I turned thirty years old on December 31st. I slept oddly on Ben’s couch, setting my back and shoulder blade off in a rage to conjoin in a prolonged, twisted fit of anger. When the pain got to be too prohibitive, I finally caved and booked some time with a chiropractor – which, interestingly enough, has spurred me into a “reclaim thyself!” mode fitting for the over-emphasized resolutionary month of January.
And also the first month in my thirties.
Interestingly, that seems to be a very loose theme for January 2014. I’ve fallen into situations that are building good habits. This is some motivational inertia I can get down with:
My back and shoulder issues are results of a long and steady buildup of stress, the type of untended issue that needs more than just maintenance massages, hot tub time machines, and yoga drop-ins. My chiropractor put me on a regimen of one-to-two visits per week and a handful of stretching exercises per day. The stretching has gotten me to move again. I’ve been sedentary at my desk for nearly a year – but tell me I need to strike a Child’s Pose in order to feel comfortable lifting my hand above my head, and I will make it happen! I’ve never been the gym type, don’t like the intimate attention between client-and-trainer, and generally don’t get active unless I’m in a group in a room with mirrors or an audience, where there is pressure to do well. My Old Lady Back is my pressure now, and I give in.
I even bought a wheeled workbag. It’s pretty awesome not being a turtle to and from work.
So anyway, stretching has led me to wallowing in the feels of my body again. It’s great. Melting into a deep lunge. Imagining energy streaming through my arms. I’m less freaked out about my next return to dance, more prepared to admit how much flexibility I’ve lost. It won’t be a shock at all thanks to being assigned to mend myself.
Bill and I started learning French on Duolingo. Let’s talk about how awesome that is. At one time I had subscribed to Lumosity, in hopes to warm up my brain for the work day and sharpen it for the future. But I stopped. Duolingo is free, and thanks to the advantage of having years of ballet and one year of junior high French under my belt, it’s another lesson in something (literally) foreign that I’m happy to sign in to every day. Though I had heard plenty about it before, Bill reciting his lessons made me join, largely for the competitive element. The bite-size lessons are just enough to keep me interested. Le livre sont rouge!
As a direct result of being phone-less for forty-two days last year, I hit a stride of ripping through one book a week. I tend to lose that pace when it comes to nonfiction, but that period of “doing without” solidified that paperbacks are my medium. (Hardcovers, too – I’m not that picky.) I’m overscreened. It’s so obvious when you meet me, hang out with me. I can’t leave my phone alone, and if I’m without data access, I’ll just overdo it with at least three types of cameras. I honestly do think I still manage to “live in the moment,” but I don’t think most people who voluntarily overshare do. At any rate, I love my commute, I love making progress through chunks of pages at a time, and I don’t want a digital reader to replace that. I’m very loosely aiming to read thirty books this year. A goal of fifty seemed too ambitious, and I want to set a standard that’s attainable, rather than out-of-reach and spirit-crushing.
I was feeling flustered, not sure what to do with my day last Saturday, and let Bill coax me into going to Sketchcrawl with him. We picked up Isaac along the way, who, coincidentally, started a hashtag event that week: @sketch_dailies/#sketch_dailies. I was already in a car with two artists, on the way to Sketchcrawl, hearing about a casual daily excuse to put pen to paper, and decided: “Okay. I’m gonna do #sketch_dailies.”
I’ve done just three so far, but getting back in to sketching/doodling decades after I used to be really into it has allowed me the maturity to just appreciate the time it takes to get comfortable with your tools, that it’s okay to do a second iteration after an initial (though unintended) study, and that – fuckit – “I’m the only non-artist doing this!” (At time of writing, anyway. Pretty much everyone who creates a #sketch_dailies post is a professional artist in gaming or animation, where apparently you can only do finished pieces, not sketches.) Spending so much time with artist types – and being a competitive person more familiar with individual sports – I completely discouraged myself from attempting sketches for other people to see. This was some cognitive dissonance. I always enjoyed drawing, but then just stopped. Didn’t even doodle. So when it came time for media calendars to ask “Top 5 Resolutions You Should Make Next Year,” I was like, “Okay, maybe I’ll actually make one. Maybe I’ll actually resolve to doodle more.”
I ultimately decided that outside of teenage years and serial killer diaries, only good things can come from doodling, and if a simple change in semantics takes the pressure of participating in an enriching activity, I am all for it.
My couch potato time is so much better than just dinner and a TV show.
Now it’s dinner, a show, some doodling, and French drills, all rounded off with a nice, relaxed, undirected stretching session.
I hope this sets the pace for my thirties, as I’ve got all it takes to be upwardly mobile in age, and I am wont to pursue it.