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My ass just tapped me on the shoulder.

By October 2, 2009How To, Writing

tap on the shoulderI’m standing on the other side of the abyss, the good one. And I wanted to let you all know that the ground here is high and dry, nearly heady.

Because I read your comments carefully – and because, as far as I can tell, we’re both human – I’m going to guess that at one point or another you’ve stood on the scary side of the abyss just like I did before I got to the cushy side.

You wanted to do something, you needed to do something…but the canyon that stood between you and accomplishment just looked too damn big, wide, menacing. Impossible, you said. And sat down.

My alarm goes off at 4:30. I jump out of bed and look out the window. It’s snowing. I smile smugly at the snow. Bring it, I think smugly. Pull on my layers of Capilene, my bright orange hat, my running shoes. And head out for an eight mile run before I go to work.

This used to be my norm. Miles run, laps swum, heart pounded, sweat drenched – before the sun rose.

And then my body abruptly took on new super powers forms of exercise: first, it grew another human being; then, it made milk. Needless to say, my body was preoccupied with performing miracles. Too busy to hit the trails or the pool.

But, last spring, something changed. My ass literally tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘Um, I’m thinking we should shift things back into high gear…you?’

Which is when I realized that I was standing on that cliff. On the scary side of the abyss. I had a lot of reasons why I couldn’t take the leap:

  • I’m too old.
  • My body forgot how.
  • Once you get past a certain point, it’s just pointless.
  • I don’t have time.
  • I’m so frickin’ tired.
  • Have you seen my parents? (I love them and they’re beautiful, but they don’t have super model bodies. I’m just sayin’.)

In the middle of this tirade, I ran into a good friend who had just finished a long rollerblade, and she told me, “It gets you right here”, and she grabbed her butt. “Makes it burn,” she said. And my ass took notice. And, then it tapped me on the shoulder again. I took the bait. I didn’t think, just started to move again.

I had really believed all of my reasons why I couldn’t do this, but they just weren’t true. Bodies are amazing – they snap back in a way that is extraordinary. Minds do too. My ‘get up and go’ tape started playing again, as if I’d simply hit play again after a long moment with the pause button down. We both quickly forgot how long that moment had been.

Now, it’s been five months. And someone recently told me that my belly looks the same as it did when I was 16. Is that really true? Um, ish. Is it a miracle? Nah. I just think that I got way too comfortable on the pitiful side of the abyss. Too shlumpy to realize the infinite possibilities hanging out across the way.

Sometimes life feels like a series of cliff dives – scary, exhilarating, progressive. The above experience being just one of my abysses. For you, it might be finally going to law school, having a baby, getting up on that karaoke stage, or – drumroll, please – writing (creatively, professionally, bloggingly).

Whatever it is, I’ll save you a seat on the other side. Believe me, if you don’t already know, the view is fabulous.

Image credit: Scampercom

Join the discussion 21 Comments

  • Edgy Mama says:

    Now can we see a photo of your ass, please?

  • Julie Roads says:

    You wish, Anne Fitten. You wish. (Or, yes – for a substantial sum of money.)

  • Alisa Bowman says:

    For me, it seems like my life gets boring if I’m not pushing in some way–in career, in fitness, in life. I’m always changing, changing, changing. Sometimes I wonder if there’s something wrong with that–if I can’t embrace sameness or whether I am some sort of life thrill seeker. But I don’t think too deeply about it. Just putting it out there to see if anyone else has thoughts on the matter.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Alisa – I’m totally like that, obviously. Sometimes it feels healthy, other times moderately insane – you know, like everything does.

  • “I just think that I got way too comfortable on the pitiful side of the abyss.”

    You have NO IDEA how much I needed to read that this morning. This whole post, actually – it’s like you wrote it just for me. I used to run faithfully every morning. Then I got pregnant with my oldest. Over five years ago. Haven’t run since.

    My ass has been tapping my shoulder, too, and it’s getting more insistent. I was actually going to do my first morning of Couch to 5K this morning, but I overslept. I was so mad at myself, I cried and started thinking all those pitiful thoughts again. This was the encouragement I needed to realize that I AM ready to cross this abyss. My mind is there – I need to find a way to get my body to follow.

    Thank you for this, Julie.

  • That dreadful abyss. I have a love/hate relationship with mine. Thanks for the encouragement!

    I have a picture of your hip/tummy/secret sun tattoo region just waiting to be introduced to the interwebs! You should be proud.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Robin!!! So you’re the one! Sugar Jones and I have been trying to remember who exactly took that picture!!! Send it to me! No extortion!!!

    Giving Patti your beautiful artwork on Sunday! Can’t wait…

  • Julie Roads says:

    Megan – my heart is full to overflowing from your comment. You can do it. I swear it’s not even that hard once you get started. Find something you actually like to do. Not something you have to do…I think this is key.

  • Nicole says:

    What do you do when you can’t even see the other side. It is just too cloudy with lots of thunderstorms.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Nicole – in that case, I’d say make it up: draw the picture or write the story of what you think it’s going to look like – and then aim your body in that direction.

  • I’m with Nicole….If I knew what needed doing, I’d do it. I’m definitely a “make it happen” person. I’m stuck in the fog, not sure what direction to move or how to make it happen.

    I think I’ll read your ebook as a start…..

    Thanks always.
    – Caroline

  • @Julie – So glad my comment warmed you! I actually do love running. I really do. My five year hiatus doesn’t testify to that truth. I’m ready to be infatuated again.

  • BarbaraJ says:

    Just what I needed to read as I begin the effort
    to lose the twenty to twenty five pounds I’ve
    been literally dragging around for the past
    year or so. It just crept up on me (and
    stayed there). Oh, I fondly remember that
    feeling of being light and swift on my feet.
    Thank you.

  • Dad says:

    I would not look in the mirror and compliment myself if I was not proud of my 66 year old body. What mirror are you looking at?

  • Julie Roads says:

    Dad – I didn’t say that you weren’t extraordinarily handsome – just that you don’t look like a super model, that I don’t come from super model genes. Capiche? You should be very proud…

  • Good for you! The morning is the best time to work out, methinks. Glad you’re back on track. Rollerblading scares me. I got pushed into doing it once at Golden Gate Park while hung over and never did it again. The roller SKATING looked fun, though as did the disco circle.

    Keep it up! (Your butt that is.)

  • Angela Moore says:

    Good for you! I’m definitely there right now. Got a HUGE tap on the shoulder this weekend. While you’re over there, keep an eye out for me because I’m on my way.

  • I love it! My ars taps me on the shoulder daily. Some days it punches! lol

  • Katherine Collmer says:

    Julie, You have NO idea how much I needed to read your words of encouragement! This is my second attempt at starting my own business (the first one being pretty feeble) and I am beginning to feel the “oh gosh, maybe I should just stop now…” doubts. I am great at the planning, creating and networking…but crossing the abyss is the tough part. My family and friends would say that I am great at that; and usually I am! But when it comes to taking this ONE step, I don’t know what happens to me. Maybe it’s because this particular step will impact my sig other’s life and it makes it closer to home. Please, please keep a spot for me “over there” – but also, send me a life line! Thanks again for your vote of confidence in all of us out here:)

  • Hi Julie,

    Thanks again for another great post. I’m in pretty much exactly the same scenario, except I think it’s my stomach that just tapped me on the shoulder, oh no wait, I think that’s gravitationally impossible.

    Either way, am just getting back into yoga after two years of pregnancy, breastfeeding and extreme exhaustion – even the yoga’s hard, have yet to find the courage to tackle cardio. Thanks for the inspiration.


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