Friday, November 23, 2012

What Happens When A Theatre Major Studies Anatomy

A page of notes per page of text. More on that later--first, a picture of the last class I taught:

Jenny, a woman in her 60s, is performing forearm strikes on the heavy bag. These are a substitute for punches, which she can't do with her bad wrists. She also has ankle issues, and marched in place instead of jumping rope.

Others are hitting and sweating away at their own bags. Janet, who is shortening her punches and generally not hitting from her core, is complaining that the class isn't sufficiently wearing her out.

(The entire class, yes, was comprised of people whose names started with J. Including Jerry, who has stepped out into the hall. And Jenny, you remember her--she's peering out the window.)

"He's puking," she says.

I've got Janet who is not getting the workout she'd like, and I've got Jerry, who got more than he bargained for. Everybody else was smiling--except the staffer from the front desk who came to clean up.

This microcosm of my gym, or any gym, shows the range of abilities that walks through the door. It's my job to accomodate them all. Suggesting an MMA move to an older lady probably isn't in any book, but it's my job to know enough about everything so that I'm ready with ideas. Jerry, well, he needed to chill out. He overdid everything, and I tried to tell him. So even though I've been lauded for making someone throw up in my class, it really wasn't me--it was him. Because even when I do my job, these individuals are ultimately responsible for themselves, and I can only control so much.

I'm currently studying a heavy textbook to pass the certification exam. Not only have I not studied this hard for some time, I've not studied straight-up science hardly ever. My brain has a hard time with black and white facts. While I'm fascinated by the many components of the human body, I'm having trouble memorizing them.

Moreover, this is not a novel to be unpeeled, layer by layer, for deeper meaning. It's such straight highway that my brain has given up looking for that fun little jog on a country road.

Why do this, then? Because the practice of it requires much intuition and creativity. The class picture above demonstrates that in a real way, while also proving the validity of learning the textbook's content.

So it's a challenge, but a good one. When I'm certified, I'll work with a person who will never fit a textbook example. In fact, I know my first client; he's a man who encouraged me to finally get this done.

"I want you to kick my butt," he said.

I can do that. I think.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Beware the Specialists. Sometimes.

On the eve of my husband's first foot race, I confessed a long-held bias: I dislike runners.

The snooty kind, you know. The ones heading up your local shoe shop, pushing the vibrams and chewing the chia seeds.

"Dude," I want to say, "I hit people in the head. You are not better than me because you have a 26.2 sticker on the rear of your minivan."

Of course, all bias is born of insecurity. I can't run--or, I should say, can't bring myself to do it. Can't do tedium. Can't (attempt) to run a mile. I could tell myself I'd win a thousand dollars or save my child's life if I just jog to this point, but no amount of psychological coaching can get me around the block.

And yet the runners' superiority bothers me for reasons other than my own failings. It's the exclusivity of their club: they run. That's their main thing. Whereas I like sampling a bunch of sports, which you can call fear of commitment or, preferably, cross-training.

We need specialists. We need doctors to study their anatomy books and answer our questions accurately. Plumbers to devote a great number of their brain cells to understanding our toilets. And yet if all they talk about is toilets, well, a dull man they make.

Our pediatric endocrinologist, who attends to the intricacies of our son's type 1 diabetes, spent the final ten minutes of our recent appointment telling us about Vikings. Ivar The Boneless, to be precise. My 9-year-old, in turn, shared a fact he had just read in a book regarding the impressive size of Viking excrement (8" x 2", to be precise).

I really like that we talk about Viking poop. The doc is set to retire in April, but doggone it if I won't let him.

I like people who aren't set in their one way, who are open to learning. And yet I am about to specialize.

Three hundred and fifty dollars worth of books arrived today to prepare me for the exam for a personal training certification. I will polish up and add to what I know in order to grow and learn and continue helping others on their health journey.

Also today I directed a play. I've got a degree in theatre.

And I gave three haircuts. No formal training there, but I get the job done.

I hope to never settle.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Problem With Pants

The pants I'm wearing today have a large hole above and to the left of the right rear pocket. The front right pocket is starting to pull from the seam, creating another rip. Because I am aware of these problems, and because I hate to sew, I wear a long shirt. Had I not told you, you wouldn't have known.

Two weeks ago I dressed for church, and at the last minute turned to check the rear view. Though I am 41 years old, it has taken me until recently to learn to look for underwear lines, food between my teeth, etc. At this check it was discovered that two seams in the seat had pulled apart. Another seam, in a more private location, had completely ripped. I changed.

And back a couple of summers ago, while wearing a favorite pair of comfy pants, I met a new neighbor outside for the first time. Our conversation was heavy: she had recently recovered from brain surgery. As she relayed the story in great detail, I noticed her eyes glancing down quite frequently.

Must be a side effect of the surgery, I thought. Or she's admiring my pants, which are pretty unique--baggy with a drawstring at the top, a different colored fabric accenting the bellbottoms.

And then I looked down. The drawstring had given way, and because of the bagginess of the pants, I hadn't noticed.

My pants had all but fallen down.

Interestingly, two of the three pairs of pants described above came from the same store. It's a place that features eco apparel, in fabrics like soy and hemp. Their buzz word is "sustainable," not only to describe the clothing itself but also in terms of the greater good.

I think I proved otherwise.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Second Chances

There's a theme of forgiveness running through my current projects. My play, crafted from the words of former prisoners and performed by them, asks the audience to face their feelings on who deserves a second chance. Are you more worthy than they? And my book shows that an act of forgiveness can turn one life around even after another has been lost.

Forgiveness does not come cheaply in either case. The men have been given another shot at life, and though many have made restitution with their victims and tried to become productive members of society, they find their options limited. Some may say they deserve no more, but what is a sentence that can never be completed? (An alternate subtitle for the play had been "Serving a Life Sentence After Prison.")

And though Kevin forgave the driver who killed his wife, the two men would not become friends, and Marilyn could not be brought back.

There are times when I ask myself if I should be siding with the former criminals. But this world will always be filled with people inclined to do wrong, or the genes to become an addict, or stumbling into a mistake that will follow them the rest of their lives. It is then I decide there is no better person to help than a reformed child molester.

My play features two men who have stabbed and killed. One CSC; a property offender; and another I've never asked. We worked hard at our rehearsal today. We laughed. We poked fun. They practiced a script full of hope, but one that ends sharply in despair. I wrote this because I felt I must, to properly reflect reality. And yet it sickened me to rehearse it.

Second chances is an idealistic phrase; the reality is more complex.

In Grand Rapids? Visit Church of the Servant next Sunday at 6pm for the premiere of "How Long, Lord? A Post-Prison Lament."

My book is finished. Join the mailing list for updates by contacting me at amyATgregscheerDOTcom.