It’s All About My Stiff, Painful and Rapidly Aging Body

If I had the use of my body, I would throw it out the window. Samuel Beckett
woman doing a yoga pose

Photo by Miriam Alonso on Pexels.com (I do not look like this when I do yoga. Neither does my mother)

I am pretending today that I have not spent nearly a year being relatively silent on this blog and just charge right in with some random, scattered thoughts about my current state of being. By current, I should clarify: everything having to do with today and the last year and a half of mad-fuckery days, Covid-days, the violent news cycle days and the days that I sat on the sofa staring, terror-stricken, at a stone wall. All the while, no monsters appeared (in my quiet corner of the world) — only a stone wall.

I wrote awhile back about my body. I wrote about grief, madness and body weight. I am still insanely concerned with the size and shape of my body; and my mother still announces her body weight and the size of her jeans in literally every damn phone call we have. She still counts her calories and purportedly sports a twenty-two inch waist – though I have no visual confirmations of this. What does it matter? My mom turns eighty-two today. I will call her to wish her a happy birthday and she will update me on her impossibly perfect size, shape and weight. At eighty-two, she can call herself Gina Lollobrigida if she chooses and I will respect her hallucination. She earned it.

But back to my own aging body. It is nearly 10:00 am. I have completed thirty-five minutes (I absolutely count my minutes) of Hatha Yoga led by a tiny silent woman that lives in an app on my phone. It was slightly more challenging than the yoga I did yesterday with my tiny app woman. My legs shook today, and I nearly fell over twice, but I completed it and I feel pretty damn proud of myself. I have taken up running (and shoe shopping), as well as weight training. My resting heart rate averages at an impressive 57 BPM. I have really cool headphones. A consequence of the boredom generated from covid isolation — as well as rural living isolation — is that I now live very much within my body. Apart from the long-ago pregnancy years, I cannot recall a time I so fully inhabited my body, without constantly deriding it. Instead, actually living in moments where my body’s strengths and adaptability produce joy and wonder — and a little dash of smugness. I’m working on that part.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com (I do not look like this when I run. But sometimes I feel like I do)

And yet, for there must be a yet, change is hard. Old patterns persist. Half a century of anxiously monitoring the size, shape and appearance of my body, now manifest through updating my Fitbit data and my faithful Cronometer entries. My body is aging, slowing down, and growing vulnerable to injuries and general aches and pains. I have more grey hairs and wrinkles than I did five years ago. My mother’s face looks back at me in the bathroom mirror, and that startles me more than it should. I am also noticing the changes and struggles in the bodies of those I love. I have lost people to cancer and to dementia. I lost my sister to swine flu. I am not immune to disease, injuries, and death. They will come for me — death will surely come for me. That I cannot outrun. COVID-19 has brought home for me the random vulnerability of our bodies.

So what must I do with my embodied self? Do I need to do anything at all? If my impressive heart rate and improved flexibility cannot save me from pain, decay and death, what will? If my quinoa and five-a-day cannot halt the signs of aging and keep me slender and fit, then what is the point? Will krill oil protect me from the dementia that took my father?

I try surrendering to the now. In the right now, where running and contorting brings my body pleasure, I surrender. In the right now, where my mother has truly grown into an adorable old lady, I celebrate the joy her presence brings me. The now is not always easy, and sitting within it takes some work, but for me, it is a place of grounding. And in that grounding I find peace in my embodied self.

Happy Birthday, Mom

Photo by Trina Ann Brittain. (Isn’t she cute?)

#bodyacceptancefinessagingmothersanddaughters #vulnerability

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