First Day

First Day

Today was my first day of strength training class. My plan is to go 3-4 times a week in preparation for my first Sprint race. Even though I am not a complete novice to weight training, I never have regularly done it.

Before class, I had a serious case of nerves. I knew everything would be fine but I told Hubby I felt like a little kid on the first day of school. I jokingly asked him to drop me off at class and wave at me from the window.

When I arrived, a group of three was preparing for class. Everyone was obviously already familiar with one another but they were all welcoming. My nerves bubbled up again as they seemed ready to jump into the workout but the instructor had already assured me I would get some personal attention.

Her patience was real and as soon as I felt it, I calmed down and my focus narrowed to concentrating on learning the movements. I completed the class and afterwards we spent time with the foam roller which was a new experience for me. Painful but I definitely see the necessity.

I am hoping every teacher is as lovely as this one but if not, I am still willing to show up. My curiosity is driving the bus these days. It wants me to see if I turn into the kind of woman who loves weightlifting and will be able to scale walls, swing from bar to bar and hang a finisher’s medal around my neck.

Perfect Day

Perfect Day

I just had a day I wish I could have once a week. I took a three-hour writing class entitled “Pens Up, Fears Down” taught by Sadeqa Johnson. A friend of mine also attended (a lovely surprise). After class, I was invited to a lunch by her that she already had planned with another close girlfriend of mine.

When the day began, it was a bit of a struggle to tear myself away from the bed. I strained  my left ankle jamming my foot into the sneaker but told myself it would be ok once I got going. Thankfully, I was right.

Recently at the tail end of my walks, I have shifted into a jog. I was being tender with my ankle so I rolled it around a bit and decided today I would continue this new tradition. I ended up jogging longer than I had since this began!

Even though I overestimated how much time I had to get ready before class, I still made it for all of the writing prompts. Before class, my hunch was Sadeqa’s style of teaching and the community of writers gathered would reignite my fire for writing fiction.

It took a couple of prompts but I finally started to tell the story that’s been a bit of an obsession for me lately. That story has been trying to find a place on the paper for a couple  months now but I have been avoiding it.

I think I found the start of a couple of short stories or a novella. I love when I make space for a story and it lets me know it has found its home when the pen hits the page.

The fact that I got to cap this writing experience off with a lunch with two of my beautiful writer friends was perfection. We should have taken a picture but I am pleased we were too absorbed in one another to break the spell of lovely, flowing conversation to do so.

I am in the middle of day 55 of 75hard (with water to drink, pages to read, a picture to take and a workout to complete) and day 9 of bloglikecrazy. Days like this wear me out in the best way.

I am back home. I will take a few minutes to lie down and reflect on this most perfect day.

Then I will get on with the rest of the work because I have to show up for Day 56 and Day 10 no matter how it shows up for me.

Trust

Trust

I was recently asked what I was doing to take care of myself.

I paused and realized I didn’t have a good answer. I am unable to take the writing class I want at this time. The additional work I have taken on is worth it however, I have not yet struck a balance yet. Balancing work, home life, exercise and adequate rest. So I am making time right now to write, with eyes half closed, Sixers game in the background, contemplating reworking the poem I wrote yesterday.

I may have slowed down but not to a stop. I am also not discouraged. Maybe letting go of the pressure to post so often has been the self-care I need. I think there was a part of me that would have felt forgotten and all of my hard work would have somehow washed away if I took the break that I needed.

But that is just clinging to fear which serves no one, least of all me.

I am going to trust myself. Trust the writer I know I am and the audience who will find me.

 

Proud

Proud

Last night’s class confirmed my revelations from last week about needing to slow down. It was the first time I felt like the conduit my characters were speaking through that my teacher always refers to.

This week taught me to trust what I am learning even when I doubt my ability to do it. I decided to submit the short story I wrote for class. Not only because it was well-received but because I was proud of the work. Proud of the work I put in and proud I finally listened to characters that were asking for a voice.

Slowing Down to Give More

Slowing Down to Give More

Yesterday, I had pages critiqued I sent to my classmates on Sunday evening. I chose to rework what I had written in response to the prompt “I lied when I said.” The critiques opened me up to a multitude of ways to address how I want to proceed with my novel. One of which was to try to turn it into a short story about 25 pages in length.

Even though I recognized it before, when I write I want to rush. Racing to get to the end I was envisioning as I begin to write is the culprit. The result is leaving my readers wanting more, more setting, more background information, what was he/she wearing?

More questions.

I don’t know why I have been in a rush to materialize an ending.

So that is what I will be working on using this week’s prompt. Slowing down to craft a more complete piece. To leave readers needing less when it’s all said and done.

Transitions

Transitions

During the spring semester of my senior year in college, I took a class that explored the relationship between literature and psychology. I don’t remember much about the class except that the size was small, the name of my professor and I found the content compelling. At the end of class, she conducted individual meetings. It was to discuss what she observed about each one of us during the course of the semester. The observations were purely based on what we shared during class.

During our meeting, she said I spoke frequently about fear. I remember being taken aback but it wasn’t a criticism. I seemed to identify it in the stories/pieces we read or clearly articulate it as part of a struggle the protagonist was going through and brought it up as part of class discussion.

When I went back to my dorm that afternoon, I took time to reflect on why I would have brought it up so often. Looking back, I wonder if it had to do with the transition I was getting ready to make.

At the time, graduation was near and I had been accepted to two different graduate programs in two states. I was proud of my accomplishments but a bundle of nerves at the same time. Since then, like most adults I’ve gone through several transitions: career, marriage and home ownership just to name a few.

I am grateful that even when fear threatened to paralyze me in some situations, I walked through it and made decisions anyway. I have also learned from the times, especially when it comes to my health, where I let fear stop me or have me return to my old habits. The truth is, if we’re really willing to admit it, aren’t we always at a crossroads? It doesn’t have to be at college graduation or deciding whether or not to take a job or marry someone you love. We are always standing in the middle somewhere, deciding to freeze in the moment, stretching it out and waiting for life to happen or moving forward with a bold new idea, health plan, way to raise our children, faith commitment, community activism or travel adventure?

Writing makes me feel like that girl again, straightening her cap and gown, leaving that version of the classroom behind and walking into her future. My love for the in-between, the murky, the gray only grows as I get older. I love knowing that each active decision I make drives me down a path I cannot completely see but undoubtedly holds experiences and knowledge I could not fill my life with otherwise.

In this moment, I am thanking God for transitions.

The Butterfly and the Lion

Right now, I am thinking of burning it all down. I am thinking of torching it and watching its splendid ashes float to the ground. Every time I step outside of my chalk-lined box or circle forever made around me. That is what I am doing.

I am lighting the match. I am knocking down trees with my bare fists, not caring how bloodied my knuckles become. Because I get to be the bulldozer and not the bulldozed. You may think it takes an act of gigantic proportion but to me, it is whipping around Manhattan on tired feet last week or opening my mouth and letting the words fall out, letting them hang and sit for my sister to hear, the words I have longed to tell her for almost 2 years—I miss you.

The act of taking this class and not apologizing for sitting here on a Wednesday morning. Every new thing, everything I hadn’t seen myself doing burns it down, slays a monster, feels like I could give a butterfly the strength of a lion.

Butterfly mosaic

It closes the curtain of who I thought I was, what I “should” be doing, fear of what someone would say or how lost I would become.

That curtain doesn’t get to come back up.