Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

SMALL VICTORIES
As I hit the walking trail for my morning jog, I could feel the mental fingers of dark despair slowly curling around my neck. The path and surrounding woods were wet from last night’s rain, and the smell of wet dirt, one of my favorites, only lightened my mood slightly as I wound my way through the park, across the bridge and into the trees. I was suffering from a bout of anxiety, which hits me occasionally, and spent the first half of my jog scolding myself for goals I have not met. I’m sitting on three near-finished manuscripts, yet lack the discipline to apply myself to any one of them long enough to finish it. Then there’s the overwhelming task of creating a cover for each one, artwork isn’t my strong point. And finallly there’s the task of actually publishing and marketing a finished manuscript. What was I thinking? What am I thinking? What made me think I could actually finish something and become an author? Why do I always set grandiose goals for myself, that obviously I can’t accomplish?
I berated myself for the first half of the jog, then engaged in my own private pity party as I turned around and headed for home. I’m no stranger to this kind of mood, and reminded myself that it usually hits when I’m on the verge of making big changes. I knew the panic would pass, it always does. The best cure for this mood was to get home as quickly as possible and start writing. Writing anything. On any manuscript. So I jogged sluggishly across the bridge to get to work, and was reminded of another grand goal I’d set for myself and hadn’t accomplished, and judging by my recent attempts, probably never would achieve—the goal of doing three pull-ups on the bars at the playground.
Like many of my goals, saying them out loud is easy. And since I’ve seen other people accomplish them, I know they’re possible for me to do. I just have to put the work into them. Each day as I finish my jog I stop at the playground and attempt a pull up. The result is my arms shaking, my face turning red and veins popping out on my forehead, as I, in vain, attempt to pull my chin above the bar one foot above me. It also entails a not very attractive flipping of my legs in mid air, hoping the frog-like thrashing about will propel me over the top. Today I wasn’t going to stop. Why bother? I got about three feet past the path that led to the playground, and deciding I had nothing to lose anyway, took my sorry butt over to the playground.
I put my juice and phone down on the swing, slipped off my gloves, and, quite dejectedly, reached up and grabbed the bar above me. A small part of me thought that the dead weight of my body would symbolically cement my mood. I haven’t pulled myself up more than a few inches each day, and I was really looking for validation that I really could not achieve such a goal. Today I didn’t even try to cheat with a little jump, I just stood still, grabbed the bar and flexed my arms, sure that the weight of the world would hold me down.
Apparently the world decided to give me lift today, because without the standard shaking and screaming pain in my muscles, my body slowly lifted off the ground, more than a few inches. In a brief moment, my chin was several inches above the bar. I had done it! I had done a pull-up! The very thing that I thought was impossible to do, I was doing! And I wasn’t in excruciating pain! Startled, I dropped back to the ground and looked around, hoping someone else had witnessed my accomplishment. A couple of birds were hopping around the ground, and a fat squirrel looked down at me from his perch in the tree high above. They were unimpressed, but I couldn’t stop beaming. I fist-pumped in victory and maybe whoopeed out loud a few times, before turning back to the bar. Maybe it was a fluke. Maybe I had an unexplained rush of adrenaline that made it happen. Maybe I couldn’t do it again. So I grabbed the bar, and the exact same thing happened. I slowly lifted my body off the ground and did a second pull-up. It hurt a little bit, but still not excruciating. This time I jumped down and spoke directly to the fat squirrel. “Did you see that?!” I can’t believe I actually did it. And that I didn’t hurt myself. A week ago I couldn’t even lift myself two inches off the ground, and now I had just done two complete pull-ups. As I danced around in celebration, I realized that although I had set a goal of completing 3 pull ups, I hadn’t specified to myself that they be 3 consecutive pull ups. So I went back for a third, and although I did have to throw in a tiny air-frog hopping at the end to propel chin over the top, I felt good about the third pull up. I had just accomplished a goal that 5 minutes before I had thought was hopeless.
I was still grinning from ear to ear as I collected my phone and juice and headed home. As Depeche Mode blasted in my ears, I ran the rest of the way through the neighborhood, feeling like I was the wind itself. Gone were my previous thoughts of despair and failure, replaced with the knowledge that I really can do anything I set my mind to. One small pull-up for mankind, one huge….well I don’t really know how to end that, but the point is, I reached my lofty goal…

March 4, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

GET BACK ON THAT BIKE
Feeling better and determined to attempt my bike ride once again, I hopped on Mona’s bike, plugged my iPod into my ears, threw my backpack on my back and headed out through the neighborhood. My motivation was a serving of sour cream and onion Pringles potato chips, which I had a craving for and intended to get from the market up the street, then take home and eat with my lunch. The weather was warm, and fueled by my overwhelming craving for the salty treat, I was feeling exceptionally strong as I pedaled my way through the neighborhood to the bike path. The wonderful thing about the area is the bike/walking path that runs for miles, in all directions. Anywhere there’s a major road, highway or open space there’s a path, making it possible to bike to virtually anywhere. Excited for the exercise and the thought of exploring, I was flying along at a good pace when I hit the bike trail.
Apparently the good weather brought all the bikers and walkers out, because the minute I hit the trail I was smack in the middle of a biking trail traffic jam. There was a young man in front of me going exceptionally slow, and swerving from left to right on the path. Bike path etiquette requires that you stay to the right, and if you pass someone you do so with some kind of acknowldegement, like, “Passing on your left.” The young man kept weaving, and as I was getting ready to pass him on the left, another cyclist approached from the opposite direction, and I was forced to remain in line behind the slow biker. By the time the other biker passed, my turn was quickly approaching, and I didn’t have time to pass the slow biker before I needed to turn. So I slowed way down and fell in behind him, crawling down the path until I broke free and turned off the trail to the right. I enjoyed about 3 minutes of riding fast, the wind whipping my hair and chilling my face, before I came upon a couple of walkers. An older couple, out for a morning meander. I once again slowed down and waited for a chance to pass, which involved waiting for them to wander across the narrow bridge before I greeted them with “good morning” and went around them.
I cleared the bike path and emerged on the sidewalk of an overpass, close to my destination. The sidewalk was narrow but downhill, so I accelerated and once again enjoyed the feeling of riding fast. For about 2 minutes. Then, on the narrow walk in front of me, was a city maintenance man, riding in a gold cart, which took up most of the sidewalk in front of me. Damn. I slowed down yet again, and crawled past the man who greeted me with a “good morning” and a smile. By the time I passed him, I was only a block from the gas station, and my craving for Pringles potato chips would soon be satisfied.
I was disappointed that my ride had been so slow, and it didn’t feel quite like the workout I had hoped to achieve. But, nonetheless, I purchased my little canister of Pringles, stuffed them in my jacket pocket, and headed home, taking an alternate route down the path, hoping to be less impeded. I did indeed satisfy my need for speed on the return trip, and by the time I rounded the last corner to the house I felt like I was 8 years old again, mastering my two-wheeled vessel and riding like a pro.
With Supertramp blasting in my ears as I approached home, I danced my way through the garage and put the bike away. I continued my happy dance as I went into the kitchen, where I prepared to make a sandwich and enjoy my Pringles. But as I reached into my jacket pocket where I had stashed the delicious treats, I came up empty handed. My pocket was empty. The small canister had obviously worked its way out of my pocket and fallen to the road, somewhere between the market and home. I sighed heavily and hung my head in defeat. There would be no chips with my sandwich. I considered retracing my steps to look for the lost chips, but decided against it. I ate my dry sandwich and sulked for the rest of the afternoon.

March 4, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment