“Exercising with a friend, learning about life, and getting rather soar”
Chelsea and I have worked out every night this week once I have gotten the kids in bed. We do thirty minutes of kickboxing which I jokingly call, “Hard yoga” and twenty to thirty minutes of yoga after and then somehow this works out to being an hour and a half… I’m kidding. Let’s just say we go for at least 40 minutes, but can go for 90 depending on our mood and commitment level. Also, my ass is soar.
We have been doing yoga together on Monday’s for about two months now. However, now she lives with my parents and me, so we randomly decided to go for every night together this week. Sunday was the first night I introduced her to “Hard yoga” aka “Kickboxing.” She had taken to yoga naturally because of her basketball and cheerleader training. Evidently, she wasn’t allowed to be a cheerleader, but her cousin cheered competitively in highs school and college and taught her stuff. It was enough she retained a gracefulness in her movements as well as a lot of innate flexibility. I figured she would catch on to kickboxing just as easily as she did yoga, and I was correct. In fact, there are a few strength moves she does better than me… “Shh! Don’t tell—I’m competitive.”
Last night she was waiting for me to get the kids in bed and eating pasta when I walked into the kitchen after having a short discussion with my mom in the other room regarding life which was rather sweet. However, there is no need to repeat it here.
I walked into the kitchen and greeted Chelsea to find my kids watching, The Night Mirror Before Christmas with my dad. “Dad! This movie is scary.” (My kids are six and seven.) He turned around and smiled at me with his mischievous smile.
I shrugged, “I suppose it is important someone introduce them to stuff which will scare them at night.”
He nodded with the sentiment, “That’s right! They love it. Look at Andrew, he is hooked.”
I would have waited for that movie until they were a little older, I thought, but whatever. Chelsea added to the conversation, “My older brother absolutely loved this movie. However, I always thought it was just because we weren’t allowed to watch it.”
“I do notice boys tend to resonate with this movie more than girls. However, there is a lot of truth in what is forbidden being the most desirable. Mark Twain has a quote where he says of course Eve ate the apple because God made it forbidden. God should have made the snake forbidden, and then she would have eaten the snake.”
Chelsea laughed and said, “Pretty much…”
My mom came into the kitchen next with an announcement, “Jeanie is breaking up with her boyfriend.”
I was interested, “Oh, why is that?”
“Evidently he is extremely good-looking, but a bit of mess.”
I looked over at Chelsea and smiled conspiratorially, “Now, we can absolutely never be friends her and I. What kind of priorities are that? It is just wrong to go against nature and what you find attractive and use your brain in a situation.”
My mom thought, “He is handsome. However, he is balding already. I feel like the age difference would be weird since Janie is only 19.”
I scoffed, “I knew there was more to this story. He isn’t as attractive as she made out, or she wouldn’t have been able to be so logical. Nevertheless, guys that age hit on me all the time mom. The age difference doesn’t seem to occur to them.”
“You aren’t balding!”
Dad laughed, “She isn’t yet anyway…” (Thanks Dad I thought, honestly, I almost said the same thing because it is funny. Sometimes Dad says my line for me because we are similar enough.) I simply laughed as my family became engaged in The Night Mirror Before Christmas Together.
I looked at Chelsea, “You ready girl? (Actually, I got the kids in bed first—and then asked this question, but that is a boring part of the story unless you would like me to take you through how they responded to Dr. Seuss.)
She looked a little unsure, but she rolls with most of my ideas and followed me out to the shed.
Once we got out to the shed I shared my predicament with her, “My ass is soar.”
She laughed and shared hers, “My legs are soar too.”
“That makes me happy. We will get our bodies sculpted together. Even though I do yoga every day, I go harder with you than I would go by myself. However, honestly… I’m a little bit soar everywhere. It is good for me.” I turned on my electronic swing playlist as she had taken a bit of liking to the style and, we began running once I turned on the space heaters.
As we were running I asked, “So what are you going to wear to the Christmas party?”
She rolled her head back and groaned, “So, I honestly wasn’t going to go until I moved in with you guys. However, now I have to go. I went into Ross and found only one dress that would have worked for the Christmas party, but when I tried it on, it didn’t look good.”
“You’re the receptionist! You have to go to the Christmas party because you are the face of the company who greets everyone. Also, I’m glad you understand it would be an insult to my family if you didn’t come. Mom and I can find a dress for you to wear between us. I'm sure we have on which will work”
I noticed her body relax as she ran. “That would be wonderful. I don’t want to have to buy a dress to only wear once.” I personally have never understood this rule. I have dresses I wear to lots of different events I have warn to the Christmas party. I also have dresses I have warn to the Christmas party more than once. However, she is a fashionista and would ascribe to this rule. Although, I don’t have any dresses from Ross… so, maybe I wouldn’t re-use them until I they are warn if I paid less.
“Why don’t you feel comfortable going to the Christmas party?”
“Talking to all the people in a different environment makes me uncomfortable, and I don’ know where I belong. I’ll probably just say hi to everyone and leave.”
“You are going to be sitting with me. You don’t have a choice. So, you know where you belong now.”
She smiled, “Thanks, I feel a lot better knowing I’ll sit with you.”
“You know, typically I just tell my friends like you to go have a glass of wine and chill out the anxiety. However, I can’t very well advise you in that manner since you are in AA. I suppose you will have to deal with you discomfort a healthy way and actually deal with it. Yet, I’ll be there with you.” Frick, I thought, if she is with me… I probably won’t feel like I can drink either. Oh well, she is worth being uncomfortable together with there. We shall see…
“I have decided I will have a Shirley Temple.”
“That is a great idea. You can enjoy what you are drinking, but not have the alcohol in it.” I felt temporarily disappointed at the fact I might also be drinking one of those too…
“Some years they dance. I prefer the dancing Christmas parties because I can just dance and not talk to people. However, I think this year is gambling and you win Christmas baskets with your earnings.”
“I don’t know how to gamble.” She looked afraid.
“That won’t be a problem. We will follow Dad around the casino area. He will enjoy teaching us.” I pondered what I would wear. I have this red twenties flapper dress with red silk gloves I had warn to one previously three years back. My ex had made fun of me for going with a different era. However, it was a huge hit like I thought it would be. The twenties and casinos go together. Nor can the ostentatious of the woman who shows up in a bright red dress and gloves be undervalued. I also have a red velvet dress and a plaid red short skirt that both would be fun with the right pair of boots… I would have fun with whatever I did. I always enjoy dressing for the party. I might go all out this year and wear a flapper headband with the dress and gloves and find myself a boa and vintage looking cigarette holder to carry around with me between the tables. I’m moody, so it will depend on which mood possesses me that morning. Perhaps also how much I want the red-head kid to notice me or not… Yet, I’m also capable of showing up and wanting every freaking person there to notice me… as I said, I’m moody.
Chelsea responded, “I think it would be fun to learn.” I nodded in agreement.
“Go get your boxing gloves, we are ready to start hitting the bag.” I told her. “The ones with purple on them are yours I have decided.” I took her through rhythms of left jabs, right jabs, and left, right, and then right, left. She always bounces with the music which makes me happy since it makes our rhythm the same.
“Hey, I think you are ready to learn how to do knees today. The idea is you hold the top of the bag and come in with your left foot forward and nail the middle, lower part of the bag with your right knee. I’ll show you, then watch you do it.” I demonstrated.
I watched her. She was not relaxed. There was way too much tension in her upper shoulders for her to snap powerfully enough with her knee. “I want you to take your right hand and lean against the bag like me.” I looked back at her to make sure she was copying, “Good, see how I’m here just chilling. Let’s pretend to smoke. I’m resting against the wall with my right arm and smoking with my left hand as CHILL as it gets (I pretended to pass a cigarette between my fingers and watch smoke float away), THEN…. BAM—you nail the person.” I looked back at her, “See, if you are smoking somewhere, and some guy comes and is causing trouble for you, you now know how to look real casual before you snap a knee into his balls and run screaming.”
She started laughing hard, “This is great and perfect for me.”
I smiled. “Not that you would ever be smoking anywhere since good AA girls don’t smoke.”
“No, never.” She replied as she pretended to smoke and then nail the bag with her knee.
We then drilled through some roundhouse kicks, lunges, squats, and front kicks. The kind of behavior which is why my ass is soar.
She spoke, “I had been wondering why my legs are so soar. This is why! The lunges!”
“Yes,” I replied, “It is good for us!”
We finished and transitioned into yoga. We have been specifically working holding headstands which is a lot of fun to do with another person. It is especially fun if you face plant and swear or accidentally land on the other person. It is all together good bonding. Headstands are also the most scientifically proven to release stress. So, they are good for us also since we both ended bad relationships.
I announced, “We are going to do something new at the end today. I’m going to take you through relaxation pose and breathing. Deep yoga breaths which actually expand your belly and move your rib cage are fantastic for helping your body to release stress.” I threw myself onto the floor to be dramatic as if dead and then rolled into relaxation pose with my palms up, and she followed.
I talked her through a relaxation technique I had learned in advanced acting class in high school. I had this crazy, hippy teacher who seemed like he was still living in the sixties who taught it to us. We went through the process of drawing attention to main areas of the body and relaxing it as well as focusing on deep breathing. I felt my body begin to enter a state of deeper relaxation and figured she was there also based on her breathing.
“Okay, now dear. I want you to think back to a memory where you felt the most fully you. It could be something you did or accomplished. However, in this moment you need to feel fully alive. When you find it I want you to tell me three words to describe it.” I waited for her words.
“Creative, fulfilled, achieving something I didn’t know I could do.” She let out a sigh.
“Lovely, now… if you feel like you can, I want you to tell me any part of the memory you feel comfortable sharing.” Again, I waited.
“It was the first time I ever made something using carpentry. I constructed a little coffee table from wood which had belonged to a window. I felt so creative and proud because I was able to figure out how to do it on my own.” She smiled, but she also seemed a little uncomfortable.
“Good. I want you to say this after me now: I am creative, hopeful, and worthy because that is how God sees me. In this moment, it is also how I see me.” She repeated, and I saw tears stream down the side of her face.
“That is you Chelsea. You are creative, hopeful, and worthy. I want you to tell yourself these three things when your mind starts telling you that you are not enough. You have felt you are these things. It is the Devil which takes away the beauty God created you to be.” I watched as even more tears streamed down her face.
I changed to me so she wouldn’t feel embarrassed, “My moment was in college. I was in Ceramics 101. Have you seen the mermaid platter in your bathroom? I made that in my ceramics class. However, the moment which stands out to me is when I went in and picked up the clay one day. I said to myself, “I am going to sculpt a mermaid.” I didn’t look at anything for reference. Somehow, she was just in me. I felt my soul connect with the clay and over the course of a few days—I had sculpted a mermaid which looked like a mermaid. I thought she was lovely. In this moment I felt: capable, creative, and good enough. My ex tried to take those things from me. However, they belong to me because God created me to be those things. I am capable, creative, and good enough.”
She smiled and said, “I saw the platter and thought maybe you had created it because something about it remind me of you. It seems like what you would create. It is also funny because you go into people’s homes and find artifacts from what their kids have created and think it is nice. However, I looked at your platter and knew someone in the family created it but also thought- wow, that is really good. I mean like—actually good”
“Thank you. It makes me happy to know you were able to see me in what I made.” It truly was gratifying.
She titled her head and looked thoughtful, “I am struggling to believe those things about myself right now. I know in Christ we are supposed to have freedom, but I feel like all I know how to do is struggle.”
“There is the verse: “If the son has set you free—you are free in deed.” You have your salvation. However, on this earth there is suffering. You have suffered, but I think there is also peace available for you also. I was a believer the entire time I was married. Yet, I was so lonely, and I didn’t feel free. I feel free now living as me, but it came after suffering. I think, sometimes we have to suffer to understand how to be free. I don’t think you should feel condemnation because you struggle. You are struggling now, but I believe you will also come to a place of peace because you are making positive choices.” She looked like she was trying not to cry again, so I took her hand and we prayed.
I continued, “You know, the hardest thing for me in this was losing my place of belonging. My husband treated me terrible. However, I lost my sense of belonging when I left him because I was rejected by my church, some family, some friends, and I broke up my family nuclear family. I was accepted back here at home, and I have rebuilt where I belong at work, Bible study, and in my friendships now and it creates a sense of peace to know where I belong. I truly think there is something associated with feeling a sense of belonging and peace. Hey, you know what? We are defining a sense of belonging when we do yoga together as friends.”
“I was just thinking about that with AA. There is a sense of belonging I have there. However, I don’t want my only sense of belonging to be with other X addicts. I’m glad I have your family, and you also right now. When a bunch of people who have been addicts get together and hang out, it can be trouble. That is why I want my sponsor to have a lot of years of sobriety and be much older.”
“I get that. It why I chose a Bible study with a bunch of older adults. I didn’t want to get hit on because it was a place of healing for me. I don’t mind getting hit on at work. However, it would feel invasive at Bible Study where I need to feel safe.”
“So true! Who wants to be learning and processing with vulnerability and have to be like—hey you, just no. It isn’t going to happen.”
“Right? Then, there is the other factor of I don’t want a really good Christian boy to be the next person I date right now. A belief in God is good since that is what I believe—so Christian or Catholic ideally. However, my Ex was such a jerk about sex. He made me feel undesirable and like it was wrong to want to wear lingerie or look sexy. I’m not a skank, I am not sleeping with someone unless it is a committed, love relationship. However, I want my next man to like sex and not think it is wrong. I also don’t want the Bible shoved down my throat to try to control me. I think God loves us with a love which draws out our best qualities. I am not an expert in what that should like with a man. However, I think there should be able to be freedom and fun in love instead of suppression and repression.”
Chelsea laughed. “I want that for you also. I get wanting to be with someone who is fun. I also have never heard of a guy saying lingerie is bad.”
“Yeah, he was an asshole, and now you have heard of it. It frustrates me because we waited until we were married. I seriously wish I had not done that-- which isn't very Christian. However, I would have gone—had I realized you were such an idiot about this—this is a no go. Instead, I got married and was stuck. It is my second biggest wound after the whole blaming me for my son’s autism thing.”
Chelsea looked contemplative, “There are things I’m glad I learned about living with my boyfriend. I think I moved in with him too soon. However, I learned a lot from the experience.”
“I think that is the best we can do is learn from our mistakes and be better than we were yesterday. Then, when we make them, try not to repeat the same ones too often. Maybe that is part of what it means to live in freedom? The idea of being comfortable with who we are today and not dwelling on the past, but hoping for tomorrow…”
She thought, “I think there is something there.”
I changed the subject, “So, sense my ass is soar… how about just yoga stretching and a movie tomorrow instead? We can go back at it again Sunday night.” I began turning off the heaters and shutting down the shed as I shared my idea.”
She followed, “Let’s do it,” she said. I love that girl. She is up for most anything. In her words, she rolls with it. However, right now, I love her because she is my friend and a real one. It is a blessing to have another real friend in a similar place in life to exercise and discuss these things with--without judgment. #writing #shortstory @ellowrites @ellowriting