon. And then my routine is so familiar, that my body, in whatever state it is in, healing, healthy, somewhere in between, is just there, and so am I, and we work together to get stronger and more balanced and the journey continues, almost seamlessly.

And it occurs to me that this is not unique to changing fitness, it is unique to changing habit. Whether that's learning to be better with managing money, or time, or anger, or organization, or whatever it is that triggers you to wish that things were different. Change is very hard. It takes diligence, and practice, and grace, and compassion. And a willingness to begin again and again until one day, your beginning is just a continuation.

So stay after it when it feels like you've fallen off the band wagon, or life had thrown you a curve, or your pagan or momentum was interrupted, its going to happen again, thats life, that's living.

Practice starting again over and over and one day you may feel that you aren't starting again. You are just picking back up after the interruption ends, like restarting a conversation. You may need to recap to get back on track, and that's just fine. Welcome back.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I just found your blog and I'm so glad I did! I've often thought about becoming an instructor and never thought I was "good enough" but then again, I've taught a bunch of my friends' kids to maybe soon. I have a blog that's devoted to my love of skiing with my kids (and my snowboarding husband). You can find me on twitter: dsullyk