I read something online recently that pulled at my heart and mind. It’s a notion that I’ve heard over and over again throughout my years in the Pilates world: that we Pilates enthusiasts must embrace our lives beyond Pilates because there is more to life than Pilates. On the one hand I say, here here! On the other hand I sadly say that sometimes my life feels all about Pilates. There are a couple reasons why, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone which is why I’m inclined to share.
I am not wealthy now and I never have been. I grew up with divorced parents and lived with my single mom. I left my home state when I graduated from college and moved alone to a place where I didn’t know anybody. It happened to be one of the most expensive places to live in the United States of America and I’ve been hustling ever since. I have always been determined to follow my dreams. Dreams first, everything else second.
This has meant that pretty much all my resources have gone into my Pilates training and little studio. I don’t know from experience, but I imagine that wealth affords us a bit of distance between time and money. We can luxuriate more in the fun of life because we don’t have to be earning every available moment to cover our bills. For me, the link between the time and money has always been pretty short. It’s meant that I haven’t had the spare time to build community around other pastimes. I’ve done my best and have had pockets of fun here and there with dance, tennis, and other interests, and I do love my craft projects, but these days life is mostly about work. And family.
Aside from work, I did also manage to find a mate out here in the wild west and we have a son. My husband has his own business. Between our businesses and our child, we are packed schedule-wise. I don’t like it at all. In my head or out loud, I complain about it most days. Which I realize is a personal problem that I can address. But there it is. Dreams first. Neither my husband nor I is ever ready to throw in the towel at the exact same time that the other one is so we keep on going. With time I do believe that we have become more tenacious which is a blessing and a curse. As a means of emotional survival, I keep working my mind to find the little nuggets of joy that sparkle up my days.
I tend toward the introverted side of the scale and along with that goes being sensitive to my environment. I noticed something back when my teaching practice was really full and I was talking for several hours a day all the while engaging in the peculiar brand of relationship that Pilates instructors have with their clients (I call it intimacy with strangers). I stopped listening to music or NPR in the car (I love music and have always listened to the radio) – I needed the quiet. The fullness of my teaching practice and my sensitive nature demanded that I retreat when I wasn’t working. Which was fine, but where were the fun social activities? There weren’t many. That could be fine for a span of time right? We all have different phases of life. I also live far from longtime friends and family so I don’t have those regular social interactions happening around me as I would if I lived back in Michigan and I have a sort of wacky spread out family anyway. All that adds up to even less social time.
Then I became a mom and I tried to do it my way. I was determined to keep my work with my little studio right under our home, and even more than that I was determined to keep connected to my son. My dream of being a mom has always been my biggest and dreams come first. I’m glad that I’ve done it my way even though it has been the most difficult thing that I’ve ever done – by far – and I’m not even four years in. Compounding the challenges has been the extreme loneliness. I never joined a moms group because I didn’t have time – I work when other parents play with their kids. Unlike working moms who still have their colleagues, I work alone and I’ve become much clearer on the boundaries between professional and personal relationships thanks to a few instances of professional relationships gone “bad”. Bottom line is that it’s hard and lonely to do things in an unconventional way.
Looking back I can see how it all fits together to create the life that I’m currently living. The life that frustrates me. My singular focus on following my dreams no matter the cost, the challenge of building a life far from my original home, how I needed to respond to the particular demands of my work, and how that all set me up for being even more isolated as a new mom than I would have otherwise been. It’s true that it’s my design and that I have the power to change it. But it is also a rather tangled web of desires and knowing which thread to pull free in order to loosen it all up is difficult.
I’m trying my darnedest not to feel pitiful, I’m trying not to whine. But I’m also trying to understand. I’m trying to figure out why I’m not perfectly happy living the life of my design because clearly this was not the plan. I’m pretty sure that I’m close to cracking it, I’ve got almost all the pieces perfectly in place. In the meantime I mull over the ideals and compare them to my reality and try to stay positive.
When I read that same old idea, one of my guiding lights in putting together my life I felt sad and compelled to dig a little deeper into the topic and shed some light on the complications that make setting up the perfectly balanced life such an involved project. Against the odds, I do believe that we can all get there. Sometimes writing it out serves us toward that end.