It was another sizzling Summer morning, and twenty-five or so hot and sweaty humans dotted the asphalt trail at Council Point Park. This sultry “Ozone Action Day” didn’t stop any of us from getting in our daily exercise.
I’m on a roll because I saw my Park pal Donna, pictured above, for the third time this month. Though we are practically neighbors, sometimes months can go by, until, like two ships passing at night, we meet up on the Park perimeter path again.
I guess you could say she rolled back into my morning routine a week or so ago. I caught sight of her on the opposite side of loop #1, as she moved along the path at breakneck speed. So, I had my camera ready for when she caught up with me. Just as soon as I heard the whirring of the rollerblade wheels right behind me, I whirled around, and, when she waved, I said “Gotcha!” and snapped her picture. I was not power walking, but clipping along fairly quickly, so Donna slowed down to accommodate my pace so we could carry on a conversation. I still had to huff and puff a little to keep up with her, plus it was hot and humid as well.
We had not connected in a while because she has changed her schedule, opting instead to do her ‘blading or bike riding at the Park in the afternoon, so we caught up with each other’s news as we travelled along the perimeter path.
Today we were on the same schedule once again – get out and get ‘er done before the weather became too unbearable to be outdoors. Afterward, we visited a little in the parking lot as we got ready to depart the Park. Donna was feeling proud as she just rollerbladed eight miles in one hour. I, too, was feeling pretty good since I took my car for a spin this morning and left it in the Park’s lot, then did four miles in the same amount of time. We congratulated one another. I told Donna that a few years ago I had set a goal of walking five miles in under one hour after hearing Governor Snyder completed the annual five-mile Mackinac Bridge Labor Day Walk in 55 minutes. To date, that goal has not yet been met by Yours Truly. Donna’s response was “he must have very long legs or take extra-large strides – that’s a lot of miles to cover in 55 minutes!” I felt better when she said that as I was wondering if I would ever achieve that goal.
Goals became our next topic, and I said that as of today I would be at the 440-miles-walked-so-far-in-2017 mark and I needed to get to 755 miles to top last year’s mileage. She waved me off saying “you’ve got plenty of time to do that” and, then she told me that she used to set goals with her biking and ‘blading, only to supersede them early in the year, so she set higher goals, but eventually gave it up because it took away all the fun of the exercise, if she was always trying to one-up herself.
That was some food for thought, so momentarily I decided that perhaps I needed to quit beating myself up for all the walks missed thus far in 2017, for circumstances beyond my control.
But, I still want to beat that 755-mile marker at year end nonetheless. J
Our mouths were going a mile a minute and our legs sought to keep up. Donna and I are the same age, and, since we are both advocates of exercise and healthy eating, our conversation was peppered with whole-grain bread finds, oatmeal topping tips, nutrition and exercise. She regaled me with her tales of yoga because she practices yoga, plus takes and teaches classes in it as well.
I complained about feeling like a Mack truck ran over me after my Fourth of July weekend spent in the basement, so I asked Donna if she does stretches before ‘blading and biking, and she said “no – never” but she quickly added that doing yoga helps. “Pfft yoga!” I said, then told her about the one yoga class I took eons ago. Even though it was an introductory class, I was the only novice, so I was hopelessly behind everyone else for every move or pose and just couldn’t catch up. So, after the third class, I quit and got my money back. In a show of bravado of how I could learn yoga and Pilates on my own, I took that refund money and hustled over to Best Buy where I bought a portable DVD player, a book entitled “Yoga For Dummies” and a couple of DVDs on yoga moves. My mother, always an authority on how I routinely got enthralled with an idea and never totally followed through with it, cautioned me to return those items to Best Buy because I’d never use them. I recall that my response to her suggestion, was I simply rolled my eyes at her in a dismissive manner, since I was confident I would excel at yoga … once I applied myself, that is.
Well, it was a long and hot Summer that year, so I deferred the yoga regimen to the Fall, then the Winter, then ….
It’s been years since I have even thought of that brief fascination with yoga, until my basement cleaning endeavor these past few weeks.
Indeed, I have found a treasure trove of items representing the various phases of my life – school, entertainment, travel, creativity and … exercise.
The “found” exercise equipment gave me a giggle and I shared that story with Donna, who also had to chuckle, because by the time you get to your sixties, you’ve done a few stupid things along the way that you don’t mind sharing with others because they can relate.
I have many Rubbermaid containers downstairs and went through each of them. I discovered one such container, chock full of long-neglected exercise gear, and, I had to shake my head, then ask myself “what in the world were you keeping these for – your “golden years”?
Here was that DVD player, book, tapes, and even my yoga mat, all squeezed into a powder blue container that I had not opened in decades, and what do you know, they were all still shrink-wrapped as well. Guess Mom had me pegged, didn’t she?
And, there were a few gym-like gems in that Rubbermaid container as well, like the colorful vinyl-coated barbells, in various weights. Plus, soft weights that you strap on your wrists and ankles using Velcro closures. How nice, but they weren’t doing much good stacked in this tub were they?
But wait … there’s more.
Tucked into the recesses of that Rubbermaid container, were my old, scuffed-up ballet slippers. Yes, ballet was also a passing fancy in my life for a while, perhaps during my late twenties. I took ballet at a local studio, after being inspired by a couple of coworkers who shimmied into their scoop-neck leotards, tights and leg warmers to perform barre work in the ladies bathroom lounge every day on their lunch hour. Using the back of the couch like a barre to brace themselves, and watching their moves in the horizontal mirror, these petite ballerina wannabees were the epitome of grace. I was so inspired and in awe of them, that I got my money and gear together, and, under the tutelage of Bertha Ray, I, too, learned and practiced pirouettes, plies and barre work. Every Tuesday night, I pulled my hair into a sleek bun, donned a leotard and tights, and showed up at Bertha’s Ray’s studio to become lithe, and achieve flexibility through the rigors of ballet. Oh sure … those coworkers made it look effortless, but at 5 feet 9 inches tall, I towered over my teacher and felt like an Amazon next to her, not to mention that I was truly the exact opposite of graceful. My toes ached in those teensy black ballet slippers and my shins cramped up, so, after a few months that novelty also wore off, and so ended the ballet lessons.
I recounted all these grand finds and their memories to Donna and she laughed. We agreed that youth is a blessing, and, while growing old is sometimes fraught with illness, aches and pains, or even sadness or heartache, you become comfortable enough that you can laugh off those young and dumb episodes and even poke a little fun at yourself as well.