Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Coming Out of Hibernation

I want to be honest here.  I haven’t moved in almost a year.  Last June I had an operation and prior to my surgery I swam or walked almost daily.  Then the surgery and a myriad of other circumstances.  My response was to eat mindlessly and to not move.  I did not literally sit for a year, but I didn’t include movement in my lifestyle.  I didn’t walk.  I didn’t swim.  I didn’t do the movement that gets my temperature up and my endorphins going.  I get why I chose to do what I did.  And I am not guilting myself because of the choice.  It is what I chose.  Today I am at a point where I am beginning to choose differently.  I am waking up from a long year’s sleep. 

Of all of the domains for living (emotional, physical, mental and spiritual), I am the least familiar and comfortable in the physical domain.  I connect to others and to my feelings.  I use my mind to create and to think through complicated scenarios.   I consider myself spiritual (although not particularly religious) and find comfort and inspiration in connecting with nature and a God who is greater than I.  Movement, exercise, feeling grounded in my body—well, all are areas that are less than comfortable.  That part of me is the part that always is the first to go to sleep and the last to wake up.

Yet, there is this gnawing.  Is it a stretch and yawning out of sleep?  A beginning movement from rem sleep to awake?   I have felt it occasionally in this last year’s sleep, a distant pressing, almost like a hunger pang, hungering for a deeper touch with my body.  I mostly ignore it and sometimes it catches me by surprise, asking me to pay attention.  This body connection happens for me with movement.  I know it.  And it is so easy to ignore.

This gnawing pressed stronger as I read a recent Facebook post of Anne Lamott’s.   She was turning 61 in two days when she posted her writing.  (I am currently 61, too.)  She wrote, in list form (14 things) that are the total of all she knows.   Number 13 hit me hard:

13. Exercise: If you want to have a good life after you have grown a little less young, you must walk almost every day. There is no way around this. If you are in a wheelchair, you must do chair exercises. Every single doctor on earth will tell you this, so don't go by what I say.

The gnawing is calling me yawning, stretching out of hibernation.  I want to live a good life.  And I have but one life.  My body houses all of the domains of which I find most fulfillment.  It houses the center where I make emotional connections.  It houses my mind and my creativity.  It houses my spirit.  I let it go to sleep and want it to wake up.   I want to move my body and honor it with the care it deserves.  I want it to join the rest of me—fully alive and awake.

I live in Rochester, NY.  It is a cold country (another excuse for hibernation, I might add).  We are in late April and daffodils are just beginning to bloom.  Today’s high is 54.  And on April 1 my pool opened.  There are the hearty among us who relish swimming in the cold.  I have been yawning and thinking about #13—not one among the hearty.  

Until today.  To begin the waking up, I donned my suit today and began my swimming regime.  The water warm and the air cool enveloped me as I waded into the wet, my body woken by a light breeze and chlorinated water.   I began slowly.  Length after length of breaststroke, pulling the water to push me forward…again and again and again.   The blue of sky and water buoyed me, cheering me as I touched the pool perimeter to turn around and begin my next length.

Energy begets energy,  so they say.  I have to say, only 10 lengths later, I feel energized.  I also feel a bit sore.  The effect of no movement interacting with movement.  I am so happy that today I chose to move.  I want to build up and get better at this.  And I want to be more in my physical domain.  I am excited.  I am stretching my way out of hibernation.

Is the gnawing turning into a yearning?  I am not sure.  But today, I made a movement toward movement.   Followed, yet again, by choice for movement tomorrow.  One stroke at a time.   I don’t want to go back to sleep.  Today I came out of hibernation and I want to stay awake.


  1. "The effect of no movement interacting with movement. I am so happy that today I chose to move. I want to build up and get better at this. And I want to be more in my physical domain. I am excited. I am stretching my way out of hibernation."

    This is beautiful. Once again you inspire. I, too, have not moved much at all. And you are helping me to put those sneakers on today. Thank you. xx

  2. This resonates with me. I find lots of excuses not to move, yet when I do, I am always glad I did. I recently read an daily meditation that spoke of exercise and how we honor God when we honor our bodies and take care of them. Another good reason to add to your list.

  3. Love the extended metaphor of hibernation. I'm glad you are waking up.

  4. I enjoyed hearing your thinking about this, and can see why Anne LaMotte's words could spur you to action. I love these words, Deborah: "I am stretching my way out of hibernation," the idea of waking up seems quite real to me.

  5. Good morning, Deb! Thanks for sharing. I very much relate and do enjoy when it warms up and I can add outdoor walking to my yoga routine! (and, yes, we have a very good excuse to hibernate when it's as cold as it's been this winter!). I'm glad you're being gentle and understanding with yourself as you move toward movement! I am cheering you on!! (and 10 lengths is no small feat!)

  6. I, too, sometimes find it hard to get moving. But once I do, I never regret it! I call it walking in the world...there's so much going on outside our minds/our homes. There's a great big world out there to immerse ourselves in. Sounds like you've been protecting yourself, somehow. As someone who was very sick this past year and couldn't move much or exercise at all, I very much appreciate being able to do any kind of movement at all. Baby steps!

  7. I think so many of us can relate ... we just "fill in our own blank" of an excuse. I bought new running shoes to motivate me ... they sit, unused, for a month ... or two. I hope this first day of awakening provides you with many more days of healthy movement and nourishment for your body!

  8. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing my OLW stretch pop up throughout this post. It reminds me to stretch myself in new ways. Good luck as you begin moving and be patient with yourself on this journey.