‘Stay in the plank. Stay in the plank. 5-4-3-2-1 and… come down.’
‘Two more miles. One more mile. 300 yards, 200, 100, you made it!’ 5th one this year. On track for completing a 10K a month.’
‘Oh honey, don’t cry. C’mere. Let me pick you up and we’ll get you some ice cream. God you’re getting so big. Pretty soon GG won’t be able to carry you.’
Such simple goals. Such simple tasks. Nothing an able-bodied, healthy person shouldn’t be able to do. Except I can’t.
Since 1984 I haven’t been able to perform many things that most people take for granted. August 5, 1984..the day my son was born and August 10, 1984, the day I noticed my left index finger was swollen. It would take a few months of unexplained swelling and pain, stiff knees and hips and hot red joints before I would be diagnosed, and months after that before the meds kicked in and I would stop hurting. Come to think of it I’ve never stopped hurting.. like many arthritics I have a high tolerance for pain. But this is not a story of RA nor a pity party of woe is me. This is a story of how you modify fantasies into workable solutions.
Vanity is not usually viewed as a desirable trait: however vanity has served me as a motivator, as has my love of fashion and style. In order to maintain fitness, I searched for ways not to give in to the pain but to adapt to it instead. Five years ago I discovered barre classes and these have changed my life. Barre is based on ballet movements using light weights and multiple repetitions. I can go up and inch and down an inch and embrace the shake in my quads with the best of them but there are some moves I simply cannot do. However, after so many years, modification comes almost instinctively. So no floor planks or push ups but I can do these off the ballet barre. Is it the same? No. As challenging? Probably not. Still a personal accomplishment? Yes, indeed.
I cannot run but I can walk. So I do. Walking allows me to take in and see-really see!- so much around me that I did not know was even there. I’m not a nature girl. I despise hiking and climbing and I’m afraid to bike. But where yesterday that was a bare branch, today it has buds and tomorrow it has flowers. The waves are calm, the white caps are spraying. It’s high tide. It’s low tide. Oh, look! some little kid dropped Buzz Lightyear on the rocks. So yeah, no races for me but I can live with walking. I can thrive with walking.
“Let GG wheel in my little stool Will and I’ll play dinosaurs with you.’ Even at 2 he knows and accepts that I can’t get down on the rug. And that’s okay. In the beauty that is little kids, he’s just grateful for a playmate. Someone who can roar and hiss and moo and bah.. if it has to come from someone sitting on a stool, that’s okay. The love isn’t compromised.
Fantasies take many forms. Lizzo stole my stage name so there goes my music career. I’m not rich or famous enough to be a Real Housewife. I’ll never write like Ann Tyler or Elizabeth Gilbert. But fantasies can transform into acceptance and acceptance can transform into happiness. If it takes some adapting and modifying so be it.. I choose the happiness.