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.

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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
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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
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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….