I walk through Washington Park every day, usually in the evening, to head to the Y. I really like my walk– I always see something interesting. One day, it was a movie of some sort being filmed. That same day, someone was learning walk a tightrope between two trees near the filming. Another day, two ballet dancers from SCPA were practicing. I see yoga being practiced fairly often, and the occasional drum circle, too. This morning, I saw the setup for a Sherrod Brown rally.
I’m rarely stopped in the park– I tend to be absorbed in whatever podcast is on my headphones, and if someone does try to stop me, I generally only pull out an earbud if I know the person. Yesterday, a woman walked up to me and motioned for me to pull out an earbud. “Hey, I see you in this park walking every day. Are you exercising?”
“Well, I walk through here on my way to the Y.”
“Really? Can I walk with you a little? I just want to see how fast you walk. I don’t walk as fast as you do.”
I figured, sure. So we walked a few paces.
“Are you rebuilding yourself?” she asked. “My boyfriend and I were talking about you, and I thought you were rebuilding yourself. You seem really determined.” I thought a minute.
“Yeah, you know what? I am.”
We walked a little farther, and she told me that she had COPD, and a year ago was on three drugs and a borrowed oxygen tank. “I can’t run or walk very fast, but I do what I can. I do resistance training.”
I am in a period of rebuilding. After a layoff that was more devastating emotionally than I’m really willing to admit, a process of interviewing that was not unlike dating: it was fraught with the highs of getting an interview and the lows of being rejected, or being told a company has decided not to hire, or just plain silence. Now I’m learning my way around a new company and a new job. Everyone is awesome, my job is fantastic, but it’s still going to take a while to rebuild.
Going to the Y has helped me rebuild. Before I started my job, it gave me a little bit of structure and a break from the monotony of the job search. After, it’s a good way to either start or end my day, de-stress, and not think. Or, think a lot, about whatever I want.
My confidence is up. I feel attractive, happy, competent. I haven’t lost a ton of weight (I blame two weeks on the road, one wedding, and two bachelorette parties), but my clothes feel good. I can feel muscle definition in my arms. I had a dream about seeing my abs (I can’t, but I feel them and I know they’re there). Everything jiggles less. I’m making better food choices. My trainer says I look “skinnier”. I’m not really going for skinny, but that’s fine. I’ll take whatever compliments I can get. I’m dancing with my girlfriends with abandon. The Better Half says I have my mojo back. He’s right. I do.
“My name is Tina,” said the woman who stopped me in the park, the one who got me to think about rebuilding. “Can I walk with you the next time I see you in the park?”
We all have moments when we’re torn down, but we have to choose to build ourselves up. Much like a building, we can be felled in an instant; it takes much longer to rebuild back to what it was before. It takes even longer to make it stronger, better, beautiful. It’s not instant, and whoever tells you that physical or emotional rebuilding can happen overnight is flat-out lying.
“Of course. I’ll see you tomorrow.”