No – I am not being rude, but I had the funniest one-to-one Pilates class last week…my first encounter with a session including a big exercise ball.
Until six months ago I was walking with a stick and was diagnosed with a spinal condition…as well as the ME I have had for ten years now. This seemed to be a straw to far. I was stumbling my way around a garden centre when I came upon a wooden pavilion. Not so unusual except that this was being used by a Pilates and Sport’s Massage guy…I knocked on his door and literally have not looked back since.
It was a case of the right thing at the right time. Having spent all my adult life playing a team game of one sort or another from County netball to National league volleyball, to be struck with ME was bad enough, but then to find my left leg no longer responded because of nerve damage due to spinal deterioration had made me angry beyond words…and I poured this all out … only to be told quite calmly by H (as I shall call him) ‘I can help’.
I didn’t believe him of course, but after the endless struggle with doctors, surgeons and everything medical in between – most of whom laugh when I talk about the ME diagnosis – his words were balm to my soul.
The first massage was agony – the first pilates class ended in tears as my body refused to respond to even the most basic of commands – believe me, rolling from my back to my front was a herculean task and standing up from the floor needed a helping hand. But we persevered – he with calm assurance, me with gritted teeth and anger as my spur.
So here I am, six months later, rollicking around atop a large exercise ball! I can throw it and catch it with my feet as I lie prone, I can balance across it on my tum and keep my body in a straight horizontal line and I intend, perhaps in another six months to kneel on it with perfect balance.
My walking stick gathers dust at the back of the hall cupboard. My anger is abating as I once again begin to command my legs with confidence to step, to twist, to kick and, very soon, to run.
I have already ordered the weather to be fine but not too hot so we can keep our focus on the poetry rather than wilting in the heat.
This year I have a cunning plan to devise four workshops which encompass form, literary devices and structure as well as pure poetic joy using a poem by a different established (though not necessarily dead) poet as our starting point each week.
If this appeals to you, send me an email or a comment to this post and I will let you have contact details so you know how to find me…I will be snoozing in the garden awaiting your nudge!
Today the garden is pink.
Early summer is the best time for my garden as there is still enough moisture in the sandy soil to keep everything looking fresh. I can even kid myself that the I have a lawn – later in the year it is a bleached expanse of dried vegetation.
I have large island beds and I mulch and mulch but it is very hard to combat the sandy soil. Should a rabbit choose to burrow in a flower bed (and they do, Jack Russells notwithstanding) the displaced soil would not look out of place on a beach.
I have a rule of thumb for the plants in my garden – if a plant dies I do not attempt to grow that particular plant again. Also, once a plant is established I do not water. Maybe this means I have a lot of similar plants in the borders but on days like this, with the sun shining, a light breeze dancing through the trees and the soil still retaining a little moisture, everything looks amazing.
I have my fingers crossed that it will look as good for the Poetry in the Garden course I am running in August…though for that to be the case I would have to wish for rain – therein lies the dilemma.
For now it is enough that I can enjoy this blush of colour – an ideal prompt to write…
I am pleased to report that the saggy bags under my eyes are holding up well. I can downface-dog and shoulder-bridge with the best of them and still see what is going on. But what, I wonder does the future hold?
While ‘the wedding’ was coming up I was happy to add face cement, creams, pastes, powders and all manner of lotions to my armoury for ‘the photos’. I scrubbed and smoothed and splashed. Rubbed and pinched and puffed. And yes, I felt as though it was working…I felt good.
But now, as I survey my once beautifully clear dressing table with its jumble of pots and tubes and brushes and bits that I often ponder for clues then put down still not knowing what they are for…and as I think about the lack of bags I ask, is this the way it will always be?
Gone are the days of a quick splosh about in a basin of warm water, or face up under the shower head. I find I am scared – is that too strong a word? Well, mildly concerned at least, that if I suddenly stop with the routine – which I might add also puts paid to my ten minute dash from duvet to front door – my face may fall off!
NB the religious icon beside the mirror is a belt and braces thing!
For several weeks now I have been dismayed during the pilates class. Initially my discomfort was caused by a complete inability to engage my stomachs (well – only one, but a casual observer may be fooled into thinking there were more) in the interests of fulfilling the pose and strengthening my ‘core’.
Laterly however the source of my agitation has been with my eyes. More accurately the bags beneath them which threaten to obscure all sight when in an inverted position – and yes, I can now assume an inverted position – of sorts.
Each shoulder bridge or down-face dog found my eye-pouches appearing like pink mounds to conceal a substantial part of my field of vision. Something had to be done.
I presented myself at the local beauty parlour, whose posters promised face lifts without surgery, peels, lymph drains and all manner of alluring (!) possibilities. The face of the receptionist fell as I suggested that my youthful beauty be restored or at least, the eye-bags reduced, in time for my daughter’s wedding 4 weeks hence. Much circular conversation later we settled on an aquapeel thingy with built in lymph do-dah.
I dutifully divested myself of all upper garments and crawled beneath the fleece blanket to lie face-up with my eyes closed on the couch as requested. Little did I know that this beauty treatment has much in common with leeching – in so far as it appeared to use living creatures to achieve its purpose – in this case it was gobbling fish…
First I was anointed with a slimy concoction smelling much like dried fish food with gritty bits. That made absolute sense when a few seconds later sucking goldfish began to crawl across and seemingly devour the paste. I know it was a goldfish … it may have been a guppy… or perhaps one of those bottom feeding types that snuffles around the edges of aquaria opening and closing its mouth as it sucks up slime.
The next fish she set grazing on my skin had a similar modus operandus – only with teeth. It felt like small pointy teeth inside a wide fishy mouth as it scratched and sucked its way into the crannies around my nose, the dimple in my chin and across my cheeks into my hairline.
My scourged face was then zapped with LED lights and soothed with a lotion smelling oddly like – you guessed it – pond water. I declined to view the ‘results’ of the process which had been proudly collected in a large glass tube…paid and fled.
My next pilates class will be the ultimate test as to whether the hillocks under my eyes succumbed to this fishy treatment, but for now I am off to replace the smell of garden ponds with my favourite, lemony soap.