I really like food. If you put something in front of me that I enjoy, or even just -kind of- enjoy, I’m probably going to eat it. There are of course exceptions. There are times that I have been too full to eat another single thing. Over the years, I have dabbled in vegetarianism (it never worked because…sushi) and pescatarianism (which never worked because…bacon). I have gone thru periods of exclusion (dairy free, gluten free, sugar free). But what it has always come down to is that I love food. And so, as my body grows older and my metabolism slows down, I fight the constant battle of every mid-life human: How much exercise is enough to eat the things I want to eat. And how do I find the time to do it.

Now, let me be clear: I have grown fond of the gym in my post-athlete life. In my first year out of undergrad, I was looking for hobbies. I was living in a new city. I didn’t have a lot of friends. I needed things to take up time when I wasn’t at work. And there was a Planet Fitness located about a 5 minute walk from the theater. So – I got a membership. It was mostly running and elliptical and starting to experiment with a few machines. But it was something. And I went five times a week. Even on days when work was strenuous, I would pack my gym back and head there. It was a way to blow off steam and wind down. During the next summer I learned how to swim laps. The next year, I was in another new city and got a membership to the YMCA. The gym kept me moving and allowed me to always eat whatever I wanted. I thought about it less in those days, but looking back – I never thought about what I ate. And it was a privilege.

Since moving to NYC, finding ways to keep myself moving has become more difficult. I bike when I can. I go to the gym when I can. I hike when I can motivate myself to get out on a day off. But it never feels like enough.

When I arrived home from hiking this August, I became very aware that I had lost weight. And not just that I had lost it, but that parts of my body that I have been unhappy with were suddenly looking how I wanted them to. When you go walking for two and a half weeks, it starts to pay off. But when I got back, I was also nursing an injury. It took a while to get back to the gym. And then I kept a solid regiment for a while. And then I went to Portland…and it was easy to just stay inside and lay around all day. As much as I want to be a person that gets up and goes all the time, when it starts to slip back…it’s easy to keep it that way. For every day I don’t go to the gym, not going the next day feels easier.

It’s like this for so many things. Waking up late makes it easy to wake up late the next day. Ordering take out once makes you realize that it’s quicker than making your own food. Forgetting to take your vitamins one day makes it easier to forget them again. Pattern begets pattern. And choosing to break an easy pattern for something more difficult can take a lot of work. For me, this means that I need to stop writing now and pack my gym bag. I need to make myself take it with me tomorrow. I need to not convince myself after lunch that I don’t have time or it’s a bad idea. I need to remind myself how much better I feel when I exercise. I need to do so many things to mentally get over the hurdle that grows taller every day. I think these are the hurdles that keep people from doing so many things in their lives. And it’s all I can do to clear this one so that maybe the next one will be easier.

New Beginnings

I’ve been meaning to start this blog for the last two years. There are a lot of things in my life that I’ve put off for hours, days, weeks, months, years. Some of them I eventually get to. Some of them stay in the back of my mind to this day. And some of them get stolen right from under me. I’ve been meaning to get back to writing for a long time. I used to write a lot – short stories, long stories that never got finished, many, many journals… Ever since binge watching has become popular, I’ve missed those times in my life where I should have been spending more time being creative. In the long subway rides and bike rides that make up my time in New York City, I find myself often evaluating and disentangling my day or a topic in a way that lends itself to the written word. And so, perhaps now is the time to return a bit of my time to that simplest form of expression.

It comes in waves – the ability to do work. It’s been this way my whole life. I’ve always been really good at doing the things when it was time to do the things. But when it comes to planning, prepping, organizing…I just find it difficult to motivate myself. When I was in school, I rarely spend the “normal” amount of time on any kind of homework or project. In highschool, I did my homework the morning it was due – sitting in the band hallway, frantically scribbling. I don’t remember ever studying for tests in any real way. But I also never raised my hand if I thought I might be wrong. So even when I thought I was right, unless I was sure, I didn’t try. Being wrong meant that I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was. I have no idea where this thought came from. Because, really, I was a smart kid. I’m a smart adult. But I never had to try.

I didn’t practice for my audition to be a marching band Drum Major (which is also certainly why I wasn’t one). I don’t really remember practicing either of my musical instruments even though I sat first chair in the Wind Ensemble and led the clarinet section of the Marching Band. I auditioned and successfully joined the highest choir as well in my Junior year.  I was just…good. Looking back on these things, it makes me wonder how good I could have been if I had really tried.

Sports were…similar. I loved them. I loved playing the game. I even loved practice (most of the time). But I never went the extra mile unless someone went with me. My best friend in elementary school and I used to run with the cross country team so we could stay in shape in the off-season of basketball. But when I was playing in high school, I never went to the gym. Marching Band was my gym credit and no one ever convinced me it was worth my time to fit gym time into my schedule. Again – I was pretty good at my sports just thru practice. A decent sized fish in a pretty small pond. But it felt like enough at the time.

Small ponds don’t have a lot of room to move around in. But it was always still a competition for me. Competition breeds progress. This is why the life of an artist is difficult for me. Competition doesn’t exist so much in this world. And I don’t want to compete for the top of the food chain. People have told me that I’m good at the design things. And I believe them. I think I’m really good at it. But I’m still bad at pushing myself to do the things that would set me apart from the herd. In grad school, I actually did a lot of research for my thesis. I read a lot of things. But I could have expanded more. I had a lot of ideas, but it was difficult for me to execute them. I couldn’t figure out how to break thru the terror of doing a bad job. I was basically spending all of my time convincing myself that if what I produced wasn’t good enough, then I shouldn’t do it anyway. And then not trying anything. Which meant that I couldn’t practice to get good enough.

So – here I am – a 34…34?…yes, 34 year old woman, finally practicing at something that I have always seemed to be pretty good at. I haven’t written anything substantial in over five years. The only somewhat extensive pieces I’ve done have been while walking on the Appalachian Trail. I have received excellent feedback on those words and hope that maybe I can transfer that over into these “real life” words as well. But it means setting aside time. It means practicing. It means that some of these posts will be bad. It means I have to be OK with that. It means I have to allow some of it to be wrong. But it also means that I will probably get better – if I try to get better. If I write these posts with the criticism that I write professional emails and text messages to people I have crushes on, there’s a chance I can move forward on at least this one thing in my life. Who knows – maybe from here, I’ll have the courage to look back at other projects and give them another shot.