year 22. middle of the week.
i was forced to hit the scale, today, at the doctor’s office. in the opposite way i get giddy with wondering what weight gain my daughter has achieved since her birth, of course – i want to see what weight i have lost.
i swallowed hard. of the ten pounds i still had to lose, last weigh in, i still have eight.
there are almost daily runs, yoga practices, lunch walks. but there is also fatigue, emotional treats, and lower back issues that have prohibited my favorite intensive weight program (shout out to Body Pump!).
will i ever know my body as i knew it before? my mind would beckon her movements a certain way, and she’d oblige. i’d work-out and her stomach flattened.
i’m satisfied, these days, if i do not feel stiff and there are no obvious signs that the ice cream i decided to eat with my husband led to further onset of postpartum physical surrender.
i’d never be like those women, i told myself.
there was one particular woman that i’m thinking of – it’s the oddest imprint. one of my high school language teachers. she was fit, she was cute. she was everything middle age classy. she just had this sort-of shelf-butt. square. solid. the shape i imagined i could evolve into someday yet it all seemed so – homely.
this is what ballet does to the psyche. never. ever. flat enough.
i had brunch with a girlfriend the other day, mother to three. she looks like she is straight off the runway. and for her upcoming birthday, she wants to ask for gifts that will include more self-improvements.
i feel so dowdy in general, yet hopelessly so by her side. no matter her own appearance, she oozes her own self-criticisms.
it’s a mind game, i suppose. a few pounds here. a square butt there. always room for improvement, if you’re a glass half-empty self-image.
it’s the burden of living in a society where we are supposed to be ageless, slender euro-nymphs. there is a difference in the sensation of knowing i am capable of valuing things other than my appearance or acquired narrow standards of beauty versus, the irony i’d accept my daughter however she evolves while losing grip on my self-acceptance.
between chocolate-covered work hours, sleepless nights, binges over Entenmann’s and the occasional pizza, i am as disciplined as ever. running further, counting calories and saying no to excess carbs. yet, there is worry that no matter the discipline, i may never feel good enough again.
and that makes me sad for me, and so many natural women.
two open views are better than one. photo, Long Island Shelter – Boston 2010.
i’m grateful for someone who was born today. i call her mini, mini-t-rex, michele, my star.
i call her my second longest friendship.
ya know, the kind that has seen you from every angle, and i mean every sloppy, sharp angle, and they still want to call you friend; fine if a few other things. but at least one of them, friend.
and for that, i owe her.
while i admire her for so many characteristics, perhaps – her ability to be honest, to call out my %^* before it gets too stinky, and to ask the same of me in return – well, maybe that is what i admire most about her.
but there is so much more.
we met freshmen year of college. she lived below me in the gothic rockefeller dorm, smelling of dust and books and the way i thought college should (i’m talking about the dorm, people). mini smelled of that sweet reminder she is always active. til that year she lived in the vegan dorm, but i digress. active. that is how i know her, that is how i think of her.
i carry around that first memory, locket to the way we were. auditioning together for a modern dance ensemble. the only freshmen selected, she was part rival, someone i wished i could be more like in both style and ability. and part twin, she too was someone to relate to at a sometimes isolating, intellectually ambitious college.
more petite, more optimistic about her dance career, more flexible, she embodied a lost part of myself, left in studios a decade earlier, maybe never to be seen again except when i watched her move.
soon, we found ourselves inseparable – in the dance studio, to the science library, back to the studio and eventually off for a run together.
running, which I’d been working at for years – she also took to, immediately, and to a better degree. my cross-country coach noticed this too.
so we had more things to do, actively, together.
super. active. nerds. tralalalalaa…………..
if this story sounds familiar, i know i have spoken of my mini, here before.
there are few people i like to be around, move with, sit still beside, imagine alongside…more. it’s a very short list.
i wouldn’t say we’re exactly alike, in fact – we’d find that boring. we move differently. i twirl, she lengthens. have different body shapes. curvy to her straight-and-narrow. we think a bit differently though we share a passion for the rambling, philosophical tangent. and we look different in skin and hair tone, coming from different cultures, religions, parts of the world.
and its these differences that embrace our friendship.
at the precipice of forty, i think about people in terms of who i’d want my daughter to know and why.
mini-t is at the top of that list.
her own person, moving with passion even when the stakes and years and humdrum add up. speaking with soul rather than concessions, she moves forward.
always a friend. always forward, somehow…
it is humbling to think about what we have shared, what we have witnessed for one another. graduations, marriages, losses and more losses, various towns and wide varieties of food. she has gone ahead at times while i have lingered, and sometimes i have gone before her and she welcomes my changes as if they are a part of our collective story.
on her birthday, i reflect on all i have noticed of her – performer, berkeley explorer, runner, biker, chef, reader, lover of Beck, lover of music and art that I never heard of, brave home remodeler, dance partner, cat queen, warrior for the margins, in the spotlight, expressive philosopher, style icon, tita, best friend…and I see only possibilities for this list to grow.
yesterday my yoga teacher talked about Jupiter as inspiration for optimism and how you want to grow. i dedicated that practice to mini’s possibilities. for my friend who – as my yoga teacher also spoke of Jupiter – takes up so much active space. at times I wonder if she is intimidated by her own potential. i’m always here watching with awh.
you go girl.
year 22. wednesday. 2016.
the baby is asleep. it sounds strange to say, write even. like the way i used to resist the word husband, til the second time around. it’s a quiet evening, now, after a day of work this and work that into baby squeals and whimpers.
i came home with the idea that i might walk with my daughter, but the fatigue of 5.5 clocked (sleep not miles), made the steps from living room to mailbox and back, arduous.
count me in, however – as still SaSsy. i run six days a week, unless some nagging post-partum and post-everything-else isn’t stopping me for a frustrating hot minute.
i just feel a bit stagnant fitness wise. stagnant, in general. except for those moments of daughter and family adoration.
maybe the 5.5 has something to do with it.
maybe the challenge of tackling this final layer of baby fat rather than the grasp of some fantasy-best-self-ever, uninspires.
what is the point of highlights and a real hairstyle when the rest of me is so 1994 school girl flat?
which brings me back to you, blog. we’ve been through so much. it is fitting that i talk to you about this. i almost went to runner’s world magazine for muse during these spare thirty minutes before bed. instead. i write.
i was listening to a radio show this morning. the topic was on again and off again relationships that just don’t quit. i immediately thought of one that i once knew of. it was volatile, it was raw. it was passionate. exhausting. i wrote about it here, maybe not as often as my fitness tracking, but with a similar combination of mature awareness and irreverence.
i’m finally over that relationship. maybe not over writing about it.
but then i thought about this blog, our history. on again, off again. trying to reinvent my relationship to it.
perhaps, i thought, we should spend some time together again. no further expectations.
so i write. and tomorrow morning, after however many hours baby and work stress will allow, i will rise. and i will run.
i see hearts for kate goodyear.
year 22. saturday. morning.
i’m in two places at once, this morning. it would have been my last yoga class with kate at gateway bodyworks. fortunately it will not be my last class with kate, though. the studio is moving a few blocks and into the oldest building in my hometown.
the weeks that i miss class due to childcare, i show up on my virtual mat.
physically, i’m yards from a napping newborn. mentally, i’m nestling between a crowd of others, eager for kate’s oration. this is how many saturdays have started for me over the past few years. drained from work’s week, those sometimes demoralizing hours of trying to help others in an otherwise too harsh world, saturdays at nine have meant sanctuary for my spirit.
the class as a whole, the progression of movements into some peak position and then downward to the floor for deep stretching and relaxation – all vital. though it’s her authentic words at the start of each class that set my soul straight. or rather, open.
grow from the struggle, resolve and go beneath the surface, stop the #^$* distractions and judgments.
don’t take yourself too seriously.
honor differences, the dignified warrior in us all.
dedicate your intentions to something or someone outside your wild mind, or so my revisionist memory translates…
usually, i’m running behind. late to set-up a mat, spending too much time making sure my bladder is empty for class. all the tics to get me there, so excited to be there. i arrive at the sound of her crisp voice. she’s brought in some stories from the bhagavad gita or chakra checks or current events, then she passes around a spoonful of self-reflection that i cannot help but devour.
then the work begins.
oh, sure – three sun-salutation A’s, no problem, followed by a rapid series of B’s. uht-oh. and that was simply the warm-up.
following her lead, muscles turn-on, perspiration oozes and i find myself in enclaves i thought only other people visited or my past-self capable of. there i am, standing on one leg and the other arching behind me, a hand pulling that foot closer to my head. dancer for much of my life, til injury after injury found me still as a corpse, kate reawakened my flexible boundaries. so much so, i made one more dance in 2014.
i think about this every time she takes me back to dancer’s pose, reaching and striving like my childhood ambition.
it hasn’t been an easy ride. i remember my first class with her at the gateway studio, a wednesday night and one of two students. nothing like standing out, out of shape. weeks after a move back to my (NEVER AGAIN) hometown, assuming home couldn’t measure up to my yogic lifestyle in glamorous boston, i find kate. allegedly she was just starting out as a teacher, and you’d have never guessed. five years ago, she already knew how to kick my a%^.
she wasn’t too femme, fully athletic and yet – embodying a gritty elegance, complete with a revealed backside full of tatoos. i trusted her like no other teacher before. she too, looked like she had lived and loved and lost at times, only to stand again – stronger. as a therapist, they say you find the therapist you’re meant to grow with. i feel that way about kate goodyear.
eight months ago, i was days from learning the sex of my first child. my imagination was fully committed to having a boy. i wanted this for my husband, seemed easier through the teen years, and goodness knows, i didn’t want to be a primary female role-model. kate began class that weekend with a fews word on the topic of grace.
we pray, we meditate, but grace is that thing that happens when something good reaches back to hug us, she said in better terms than i can now recall.
i began to cry into my mat, not from pain, but maybe from the discomfort of my block to have a baby girl. that baby girl, my husband and i would soon name grace. it was, after all, a blessing i had resisted for so long. it was a blessing i otherwise had not surrendered to, yet – or the hardest work i will ever love (line stolen from fellow yogi, Tom:).
that’s also what a kate class feels like. it is hard work to stay in these postures she asks of us, it is harder to wrap my 21st century brain around the focus and self-clarity she equally inspires.
so it is saturday.
i am home with the baby while my husband works. hierarchy of needs, i suppose. i can picture kate at 9:12 am, having just finished a thoughtful reflection, having led the class through grounding oms, setting intentions, playing rock music alongside funk and new age sounds with sanskrit or hebrew lyrics. i can see the room where i met her, where she began teaching, with orange walls and a tree with dangling heart-leaves.
i am with her. she is with me.
she is a gifted teacher, kept in a sacred place that is with me even as we continue to move about our lives, to new spaces and to destinations we have yet to imagine.