It was a lot like a flying dream, but without the body-shaking, sickening thud after hitting the ground, just before waking up. I don't remember what I was writing, where I was, whether what I'd written was any good…just that I felt free.
Free is a feeling I'm not so used to anymore. Even the freedom of working for myself, the one I was so craving when I lost my job last summer, has felt like a series of crippling limitations lately. I've actually had a hankering for structure lately, for the pushpin confines of a cubicle, a prison of direct deposit and company-sanctioned benefits. Granted, it was a luxury to spend an entire day at home yesterday, celebrating Emaline's one-year anniversary at Eastwood Eden, but maybe la vie bohème is not for me on the whole.
Though I'd like to think I'm making the most of it.
For one: I feel healthy. I've been struggling to get there. I have not been alone.
For the past three months, I've been working with Lisa Browdy, a dear friend and newly minted health coach, toward balance in my life. Food has been my big focus, but she takes this wonderfully holistic approach to everything. Spirituality, relationship, career, physical activity, nourishment…they all have equally important roles in fostering happiness and health. We meet every other week for an hour, and it's something I always look forward to. She's soft spoken and easygoing, practices yoga and writes a column for the newspaper in Oak Park. She threw a latke party over Hanukkah. She sends me recipes and constant motivation. Some of what she teaches is silly; some of the silly stuff works.
I am changed.
Shortly after the new year began, I got together with my favorite Lincoln Square Athletic Club Spinning instructor, Brady, to set fitness goals for myself. Fitness goals. I've never had those.
Goals to lose inches, to get fitter, to be stronger. Each of my three goals has a corresponding reward; the first is a manicure/pedicure, which I won't have had since before Christmas.
I'm going to three or four classes at the gym every week, getting up before the rest of the world wakes to pedal in a dark room for an hour or greet the sunrise with surya namaskar. I'm training to ride 200 miles over two days in July. I'm eating less, for the most part, but when I laid waste to a cupcake from the Sweet Ride food truck this afternoon — parked completely non-accidentally just outside the gym — I felt not an ounce of guilt.
I feel myself slimming, strengthening. My focus is sharpening. It's almost miraculous. But I know it's not. It's just me, with a purpose I've never experienced.
I'd never have had time to commit to these things if I'd been worried about waking up, showering, picking an outfit, fighting the Chicago Transit Authority and making it to my desk on time. No, never have made time. It's pretty easy not to make room. I've been not making room for it for 28 years.
Balance is hard. Leaving room is hard. But not when it becomes habit. And I'm getting there. Forgiveness is a big part of it.
A boy I used to date always joked that he never had to "leave room" for dessert, thanks to an area of his stomach called the "pie hole" reserved for nothing but sweets. It's a notion I firmly believe in to this day.
I also like to imagine there's an area in my mind where I store the creative energy I use just for this kind of writing — the flying kind of writing.
There are a lot of things screaming for my attention and energy.
After a couple of months struggling to fill my days, I'm close to wishing there were a few more hours beyond the 24 to accomplish everything. I'm starting to feel busy with work; my clients seem to be making their way out of winter hibernation, and I'm needed again. The gym takes time. Apparently, I also have a boyfriend and once enjoyed some semblance of a social life. There's a lot going on down here on land.
But when I'm on the ground, I don't give myself a chance to notice that when I'm sitting at my favorite table at Starbucks, I'm at eye level with the children who walk in, fresh from a long day at school or from their guitar and dance lessons — the perfect height to smile and invite my own innocence back for just a few seconds.
I'm too wrapped up in the concrete to lose myself in the moment, even if it's only to imagine the thoughts of someone at the next table, to exchange brief eye contact or send kindness across the café.
When I’m caught up in matters of politics and work and how to pay my next bill, and the little things that get me down, it's easy to forget how nice it feels to create something that's just mine. Even if I'm not, you know, getting paid for it. (If I ever had the opportunity to combine the two, would I lose the joy? That's a risk I'm willing to take…)
But I need to remember this flying feeling. The sky, where I write and fly, is where my heart lives.