Sometimes I can be “slow on the uptake” as my grandmother used to say. Why? This year I joined the ranks of the “some people never learn” club.
Here’s a quote from a Live Journal post I wrote in 2011. “I’ve signed up for a ridiculous number of ballroom dance lessons… for my first competition in June. If I am going to do this sort of thing, I can’t postpone any more; 2011 has to be the year. … I’m fighting tendonitis in my heel from asking my body to do things it might not have even wanted to do 30 years ago.”
So, I sucked it up, put in the floor time, and danced in the comp—here's one of the heats, a Tango with instructor Bob Blake.
That was seven years ago. I didn’t stop dancing after that comp, but continued taking regular ballroom dance lessons until about six months ago. Why have I been out for six months? Because some people never learn.
My goal for 2018 was to become svelte, (reality check—those years are gone), and dance in at least two events. In January, I strapped on my Fitbit and hit the floor running, literally. I tried to do a minimum of 10-14K steps a day. I ran in place on ceramic-tiled floors, jogged on a trampoline, walked extra aisles when grocery shopping, climbed stairs, and packed in as many dance lessons as my schedule would allow.
By early March my knees ached, and the first twinges of tendinitis throbbed in both Achilles tendons. Did I listen to my body? Of course not. Goal-oriented soul that I am, I pushed through the pain. By the time I made an appointment with an orthopedic specialist, went to PT, and had an MRI, my Achilles tendinitis diagnosis changed to tendinosis—a chronic, not acute condition.
To quote my doctor, tendinitis at sixty-nine is not the same as tendinitis at forty, or even at sixty-two. By May I had to stop dancing. I couldn’t even manage a walk around the block. So much for becoming svelte in 2018. Instead I packed on the pounds and packed up all the clothes that no longer fit.
Today I am an enthusiastic member of the “it’s never too late to learn” club. Even after months of PT I’m not 100%, but I am doing much better. My new approach to physical activity is to participate at a level where I can do it again tomorrow. My goals are more realistic, like being able to go for walks with my dogs and my husband, and work in my garden. My life lesson this time is moderation in all things.
Last week I took my first dance lesson in six months (low-key), and my husband and I attended a studio dance party. I do want to dance, but I'll have to do it on a lessor level, which means keeping both my ego and expectations in check. I have vowed to accept the inevitability of physical limitations as I age, and accept them with grace and with as few swear words as possible (don’t hold me to this one). I will ADAPT and modify. Turns out it’s never too late to add to one's list of life lessons.
Reading has always been my drug of choice. I choose to medicate my senses with words rather than chemicals. I’ve been bookworm as long as I can remember. As a kid, summer vacation meant bringing as many books home from the library as I could carry. My reading room was a tent built by clothes-pinning mom’s sheets and towels to the fence and backs of lawn chairs. I passed hours reading in my makeshift tent, soothed by the familiar summer sounds of lawnmowers, neighbors voices, and prop planes droning towards the nearby air force base.
With the exception of the backyard tent, nothing much has changed since childhood. With a book in my hands, I hold the rudder of the craft that whisks me through the space-time continuum and on until morning. I can try another time period on for size, immerse myself in another country and culture, and explore the emotional depths of someone’s life journey. Looking out at the world from behind someone elses eyes sometimes allows me to view the slide show of my own life with a healthy detachment. I can disengage, stand back, and see The Big Picture. A least most of the time.
I’ve always preferred books written by woman. I find women to be more complex creatures than men, and their perspectives are richer and more interesting. Broad statement (excuse the pun), but there you have it! But every once in a while I stumble across a book, written by a man, that challenges this perspective, as was the case with Roxanne Slade, written by Reynolds Price. I actually picked this one up and read it without ever reading the bio of the author. I was honestly stunned when I realized this deeply honest story, told from the POV of an elderly woman looking back on her life, had come from the heart and imagination of a male author. Here’s my review on Goodreads. If you haven’t read this one, I recommend giving it a try.
Since this is my first post on my new blog, I thought a bit of an introduction might be in order—not to my writing, but to me. We never see ourselves the way others see us, so my perception of “me” might come as a surprise to those whose vision is otherwise.
I believe I’m an introvert trying hard to be an extrovert, which by the way, can be exhausting. Most of my pastimes are solitary: writing, photography, gardening, reading, perusing Facebook…. But, I also love to cook for people and entertain, so friends who have called me “the hostess with the mostess” are shaking their heads in disbelief at the word introvert. Well, here’s the thing about being an introvert; it’s easier to be the hostess of your own party than a guest at someone else’s. Seriously, think about it. You’ve chosen the guest list so you know everyone; you don’t have to make “so what do you do?” small talk; you can stay busy smiling, refreshing drinks, and making introductions. Even the shyest among us can manage that. The flip side, which just occurred to me, is that being more comfortable running the show might mean I’m a bit of a control freak. Hmmm. This might require a bit more thought.
I’m also introspective to a fault, if you haven’t picked up on that already. This, I believe, is the underlying cause of my insomnia. I analyze past conversations and interactions ad infinitum, often beating myself up for something I either said, or should have said, or should have done. I’m self-conscious and insecure, which often conflicts with the image I project. Sometimes I over-compensate. The truth is something as simple as an initial coffee date with a new acquaintance completely intimidates me, and I’m never happy with how I come across. A lifetime of being who you are expected to be can leave you unsure of who you are.
I’m more comfortable sending an email than picking up the phone. I can backspace, correct, and rethink an email. Chatting on the fly is another story. My mind goes either blank or I’ll blurt something out and bury you in too much information. With most people, an eye-to-eye chat is more within my comfort zone. Facial expressions and body language help keep me in check.
Lynn Nicholas - AUTHOR oF Dancing Between The Beats
My blog is a window into my world. My slice-of-life narratives are triggered by life's