Thursday, March 13, 2014

Something to call my own

We all have different rituals and routines we do to ground us. One of the things I do when I move to a new area is get a library card. It’s a simple act but for me it’s my symbolic way of settling into a new place to call home. In the last four years I’ve gotten a new library card three times. And not just because I moved across town or over county lines. I made multiple out of state moves in those years, a bit disorienting to say the least. I was determined when I moved back to Virginia that I was staying in the region for at least the next several years. Too much change is draining for anyone. It’s hard to adapt when life feels too transient.

When I got back to the area, I decided in addition to getting my library card, I needed an activity to call my own. I decided that activity would be exercise and that’s when I joined the recreation center at my place of employment. Like I mentioned previously, it started with Zumba and a walking group. Then as I gained confidence in moving regularly, it spread to strength training and jogging. Now, it’s a regular part of my routine and my lifestyle and it’s hard to remember a time when this newfound friend wasn’t with me.

While the physical benefits of exercise are well known and the aesthetic benefits are much appreciated, neither of those reasons are why I move. You might have heard people say athleticism is 90% mental. I’d agree. More notable than any physical changes I see, it’s the psychological changes that keep me going. I’m challenged to reframe my view of the shy, scrawny teenager I used to be, to the woman who grows in strength and confidence each day. Exercise takes me out of the internal feelings of loneliness and disconnection I feel on bad days and shows me I am part of a community. There are fitness class regulars that smile when they see me and miss me when I’m gone. I matter. Exercise is also portable. I can do it virtually anywhere, with or without equipment, with or without company. All I have to do is awaken my body and start moving.

You might have heard people say the only constant in life is change. I suppose that’s true for certain aspects of life. I’m convinced that at least some things, however few they might be, do remain the same. These are our routines, our rituals, our habits of familiarity that soothe and comfort us and provide safety. They’re our “things,” the behaviors and activities that are uniquely our own. They’re the things that collectively define us, ground us, and stay with us and no one can take them away.

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