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  • Writer's pictureErin

Back on board

I gave myself three goals for this summer: stick to a healthy routine, be present, and skate more.

The first month or so after the school year ended, I was incredibly busy. Between moving, I was doing some long-overdue travelling post-quarantine, visiting friends who had also moved and taking weekend vacations with two bachelorette groups I'm so happy to be a part of (one of whom is my brother's fiancé...12 days, y'all!!! 😭). But the past two weeks have been wide open, allowing me to actually start committing to these goals. I'd like to talk about each of them.

A "healthy routine," to me, looks like waking up a little earlier than I need to to give myself the morning to meditate, journal, read, sip on some coffee, and just be with myself. It looks like taking care of myself and being an active participant in that, rather than doing it all on autopilot. It looks like cooking nice meals most days and nights. It looks like going to the gym or dancing in the living room or doing yoga with my partner. My phone is usually nowhere in sight. Like so many people, however, I usually end up hitting snooze and staying in bed to stare at my phone first thing in the morning. For some, this leads to underlying anxiety throughout the day. For me, it sets up a feeling of fogginess. It makes it so much harder to be focused on the day in front of me; I'm much more likely to reach for my phone the second I get bored or don't know what else to do. I'm not into that. But it's a really tough habit to break.

Which then, of course, brings me to being present. To me, this is actively feeling my body and its placement on Earth, really looking around and taking note and appreciation of what I see. Relishing in the moment. Pretty straightforward stuff. I have been practicing presence a lot lately, and I am definitely noticing the benefits. That said, I still often have that foggy feeling that keeps me just a little too far away from the moment to really be there.

So...skating. The place that I just moved into is just up the street from a popular bike/walking path that stretches for miles in both directions. If I take it east, I can get to the skatepark on the other side of town in ten minutes or so. It's awesome. I've taken a couple mornings when I wake up with plenty of time to grab my board off the wall and cruise down to the park; there are tons of gardens and wildlife preserves along the way, so I'll hop off and admire the flowers. There's a little bridge I like to push up and race down on, and the bikers probably hate me for getting in the way of it. There are long stretches of slight downhill where I can just glide forever without stopping. The best part, though, is that no one goes to the park during the work week, so I usually only share it with two or three other people. I have plenty of space to experiment and make mistakes. When I go, it's usually the best part of my day.

Sometimes, though, I get tough on myself with this hobby. For one, I took videos of myself last week to see what I looked like as I tried different techniques, and the first thought that came through was "Damn, I look really stupid." Immediately, that made me want to stop trying, sulk off and go home. Then more thoughts creep in (you all know how this goes)..."You've been skating for five years now, why are you still acting like a beginner?"

  • "Why are you so afraid to fall?"

  • "Those guys probably think you look stupid too."

  • "They're so much younger, and so much better than you."

By the time I do get home, though I'm proud of myself for getting up and going out there, I'm discouraged from wanting to try again.

Maybe it's the Aries in me that wants to be good at everything I do, immediately; I don't typically consider myself competitive like the stereotypical Aries, but there is truth in saying that if I can't be the best (as quickly as possible), then I lose interest. Maybe it's in the perfectionistic-OCD symptoms I've been working through with my therapist...if I can't do it all 100% perfectly, then it's a wasted mission, and I want to give up.

But then I remember...

  • When I do finally land a trick, it feels like I'm flying. It makes my entire week.

  • When I am able to stay present, I feel more than human. I feel what goes beyond my understanding.

  • When I do stick to those routines...when I wake up at 8, make a good breakfast, go to the gym...I stay smiling all damn day.

I like to say that there are two parts of my brain, and I think many others know what I'm talking about when I say this. We have the initial, primal, gut-reaction part, and then we have the other part that takes time and grace to come to conclusions. The id and the superego, if you wanna get philosophical with it. The id says to me, all the time, "God damnit, why can't you just be better?" The superego, though it often takes a longer time to go live, says "Hey, remember that you're doing all of this to grow and eventually be better. You're setting yourself up for long-term success, not instant gratification. The former is a life changer; the latter lasts only a few moments."

The id is a slap to the face you get as a child when you disappoint an elder. The superego is a reassuring hand on your shoulder, or a hug, when you need to know that you're doing your best. Keep an ear open for the superego, always.

I kept framing these two weeks of openness as a reset of sorts, as the timeframe where I would really get down to business and accomplish all of these goals to their highest potential. To the id-Aries-OCD brain, that means doing it all perfectly from day one: She is getting BACK👏 ON👏 BOARD👏 and nothing! will! stop! her!!! She will get it and be perfect forever!!! But when I let that part of my brain calm down, tire itself out, I hear the gentler voice: The amount of change and turbulence that has been happening warrants a lot of rest; don't feel bad about it. Allow yourself to mess up, and find grace for when you do. Getting back on board means there is progress to be made. Be patient, and be present with it.

To my dear reader: what have your recent goals been? Are you with me in so often feeling like you need to conquer them immediately? Think on that for a moment...if you are, please know that you're not alone, not ever. And if you're not, I'd love to know how you do compartmentalize your goals in your calm, amazing little brain!

What does getting back on board mean to you?

To me, it's putting myself just outside of my comfort zone so that I may grow in that particular direction. It's opening up to fears of failure, rejection, vulnerability, etc. It's opening up to things that I want, that are not so easy to obtain. We glide toward those things. We may fall along the way; we make look a little stupid. But we're going.

Someday, slowly, we'll get there. And then we relish in that realization.


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