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…

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March 4, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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