Tuesday, January 4, 2011

197 Days

This is a post about resolutions (sort of) and motivation (mostly).

This year, I found a name for a condition that has irritated me for something like fifteen long years. I'm not talking about my inability to be calm in a dirty room, or my fear of jellyfish. I'm talking about cholinergic urticaria.

In short, I'm allergic to my own sweat.

My. Own. Sweat. O_O

Here's how it goes: I go on vacation or traveling for whatever reason and stop my daily exercise routine, stripping my body of all the natural steroids and antihistamines it builds up when I do things like run. I come back and am painfully aware that these things are missing. I eye my running shoes for a few days and so does Grendel and when I finally convince myself there's no way around it, I go running for the short ten minutes it takes for my body to become a bee hive of itchy pain and despair. Rinse. Repeat x 3, or until the itching subsides.

It's horrible. I'm not gonna lie. It's like jumping into a hot tub of pink insulation or giving yourself chicken pocks and trying not to scratch. And it's a great reason not to bother with anything that looks even remotely like calisthenics.

But it's a horrible excuse

I love running and I love being in shape. Zombie apocalypse aside, I love feeling comfortable in my own skin and knowing that I can run a few miles without getting winded or injured. It's important to me, but sometimes it's the hardest thing in the world. I've just come home from a very long trip to visit the family in Mississippi and while I was there, I got sick. Not a little sick. A lot sick, and even though I had all sorts of fitness-related intentions, the exercise didn't happen. In this case, the reason was a good excuse, but it lead to the same hurdle and the same process of getting psyched for the inevitable.

Now, I'm home and I'm on day 4 of the ITCH! PAIN! and SUFFERING! routine and I got to thinking about all of the conversations I've seen about resolutions and the new year.

To resolve or not to resolve? That is the question!

I think it's great that we have a time, a cultural pause point for people to stop and take stock of what's in the pantry. It's a good time to get rid of the canned goods that expired in 2007 and figure out if you like what you've been eating or if it's time to add more legumes to the mix. It also seems to be a time when people open up their garages and basements and attics and rediscover all the things they said they were going to do last year and never did for one reasonor another. It's disheartening and I see a lot of door slamming on the whole idea of resolutions happening because of precedent.

So here's the thing: resolutions aren't magic.

And here's the other thing: we change when we want to.

In 2010, one of my resolutions was to play my cello once a week. Over the course of this year, I ran up against twenty-six thousand reasons not to practice. For starters, having a full-time job, writing two novels, and traveling 44 days that year. Which left me with 321 days in which to practice, most of them work days. But all of my reasons felt like really shitty excuses and I found ways to make room for my cello even when it was easier not to.

The results! Of the 321 viable cello days in 2010, I practiced on 197 of them. I'm going to say it again because the number is pleasing to mine eye: 197 days for an average practice time of 30 minutes. That's 98.5 hours! My final video is in progress and forthcoming.

None of it happened because it was in a list of resolutions I posted last year. It happened because I wanted it to.

If you're making resolutions, I wish you wild and unabashed success pursuing the changes you want. And if you don't do resolutions, I wish you the same.

For myself, I want to keep doing more of the same in 2011 with a few changes that I'm not ready to speak aloud. 

Cheers, Everyone. And Happy 2011!

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