No Workout, No Cry…

I was 3 repetitions into my first set of leg extensions.  Spinny Spinny, which is the name I have given my brain when she churns too fast for my own good, wouldn’t slow down.  Every thought I had ever thought, it seemed, was passing through my head again, and all at once.

I stopped my leg extensions and turned off the novella I  was listening to while I commenced my lower body workout.  It was the end of a long Monday and I had no desire to lift weights.  I have been lifting weights most days of my life for 43 years.

Going back nearly 3 months now, my mind has been too occupied to focus on my workouts.  My life has gotten busier, I have developed other interests, and my responsibilities with my mother have increased.  It seems every time I walk into my studio to work out, I either get interrupted or my mind is so focused on all the would-be interruptions which haven’t yet landed, that I just pick one to accommodate so I can get it over with.

I have been at the cusp of a big change in my workout life for years it seems.  Aging, new interests, and the increasing responsibilities of my life have been whispering to me…

This can’t go on.  This can’t go on.  This can’t go on.

And I have ignored those whispers, refusing for years now to let go of what has most defined me in my life; my love of and my need for daily exercise.

At least a dozen times since my late 40s I have attempted to scale back, and to just be grateful for what I can fit into a week’s time when it comes exercise.  Tonight though, I cry uncle, and this time I mean it.  I can no longer keep up the schedule of kinesis which has been the framework of my life for so much of my life.

I have worked out with weights 5-6 days per week since I was 12 years old.  I have also included a peripheral 30-minute (minimum) cardiovascular workout at a different time of day, and at least 6 days per week, for nearly 17 years.

Since this past Thanksgiving, I have been lucky to have taken 2 strength workouts and 2 cardio workouts per week, and some weeks there have been none.  N.O.N.E.  Exercise is no longer fitting in the way it once did, and it’s been frustrating.

That frustration is in part due to the absence of the chemical reactions which exercise provides.  This is the rapid exchange of serotonin between receptors in the brain which results from rigorous movement, and is what has kept me from killing people for 43 years.

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No Leg Day, No Cry…

But the larger part of my frustration is due to my own stubbornness – the expectation that I could continue my holy regimen despite that my life beyond exercise has just gotten more crowded and that exercise, whether I accept this or not, is being pushed to outer edges of the tent by forces much stronger than I.

Tomorrow morning I will wake up with the expectation that on any given day I will choose to perform a strength workout or a cardiovascular workout, but will no longer attempt fit both in on the same day.  The 27-hour days I have been hoping would show up to save my workout regimen, I now accept, just aren’t coming.

This is in no way to suggest that I am giving up on exercise.  In addition to being a longtime passion, exercise is still my livelihood.  I need to walk the walk.  I will exercise every day of my life so long as I am able.  It’s just needs to be a smaller part of my life now, and I will be accepting of any changes to my physicality which result from these changes in my schedule.

And this is not about moderation.  It’s about adapting to a changing life and accepting newborn priorities.  Those changes are now manifest, and I am realizing that the most dignified art of all, is the art of letting go…  Jhciacb

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This will be dead someday, and so too will I.  The art of letting go…

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If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Oklahoma’s finest one man band, Mike Hosty.  Enjoy…

Dignity Etched…

I often see things on social media which suggest to me that, even as I watch my mother age, as I also age, I’ll remember her more as she was when she was young.  Or at the very least, I’ll remember her as she was when I was young.  Though when I consider this, after having had my mother living with me for nearly a year, I’ll suggest they are optimistic reminders of a reality which won’t exist.  I’ve mostly forgotten the mother of my youth.

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As she continues to age, and as her physical and cognitive abilities lessen, the images in my head of my mother in her youth fade more each year, giving way to the more indelible imprints of my mother as she is today.  This is not a bad thing.  Five years from now, 10 years from now, or even 20, I’m sure I won’t want to think too much or remember too well the mother of my youth, but I will be grateful to remember my mother of today.

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When I think of her then, as she was when I was young, compared to how I see her now, there is an absence of much.  True, the mother of my youth could hike, swim, stay up late, and prepare a holiday feast for 12 in less than 3 hours, but there was yet to be the earned dignity which now defines her.

Today, as her steps become shaky, as her voice quivers, and as her hands resemble road maps with stains on them, the wisdom, the experience, and survivalism that come with these, add up to a dignity which I do want to remember her with.

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This is a good reminder to me that, as bright and capable as I feel I am today, I have yet to pay my real dues.  The dues I speak of are not the dues of career, of parenthood, or of middle-age responsibilities.  The dues my mother has paid – those she continues to pay, are the most important dues of all.  These are the dues of having it all, and of having it all slowly slip away, yet waking up each day to live a little more despite the inevitable decline of all things material, all things physical, and many things cognitive.

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I am grateful that I will remember my mother as person who falls asleep watching Jeopardy, who heats up a Stouffer’s creamed corn casserole for dinner rather than attempt to make one from scratch, who often calls me by my brother’s name, and who asks me the same damned questions again and again – all day long.

This person – this mother of mine now, is the mother that reminds me daily that I will be more like her in the not-too distant future, than the me I am today.  This mother, not the mother of my youth, is the woman who reminds me that it’s a fool’s task to believe in or even pursue perpetual youth, and that dignity comes only from letting go of youth, and letting go of all those things that, as time proves to us all, never mattered that much to begin with.  Be well…  rc

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If you are not already a subscriber, please scroll up and do so.  Tell your friends about me — about what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Sonny Condell and Scullion.  Enjoy…