My New Year’s Resolution: Weightlifting (But Not the Kind You Think)

Just a year ago I wrote with excitement about Ringing in the New Year: Kettlebells and Lyrical Prose. Looking back, that was a time of innocence, before COVID, before Dan’s cancer treatments ceased working, before George Floyd’s death, before Trump was acquitted of the very crime he has just committed, again, this time in Georgia not Ukraine.

That was a time when life had a certain structure, a predictability, a schedule. I hoped that with practice I could master my gym’s new 45KG kettlebell, just as I hoped that with consistency I could hoist my blog from obscurity to a respectable if modest following. I hoped to finish the first draft of my memoir, applying the same diligence to working on it that I displayed in the gym. Instead, 2020 put me through a different kind of strength training.

I’ve been humbled, not by a failure to lift 45KG, but by my need to step away from goals, schedules, outward measures of success. I’ve always been dogged, terrier-like, just the same as this guy. But as we all know, things changed radically beginning in March, especially for those of us in New York City. My writing class began to meet via Zoom, my gym closed and for nearly four months I only left my apartment to walk the dog in beautiful Riverside Park along the Hudson.

At first, I was energized during quarantine, believing as did so many of us that if I could just keep going until summer things would go back to some version of “normal.” I didn’t blog as often as I wanted to, but I made great strides in research for my book, wrote three new chapters, revised several and kept up a modified version of my exercise routine.

And then August happened. Dan’s health took a dramatic turn for the worse, I sprained a knee, then suffered what became a series of migraines. One extended family medical situation after another ensued, but at least no-one got COVID.

However, I, whose motto has been for years “Trish gets it done” — the gal who never missed a deadline, always showed up on time, handled every bump in the road with a smile — found that forcing myself to pretend that things were “normal” wasn’t working. Trying to do it all, be it all, just as in “the before times,” was really weighing me down. I needed to back off. To take a break from being who I have always been. To admit that life, right now, is hard as hell.

Lifting the weight of expectation, of habit, of the need to be perfect, of the anxiety and guilt that has threatened my equilibrium in these last months has been the hardest strength training I have attempted in recent memory.

I’m trying to cut myself a break, to escape the guilt that I feel for not responding quickly (or sometimes at all) to comments, emails, texts, phone calls. I feel the weight of that guilt every bit as much as if it were that 45KG kettlebell. But I am trying to lift it.

I’ve pared down my life. Instead of continuing with my writing class, I am working on my memoir at my own pace, not needing to present chapters at a predetermined schedule. I’ve taken the time I would have used reading the work of others to plan out a course of action for myself, with the full understanding that I can change it as circumstances dictate. I’ve turned off email notifications on WordPress and pared down my subscription lists. I’m allowing myself to post at a frequency that meets my bandwidth.

Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

For all of us, 2020 will have been the year that changed so much of what we thought was immutable, testing our resilience, our perseverance, our equilibrium. Because I wish to be fully present in 2021, savoring each day with the one I love, I am choosing to do less in order to be more. One of my wise yoga teachers always reminded us as he sensed our stress rushing into class, “Slow down, you are a human being not a human doing.” May all of my readers find less stress and more joy in each day of this new year.

29 thoughts on “My New Year’s Resolution: Weightlifting (But Not the Kind You Think)”

  1. Honest experiences well and truly shared. I guess that would be a pretty good description of “the memoir life.”

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  2. 2020 has been revelatory for all of us- not just showcasing how broken the structures of our nation are, but how our personal lives have also been running on past promises, ideals and ambitions. I salute you for honoring your being, and letting what doing evolves from that unfold in its own way in its own time. We will not turn into puddles if we do less and allow ourselves to be more.

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    1. Thank you Judi. I know that you understand fully how difficult life is for me right now, and yet how much beauty there can be even in the hardest of times, because I have read about your own journey down this path. You are an inspiration to me. Thank you.

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  3. Beautifully written sentiments. The past year forced many of us to face the hard truth that we can’t control everything, or anything, except our reaction to events; that we must let go of the things – and people – that aren’t essential to sustaining us physically and emotionally. I already feel more calm and hopeful in 2021.

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  4. I so appreciate your perspective. I stopped weightlifting a few years ago and feel so soft and weak. I’ve slowed down my bullshit blog to a crawl, but your struggles make that all
    OK. And I thank you for that. More than you could know. Keep writing; keep lifting at your own pace. I can only hope to trail in your wake.

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  5. I don’t know why this made me teary. It feels raw and honest. I tell myself I’m doing well in these strange and hard times, but maybe I’m not letting in what is lost. This time with my grandchildren is a gift, but it’s not an easy gift. When you choose one thing (and I didn’t so much choose this as agree to it), you let go of something else. I miss the something else, and the what might have been. I do know that writing my blog has kept me in the world. I wish I knew you; I think we would be friends. I’m glad to have found you here. Don’t stop. Gretchen

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    1. We are friends! Even if virtually. Knowing that I have kindred souls around the globe helps to keep me sane, especially on January 7th after what happened on January 6th. Can’t stop, won’t stop writing and sharing.

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  6. Thank you. I think that the last twelve months have put quite a few things into a new perspective for an awful lot of people who have had to change, adapt and slow down. I think it’s always good to see and smell the flowers as we go past on our journey.

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    1. Yes. And being in the moment is so much easier for the four-footed than the bipeds. They may get the zoomies, but they also know that sleeping on a soft dog bad is the best life has to offer.

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  7. This is a really beautiful post. ❤

    I think I've been looking for this description, "I’ve been humbled, not by a failure to lift 45KG, but by my need to step away from goals, schedules, outward measures of success." I'm not very success driven any more, having "failed" so much during my career and survived it, lost all my family, and survived that, but there has always been a lingering wonder, "Is this what I should be doing?" Quiet, but there. I've been grateful for 2020 for reminding me that (for me) there is only ONE imperative, really, to stay alive so I can do the things I love.

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  8. “…you are a human being not a human doing.” What a perfect quote. I retired in February 2020, right before this all hit the fan, and some co-workers were annoyed that I had no plans for retirement. My days had been planned for 25 years! You’re darn tootin’ I had ‘no plans’ for retirement. I needed that. I have basically kept that pace this entire year. Not a bad gig. Your yoga teachers are very wise.

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  9. Most painful as I read is the knowledge that you can’t control the fate of the husband you hold so dear. May your year unfold in peace with ample time to just be with Dan.

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  10. I’m sorry to read that Dan’s health has turned. I think you’ve reached one of your goals. I think your blog is well received. Maybe not a huge following but tons of engagement from those who follow. And deservedly so.

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  11. You remind me of the advice a friend gave me last week: keep on doing what you do. (Meaning, Not what you wish and hope unrealistically to do. What you do is fine, it’s enough.) I found that healing, and a bit similar to your own readjustment. Kia kaha!

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  12. It sounds like you have found the path you need to take right now. It’s so easy to set goals and then berate ourselves when we don’t achieve them. It takes a bigger person to acknowledge that circumstances have altered and require a different pace and different outcomes. Enjoy your time with Dan this year. Write when it is right for you and not by some deadline. Have a great year!

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    1. Thank you. It is so hard to let go of the page one has crafted of one’s self for decades. But this year, letting go is so applicable to so many parts of my life that I am committed to doing it. May your 2021 be a wonderful one, too.

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