Humility, or learning to stop

I went for a long walk today, I felt good , the weather was comfortable and I nearly passed out from heat stroke.

Hubris is the main reason. I was convinced I could keep going because I felt fine and because I had done it before, when I was in better condition. And I didn’t take any water because I am just an idiot.

I did accomplish a long walk, which was my goal. However I had to stop about 4 times because I could feel my heart rate was too high, I was weary and at one point I was barely sweating in 90 degree heat.

Stopping and taking breaks is almost against my religion. It smacks of laziness, weakness and I know I can keep going, power through and ride it out. I am stubborn and tenacious, I do not give up or give in, I will push my
self harder and go farther. These can be good qualities, in some cases. In others, stupid and potentially dangerous. Today was a stupid and dangerous day.

I did that, but forced myself to stop awhile and sit under a bridge for a few minutes. I tried not to think about the poor quality of Oklahoma ‘ s bridges and waited for the heavy breathing to stop and for my heart rate to slow. I forced myself to sit for 4 minutes before getting up. I took 4 breaks, not counting the time I spent at the most wonderful and beautiful convenience store in the world. Each break was like a tiny defeat, proof I was not the badass I thought I was. But my body knew it needed short rests and it humbled and saved me.

There is no shame in taking breaks or in slowing down. If you need to, do it.

This insight came to me while I was walking, trying to get to the bridge ahead. I was listening to Depeche Mode as is my habit; Dave, Martin and Fletch were out there with me. I realized that Dave took breaks during concerts, he would wipe his face with a towel between songs or take a swig of water. He would even let Martin sing a couple of songs while he had a cup of tea or just sat. If it was okay for Dave then it was okay for me too. Neither of us is as young as we used to be.

I took one break when my son called from Vietnam. I was breathing hard and he noticed, so it was a good time to stop. After that I had another break and told myself I would make it, only one more street left.

That’s when I knew I wouldn’t, not without some water. It was now in the 90’s and I hadn’t drunk anything since 8am and it was noon. Then I saw it, the most wonderful and beautiful convenience store in the world.

I could make it, I would make it there. It was an oasis, a paradise with water, food and most of all, air conditioning.

It exceeded my hopes. They had water, food and air conditioning. They also had bathrooms, with toilet paper and soap. I had made a necessary pit stop at the scary port-a-potty near the halfway point and this was almost enough to
make me weep.

AND THEY HAD TABLES AND CHAIRS.

I bought a liter of water and energy bar. I chugged the water, it was cold and I couldn’t help myself. I had to force myself to eat the energy bar, which told me I was most definitely in trouble, because eating has never been a problem. Stopping eating has, and my Indian name is “Yeah, I can eat.” It sounds all noble and impressive in Muscogee, trust me.

I sat there and recovered for awhile, even bought my first coconut water. An unusual taste but I drank about half. I finally got up and finished my walk.

I was so glad to see my car and just sat there for a moment, checking my pedometer. I felt better but was still thirsty. I started the long walk at 8:44 and it was 1:10 when I checked my phone in the car. The walk should have been over about noon. I am still a little worn out.
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Being Alone

I’m going to Shakespeare in the Park here in town tonight. It’s not a big deal, not really. I don’t go out much, there’s usually very little I want to do or places I want to go. But I am going by myself, I bought one ticket, one sad, lonely solitary ticket, just for me. I will get dressed, something comfortable and lightweight but not fussy. I have no one to impress and I will leave when I want to and park where I want to, the small perks of being alone.

I thought of all the times I’ve gone ahead and done something by myself because I wanted to go. Even if I had no one to ask, to prevent me from looking like some sad social friendless outcast, I went on my own. Three of the entries were before Jerry died; in a way I’ve been preparing for this eventuality for awhile, whether I realized it or not. Here’s my list, from the last couple of years.

  1. Hockey games at the Cox Center, no idea how many, some of 2013-2014 season home games. Went alone because Jerry wasn’t a hockey fan, walking and getting around would have been difficult and he would get tired. I was the only solitary person there, in the middle of families, couples and the groups of people there for $1 beer night. Felt awkward even though nobody noticed and then forgot about it after the game started.Grateful I never had to worry about the dreaded Kiss Cam.
  2. Dallas Stars-Detroit Red Wings game in Dallas 2013. Went to the game alone but my sister Layah came along for the ride. Wings won 5-1.
  3. Depeche Mode concert, Sept 20, 2013, Dallas. A near religious experience. Got to breathe the same stuffy air as Dave.
  4. Seattle, March 2015. My first plane ride since before 9/11. I needed to leave for awhile, did not expect to love Seattle but that could be grief, change of scenery and many wonderful things, I felt I could breathe there and told myself I’d be back. Slightly depressed when I returned, because I could see in vivid detail how much OK sucks. And blows.
  5. Seattle, August 2015. I went to find a place and foolishly believed I could move cross-country just because I had a little money and wanted to, without a current job. No.
  6. Saigon, Vietnam. December 2015. Missed Bear and spent Christmas with him as I promised. Met Oahn and her mother, my first real international city. Worth every penny, every fear and aggravation, even the airplane bathrooms.
  7. Eating out by myself, various restaurants, various times. There’s something pitiful about a woman eating by herself that doesn’t happen when a man eats alone. A man is alone because he wants to be, a woman because she has to be alone. Stupid, senseless and wrong, this double standard still runs through my mind when I eat out by myself. I’m beginning to believe that nobody is looking at me and that they don’t care, but it’s taking time.
  8. Going to the movies alone.Not as bad as eating out as everyone is sitting in the dark and on their phones. I did have to move over to accommodate a loud couple once and have my feet stepped on by the wife, in high heels. She did apologize though.
  9. Arts festivals, 2014-2016. I went to Paseo Arts Festival last year and this year by myself and the Festival of the Arts by myself all three years. Jerry was still alive in 2014 and I went for a short while and brought him spinach pakora. I walked around, looked at the various artist booths then headed for the food court. Painfully aware of how odd it was to be alone, even the cops were out there in pairs.
  10. Mass, nearly every Sunday at 8am. The early mass is less crowded, it’s the one we always went to and I meet my weekly obligation by 9am. Full of families, but I have my own pew, which I consider the Widow’s Pew since I am usually joined by 2 single Vietnamese women on either side, they are older like me and alone. We’ve never spoken but I shake their hands during the Sign of Peace.
  11. Shakespeare in the Park, tonight after I walk Olive and change clothes

 

Shorts

I wore shorts today. That’s no big deal to most people, not worth noting. But I haven’t worn shorts in public since I was in 4th grade.

I bought 2 pairs at the thrift store about 2 years ago. I had a gastric bypass and lost 70 pounds, my weight had stabilized. I tried on my shorts and took a picture. Then I stuffed them into a drawer and forgot them, finally sending them back into the river of thrift when I had to move. Never wore them and saw no reason to keep them.

I didn’t wear shorts because I didn’t like my body, how my legs looked. I wore jeans during the summer, even when my mother complained she felt hot seeing me in long pants. My legs were fat and I felt I couldn’t expose people to their ugliness, I hated them.

I am still self conscious about my body, even though it has been nearly four years since my operation. I am smaller, my body is stronger and I am able to do more than I ever imagined. I don’t have to shop in special departments anymore, though it took a long time before I stopped going to Womens, Plus and Lane Bryant. I’ve come to recognize my reflection in mirrors. I am not tiny, petite or thin, I am healthier than before but not skinny. I don’t have the build. My mother did, she was tiny and small boned, like Audrey Hepburn. But my body looks different, feels different and I enjoy finding how I can stretch myself and go further, do more than I thought I could.  There are people who only know me as I am now, who never saw me when I was overweight. None of my current co-workers know my old fat past and frankly I don’t see the need to tell them.

I’m not sure when I decided to buy shorts again. I go for long walks and wear jeans (still) and yoga pants, which I’m okay with in cooler or wet weather. But it has been warm, darned hot even and I thought shorts would have been so much…better. Without giving it much thought I hit the Goodwill and bought a pair of shorts. Long and baggy, they came to my knees. I wore them yesterday, for a short walk with my dog and came home. Then since nothing drastic or horrific happened, I wore them today.

They felt weird. Comfortable, yes, but I felt like I was wearing somebody else’s clothes. That’s probably not an odd assumption since they did come from the thrift, that is they were somebody else’s at one time. But they didn’t feel right at first, they were foreign and it took awhile to get used to the feel.

My dog didn’t notice, she was glad to see me grab the leash and put on my shoes to go out. And no one else noticed either. If any of the people at the river made any judgments or had any criticisms about my shorts or my big white legs they wisely kept it to themselves. Nobody laughed, pointed at me or said I looked stupid or terrible in my baggy thrift shorts. The world did not stop or end. Nobody cared, except me.

I went to another thrift store later, looking for another cheap pair of baggy shorts. I found some, four bucks, and nobody there cared about me or my legs. I am on a roll here.

My legs are not pretty but they are strong. I have a long scar on my left calf and there’s cellulite because there is. They have been through a lot, covered a lot of miles, been in a lot of races and carried me in hot, cold and wet weather,sometimes in the same day. They take me up flights of stairs, only my right knee complains on occasion. My legs do their job, they work and that’s all that matters. Excuse the dirty carpet, my dog and cat still haven’t learned how to operate the shampooer.  And the large white thing is my t-shirt not a moon.

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