Hangin’ in there

One of the hardest things to do is to keep going even if you feel you’re not making any progress or doomed to failure from the moment you begin. Two things are gnawing at me today (and they’re no big surprise): my writing and my weight.

Hopped on a scale yesterday. Mistake. BIG mistake. I haven’t done it for years and I don’t know what got into my head. Guess I was feeling a bit cocky. A little sleek and fit. I wanted to prove to myself that yes, I’ve modified my body size and aren’t I good little girl for keeping up on my diet and exercise. And I have lost weight since last I was on a scale. Must keep that in mind. A whopping 3.4 kilos.

There’s plenty of sayings about puncturing your ego with a pin – and that’s exactly what it felt like. One moment I was admiring my bicep muscles and feeling pretty good about myself, the next I was poking my pudgy middle and berating myself for being such a fat, old woman. And I thought Holy Fuck! All those hours in the gym, in the pool, walking when I don’t want to walk, denying myself sugary goodies or treats, cutting back on meal size, going to bed hungry – and I’ve taken off a whole 3.4 kilos. I mean, seriously…is it worth it?

As for writing…I search out theatres looking for submissions every other week or so. Pull half a dozen PDFs, put them aside to look at again. And I always think I’ve got some real winners in there – sure fire places that’ll take my work. Look! My stuff fits their requirements perfectly. They’ll love it! Then the time comes for me to really read it through and prep up to send out – and I notice all sorts of things that scare me off. Don’t put in too many acts, keep it to six or less characters, don’t give too much lighting or sound cues, don’t send if you’re not some purple eyed booger monster that crawled out of the deep from a crack opened up in Kentucky. The restrictions go on and on. So much so that I wonder if some of these groups EVER get a submission that perfectly fits all their requirements.

Then I have afternoons of feeling useless. Oh, they won’t take it because of this, it’s too long for that theatre, too many characters (or too few) for that group, or I don’t live there so they won’t even bother opening it up. The ‘no’s’ become so loud I feel overwhelmed, and just want to hide.

I tell myself it’s okay to feel overwhelmed. It’s okay to feel defeated. It’s just not okay to give up.

So I wait a day or two, until I have some self confidence back. Then I prep up and send out without allowing myself to think too much. Let them make the decision, I tell myself. Let them say no. If I take myself out of the running before the race even begins I’ll never get anywhere.

*sigh*

Doing well with memorizing my part for the play. One or two places I need a memory jog, but considering tomorrow is only my second rehearsal with the director I think I’m ahead of the game. I like this role because it calls for a lot of acting without words. My partner may have the longer dialogue, but I’ve got the reaction to his lines – which is far more powerful (especially the way I plan to play it). There is not one minute of stage time when I’m not wringing my hands or rubbing them together or fussing with my hair – all nervous habits my character needs to display. Big thing I’m working on now: a quick eye shift, left to right. It’s something everyone does without thinking about it, but it’s a lot harder to do it on cue and make it look natural. Same with allowing any emotion to emerge on your face: you gotta make it look natural, and as soon as you think about it, it’s no longer natural. Trying to BE the role more than act the role. Keep myself on edge for the scene. Allow my personal nervous habits to come to the fore. If I’m IN the role, my face will react the way I want it to. If I ACT this thing, it won’t. So I must be a late middle aged lonely woman who’s very nervous about meeting someone for the first time.

Gee. Like I don’t know that.

..Okay, I’m not LATE middle aged. But other than that….

Watched an outstanding documentary on the Night Witches. Took notes from the book my director leant me. There’s still a lot of that story that’s foggy for me. Do I set this at the training facility? Thought I might, but after watching the documentary I’m rethinking that. I’m zeroing in on 9 months in 1943. The regiment is up and active, and the fighting intense. I’d hit the worst months of the war, including the death of their leader. And I’ve built in reasons to write it: it would begin with the first replacements reaching the regiment, and end with the recognition of the regiment as an official guard unit. But I’ve vowed to keep on researching. One idea will come to the forefront, show itself to be superior to my other ideas.

I just gotta hang in there.

Everything a-kilter

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Four weeks. It’s a departure from the two week recurring theme in my life, tho I could go on about four weeks simply being a double whammy of my two week running gag. That’s how long I’m supposed to use this new nasal spray and put up with poor hearing: four weeks. To give my doc her props, she did tell me I should notice an improvement every week and if I don’t I need to see her again. Though I wonder if I can properly judge this problem objectively; what’s an improvement? More whistling that obscures people’s speech? It is sound coming in, which is a step up from the dead nothingness I began with. The tubes in my ears are almost completely closed off; the doc said she could see the openings and they were very, very small.

Still can’t tell if I have ringing in my right ear because the left is too loud.

The weather has turned from petulant spring to an overflow of early summer joy. Where once rain dappled every nook and corner, sunlight is drenching the ground, teasing the early flowers up from the earth. Buds swell and burst on the trees in one afternoon.

It makes me want to go, go, go, but I still have to be careful with this dizziness.

More than that, this continued ill health makes me feel like everything’s on hold. Exercise, outdoor activity, language lessons, writing – I even feel I can blame the slow progress (or non progress, since there’s still no e-mail) of the theatre group on my ill health, tho I know that’s silly.

Ugh.

Put on my pair of fat jeans today. Simultaneously glad they looked so good on me and upset I’ve put enough weight back on that they’re not hanging off me. I just can’t win with my weight issues.

Had an exciting thought regarding the script I finished. Part of me feels the story already addresses sexual identity because I chose to make the character most like me a male and not a female, but that’s one of my hidden things that only those closest to me understands. The play doesn’t scream sexual identity. But it could. The characters were built around my own family, who tend to play out stereotypical sexual behavior. But what if I blurred the line? What if the ‘male’ characters were played by women, and the ‘female’ characters played by men? What if the names of all the characters were non-sexual: Francis, Chris, Alex, Charlie, Bobby, Sean? What then?

Then I tip the world on its head. Seems appropriate. The world’s a bit off balance for me right now; let my work reflect that.

Everything a-kilter.

Hoe gaat het?

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Ugh. It’s 5:30 and my body couldn’t decide if it was hot and sweaty or cold and shivery. I pre-empted it and told it it was time to wake up. Or, more accurately, I said to myself if I’m gonna toss and turn for the next two hours I might as well get up and have some coffee.

There’s a new note about language lessons in my inbox this morning. Found a short message late yesterday saying they’ve found someone to give me one on one language lessons and would this week work to start. I replied late, seeing it late, and now have this:

Ive sent him a message this afternoon, I suppose he will be there tomorrow

Don’t know his name. Don’t know the time. I am flying blind this morning. Completely. Best of all for my personal angst, it’s in the same building I walked out of a few weeks ago. Oh, yea. I get to go back where I burned a bridge. That always makes me feel about two inches tall.

My very cute physiotherapist has been on my mind a lot the last 24 hours. He usually is after a session because he IS cute. Yesterday he said a couple of things that made me think. Think like maybe he might be hinting about dating me. Christ, that feels completely egotistical just typing that out. But he told me he has problems with women, that he always seems to choose the wrong ones, that he’s single and lives and alone with his cat. It seemed a bit too personal of info for a doctor’s visit, you know? He didn’t have to go into details. It felt like he wanted to tell me he was single. Or maybe that’s just my overactive imagination. I mean – other than introducing himself, the first thing out of his mouth was ‘take off your shirt’ so he could see my back….That usually does not lead to anything; I don’t have THAT great a set of knockers. And he’s younger than me. Maybe not by that much. He’s got some salt and pepper at his temples (just enough to give him that REALLY perfect look) so it’s not like he’s a baby.

Fuck. I’ve been trying to put that to rest for the last 24 hours. Just get it out my head. I won’t see him for two weeks. Now it’s all there on the page and I can’t stop thinking about his soft brown eyes…

And it’s bleeding ridiculous because I wouldn’t know what to do with a guy in my life anymore. I don’t want sex. Not really. The few times I do feel aroused it’s very short lived. A sexual partner might have a five minute window once or twice a month when I feel frisky. Usually I’m yawning by 9 p.m. I know part of that is there’s just nothing in my life to make me feel any other way. I mean, get me out to a nightclub with some good music and a drink and I might go very late indeed. And maybe if I had a really cute physiotherapist gazing at me with his liquid brown eyes I’d be in the mood more often. But there’s more. More I haven’t been brave enough to admit to.

For the few of you who do read this, let me preface this by asking that you don’t judge me. I have this innate sense that if I can’t even commit the words to paper I’ll never be able to say them out loud, and the day may come when I need to say them out loud, so here goes. An ex-boyfriend gave me herpes. There. It’s awful and I’m fucking ashamed of it. I shouldn’t have hooked up with him, shouldn’t have had those drinks, shouldn’t have, shouldn’t have, shouldn’t have. And I KNOW he was a dick for doing it. That knowledge doesn’t stop me from kicking myself. The why he did it is almost comical. He cheated on me and broke up with me in a public place. I was so angry I wanted to hurt him, so as I left I shouted ‘Good luck; you’ve got herpes now’ and left. I didn’t have herpes at the time, I just wanted to make him feel bad. However…he developed it. Whether through the woman he cheated with or someone else, very soon after I shouted that at him he developed it. So he thought I gave it to him. He said nothing of this until we’d slept together again, then brought it up. I laughed and told him I’d just been angry, even apologized…and then he told me.

My words really came back to bite me in the ass on that one.

Now that you know what a hollow shelled slag slut whore person I am…Why the fuck even bother finishing that? Either you’re grossed out or not.

What I need is a bit of acid – LSD would be fun, but I was thinking more the car battery variety – to scour my brain clean. Pour it on and watch those memories dissolve.

I’m gonna be a fucking head case for this first lesson with a person I don’t even know the name of. Yee-ha (said in the most monotone voice ever). Let’s go and have a language thrown at me when my brain can barely grasp the truth of my own life. Sure! Why not? Add something else to the jumble. Maybe genius will spring forth. Maybe I’ll just put my head down and die, too.

Apologies. Let me gather my armor.

…First thing is I’ve got to find a good head space. Set aside the cute physiotherapist, set aside the burnt bridge I’m BOUND to see when I walk in this morning, set aside the guts I’ve just opened up and splayed over the page. These things are; that does not mean I have to react to them. Reaction is my choice.

When everything seems too much I revert to the basics. Making sure I breathe. Fighting to stay in the present. Even my language goes back to the first thing I learned: hoe gaat het (how goes it)?

The one question I don’t really want to answer.

Taking control

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Talk the talk, walk the walk.

Got my ass in gear yesterday. Down on the floor for sit-ups. Dishes. Rolled up my sleeves to tackle a few big jobs only to find the hoover was stolen away by my brother, who insisted on running that machine, moving the furniture, and helping to an extent that surprised me. I was damned angry to just sit there as he did a number of things I couldn’t help with because (as I’ve said before) this place is rather small. Later, as I scrubbed down the tiled walls around the stove I realized there was more than enough work for two to keep busy with.

Upshot is the kitchen sparkles and a small problem I was having with the washing machine is now fixed, thanks to my own patience and fortitude. Had half of an hour of feeling damned good about the house, the work, and following through on my commitment to myself. Even tho that faded, it gave me hope for myself. I can pull thru this.

Doing my best to remember that this morning. Another have to get up morning because even tho I feel bone tired I just can’t stay in bed any longer. The lines in my face from this constant tired feeling are deep grooves and ruts. I see them every time I get a glimpse of my face and they fucking horrify me. Something inside me insists on repeating that there’s no place in society for old women, that no one wants to see us or hear us. Certainly I can attest to a drastic change from how I was treated at 20 to how I’m treated now. Not all of it’s bad. I no longer have to fend off males left and right, no longer have to dodge groping hands, sweaty palms, seeking slurpy lips. But I’m often left standing, waiting, while everyone else gets taken care of first despite the fact I’ve been waiting longer. At a certain age, women become next to invisible. We’re not seen because no one wants to see us. We are just lumped into these faceless, moving bulks. Female bodies gone all wrong; we are no longer supple or nubile, and therefore deserve no attention. Put ’em in a corner, let them cackle amongst themselves. To be old and a woman is truly to be ignored.

Aren’t I the happy camper?

Oh, who the fuck am I kidding? I was ignored when I was twenty and all the attention was focused on my boobs or trying to get my pants off.

Men suck.

Does not help that I’ve heard some bad news from a friend of mine. I feel bad for her, I’m angry at him, and I’m frustrated that there’s little to nothing I can do from way over here.

Positives. Let’s scramble for some because I’m getting pretty bleak.

Delighted to say my orthopedic shoes are feeling great these days. Found out by accident that simply using thinner socks has solved any crunched feeling in my toes. Been wearing them for 9-10 hours at a time in the house. I think I’m ready to try taking them out for a walk. During my mopey times I’ve had on more SpongeBob Squarepants and feel encouraged by the dialogue I understand. A few more episodes and I may catch all the words to the opening song – btw, I DON’T know the cartoon in English, so anything like the lyrics to the song is an unknown to me, as are the character names. I’m watching sans subtitles, doing it all by ear alone, so bully for me. And thanks to my perseverance with the washing machine I can do laundry again (good thing; stuff was piling up). My sit ups were slightly less horrible than the last time I did them, so I feel I’m getting stronger.

I’m doing well. Really well, and anyone who wants to tell me different is just trying to unsettle me.

That includes me.

The substance that is my brain has come to a decision. Dutch is not an easy language to learn. In fact, my last teacher told me it was one of the more difficult languages on the planet. Not THE most difficult, but pretty damned hard. And from what my poor ear can hear, there’s plenty of lax speakers wiling to tell me how to pronounce something or cobble together a sentence. My brother tried to correct me on some word the other day, claiming his friends have corrected his pronunciation and I was doing it wrong. Yet, I KNOW the pronunciation rules for the language, and the sounds my brother tells me to make do not correspond to the letters in the word. And this is coming from someone I was in class with, someone I heard repeatedly get corrected on pronunciation while I was nodded to, told I was doing it properly, and praised. All this back and forth is only serving to confuse me. I’m ready to go back to my computer exercises, the new book I have, and continued practice on my own because I think I do better that way than having a hundred different things shoved at me by people whose opinion I don’t trust. That decision feels solid under my feet, and I’m sticking to it. Mr. New Teacher gets one more chance to not be a putz and then I say goodbye. There are two lines he can’t cross. One, the first thing out of his mouth better not be ‘did you buy the books I told you to buy?’, and two, he’d better not tell me to just read about the answer the first question I ask. Either or both of those happening will result in me nodding, packing away my things, saying it isn’t working for me, and leaving.

As an old woman I may not have my looks anymore. I may not be important in society, or have a family that cares about me or anyone who even listens to me.

Doesn’t mean I don’t have my dignity. And I’m laying claim to my dignity right here and now. No more confusion, no more angst over my new class.

I’m taking control.

Self reliance

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Life is shit: Day 2.

I had a good long time yesterday to figure out if my bro asking me earlier this week to meet his comic-geek buddies or his forgetting he even asked and just leaving the house was worse. The balance tips, depending. Right now it’s on the worse side, as in addition to simply being forgotten I’ve now got a load of other shit on my back that feels like everything that’s being said is no, I really don’t give a shit about you. I know this is my skewed perception mixed with poor communication. I KNOW that. Doesn’t feel better.

Made myself leave the house yesterday. Went to a bookshop downtown to search out these ‘holy grails’ of Dutch my new teacher is pushing at me. Found them. Looked thru them. As soon as I saw ‘subjective infinitive’ and similar terms I put them back on the shelf. Nothing there I don’t already have in half a dozen other books – as I suspected. My eye wandered down the shelf and there I saw the book my last teacher told me to buy. I picked it up and spent the money without hesitation; I TRUST my last teacher. I do not trust my current teacher. And I realize that, more than anything, is my problem: I don’t trust him. I don’t trust what he says, I don’t trust his recommendations, I don’t trust his answers. Not only do I think he doesn’t know what he’s doing, I think he doesn’t care.

I’ve got plenty of not caring in my life right now. Don’t need an additional hour and a half of it each week.

Spent an hour watching SpongeBob Squarepants in Dutch. Felt pretty good about myself as the more I listened, the more I caught. I’m getting it, I thought. Then I received a phone call about volunteering for this local festival and the dude must have used every single fucking word I don’t know. Had to ask for English, and by the end of the short conversation my language confidence went right thru the floor. The rest of the night and this morning I’ve felt I’m just never gonna get it. It’s too much. I’m too stupid. A part of me keeps telling myself that it’s the work I’ve been doing on my own that has caused so many people to tell me I speak well and they’re amazed I’ve only been studying for a year. I CAN do it. Maybe my progress will be slow. Maybe I won’t do it the way other people do it. But I can learn it.

Can’t convince myself of either side of that argument. I’m just ping-ponging back and forth.

Today is loaded with work I hate to punish myself. Not gonna mince words about it; the days I hate myself most are the days I clean with a fury. My dad used to tell me I was work horse and what do work horses do? Drop dead in their tracks working, that’s what they do. I don’t burn myself, I don’t cut myself. I work. Hard. And I don’t stop until I DO hurt myself.

Oh, fuck you, fuck you, and fuck you! You being anyone who judges me over that behavior.

At least I can admit it. And do my best to NOT act on it. But I’d be lying if I said my cleaning sprees are anything other than a way to self harm.

Well, that’s an ugly truth. As with most things right now, it’s not sitting comfortably.

Having a very difficult time clearing my head enough to do anything. I feel stuck. Everything is telling me about this horrible self image I have of myself: fat, old, loud-mouthed, ignorant, unattractive, acidic, angry, and simply not nice. And yes, take that and make sure I don’t become it. Use the lessons learned to be something different. But my insecurities make it hard, and the more I worry the more difficult it becomes to not act out, not strike in anger, not become that which I hate most.

I’m not drowning yet, though. For every hit I take, I’m still getting up and trying again – though my recovery time lengthens with each punch. That worries me. The fact that it’s getting harder and harder to just keep trying. But, you know, sunshine and lollipops. Shifting my focus from the punches to every time I stand back up. Or trying to.

Finding the inner peace to move forward when it seems like everything is piling against you is a struggle that words can’t express. Every single time I’m here I remember that. Every adage I’ve ever spouted comes back to haunt and taunt me.

This. is. temporary. Do I hear myself? It will pass. Your learning curve will take another jump. Your bad self image will fade and be replaced by something stronger. Right now we’re in that place where we can’t see any progress. It’s scary. Damned scary. But we are making progress because right now just continuing is all the progress anyone could ask for. Don’t give up on me. Don’t give up on us.

The promises we make to ourselves are the most important of all to keep. And of all the things happening right now in my life, it is the promise to myself to keep going that is NOT temporary, NOT shifting. I like myself; I hate myself. I feel good; I feel lousy. But thru it all there is one line of steel, one thing I keep falling back on time and again: my promise to myself to keep slogging thru. No matter what.

Time is temporary, shifting. Circumstances change. People come and go. Policies shift. Friends betray each other, lovers fall out of love. My emotions may never be stable.

I, however, continue. I am the one constant in my life, my own Northern Star.

Time to rely on me.

Sometime between 5 and 50

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Long, long ago, stairs were fun, an unexpected slide from one level to another all there ready to bump down on your butt. Then stairs got scary, especially the ones that are simply hanging steps with no backing, like the stairs down to my parents’ basement. ANYTHING could have stood behind those stairs to grab a little girl’s ankles. Now stairs are something like a medieval torture apparatus. They still hit me in my butt, just not nearly as fun as when I used to slide down the steps. No. Now I feel the pull and burn. When did this happen? I ask myself. When did it go from fun slide time to torture exercise?

Sometime between 5 and 50.

I planned to sleep in this morning. My hard walk and stairs climbing yesterday left me utterly exhausted by evening. Ten p.m. and I HAD to say goodnight or just let myself fall asleep in my chair. But by 5 this morning I was tossing and turning, coming to enough to realize I had a full bladder, and coughing as my nose seemed to clog up all at once on me. So up to pee, to blow my nose, and to do something other than tussle with my bedcovers.

Today is my new language class. Would have liked to go in fully rested, bright eyed and bushy tailed, but no. It’ll be the usual: slightly out of it because I was up too early and jacked up on caffeine. At least I’m too tired right now to worry about whether or not I’ll like my new instructor, whether I’ll get along with the other student, etc. etc. Screw all that. My goal is reset to simply stay awake and alert for the entire lesson. Not even to speak Dutch; just bleeding stay awake. That’s a real step down on ambition.

It’s been hard to not feel cut off or like a shut in. I’m either hiding from the sun and heat or resting from exercise most days. Outside I hear the world going on: traffic and children, dogs and trains, music and life in general. I feel too out of it to even try to go out and be part of it. Keep telling myself in another week or so my energy will rebound and I’ll get more energized post work-out than exhausted. It’s hard to get there in the meantime. Hard to allow so much to slip by outside my window without even getting up to look. Not that I’d have the energy to lift the curtain to look even IF I got up out of my chair.

Doesn’t help that my posts don’t get much notice. I’m NOT fishing for comments or likes here. I’m just making an observation. Somehow having over 100 followers yet having no one comment on my posts just serves to underline my isolation right now. I’m screaming at the abyss. Perhaps that’s fitting. Maybe all our deepest nightmares are personal and can’t be easily understood by others.

Or maybe I’m just being a wanker.

Discipline, discipline, discipline. My feet are set on this path, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to change directions NOW. Part of me is unsettled by knowing that female doctors have told me to get out and walk (or climb some stairs) for quite some time now but as soon as I heard it from a MALE it got cemented into my brain. Maybe it was just the right time, right place. Maybe it wasn’t. I tend to think it wasn’t. Deep down, I’ll admit to finding my physiotherapist very attractive. It’s utterly silly of me, I know, and I would NEVER act on it or mention it to him. Yet I find a part of myself wanting to be attractive to him – and I wonder if that part of me makes me cling onto his words more than my other doctors. Am I really that shallow? I’m afraid at least a little bit of me is.

Whatever. I’m exercising like I should. Watching what I eat. Writing even tho I fear no one gives a damn. Wishing I was 20 years younger.

…I’ll just let that last statement pass me by……Goddamn, it’s a long train…….

*sigh* Right. I am what I am. Can’t make any progress if I can’t accept where I’m starting from.

I’m out of shape, but not obese. I’m not 30, but I’m not 70, either. I’m not fluent in Dutch but I’m not a complete ignoramus. Middle of the pack in just about everything across the board. Just where I said I was uncomfortable. Damn! I wasn’t kidding about THAT. I am VERY uncomfortable here.

Fitting, perhaps, that I feel alone right now because I’m not in competition with anyone. That’s different. With my brother NOT in my language class, I’ll just be me with no one to compare me to. Without my sister here to reinforce my negative body image I’ve no bloated walking mirror to look at and see myself as fatter than or slimmer than. I don’t know that I’ve ever done this. It’s all stripped down and right at the core it’s only me. How fast I choose to move, how quick I can do things all on my own. There’s no markers in my life to tell me if I’m making any progress. I’m not allowing them. No scales or measuring tapes for my body, no tests to measure my understanding or language comprehension. I’m just floating in the goo, waving my arms about and not having any idea if I’m making any progress…because everything I learned to judge my progress on was based on competition. It was always the grades, the scales, the amount of money in your bank account that defined me as a person. That’s what I grew up with. That’s what I’ve been trying to shake since day one.

I’m not sure when I learned that lesson. Probably sometime between 5 and 50.

Brave hond

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Found myself crying on my morning walk today. The song just got me at that right point, and I teared up. Guess I was thinking of all that could have been – which is always a rosy prospect. I never imagine my alternate realities as horrid, tho chances are high they’d all have some bits of terrible in them. No. My flights of fancy are all happy and delight with no downside. Tears shed over this unrealized ‘now’ I envisioned, I bucked up and remembered to look around me, to appreciate where and what I was.

Things aren’t so bad.

A week of regular hard walking in the mornings – any faster and I’d be jogging – and I’m at that point in weight loss I hate: the extra poundage is loosening up on me. Everything jiggles that bit more right now. I find it disgusting, but know it’s a necessary step towards getting rid of it. Got assurances from my physiotherapist that I’m doing precisely what I should do to slim down, which I really didn’t need but it felt good to hear anyway. Also have some don’t do’s: don’t do the sit-ups that put pressure on my neck and cause me headaches. Instead, walk the stairs up to my apartment once a day and do a round of just standing up out of a chair to strengthen my legs and lower back.

Sweating has become familiar again. Thick sweat, the kind you need a couple of rinses with cool water to get all the salt off your face. I ignore my paprika colored cheeks post work-outs. That will fade as I get into better shape. In the meantime, I keep my full on exercises for mornings when few people are out to see me sweat and huff and puff as I tear down the pathways. The ones that do see me think I’m nuts. I can tell by the way they look at me. Every face seems to say why would you do that to yourself? but my answer is too long, too mired in poor self image and distorted thought processes to explain with any simple phrase, so I pass them all by and ignore the occasional glance that I KNOW means the person is checking me to make sure I’m not having a heart attack.

For all I hate the sweat (had two shirts ruined from chemical reactions between the laundry detergent and the salt in my perspiration) and my red face and having to breathe through my mouth almost the entire time, I really enjoy the post exercise endorphins. I feel stronger, more positive, more able to handle what might come at me. It’s been a couple of years since I felt good enough to try to push myself this hard. Glad I’ve made it back to enough mobility coupled with a minimum of pain to do it.

Feels like I’ve been a bit stern with myself lately. While I allow myself to feel and acknowledge certain emotional states (like my tears this morning), I’m not allowing myself to dwell there. Breaking the cycle has become very important in my life. I’ve never really known when to stop and deal with things and when to pick myself up and just move. Every time I’ve walked while upset I hear the echo of my sister’s taunts: you always run away. Have to admit that’s been a bit of a rock and hard place to deal with. When, exactly, does taking a walk to alleviate negative feelings become an act of running away from your emotions? Seems a fine line to me.

Frank Herbert’s mantra from Dune has come back to mind sharply. Allowing fear to flow through you, and knowing that when the fear stops you will still remain. Seems odd to me that that little gem never got picked up on by these new age gurus when Hubbard’s Dianetics became an entire religion, but I guess the first problem is that you’ve got to be able to read well enough to understand Herbert’s work and that is just beyond too many adults. Hm. Guess I shouldn’t even mention Greg Bear to people like that. I don’t get people who don’t read. But I digress; it’s the idea of allowing what’s normally viewed as negative emotions to flow through you. Not stopping them, not analyzing them, just allowing them to be and waiting for them to pass. It is NOT an easy thing to master. But I do find it effective when I can pull it off.

Been doing pretty lousy with Dutch for some reason. That part of my brain seems to be shutting down, or maybe it’s just full of rust. Stuff that was easy for me is becoming difficult. Can’t seem to understand things like I could just a couple of weeks ago, and I’m not sure why. Angst over my new class? I’ve imagined two opposing scenarios. One, I walk in and I’m far ahead of the other student. Two, I walk in and I’m far behind the other student. The idea that I’ll find the other student and I are both at the same level is something I must force myself to think about; it does not naturally occur to me. This is my all or nothing approach to so much. I recognize that. I don’t quite get why my head goes to such extremes, but I understand that I do it.

Again; wrenching control back. Being stern, not allowing myself to think those same old things that I’ve always thought. Forcing new ideas on myself. I am uncomfortable with being in the middle of the pack, so that’s where I’m aiming for. Not the highest of the high, not the lowest of the low. Just somewhere in-between. Somewhere in-between bright and stupid, beautiful and ugly, loved and hated. I’m trying to teach this old dog a new trick: that we don’t have to be one extreme or another, all or nothing, live or die. I don’t have to salivate when the bell rings.

Brave hond.