Day 6 of 365 Tiny Changes
I woke up this morning feeling like a princess. Not just any princess, mind you, but one specific princess. The one from the fairy tale of the Princess and the Pea.
Not as she was at the end of the tale, either. The story starts something like this...
It’s a dark and stormy night and a bedraggled waif, soaked to the skin, appears upon the steps of the local, available, prince. The mother-in-law-to-be, decides she wants to test the metal of the poor girl, by putting her to bed upon 20 mattresses and 20 feather beds.
As if just getting on and off such a high bed weren’t enough of a test, in the ways of fairy tale mother-in-laws, she also places a pea underneath this pile of bedding.
(I have to stop the tale here to give you some background on my thinking. When I first heard this story, at the age of 5 or 6, my experience with peas was limited. The only kind I knew of were the soft ones from a can. So when I heard the mean old woman had placed a pea under all that stuff, I didn’t understand why she wanted to mush a pea so badly, and make such a mess.)
Moving along. The Princess wakes up feeling bruised and un-rested, from sleeping on 20 mattresses, 20 feather beds, and a mushed pea. What a delicate flower she was to feel so badly, after sleeping on such soft bedding...
That is the place where I begin living the fairy tale/nightmare.
I don’t sleep on nearly as much bedding as that other princess, but my bed is one of those foam filled, can’t spill a glass of wine, even when your jumping on the bed, mattresses. When I first lay down at night if feels like I’m in heaven.
At some point during the night, some old biddy must sneak a pea under my mattress. I am more educated in the ways of peas now and know that they also come in a hard as a pebble version.
This morning I actually looked under my mattress for that damned hard little pea. It wasn’t there.
At what point did sleeping turn painful? Nobody warned me that this might be a possibility as I turned 50. What? Is it supposed to be some closely held secret or something? Is the AARP, afraid that society may choose not to turn 50, and not pay their dues, because they can’t get a restful nights sleep after that?
I am totally OK with the whole turning older thing. In my head. My body, unfortunately is not nearly as thrilled with the event.
In fact, I think my body is holding a mutiny against me. I don’t know why.
OK, I’m lying. I do know why.
I have to admit that I have not treated it with the respect and dignity it deserves. I truly expected it to want to hang in there with me to the ripe old age of 102, without so much as a peep of disagreement. Silly me.
Over the last 50 years, I have abused and neglected my body by ignoring it, and then feeling guilty for such behavior. To fix the problem, I abused and pushed it some more to get back into shape. This cycle, done over and over, didn’t really accomplish much more than giving my body a voice. Some days a very loud voice. The very loud voice of pain.
As I get older I also realize that when my body talks to me the loudest, is when I have to do the most counter intuitive behavior I can think of. Reverse psychology taken to a whole new level.
When I wake up and my foot hurts so much I can hardly put any weight on it, the only thing that makes it feel better is to put weight on it and walk. In a few minutes, the pain is gone.
When I wake up and my ribs hurt like I’ve slept on a hard vegetable all night, and all I want to do is hug it close and not move, the best thing to do is lots of elongating, high reaching, stretches. In a few minutes, the pain is gone.
When I wake up with a back that hurts so much I don’t want to move, and I start thinking maybe today might be a movie marathon day of bed rest, the best thing to do is get up and get moving. After a while, and a nice hot shower, the pain is gone.
I also have tennis elbow. I have no idea why. I haven’t played tennis for 30 years. I wasn’t so bad my elbow has to punish me for it, now. I thought my coach took care of that back then. I haven’t come up with the counter intuitive behavior to cure that one, yet. Really, how many choices do I have, bend the elbow, don’t bend the elbow...still hurts, either way. I’m sure I’ll figure it out eventually.
So here’s the thing. I do plan to live for another 52 years. In order to do this, my body and my brain will have to come to some sort of mutual understanding. In other words, they will have to learn to get along. I can’t wake up with my body screaming every day. No princess could stand that for 52 years with out some sort of intervention from a fairy godmother.
I don’t have a fairy godmother handy, so I’m on my own to figure it out.
With the intention of being kinder and gentler to myself, I am not going to get back into shape by training for a marathon or anything that would send my body into a permanent screaming fit. I am going to work on appreciating my body for all of its hard work.
Tiny Change 6: Ten minutes of gently stretching exercises each morning. Along with some gentle cat like stretches throughout the day, especially the days I’m stuck in front of the computer.
Maybe, with enough gentle love and understanding, my body and brain can come to a lovely fairy tale like agreement and I can live happily ever after.