Keeping My Balance at the Gym–And in My Life

IMG_2469An older man stops my trainer at the gym to ask if she is trying to teach me balance. I am struggling to stay upright atop what feels like to me is a mound of Jello. (It is, in reality, something called a Bosu ball.) It is so challenging for me that I must reach out for my trainer’s arms more than once to steady myself as I raise one leg, then the other, to her count.

“Yes,” she tells him. “This exercise strengthens your core and helps your balance.”

“That is good,” he says before walking away.

I talk to my trainer a lot about such issues that matter more and more as I age. I hear stories from my elderly friends about falling at the least provocation. These exercises are no guarantee, of course, that I will remain upright. But I want to do everything I can to be ready. And so it is with the rest of my life.

At 52, I find myself a bit unsteady about what to do next. Another degree? Open an arts studio? Take a part-time job? Finally see if I’ve got a novel in me? But instead of relying on my old habits of signing up for yet another workshop or scheduling an appointment with one sort of therapist or another or, my personal favorite, ordering books about living the creative/mindful/spiritual/healthy (insert your personal predilection here) life, I am trying, simply, to be. I’m resisting with all my might the desire to make sudden moves.

For most of my life I’ve felt that as long as I was moving, I must be living. (Can you say avoidance?) Now, though, I sense there is something to be gleaned from spending time with myself without an agenda, or a goal, or a to-do list. It’s harder than it sounds.

One of the best career breaks I ever got happened years ago when, although I was not happy with my employer, something told me to stay put instead of packing up my red pencils and my thesaurus and moving to another job, trying a different city. By sticking around, I enjoyed one of my most fulfilling creative assignments to date.

The voice that said “stay” was not loud or threatening. It did not belong to a friend, or, dare I say, even a divine entity. It was my own, and I’m just hoping I can recognize it now.

4 responses to “Keeping My Balance at the Gym–And in My Life”

  1. [Version 2 and ammended]
    …Exactly….And about the balance, I lost mine when I stopped doing daily walking and yoga and feeding myself comfort food when I was finishing my second book. Now, I know those come first but the main point is: some form of tree pose. Daily. I got where at 50 I could not stand on one foot and put a sock on the other foot. Every day, I do some version of the tree, standing on one foot for balance. Live on. Love, L. (Midlife but not a goober. And neither are you. 😉 ) One other thing: that arts center? We are doing that. Join us.

    PPS: Ummm, not sure where to post. I get it this is the new version. Found the other one first….Also, my “exactly” covers about everything you write here. I am a recovering seminar slut. And, yeah, 20 years of therapy under my belt (which never covered the parts that surfaced after my father’s death at (my) age of 51 a couple years back,) countless seminars, mentors, etc., etc., Yeah, the answers are where they always were. Within. Namaste.

    1. Thank you, Leisa, for sharing part of your story here with me. I am learning to trust that I have what I need. And I’m working on my tree pose! I look forward to hearing more about the arts center.

  2. I can so relate. I “worked” on being still for ages. One day it finally dawned on me that I could release my death grip on it, relax into the stillness, and “be.” There’s no “just ,..” it is – curiously – much harder than it looks.

    1. But it sure looks good on you, so I’m definitely going to give it a try. Releasing death grip now…or at least slightly. Thank you for sharing part of your story with me here.