Family Photo

Family Photo
Growing Up

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Listen to the Body

My son couldn't sleep last night because time trials for high school swimming start today. Last year he was excited and nervous, understandable for a freshman, and this year his body wouldn't let him rest because it remembers.  William's body took a beating last year, and he developed scary autoimmune systems from over-training. I told William that his body remembers getting sick, and that he has to promise himself that he won't let it happen again.

It's taken me a long time to understand that my body has memory and wisdom separate from my brain, and that I need to listen to it. The brain might say "sure, I can run a marathon, anyone can do it," while the body says "that's not right for you." Speaking from personal experience here, the body trumps the brain in the end.

In any sport an athlete is taught to train past "normal" stopping points, to practice through fatigue and break through mental barriers.  My concern isn't with this type of training, it's with excess, when fatigue becomes exhaustion, when the digestive tract shuts down from stress and the lack of rest pushes somatic systems into permanent fight or flight.

The old mantra of "no pain, no gain" is outdated. Fatigue is good, most pain is not.  Rest is a vital component of any training plan; rest and recovery are often overlooked.  Last weekend, after just a few days of rest (and the absence of over-training), William dropped an astounding 2.5 seconds in his 100 free.  As he had dropped 1.5 seconds two weeks prior, he's cut an unbelievable 4 seconds off a 54 second race in a month. He's worked since July to recover his health and build his strength, and now he needs to stay the course in a much choppier sea.

It's hard for anyone to stand out from the group and say "I need something different," especially for a 15-year-old among his peers. But the body speaks loudly, and we have to choose whether to listen - or to pay the consequences.


Sunday, February 10, 2019

Whirlwind of Compulsion

I ate three consecutive meals in my car last week: Frosty for dinner on Thursday night, RX bar and Starbucks for breakfast on Friday, Jamba Juice kale smoothie for lunch. Major milestones came and went with minimal fanfare as Aden committed to CU and applied for housing, the girls' HS swim season ended, and Rob flew from Denver to Chicago to Seattle, barely outrunning several snowstorms and pulling an all-nighter to install twenty-one Cooler Screens in Belleview, WA. I should stop to acknowledge Aden's decision, should reckon with my own emotions at some point in the near future, but it seems there's no time.

The blur of activities, headlines and household chores consumes all of us - friends in the 'hood, family around the country, kids' classmates. The busier I get, the more frantic, the more compelled to scan my phone for more events that I should attend. It's a whirlwind of compulsion. Each Sunday I say, "This week I am going to stop, unplug as much as possible, refrain from eating meals in the car, and trust in the present moment." Despite this, I can feel my blood pressure rise as I plan on Google calendar, seeing potential conflicts, where I need to cancel, and where I need to go without sleep.

And yet I'm so lucky. Food, shelter, health (and healthcare), community. Focus on the positive, I tell myself, enjoy the journey, trust that God will watch over us and help us to meet any challenge that comes. Appreciate what I have, the growing hours of daylight, the budget to buy food when I need it, the open ears and hearts of friends.