Photo: Teacher again. I’m delighted by the differences and similarities of my “old” teacher-self and my “new” teacher-self. In the end, as ever, it’s just me… knowing a little more than I used to and trying something new.
Thanks to my birthday Amazon funbucks, I was able to purchase myself a Fitbit. I’m still getting used to it buzzing me all day. I’m eerily reminded of the Milgram Experiment whenever I anticipate that hourly reminder to get up and move. I’m also now very aware of how I walk or flail my arms while talking, as I’m very concerned I’m going to smash the thing into something.
Anyway, I say this all to say, I have a Fitbit in hoping I can be a little more active and attentive to my daily activity. Attached to the Fitbit comes Fitbit Coach, which has these little exercises you can do that are customized to your needs. I decided to give it a try and enjoyed myself.
Wednesday, I was so busy during the day that I couldn’t get to the workout until after the boys got home. We did some things together and then I informed them that they couldn’t watch television until after I did my workout.
“You work out?” Minor asked in surprise. As if he didn’t believe me. I suppose he has a right to not believe me given the state of, well, me.
“I do, sir. I do workout,” I affirmed. For… myself. I’m really committed to doing better here.
“Okay then, we can all work out!” Major announced.
I went upstairs to find some yoga pants to put on. When I returned to the living room, I found both boys shirtless and doing what I can only describe as cartoon-style calisthenics. They twisted their torsos back and forth, arms flailing, legs spread apart. Their faces grimaced and contorted as they moved. “Oh yes, it’s gonna be a good workout, bro,” Minor grunted to his brother. Major grunted in agreement.
Sometimes, you have to stop and behold.
“Gentlemen, why do you have your shirts off, though?”
“Because this is how men workout!” Major declared, he voice an octave lower than it should be.
“Oh, okay then,” I answered, because that’s the only answer to that.
I turned on the little workout video and did my best to take it all very seriously. It’s hard to do with two little boys flopping around and screaming right in front of you. Running in place, pushups, situps… the boys did these things without care or discomfort. “Is that it? This is easy!” Minor screamed after every thing. Planking? No sweat. Those stupid bench dips (God do I hate those!)? Both boys did them with their eyes closed. Now, I’m sure technique (or lack thereof) played a big role in why everything was so easy.
The minutes flew by and so did the exercises. We got to the end of the 15 minutes breathing heavy, but also laughing. I felt good for having done the thing, and I actually felt deeply grateful the boys were there with me.
“Yeah, that was pretty great…” Major casually declared afterward as I was evaluating the workout on my phone. I decided to give a frowny face to bench dips.
“We’ll be doing that again tomorrow,” Minor decided.
“Oh, we will, will we?” I laugh.
“Yup,” Minor answered without hesitation.
My Quiet Thoughts this Friday started on Wednesday and have been reinforced all week. When the larger world disappoints with the same ol’ bullshit warmed over, there is something to be said about allowing other aspects of your life to delight and surprise you. I wrote on Wednesday about how relieved I am that motherhood still has the ability to do that, and this is another example of it. In this case, I’m fascinated by how the boys “try on” different aspects of identity and culture. Their mimicry of “manhood,” their shirts off and their stretching and their grunting, is adorable and hilarious and, yes, harmless. Manhood is going to take on all sorts of different meanings for them as they grow and as they see other men. Just like any pretend play, I have no problem with them trying on different “costumes” to see what portions of masculinity “fit” and what portions don’t. It’s fun to witness in such a way. I don’t always get to do that.
I think that opening your heart to delight and surprise is also a form of self-care. It’s a willful softening, allowing the eyes to see and the mind to seek and therefore for the heart to feel. It gives opportunity for that much-needed, oh-so-satisfying belly laugh. It allows for the soul to have a moment to heal and breathe in an environment that is otherwise stifling. By choosing this, you aren’t denying that the world is bad. You aren’t being a bad person or a poor participant in the body politic. You are just tapping back into this one, precious life. You’re remembering that you’re here and whole and human.
And that, in this world and at this time, is actually a radical thing to do.
It’s a sunny afternoon in suburban Massachusetts. Birds are migrating south, so we’re seeing lots of pretty colors and hearing lovely song in the trees. Color has come to the trees, inviting the eyes to wander. The sun warms, offering opportunity to linger and wander. This is a particularly special transition time: absent of the stressful anticipation for emergence, fall is the time to savor and soak up and prepare. We collectively try to slow down time. It doesn’t work, but even the futility in the attempt makes you smile, doesn’t it?
Exchange your exhaustion and disappointment for a bit of positive feeling this weekend, Dear Reader. Contribute to a homeless child’s birthday (it’s so, so easy to do and such a wonderful cause), encourage a young woman to step into her leadership destiny, support a museum that extends opportunity for play to every child who walks through its doors, or purchase a book for a parent-led organization teaching everything from literacy to self-care.
If you’re a knitter looking for a good rage knit, my friend alerted me to this phenomenal pattern on Ravelry!
With the long weekend coming, you might need something to entertain the kiddos. A representative of Education.com sent me two autumnal printout worksheets just for you wonderful Dear Readers! Here is a fun Autumnal Word Scramble. And here are the answers. Here is a nifty Autumnal Word Search. And here are the answers for it! Again, these are completely free worksheets just for you housed on my own server, not theirs (and I wasn’t paid to post them. I’m doing this as a kind internet courtesy. I don’t use their service, so I cannot say anything more about their products). If you’re looking for math worksheets, Education.com invites you to make math part of your fall fun with these math resources.
Now that we got all that business out of the way, I do believe it’s time to close out the week with some wishes.
This weekend, I wish you rest. You are still here. You live to fight another day. I wish you the time you need to be angry or be sad or be disappointed, to express that feeling in some sort of positive way, and then to stop and to rest. You need to breathe, Dear Reader. None of us are breathing. I wish you breath first and foremost. After that, I wish you nourishment. Nourishment comes in many ways. I think the first should come in real and actual food: if not soup, then something roasted or smoked. Something that takes a long time and a good bit of energy to create. Give something a chance to carmelize and braise and soak in flavor. This is a good weekend for soul food, Dear Reader. For real. I wish you nourishment that comes with moving your body and getting reconnected with your muse. Go for a walk. Go look at the trees. Go put your feet on some rocks. Go put your hands in some soil. Fill your nostrils with the crisp, sweet scent of decaying leaves. I wish for you to do this with a favorite person. I wish for you to share the time together in silence and in conversation. I wish for you to leave all that ails you out in the woods, so that you bring back home with you a lighter, more useful soul. Finally, I wish you nourishment of your weary, weary brain. Read some poetry this weekend, Dear Reader. Or a good book. Or a religious text. Or Smithsonian Magazine. I don’t care. But seek words that fill your jar, Dear Reader. Do not stop doing these things until you feel better. You can and will feel better. And along the way as you do these things, don’t forget to open your eyes and soften your heart, ready to be delighted or surprised by the preciousness of the life around you. Choose delight. Choose surprise. Choose this life that you’re living. Choose to live to fight another day.
This is a world that is currently designed to tell you that you are somehow unprecious, somehow unloved, somehow unworthy. Every single Friday I tell you that this is fundamentally untrue. You are loved beyond measure. What you do matters. There are people in this world who are anchored and content simply because they know that you are here and you are well. When the world floods with deeper darkness than imaginable, you are given opportunity to shine brighter than ever before. Do not consider this a burden. Choose this because it’s a gift: a gift to you and a gift to those who see your light and are warmed by it, inspired by it, and guided by it.
I write all the time that ideas have consequences. Remember: you, too, are an idea. You were conceptualized, conceived, raised, honed, tested, and now stand in the full knowing of yourself and your humanity. Therefore, you are consequential. The idea of you is powerful in and of itself to someone somewhere. Do not forget that. Be it your infinitely beautiful soul, your utterly powerful voice, your unspeakably moving presence, or the simple idea of you, know with the fullness of your heart that your very existence has always been and will always be marvelous and consequential.
When the moment is ripe, let the world know. I’m here for that moment, Dear Reader.
With all sincerity, until Monday: Take care, Dear Reader.