Tuesday, March 26, 2013

staying the course minus the carrots

A few weeks back I wrote several journal entries about resilience. I wrote about not feeling as though I have any. Then I wrote about times when I was resilient, and how it took lots of thinking and writing to learn to see resilience in any of my past behaviors. I also wrote about wanting to develop resilience, to become more resilient.

Perhaps the universe does sometimes give us exactly what we want. I am now in, as best I can tell, something like resilience boot camp. Nothing is terrible right now. But everything is also just a little bit not quite right:
  1. I'm finally getting back into the habit of exercise after having that awful Cold to End all Colds and my workouts aren't bad, but they aren't great either. I can feel muscles during and afterward, so that's good. But I feel worn out even while I exercise. I have not had that awesome triumphant badass rockstar experience in ages.
  2. I am working on my dissertation most days. But the work is  s  l  o  w  going, and that is being charitable. Yesterday I spent an hour fixing my template because somehow everything went right-aligned. ?! I am lucky to write a sentence--one sentence--these days. 
  3. All my acts of housewifery take what seems like forever to achieve. Making the bed feels like a morning-long chore. How is it that one person can dirty up so many dishes in one day? How does one cat shed so much hair? 
  4. There has been more (and more varied) social time and it has been taking shapes that are unfamiliar to me. I walk away from this time feeling sort of emotionally sore--not in pain, but as though I've worked some social-emotional muscles and I can feel them. I walk away not quite knowing if I've worked these muscles properly, with good (sustainable, beneficial) form.
I can let go of my worry over my current frazzled state, my fears that I am slipping permanently, and see this state for what it is: Resilience Boot Camp. Maybe I'll put on three pounds that will stick around for a few months. Maybe I won't feel like a rock star in my workouts for a few more months. Maybe I won't write more than a few sentences a day in my dissertation for a few months. Maybe I'll just feel tired and imperfect and behind for a little season. I need to know, to really know, deep in every bone, that that is okay. Every day, by refusing to throw in the towel because I am imperfect, by going through the motions and phoning everything in, I am training myself in resilience. This is hard work and I get to take some credit! I don't have to eat so many cookies or donut holes or chocolates to take credit. I can ease off of that. But I can remind myself that I am kicking butt when it comes to developing resilience. That resilience-development is where I am excelling right now. Every time I make my bed, I get a resilience point. Every time I clean house, do the dishes, mop; every time I bring my lunch; every time I put on nice clothes; every time I don't buy something; sometimes when I do buy something; every time I write one sentence in my dissertation; every time I meditate; every time I do a workout or even just take a walk or warm up or pedal on the stationary bike; every time I refuse to turn down time with friends--all these choices and actions represent ways that I am developing resilience because I do all of them so imperfectly right now and I still have not stopped doing them. I am still dragging myself through each one even though none of them make me feel amazing or awesome or rock star or energetic or relieved. I feel a little behind and worried and disappointed: I want growth to be linear! I want to rock sexy abs! I want to have a perfect shredded body that digests anything I eat on command! I want to have already finished my dissertation and have a job waiting for me! I want to have everything all Figured Out and on display, glossy like a magazine spread.

Right now nothing is bad, nothing is dire. I am not injured. I am not completely stalled. I'm just sluggish. Slow. Easily distracted. Tired. A little sore. Feeling my bones and my age and my worries deeply. If I was in real pain, I would (and should!) stop, rest, and heal. I am not in real pain; I am in minor ache. Proceed with caution, but don't stop moving. I don't want this to be my new forever pace, but I need to see this as an actual pace, and I need to remember to reward myself for movement that is mostly forward. I am going. I have not stalled. I can keep going. It might take a few more cups of coffee, a few more naps, a few more binge-recovery days; it might take a few novels, a massage or two, and a face mask. 

This--and not some glamorous, All Set, shiny, couture fantasy--this is what resilience looks like. It's slogging on and being willing to be ungraceful, inelegant, dirty, a little bloated, tired, frazzled, behind, late, slow, wrong, out of breath, off beat, out of tune, underpracticed, and emotionally disheveled. And doing it again tomorrow. And then the next day. And then, when this season of dishevelment is past, when things are a little shinier, more polished, smoother, faster, and prettier, it means a stronger, more grateful, more joyful core.

There's a fight song in here somewhere, but I'm too tired to write it.