Monday, August 07, 2006


Last week of camp. Nights are solved. Drop-off is NOT! I am grateful for small miracles though. I'll take what I can get, especially since the night routine was going on for 1 1/2 -2 hours for almost a year now. Exhausting. But not anymore.

Moving on.

Today's insight: Stretch.

Stretch your body. Stretch your mind. Stretch your capacity. Loosen to stretch.

Contemplation: Endurance vs. Strength
I thought strength WAS endurance…until I thought about it.

Why is it one person can run for miles, but can't push up the steep steps. Why is it that I can kill those steps twice, but my legs give out after a short jog?

I've been approaching my life as one big obstacle course. Short bursts of energy that take me to the edge and leave me depleted. Push, restore, recover, repeat.

I've been living in Crisis Management Mode. I've been bulking up. No lean "cruise" mode here. The "endurance" record I keep is how many challenges I can avert or survive.

You can see it in my body. It's not long and lean, but stocky, muscular, hard-working. I scan my strong back and shoulders, my thick arms, masculine hands all cut and burned and scarred, short, stubby fingers capable of so many tasks, thick legs, muscular calves, wide sturdy feet. Deliberately skipping over the middle, that part seems disconnected, unidentified, in hiding.

As I write about the body, running, my "practice," this isn't from some vain, "oh, I want to be a size 4 so I can fit into those stylish rags in the mags" kind of thing. I'm not getting all Hollywooded out on you. No. This is deeper. This is like searching for the perfect yoga teacher…one who combines the physical aspect with the breathing with the meditation and larger consciousness picture. I need to heal this body and reclaim it. I need to work it out physically, mentally and make the connection spiritually. They are connected. It is simultaneous.

I am talking about body as spirit. Pouring spirit back into the body. Purifying, cleansing, releasing old baggage and getting the body current and conditioned…for the return of love, of consciousness, of divine wisdom.

For what is shape? What is strength? What is power? What is clean?…as they relate to an approach to life and the way we carry ourselves through life?

My practice of reclaiming my body has been long overdue. I have "avoided" my body like it's not even there. Taken it for granted. Hated it. Draped it. Disassociated. My body has been through so much. I just abandoned it.

But my body holds wisdom.

I have asked so much from my body, and finally it has put its foot down and said No. No way. Not going to do it.

It has been a long road of restoration and recovery. Over four years, really. Perhaps five. A Space Odyssey.

For weeks now, my guts have been churning. Literally. Turning, gaseous, nauseous, tender, exhausted, bloated, weakened, terrified. Waiting to be revealed. I have held off, but I feel today is the day. What the hell, I only have three more days of camp left. If not now, when?

I put my focus there, on my belly, my womb, the seat of my humanity.

"Hey, what's going on in there?"


"What do you mean nothing? Surely this is NOT nothing."

"I don't want to tell."

"Tell what? ….Why?


How childish, I think. "Because why?" I inquire.

"Because I don't want to."

"Because it will hurt? (Pause.) Are you scared?"


"So, if we go really gently, will you try? I really want to help you."

(no answer.)


"mmmm……ok" It's in the smallest, most reluctant voice possible.


There are things my body knows that I don't even know. There are details I'm sure I've blocked out in order to get beyond them. Labor, for instance. Four days of effort, resulting in drips, swells, scars and more scars, but eventually a baby girl. Grateful? Yes. But what the hell happened there?

I was a dancer. I performed Nutcrackers with the Minnesota Dance Theatre/ Minnesota Orchestra from the time I was 7. I moved to New York at 18 and was on scholarship at Steps Studio. I studied dance with some of the greats. I worked as a professional dancer. I did movies, commercials, industrials, music videos, I toured with A Chorus Line. My body was my work. It worked for ME.

Learning to walk again…that first walk…one of the few times my body didn't do what I commanded it to do. Walk. One foot, two feet, collapse. Nope. And the scar…as I described it in another piece…"present, uncompromising, not subtle, still…the gash that unceremoniously divides my belly from my bush." The gash that sucked the consciousness right out of me. Cut me in half. It hasn't recovered. Depleted immunity, bouncing hormones, insomnia, weight gain, depression, virus after virus attacking my weakened state. Sick every 4-6 weeks. Despair. Lost.

That's just the beginning. I've been pregnant for 4 years. Suffering in silence. Love that 1st tri. We're old pals now. I seem to get stuck there…three months of nausea, bloating, weight gain, the emotional rollercoaster, hormonal upset, exhaustion…then no moving on to the "energy months" of the 2nd tri, or the exhaustion and bigness of the 3rd tri, or the final gift...the baby. No.

Instead, no result. Another round of lies and denial. "I'm just feeling tired." "I ate too much over the holidays." "I'm hung-over. " "Can't make it out today. Sorry."

One day I'll write about all that. The "missed abs" (as if the pregnancies just missed or something), the secrecy, the weight gain, the feeling stuck in my life, the toll it took on my relationship, on our bank account, on me, my sense of self-esteem and worth. I'll spill about cutting edge Dr. Chen the CVT -(Chinese Vagina Torturer), and how I almost died on her table, the emotionless messenger Prama the ultrasound tech, my beloved midwives and their invasive pressure to "bleed," the telling them to fuck off and leave me alone, Dr. D the expert and his no results testing, the three times a charm, the unanswered questions, the inexplicable mystery, the frustration and ultimately disassociation.

The question, "are you going to have another?" seemingly so innocent, so "come join the family club," yet such an obliviously personal attack on my ability to procreate, while everyone around me already HAS their second child. (Not like it's a race.) "Yeah, sure, maybe…we're thinking about it." WTF.

Breasts swollen as if containing milk to nurture me back to health, belly protruded as if still holding on to the babies that never came. Legs lumpy and weighty and carrying too many memories. It's time to cut bait. I've already been through enough shit.

So no, body workouts for me aren't about fashion, or feeling sexy, or fitting into those pre-marriage jeans. They're about a return to health, to wellness, to building immunity, to opening to the body's wisdom, and to the slow coaxing of the return to consciousness while I drop the weight I've been carrying, protecting, hiding behind. Bit by bit, I'm dropping it by the side of the road.

Listen. The scenery's changing. It's time to come out now. It's OK.

…to be continued.


jennifer said...

I love your passion and your search! Thank you for this, Tanya.

Suzy said...

Wow. So many thanks to you for sharing this oh so personal and agonizing journey, yet you continue to pursue your life with passion and example for the rest of us to observe and learn.
AMAZING writing.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Suzy said it perfectly. Wow.

Michelle O'Neil said...

This is a really moving piece. So honest and raw. Thank you for sharing.