Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Communication issues.

But hold on.  First a quick update on the training.  Yesterday was my first day of combining consecutive workouts.  I had a perfect day planned....that should have been my first red flag.  Never plan a perfect day.  You must allow one to evolve.  Anyway,  I rode my bike from my house to Gillson Beach WITH a heavy backpack on.  5.6 miles.  Only stopped once for a red light at Lake and Ridge.  It started raining about 10 ft from my front door.  But it could also rain the day of the triathlon, so I persevered.  Rained the whole ride to the beach.  Got in the FREEZING water and swam 1/4 mile.  I always feel compelled here to qualify the word "swim" because I don't want you to think I swim freestyle the whole time.  I don't.  In this context, the word "swim" means I never stop moving.  So sometimes I am truly swimming (think Connor Dwyer) and a lot of the time I am just trying to propel myself forward by any means possible.

OK.  Continued to rain the entire time in the water.  My plan had been to finish my swim, chill on the beach for a couple hours, swim a little more, ride my bike to my dance class (2.5 miles away), have my dance less and ride my bike home (3 miles).  The best laid plans....  I actually did lie on the beach for the rain.  That became a little unpleasant because it was not even warm out.  So got on my bike, rode to dance, where my tire ran out of air.  Again, the best laid plans....  However, when you add my dance lesson, it was a really good work out.  And here's the amazing part.  I was sore and tired when I got home, but not dying.  Let me repeat that...NOT dying.  And when I got up this morning, I was not even sore.  Something has changed in a year.  Last year, even up until the day of the triathlon, I was always sore and tired after my work out.  Not sure what accounts for the difference since anything remotely having to do with physical fitness is still a black hole of mystery to me, but whatever it is, I am grateful.

Back to communication issues.  So, Vlad, the crazy ass Moldovian dance teacher has a very healthy ego...which is well deserved because he is hugely talented.  I also have a healthy ego because I'm 54, have worked in my profession for 33 years, lived my life as a plus size woman in a skinny valued world and thrived, rarely say no to adventure and opportunity, and have just plained worked for the healthy ego.  Patrick, by all accounts, was a master communicator, able to charm his way into and out of anything.  I did not know him when he had his voice, but even without his voice, he is a master communicator, still charming his way in and out of anything.  Patrick also has a well deserved healthy ego.

When you put two healthy egos into a dance studio, it can be like those grammar school science experiments of mixing baking soda and vinegar and creating a volcano.  I do have the good grace and common sense not to have a healthy ego about my dancing abilities, but I don't follow directions well.  Especially when I don't understand the reason behind the directions or I don't think it makes sense.  Vlad, on the other hand, is very confident about his teaching ability and methods and doesn't understand why someone would question him and not just do as he says.  He knows what he's doing and knows he right, so why would anyone question that.  I, on the other hand, don't do anything just because someone tells me to and haven't for a really, really long time.  Not that that has always worked out well for me.

The missing quality in this conflict is trust.  When and if I really trust someone, then I will listen and follow without questioning.  I have to really, really trust them.  And that takes a really, really long time.  Especially with physical stuff.  You have no idea how many trainers, gym instructors etc, have given me advice, or think they are able to hold me up, or support me, or whatever and my ass lands on the ground.  So, trust takes awhile.

As a nurse I share information all day long and lay out a plan that literally can save and preserve LIFE, and people want to go their own way and ignore me.  And that's their right. I'm also used to giving out information that is constantly questioned and most of the time I can explain why I'm saying what I'm saying.  But sometimes, there literally is not time to explain or its impossible to pour 33 years of experience into someone else's head.  And so I find myself saying, "Please, just trust me.  I know what I'm doing".  And that's asking a lot of someone.

Typically, the dance studio is the one place I don't have to censor myself because Vlad does have a strong ego.  I yell, swear and generally express my frustration in a variety of non productive ways.  And typically we have a lot of fun.  But I am learning there is not always a value in conflict.  Sometimes the best and most productive thing to do is listen and follow directions without questioning, because you trust them.  So, today I am going to trust and not argue during my lesson.  I'll let you know how that goes.

Then I look at Patrick.  Things happen to him all day, every day without people explaining what they are doing.  From the moment he woke up from surgery, almost three years ago, his life depended on trusting people he had never even met.  He did not have the luxury of a really, really long time.  He had to depend on people he DID know and trust to now care for him in entirely new ways...with no time to judge whether they were trustworthy in performing these new skills.  He lets people into his home, to care for him throughout the night, whom he does not know and does not trust.  Because he has no choice.  What must that be like?  When I put myself in that position, the overwhelming emotions are anger and frustration.  I want to be in charge and I'm sure as hell not going to let you be in charge if i don't know you.  But I am dependent on you for every basic need I have?  That so sucks.

What is amazing, is when you meet and get to know Patrick, anger and frustration are not remotely the first emotions you encounter.  He makes you laugh, he's patient, he explains what he needs.  I don't know how he does it.  There are definitely times when he is angry and frustrated, but he doesn't lead with that.  I wonder if its because he does have a healthy ego and knows his body does not define him. I'm going to ask him.

I guess the point its whether you are 20, 28 or 54, life always presents moments that humble, enlighten and strengthen us.  The trick is to catch the moments.

1 comment:

  1. This is a beautiful essay, Mary Jo. I really look forward to your hilarious and deeply thoughtful musings. You have a great big heart and I applaud you and your wonderful buddy, Patrick.