On a Slow Boat to Fitness

“You may be a wonderful doodlekit” is the phrase that opened a February blog post a year ago, almost to the day. It was, of course, an unsolicited statement. In the year that has passed, I have not pursued whether or not I am or have ever been wonderful, a doodlekit or any combination of the two.

In that same February post, I considered my True Self versus my False Self (Mark Nepo) in light of having to cancel family travel plans and wondered whether I would ever be able physically to travel again. It remains a question but because of my progress this past year, there is a trip in the making. Whether it’s the first of many or the last, there is a trip.


In preparation, I have been increasing my physical activity, which is not to say the trip will require any rigorous hiking or extended walking. That is for most people it will not. For me, just being in airports will be an outing. Although I have made significant progress in mitigating my lupus and Sjogren’s syndrome symptoms, one of the reasons for my success is limited physical activity.

It is no exaggeration to say my exercise program began with walking around one room and then another, eventually graduating to short walks in a park with Cooper. My current recovery is in its third year, and now, my personal best is a thirty-minute walk, with most of my walks right at twenty minutes. Frankly, I’m delighted.

Heron on Turtle Row 0213

It may not seem like much but on my way to a level of health that is realistic after decades of disease, I appreciate progress in inches. As I have mentioned many times on this blog, the biggest advantage to chronic illness is that it keeps one physically in the moment, for no matter what occurs on one day, the next day dawns as if the previous day never existed. Frankly, I suspect that is true with or without disease but chronic illness provides a 24/7 mirror.

Having achieved a daily 15-20 minute walk for a month without any significant increase in inflammation or stress on my joints has me giddy with success. Now, I am attempting yoga. My introduction is through Peggy Cappy’s Yoga for People with Arthritis DVD. I highly recommend it.

While I have become accustomed to the fact that the line in the sand is in a different place every day, in my eagerness to begin every day anew, I have a tendency to be idealistic, my mantra in almost every project I attempt. Yoga is no different.

What I appreciate about the Cappy DVD is that it is divided into sections of different poses as well as warm-up exercises. In addition, there are great exercises for hands and fingers, perfect for anyone who uses any kind of electronic device. In the short time I have been doing these exercises, there has been a marked increase in my flexibility, so much so that I ignored the line in the sand.

Wood Stork at Waverly 0213

Rather than allow my body to adjust to the sitting poses and warm-up exercises, I went on to try the standing and sun salutation poses–Warrior One, Warrior Two and even Sitting Dog–within a few days my inflammation increased to a level I had not known in over a year. Not the fault of the DVD or any of the yoga poses just the False Self ignoring the True Self and each day’s line in the sand.

My bones and joints have taken a pounding for decades, first with one disease and then another, yet there is still an optimum level of health available to me. As Deepak Chopra says in Quantum Healing, chronic illness and aging have an effect on what that level of health will be. I see it as progress in inches but it is progress, nonetheless.

As I mark this first year of contemplating my True and False Selves, I have made enough progress to begin yoga, one pose at a time, and to attempt a cross-country trip as an avowed Uni-Tasker–one task, one moment. Maybe someday, a doodlekit….

True or False Self

You may be a wonderful doodlekit…,” a possibility I had not considered, ever. I was, however, considering what Mark Nepo calls the “never-ending task of deciding to whom we entrust our life: our True or False Self.”

But before I deliberated on “doodlekit”—whatever or whoever that might be—Cooper provided a possibility for my current struggle with my two selves, True or False.

Mark Nepo and Mira threeintentions.com

Like any sensible being—canine or otherwise—Cooper is omnipresent to life in the now. In my last post, Trailblazing, I wrote about Cooper being ill and my glimpse of the road to the Rainbow Bridge or my False Self interjecting what may be but not what is.

In this moment in northern Florida, the humidity has dropped to 38% from over 90% and temperatures are high 40s with wind. It’s a cold, dry day, the kind that favors Cooper’s health, and he’s for it.

Dog ramp in tow, out the door we go for our ride. I open the hatch of my Toyota Scion. Cooper waits for me to stretch out the ramp and put it into place before he completely clears the ramp, as if he were a pup again, soaring  into the back of the Scion. With wide open grin, he turns and walks down the ramp. He is still Cooper; his dream still is “going bye-bye in the car” as we always have.

We take our usual front seats–I drive–before I can put the key into the ignition, Cooper licks my face for more than a few minutes. Once we settle into driving, Cooper places his paw on my hand, a dog having his day. Being human, I can only think of how hard my False Self works to prevent what may be.

We arrive at Guyte McCord Park for our daily stroll.

Again, I remember my morning’s meditation with Nepo and Carl Jung. In a dream, Jung works ceaselessly to clear a path to nowhere and to no purpose, it seems, until he reaches a cabin in a clearing, whereupon he drops his tools, and enters through its open door. He sees a being kneeling in front of a simple altar. Soon, he realizes he is seeing himself and “…that his life of cutting a path was this being’s dream.”  He has cleared the path to his True Self, his soul.

Cooper and I stop to sit awhile in a favorite area. He checks out scent. I stay with my two selves, True or False; I think we’re onto something.

Other than these daily park outings, I am no longer able to travel. This has been true for the last three years, not bad after more than thirty years of living with lupus.  Honestly, I’m still discovering what an extraordinary gift my life is but I seem to explore it only within my soul.

Dave R Farmer Image
WANA Commons

My False Self—the one that works so hard at fixing/preventing what may be—recently agreed to extensive family travel plans, relying once again on a way of life that no longer is but may be????

For two months, I thrashed through one form of fear or another over this trip: worry, stress, irritability, stress, sadness, stress—seeking any way it might be, any way except facing my True Self.

Not content with a Cooper leap of faith or a Jungian dream, my False Self screamed, stomped and swore until my online Scrabble partner (everyone should have a Scrabble partner of such equanimity) suggested I consider a drink or two, wondering whether it “would hurt that much?” Oh, out of the Chat wisdom of Scrabble partners….

KM Huber Image

I met myself not with drink but with an open heart for what is and no longer for what was. It hurt, all, but the air is clear, now.

A cold, canine muzzle nudges the limp leash handle loosely hanging from my fingers. Cooper is ready to go “bye-bye in the car,” as always.

A wonderful doodlekit? Who knows?

Rhythm of ROW80 Sunday Scheduling:

The 30-minute writing stretches have improved the overall quality of the “words I keep.” The exercise provides a way to think through material for blog posts as well as novel scenes.

As Gene Lempp mentioned in his blog today, none of this writing happens without patience. In that spirit, this week I am establishing a writing routine specific to my blog posts. I’m finding that it’s too much of a Sunday-Wednesday “time crunch” to produce quality posts. So, beginning this week, I will have two blog posts in final draft form by each Sunday.

I continue to work on my novel, using Larry Brooks’ Story Engineering and Kristen Lamb’s concept critique.  Last Saturday, I submitted an overview of the novel to my concept critique group and received excellent comments. I will work some with scenes and plots points as possible this week. This is the first substantial writing progress I’ve made in the last four years.