I have been seriously exercising for more than a decade. I run, lift and climb on any machine that promises to get my heart pumping. For me, it is more than a means to maintain health and fitness; it is a way to feel strong both internally and externally. I was never an athlete in school, mostly because my mother feared that a hurdle set too high or a flying ball would cause irreparable damage to her child.
Unfortunately, her fear for my safety manifested itself into my own personal belief that I couldn’t be an athlete. She unwittingly convinced me that I was too small to lift weights, to fragile to run fast, too uncoordinated to throw or catch a ball without it ending in some parodied version of Marsha Brady and her broken nose.
But years later away from my mother’s concerned and watchful eye I began to go to the gym. I lifted weights and I ran. Admittedly, I still avoided any sport that involved flying balls because although not perfect I like my nose the way it is. So it may have taken longer than most but I finally discovered my inner athlete.
I love to exercise because it makes me feel strong not only externally but also internally. I enjoy pushing my physical limits and I take pride in being able to meet those limits. But I think that the greatest satisfaction lies in being able to do something I always believed that I couldn’t.
In many ways it is the same with my writing. Although I have enjoyed a lot of support, I have also encountered those who didn’t believe in my ability or questioned my choice of career. But as the years of youthful bravado passed, taking with them the idealistic belief in the possibility of every dream I was left with the reality of true hard work both in my writing and in my conviction that I could write.
My commitment to exercise has taught me a valuable lesson in my writing. I have discovered that writing is like a muscle one must constantly work or else it atrophies. Personal experience has proven this to me with both exercise and writing.
Recently I gave birth to my second son. And although I exercised during my pregnancy it obviously wasn’t at the level that I had been working out. Many of the weights I used to easily lift are now heavy and the miles I would easily run seem interminable as my lungs burn and my breath comes in short wheezes.
It is the same with my writing. Although I have written countless papers, articles and even a book, I haven’t written for a while so that my words also feel heavy and instead of flowing they come in stuttered starts and stops. But just as I know with every step I am closer to another mile, I know that with each word written I am closer to another book. And so I hope that soon I will be, with both the exercise and the writing, back on track.
Causes Sherry Parnell Supports
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Habitat for Humanity, Heifer International