Tag Archives: exercise

Connected believing

I just came from the gym and am sitting here sweating, writing this down. You see, I listen to loud music when exercising, and the song that came on today was Amanda Marshall’s “I Believe in You”.

The song never fails to make me cry. Usually I am a total weeping wreck when I hear it. I don’t know whether it’s because it makes me think of my kids, and how I want to say this to them, over and over, all of them, because I know they are fantastic and wonderful and I DO believe in them. Even when they are doing things I don’t understand. Even when one of them still refuses to speak to me.

Or maybe it’s because I haven’t heard that said to me very often. Or said it to myself, for that matter.

I’ve reached the point in my life where it is no longer appropriate to blame my parents for everything, but praise was scarce in our house. My marriage continued the pattern – praise rare, competitiveness heavy. Work – same. We moved a lot, so friends, true friends of the sort who actually really really support you, were rare. Sometimes it seemed like no one would believe in me, least of all myself.

I’ve had a few folks in the past few years say this to me, and it is as wonderful as balm on a burn. Someone told me I could write. Another told me I could do something else. My now good friends seem to believe in me, whether I do something or not. 

But we don’t say it often enough. It’s too easy to offer reasons why things can’t be done, to discuss limitations, to indicate in a myriad little ways that no, we don’t believe in someone.

Let’s all stop that, shall we?

Instead, let’s turn it around, go for the belief thing first, support people, facilitate their growth.

As for me, I like the reminder of Marshall’s song. It makes me think of how I can express support to those around me, how I can let them know how much confidence I have in them.

And it’s a great motivational song with just the right beats per minute for the elliptical…


Feelings, whoa whoa whoa

I’m lolling in bed today. It’s something like -22 outside and the thought of heading out to go swimming is horrible to contemplate.
I’d rather curl up in my cozy flannel sheets and sleep til spring.
But then I remember the feeling of the water, flowing past me as I do my laps. The feeling of my arms and legs pushing against the pressure of the water, the way it makes my muscles and lungs feel as I go, to and fro, to and fro.
I can lose myself in swimming, much as one can lose oneself in making love. It’s almost an out of body experience in both instances, except in reverse. You are totally in your body. Maybe it’s more of an out of mind experience. No thinking, just the sensation of focus.
So many of the things we love are like that – the surrender of the mind to the intensity of the moment.
Painting, writing, physical activities, creating, making love.
We are richer for all of them.
Of course one could say curling up in flannel sheets might be similar.
No no no.
Must fight temptation and face the cold. It, too, is a consuming sensation.
We are so lucky, in our world filled with feeling…


Loving and the tummy

Okay. I’m round. I’ve always been round, pretty much. I’ve just varied in terms of degree.

It’s depressing, in one way – people judge me based on my weight and decide I am stupid, or lazy, or desperate for love, or have low self-esteem. None of those is true.

I merely enjoy life, and all the chocolate and wine and tasty things (primarily involving cheese) in it. I’m not greedy – I’ll bet I eat less than 80% of the people in North America. My MS means I can’t always exercise as hard as I’d like to, but I try. I’m fit, have muscles your average weightlifter might desire, and can and do swim many many laps without stopping to catch my breath. Add to that I am smart and confident and perfectly okay with myself, though I long for nicer clothing. But no one looking at me would think that.

ImageFunny thing is that once people actually get to know me, they adjust to all that. They seem to realize that this is just the way I was born and I can exercise and exercise and I’ll always look chunky. (Although presumably less chunky than I do right now, the fault of a medication I was placed on that guaranteed I would gain 25 pounds “on average”.) I have broad shoulders and ribs and my huge first pregnancy destroyed my abdominal muscles, (Children, drat them! And does she call? Does she buy me presents?)

But its funny about the first introduction thing. I met a fellow today and I have to say I worried a bit about whether he would take one look at me and say “too fat” and walk away, like one of my former dates did. That guy explained, helpfully, that he was a “visual person” and he couldn’t handle my appearance. He had crazy grey hair and was wearing Birkenstocks with socks.

It was kindof funny because once we started chatting (I forced him to say hello), he told me about all his weird theories of life and his food “allergies” and his strange background. What the heck made him think I would automatically want HIM? To be fair, I only wanted to meet him because he was an artist and we had a fascinating discussion about degrees of white. I knew it wasn’t going to work out.

Ah, men, men. You’ve got to pity them, sometimes. They believe, so totally, their own personal stories (or as my galpal says, their bulls**^). We women, instead, go about beating ourselves to a pulp and so are trained to feel grateful for any small attention.

Not all men, I hasten to add. Some of them are quite pleasant and wonderful and can understand that they probably have as many faults as we do.

Those ones are pretty darn refreshing. Even if they have a tummy.Image


Lately I’ve felt like the old sailor who had so much to do he didn’t do anything at all. I feel distracted by my many tasks and goals and can’t focus on one thing at a time.
It’s foolish, because I just finished the excellent training for “living well” and if I’d paid attention I’d know what I should be doing.
Namely: setting small goals, checking that I was confident that I could do them, then doing them.
But of course, it’s easy to forget this stuff, especially when you feel surrounded by stuff that has to be done.
So another friend mentioned another technique  – to look at my hand and allocate one broader goal I wanted to meet to each finger, and drop the things I couldn’t attach to a finger.
She’s very good at visual stuff.
So, just for your amusement, here’s my hand. What would you have on yours?
1. Physical activity. I have to do it or my MS will tie me up in knots.
2. Music. I foolishly love the ukulele. I really want to learn how to play it. It gives me joy when I allow myself to play it.
3. Creativity: whether through needle-felting, rug-hooking, writing, painting – I must have some of this in my life. It provides my soul.
4. Contribution: I can’t seem to give up this feeling that I need to do something for others, or to make the world work better. It fluffs my brain.
5. Relationships: I’m fortunate enough to have a few good friends and a wonderful man in my life. I treasure them. They warm my heart.
And that’s my handful.
I can’t take on any more. And if things come along that don’t stick to my fingers, it’ll have to slide out of my hand.
Maybe focusing on these five things will help me stay on track.


Prying myself out of bed

It’s a cold sunny morning, perfect for fall. I’m due to get up, face the day, head for the gym, sort out my week.
And I’m dawdling.
Lately I’ve been fighting fatigue, struggling with a MS generated slowness and pain. But that’s no excuse. When I was first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, I was Sooo Sooo tired. I called the clinic. They told me I should rest until I felt better. If I’d taken that advice I’d have stayed in bed since then, gradually losing muscle strength and courage.
I’ve learned over time that I have to push myself through the fatigue. I have to exercise, set up goals, meet them and move on.
The goals have to constantly change, based on the state of my disease, and that’s both a challenge and a blessing. I can let myself off the hook legitimately and lazily, and no one knows the difference.
Right now, my goal is to get out the door to the gym. I’ve got to run…or at least stagger!
“Feet don’t fail me now” has a special meaning, but I’m still saying it!


Sometimes, I need the sea…

Okay, as Nanowrimo procrastination, I’ve wandered about the internet, looking for houses on Nova Scotia’s Southern Shore. It is true madness, but all it took was me seeing that there is a Ukulele ceilidh happening there every two years to make me wish to live in Liverpool. Well, that and the view of a multi-coloured house painted by mad artists who did full paintings on every stair riser.  It’s for sale, and my wild side wants it.

They are obviously characters in Liverpool, and that’s cool. And the ocean is right there, and that’s cool, too. Not that it’s far away here in Dartmouth, but I live in utter utter suburbia, quiet enough you can hear the water babbling in the creek that runs behind us here.

And sometimes, I wish for a good strong wind to blow the fur out of my brain, and the scent of salt. It doesn’t filter its way often way over here, surrounded as I am by “little houses, on a hillside, and they’re all made of ticky tacky“. . .

So today, my exercise and renovation buddy and I decided to take ourselves on a walk by the sea. Not the beach today – it’s just turned cold and we weren’t psychologically or physically ready for the full sea air treatment, but down around a harbour, and through a woodland path.

It was a good choice over the gym. They gym, nice as it is, always feels like I’ve been placed in a science museum with a bunch of research gerbils and we are all running endlessly on our exercise wheels, chirruping to ourselves. It feels very good to exercise, yes it does, but the wind is helpful, too.

Our legs gave out right by a well-positioned bench, so we sat and looked at the sea, and the wind tumbling the oak leaves together like hands clapping for our performance. The sea stretched out in front of us, vast and surprisingly calm and blue. The air was fresh, unused. It made my brain feel the way it does when I eat those intolerably strong peppermints – cool and a bit spicy and cold when I breathed in…

There’s a huge tree along our walking path, with a branch that looks like it was specifically set up for a rope swing. The whole experience made me long for a house of my own, with a bunch of my trees around it, and a view to the ocean, with windows to open to the breeze.

We staggered back, MS legs not quite ready for the distance, and ears freezing.

But better. So much better.