"I often wonder how you can find time for what you do, in addition to the care of the house; and how good Mrs. West could have written such books and collected so many hard works, with all her family cares, is still more a matter of astonishment. Composition seems to me impossible with a head full of joints of mutton and doses of rhubarb."~Jane Austen in a letter to her sister Cassandra, 1816

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mind vs. Body

“It’s so cold in here tonight! Are you guys cold?”

There’s no answer from the upper-middle-aged women (and one man) lying on their sides doing leg circles in the rec center activities room.

“We have to finish these warm-up exercises so we can warm ourselves up already!”

From the bivouac of my yoga mat I had not noticed that the room is slightly chilly. I could be on a beach blanket.

I pulled out my yoga mat and block a couple days ago. After another tearful breakdown last week, hubby identified the source of my malaise: no exercise. I’ve of course been consumed with caring for Baby since he was born three months ago. Actually, I can’t say I’ve been consumed with Baby. I’ve been consumed with managing our new family dynamic; I’ve been frantically trying to adapt to how our newest member has changed our relationships, and most importantly, our schedules.

I’ve also been consumed with writing. (Can a person be consumed with more than one thing at once?) I can’t remember ever feeling as compelled to do something as I lately have felt compelled to write. I’ve been sneaking off to the computer during any spare moment, cramming words in like forkfuls of the decadent German chocolate cake I ordered for hubby’s birthday. It’s exciting that I finally am doing what I have dreamed of doing. It’s exciting that I finally feel compelled to write, like I guessed I would if I were to ever really “become a writer.” Childcare and writing – only – do not a happy Laura make, though.

Part of the problem is I’m not taking care of my body. People say I look fantastic. I’ve lost all my pregnancy weight, but I’m very weak. Both knees feel like they are about to give way. I have a condition called patella femoral syndrome. It may be due to too much diapering while kneeling on the floor - or poor anatomy. No matter. I desperately need to strengthen my leg muscles so I started a two-week trial membership at the rec center that is just about a mile from our house. There’s a yoga class on Monday and Wednesday nights and Pilates on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“Just go,” hubby said when I questioned whether he could put all the kids down to bed himself.

At the end of my class I’m lying on my mat trying to think about nothing as my instructor spritzes the air with the scent of lavender.


Back in my car I feel better than I have in months, perhaps since before my pregnancy. I feel refreshingly light-headed. My yoga breathing has brought new air into my body. I am filled with “breath.”

I took a hiatus from writing last weekend. An essay I wrote was selected to be published on a website, but once I was notified I no longer felt confident that I was ready for the piece to be publically consumed. I had used a real event involving myself and another person as a device for communicating my message and realized that I did not feel comfortable with how the other person would interpret the essay. After talking with the person and considering the situation for several days I realized that the piece didn’t need to include the event in question. I had included it by way of shorthand. For a quick emotional impact. Through better crafting, I could have communicated my message without including it.

I had lost perspective. Why am I writing anyway? I only mean to write things which ultimately may be helpful to someone. I do not mean for my writing to be a cheap form of psychotherapy.

I have struggled with the idea that writing is too passive of an occupation. That’s partly why I didn’t go into journalism or magazine writing when I graduated from college. I wanted to do real things in the real world. Help people.

I’m going to continue thinking about how I should be using this precious time of my kids’ young childhood, of my young motherhood and wifehood, of my mid-thirties. Should I be using this time to write? If so, what?

In the meantime, I’m working out. I need a breath of fresh air.

1 comment:

  1. Your yoga class sounds like it was heaven. Go back. I'm salivating over the day baby boy is old enough for the jogging stroller. Walking's not quite cutting it for me anymore! I'm still struggling to find a way to exercise without baby boy, but without anyone to leave him with during the day, and I'm way too exhausted at night, it's a no-go at the moment. But if there were a suitable nighttime yoga class, I'd be there!