Sunday, April 12, 2020

Defining Confidence, Word of the Day: Adaptability

I didn’t want to face another home workout this weekend, but I’m trying to keep up on things and I don’t want to get into the habit of letting the workouts slide just because I feel glum and doom-laden and overworked. I figured I needed something a little different. I fired up YouTube on the TV and browsed a few “dance workouts”--most of which involved a lot of stomping, which neither my knee nor my downstairs neighbor would appreciate. There was a “sexy vixen” dance workout but it wasn’t very challenging and I didn’t even break a sweat after ten minutes. Then I decided maybe I just needed a little motivation, so I clicked on something called “Gym Motivation,” which turned out to be a horrifying montage of giant tattooed men dead lifting with heavy chains around their necks, skinny sprinters, and extreme sports people doing their stupid Crossfit or whatever they do, accompanied by the most annoying, cliche-ridden narration on the planet. I lasted about one minute with that one. I finally came across “Belly Dance for Absolute Beginners.”

Way back in the day I would take belly dance classes on the reg, but it never sank in and I finally just gave up. I really wanted to be good at it and I practiced diligently, but it was totally non-intuitive to my body and no matter how hard I tried, the core concept of doing the Figure 8 with my hips just did not scan in my brain. My spacial visualization has been broken since birth, and the idea of “drawing” this figure with my hips tripped me up to the point that I never progressed because I just could not get that brain-body connection going no matter what I did. The Figure 8 mocked me, hovering above my head as a shimmering 3-D vision, but never sinking through my body and settling into my hips. The video instructor broke the moves down a little differently and I was actually able to pull some of them off after only a little practice. But I also think that all of the lifting and working with the trainer (I miss Akida!) has re-wired my neurology so that I am far more connected to my physicality than I ever have been before. I’ve had a year of practice now of regularly learning new physical things and adapting my body to them. It seems to have made a difference in the speed at which I can pick up on new stuff now. I’ve noticed this with the home work-out videos too—it’s much easier for me to learn a new compound move or a new type of squat than I think it would have been a year ago.

And then there is the element of confidence, which, to my eternal befuddlement, Akida harped on about with me constantly. To me, “confidence” was always an ephemeral idea, one of those concept words that didn’t really mean anything on a practical level. I didn’t know how to get it or show it and I certainly didn’t know how to fake it, although I probably tried a few times. But weirdly, I think I have more of it now. I still can’t really describe it, but if I had to, I would say it is a feeling of strength and a feeling of internal balance, a feeling of calm and a feeling of readiness.

After about thirty minutes of belly dance my arms were longing to lift something heavy, so I went back to the dumbbells. The pretty stuff is fun, but I like lifting heavy things more. There is something very direct, simple and elemental about heavy lifting that speaks to me. I need that sense in my life now more than ever.

Things at the hospital continue to be in a state of preparedness coupled with constant change. It’s not chaos—I don’t want to alarm anyone. We are very prepared. But it is a stressful for environment for everyone right now and information changes and evolves by the hour, so it we are in constant reactive mode. My well-ordered world is gone, the familiar rhythms of my regular job have been obliterated, and I continue to adapt to ever-changing circumstances in an environment where fear is palpable. It’s exhausting, and I don’t know what is to be on the other side of this. The Word of the Day is “adaptability.”

Stay well, my friends, and please reach out to me if you need any support, especially if you are struggling with loneliness in quarantine. (I know I gripe about extroverts, but the truth is I love you guys!)

Mr. Typist was a bit crestfallen when I turned off the belly dancing video (the instructor was quite fetching), so here’s one for him. I do not know how she gets her chest to do that. Enjoy!

--Kristen McHenry

1 comment: said...

Very uplifting, motivating post, Kristen. And the video was definitely a rumbling chestful!