Today has been as redemptive as yesterday was frustrating. I woke up at a decent hour this morning, had breakfast and tea, and spent two hours writing, hitting a word count milestone just before I finished. Once that was done, I replied to some emails and messages, and then found myself faced with a decision: to yoga or not to yoga?
I chose to yoga.
That’s a picture I took just after finishing my first hour-long, arthritis-friendly yoga practice. That’s also what I look like when I’m happy and feeling calm.
I’m sure, by almost all metrics, this yoga DVD is easy. Nothing was overly strenuous. The instructor was constantly encouraging us arthritics to “listen to our bodies” and not to try anything that was uncomfortable. She helpfully demonstrated modifications to poses based on bad joints, so I followed pretty much every modification for hands and wrists. I will also push aside my pride and admit that I had to sit down a couple times for feeling lightheaded. I am out of shape, friends.
Part of why I’ve stayed away from exercise for so long is that I knew it wouldn’t be a smooth reentry. I was really active as a kid and teen, playing football at recess and getting picked right off the bat for dodgeball in gym class, but my rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis sophomore year of college really changed my lifestyle. I still play tennis occasionally, and that’s gone well enough to make me think that things aren’t that bad. But I think they are pretty bad.
I learned today that I am pathetically inflexible. I learned that I have a hard time taking deep breaths while doing the slightest exercise-ish thing. And I learned that I have probably been doing a lot of harm to my joints in not exercising them.
But I’m determined not to feel bad about those things. Life doesn’t offer us any do-overs and we never get that time-machine trip to tell our younger selves what to do better. We are left either with regret or we take steps to get better, to grow. I’m glad that I’m using these New Things to try some things that I’ve felt regret over, things I wish I would have done years ago.
Don’t wait for the timing to be perfect for what you want to do. Don’t wait to feel better. Don’t wait to get out of this chapter of life. Don’t wait for someone to give you permission. You are the only one who can give yourself permission to grow or to do that New Thing that is weighing on your heart. Do it. Figure out how to fit it into the imperfect now. There will never be a perfect time and you’ll probably never feel ready.
So just give yourself permission to try and room to fail and give it a go.