Fitness Fatale

So I joined a fitness group.

For some people this would be a non-issue. Simply an added tool in their box toward a fully healthy lifestyle. For others it might be a cause for congratulations. A turn in the tide of an unhealthy lifestyle. For me? It’s anathema to my usual way of life.

Don’t get me wrong. I try to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I make nutritious food choices. I try to stay active with my kids. I fit a yoga routine into my schedule when I can. But physically fit? No. Able to leap buildings in a single bound? No. Able to run farther than the end of my street without vomiting? No.

My husband’s cousin was always posting inspirational quotes on Facebook. Posts relating her physical endeavors to internal strength and fulfillment. As someone always searching for a higher state of being, I was naturally drawn to her posts. I wasn’t about to start doing PiYo, but I’d take a daily dose of encouragement and it was refreshing to see someone working so earnestly to improve her quality of life. Then I made the mistake of telling her so at a family cookout. When I joked that I was going to hire her as my life coach, she said, ‘oh, I’ll have to add you to the list for my online fitness group.’

Me and my big fat mouth.

Now, my husband’s cousin was very clear that she wasn’t out for world domination, but a renewed level of fitness after two children and a hectic lifestyle. However, her level of ‘out-of-shape’ as a former alternate on the Olympic ski team was probably equal to mine at its best.

Still, I signed on when I received her notification and read the group’s description:

“It doesn’t matter if walking is your thing or base jumping off of Mount Blanc.”

Quite a range! But walking? I could handle walking. I joined.

If nothing else, it’s made me more aware of my health. Her ‘Thirsty Thursday’ prompts made me more conscious of my water intake everyday. Seeing other women’s endeavors made me want to partake of and share my own. Admittedly, my first two days were my best, as ‘operation normal’ quickly seeped back in after that, but fitting in fitness is still at the forefront of my mind – if not my feet.

I tried to run through the soft sand as I escorted my youngest to the bathhouse at the beach. I pulled my knees to my chest as I floated in the water, trying to flex my abs. I pushed my legs through the water, tensing against the resistance.

Little steps.

And then there are the days exercise works itself into my day organically.

Yesterday, my girls and I met some friends at a local pond for a swim. The swimming area is strung off by the red and white floats of the summer camps of my youth, the ones that have ingrained in me a nervous sensation if I swim too close, as if that rope barrier keeps me safe from the depths on the other side. It was this marker that a little girl’s beach ball floated past on the wind that skimmed the waves. The little girl had been floating around our periphery, trying to engage my girls and friends in play. It was us she enlisted when as her ball swiftly moved away. Very swiftly, in fact. By the time she got our attention, it was well past the ropes. After a harried mental debate, I instructed my girls to stay put with their friends and their mom and swam toward the ropes. As I ducked under, my adrenaline surged. It wasn’t an emergency, but the way the girl was crying for her lost ball, you’d think it was. Plus, it could very well turn out to be an emergency with an unfit mother attempting a long distance swim. The evening news headlines ran through my head as I pulled strokes: Local mother drowns in area pond after suffering cardiac arrest. Witnesses report they heard her calling as slipped below the surface, ‘I thought I could do it. It didn’t look that far.’

Fortunately, that’s not how the story ended. Unfortunately, the wind carried the ball across the water faster than I could swim. I stopped halfway and looked back to the other mother I’d come with, who was waving me off, telling me to throw in the swimsuit. I took one last look at the ball as it skittered away and stretched my legs out under me, realizing I could touch bottom. I walked back the distance I’d just swam.

I went to the little girl who cried at her grandfather’s feet by the shoreline and apologized. Her grandfather thanked me and said, “We told her it’s not safe to chase balls.” Maybe he should have told me that. Still, I got in one lap at least and lived to tell the tale. It’s always a good day when fitness isn’t fatal.

We Are Family

I got all my bloggers with me!  Sing it with me!

Sherri Matthews, writer renown of A View from My Summerhouse, has invited me to be part of her WordPress family.  Well, she did a few months ago, but as anyone in my flesh and bone family can attest to, Sherri, it often takes me awhile to get around to things.  So this makes it official, I suppose!


Sherri included a description of the award from its creator, Shaun:

‘This is an award for everyone who is part of the “WordPress Family” I started this award on the basis that the WordPress family has taken me in, and showed me love and a caring side only WordPress can. The way people take a second to be nice, to answer a question and not make things a competition amazes me here. I know I have been given many awards, but I wanted to leave my own legacy on here by creating my own award, as many have done before. This represents “Family” we never meet, but are there for us as family. It is my honour to start this award.’

From Shaun @

The rules of the award (maybe people actually follow rules in this family 😉 ):

1. Display the award logo on your blog.
2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
3. Nominate 10 others who have positively impacted your WordPress experience.
4. Don’t forget to let your WordPress family members know of your nomination.
5. That’s it!  Just pick 10 people that have accepted you as a friend, and spread the love!

And the nominees are . . .

  • Right back at ya, Sherri.  Always a warm word, a thoughtful observation, encouragement.  I feel that I’ve gotten to know her through her posts and discussion of mine.  Beautiful writing just this side of the raw edge of life.  Thank you.
  • Patty Mitchell – a lovely woman and talented writer I met at an intensive institute in June.  She  wrote her mother’s memoir, which just reinforces my feeling that she’s all about a life well-lived, tradition, legacy, a good story, and good food.
  • Free Little Words – Kelly Hibbert has taken a hiatus from blogging – so she can write.  And, no, that’s not antithetical.  I miss the love she brings to the page and world through the computer screen, but totally get that she needs to focus that on her own little corner of the world for now.  Still, her blog archive is more than worth a read.
  • Infinite Sadness . . . or Hope? – Cate is fabulous.  A great wit despite – or perhaps because of – chronic pain and mental health struggles.  Totally thought-provoking commentary on life, important issues, spirituality, struggles . . . and thoughtful discussion with me.  Thank you!
  • Sorrygnat – Always a positive, life-affirming voice in the hard face of life.  I think we’re traveling the same path at different points in time (though Esther is so much more positive than I!)
  • Tiny Steps, Big Journey – A gorgeous, raw look at single motherhood.  The struggles and simply profound pleasures.
  • A Canvas of the Mind – Ruby Tuesday – what a gift to the blogging world.  She reaches out to all seeking help, info, or support in dealing with mental illness through her posts and guest bloggers, but reach out to her, and she responds in kind.
  • Sid Dunnebacke – A blogging friend of a friend (of a friend?).  I’m not sure what the degrees of separation are, but Sid found his way to Chopping Potatoes and I’m glad.  I love his photos and honest appraisal of life through the scope of depression.  And I totally appreciate his thoughtful comments on my posts – like his humorous take on my conversational run-in with my 84 year-old grandmother 😉
  • Ericka Clay – We have a lot in common: mothers of girls, writers, anxiety-ridden people . . . Ericka is a star on the rise.  You will not be disappointed with her writing.
  • My Thoughts on a Page – Tric gives me a modern insight on my Irish ancestors – the traits and quirks and humor that have survived the jump across the pond.  Her blog offers beautiful insights into the human condition and our journey through it.
Thank you to all of you for your amazing writing, your perceptive outlooks on life, and your personal and thoughtful conversation in a generally impersonal medium.  Bravo.
Now get on your good foot and get down to the staple of all family functions:

Wisdom in a Cup of Tea

My friend is always sending me notes saying she wishes we could share a cup of tea.  Or she’ll e-mail and say we need to schedule a phone call with a simultaneous cup of tea.  She’s someone who would darken my door every afternoon for tea and sympathy if I weren’t in her kitchen first.  If she didn’t live 585.9 miles away that is.

When we met in a charming seaside town midway between our homes for a spa weekend well into my third pregnancy, she said nothing of the fact that I couldn’t relax, that I was cynical, that something seemed ‘off’.  Instead, she gave me a mug to celebrate the impending addition to my family that said, “For this child I have prayed.”  When I told her what a sham I felt like because I hadn’t prayed for this child; that [she] had been gifted to me undeservingly, she said, ‘well, you’re going to pray for her now and when [she]’s here, aren’t you?’  So matter-of-fact, so trusting, so unfailing in her regard for me as a person, a mother.


And when that something stayed ‘off’ far past labor and delivery, she gently and honestly broke the news to me, a headline I’d written but couldn’t read.  She’d been featured in a similar newsreel only a short time earlier.  She knew the signs, saw the struggles that someone who hadn’t been through them might have missed.  I gave her a firsthand account of postpartum depression without knowing what I was describing.  She saw herself in me.

And she saved me.

She listened to the horrible thoughts I couldn’t share with anyone else for fear they’d find out what a despicable mother I was.  She became a sounding board for all the worries running through my head.  She was my font of information on all things postpartum.  It was she who finally convinced me I needed to get help.  It was she who urged me to remove the stigma I’d attached to medication.  It was she who helped me see I wasn’t the only one who’d ever felt like a failure as a mother, a weak human being, a seriously flawed individual clinging to the sharp edge of a cliff.

Still, I fought her for a good part of the way.  I didn’t want to see myself in the mirror she was holding up to me.  I didn’t want the help she offered because it meant giving in.

But she didn’t give up on me.

She told me the things I didn’t want to hear – and kept doing so until I listened – because she wanted to help me.  She forced me to get the help I needed.  She didn’t want to see me suffer the same fate she did; she loved me so much, she wanted to shield me from it.

Like every child needs a trusted adult, so every one of us needs a confidant, a friend in shining armor; in my case, a faithful warrior, devoted to the cause of saving my soul and that of my family.  Someone who won’t give up on you even when you turn away because she’s showing you the dark side of yourself – even if you take it out on her.  Someone who sees it through to the bitter end of your acceptance and seeking of help, the start of your journey to healing.  Someone who uses her own empathic experience to lovingly see you through the darkest days of yours.

They talk about warrior moms.  Moms who fight for their children, their needs, their causes.  Moms who fight for themselves and their survival.  There are moms who fight for those who stand beside them, who pick them up when they fall, who drag them along when they stumble.  And it’s usually when we’re so bloody and battered, we can’t even think to ask for help, can’t even see we need it.  These moms lift us up in the midst of their own struggles.  They are the shining light on the hill.  Without them, our own lights would be extinguished.  All hail the friends, partners, mothers who battle for the survival and triumph of those face down in the trench.

I’d be nothing without mine.

Don’t be alone.  Don’t do it on your own.  Accept a little help from your friends.


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