I wish I knew when my body began to be more enemy than friend. I have distinct memories of admiring the strength of my body while still a girl in elementary school. My legs! I could push things with them! I could walk and run and play for hours without an iota of complaint from them. God, it was so simple.
The change in how I felt about my physical self probably came when I experienced “the change” from girlhood to womanhood. As my body shifted into a woman’s shape, the power of my body also shifted. Power came now not from physical strength, but from a nubile sexuality. Strong for sure, but definitely not the same as the internal force previously known which had not been reliant upon the response of another.
For 30 years I struggled to recover a fundamental sense of respect for my physical self. There have been moments of tremendous gain – birthing a baby, beating back a cancer, running or riding in a race, but there have also been setbacks. Those pesky pounds that refuse to leave my abdomen, my post-breastfeeding boobs that seem deflated after nearly 4 combined years of producing milk, my flat butt…there was never a shortage of parts to criticize.
But I did something this weekend which left me with feeling a peaceful comfort with my body. I spent a few hours Labor Day weekend solo at a friend’s pool wearing nothing but my skin, soaking in the sun, diving into the water, au naturale. The sensation of the most basic elements; “fire,” water and air, somehow mentally transported me to a simple state of being. Naked. Bare. Completely comfortable in my own skin.
Despite not having been impressed with the class I took last month in P’town, I decided to give stand up paddle boarding yoga a second try recently. Although I’m still not completely hooked on the concept, I had a much more positive experience this time around and that’s saying a lot considering I was the only person to fall in the lake and there was a giggly Girl Scout troop attending the class.
Taught by Rhiana out of the Kayak Shack, with numerous classes at various times available, the class is approximately 90 minutes long and costs a reasonable $35. Chrissy and I headed up early and were able to get on our boards for a bonus bit of a paddle around prior to class, eventually meeting up with the group and paddling into an area thick with lily pads in an attempt to keep our boards stationary. It seemed to work for everyone but me, but, it wasn’t a real problem to paddle back into place periodically.
No, the real problem was the strap on my bathing suit which nearly turned SUP yoga into topless SUP yoga. Repeatedly fixing that was far more distracting than a gaggle of girls. The other distraction was the sky – it was just beautiful, streaked with pink and yellow as the sun slowly returned to the horizon. This was what I had always hoped for when doing yoga outdoors, yet consistently found elusive.
The scenery alone made the experience gratifying, but the workout was also satisfying. Rhiana took into account the different levels of experience and athleticism and led our group through a class which was differentiated and challenging. I’d definitely take this class again – Scout’s honor.
As I raced to the beach to catch the impending sunset, I couldn’t help but smile. This, I thought, is what I do. I chase beauty. Here’s a gallery of some of what I was fortunate enough to catch during my recent Wellfleet vacation.
One last thought – while the sky was magnificent to observe as the sun slipped down and away, the most stunning moments were those of the afterglow. Truly understanding that almost makes the sunset foreplay for what comes next.
On a night that felt borderline oppressive in the city, I loaded up my wagon with lots of water, towels and Jeter and headed south to Schodack Island State Park for the first trail run of the summer season. One of my summer goals is to make at least half of these runs and, so far, I’m batting a thousand.
I’ve never visited this park before but I know I’ll be back. The drive took about 20 minutes from the DelSo, yet ultimately felt much further away. The trails were amazing – wide, soft and flat. The breeze coming in off of the river was lovely and the temperature was absolutely perfect.
I’m really working on simply enjoying these runs and to foster that mindset, I left my phone in the car. That means no Runmeter recording my miles and no motivating playlist. You know what? Other than my unfamiliarity with the course and where I was in terms of miles, I didn’t miss either. The magnificent green ferns and plentiful pink, white and purple phlox along the trail were stimulation enough.
This particular run was followed by a potluck bar-b-q, which I didn’t participate in due to a need to get back home. Jeter, however, was rewarded for his efforts when he scored a charred burger that he found on the ground. I believe we both left the park happy.
In a weekend blooming with fun and old friends, here are a few of the beautiful sights my eyes took in…
The other beautiful “stuff” is going to take a little longer to
Sometimes I feel like my face is a science experiment. It seems like in the last couple of years my cumulative years of living have really started to display themselves – on my face. There are new creases and wrinkles, evidence of the passage of time and, most especially, of living.
I have mixed feelings about this. Sometimes, I nod my head and acknowledge the aging process as the gift that it is. We all know the alternative, right? I try to embrace the changes thinking of each tiny line as a beautiful souvenir. Often it works.
Yesterday, though, I was at hot yoga, working hard for a standing balance pose and I noticed a difference in the appearance of the skin on my knees. It looked a little…crepe-y. Not saggy, really, just not taut. It bothered me.
Personally, I am not interested in availing myself of surgery or other medical interventions as an attempt to fight off time. I’m certainly not above spending more than I ever could have predicted on eye cream and moisturizer (with sunscreen, of course), but that’s all I’m really comfortable with. At this time.
I’ll continue to exercise, drink lots of water and slather that tender skin under my eyes using my ring finger, which is reputed to be the most delicate. I’ll keep working on my standing split and accepting that it’s what’s under the skin that counts the most.
Where do you draw the line?
Last Sunday I did what I’ve done on countless other Columbus Day weekends – I drove down to New Paltz to get out on the trails in Minnewaska. In years past, it was more a walk around the woods with the girls, but in recent years it’s been all about running trails. Let me go on record, right here, right now, and say that this will be my first half marathon, 2015.
James and I hit the trails about 2pm under bright blue skies, parking in the Awosting lot. We ambled along hitting Cardiac Hill, gaining more than 1000+ feet of elevation,* and racking up more than 12 miles. Along the way we were treated to views which rivaled the breathtaking quality of the steepest ascents. It was a spectacular afternoon and I wish I could do this run with more frequency.
James is great running partner and I thoroughly enjoy the comfort we have with one another after more than 35 years of friendship. I can’t say either of us would have predicted the joy we would each take from running in the woods. It sure is different when you’re not running from the cops! Lakers, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Can’t wait to do it again.
*which is a lot according to my friend, James, and the way my ass felt the next day.