I know that I am behind most of the country in reading this book, but I finally finished the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed. She walked over 1,100 miles to help her put her life back on track after her mother died and her marriage ended. Her decision to walk for months was a bit drastic, but in a weird way, I get her. That's probably why I became obsessed with her book. In a strange way, we are alike.
Near the end of my fertility treatments, I became intensely angry with myself. I felt betrayed by my own reproductive system. I dove headfirst to lots of intense activities to teach my body a lesson while trying to ground myself in some strange way. Of course, I did some healthy things as well like talk to a therapist, take up meditation and eat healthy foods, but most of my choices were aimed at punishing myself.
First, I took up running for the first time in my 40s and nagged myself to run as many races as I could going faster with each one. Several times in my training, I told myself while running uphill that my baby was at the top of the hill, if only I could run fast enough to catch it. The negative self-talk in my head was brutal. I crossed several finish lines with tears in my eyes.
Second, I took as many fitness classes as I could possibly stand. After running 3-6 miles most mornings before work, I would take two to three fitness classes after work. I didn't want to go home to see an empty nursery, so I made myself avoid home and work out instead. One time, I came home so tired that I slept in my workout clothes on the living room floor.
Third, I pushed myself to stay as busy as I possibly could. I went back to graduate school. I took up new hobbies - dance, trapeze, etc. My weekends are planned to the minute. Yes, I was having fun, but I was also dodging all forms of down time.
Trust me, I am not advocating for Cheryl Strayed's approach to grounding yourself, but I get it. Every time she surprised me with another shocking choice to push herself, I saw a bit of myself in her actions. The moment your life turns out differently than planned, it's hard to stay centered. Sometimes life-changing events need more life-changing events to keep ourselves sane.
Life is different for me now. I don't push myself to run as fast and far as before. Running is now not a competition, but a quick way for me to burn calories and clear my mind. Fitness classes are now just one - one class, Pilates. Since working out like that needs a sitter, my finances force me to be limited. Finally, I am not busy every second of the day, in fact quite the opposite. Toddlers have a way to unraveling the best laid plans so over planning is completely useless.
More importantly, I am no longer at war with myself. Sure, I wish at times that it was leaner and less jiggly, but overall, I love my body. I can run, skip, jump and stop all that I wish. My body can hold a 30-pound child on one side while carrying a small load of groceries with the other. My wrinkly face may not be on the cover of any fitness magazine, but simply seeing my face brings my son sheer delight beyond measure.
I don't need to walk 1,100 miles to realize that my life is pretty darn wonderful. I already know.