Monday, July 24, 2017

Racing Heart

My Facebook pals know I'm embarking on an adventure that started with my apartment complex's small swimming pool.  I hardly used it last year: it was out my comfort zone.  But this year I find myself there doing the sidestroke, a modified backstroke, a bit of the crawl.  I LOVE to swim.  Except for hiking somewhere beautiful and hard, which I'm not in shape to do, it's the only physical activity that makes me believe in an endorphin rush.  I seem to spend two hours there, partly to get hot enough to go in and partly to get dry enough that I won't take a nose dive when I put my flipflops back on.  I've also done some stretching exercises my brother showed me and which ended up in a bloody knee and bruised bone.  These improve my Achilles, which have gotten a bit tight, and my balance.

I love it so much, in fact, that I desperately want to join a gym when the pool closes.  My Facebook peeps can tell you that I've had to face up to the fact that I leave my comfort zone so little that a membership would be wasted money.  I had an epiphany about that, one of the easiest and hardest to put into practice: I have to leave my comfort zone -- my apartment, silence -- once a day in order to prove I'll use a gym membership.

This has had unexpected consequences.  I don't quite feel like our pool is out of my comfort zone, for one.  Nor is visiting my brother and sister-in-law.  So what constitutes leaving comfort zone?

I'm beginning to see it's a wider variety of things besides running long put-off chores.  Today I called a dear friend in Brooklyn.  I'm terrible at making phone calls, but I decided it was a good time to do it.  We had a lovely conversation, as though I last saw her a few days ago, and she ended the conversation by saying, "I love you."

I love you.  I don't hear that nearly enough, especially with my parents dead.  You could have knocked me over with a petunia.

Here's what I'm realizing about comfort zones: anything that makes one's heart race with fear, makes one's knees jello-y, makes one feel like taking a Klonopin -- going through with the moment at hand is leaving one's comfort zone.  People who work at home probably don't go out every day; there are things at home that make plenty shaky.  Writing my other blog or working on my novel; pitching myself for social media services; walking Daisy; having friends over; trying on clothes; taking a shower -- these all make the list at one time or another.  As do making phone calls.

The third piece of this comfort zone-swimming conundrum is what swimming makes me feel like afterwards.  I've just spent an hour or so gently stroking up and down the pool, losing myself in the motion, pushing my heart beat a little, leaving walking a few steps off the ground and tired from the sun and the swim.  Very calm.  Very aware the chlorine can screw up my hair, skin and bathing suit, which all go into the shower soon after getting home.  A lot of you know showering is hard for me.

Do I ruin all that by eating a pizza?  I know if I eat too many refined carbohydrates, I won't swim the next day.  I'll crash and burn.  I like the levitation too much to risk food.  I ate badly on Saturday, when I met an old friend for lunch, and I see from my notebook that I did not swim.  I napped.  I missed one of our 60 days of sun and heat for the sake of a pancake.

And yes, I've started writing what I eat down, how I pushed at my boundaries, whether I swam or not.  This morning I started with a sentence about why I might be in a bad mood.

It's the boundaries that matter more than what I do.  I thought I'd go to the bank today but I really wasn't in the mood.  And that's OK.  I was much more attracted to taking stuff to the thrift store and buying smoked pork chops at the Pig Store.  The Pig Store was closed, which means I won't put pork chops and collard greens in my crock pot tomorrow.  I had a feeling I wouldn't get around to chopping vegetables, either.  That left me without enough salad makings if I didn't go to the store.

I'm just saying, our best laid plans for boundaries are subject to other people's rules, but those rules forced me to go get a basket of fruit and vegetables so that I won't miss pool time tomorrow.

This morning I read an article called "Why we need to celebrate small acts of 'boring self-care'."  It was written by a woman who had suffered from unspecified mental illness and endometriosis.  Small tasks -- making the bed, doing the dishes or laundry -- were so hard for her that she's launched a #BoringSelfCare that's now all over Twitter and, I believe (the website isn't coming up for me for some reason, Instagram where she may post her illustrations of her small (to the world) achievements.  I like what people say on Twitter a lot.  They're another form of kin.  There needs to be a movement that recognizes that semi-agoraphobes, socially anxious, Klonopin-sucking folks exist and contribute and grow.

I hope I'm growing a teeny bit these days.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great stuff. I seriously dislike leaving my own comfort zone and would much rather wallow in a bowl of pasta and enjoy the latest episode of whatever it is I am feeling that night. What's that saying? "Nothing ever good came from staying in your comfort zone." Sounds easy, but it's harder than walking on a hot day with chaffed inner thighs. That might be too honest. However, it's my truth and I need to start enjoying the sheer fact that I am a stubborn, overweight, complicating and more so a lovable and worthy person. Failure is not a option. It will happen. Now, I must find the strength to just be kind to myself. WE CAN DO THIS!!!