I’m not even going to pretend I have the mental capacity to write a big, coherent, super-insightful message to you this week. Rather, I’m mostly going to validate you if you’re out there feeling scattered and frazzled and like you can never manage to get a hold of every thought or task and shove it all in line. Because whew, mama, I am with you.
Right now, here’s a general list of what I’m trying to wrangle:
Job searching, application, and rejection
Interview prep, interviews, and follow-up
Packing and prepping for vacation
BUYING A HOUSE
Scheduling and logistics for closing and moving into said house
Ditto for moving out of current house
Keeping pets alive
Staying in touch with friends
Being present with and supporting my husband in all of the above
Writing this email once a week
Being attentive to my current clients
Prepping for a bunch of speaking gigs in October
Not canceling therapy appointments, even though it would be so damn easy
Holy shit, just typing that all out made me a little twitchy all over again. I mean, no wonder I’m feeling stressed. Jeez.
Now, if you go back and read that list again, you might notice that nowhere on it will you see “working out” or “exercising” or “running” or really anything of the sort. Maybe that surprises you, since you know that’s usually a pretty high priority for me. Indeed, that’s true. Movement is a priority. Working out in some capacity is an important part of my life.
Except, when it’s not.
I mean, look at that GD list of shit going on! And hell, I’m lucky I don’t have actual children to keep alive and I’m privileged AF to be in a position to go on a vacation and buy a house and look for a new job. These are undeniably first world problems to be stressing about. I recognize that.
And so, I also recognize that prioritizing taking dedicated time in a day or a week for structured exercise in order to fit a culturally constructed physical ideal is also a weird form of privilege. Dieting is a privilege. Paying for fitness is a privilege. Point being, it’s not a requirement to force my body to absorb additional stress in the form of some kind of workout in order to conform to a certain body size or type on top of dealing with existing stress (which the body does not differentiate) of daily life and other, finite stressors in this season of my life. It’s not something I’m going to add to my list.
We all know the saying “something’s gotta give.”
We also know that, often, this is the thing that does give. It’s why my fitness business was so successful for a decade. We struggle to keep this on our list, while at the same time being absolutely plagued by the fact we can’t seem to keep it on our list, drowning ourselves in guilt and shame, much of it induced by external expectations, pressures, and standards that don’t recognize a damn thing about the diversity of actual human lives and bodies. So, we know the saying, but we’ve still internalized enough BS to believe it’s never OK for this particular thing to give.
Experiencing this exact thing right now, I’m learning that the thing that gives has the potential to really give.
For instance, taking structured or required exercise off the list gives me time I need right now. It gives me the gift of acceptance, kindness. It gives me freedom to experience my body in a more natural state. It gives me awareness of my tendency to focus too much on the size or shape of my body, to be hard on myself, and fosters intention about how I want to change that. It gives me the starting point to get curious about what fitness and body conditioning I’ve internalized. It gives me perspective on other body and life experiences, other than my own. It gives me more capacity for self-compassion, and compassion toward others. It gives me more insight and energy toward other things in life that give me meaning.
Now, will I go back to incorporating regular movement into my life again? Of course I will. This give is also giving me the space to process what that’ll look like instead of just going on autopilot about it, or doing what I’m “supposed” to do. And my body and mind and heart will know exactly when I’m ready to get back to it. I trust myself. And in the meantime, I’ll accept the suppleness of this particular give.
These same reflections apply to pretty much any application, not just body and health specific habits. Think about it: We’re constantly told we can have it all, but we rarely question whether we actually want it all. There’s always pressure to take on more, be able to handle more, and letting anything give way is seen as a weakness or failure. In work, life, body, relationships – that’s false. It’s not either/or. It’s not zero-sum.
So hey, if you’re in a season of life right now where you keep repeating “something’s gotta give!” in your head, or out loud, or in your journal – first of all, you’re not alone. And second, go ahead and let it give, whatever it is. Then, accept the gift.
Because the thing that gives isn’t always a loss, or something that breaks or takes. It’s not always a thing you’re giving up, or giving up for good.
Sometimes, the thing that gives is the thing that gives.
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