It’s spring. The sun has decided it is time to pay Brooklyn a visit. One Saturday, when I wake to chirping birds around 7 a.m., I decide to take myself to an exercise class. I haven’t been in many months, so I’m not sure why it has come to mind. But some springish whim has grabbed hold of me, so off I go.
I walk into the dance studio and am swept over with the familiar mix of anticipation and loss. I can’t dance the way I used to, and coming back is bittersweet. There’s such a sense of hushed potential in that empty room. I am just here to stretch out my shrunken muscles and stiffened joints and to put my abs through mild torture. I’m only twenty-seven, but I am noticing these changes.
The class is based on yoga and Pilates. It’s a room full of women, most in their thirties and forties and older. Many are here for some personal time while their children take their ballet classes downstairs. As we begin—folding over in child’s pose, kneeling back and rolling out our necks in gentle circles—there are groans and sighs and humorless laughs. We sit cross-legged, lotus pose, on the squishy blue mats and elongate our spines before bending over our knees. The instructor corrects our posture, encourages shoulders down and backs straight, spines stacked on top of pelvis and sitz bones.
I breathe and stretch. It hurts. But I am able to do it and I’m on top of the world.
So then, between the “stretch” and “core” segments of the class, I take out a small thin notebook and open it up and write #7 – Sitz bones grounded in the mat.
I haven’t been writing lately. (This sentence prompted by Brad’s recent post.) I backspaced and retyped that first sentence several times, adding qualifiers and modifiers and excuses, but the heart of it is that I’m just not making time to write. I’m a writer for a blog about the writing life after college, and I’m not writing.
I’m busy, yes: new job, wedding, moving, planning worship for church, planning a road trip honeymoon, and, and, and. And this is life. “This is what life is like, and sometimes it doesn’t make sense.” (Also Brad. Thanks, Brad.) This is my life and these are circumstances, and if I can’t change them, can I change myself instead?
This nascent notebook is my gratitude journal, inspired by Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. Thankfulness leads to joy, accepts grace, sees miracles, changes life. It starts small. It starts as Adam started, by naming. Paying attention and looking. Valuing things that otherwise I would skip right past. Slowing down.
This is how writing starts, too: paying attention. Looking and noticing, first; then recording, or exploring, or pondering. Not rushing blinkered through the days, worrying about getting stuff done because worry is how I try to exert control over uncontrollable things to keep me from panicking. Looking pulls me back into myself. Writing it down redirects my attention where it belongs. I am starting small with simply looking and thanking.
My list is short, but each day it grows.
These are the first steps.
These are the first words.
After graduating with an English degree, Amy (Allen) Frieson (’10) moved to New York City and spent several exhilarating years working in children’s book publishing. Now, she works as a career consultant and has much more time for writing, reading, wandering the city, cooking non-vegetarian meals (a new thing), dreaming about apartment renovations, and leading worship along with her husband at their NYC CRC.