Fire in the Temple

My coffee is getting warm while I’m outside watching the dogs play tug of war with their designated outside rope in the dirt that is our front yard. That, along with writing this, is a distraction to keep me from thinking about how sore my calves are, how tight my biceps are, and how badly I need to rub some bengay on- oddly enough- only my right glute.

Let me start by admitting something I’ve been ashamed of for almost ten years.  A stigma that ruined a perfect record which represented a “good kid” and a “good student”.  Labels I used to think actually mattered because people told me they did.  Here it goes, deep breath…: I got a D in p.e. in 9th grade.

 

Humble beginnings

I joined a gym and started running when Lloyd and I first married.  I’d heard someone say that taking care of your body is a way of showing love toward your spouse.  It says  I love you enough that I’m willing to torture and take care of my body so that I can stay on this earth as long as possible to continue loving you.  Love for him and love for the self by taking care of it.  With that came all the annoying stereotypes of being a runner: you’re always doing it, pompous posts on social media, trying to convince everyone you know to start running, spending way too much money on shoes, and those damn stickers.

 

My family couldn’t believe what I’d turned in to. My best friend from high school, an athlete all her life, didn’t look at me the same way.  I felt so great I imagined running to Saluda and telling that p.e. coach that even though I may still not know the difference between isometric or isotonic exercises, I could at least run 6 miles.  And who cares if my motivation was the chocolate milk and noodles afterwards.

With each run or gym session I saw my body changing.  I lasted longer.  I slept better.  Most importantly, my mental state was the best it’s ever been.  When your body is strong and tenacious, your mind becomes clearer.  When your mind is sober, the Holy Spirit naturally aligns itself in you, free from distraction.  I in You and You in me.

That which doesn’t kill me

Recently I’ve added high intensity interval training (HITT), tabata, and TRX to my routine.  It is hard and it hurts and sometimes I cannot lift my arms for a couple days.  Ice, epsom salt, and I have weekly date nights.

On Friday mornings, the girls from work and I do yoga.   Each time it gets harder and harder.  Sara has the yoga mat burns on her elbows to prove it.  Our instructor gets us to do difficult poses without any sort of barter or reward after.  Proof that we must love it.

I’ve tried to be a true yogi for years.  In my mind I’m Seane Corn, complete with golden ringlets flowing like Medusa’s snakes from my head.  In reality I’m more comparable to Chris Farley doing the Chippendale routine from SNL.

Through the years I’ve tried different studios and instructors.  What keeps me coming back is the monotonous reminder each instructor quotes: “Remember that it’s your practice.  The more you practice, the better you get.”

The words “life” and “practice” are interchangeable.  If we look at our lifetime as our time of practice we’d be kinder to ourselves.  We would understand that we are in a constant state of learning.  That sometimes we get it right and sometimes we don’t.  But we must show up.  As the teacher Ram Dass says, “It is important to expect nothing, to take every experience, including the negative ones, as merely steps on the path, and to proceed.”

During the metamorphosis period while living back home, I practiced yoga with a beautiful soul named Jackie.  She was a tall woman, in her seventies, and she was missing a toe on her right foot.  I thought this would be a distraction, particularly in triangle pose.  Turns out my balance was the bigger interference.  Her studio was built for her by her husband before he passed.  It sat quietly in the woods, overlooking a pond and surrounded by Carolina conifers and our native, infectious kudzu.  The walls were five foot windows.  Sometimes it rained, making the outside greenery even more saturated.   She provided blankets and sand bag covers for your eyes.  A few naps were taken there at the end of class.

Jackie didn’t charge a sign-up fee or make you sign a contract.  You paid whatever you felt like giving; otherwise each class was five dollars.  I’ll admit it: One of my character flaws is that I’m cheap- or “thrifty”, as we prefer to be called.  I may have borrowed a class or two.  Don’t give me an inch.

Namaste

I do not tell you how great working out is to make you feel bad about yourself  or to convince you to come to a class with me (although I’d love that).  I do not tell you because I’m addicted to the euphoria of endorphins.  Or the pride I feel  after seeing my figure toning up.

I tell you because your body is a blessing to you and the ones you love.  Be kind to it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Film and Father

My hometown’s little theater is primarily used for plays, one every blue moon as far as I know.   Our claim to fame, other than the tractor pull, is that our theater was one of the last segregated theaters and was featured in the Sidney Poitier film Separate But Equal.  Most people outgrow the thrill of going to the movies.  Before my grandma passed, around 2014, I asked her what was the last movie she saw in the theater.  On Golden Pond, 1981.

When I was a teenager growing up in Saluda, I frequently drove to the closest theater, thirty eight miles away, to see a movie by myself.  Even though I had a group of misfit friends I loved, nothing beat the excitement of seeing a movie alone.  It is something I recommend every teenager or college student do.  Actually, any human who doesn’t have sciatic pain should give it a go.  There’s something about going to a big theater, complacently sitting in the dark completely anonymous that provides great relief.  You can be anyone.   Not only can you watch characters on a screen develop their stories, you can become your own character in a story.  A girl goes to see a movie, she sits in the discomfort of a blue seat fingering popcorn out of a bag, butter spittle on her shirt and loving every second of it.

The visual beauty of PG movies gave me hope that if we could create a world like that down here, imagine what heaven must be like.  It’s incomprehensible to even consider such worlds and wonder.  I believe the Creator gives our mind a limit because he wants the joy and pleasure of seeing our expressions once we make it to his home and peek around.  I’m nosy so I’ll be looking in the bathroom mirror cabinets.  Which, of course, will be empty because there will be no need for medicine. And your teeth stay perfectly bleached white and there’s no such thing as gas so Tums might actually taste like smarties.

PG 13 movies taught me what kind of humor I wanted to have.  While I’d laugh along with my friends to the popular films of the early 2000’s, like Anchorman or Napoleon Dynamite, I secretly hated it.  My annoyingly precocious self preferred Woody Allen’s wit, Jimmy Stewart’s line deliverance, and the strange, colorful world of Wes Anderson.

Rated R movies entered my life at a young age, much like porn but we’ll get to that.  My mom would leave me to sleep with a book in my hand while she and her boyfriend watched HBO.  I’d sneak to the hallway and pop a squat wide eyed, eager to see what forbidden world the screen would show me. I remember when American Beauty had just come out on television.  The scene where Chris Cooper kisses Kevin Spacey aged me by twenty years.  Those kinds of films made me feel weird inside (or maybe that was because I really needed to use the bathroom but would contort myself like a pretzel to hold it in so I wouldn’t miss anything).  Perhaps it was the same sensation Adam and Eve experienced when they ate the forbidden fruit.  Their eyes were opened, they suddenly distinguished sin and right and wrong and got nervous.  It probably made them have to poop too.

My parents did not have too much of a filter when it came to exposure.  Some of my favorite nights spent with my dad were going to Pizza Hut to pick up a large thin crust cheese pizza, getting pleasure out of the steaming hot box sitting on my lap on the way home, and watching X-Files on his Asian inspired polyester couch.  When we weren’t staying in catching up with Sully and Moulder, we would go to the movies.  After we watched the movie we actually paid for, Daddy would slowly walk the hall popping his head in to the other theaters to see if it was safe for us to go in.  It was forbidden and it was exhilarating.  My friend Ben does this now.  He is a twenty eight year old attorney who sometimes catches a “triple feature” on the weekend for seven dollars and fifty cents.  If you want to know why I get popcorn at Target to sneak to the movies, it all points back to the men in my life.  If you need any other advice on how to be a model citizen, keep reading.