Strength

As I have continued with my hiking, I’m loving the changes that I feel in my body. I make the gains in elevation so much easier, and the muscles in my legs feel so strong. I’d really missed being able to appreciate my body for all it could do.

South Fortuna Mountain
Thank you to the Celestrian on Flickr for the use of this wonderful photo

Before I started to dance, I viewed my body simply as brain transport. It was very much how I view cars, simply as a means of getting me from point A to point B and nothing more. I remember at one point I even made a deal with my body that so long as it would get me around, I wouldn’t ask anything overly precise of it. Boy, how things changed.

I’m still quite proud of myself for jumping into an activity that was so foreign to my way of thinking. Because I had made that leap and had changed that fundamental belief I held about myself, taking the plunge into archery where it is all about precision was done without thinking about it. (My very first archery bow is due to arrive any day now! Thank you, DH2U!)

Last month Steve over at Do Something Cool had a post, “Your Physical and Mental Limits are an Illusion.” Since I read this right after I’d taken a too difficult for me hike, it really got me thinking about how I’ve never really tested myself mentally the way I have physically.

Growing up, I was always in the honors classes, so I knew that others thought I was smart. I was terrified of having them find out that I really wasn’t as smart as they thought, so I never really pushed myself. It was a distorted version of  “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt” (which is accredited to both Abraham Lincoln and Confucius), where I was simply riding the prevailing beliefs. I didn’t realize at the time that the teachers were probably basing their assumptions on facts that I couldn’t see.

Grad school (the second time – my first go will be subject of a future blog post) was the first time I was ever in school for the knowledge and not the grade. What a difference attitude makes! I studied what interested me and not what was “safe”. I wanted to learn. My brain felt big and curly. Yet I never felt like I pushed past a barrier where I mentally thought I couldn’t go. Then again, the quantity was more than I thought I could do in the time allowed, but I made it through. How? I’m still not sure.

When was the last time you took your brain or body out for a test drive to see what it could do? or Have you ever met an unreasonable deadline and afterwards wondered how you did it?

4 thoughts on “Strength”

  1. Hey Tammy,

    You went to grad school twice? Good job for you. I’m so close to being done with grand school once and I don’t think I want to do it again. Part of that reason is from what you mentioned about wanting to learn. I find a lot of classes interesting, but many others I just don’t. In those instances I’m in it for the grade and not the knowledge. That’s when my motivation goes away.

    I’ve pushed my mental limit before. I’m a big reader so I’ll often read for hours at a time. One time I was in a long reading sessions where I read various things like the news, magazines and a book. Instead of calming my brain down, I proceeded to watch a couple of documentaries. I got to a point where my brain just felt full. My limit was reached when I tried to read something and after trying several times, I still couldn’t remember what I’d just read. That’s when I decided to stop.

    Steve

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    1. Well, my first time in grad school didn’t take. I was miserable, and although it was all I had ever thought I would do with my life, I had the courage to make a clean break and not look back.

      I, too, have reached brain saturation. I remember studying for finals, and I just couldn’t get some finance equations to stick. I offered to brain dump the Gilligan’s Island theme song to make room, but my brain disagreed. I’ve never pushed myself on topics that make my brain hurt just thinking about them. I am currently listening to “A Brief History of Time,” which I suspect will give it a test drive as to how much it can absorb.

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  2. Interesting questions, Tammy. Last time I took brain or body for a test drive? Last Sunday night I took a club dance class. It was wild. One hour of fast paced, jumping, choreographed dancing! I tried so hard to keep up, twist and turn and shake it up with the changing dances – so my brain was firing different synapses – and my body was jumping and dancing with it. I HAD SO MUCH FUN! Kids in class were mostly half my age. The only sad part was how bad my ankles and knees hurt afterwards. For a couple days. Sometimes it’s a bummer to age. But I’m going to take a positive spin and go back, just moderate the intensity – mostly because it was mentally and emotionally so much fun. It was stepping outside my comfort zone. I’m active. I snow ski like a mad woman. I cycle all summer. I lift weights – small – but I do them regularly. The dancing was out of my comfort zone – and was a test drive for body and brain.

    Hey – and have fun with the archery!

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    1. You are so right about dance classes being both physically and mentally exhausting. Especially when I was first starting out, my brain was full long before the end of class, and sometimes just after the review of the previous session! Good for you for breaking through your comfort zone. Your poor body! I know I’ve been saying, “I’m not 20 any more” a LOT lately.

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