Did you know that there are really only three stages of age? There’s Youth. Middle-age. And “Hey, you’re lookin’ pretty good!”
A poor little three-letter word that’s so often treated as a four. A word that congers up soo much emotion – and gets soo much rejection.
But hey, let’s not feel too sorry for it.
I mean, it does do some mean things.
And it rhymes with mean little words like rage and cage. But ohh, it also rhymes with sage and page…as in, maybe, just keep turnin’ em?
I’m well aware of the reactions. So much so, that I look for alternative ways to say “it” while I’m teaching or coaching. For example, I like to say, “Such and such tends to occur as time goes on.” (Wink-wink, and not ‘as we age’.)
But friends, we need to resist hitting the panic or punish button, OK? And just get a grip on ourselves.
Look, we all need reality-checks, and sometimes maybe even a checkup from the neck up!
A few months ago, I hired for myself a counselor, a nutritionist, and a Crossfit coach. You see, I was turning the big 5-O, and I wanted to get myself into a better place of self-control, strength, and discipline (but nothing too crazy, mind you)!
I set a goal and entered The Ms. Cincinnati Natural Figure Competition (historically, the longest running show of its kind.)
In my youth, I was an accomplished light-weight bodybuilder and held numerous overall titles. Now that I am ‘middle-aged’, things are a little different (oh hell, they are a lot different)!
They put me in the Masters category (but hey, thank God it wasn’t labeled Seniors, right)?
I placed third. Felt pretty grateful…not for the trophy, but that I did it… and trained without strain or injury.
The Best Part
Best part – I found some treasures within myself that I had misplaced, chucked away, or never even had before.
Soo, not bad for a middle-aged woman, right?
But… do you know what?!
I think I overheard a few people in the audience saying,
Here’s some empathy for you… because I struggle at times, too.
But, I have more for you.
A dialogue between us and apathy.
US: I really need to start focusing on my health.
APATHY: Well, it probably won’t happen, or help much, anyway.
US: I must improve my health because my life depends on it.
APATHY: You’ve tried before, but ‘cha always fail.
US: At least, I’ll feel better about myself and have more energy.
APATHY: Well, good luck with that. I’m just gonna go take a nap.
Just a Character
We all remember, Eeyore, right?
He’s the character in Winnie-The-Pooh.
He comes to mind when I think on this topic.
Here’s one of his more infamous quotes.
“End of the road. Nothin’ to do. And no hope of things getting better.”
(Heck, that sounds like Saturday night at my house!) Ugh, sound familiar? Hope not… but I get it.
Now, I’m no doctor, so I’m not trying to diagnose anyone.
But, if that sounds like the inner-dialogue in your head, you just may be suffering from a case of…
The Eeyore Syndrome
Okay, sure, Eeyore was cute.
But c’mon, what a sad lil guy, right?
A real pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey type.
So, of course, we don’t want to emulate him. I mean, that would make us a jackass!
The other day, I saw a guy sporting a t-shirt that read, Fight Apathy… or don’t.
Well, that’s the spirit, was my first thought! But then, I realized the ironic humor. My second thought was… uhhh, but what if we are too far gone? I mean, true apathy might interfere with the fight, right?
We can imagine that there are a myriad of factors (some medical or mental health related) that play into apathy, which makes each personal case intricate and complicated, of course.
If we can’t fight apathy, it may indicate that we are too apathetic about even being apathetic. Some believe that it’s always a choice, no matter what condition we are in. Yet, others can feel quite the contrary.
Here’s an example from one end of the camp. I saw this meme the other day on social media.
“Apathy is the overrated protection of that rock you’re hiding under.” Anonymous.
OUCH! I don’t know about you, but statements like that make me squirm (and maybe yell little bit).
Before we get all up-in-arms, we must consider the source of that quote -signed, “Anonymous.” Really?! Maybe the author is doing a bit of “hiding”, also, ah? Ugh, I suppose we are all guilty of it.
To be fair, sure, there are elements of truth regarding that quote. I’ll admit to feeling a pang of conviction… and the guilt in me groaned a lil bit.
Carl Jung talked about apathy.
He said, “There can be no transforming of darkness into light and apathy into movement without emotion.”
This hit me right in the heart of MY matter! It spoke both sense and encouragement to me. Inspiration was obviously knocking – and I welcomed it in.
Upon reading his wise words, I grabbed a piece of paper in hand.
Do This Exercise
Took immediate action… because I didn’t want to have the moment pass me by. I drew a vertical line down the center of the blank page.
One side represented the list of areas in my life where I needed movement and improvement.
The opposing side represented the areas where I felt a healthy degree of success. (I needed this to keep my confidence and self-respect in balance before listing the apathetic areas.)
I tell clients to take a lil compassion before taking big action.
This way, we propel from a positive place, rather than from a place of punishment.
Take baby steps forward. Though the pace may be slow.. and a bit wobbly, eventually you get where you want to go.
May I encourage you to take-to-the-page along with me? Do remember to be humble, brave, and gentle, too. Accept mercy and movement, simultaneously.
Sometimes, just “seeing and hearing” yourself in writing makes an important impact. More than that, it can be a turning point and the beginning of greatness.
Joe Pilates admonished us by saying that every moment of our lives can be the beginning of great things.
A Final Word
Remember that guy’s apathy t-shirt? I’d rather sport a tee that reads.. “Fight apathy…AND CONQUER!”
This is what I like to say to someone when I am introducing them to the Pilates Principles of alignment and posture.
Basic Pilates Principals
I organize their bodies to find the correct form – in terms of how to stand, sit, kneel, and recline – all in good alignment without strain.
I start at the foundation – which is the feet – and work from the ground to the crown.
Did you know that Leonardo da Vinci said that the human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art? Ahh, so true! The human foot is a wonder to behold – and yet is seldom told.
Our wonderful (and sometimes under appreciated) feet do so much for us. We take them for granted… until they have pain or create tales of woe elsewhere in the body.
It behooves us to not just make their acquaintance, but to really bond with our feet. Think of the feet as the ‘boots on the ground’. As in, they are the first line of defense against ‘attacks’ of compression and collapse.
The Human Foot
The human foot has so much to do with our overall skeletal support. For example; our spine, hips, and knees greatly rely upon them. Literally so.
In addition to all that, our feet naturally help to stabilize our coordinated balance. And they are endowed with tremendous pain and sensory perceptions – more than any other area in the body.
Wow! Think of the feet as organic high-tech devices!
The “Foundation” of Pilates
Joe Pilates, being a physical therapist and the founder of the Pilates Method (originally called Contrology) understood that the human foot was a key foundation of the body’s support system. He likened it to the foundation of a building. In that, if it isn’t structurally sound, then the entire integrity of the building is compromised.
Of course, it’s the overall CORE of the body which sealed the deal for the ultimate support. I teach that the ‘core’ is everything but the limbs, basically, from the bottom to the brain.
So may I say to you, MEET YOUR FEET!
* Stand or sit, recognizing three natural weight-bearing centers of each foot. * Perceive both sides of the ball, and the center of your heel.
* Loosen, lengthen, and spread toes
* Notice how you are distributing your body weight.
* Balance evenly as though you have a tripod of three suction cups under each foot.
And then … don’t live down there.
Imagine energy is rising from your ground and surging thru the crown – lifting upward and beyond.
It’s been said that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Seems lofty… can you feel it?