June 22, 2010

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I’d really like to start a regular exercise routine. But I haven’t. And I think I’m in the company of millions of people. I’ve been thinking a lot about what deters me, what holds me back.

First of all, I’m a creature of comfort. When Marshall proposed to me, he told me I had 7 great loves, and they are what made him love me so much. One of those loves was comfort. He likes when I’m in a sweatshirt or wrapped in a blanket. Last Christmas, InStyle had an 8-page article on gift ideas, categorized by general personality types. The page I was attracted to instantly was the one that oozed comfort: ear muffs, tea kettle, flannel button-up, bathrobe, checker set, etc. etc. I like to be cozy. My favorite part of Everett’s favorite sign language video is when the host talks about sleep, pajamas, and then turns off the light in a bedroom, where two little kids softly snore and crickets sing quietly. I love rest and regeneration.

So the idea of moving my body so much I sweat through my shirt (eww) goes against my grain, you could say. But I long to be stronger, healthier. I know it doesn’t take much. I know little steps will lead to bigger strides. And a couple times a week, I do go on walks, pushing a few dozen pounds in front of me. I discovered that new tennies, a visor, and non-denim pants or shorts make the experience easier. I discovered that plugging my iPod into a cheap tiny speaker, dropped into a pocket in the back of the stroller, helps me from getting bored.

But I want to be more consistent. I want to get up at 7 and walk in the early morning hours, all by myself. Marshall and I run our own company, which means we make our own schedule. Which is great. But it means we have to work a lot to get our business off the ground. So time taken away from work can sometimes make me feel guilty, even though both of us have agreed multiple times that it is totally okay to spend a small part of our day exercising. It is showing respect to our bodies. We try to not refer to it as working out or exercising anymore, as those words connote boredom to me—we’ve dubbed it physically heightening experience, or phe (pronounced phay). (“How can we incorporate more pheing in our day-to-day life?” we ask each other.)

If I wake up before my boys are up, I’d rather have some tea and read. (Gosh. Reading. I love reading. When E naps, there is nothing I’d rather do than read. If I go a few days without reading, I physically feel the lack.) I recently read a fitness expert’s findings that some people get more tired from working out than energized, so they should work out in the evening (while other people are the opposite—they become energized, so working out for them is better suited for the morning). This makes total sense to me. However, when my mind thinks about pheing after supper, my body thinks about reading on the couch. And my body almost always wins.

I know that my preferred form of working out is a dance or some other low-impact cardio class, walking (sometimes boring even with music or a friend, though—I don’t know why), or biking (my bike sorely needs a tune-up, and I get nervous about biking in Madison, even on the paths). I know these are things that I can do. The problem is seeing them as a priority. How can I change my perspective, to view exercising as a must-do? As important as putting food in my body and getting rest? What do you do? Keep in mind that your answer will be more relevant to me if you have at least one child in your household. :) (Eating, resting, working out, showering, connecting, thinking, and all other necessary life-giving activities are always complicated by the presence of a kid in your life.)

My grandma died last Friday, on my birthday, 3 weeks after the cancer diagnosis. I was told the window in her room was open, a perfect June breeze gently blowing on her as her breathing eventually stopped. I was told my grandpa, when informed of her last breath, cried, and cried, and cried.

All afternoon, all evening, I marveled at the expanse of the summer sky. I have never seen it so wide, so open…it looked like it had just been created and separated from the earth. A newborn sky.

We are rich: we have nothing to lose.
We are old: we have nowhere to rush.
We shall fluff the pillows of the past,
poke the embers of the days to come,
talk about what means the most
as the indolent daylight fades;
we shall lay to rest our undying dead:
I shall bury you, you will bury me.

Vera Pavlova

as if it were enough

June 2, 2010

A girl sleeps as if
she were in someone’s dream;
a woman sleeps as if tomorrow a war will begin;
an old woman sleeps as if
it were enough to feign being dead
and death might pass her by
on the far outskirts of sleep.

—Vera Pavlova

Death and sleep have been occupying my mind a lot lately. My grandma is swiftly dying of cancer, but unlike the nonspecific old woman in Pavlova’s poem, she’s ready to go. When I visited my grandma, she was as chatty as ever, but rather abruptly she became tired, and her eyes closed, and she warned me that she was about to drift off on me. It was the way my baby used to sleep, in his early months—the swift change from awake to not awake—his limbs active, then stretching, then still; his cooing suddenly stopping, replaced by sweet, even breathing.

My baby is 17 months now and this week we decided to start teaching him to fall back asleep on his own after partial night wakings. The thing is, he hasn’t cried at all in the middle of the night for the last 2 nights. Go figure. He must be sleeping as if he were in someone’s dream. As for me, a woman, almost 27 years, I snooze just fine, a deep and restorative sleep. But bedtime is the tricky thing, the thing when I feel a kind of war approach me. Grief overthrows me like a coup d’etat.