Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Learning More About Me

As I stood at the kitchen sink this evening washing dishes, I began to wonder why I don’t do them more often. Don’t get me wrong, there’s about a million and one ways to answer that question. From “I’m too busy” to “If I’m the only person in the house doing them, fuck it – I’ll let them sit”, I’ve got more excuses than a bottle’s got songs. My tiny kitchen has a door, and lately I’ve grown accustomed to just closing it, so I can’t see the piles or smell whatever’s collecting at the bottom of the drain. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

As I was scrubbing a plate that contained steak and potato residue, I thought to myself how much easier it is to scrub that plate right after I ate the steak and potatoes than it is to scrub it after that same plate has sat for a week (oh, who am I kidding, two or three weeks!). Same is true for running and derby for me.

Until derby, (and excluding organized sports) exercise was always just the means to an end, and the end that I wanted was to “get skinny”. I remember my first gym membership; I joined the YMCA while in my senior year of high school. Thinking I was “fat” then, I joined the gym and made a pact with my friend April to not eat another Reese’s cup until I had lost 50 pounds – FIFTY POUNDS!!! Well, I don’t need to tell you that THAT didn’t happen. The result? I became discouraged and hated going to the gym.

Today, things are different. Today, I run because it makes playing derby easier. Sadly, though, these past few weeks have been dedicated to work, work, and more work, and I’ve been lucky to get two runs in per week – last week I only got one. The result here is a noticeably more sluggish body while playing derby – here, two weeks prior to my first game with the All Stars and three weeks prior to my debut as a jammer for my home team. Fuck.

My goal for the next two weeks is to attend all practices that are offered and to run two-to-three times per week. I got a little motivation today in the form of the arrival of my All Star jerseys. Having those jerseys sitting in my dresser makes it real. For some reason even though I’ve been told I’m playing against Carolina it’s not real yet. I’m still the one person on the roster who hasn’t played with my team in a game against another league. Sure, we play against our B team all the time, and I’ve scrimmaged with the All Stars against both Carolina and Philly, but I wasn’t put in all that much, which scares the hell out of me. Please pardon this mid-entry freak out…

I realized something about myself this week in addition to the fact that I feel like Grimace on skates if I don’t run regularly: I play my best when I’m really warmed up – and I mean REALLY warmed up. After a 2 hour endurance practice – that’s when I’m ready to play derby. What does that mean for a 30-minute warm-up at an away game? I guess it means I’m gonna have to keep moving for a good hour leading up the bout.

As weird as this sounds, I really like doing the dishes. That time I spend while I’m standing there washing is some of the only alone time I have to myself where I have a chance to clear my mind and allow it to wander, which usually results in unexpected problem solving among other great things. I hate doing dishes when I feel doing dishes is “expected” of me, and if I feel that way and do them anyhow, I don’t enjoy that time to myself. I do derby because it’s fun and I run because it’s fun too, so like the dishes, I hate when derby and exercise become things I feel like I have to do. Luckily with derby and running, I don’t feel like I “have to do” them as often as I do with the dishes. “After all,” I tell myself, “playing derby’s my hobby and I’m not going to be able to do it forever, so have fun now, don’t let yourself resent it, and have no regrets.” Some days are harder than others.

Today I feel strong. I feel like my abs and core are really supporting the rest of my body, I feel like my legs are strong and muscles have grown, and I feel like I go about my day with my head held higher, not only because my shoulder blades are retracted and my posture is better but because I feel good about what I’ve been doing lately – even if I’ve missed a few runs.

Sometimes you’re truly too busy to wash the dishes, and perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned this week is to not let short-term imperfections bring my progress to a grinding halt. This isn’t all or nothing. Life isn’t all or nothing – in fact, 90% of it is everywhere in between. I’ve had a horrible habit in the past of holding myself up to perfection, and if I falter I allow myself to come crashing down (and in some cases stay down) instead of forgiving myself and getting back in the game, whatever it may be.

In the past at practices if I took an especially hard fall, I might stay down, sit out the rest of the drill, or even leave. On Sunday I took an especially hard (and weird) fall, but without even thinking about it, in one movement, I got right back up and sprinted back to my group! It wasn’t until I heard Mr. Pistol yelling at me, “That’s it, Cindy! You’re working so hard – getting up faster than you went down. You guys are the hardest working group out here today! That’s awesome – keep it up! You are awesome!” Hearing those words and realizing my new natural inclination to keep going almost slowed me down right then and there because it was such an “a-ha” moment. I’m not the same person I used to be, and I did that. Along the way I might not have always been perfect, but look what I’ve done – I’ve kept going and it’s paid off.

Now, if only I could apply the dedication I have to derby to the dishes. Tomorrow I’ll start by opening the kitchen door, and I’ll try not completely give up on my homemaking skills if my hands don’t see the dish soap for the next few days. Palmolive, take me away!

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