Triceps

I hit the lowest point I’ve been in for years about a week ago. Somehow, counterintuitively, seeing the US emerge from a year + of COVID mandates made me feel more unsteady — not less. chiara francesca’s recent instagram post helped to put words to all the confusion I’ve been feeling. Specifically,

“we cannot process things as we are going through them.”

The thought at the very bottom, the ticker tape that kept playing through my head, was that I haven’t done anything this past year. What does any of this amount to, and what do I do now? People close to me reminded me that I had survived. Full stop.

I have also gone deep inside and learned more of who I am. And that is never wasted energy.

In late 2020 I reached out to Coach Angel Stone (Fit & Hungry), looking for her fitness help. I knew she, and she alone, could offer the support I was looking for. My dancer body had long ago gone into hiding, and add to that the culmination of new work from home patterns (the opposite of ergonomic chairs and makeshift home desk situations, isolation in my tiny little space, etc), and the uncharted and contradictory recommendations for those like me, who have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), I was feeling alien in my own being.

I had been focusing so much on my mental well-being. I knew I needed to also incorporate my physical health if I was to have any chance at becoming my full, complete self. Angel and I worked together in real life years — lifetimes — ago. Now we were across the world from each other, but are able to pick right back up, thanks to her eagle zoom eye, and shelter in place, which made this kind of interaction not only possible but also a given. (Side note — she sees EVERYTHING through that little screen. So if you go asking to work with her yourself, don’t think you’ll be able to get away with anything just because she’s not standing next to you in person.)

It’s hard to see progress when you’re in the middle of it.

The tailored workouts mean she’s adapting as I am. So it’s sometimes incredibly hard to tell that I’ve advanced at all.

Except. I think back now to those first sessions. Not only did I want to throw up and give up in the midst of the workouts, but I was completely spent afterwards. For hours. I had trouble completing the exercises and felt defeated — felt that I would never reach the goals I had set for myself. Thank goodness I know better than to listen to my inner critic, and instead put my faith in Coach — knowing she saw something, and that she wasn’t giving up on me so I couldn’t, either. (I learned this over the Pandemic: Accountability is REAL and is SO MUCH of the motivation I need.)

During one of our sessions last week (and six months after we started working together) she exclaimed, “Is that a tricep I see?!” I laughed it off. No way. At least not anything worthy of praise compared to ‘insert any toned, athletic person here.’ She’s just being nice. (Side note. She’ll be the first to tell you she doesn’t dish out compliments just to be nice.) But then my internet got spotty and I froze long enough for her to grab a screenshot. And lookit! I have a tricep! And a proud Coach!

So often we set out on a path to accomplish something, and then we expect immediate or aggressive results. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the day to day so that we forget, or don’t see for ourselves, all the progress we really are making. Those micro, cellular level, real, true change moments. Maybe it’s not at the pace we’d like it to be. Maybe we quit before we allow ourselves to truly find out what was possible. Maybe we’ve set unrealistic expectations — or worse someone else’s expectations — for ourselves.

And sometimes, a tricep is hidden from our own view because the progress is steady and small and unremarkable until it isn’t, so we need our Coach (or friend/lover/confidant/mentor) to reflect back what we can’t see for ourselves.

Here’s to all of our tricep moments through this pandemic and beyond.

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Emily Arden Design (EAD) is an art production company that supports visionary artists and organizations in realizing their most ambitious public projects.

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Emily Arden Eakland

Emily Arden Design (EAD) is an art production company that supports visionary artists and organizations in realizing their most ambitious public projects.