Gooses and Ganders

The bodypump instructor looks at me as we’re coming to the end of the class. Training our shoulders is the last thing we do with weights. Contrary to her recommendation, I have not loaded my bar. In fact, throughout the entire class, I have put whatever weight I feel comfortable with on that bar. I don’t hold with the run of the mill mindset that heavier is better. That the more you lift, the stronger you will become. Sure, your body will adapt over time but I don’t want to do that, I’m fine with a lighter weight, and lots of reps. She looks at me, and I see a sort of chiding in her eyes. We are both English too, so there’s a weird connection, as if we are comrades and I should do as she does because we are of the same cloth.

I run through a list of silly excuses if anyone should ask, because I feel that everyone sees even though I know that even if they do notice, what they have seen will be forgotten as soon as they leave. I think I can tell them that I am recovering from surgery, or an illness, or that my doctor has warned me to take things slowly. I laugh at myself for doing this, and for second guessing my actions. But it’s too late, I don’t have time to put extra weight on just to follow the herd. So, I carry on and I can feel my muscles working, and it is good. The next day, and the day after, I know that I didn’t slack off really because everywhere is sore anyway.

The other mother approaches the bus stop one morning last week. I am wearing my three quarter length workout pants, sneakers and a sweatshirt. I am planning on going for a run immediately after work, and there will be no time to change. Plus, my boss is out of town so I can pretty much wear what I like. But, I’m conscious that the pants are a bit too flary around the shins. I have never been able to find the regular leggings that fit past the knee. Frankly with my hips, I don’t think it would be a good look for me anyway. I watch the other mother but she doesn’t notice that I see her look at me from the waist down. I wonder what she thinks. Does she think that my thighs are too big? Or that the pants make my ankles look skinny? Or that I must have the day off because I’m dressed in workout clothes?

Later on, I take my first full run outside. The first for the year. It is hard work. I run much of the course the first time around. The second time, however, I walk more than I run. I wonder how the other mother is so slim.

I am an observant person. I notice the little things; looks, actions, and behavior of other people. I’m good at that. Maybe it’s a trait of the writer’s mind.

I am becoming more observant of the inside, too. The wagging finger and bullying voice that try hard to convince me that what these people see and think of me is important to me. That I must conform. That I must believe what I perceive. That I must believe what the thoughts are thinking up.

I was easily bent to their will as a teenager and twenty-something.  How glad am I that now, in my forties, I am able to set those things aside and do what is right for me.

Huzzah!

Afloat in a Shandy Sea.

Creativity is lounging somewhere getting drunk at a bar.  It’s stalled on writing but became ever so quietly excited at Goodwill when I purchased an outfit destined to be zombiefied.  I quietly plan on the sidelines while thinking of other things.  I love that talent.  The ideas form and gel in the background.  I stand back, press my finger to my lips, take out this, add that.  All the while, I’m checking ingredients in food, cooking dinner, doing laundry, thinking about things, worrying about my son.  Life rolls forward in an endless stream but behind the scenes, the nature of me does what it does best:  Plans, creates.  And I know when I have all I need in front of me, the thing that I’ve been visualizing will come to be as imagined.

The practical side has stepped up.  But I have a little bitch with a whip silently berating me for not making any progress with my writing.  I feel guilty which is so not the frame of mind from which to be doing this.  I sit down and write anyway, delete what I’ve written, start again, become dissatisfied and give up altogether.  I think perhaps I put too much pressure on myself to write long.  And by long, I don’t mean the length of time, rather the length of the piece.  It appears that I’m pretty good at flash fiction.  If only, I think, if only I could stretch out those 100 word pieces to thousands.  Driving in the car, I think well, I’m in my mid-forties…maybe I’ll have it together in my fifties – I’ve got plenty of time!

If I do, I do.  If not, well, at least I have two great kids, right?  That’s some wonderful creation right there.

I’m astonished that how day after day, week after week, I’m still surprised at the ebb and flow of life.  Of love.  Of feelings.  Of the past.  Monkeys occasionally jump on for a quick ride (sometimes the same terribly stupid monkey who won’t quit), sometimes I’m up and free of burden, sometimes I’m weighed down and sometimes, like this week, I’m treading water.  It’s probably a good thing to feel astonished because the alternative would be very boring.

At once, I’m feeling ironic.  Opposite.  Paradoxical.  This AND that.  Pushed and pulled.

I’ll keep myself buoyed with some disco. It reminds me of my little nine year-old world that came with this:

photo-of-old-portable-record-playerso that I could play and dance and sing to this.  All lip-syched and cheesy, perfect!

Just Write.

rollerskate

I read This blog yesterday and felt the familiar “Yes!”  ohmygod, yes!

Ideas for stories pile up in my head, occasionally filtering through enough to enable a creative outlet and the start of some kind of story…be it flash fiction, a short story or who knows what else, how long or where it’s going.  Too many ideas up the wazoo and I am frustrated lately with the lack of propulsion.  My Springpad is filling up with unfinished work, stories that race great out of the gates but quickly lose steam.

After reading the above blog, I thought perhaps I had strayed too far from the point.  Taking advice too deeply to heart.  Holding tightly to the notion that no-one wants to read a life story because what might be fascinating for the writer, may not necessarily be so for the reader.  But, perhaps it’s all in the telling.

I have pieces and portions, events and happenings, some of which might shock or provoke tears or elicit a resounding mental “Bravo!” and so I began writing about a quick thing that happened many, many years ago.  After composing the story from two different angles, I’m astounded at how the memory has sprung to life… from a faded thirty-three years ago to now.  The colors are vivid, the characters leap from my mind, the touch of a person, the feel of the day, the utter dumbing numbness that encompassed me.  I have rarely given it thought over the years.  How surprising to find that it is all still intact but if you asked me what I had for dinner last week, I would falter.

It’s the kind of piece that makes me wonder what the people in my story are doing today.  Do they remember?  Do they remember me?

And, how can I trust myself to get it all down in such a way that it doesn’t resemble the page of a confused ten year old’s diary?  To bring it to life without going overboard on prose.  To simplify it.  To describe it in its stark, summer-filled way.

Take a step back and observe.

Much like the strong emotions in life – bearing witness as opposed to immersion in any event that invokes strong emotion, helps work it through.

Be honest and true to human nature, in all its ugliness and darkness.

Write.  Just write.

Perception and Judgment

Last Thursday I went for a run, well, it was more of a jog really. It was a lovely, albeit bit of a breezy afternoon but I enjoyed the still of the tree-lined streets, the soft sound of Heart Meditations radio flowing into my brain. The feel of breath coursing in and out of my body. Really feeling my feet connect with the ground. It wasn’t easy going though because it’s been about six months since I exercised with any regularity so there were quite a few times I stopped to walk before picking up speed again.

I used to criticize myself for doing that and would always feel that people in their houses or people driving by were privately deriding me for walking, so I’d wait until no-one was around before doing so. Now I try to allow myself the grace to admit that I’m older and I have been remiss in taking care of myself physically so I need to give myself time and space to return to where I want to be. It’s a tough pill to swallow; the feeling of inadequacy, failure or dread – they can be real moodbusters. So, I’m making my way around the houses and am aware of these thoughts but am not squishing them down because I know they’ll just pop right back up again like a bunch of Whack-A-Moles. Instead, I do my best to allow them to come and go and I counter them with positive thoughts in a gentle manner. If I need to stop to walk, I break the notion of stranger derision by just stopping and walking. No matter where I am or who’s driving by. I could feel my ego recoil in horror every time. *smile*

And then, as I was headed out of the lovely tree-lined estate, almost done with my jog, I saw ahead of me a young couple also running. I noticed her hair first of all, which was perfectly parted and highlighted and pulled back into a pony tail. She wore a short-sleeved light blue shirt over black pants. And big sunglasses. In a split second of judgment, I saw myself as a middle-aged mother of two wearing her husband’s long-sleeved shirt because she had nothing else warm to wear, a thin hoodie wrapped around her waist, strategically placed to cover her ass, and shiny black pants. Also scraggly hair that had not been professionally cut in a year and no sunglasses. I thought she had me pegged.

Maybe she did, maybe she didn’t. I couldn’t tell since her sunglasses were so big and we really didn’t greet each other as we passed.

However, it really was my perception of myself that bounced off her and back to me. And I knew it as they passed by. I judged her and me and was aware of it in the space of about two seconds.

Isn’t it amazing how snappy the mind can be?

I felt vaguely unsettled for the remainder of my time outdoors and it was one of the things I brought up to my husband when I got home. Even then, I felt sure that this woman had judged me. My ego kept throwing up her image for me to compare myself against.

It’s only today, four days later that I’m admitting what I did and thought and felt. And being ok with it all. Because isn’t that what our journey is about? Experiencing these thoughts, becoming aware of them and accepting them. Learning that the ego has its place in all of us, that our shadows are all part of us and how we can become aware of their role in our soul on a daily basis, isn’t that all part of finding our truth?

I love my soul. And the “bigness” of it. How there is so much more for me to dive into and explore and observe and accept.

Lisa…