Beginner’s mind with fitness

Emmylou expressing her feelings about my summer.

For the past few years, I’ve regularly logged my steady little workouts every day in our “222 in 2022” groups, mostly doubling the 216 – 217 – 221 – 222 goal. A habit by now, you’d think. But this summer, here is what some of my posts looked like:

I seem to be not tracking anything, because I’m too exhausted by all the post-funeral estate stuff to actually keep to a real movement schedule. But there have been bike rides, a run or two, walks and a shit ton of moving boxes and furniture. So I’m giving myself one workout a day minus one day since I last posted, so 238.


I had COVID and I’m in Croatia and it’s 37C but I’ve walked v far every day and done two YWAs so let’s call it 245- 251, conservatively. Today I was doing a YWA on my terrace and it was so hot my iPad overheated and I had to put it in the fridge!

255, 256, 257: riding a bike on the island of Solta, which made me realize I am still too sick for the bike trip that is supposed to start Tuesday so instead, in a move wiser than most in my life, I am going home 11 days early. And then walking all over Split and Zagreb.

and more recently:

This is apparently the summer where I just completely lose track of what I am doing re movement because it has been derailed so many times. I last recorded #257 on Aug 12 when I realized I needed to come home from Croatia because Covid still had a grip on me. Most of the past two weeks has been recovery and gentle movement, but let me give it a shot:

1 hike in the woods with gf and dog// 2 x SUP // 1 aborted half hour bike ride when I realized 4 km into the ride I’d forgotten my helmet (#covidbrain) // 4 x YWA // 1 x good bike ride to/ around Toronto island // 1 x half hour in zwift // 3 – 4 #slwfmsmph // So that adds up to… 13? So let’s call it 270. Sigh. I am feeling better but still not what you’d call energetic!

Obviously, there’s a story in there.

The short version: On June 29, my mother had a fall and was admitted to hospital. Many things went wrong quickly, and after a week of intense, 24 hour accompaniment through a lot of pain, she died. There was a funeral, and community, and the blear and numbness and weight of estate administration, which I wrote about here.

August was a planned trip to the Balkans that was supposed to include an 8 day bike trip. The day I left, I had a sore throat. My RAT test in my peaceful little hotel room in Zagreb was positive. It was screamingly hot. I tried to continue on with some of my plans, masked and outside and sleeping a lot, since it was my second time with COVID and I thought I could ride it out. But a week later, I found myself on my little test cycling ride grinding up a hill in unrelenting sun, dulled in every possible way. I found a coffee shop, made some expensive phone calls and started to make my way home.

Three weeks later, I’m more or less recovered from the COVID. Mostly. There is still fatigue that makes me feel like there is something awry with my mitochondria. The grief is also tiring. especially since it involves an awful lot of physical and emotional labour in cleaning out my mother’s house, a lot of emotional labour and time time time in navigating the needs of the estate.

I have good people — my sister, my girlfriend, my colleagues, my large and super present community of amazing friends. I have privilege and capacity and resources. This is not a contentious or conflicted time. But it’s still unrelentingly hard.

So what is happening in my body? What is happening to my capacity to find equanimity and ease through movement, the practices I’ve cultivated for decades for just this kind of moment?

Well, it turns out, deep, cellular fatigue is not a friend to movement.

When my mother was first in hospital, movement was helpful — head-clearing walks, the odd overheated run, a few sun salutations for oxygen in my brain and flexibility in my tight, bundled limbs. But as the fatigue set in, it got harder and harder to move. And as we all know, the harder it is to move, the easier it is to avoid it. And then, Covid. And unmindful eating. And bad sleep. And too much driving and desks and stiffness.

Where even IS my body, I wonder?

To answer that question — my first step is always yoga. When I was in Croatia, I started a simple Yoga with Adriene series called Begin. Once more, Adriene was there for me. About 15 minutes of a simple flow every day, with a 5 minute meditation at the end. More or less the same flow every time, with slight variations. Presence, simplicity, no decisions. Beginner’s mind, she reminds us. Experience what’s there now, not what was once there, or what could be there in the future.

This morning, I started a three day training program for an advanced coaching certification. Three long days in zoom, more emotional intensity. Maybe not the perfect time for it, but it was booked months ago.

This morning, before the session started, I fired up my trusty Find What Feels Good app and found Adriene ready to help me find my body for the day. I paid attention. Hamstrings and calves, so tight. Shoulders, hunched. Upper spine, clenched. Muscles sore from lifting and moving everything my mother ever owned. The ache as I lengthened, as I twisted, as I rolled up — my body, returning to me. Reminding me that as I have withstood two deeply challenging months, my body is here, waiting. Ready to support me, ready to become more supple, ready to hold me up.

Ready to breathe.

Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who is grateful to be surrounded by community of people and cats. Here they are in a moment of optimism in Split, Croatia.

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