Being in the industry of health and movement, I am somewhat on the front lines of perception: the perception of health and the perception of “the right way.” And, as a former gymnast and current performing artist, I myself am the subject of the perception of health and “the right way.”
There are many times when I meet a client, in both the Pilates and dance worlds, who want to be “fixed.” They hear from this instructor over there, this massage therapist here, this chiropractor around the corner, that they are not moving, breathing, being what is perceived to be “right” and healthy. It is an interesting, erroneous lens, and a lens that is more concerned about our high aesthetically demanding society, ignoring the the individual.
When I am approached with these comments, these agonizing eyes, I want to hug them (an extra long version of my already very long Madison Wisconsin hugs) and help them realize how healthy they in fact are.
The fact of the matter is we are all working toward things in all aspects of our lives: to keep expanding in our chosen professional fields, to guide our children well yet give them room to grow, to be a better partner, to be a better parallel parker (ahem).
Our physical journeys within our bodies are no different, (to alleviate pain in my neck, to find better posture, to lift my child without hurting my back), though there seems to be a lot more negative undercurrent with this specific physical/movement aspect of improvement.
I have been trying to wrap my psychoanalytical brain around this, but the thing is, health is not linear. Health looks different, and it’s as varied as the characteristics of human beings. I also recognize the inner dialogue that we tend to have in regards to our bodies. We are not this enough or that enough. And immediately we are met that we are too much this and too much that…I NEED TO BE FIXED!!! Where am I supposed to go from here!!!! We need to remind ourselves:
We are standing
We are growing in many facets
We are eating and finding nourishment through different avenues (this absolutely includes chocolate chip cookies)
We are breathing
We are learning
Our hearts are beating
We are proactively pursuing life
We are not broken
With the coming of the New Year I want to challenge myself, and my community, to question our inner dialogues pertaining to health. To recognize the strength of the legs that carry us, the balance of the feet that support us, the length of the arms that reach for us, the fullness of the belly that nourishes us, and the enormity of the breath, heart, and mind that keeps us vital. After taking honest inventory of these things, the journeys on which they have and continue to travel, then ask “Am I really broken? Do I need to be fixed?” Hopefully we will recognize our strength, we will be with our balance, we will see our bounds and keep pushing, we will relish in our bellies, and we will recognize the grandeur of our beings. There is no “right way” or “one way” to look, to move, and to be walking in health.
We are far from broken. Quite the opposite in fact… we are all movers in our own healthy, beautifully quirky ways. And we continue to pursue to see, feel and be the difference we need in our own individual healthy lives.