Body of Work
As a writer, a thinker, I have this belief that my work is brain-powered. It requires sitting. And thinking. And writing. At a computer. In a journal. Pen to paper, brain to the grindstone.
I am a cerebral person. She-who-thinks-too-much-about-everything-all-the-time.
I feel more comfortable, more in control of this crazy rollercoaster called life, if I’m in my head…or even safer, in a book.
And so when it comes to exercise: that horrid sweaty-making, time-wasting, energy-zapping, boob-and-belly-wobbling, slowest-girl-in-the-class-shaming experience is always on the long finger. My resistance to it is monumental.
I have a long monogamous relationship with body-shame. Up and down my weight goes. Up and down my self-esteem.
But the irony of being a writer – AKA she-who-hides-behind-the-pages-of-a-book-for-a-living – is that readers – understandably so – want to see who it is that conjures up these words.
They want to see you. And you have to therefore be seen. Embodied. In images.
Life as a writer-editor-enterpreneur-mama is… let’s call it busy. Every. Work. Minute. Matters. And every sitting on your butt with a book or in front of the TV where nothing is demanded of your exhausted self also matters.
In the midst of work, mama-ing and rest, there is little time, energy, or, let’s be honest, desire, to do unpleasant sweaty stuff. Some people run to raise their heart beats and find transcendence. Others of us enjoy more pleasant horizontal forms exercise. If you know what I mean.
But when your body starts resembling a “bin bag full of yogurt” as Stephen Fry so memorably referred to his own wobbly body, when you don’t like the image that goes out to your readers. Something needs to change. The rollercoaster peak has been reached once more. How to help the scales decend, without my self-esteem?
Some shame-free form of body reclamation is called for.
Pondering this, it came to me in a flash, that this exercise-lark, which I try to avoid like the plague in preference for work, well, actually, it is usually the seed bed for my work. My best ideas come to me on my walk home from the office, in those 15 semi-sweaty minutes, rather than the 9 hours I spent sat on my arse, working in the office. I have a place that I stop on the way home and dictate notes on my phone or scribble ideas down like a maniac in my journal. Any major aha moment that you read on my blog or in one of my books has emerged after walking, cycling, a massage or bodywork session, or sex.
My words are stored in my body. Not my brain. They are only intepreted and translated into language through my brain, after first being freed from my corporality.
So my question to myself, to you, is this: why do you insist on calling the bum-sitting stuff the important work? Get out. Get into your body. That is where the magic is, waiting for you.
Consider prioritising your body stuff. Rather than putting it off, make it the FIRST thing you do every day, not an after thought. Let your work be founded in that. Not because you should, or ought… but because it WORKS for your work. Your soul work, your creativity, your ability to connect with the source of that, to bring the magic through.
A side effect might be a strong heart and less wobbly belly. More energy and clarity. But it is not my goal.
I am re-framing exercise not as sport or hobby or obligation, but as WORK. An integral part of my work. Which is central to my life. Is my life. It is simply the making into a habit of that which I know to be true… and yet resist. Walking to work, doing yoga with my newly-trained yoga-teacher sister each morning is an integral part of my work: my writing, editing, business. Not because I’m fat, or wrong, or ugly, or lazy, or bad, or need knocking into shape… but because I love my work.