Be gentle and kind. Those words are circling around in my head a lot these days as I am doing my best to teach our boy the many expressions of gentleness and kindness. I trust that he’s working with the concepts in his own way when he follows the cat around the house screaming, or when he pushes over a friend that he really loves. We’ve been following up those decidedly un-gentle and unkind acts with a lot of close and quiet conversations about how our behavior effects others. To the point that yesterday in the car he said, “be gentle and kind.” I was on the phone with my mother at the time and she oohed and ahhed over his sweetness – more than she would have over the acts that have prompted the frequent reminder.
Anyway, I woke up today with a really stiff back. The kind that used to be commonplace for me. It put me in a sour mood and demanded a good deal of my attention. Which pulled me into a process of evaluating just how gentle and kind I am to myself. I’ve been looking back over the past couple days because I’m currently in the thick of these various new body projects and I have the idea that perhaps I pushed myself a bit to far. All the while trying to be gentle and kind. I believe that it’s a pitfall of specializing in corrective exercise that one runs the risk of becoming a bit too vigilant with one’s body. In all the efforts to make things right, there is an undertone that things are not currently so. That seems fine enough, but for certain kinds of over-thinkers like myself, it can easily become a constant barrage of thoughts about what is wrong and what needs to be fixed.
My injuries compound these tendencies. Twenty-three years of daily pain has definitely influenced my perception of my body. I’ve come a long way from where I started, and yet it is still quite easy to feel downright negative about the state of me. The only way through that is to be gentle and kind and to clean up those critical thoughts as they sweep through my mind which is also navigating pain signals, wild toddler signals, nanny signals, client signals, and all the rest that a day offers me. It was around noon that I had some time to myself and I really noticed what a relief that quiet space was. I needed that quiet to engage fully with my body, to tend to the aches and pains and everything else in between. I made progress and that was a comfort. But I believe that I’m going to be in the process of unwinding for at least a couple days here. And I will look to gentleness and kindness as my constant guides.