What Makes Today Special?

What makes today so special? What makes any day special? Is it the blinding blue sky or grey torrents of rain? Maybe the four mourning doves who have found their way to my home, who have sat in my potted herb garden – have shat in it, too – and eaten my thyme. Maybe that’s what makes today special.

I’ll go for a walk later, toward end of day when the blue turns pearly and pink through the branches of the redwood trees. It’s the time of day that dogs are walked and children run in circles as if life were to be lived with reckless abandon. Sweaty and red faced they won’t notice the cool breeze blowing in from the Pacific while I tighten the drawstrings for the hood of my favorite sweatshirt.

If, while I’m on this walk, I look toward the Santa Cruz mountains, I’ll see pure white pillows of fog folding over the ridge and slipping down the slope to fill nooks and crannies. It’s my favorite thing. A beauteous thing. 

After I’m home and have had a bowl of soup I’ll step out onto the mirpesset to watch the full moon rise over the buildings of this town, its light reflecting back to me the stories of everyone who has ever looked up and dreamed. I’ll look for the planets, lined up like soldiers across the ecliptic plane. Not long ago Jupiter and Saturn were so close they almost kissed. And before that Mars, all bold and red, was as big as I’d ever seen. Before I go back in I’ll take a moment to marvel at the stars I can see and to wonder if anyone is marveling at me.

The Fat Content of a Fifty-Two Year Old Woman and other News

It's corny, but in 2011 I 'heart' ME!

I know. Why do I need to spend money on a health club membership when all I really need to do is strap on a pair of sneakers and head for the great outdoors?  Except that really isn’t my thing.  I enjoy nature’s wondrous beauty standing still, not riding a bike over the Santa Cruz Mountains.  Instead, I crave stats.  I need to know calorie counts, miles tread, a hill’s gradient.  I need an elliptical.  And so, today, I returned to the place I forgot I loved.  The gym.  I confess.  I was nervous. I knew my fitness assessment was not going to go well.  And here’s the bad news:  thirty-two percent of me is fat.

But there’s good news, too.  My fitness level tests in the ‘good’ range for a woman my age.  Barely.  In other words, I can hit my maximum heart rate and still carry on a conversation, but I can only do two and half push-ups.  My flexibility is good (it better be) but I have postural imbalances that need to be corrected.

What went wrong?  Simple – like many of us, I stopped paying attention. I stopped packing healthy lunches and began grazing at the local Whole Foods.  And just because the food is from Whole Foods doesn’t mean it’s wholesome.  The hot bar has plenty of empty, fatty calories to choose from.  And I convinced myself yoga was enough.

And how can I fix it?  Easy. Mindfulness. Now where have I heard that word before…

I believe in Yoga.  I know it has helped my bone density, kept me as flexible as women half my age and helped me to manage stress levels.  But the style of yoga I love and the one that contributes most to my physical and mental health does not, unfortunately, contribute to cardiovascular health.  To do that, statistics vary, but most suggest thirty minutes of vigorous exercise five days per week.  In other words – I need to balance my Yin and Yang.  I need to regain some equilibrium.

I’m going to let you in on a secret.  I have a silly wish.  I’ve always wanted a lean, muscular body that shouts HEALTH.  It’s not about narcissism – it’s about how being fit makes me feel.  Which is fantastic.  Unstoppable. Confident.  Once – for a few years – I managed to maintain a decent enough fitness level to run 10-K’s on a regular basis. And to have been there and lost it is incredibly frustrating – especially since being physically fit is one of the best feelings in the world.

So I think I’m on the verge of doing something a bit crazy.  The trainer who conducted my fitness assessment today was good.  And I know enough about the body to know who’s good and who isn’t.  I want him to be my personal trainer.  How can I afford it?  I’ll cancel Comcast.  Or something.  I’ll figure it out.

The thing is, I’m tired of talking myself out of life.  Saying ‘no’ to the things I want because as long as bad things happen in the world I don’t deserve good things in mine.

Today the hosts of this blog, WordPress, suggested we write about our personal highlight of 2010. But how can I compare witnessing a Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony, or seeing my mother for the first time in twenty-eight years to joining a gym?  Yet making this commitment to myself – basically admitting that I am worth the effort – will impact my life more.  After all, I’ve heard it said you can’t love another until you love yourself.  Maybe it’s finally time for me to embrace that idea.

And now I have to ask.  What are you saying ‘no’ to? What’s your silly wish?