See where it leads you

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Finally. A little breathing room. I’ve been in it full blast the last 48 hours: lessons, talking, public activities, exercise, shopping. And I am tired!

Language lessons are going well. It’s a matter of pure repetition right now, sounding out words, remembering grammar rules, being careful with pronunciation. Went downtown to an RET service point to put more money on my OV chipcard. I’ve been working on asking for that; finding the correct combination of words in the correct order so I sound like a real grown up. I think I’m there. I spoke a bit slowly – still concentrating on precision with all my sounds. The guy behind the counter smiled as I spoke, and took the time to chat with me for a few moments. There’s that great attitude the Dutch have: middle of the day at work, there certainly must be things for everyone to do, yet he took an extra few moments to ask how long I’ve been in the country, how often I take language lessons, and to compliment me on my clear Dutch. Small stuff, to be sure. Yet he made me feel more a part of the society here than some do. I felt very encouraged.

Out and about. I finally had my full day of shopping. After a hard hour’s search I found the very LAST set of underwear in my size I’d been hunting for hidden away back behind a bunch of non-related items. Then I had to choose some new bras. Oi! Impossible to find anything that didn’t pad, push up, or shove your boobs together unnaturally to create cleavage. For fuck’s sake! I chose the least frilly, un-lacey, plain set I could find. Onto some sort of new top. There I hit a real Waterloo. What I saw in my size seemed awful old lady-ish, with horrible patterns and sequins. Anything I thought was cool was too small. So I’m still sans new top. However, I did manage to stay out of the house for the entire afternoon, which is a bit of a record.

Exercise is still what it always is: the first fifteen minutes I’m thinking this is awful and I don’t want to do it, the second fifteen minutes I’m thinking I can’t go much further, the third fifteen minutes I hit a stride and feel pretty good, and the last fifteen minutes goes real fast. Then I face four floors of stairs. Up to the top – panting, tho I can now do all four floors without stopping. Sometimes when I walk the stairs I think about the 2 or 3 cent I’m saving the building by not using the lift. Sometimes I think about my butt muscles, and how much they hurt. I hate the stairs. Absolutely. I’d be perfectly happy if I never encountered another flight of steps in my life. But stairs have become a bit of a challenge in my life; I feel I must walk up them now that I can. It’s kind of like Dutch: now that I know a bit and can say a few things I feel more and more than I must use the language at every opportunity. Same sort of thing. See some stairs, and I have to take them.

I feel it’s been a week of positive reinforcement for me. I’m thankful; you can only stay in that limbo period of hard work without knowing if you’re making progress for so long. The first obstacles have been overcome. I’ve dropped a bit of weight and if I take the time to think before I speak I’ve found I can do pretty well. That’s a good, strong basis to build on.

And here is my weekend – again. As life picks up for me during the week I’m finding it easier to kick back and relax come Saturday and Sunday. Oh, I realize I’m only setting my alarm a couple of days during the week! Under no stretch of the imagination am I back to full time ability. I’m pretty damned pooped right now, and if I can finish my laundry and take a shower today I’ll be well pleased with what I’ve done. But my time is beginning to be divided again into ‘work’ and ‘play’, and I’m making real headway.

I think I might be starting to get into balance – literally and figuratively. My hips are feeling immensely better and my entire body is stronger and more balanced because of it. It’s easier for me to turn away from time wasting activities now and direct my concentration to learning. No longer will your find me all day at my computer, smoking incessantly and playing games I’ve already played a hundred times over. Instead I’ll be reading. Listening. Thinking. Repeating. Writing. Walking. Shopping. Saying hello to everyone I pass. Smiling. For Pete’s sake! SMILING. And then, later in the day when I’m tired I’ll play a round or two of games while relaxing.

You know…what comes to mind for me is Neil Armstrong’s immortal words: one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. Because in everything we do, and I mean everything – from learning a language to starting an exercise program to going to the moon – the first step is always the hardest. The scariest. The one that seems to take the most effort to make. I mean think about it…Armstrong must have been afraid when he stepped outside the capsule. He was stepping, literally, into the unknown. Life is very much the same. Every time you begin something you have zero idea if you’re going to be able to see it to fruition. We tell ourselves we can so we can just pick our feet up for that huge first step that frightens us so very much.

But it’s that courage – what drives us to try, no matter what the odds (and wherever you are right now, if you’re out there breathing you ARE trying no matter what your brain wants to tell you) – that allows us to make progress. In ourselves, in our lives, in our entire idea of reality.

Pick up your foot. Take that step. And see where it leads you.

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