African Mountain Tortoise. Slow and steady

I am at the gym and for the first time in my life I am working out for me–not for how I look to the outside world, not to force my body into an unnaturally lower weight so I can compete in the acting world. I exercise to be a strong and healthy me.   I bemoan the fact that I stopped working out hard in my 40s.  If I had stayed with it, this wouldn’t be so challenging, would it?   At the time, I  was done acting and felt like I didn’t need to spend as many hours in the gym a week as I had been.  My commitment to working out dwindled.  I quit when I probably needed to be even more committed as menopause added pounds.  Now at 60, things that used to be simple are comically challenging–stand on one leg, wobble, wobble, wobble and catch myself before I topple over challenging.

I banish judgment.  This is where I am today, and I refuse to “should have” myself into the darkness that will shut me down and make me “bad”.  My promise to myself is to show up and do what I can today.

Seeing the blessing in an accident

I broke my ankle in May and now I am seeing the blessing in that accident. It led me to physical therapy and reminded me that everything is connected.  The pain in my arch of the broken foot is actually resulting from weak glutes and hips.   Yes, all the sitting on my ass in front of the computer is affecting my arches.  Who knew?   We spend more time in physical therapy working on my glutes, quads, and hamstrings rather than my ankle.  Yes, we work on the ankle too, but building  a stronger total foundation is the goal.

I enjoy the feeling of the sweaty aftermath of that workout.  I am remembering what it feels like to be in my body.   As an intuitive and thinker, I can often float outside my body, not fully present.  It is good to love my body, my home in this lifetime. She may need some improvements and maintenance, but I love what she allows me to experience.

Finding the right gym

Knowing that I would soon be released from physical therapy, wanting to continue my progress, led me to a small boutique gym Pro Fitness Network in Pasadena favored by women over 50, which was  recommended by a friend.  A new home for working out far different than the Gold’s Gym of my younger days.  There is no competition here.  There is community and laughter.  Yes I am working out and getting sweaty but at a gentler pace than in my youth.   The owner, Carina, a 58-year-old fit blonde with a light Swedish accent reminds not to push too hard. “You will get warmed up and think you can do more than you can, then you will pay for it.  We want slow steady improvements that you only notice when you look back at where you were a few months ago.”  It feels like the right place for me. I am all for gentle improvements not boot camps.  I never liked the drill sergeant approach to working out even at my fittest.

I have stepped off the push train and adopted the mantra, “Just do what is in front of you right now.”

When I was in my 30s managing some women in their 60s, I was frustrated by their deliberateness.  One job at a time.  They didn’t hurry.  I wanted them to push.  I wanted them to move faster and care more.  Not that they didn’t do a good job just that they didn’t seem to have a sense of urgency.  Sorry ladies, I get it now.   With age comes a new desire–to be present, to not work so hard, to savor the moments, to enjoy now.  To only multi-task when it is absolutely required.

I am happy in the slow steady, but that darn “push” voice keeps coming back.

“You haven’t worked on your writing much this year, where is that one woman show that you were going to write?   You need to move.  Get a new job.  Find a new city to live in. Enlarge your social circle.  Do you want to be alone at 80? You must figure it all out now! NOW!”

I firmly tell this voice to take a seat at the back of the bus.   It isn’t time to push.  I’ve been using this COVID time as a time for reflection and reprioritization.  The world outside is giving me permission to do slow and steady right now.  Why would I push?   What do I want?  I’ve always had very clear goals and right now I’m not sure about the specifics.  It feels like the world is changing and I’m not sure my role in that change.  But I know for sure that it is not making myself crazy with a list of goals and to do’s that make me feel tired before I have begun.

The other day, I listened to my body and took a nap rather than take part in an online class I signed up for and was looking forward to.   I will watch the class on replay in my own pace at a time that works for me and not for a moment feel guilty. That is an improvement.

The wise woman says don’t hurry your life away trying to get there.  Enjoy here.  Be slow and deliberate rather than hurried.  Be kind rather than being that stern task mistress.  Be the river of life, let go of trying to get somewhere upstream that is a fight.  Listen to my energy and respect it.  Know the difference between an emergency when push may be necessary and daily life.

Some things just aren’t worth pushing for. I am learning to respect my own knowing and give less credence to the culture that would prefer I as women of a certain age be invisible, silent, and exhausted.

How do you feel about “pushing”?   Have you changed your relationship to that word as you have gotten older?   I’d love to hear what you think.

The photo is a a mountain tortoise from Africa.   I’m old, not as old as this tortoise but I know  slow but steady wins the race in many things in life.
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