This morning as I walked into work there was a fitness class going on – I work at a community center with an amazing fitness center. I’m not sure what class it was as, other than yoga, I don’t tend to do my exercise in groups. However, it was a small group of women, mostly in their 30’s, super fit, moving very fast with very intense looks of determination on their faces. They were engaged in a series of plank/push-up/scissor legged torture activities the thought of which made me immediately nauseated.
As I walked past, arm fat wiggling, mid-section ravaged from 3 children, wrapped in low-thyroid function, generalized anxiety disorder, and 12 years of motherhood exhaustion, I saw the bravest woman I’ll likely see today. She was not rock-hard, covered from head to toe in lululemon (I just had to look up how to spell that since I have no experience with fitness attire), drinking coconut water, and eating spirulina energy bars. Those women are amazing and powerful and strong, don’t get me wrong – spirulina is gross. No seriously, my hat goes off to anyone who moves on a regular basis.
But the lady who grabbed my attention was 55+, 30 lbs. heavier than everyone in the class, and unable to do the exercise on the ground so she was standing doing a modified version against the wall. It had just finished raining. It’s mid-July in Virginia and humid as bloody hell yet she had the most pleasant smile on her face. And the first thing I thought is I want to start clapping, screaming “You Go!! WOOHOO!!, jumping up and down, and dancing around her. But I thought that might be weird so I decided to write about it instead.
In a world that values big giantness it’s often hard to remember that we are faced with a plethora of opportunities to be brave everyday – even in our smallish, suburban lives. It’s not just about climbing mountains, moving to far off lands, or jumping out of airplanes.
What if we just tried things that we wanted to try without fear of judgment? And what if it was ok to not be perfect?
Every single day we are brave in magnificent and varied ways. We choose to take the leap into marriage, parenthood, divorce, going back to work, giving up a career for a new and uncertain path, take a dance class, sing a song in front of strangers, try public speaking for the first time, become bodybuilders, ask for a raise, confront conflict, wear shorts, get a new hair cut or color, write a book. These small acts of courage send a message. They speak volumes about who we are. When we make these choices we are saying there is hope. Hope for more. There is more to learn, more to be, more to teach, more to give, more to be gotten from our lives.
In that miniscule 15 seconds of seeing that lady – and all of those women – working toward their best selves I felt inspired and I was reminded that the world I want us all to live in is one where we keep trying. It’s a world in which we give shout outs to the acts of courage that don’t register on the giantness scale but gathered collectively among us all make this a more thoughtful, compassionate, and just better place to be alive. Let’s recognize this in ourselves and be proud and then let’s REALLY see it in others and give them our support.
Here’s to being all of ourselves, a little at a time, everyday.