Deciding to Race When I Thought I Was Done

I recently decided to enter some races on the track. A good friend encouraged me to try coming back to sprinting and I did. He’s 55+ and I’m 52. For our respective ages, we’re in pretty good shape. I hadn’t run a track race in about 15 years.

So yes, I reactivated my track club membership and signed up to run the 100m and 200m sprints in the Vienna Masters championships. Here are some of my observations from the experience:

  • When we say age is nothing but a number it’s true and it is also true that numbers can have meaning.
  • Running at 50 for me is very different from how I ran at the end of my competitive middle and long distance career at 36. My body doesn’t want to go too hard or too long. Recovery gets priority.
  • As an older athlete, enhancing performance = staving off and postponing decline. I won’t get faster, per se, so the trick is to avoid getting much slower.
  • I prepared for these races by aiming to do ‘just enough’ and not more.
  • Instead of running all the time I opted for inline skating or walking while adding some technique drills along the way.
  • It is a reality that I wake up stiff and my first steps out of bed are tentative and cautious. This is true whether I work out quite a lot or very little.
  • Arm flexibility and strength will likely be a greater factor in racing success than leg speed over the long haul.
  • My goal going into this was to race without getting injured and I almost made it.

     

     

     

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Hitchhiking or just ambivalent?

I don’t have any previous experience with this aging game; I’m just feeling my way. So far, so good. One of the highlights of participating this weekend was seeing folks (mostly men) much older, 70 – 80, running, jumping and throwing, too.  You see what’s possible and what the sport, the camaraderie can give a person.

Meanwhile, my spunky super athletic 9 year old proved to be a vocal and somewhat critical spectator. That said,  I don’t doubt that it made him proud to see his mom step up onto the top spot and receive a medal. According to him my start in the 200 wasn’t so great but then I was really fast in the curve but at the very end I looked like Voldemort, so yeah. Modeling takes many forms. Impression made.

On the first day I was nervous – like ‘had to go potty numerous times’ nervous. It was a strange throwback – to feel that physical expression of performance anxiety, before a ridiculous 100m race! And in the blocks I messed around with different settings which prompted the starter to give me a few tips. (Mind you, I have been teaching block starts to athletes for over 20 years.)  And then it was, “Auf die Plaetze, Fertig, *boom*.  Behold, I started just fine.

Gearing up for the 200 on Sunday I took a second to think of one of my most coachable athletes who has stellar starts. I was channeling “KL cool” stepping into the blocks and that gave me a little smile. It also reminded me how wonderful and fulfilling it can be to know something so well – this process, the commands, my response, the tension, the release – even after all these years it is still a mystery and an intimacy. That was a gift.

To sum up I want to borrow some words I read in the New York Times recently:

“…that was super-duper…that was very much more than normal…and do you know what else was nice? – It was limited. You know, it was two hours…It didn’t go a whole day. … You don’t want to leave but you have to … the whole thing, it was an incredible thing.”

It was all “an incredible thing” and probably worth attempting again. I learned that I enjoy the tension of competing. I can be “in it to win it” but winning is broadly defined: finishing, staying healthy, following through.

If this is what I’m saying at 50+, I can only wonder what my next decades may bring.

If I’m lucky, more of this.  (Humblebrag, I made my very first GIF!)

 

image: (c) Me, my, mine. Thanks.

Shifting the Baseline: Thoughts on Mature Fitness

The skates await.

The skates await.

When I was 30 I had some very firm ideas about what I wanted to accomplish as an athlete. I had target times I was shooting for, ideal racing distances, and a humane training regimen that left adequate space for family and work commitments.

By 36 the bulk of my athletic curiosity was satisfied. I had a fairly strong sense of what my body was capable of in light of the sacrifices I was willing to make or not make. I had accumulated sufficient medals, trophies and PRs to enjoy a sense of accomplishment that made stepping out of the heavy running scene feel like a natural step.

In my 40’s I aimed to “look the part without paying the full price” which is another way of saying, I maintained a baseline level of fitness without committing myself to any specific performance outcomes. The odd road races or other sporting events I entered were occasions to have fun and enjoy the scenery. Friends and acquaintances still asked about my running intentions during marathon season as I gently reminded them that I was fully out of that game.

Now, at 50, I have set my sights a little differently. Honestly, I am no longer interested in running a new marathon PR or seeing how I match up with masters in the 400m. Rather, I’m thinking longer term. What do I want to still be able to do at 65, 70, 75? And not just be able to do but enjoy doing and feel good doing?

Here’s my initial list:

  • Walk briskly for up to 2 hours on trails or hilly terrain.
  • Speedskate on ice for 1-2hrs.
  • Comfortably do 6-8 cycles of sun salutes and up to 1 hr of gentle yoga
  • bend at the waist and touch my toes.
  • Cycle on gently hilly terrain for 1-2 hrs.
  • Do some push ups
  • Do a wall walk and/or handstand against the wall
  • skip rope
  • skip, gallop, and grapevine
  • swim for 20-30 minutes

I say this now because these are movement capabilities I almost take for granted. While I have my little aches and pains here and there, I enjoy the benefit of tremendous health and well being. Given that context, aging doesn’t seem like such a big deal. On the other hand, I recognize how suddenly matters can shift: through injury, prolonged illness or significant life changes. When I look at my list, I see a need to remain ambitious and accepting; optimistic and also forgiving.

Being fast, faster or fastest feels out of place. Rather, the desire to be fluid, graceful, balanced, and at peace rushes to the foreground and sets the tone for whatever follows. This is how a new baseline fitness idea evolves. No longer mired in besting what was, my new baseline aims to bolster and extend what is. I don’t know if I intended to be a lifelong runner when I was racing in my 30’s. I think I’ve decided I won’t be. I think I’ll be a lifelong mover, shaker, and dancer instead. Sounds like more fun and less hassle. Which, at this age, also seems to make a lot more sense.

 

 

*I entered the title after writing the post (a pattern of composition, I dare say). Fitness and Aging seemed odd. Fitness and Getting Older, stranger still. 50 still feels too young to be writing about aging or getting older in most contexts, although we are all doing it at every age. So I opted for that wonderful middle age euphemism: “mature” to describe all things past the age of 50. If you have a better title idea, please let me know.

 

Spikeball for Everyone?

I’m not sure I really want to write this post. Part of me says, “c’mon, get over yourself.” While another part is saying, “it’s bothering you, get it off your chest, move on.”
Here’s the deal. I like fun, I like movement and games, I like people from lots of different backgrounds – put all those together and I consider myself extremely fortunate to be working as physical education specialist in an international school – all the bases are covered.

Recently, I learned about a new product which looks and sounds particularly interesting for middle and high school students. One of my PE tweeps showed some of the positive student feedback she got after introducing the game. Cool! So I found the company’s twitter profile which led me to their website which told and showed me all I needed to know about the game, the product and options for purchase. For further orientation, I clicked on a couple of their videos to see the game in action.

This is where my internal conflict kicks in. The videos that I watched featured young fit males and one or two young women in the 18-24 age range I’m guessing, all white. Several clips show players on a beach but there are clips of people playing in other spaces, too. Everyone in the videos is white. Everyone is the videos seems especially physically adept and coordinated, to the degree that I wondered, would this make any sense for less athletic school populations?

I was reminded of an article touting the benefits of an anti-obesity program entitled “Operation Pull Your Weight” where I couldn’t help but notice that the promotional video included no one who could be considered obese. Product marketing I suppose often produces such messaging mismatches: saying one thing, yet showing something else. In the case of Spikeball I pick up the message “This game is for everyone” and we’ll only show it being played by white guys.

My point here is not complain or point fingers of accusation. I am simply noticing and observing. The target demographic of this game appears evident and as such, their current marketing materials absolutely reflect that. As someone who does not fit that particular demographic, yet finds an interest in the product and the novelty it may offer students, I note a peculiar reaction. Not seeing people like myself or my students or my colleagues represented among the product’s demonstrations, I take away the feeling that this game is not really intended for us (people of color, people over 40, less coordinated players). We do not belong to the intended audience, so no great loss to the company if we don’t purchase or promote this particular game (That’s my gut take-away).

At the same time, I see a familiar trend. This is a new product, aiming to build its user community quickly. The founders appear to be young white dudes who are crazy enthusiastic about their product and the sport and they seem poised to appeal first and foremost to folks of similar backgrounds: white, college educated, athletically inclined and socially active (because you do need friends in order to play). Neither their strategy nor their visible reach so far should come as a surprise. They seem to be fully on course for doing what they’ve come to do: popularize a trendy new sport and sell the inventory.

If we’re simply talking markets here, catering to the caucasian college crowd may be all this company needs to claim success. Good luck to them. What strikes me is how the experience simply reinforces my sense that this is the norm. White people play certain games and enjoy certain forms of entertainment with other white people, while Blacks do their own thing and Latinos do theirs. And so the marketing of everything from beverages to TV shows to popular games reflects this “differentiated” or “targeted” approach.

To be fair, while writing this, my PE buddy encouraged me to seek out some of the instructional videos on the company’s YouTube channel. I found some and while still very vanilla, I at least could see kids playing and the game introduced in a more approachable fashion for beginners. Here’s a sample clip created by high school students: http://youtu.be/ZEZG-xvWN8I and here’s a group of junior high kids playing.

In many ways, it would be so easy to just skip over this episode. And that’s exactly the point: for most of us this is normal. We don’t find it odd that there are no people of color and few women or girls to be seen playing this game in the company’s videos. But this time, I just needed to say something.

I bet I’ll like Spikeball just fine if I ever get a chance to play with students or my sons. It looks like fun and like something you can easily find new ways to challenge yourself over time. Maybe the sport and the Spikeball community will grow its diversity over time. Even though this may present a challenge.

Woman. Black. Fit. Angry. (In)visible. All of the above.

Two essays this week caught me unawares and have left me restless in their wake. The first is “Yes, I Am An Angry Black Woman” by Stacey Patton, published in DAME magazine and the second is “Fitted” by Moira Weigel in The New Inquiry. While it is easier to guess the thrust of the first essay based on the title, the second is less overt.  Weigel talks about the rise of FitBit and other activity trackers and their association with a whole new brand of female productivity. Both of these essays spoke to me in significant ways. And their separateness from each other presents me with an internal dilemma I hope to solve by writing about it now.

First of all, I encourage you to read Stacey Patton’s stirring call to attention, whoever you are. With her words, she invites the reader to inhabit her simmering state of mind in all its complexity, fervor and power. On the day after the Charleston Massacre she describes her ride on an East Coast train:

…The news of Charleston was difficult to process, even more so while riding a D.C.-bound train packed with White people, most of them dressed in business attire, who seemed oblivious to the tragedy. It took everything I had in me to keep from erupting with rage in that Amtrak car.

I thought about racial terrorism and its larger history while a nearby White woman worked on a New York Times crossword puzzle, and sipped her Starbucks coffee. I raged thinking how not even churches are safe from the pathologies of White supremacy. Others talked on their cell phones about trivial shit or tapped on their laptop keyboards and tablets.

It was clear I was not among friends or a community that shared my sadness, anger, or angst about what it means to be Black in America in the 21st century. A pair of women sitting behind me chatted and laughed loudly. They were free of worry, they were fearless and enjoying their privilege to live, to exist apart from the horrors of racial violence. Their joy made me resentful. Fighting waves of grief and tears of sorrow, I got up to change seats to get away from the noise of White privilege. – See more at: http://www.damemagazine.com/2015/08/03/yes-im-angry-black-woman#sthash.jbKFgqre.dpuf
“The noise of white privilege.” yeah, that landed.
Patton goes on to describe the historical roots of the Angry Black Woman stereotype. And this stereotype, while familiar to me, is the very one I have sought so carefully to avoid. Although I  have a temper and can get loud, this tends to happen within the safe confines of my own four walls among family, where I’m allowed to be just angry me – minus the socio-political layering. In my professional life and among friends, few would readily identify me as ‘that angry Black woman.’  And yet I know and feel the anger about which Stacey Patton speaks.
Far too long, we have been fighting to dispel the Angry Black woman stereotype. But that’s not the solution because the truth is, we are angry. Our rage is righteous. Our ire is understandable. Yet our anger is misunderstood.
And she makes the brave suggestion that we learn to see our rage as a creative power for change:
Let’s stop viewing our anger as a negative and appreciate it as a gift. Neuroscientists’ research reveals that anger is a powerful means of social communication, and a natural part of any person’s emotional resources. Anger helps us reach our goals, allowing us to be more optimistic, creative, and to solve problems. Anger is a source of fuel for motivating us to meet life’s challenges and persuade others to do the right thing.
It’s at this point in the essay where I get on my feet and start to wave my hands: “Yaaaasss!”
 She closes with this:
To feel our anger at injustice is to be wholly alive. Our ability and willingness to express that anger, is to be committed to progress. To wield our anger strategically is the key to the justice and freedom. And to fully embrace our anger is the most healthy, sane, self-loving, nurturing thing that we can possibly do – See more at: http://www.damemagazine.com/2015/08/03/yes-im-angry-black-woman#sthash.jbKFgqre.dpuf (Do read the whole essay. You will thank me.)
“To feel our anger at injustice is to be wholly alive”  provides a frame for why I engage here at all. It’s not always because I am angry, but often enough  I am astonished, flabbergasted or amazed at the injustices we tolerate and let pass without addressing the root causes. There is plenty to be up in arms about – channeling that energy to agitate and push for change is what movements are made of.   Stacey Patton’s statements remind me that I may have to let go of the need to put on my happy face when I decide to engage for change outside of my precious four walls.
And then there’s this second essay, “Fitted” which after “Yes, I Am An Angry Black Woman” reads a bit like “the noise of White privilege.”  Moira Weigel, however,  expertly describes both the allure and burden of embedding 24/7 activity tracking in her own and other women’s daily lives.  She talks about the act of tracking emerging like a new, fully personalized religion. The sharing of one’s most intimate data regarding movement, food intake, sleep and even sex in pursuit of constant improvement becomes the new vehicle towards salvation. The desire to not just be better but to also show off your new “better” is fueled  by competing and commiserating with fellow activity trackers.  While I consider myself a modest fitness enthusiast, this more recent trend of constant self-monitoring remains foreign to me even if I can understand the various motivations behind it.  All of these elements tied up with our  cultural notions of what fit femininity looks like and how it is assessed in the current media climate made the essay a deeply compelling read for me. And as I read and re-read the essay (which is a repeated pleasure) I was struck by  how very White it all feels. Even if  I know that FitBit users come in all colors, shapes and sizes, the folks who best conform to Weigel’s  distinctive portrayal strike me as most likely to be White, straight, upper middle-class  women.  After describing the new beauty/fitness ideal of our times as exorexic, she clues us in as to how this  movement trend is likely to play out in practical and ideological terms:

Today, the ideal woman is exorexic.

In Ancient Greek, orexis means “desire” or “appetite.” The prefix an means “not.” A true anorexic wants nothing. Ex is Latin, for “out of”; arcere means “restrain.” “Exercise” meant to break out of what is holding you, and to push the limit.  The exorexic craves a challenge. Specifically, she aims to work her way out of desiring itself. …

Today, the exorexic eroticizes work itself. The army of women in Lululemons and Nike Frees who bound purposefully along the sidewalks of more and more American cities proclaim no specific taste, but rather an insatiable appetite for effort. They wear the uniform of an upper middle class for whom the difference between leisure and work is supposed to have disappeared.

Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life. When the guidance counselors say this, they suggest that if you work, you will be loved—or at least deserve love. Make yourself lovable first, they say, and sure as day you can trade that strange coin, ability, in for happiness later. They do not tell you the principle that follows. Love work above all and you will never rest.

Granted, I am enamored of this particular passage.  Weigel’s subjects present themselves vividly in my imagination: they are ambitious, well-educated, weight conscious and (to my mind)  oh so very White. These are some of  those same women who go on to become helicopter perfectionist parents, I suppose. (Cliché  I realize, but irresistibly so.)  I, too, am ambitious, well-educated and weight conscious. I enjoy feeling productive and disciplined and operate much better in the world when those two characteristics are visible. The plot thickens, however, when I consider that my White sisters’ ambition and effort will be judged and assessed quite differently from mine based primarily on  well-worn yet  invisible unconscious bias.

As a black woman, my work is consistently cut out for me.   The way the world tends to view my effort and the body I produce with that same effort is likely to be  perceived differently than those of Weigel’s “army of women”.  My muscles have often been interpreted as defying femininity. I get to be “strong” but not “pretty”.

That moment when you realize you're not invisible. (1997)

That moment when you realize you’re not invisible. (1997 Frauenlauf Wien)

I am good at my job; yet to advance beyond my current status can seem more like a mountain to climb rather than the logical next step it might be for an equally educated and experienced candidate from the dominant group. This realization has been decades in the making:  It’s not just me and my personal inadequacies, there are systemic factors at play. Being female and Black pose barriers that I previously did not wish to acknowledge. And my identification with and understanding of the dominant group’s ways of being and functioning help and hinder me in unique ways.

Weigel sums up the significance of  the FitBit mania for her particular demographic in the following way:

FitBit users remain, above all, productive, in our data and our visibility. We do not succumb to that wan, sick decadence, the aggressively infertile unproductivity of the true anorexic. This is female labor becoming frictionless. The point of the game is to just not disappear.

That’s it! That’s the critical difference I have struggled to name. For Weigel’s exorexic women “the point of the game is to just not disappear.”  Of course!  Weigel’s “army of women” is highly visible. They are prominent, ubiquitous – seen everywhere you look from screens to billboards, to print media; in the majority of our retail spaces.  For me in my Black female physicality and intellect, the point is to appear, to become visible, to cease being invisible.  Aye, there’s the rub! To be a black woman in majority white spaces so easily becomes a form of invisibility: either in the way that we bend over backwards to assimilate into the dominant culture and its going narratives, or we stand out through our behavior or appearance which become the excuse for Whites to look the other way and ignore our very presence. This feels like a revelation. This is where my path diverges from Weigel’s  hyper-productive women  and draws me into Patton’s harbor of validation and understanding.

In my struggle to be seen for all that I am, for all that I offer – I face barriers that are not of my own creation. The work-arounds, passwords and gatekeeper relations I develop are original and unique to me. Both Weigel and Patton offer me insights to both the world that I inhabit and the world that I am. Both authors open my eyes to fresh perspectives and for that I feel deeply grateful.

So for the record: I am Black. I am a woman. Sometimes I am angry. I am fit. I am an educator. I am a coach. I am a runner. I am a parent. I am a reader, writer, thinker, listener, observer. And more. Always more.

Fully Personalized and Valuable Summer PD

My 7 year old son and I have been having a great week. We’ve visited several sports spaces around the city and he’s participated in floor hockey, tennis, long jump, gymnastics, climbing, swimming, badminton, table tennis and skittles (similar to bowling). Most of this he has been able to do for free, thanks to a great set-up by the City of Vienna. Of the 28 sport offerings available to kids from ages 6-10, 24 run every week of the summer vacation, 18 are free of charge, and 7 can be enjoyed in more than one location. Add to that offerings in arts and crafts, theater and dance, science and outdoor adventures, kids’ college, music and film and you’ve got a summer of amazing possibilities. Some activities do cost a few Euros but it is clear that great efforts have been made to insure affordability and easy access.

From our few outings so far, here are some of the things I’ve noticed:

  • When kids choose their own activities they can often manage extremely well by themselves. Depending on the context, adult moderation/intervention is often unnecessary, once the games are underway. (Amazed watching my son play pick up floor hockey with boys almost twice his size.)
  • Most of the children I observed were highly respectful of each other, of the adults present and generally pretty friendly, welcoming, and easy-going.
  • It has been surprising to see how underused some of the offerings are, especially those which are absolutely free. Great spaces equipped with prepared adults are often ready and waiting for interested folks to show up.
  • The opportunity to observe others giving instruction has been edifying and eye-opening. I picked up some great new cues and activities from the gymnastics warm-up as well as from other sites.
  • At the skittles club, several club members were on hand to work with the kids and get them excited about the sport. Nearly everyone greeted us personally and provided lots of encouragement throughout the 2 hour session. My son can’t wait to play again. Nor can I!  The magic worked.
  • At each of these venues there seemed to be a healthy balance between instruction and freedom to explore. Trying everything was okay. Leaving one thing to go do another and later return was okay. This is something that struck me as extremely child-friendly in these settings.
  • The vast array of offerings has motivated me to stretch myself by venturing into unfamiliar parts of the city to find a gym, field or park.
  • My son’s enthusiasm has stoked my own: to become more of a movement explorer, to try new skills, risk looking silly, and have lots of fun doing it.
  • To all this I must also add our recent discovery of gonoodle.com which is a web-based platform for movement videos designed for kids. It started with “Pop See Ko,” a follow-along song he learned in summer camp and every day since we’ve tried everything from yoga stretches to Zumba to coordination challenges to free movement dances like “Cookie Boogie.”
  • The beauty of this arrangement is that I get to test and explore all these online possibilities with a real-live kid.  His responses give me some indication of which episodes will likely find favor with which age group and help me determine which ones I would enjoy using in class. Much to my own surprise, GoNoodle may become an avenue to “flip” parts of my lessons.
  • These experiences remind me that Professional Development need not come from a conference, book group or online course. Observe someone else giving instructions to others anywhere: in a video, at the doctor’s office, in your yoga class, in a museum. What can you appreciate about the delivery in the given context? What makes the situation appear challenging or easy? How might you approach the situation if you were charged with the same task?
  • There is so much learning to be had simply in venturing, doing, observing, and reflecting. Regardless of what you teach, or your role in education, all of us are primarily in the people business. The more we study and learn about people, beginning with ourselves, the better equipped we will be to handle whatever demands come our way.

I’m looking forward to quite a few more days of high-action movement with my youngest this summer. We’re following an open curriculum. Our essential question is derived from Phineas and Ferb: “What are we gonna do today, Ferb?”

 

Mid-Life Fitness

  • Do something, anything.
  • Do it more than once in a while.
  • Stretch frequently.
  • Find opportunities to wiggle, hang, swing, jump.
  • If you like to be around people, go find some folks who are doing what you like to do and join them.
  • If you don’t like people so much, enjoy working on your own without an audience.
  • Go easy.
  • Even when you go hard, take it easy.
  • Pain means that something hurts. Stop and find out what it is. Deal with it sooner, not later.
  • Think injury prevention. Always. (Warm up well, wear safety gear as necessary, calculate risk reasonably)
  • Spend some time with kids between the ages of 3 and 10. Play something outside.
  • There are lots of ways to build strength. Free weights engage your system more thoroughly and naturally than machines. Using your own body weight provides other benefits.
  • Do things that you enjoy. There are no medals for longest endured drudgery.
  • Sleep more.
  • Pay no heed to the airbrushed images on the cover of fitness and health magazines – movement is for all of us and can take hundreds of forms and do plenty of good.
  • It’s not about the gear you’re sporting, the membership you’ve acquired, what your friends think.
  • Keep showing up even when you have your doubts, reservations and tight hamstrings.

Here’s where this list came from. Many of my adult years have been deeply involved with fitness in one form or another: Initially as a track coach, then as a teacher of physical education, as a competitive runner and more recently as recreational speed skater.  People who meet me often make assumptions about my take on all things fitness. They guess that I must be an especially healthy eater, that I run every day, and that I consistently push myself. All false assumptions and for years, in fact.

What is true is that I have a good sense of what my body is capable of. I am aware of my strengths and weaknesses and understand how these can change over time and also be shaped. Up until recently I didn’t have to worry much about diet or weight and through my work I have had consistent access to both the time and facilities to practice movement in multiple forms.

Having made it to mid-life in reasonably good shape I’ve taken the opportunity to re-evaluate what it means to be fit, how I want to live my fitness for the long haul, and what beliefs and behaviors I may need to adapt to this later phase and understanding. The list above presents a smattering of my current thinking about mid-life fitness. Above all, I’ve come to realize that the things that mattered to me at 30 and 35 do not hold as much currency any more. I’m not interested in monitoring or programming or comparing my physical activity in the same way. I want to either enjoy myself immensely or be clear that the reason I am NOT enjoying myself immensely while moving is a conscious choice to act on another, perhaps different priority.

Back in my competitive days, I was “in it to win it.” When I use the same phrase today, “winning” can mean a whole host of things: showing up, following through, experiencing pleasure, banishing guilt. Also as a full time teacher of physical education, the importance of modeling healthy movement attitudes and approaches remains top of mind. My students discover fairly early on that Ms. Spelic is still learning how to do things -how to juggle a soccer ball, for instance. To their eyes, it often appears that I can do about anything. At mid-life I am proud of some of the things I can do and am getting better at and I have a healthy respect for the skills and tasks which continue to dog me.
Traditional aspects of fitness – flexibility, strength, endurance – start from the heart and mind these days and feed my soul as well as my body. I want to remain flexible in my thinking, strong in my commitment to being all of me and enduring in my capacity to love when it feels hard to keep loving. There can be no technology to measure my progress in these domains. My mid-life fitness remains distinctly my own: independent, fierce, compassionate and present.

 

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IMG_0667.JPG

The Skipping Post

image from flickr.com

image from flickr.com

Skip.
Skip.
Children skip.
See the children skip from place to place.
Who is skipping?
The children are skipping.
See how happy they are, the skipping children.
Skip, children, skip!

Where are the grown-ups?
They are sitting and watching.
They are sitting and watching their tiny screens while the children skip.
While the children skip, the grown-ups type and sometimes they wave.
The busy grown-ups wave to their happy, skipping children.
Do the grown-ups skip?
No. Not here, not now.

The grown-ups do not skip.
They run.
Grown-ups work out.
Grown-ups go to the gym and work out.

pixabay.com

pixabay.com

Grown-ups run and bike and lift and stretch.
See the grown-ups pay to sweat.
Sweat, grown-ups, sweat!

Here is a grown-up.
She is skipping!
She is skipping down the path.
Watch her smile as she skips.
She is skipping and smiling but I do not see her sweat.
Is this her workout?
Skip, grown-up, skip!

The grown-up says, “Come skip with me!”
“Try skipping,” she says,
“It’s easy, it’s fun!”
She smiles as she skips and I want to join.
Who will see me try to skip?
Who will hear me trying to skip?
I am afraid.
I may look silly.
I may look foolish. But
I want to skip.
I want to skip and smile and make a friend.

And so I try.
I try to skip.
I step, then hop. I step, then hop.
I am skipping. Skipping all the way.
I am smiling as I skip.
See me skip.
Hear me skip.
There I go skipping and smiling, stepping and hopping.
I am happy with my skip.
And my skip is happy with me.

This post is dedicated to anyone and everyone who has ever struggled to find the joy in physical exercise.

Try skipping and see if you can do it without cracking a smile. Watch children skip and gallop and dart. Watch their faces. What do they know that we have forgotten?
I dare, double dare you to skip for 100, 200, or even 800 meters and manage to keep a straight face. It’ll be tough but if you’re serious enough, I bet you can do it. You’re a grown-up after all, right?

Let me know how it turns out.