Writing is all for me.
Having a broken arm has given me a new perspective.
It’s like anything that is forced upon us-we have no choice but to adapt. When catapulted head first into a rotten situation for which we had no warning, we learn. We learn how to cope when we find ourselves in unexplored territory. We learn about the words insecure and vulnerable and fearful and lost.
However in my reflection over the past weeks, I believe the lesson we learn that is of most value to the human spirit, is the incredible ability of ‘us’ to find strength. It comes. It may take a while, but it comes. Sure, we may never be the same person again, but we’re not supposed to be. We are destined to experience life in its fullest form and that involves forced change.
Now, a broken arm is by no stretch of the imagination a life changing experience. For me however, it has forced me to consider the other side of the coin. Forced me to understand I am more than a bunch of arms and legs. Forced me to realise falling into complacency is a natural tendency, but it is completely temporary. Life will never remain the same for us, it simply can’t, but it is absolutely inevitable strength will find us, and we will grow through change, and flourish as we revel in the realisation that there is so much more to ‘us’ than we ever imagined.
I had my cast taken off yesterday. This was a revelation. I never contemplated it could be worse than loafing around with an extra accessory for 5 weeks unable to use my dominant arm, drive, work, or exercise as I used to-It was. I now have no cast, but staring me in the face is an arm that looks roughly like it used to, with limited function. Why won’t it move? Why can’t I touch my face? Why does it feel so stiff it reminds me of rigor mortis and lying in a coffin? It is not the same arm as before-just like that, in one awkward, unfortunate, accidental moment.
It is temporary, and this conversation is purely a euphemism for moments more life impacting, but it’s a lesson all the same. I am finding a new me. I am understanding that life is hard sometimes, and we are dished out stuff we didn’t ask for that perhaps we’d quite happily hand back, and it is full of resentment, and guilt and anger and questions and we are physically fragile, but oh, the human spirit is strong.
-And it becomes all the more powerful when we let go of the fight and accept that the only way around, is through.
Sometimes, the only thing to do is nothing.
Park your emotions.
Put them on hold for a bit.
Shove them up on the top shelf until such a time that you can deal with them rationally.
In times of deep upset our ability to see the real story is severely hindered.
The bigger picture, is hidden under a huge pile of rubbish-stress, anger, confusion, resentment, disappointment, sadness and desperation.
This rubbish pile in the early stages is sometimes so heavy that any attempt to shift it will fail.
Each futile attempt to sort through it simply moves rubbish from one pile to another.
So when this happens,
park your emotions and wait.
Wait for the rubbish to slowly decompose, and in time,
it will be dust.
THE PHYSICAL BATTLE OF TRAINING- THROUGH MY EYES
Late this afternoon, I went for a run as part of my training for the 70.3 in June. You know, I probably wouldn’t have done it, if I didn’t have to. It was humid, and hot, and I was tired for the simple reason that I am always tired. I am becoming quite bored with this excuse, but a valid one it is.
As I was pounding the pavement, I found myself watching the people on the esplanade. Little kids kicking balls with their folks, people walking their dogs, and others simply lying on the grass taking in the serenity. A little mirror in my head brought attention to the fact that for a second or two, I was wishing I was one of them. One of those people who appeared to be completely happy to sit still, and smile as the world happened around them.
I could feel the sweat dripping from my arms and legs and running down my face. My breathing was controlled, and my pace was steady, but my mind was wandering. It was jumping into the lagoon pool with all the tourists, it was walking along the sand with my puppy-who was sitting at home so desperate to go with me- it was reading a book on the grass under a sleepy palm tree and it was parked with my mouth permanently perched over the bubbler, hydrating me with the best tasting water in the world. I wanted to be there. I wanted to be far away from the heat and the thirst and the sore feet and the tweaking knee and the Garmin.
Oh the Garmin.
Having a Garmin watch is like having a spy attached to your wrist. Those little numbers on its screen have a habit of telling you when you are too slow. I can hear them shouting at me like a school teacher.
“You are not trying hard enough today. You may as well go and lie on the grass and watch the pelicans in the mudflats”
But my feet keep moving…like they always have. I often wonder why I don’t just give up and turn the dial down a few notches.
Perhaps it’s because last weekend I ran 9km in 41 minutes, and I smiled when my Garmin delivered the good news. Perhaps its because when I swim, I no longer have back ache like I used to. Perhaps it is because after a training session I can stack the Cadbury drinking chocolate into a cup and fill it with cold milk and devour its contents without worrying about the consequences…
Or perhaps it’s actually because I like it.
Despite the moans and groans, I must actually like it. I like conquering the discomfort in order to be a little better than I was yesterday, even if I’ll never be as good as some. Even if I can’t compete with those around me. Even if sometimes I want to throw in the towel because no matter what I do, I am slower than those I admire.
The thought of giving up on finding the ‘best of me’, makes me feel as if I am on a downhill slope, as if the best of me has been and gone. So I must pound the pavement. Because the truth is, I never want to let go of growth.
The best of who I am lies in tomorrow’s challenges, because that is how it is for me. And as long as my heart desires new experiences, there will forever be a reason to put one foot in front of the other.
I might be 43, but life ‘aint over yet baby.
Give up or Get Real
Training for a Half Ironman
Both of these options come with benefits, and BOTH are considered regularly. If I was to withdraw from the Ironman event in June, it would by no means be a train smash. I mean so what? Nobody would care, it’d give me more rest, it’d enable me to have more time and I probably wouldn’t feel so smashed. Sounds like a viable, realistic plan to me.
On the flip side, persevering with training-although challenging, is catapulting me into new territory- and I like that. In fact, I don’t just like that, I need that. I’m 44 this year, and I’m fitter than I have ever been, and that is like blue skies and sunshine to me. It’s like medicine to my otherwise doubting self. Like sweets with strawberries and cream and sugar and all of those horrid things to my sometimes troubled mind which obsesses with aging and disease and loss.
To give up would be to continue with the routine. Not so bad I guess, but predictable. Getting up close and personal with the me I have known for 40 years is getting a little stale. I want to know the me that hasn’t been tested to this level. I want to see what else is inside of me. I want to grow and learn and endure and build resilience and make memories and tell a story untold and undiscovered. I want to go somewhere I have not been before. I want to veer off the track and get lost in the bush and navigate my way out.
I want to overcome the urge to fall back into my yesterday, and repaint the same old picture on the same old canvas. I want to fill the empty spaces in my future with fresh colours and new appreciations for what I am capable of as a 44 year old woman, who is no longer able to lean on the crutch of youth to get through life.
So getting real, is the plan for the next few months. Giving up, will have to wait.
Last week was my first full training week. 7 sessions. Three swim, two cycle and two run. This will have to do. There are simply not enough hours in the day for me to improve upon this, and THAT my friends, is that. With a pretty demanding working week, two teenage boys, a household that grows dishes and washing like the grass grows in far north queensland, and a few hobbies I throw myself into, I am ecstatic that I am able to achieve this at all…but it is hard.
I have found that finding the time isn’t the issue.
I have a workable training schedule that doesn’t interfere too much with my daily routine (except on weekends when the long cycles cut into the clock)-
– the issue is the flipping f word-fatigue.
As it is, I am practically falling asleep writing this, and I hate to admit it, but my manager had to wake me up at work last week when to my complete surprise and embarrassment, I was asleep bolt upright in front of the computer mid-morning. She touched me on the shoulder and I jumped, adding a Slur of words and a confused disposition. After this, the thought of giving up smashed its way into my mind like a bull in a china shop. Surely, I can’t continue this way.
But getting real involves pushing personal boundaries in order to realise ones limitations. What I learned that day, was that I needed to re-evaluate my training schedule, my sleep, my diet and my weekly routine in order to make my training requirements sustainable. Perhaps I needed a rest. Perhaps my body, clearly not used to this intensity of training, was simply in an adjustment phase. Perhaps I didn’t need to change anything at all, and it would come right with patience.
So far this week, training hasn’t really gone to plan. Through necessity, I’ve pulled back on the intensity in order to curb the fatigue. My swim this morning was more of a float and a leisurely stroll up the verticle black line than a decent training session. But I turned up, and I did the distance. I missed a run session this afternoon in favour of sleep, and this weekends cycling is in doubt as the family head south for a weekend swim meet in support of our eldest sons quest to prepare for Age Nationals in April.
My excuse, is that it’s so wet outside I wouldn’t be cycling anyway!
Am I giving up?
Nope, I’m pacing myself-or at least that’s the story in my head.
One thing is for sure, the journey so far has been unpredictable, inconsistent and rocky. I have questioned my motives and my ability many, many times. But it’s new, and it’s interesting, and difficult and frustrating and exhausting and exhilarating…and it’s my choice. It’s my choice to live outside the line for a few months, to learn about discipline and dedication and hard work.
I do not know how this story will end, but I’m living it with my eyes wide open baby, and that’s what it’s all about.