Balancing Act

Since my “One Word” Intention of 2021 is “Balance”, I seem to have lost more of mine than found it so far. I wanted to try roller skating for exercise and fun (and to get myself OUT OF THIS HOUSE because OMG pandemic blues), so I bought a good pair of beginner skates and a good set of protective gear and went out to the newly paved parking lot across the street to try them out. I haven’t skated in years; the last time I rolled on anything was…um…hmm…I don’t remember. I used to have inline skates and may have used them back in 2013. Anyway, it’s been a while. But I do know how to skate, I’m just sorely out of practice, sorely out of shape and apparently, horrifically off balance.

I was doing all right in the parking lot, wobbling a little and fell a couple of times – but made sure I fell forward onto my well-padded knees. I’d tried the skates on in the back alley when they first came in and tested those pads, so I knew they worked really well (my alley isn’t as smooth as this great new parking lot) and I’d made the necessary adjustments as per the skating videos I’d watched to the wheels and such. All was going well, except…me. I’d not really prepared ME. I’m nearly 52 years old, very out of shape, with fibromyalgia, arthritis, anxiety and depression and while I practice yoga, I don’t do it often enough to say I’m strong and flexible and can balance well on one foot or the other. I’m in a rut, have been even before the pandemic but COVID made it worse. So when I got tired after an hour in the parking lot, I decided to pack it in and not overdo it. I tried to do the smart thing. It just wasn’t smart enough. I didn’t take the skates off to go back across the street to my house. No — I went DOWN the small driveway into the street, thinking “I got this”. No, dumbass, you don’t got anything. What I got was spilled across the asphalt in a BAD FALL, flat on my front. I did everything wrong, throwing my arms out wide and ended up wrenching my left shoulder so badly – the one I’ve had rotator cuff surgery on in 2011. I’ve lost most of the range of motion I had and hopefully, haven’t torn anything too badly. I’ve returned from my PCP’s office with a steroid shot and NSAID cream and returning in a few weeks to see how I’m doing before any potential follow ups with an orthopedist and…who knows.

Then there’s the odd balancing act a woman of my age has to learn to do with wanting to be helpful and actually doing harm to others. I keep forgetting that YES, I am NOT a millennial nor Gen Z; I am Generation X — I am MUCH older than many of the people I come into contact with lately, especially as an ally. It’s ME that needs to change if I want to be an ally. My experiences may have value but they are rooted in a past where I failed to create a world for these young people that’s the safe one I promised them. These children and young people are living in a world and fighting against the very policies that my generation promised we’d topple, and failed. Worse, some of my generation are THEIR parents doing the very harm, enacting the very policies that these kids are fighting to take down. So my language – the use of words that I think are going to comfort, or express concern or perhaps show that I have some sort of wisdom of age and experience to pass down do not actually help — it is often the language of the oppressor. I am a white middle aged woman. I AM the oppressor, no matter how much I don’t want to believe it. I may not have oppressed anyone *personally* but it’s been my kind that has done it. And I speak THAT language.

I’ve done incredible harm, to myself and to another (or others, plural), lately — being off balance. I really need to work on this.

My therapist is gonna tell me it’s a matter of being mindful. He’s right. Duh. “Stuck point diary, here I come.”

What is Balance? 

Is is being able to stand upright and not 
Fall Down?
Or stand on one foot?
Is it being exactly half of two parts:
Some of this and some of that
Or perhaps sixty-forty.
What is being in balance or
Finding your balance
When the whole world seems cockeyed
And careening, like a car on 
Two wheels instead of four.
And you're a passenger in the
Backseat being thrown from side to side.
How does one find their balance
In a world so off it's own center?
So determined to push you over
As soon as you find yourself a 
Good, rooted stance?
Or a good mixture?
Too much one way and you're off, again.
Try again.
Inhale, exhale. One foot, another. 
One step, another. 
Stand, mix. Breathe.
Practice Makes Perfect. 

2 thoughts on “Balancing Act

  1. I am wincing just reading this, and I’m feeling kinda low-key spiritual-doppelganger called out on the “No, dumbass, you don’t got anything” part 🙂 In my mind, I’m still the person who used to run my platoon up and down hills at Ft. Stewart until they puked, the one who used to teach kickboxing, the one descended from nice strong peasant stock who could sling a calf over their shoulders, haul a toddler around on the opposite hip, and still have breath left over to make it back home and chop firewood.

    In practice, not so much, and one of the issues is that I haven’t quite learned to adapt to stuff like, oh, a few decades having passed, or, er, basically becoming middle aged. I go in all-or-nothing, inevitably hurt myself ’cause all or nothing after a break is a bad idea in your 20s, never mind your 50s, and then have to sit out for an injury. Whereupon I sulk because I’m impatient and kind of stupidly perfectionist about some of this stuff. I’m not graceful about any of this at all.

    And the wretched luck of landing on the same shoulder – I’m so sorry! I hope it’s healing and you get good news on it.

    But all this is me trying to establish my ethos here a little before I say this:

    Cut yourself some freakin’ slack 🙂 You’re showing up to practice. You’re NOT wearing a granny hat and a Snuggie telling everybody to keep calm and drink tea. (At least I highly doubt you are, and if I’m wrong, let me know!) You’re putting on your gear and you’re showing up. Nope, you aren’t perfect at it, but really – who is? And when?

    I don’t know about you, but when I was in my 20s, I screwed up when I was trying to help all the time. I did plenty of damage. It’s just that, for me anyway, I recovered more quickly then. Now, I’m way more self conscious. And I feel the sting longer. It takes a little longer to bounce back.

    And I mean that on all the levels. (Yeah, my analogies aren’t what they used to be either lol)

    And while I’ve always tried to analyze my own language and behavior in interactions and to reflect on where I might have misstepped when something went wrong, I think it takes me longer now to do that, too – maybe just because I have more *stuff,* more experiences, to reflect on and consider.

    Now maybe you’re nothing like me on this at all, in which case just ignore me and I’ll move along. But just in case we have anything in common on this, I think it’s always been all about practice. It’s always been all about showing up for training even when you’re sore and it’s supremely uncomfortable. And that is what the world needs, imnsho – not a team of only elite athletes, not a squad of perfect people and flawless allies, and certainly not a chorus of homogeneous voices in perfect unison 24/7.

    Nope, it needs people who will show up and pay attention, who will keep practicing, and who are willing to reflect on their own choices and actions and positions and adjust fire as necessary for the context.

    No, our generation did not pull it out of the fire for the next. In fact, I suspect many of us found ourselves a bit out of breath at some point when we realized a lot of shit was going to be a lot more uphill for us than we might have been led to believe, if we were raised with the “each generation improves its lot over the last” mythology, which stopped being true with our generation. So to be fair, look at what we inherited — and from whom. (Yeah, and they’re still voting, too.)

    I’m only a few years out of the college classroom, where I taught for over 10 years, during which time I went from having difficulty convincing the students not to treat me like their pal to having difficulty convincing them I wasn’t a dinosaur. I spoke their language when I started teaching – but that changed *drastically* over the course of just three cohorts of college freshmen. And *I did rhetoric for a living,* yet I couldn’t bridge this gap anymore. Talk about a sting, my God. So I think I hear your frustration on at least some of this.

    But you’re still showing up. You’re still putting yourself out there for practice, and for inevitable mistakes, and for self-analysis, and for (re)learning on your feet, as it were.

    And I think you ought to give yourself some credit for that. I certainly admire it. And I can’t help but notice how many people have decided they did their part and now it’s time to retire to their Snuggies, tea, and vapid (and insulting) cliches.

    I’ll show myself out lol


  2. “And the wretched luck of landing on the same shoulder – I’m so sorry! I hope it’s healing and you get good news on it.”

    It’s in pretty bad shape, so I’m trying to keep it in the sling as much as I can and be as mindful as possible when it’s not in the sling. But that’s hard, since I’m left handed and it’s my left shoulder. 😦 And I live alone so there’s no one to help me do anything. In a pandemic .. that makes things all the more difficult.

    “And I feel the sting longer. It takes a little longer to bounce back….And while I’ve always tried to analyze my own language and behavior in interactions and to reflect on where I might have misstepped when something went wrong, I think it takes me longer now to do that, too – maybe just because I have more *stuff,* more experiences, to reflect on and consider….Now maybe you’re nothing like me on this at all”

    Hit it right on the head there you did, spiritual doppelganger 😉

    “And I think you ought to give yourself some credit for that. I certainly admire it.”

    Thanks. I have a terrible habit of being incredibly hard on myself. I went over this latest episode with my therapist and he said to me, “Why are you dwelling on something that you did out of love and kindness?” That made me stop cold. Yes — I might have said the words a little wrong but they were meant in a loving way. I’d said something to a WOC and it was taken WAY wrong. My intentions were good but you know how those can be, right? A Gen Z WOC and i’m a white middle aged ally, and I meant to be supportive but somehow, it came out garbled.

    It really doesn’t help that fibro fog, medications, Mercury Retrograde and a host of other shit will often combine to make me unable to word right. (I meant that to happen). I will often get “the dumbs”. I feel like I lose a good 10-15 IQ points and all of a sudden my usual impeccable verbal skills become those of a troglodyte. It’s frustrating as all get out and sometimes I can’t even tell that I’m utterly aphasic when I’m speaking. That’s why I prefer to write most of the time, as I can see what I’m saying and take the time to go over my words. But that’s also just as frustrating as I’ll stumble just as much, or spend so much time trying to remember a word as simple as “button”. It’s horrible. And horrifying.


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