A Break From Insanity

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Cape Breton Nova Scotia

The news here has been teeming with discussions of sexual assault. For the many women my age, there is nothing unusual about the accounts of women’s experience. We were regularly taken as sex objects long before we knew that there was another way to be female. There is something terribly rewarding about the outrage that is widespread in the country about such “locker room talk” and behavior. It is as if finally someone is angry about how we were treated, even if it was many many years ago.

Still, the whole election climate has been upsetting, and I have needed to remember the true loveliness of the world. Here is one such image. May we all evict the abusers from our brains and fill our thoughts with the deep beauty available all around us.

Apology?

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We all recognize a genuine apology when we receive one. We can see the remorse in the offender, hear the grief in the voice, feel the wrong has been acknowledged and repented of. Apologies genuinely given can be genuinely received and the rift in the relationship can be mended.

It is hard to genuinely apologize to someone we have wronged. We first of all have to recognize that we have hurt someone else. Then we have to overcome the shame and the blame that comes with the realization that we have blown it. We can try to change the subject by reminding the other person that they, too, have hurt us in the past. Maybe that will take some of the heat off of us.

Or we can say a perfunctory sorry, the words coming off our lips but our body language revealing that we aren’t really apologizing. We see that in the forced speeches of prisoners of war who are told to apologize for being American. We can tell that they are merely repeating a text given to them by their captors.

Yesterday as one candidate went through his “apology” I wasn’t fooled. No woman my age could have been. We had seen that game before. And we weren’t falling for it again.

Musical Interlude

Last night I went to a concert of Joan Baez, now 75, performing a 90 minute concert with two musicians and one co-singer. Her son Gabriel, one of the musicians, played an astounding accompaniment on drums.

I first saw Baez in 1963(the photo on the left) in concert in Portland, Oregon with Bob Dylan. An electrical charge ran through us all, as it did between Dylan and Baez. Then her protest songs ran through my college years with her marriage to a draft objector, David Harris, highlighting my classmates resistance to the Viet Nam war. She had her son Gabriel about the same time I had my daughter, and her song “Honest Lullaby” encouraged me as a mother–“you got a mother who sings to you an honest lullaby.” Her cynical “Diamonds and Rust” with digs about Dylan resonated with my own attitude about romance at the time my marriage was dissolving.

In all, she has sung me through the majority of my life in a way that seemed quite personal. Last night, surrounded by a sea of fellow aging boomers, I realized that each of us, thinking we were alone with her voice, were actually part of an ocean of listeners. Our solitary experiences were united as we sang along, “Gracias a la Vida,” thankful for her life and our own.

What Upper Body Strength?

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I am encouraged that even at three weeks old I found push-ups difficult. I even stuck out my tongue as I tried. Regaining upper body strength as an adult has been a slow process. I am prone to tendinitis in my elbows and shoulders, and I have to carefully pace myself so that my muscles get strong enough to do the pushing and pulling. I have too often strained those tendons by not relying on the muscles. Whenever I tried to get stronger on my own at home, I would injure one or another tendon. Having a trainer has been wonderful since she adjusts my stance and modifies activities when I feel any twinge start up. This has allowed me to get a good deal stronger for the first time in years.

Patience has been the most important tool in my working to regain functional fitness. A sense of humor is also essential. Fortunately the camaraderie at the gym lets me take the process with laughter as we decide what real life skill is being developed with each new activity. Working on one legged squats we surmise would be handy if one had a broken foot. Carrying a kettle bell overhead would be good practice for portraying the Statue of Liberty at Halloween.

You Want Me To Whomp Ropes?

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Jenn quickly understood my style–slow but steady. She listened carefully to my goal to regain functional fitness. Jenn was my daughter’s age and so were most of the women exercising at the time we worked together. A majority of the people around me were interested in losing weight. Several wanted to fit wedding dresses. Thankfully I was not worried about fitting in a dress as much as getting up off the floor when I was retrieving something from the back of the refrigerator.

Paul had introduced me to ropes, and I told Jenn I loved them. Basically there are two very long thick ropes attached to the wall. You lift them and them whomp them down on the floor. This is amazingly therapeutic, especially if you name each rope after a nemesis in your life, present or past. It also apparently builds muscles. That may in fact be its primary purpose, but I was so busy having fun whomping them that I never thought about my goals.

Jenn also had me lift a heavy ball and throw it down on the floor, pick it up and throw it down again. Over and over. I was having a lot of safely aggressive fun all in the name of functional fitness. Jenn and I were going to get along very well.

So Long It’s Been Good to Know You

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Well, Paul and I were getting along famously. I had even gone to Target to buy a pair of exercise pants. Not lycra of course, but very comfortable cotton knit. They went very well with my pink Niagara Falls t-shirt. I was styling. I was using 2 pound weights and beginning to find where muscles were supposed to be. They were pretty dormant, to say the least. Not entirely excited to have demands placed on them for the first time in years, they made little groans and squeaks. Still, 2 pound weights were an improvement over the first few times when I just went through the motions without any weights.

Then Paul told me that he and his girl friend( I kept asking him when he was going to make an “honest woman” of her, keeping in the in loco parentis mode) were moving west. Of course they were. As far as I can tell, every millennial in New England is moving west. Usually to Portland or Seattle. At least they were bucking the trend and going to Colorado.(#3 on desirable relocation site list for New England millennials.) Baby Boomers, by the way, seem to be going to North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. Don’t ask.

As I waved goodbye I contemplated my fitness future. I couldn’t quit now. Well, I could, but I had to keep making payments until next year. So I reluctantly met my next trainer, Jenn, explaining all over again that I was functionally unfit and willing to try to get stronger. She smiled encouragingly and we began.