Morning Pages #1
thoughts on a complicated lineage of movement
I’m tired. Physically. I think it’s period- and perimenopausal-related because I otherwise feel...normal. My rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogren’s symptoms are currently mild which is a relief although, with RA and SS, there’s no telling how long this abatement will last. As my most recent flare began to subside just enough four weeks ago, I started getting up before everyone else again.
Every night my phone goes into “sleep” mode until 5:25 a.m. when the alarm starts to chirp at me from the bookshelf a few feet away from the bed. If I’m wearing my smartwatch when it does, then the chirps are gentle, successive taps on my wrist. Every morning the ritual has become the same: I swing my legs over the side of the bed and sit up slowly, doing a quick body scan to check for severity of stiffness. I get up, grab the phone, and hobble my way to the bathroom, then my closet to get dressed, back to my nightstand for glasses, and finally move my way out of the bedroom and down the stairs as quietly as possible.
Every morning for the last week, however, my body has awakened with the birds at 5 a.m., rousing me from dreams too ephemeral for my conscious mind to attach any discernible meaning to. If I’m traveling through portals and dimensions to other places or being visited by faces I’ve only seen in family photographs, any insights they are bringing me about myself or about how to move through my current corporeal form until I join them, I have yet to retain.
I think the earlier wake time and specific movement ritual I’ve been engaging in are part of an assignment they’ve given me for this season though.
I believe this because, despite the physical fatigue, my body is resolute in its determination to ground itself outside. The only way I’m managing the current cycle of stress, strain, and joy of expansion, deeper inner child healing, parenting in ways that I was not parented, holding space for healing and the transmutation of generational and ancestral traumas, reparenting myself, breaking cycles of self-sabotage, is through walking.
Getting up so early means I’m exhausted by the late afternoon, but starting the day off with a walk has helped me manage my stress and anxiety over the last month. It’s movement, which is good and gets all the stressful energy out of my body, but doing it outside versus jumping on the Peloton or dancing around my basement feels more grounding and meditative. It’s quiet, it’s still cool here in the mornings even though we’re approaching summer, so the morning air is still crisp with little humidity. Nothing feels “sticky.” (This perimenopausal body cannot tolerate sticky heat.)
The first half mile or so as I walk away from the house is the only time I feel any strain during the walk, mostly because I’m just starting to really wake up. This morning, for example, I couldn’t stop yawning, which made my eyes water and my vision blurry. I walked right into a tree branch that extended its way out over the sidewalk. But once I left my street and headed toward the next one, my body started to feel less sluggish as my legs began to quicken and then keep a steady pace. The yawns stopped. My eyes stopped watering. The spring air washed over my cheeks and filled my lungs as I took in big gulps of air. Usually, by the time the second song begins to play on whatever playlist I’ve chosen, I feel far more awake than I did when I stumbled down the steps and out of the house minutes prior. This morning it was Guy’s “Groove Me”. My thoughts drifted to a memory of dancing with cousins in my aunt’s backyard in North Philly, drenched in sweat from moving my body in the summer’s sticky July heat. Purple jellies on my feet. Ponytails swinging, plastic barrettes threatening to fly off their ends with each flick of my head. Hot air whistles through the gaps left by two missing front teeth as my chest rises and falls with each breath. Laughter. Aunts and mother yelling in amused delight; an affirmation that movement there was safe, a new but foreign reality to become familiar with, even if temporarily.
I take in a deep breath and am brought back to the present as the song shifts into the final chorus. The stiffness in my joints has eased considerably by the time I’m nearing the first mile—that enables me to pick up my pace a bit. I’m able to feel strength in my muscles at this point, which gives me a boost mentally and pushes me forward into the next song, another blast from the past. It takes me about 27–30 minutes total to make it to the two-mile mark, which is about a quarter-mile from my house. Once my watch alerts me to the distance and the words “Exercise Ring Closed” appear on the screen, my pace slows. I stretch my arms toward the sky where the sun has just begun to rise in the east, its rays bathing the horizon and surrounding trees with new dimensions of light. I take it as an affirmation that yet again movement is safe and a portal for trauma to be transmuted into deeper forms of healing that stretches from me directly to my maternal lineage.
I think of how my grandmother had to spend months in the hospital after a traumatic fall out of a two-story window because movement for her became unsafe too. I’m wondering why it is that our movements cannot keep us safe from men.