(Author’s Note: I try to keep this a PG blog, but there is a link at the bottom of this page to some very happy, positive, enthusiastic profanity. I’m blaming it on Jason Mraz, but I’m encouraging it by sharing it here. Consider yourself warned.)
Sometimes I find that things I’m not too sure about turn out to be the best gifts. I went with my friend, Shari, last night to see Jason Mraz perform at Red Rocks Amphitheater. I didn’t go because I’m a huge Jason Mraz fan. I went because I like Shari and because she asked and because I love concerts at Red Rocks. I saw my first show there in 1985 at the ripe old age of 17. (Oh…okay. Fine. If you must know, my first Red Rocks show was Howard Jones. It was the 80s. I was a teenager. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.) Shari moved to Denver two summers ago but hadn’t yet seen a show at my favorite venue, so I was excited to accompany her even if I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from the concert.
It was raining, so we geared up with waterproof jackets, umbrellas, and brown plastic lawn bags and braved the elements. We walked up the breath-taking ramp to the amphitheater, found our seats in Row 22, and settled in despite the steady rain. When the opening act had finished and Jason came on, it was still raining. Once we were three songs into the show I realized that the truly beautiful thing about Jason Mraz, whether or not you enjoy his music, is that he is a positive, happy soul and his attitude has the power to make things seem better. If you are a lyrics person, you will find his songs are filled with life-affirming joy and love. I stood in the 50-degree rain for four hours last night and never felt cold. That should say something about the sunshine this man is able to share.
Unless you’re a huge Jason Mraz fan, you may not have heard the song I am about to recommend. I hadn’t heard it until last night, but it was the highlight of my rainy evening. Jason explained that this song is about starting a tsunami of gratitude. I like the sound of that. The song made me smile. It reminded me how important it is to acknowledge the good in everyone you meet. So, I am paying it forward by sharing. Please know that I am truly grateful for your support. I’m 70 posts away from my goal of 366, a full year of daily blogs. I wouldn’t have kept up with it if it hadn’t been for your kindness in bothering to read what I have to say. Maybe you know someone who could use a pat on the back for something they’ve shared, created, begun, or accomplished? Share this song and start a small tsunami of gratitude of your own.
Yesterday I went to do one of my usual fall workouts. I know it’s not technically fall yet, but when the kids go back to school it’s fall for me. Anyway, I was at Red Rocks Amphitheater to do my standard exercise routine there. It basically consists of my walking or jogging a loop around the inside of the amphitheater…up the stairs, across the top of the amphitheater, down the stairs on the other side, across the front of the stage, and back up again. Depending on my energy level and schedule, I will do that 5-10 times. It’s not overly strenuous because I don’t get too intense about it, but it’s enough of an interval workout to get my heart pumping and my legs worn out. The charm of working out at Red Rocks goes beyond the sheer beauty of Red Rocks itself with its scenic with views of Denver and the towering red rocks framing the vivid blue sky. When you’re there, you feel like something of a bad ass. You’re not walking your dog down your block; you’re out there with the warriors who leap the steps, jump the benches, do lunges at the top of the amphitheater, and then crunches on the stage. And even if you’re not there doing a boot-camp style workout, you’re still there putting in your time. The folks who work out there form a loose community of nut jobs for whom a jaunt around the park does not truly register as exercise. You are a part of something unique and cool. You’re at the most awesome gym in the country. You’re a link in the crazy Colorado network of endorphin junkies. It’s no mistake that Colorado is the leanest state in the nation. We work at it.
So, as I was climbing stairs and feeling particularly bad ass for being there when what I really wanted to be doing after only five hours sleep was napping, I spied this guy.
<——-This guy is a firefighter. He’s in his full gear. He’s hauling a hose. He’s got his tank strapped to his back. He’s climbing the stairs in boots. Somehow, after watching him walk the stairs I was walking while wearing all that gear, I didn’t feel like such a bad ass any longer. In Colorado, as impressive as your dedication to your own health and fitness is, there is always someone who is more dedicated, someone who is doing what you do only he’s doing it longer, harder, faster, and better than you will ever do it. It’s humbling. It’s also inspiring. In my next life, I want to be that guy. For now, I’ll be satisfied that I was out climbing stairs at Red Rocks rather than sitting on my butt on the patio at Starbucks with a morning bun and a triple venti latte.
So, after six solid weeks of not doing any sort of regular physical exercise, the kids went back to school and my workout time miraculously returned. Woohoo, right? Yeah, yeah, sure, sure. Yesterday as I was climbing stairs at Red Rocks (very slowly while sucking a lot of thin air and talking way too animatedly with my friend Heather), I noticed a little something disturbing happening with my arms. The back sides of them, where my triceps used to be and presumably still reside, were flapping. Flapping. They were swaying in harmony with the motion of my arms. Ew. Ew. Ew. I knew this would happen someday. I mean, this sort of thing happens to all women of a certain age, right? I chose to ignore it and not mention it to my friend because she is younger than I am and she doesn’t need to be burdened with this type of miserable yet inevitable discovery. When she is my age and starts to notice this same troublesome phenomenon, I will nod my head knowingly. I kept climbing the stairs and pushed the odd sensation at the back of my arms into a quiet spot deep in the recesses of my busy brain. I forgot all about it. Until today.
For today’s workout, I decided to hop on my mountain bike and do the 6-mile singletrack loop on the open space behind our house. It all started out fine. As I climbed steadily toward the top of the ride, my attention was fixed on my legs, still sore from the stupid stairs at Red Rocks yesterday. I started my descent. That’s when I noticed It was back. Careening down the hill, bouncing over rocks, the back of my arms flapped wildly like the wings of a chicken that is trying to escape from a mouthy red fox. Holy crap. Luckily, I have small arms so the arm flapping was not large enough in scale to knock me unconscious. Still, the depressing fact remained. What I felt yesterday was not an anomaly. My body is betraying me. Dammit! I thought about rushing home and pulling out my free weights to torture my triceps into submission. But, that would require so much work.
So, rather than trying to ameliorate the situation, I did the next best thing. I looked for the silver lining in my cloud. There must be one, right? One that would allow me to skip hours of free weights and kettle bell exercises. I scanned my brain for signs of my zen. Then it came to me….a way to make peace with my fluttering arm flaps. You see, this isn’t a sign of a breakdown of strength. It’s an indication of a loosening of spirit. I’m becoming less uptight. Yeah. That’s it. That’s the ticket. It’s not that I’m becoming soft, per se. I’m simply a bit more relaxed. I’m not falling apart. I’m yielding. I can live with that. My slackening skin, while a bit disconcerting and unattractive, is merely an outward manifestation of inward move toward zen. I’m grateful that I’m healthy enough, sagging flesh be damned, to climb stairs and ride a mountain bike. Those are the things on which I should focus. After all, what’s a little flapping skin among friends? I’m at peace with my wiggling and jiggling but otherwise healthy body. End of story.
By the way, I may or may not also have a bridge to sell you…if you’re interested.