I was stepping up on a bench while holding a very large blue and white bowl. It “lives” on top of a corner cupboard in the spring until Thanksgiving. As I stepped up on the stool, I found myself unable to get my other leg on the stool while holding this heavy bowl. “That’s odd,” I thought. During dinner I mentioned this to my husband. Nothing else was said about it and the conversation went other places.
We had decided to watch HBO’s “One Nation Under Stress” that evening and once the dishes were put away, Dan said, “I’ve signed you up for some weight training.” I knew immediately why and, with a solemn gulp, I asked when and where would I be going! Some women might have been angry but as I pondered how to react, I knew immediately this was a loving act on Dan’s part. “Thank you,” I fearfully said.
Dan has a TRX other equipment in the garage along with a Stairmaster which I haven’t been on since Bill Clinton was elected President! The last two decades I have found joy in doing yoga and a new awareness of my body, mindfulness and how breathing can help regulate my anxiety. However, now I had a new awareness of my physicality and more needs which needed to be embraced.
The first session of “Training For Warriors” began with ninety jumping jacks (how shocking to have my bladder leak with each jump!). We proceeded with two person teams to spot one another while lying on the floor lifting horrific weights. We moved to chin-ups (which I don’t think I had tried to do since my sixth grade President’s fitness test instilled by President Kennedy)! My fury and hatred of this space and this twenty person Saturday class grew quickly, but I made it to the end of class only to discover that we were ending with three reps of “sprints” with team members shouting, “You got this Becky!”
I drove away deflated and shocked and showed up to the most intense yoga class of the week with 70 people crammed into the studio doing Vinyasa flows to loud Led Zeppelin and Jim Morrison blaring while we all sweated profusely on our mats. I am not going to give up yoga for that “warrior” crap!
I have gone nine times in seventeen days and have progressed from saying I will stick with it for a week, a month…and now I am seriously pondering trying it for a year. I am in a new season of embracing my body with goodness and patience. For now, it’s my new normal. I remember my beginning years with my bible study (I call it my “older women’s” bible study) on the island. I was ten to fifteen years younger than all of them and my life compared to their lives seemed “leisurely”! I recall my Dad saying when he was in his mid seventies, “Hey Beck, in case you haven’t noticed, life only gets more complicated the older you get!” If there is anytime to become a warrior it is now.
It has taken me too many decades to realize that my body is not only a blessing, but also a weapon and I am a warrior.
I grew up before Title IX changed the playing field for women and sports. It has never been a thought that my body needs the challenge of anaerobic weight lifting.
I told one of my new ‘warrior’ friends that I never learned to push my body other than birthing my babies and keeping up with a busy husband. Sports were simply not available or considered to be important in my adolescence. Title IX opened the door to equal access to higher education, career education, protection for pregnant and parenting students, equal access to academia (tenure for women professors was less available and lower paid wages, of course), changing gender stereotypes in the classroom, fighting sexual harassment (getting rid of boys will be boys mentality) and, increased self-confidence in girls. It’s this last one that, I think, that is actually happening with this warrior training.
There are losses I can never recover. There are blessings younger folks will seldom consider. But each moment of humbling, if not humiliating effort with little immediate benefit, is a reminder that a warrior blesses that today is a good day to die, therefore it is an even better day to live. I swear I heard the large blue and white bowl whisper to me, “You got this, Becky.”
Becky Allender lives on Bainbridge Island with her loving, wild husband of 42 years. A mother and grandmother, she is quite fond of sunshine, yoga, Hawaiian quilting and creating 17th Century reproduction samplers. A community of praying women, loving Jesus, and the art of gratitude fill her life with goodness. She wonders what she got herself into with Red Tent Living!