Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Lent Day 13: Worth a sweat

Ladies perspire. They don't sweat, according to Victorian manners.

Nah. Not true. In the women's exercise "bootcamp" I attend a few times a week, we sweat. The trainer Mark Haner motivates a group of diverse women to action. We work together at 3 levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Mark may be nice (he never yells or criticizes) but he tells us what he expects, walking around the room gently correcting and assisting us to better form. (Check out DIFY. Routines are available online; try his free 2 week trial session complete with music and timer tracks.)

I'm awful at this. Out of shape. A mess of "not fit." But I'm encouraged rather than deterred by the workouts. I may join the online sessions as we begin to travel but I'm not quitting. I'm not as sore as I was 4 weeks ago, not even after doing three circuits on Monday (pushups and 4 other tortures paced by 20 seconds of squats = 15 sets of squats. Yeah. Ouch, right?) The first time we did that routine, most of us could hardly walk until Thursday. Mark promised to think up new things for April. Lucky us.

Actually yes. Lucky us. Though exercise isn't the most fun part of my day, I can feel my muscles begin to emerge from slack to engaged. From soft to more distinct. I chatted with one of the women who pumps out advanced pushups and pullups while I struggle with the beginner sets.

"I've been doing this for three years," she said. "I could hardly do any of this when I started. You'll get better. Trust me."

Life is like that. Things worth doing take effort and sustained, habitual engagement.

Here's a triumph to share: I can usually find the first three chords on my new guitar. I'm slow on transitions. The guitar sound isn't very pretty (but it's not too awful either = a Seagull S6 acoustic). I'm now starting on scales, relearning the patterns that come naturally to me on piano. But I am SO happy about those three chords. Just saying. (Strum strum strum. Guitar break.)

When you start something new, keep this in mind:
Real Simple's Thought of the Day
  1. Others have done this successfully. You and I are probably not the least gifted on the planet. The thing that interests us is worth a good try. We may succeed. (That core assumption helped me in childbirth: I considered that millions of Chinese women had successfully given birth. The likelihood that my child's arrival would kill me were low. OUWIE, it still hurt!)
  2. Any effort is worth our best effort. Is this worth your time and trouble? If so, put your heart and soul into it.
  3. Look forward to mastery. You may have a long way to go but doing this give you one more win on which to build the next. My success as a piano teacher helps me apply chunks of information - theory as well as pedagogue - to this new endeavor.
  4. Get good mentors and teachers. From the library, I signed out an armful of guitar lesson books. Each one teaches from a different vantage point. I check methods online. I'm learning a lot through these mentors. Eventually I'll need a face-to-face teacher to boost me through roadblocks.
  5. Persist. It takes time for the body and mind to create reflexes. Our brain is rewiring new habits of prayer, scripture reading, music lessons, job skills, or exercise.
  6. Accept your limitations. I'm never going to be as fluent as someone who started in their teens. Big deal (not)! I'll be MUCH better than if I hadn't tried. That's good enough for me.
  7. Enjoy! While practice is arduous and tedious at times, note how much better you are getting. I actually can imagine and put my fingers on an A chord (the easiest) without too much thought. I couldn't do that last week. Playing that chord makes me happy. Knowing I will take the A chord for granted in a few weeks makes me even happier.
  8. Thank God for the ability to learn. Gratitude makes each accomplishment sweeter, whether it's hard won or comes naturally.
Read more:
*David had said to his troops, 'Whoever is first to attack the Jebusites will become the commander of my armies!' And Joab, the son of David's sister Zeruiah, was first to attack, so he became the commander of David's armies. 1 Chronicles 11:6 (NLT)

*Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:23-26 NIV

*God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. The joy of Jerusalem was heard far away. Nehemiah 12:43 (NLT)

*The entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that Jesus was doing. Luke 13:17

*Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 NIV

Moravian Prayer: To you, Sovereign God of all creation, we raise our voices in glad thanks and praise. Your blessings preserve and sustain us. Alleluia! Alleluia! In Christ our Savior’s name we pray. Amen.

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