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The Road to Balance: Week 2

May 7, 2019

Monday morning. I tossed and turned throughout the night, waking with dreams I can’t recall. I wake at 3:35 am and can’t fall back asleep, although I lie in bed until 4:13, right before my alarm sounds. I get up and get dressed and ready for the gym. Then I settle on the couch and pick out a meditation on YouTube. Today I pick a Guided Meditation to meet my spirit guides with The Honest Guys. It’s a powerful meditation as I connect with deceased loved ones and angels. I see my great grandma, Rick, Melon, Jeremy and several large guardian angels that I can’t make out faces on.

After the guided meditation I just want to lie here, on my side in the fetal position. I choose some instrumental music and just soak up more healing energy. I allow my mind and body to soak it up. My mind travels to several times and homes in my childhood. Waukon, IA to the home where I played endless hours of school by myself. I feel the loneliness and sadness. I allow my little 7-year-old self to climb onto my lap, where I hold her and allow her to cry and express herself. I hold her close, stroke her long blond hair, hug her in tight because I know she needs to feel the love and pressure and safety. “I’m safe now. I’m not alone.” I whisper to myself. I’m not sure if the words were audible outside of my own mind. It doesn’t matter, really.

From there I am transported to my home in Monona, IA. The loneliness as I lie in my bed and I ball up tighter and tighter. I’m not sure why I’m so alone or afraid. I’m at the end of the house, far away from my parents, with my oldest brother on the other end of the house and the middle brother between me and my parents, nestled into his room in the middle of the house. I ball up tighter and tighter, hoping this will make me feel safe. My head begins to shake side to side. My shoulders knot up to my ears, getting tighter. My whole body is rigid, rock hard. I feel it. I feel the strain. I feel the sadness. I feel the fight. I begin to soften into it and allow myself to breathe deeply, softening into whatever I’m feeling. Feeling the ache in my heart.

I am taken back to the home where we lived for a short time after we moved to Waukon. I am only there briefly. Again, so much loneliness. By myself. If my knees get scraped when riding my bike, who is there to clean the scrape, give me gentle kisses and tell me it will be okay? I don’t recall anything like that. I’m so alone.

I drift in and out of feelings. I think perhaps I fall asleep for short periods of time this morning. I feel and see the gentle spirits around me, waving away the pain and caressing my soul and in their own way healing the pain. I can’t explain it.

It may be all made up, in my mind, my imagination. I don’t care if it is, if it makes it feel better. I don’t know how all this works. I feel like I’m not enough.  That old, familiar feeling of not measuring up.

I mentally call out to Jesus. I instantly see his face and he gathers me up, holding my face close to his as I cry. “You’re enough. I love you.” he communicates to me without words. I feel and sense it instantaneous and without having to tell Him what is wrong. He just knows. He knows my heart. He knows the pain. He sees my question and my doubt and my shame and my feelings of inadequacy. I likely chose this path. I know it brought me to Him. I survived.

“I survived. It’s all over now. I’m not alone. I am loved.” I repeat to myself. I let it sink in as much as I can.

​Will this pain ever be gone? Is this just another layer? How many layers must I heal to finally be done with it?

I lie there until Marc gets up at 6:00. I know this morning that this is what I needed. Maybe I’ll get to the gym later in the day. Maybe not. I don’t care because I have a sense of peace I didn’t have 2 hours ago.

May 8, 2018

I slept better last night. That’s a win! This morning I wake up at 4:07, just before my alarm sounds. I lie in bed for a few minutes before I peel myself up. After washing my face, getting dressed and picking up my pillow, I head downstairs. I take my Ningxia Nitro, do my morning Reiki symbols and say a prayer of guidance and protection and ask my helpers to help me: Jesus, Archangels Michael, Raphael, Uriel and Metatron. I lie on the couch and get to work on doing some Reiki to myself. I spend 25 minutes, then I’m off to the gym.

I know Kelly is on vacation this week, so I won’t have her to greet me at the gym. I take my iPad because today’s a great day to repeat the Booty and Ab workouts.  Once at the gym, I gather the aerobic step, a mat and large ball and set up my space in the classroom. Another lady is just finishing up, putting her hand weights away, and she leaves. I have the classroom to myself.

Today I am able to complete the Booty exercises with more reps, 10-15 of everything. My legs feel stronger today and I admire my changing body in the mirror in front of me. I’m not putting any part of it down today. My thighs and legs are beautiful. My stomach is lean. I take off my long sleeve shirt so I can see my arms, sleek and muscular in my tank top. There was a time in my life that I mentally beat my body up. It wasn’t lean enough; my legs were too wide; my butt too big.

Even when I was 115# and able to run 15 miles straight, at the peak of my performance in running and able to bust through a strenuous weight lifting session or plyometric circuit or even an Insanity workout, topping it off with a swift 2-mile run on the treadmill on a 3-5% incline, I didn’t thank my body or allow myself to really admire my chiseled abs and muscular frame. I suppose there came a point where I could look in the mirror and be content. But to actually look at my body and say to myself “Damn, girl, you look GOOOOODDD!”. No, that didn’t happen. Even when female friends would tease me about how many sit-ups I needed to do to get the rock-hard stomach I sported in my bikini on the river, I felt like I should cover myself up.

But there was a reason I worked so hard at getting in shape. For one, I LOVED to run. I mean, I looked forward to it. It was my stress reliever, counseling session and spiritual connection all in one. I realize it was just me and the street or highway and my God out there, but to me it was what kept my sanity. It’s what fueled my soul and made me feel happy and worthy.

Another reason I ran was because we lived on a river. Like one where we used our boat on. Like where I was expected to wear a swimsuit while on said boat. I’ve spent summers in the past wearing shorts to cover up my butt and thighs. I’ve also avoided beaches all together when I didn’t feel sexy in a swim suit. For me, it was better to miss out on the beach experience with friends than to suffer the humility of not being “swimsuit ready”.

I have struggled with my body image since junior high. When my bottom started filling out more than the other girls in my class. That’s back when mini-skirts were popular. I wore them, but did so while wanting to cover myself up the whole time, and worrying about what I looked like from the back side. Looking back at myself in that period of my life I don’t even get why I was so worried. I was 105#, 5’3” and I was beautiful in every way. Insecurity at it’s finest right there. I wouldn’t go back to Junior High days for any amount of money in the world.  Who hears me on this one? Such a time of changing hormones, not fitting in, questioning your self-worth and changing body all at once. Ugh.

This morning I take a video of me doing box jumps with an extra squat, and decide this will be a good thing to share on social media. It doesn’t even scare me like it used to to share this type of stuff. If I can’t be brave to share about what I do as a PT and how it has helped me, how am I going to reach the women that I’m meant to serve? If I let my fear rule me, then I’ve failed to let others know there’s help available. I am resorting to giving other healthcare professionals 100% control and power over educating moms that really need MY help!

After the butt exercise video I start on the lower ab video. I am proud and stunned that I feel stronger today. I can lower my legs closer to the ground than I could last week. I can do more reps without back ache. I can do the entire video, with just a couple modifications, much easier. I take a moment to feel the satisfaction and happiness this brings me. Way to go, Justine. Your hard work and commitment is paying off!

I finish with some hip flexor, hamstring and trunk stretches before heading home to wake my daughters up. I feel great. I feel stronger. I envision my body changing into the strong, lean shape that is healthy for me.

May 9, 2018

Exhaustion. That’s what I feel this morning. I was up late last night working on writing down revisions needed for my website. I worked on it for several hours in the afternoon and again after the girls went to bed. I finally made it to bed at 11:30 and awake up at 3:20. I really can’t wait until this website is launched. It’s been so stressful. I get up, get dressed and start my diffuser next to the couch. I have been using Believe all week in the diffuser for my morning meditation. I complete the rest of my routine before lying down and picking out 2 meditations, one for stress and one for creating Abundance.

I think about my day ahead. I am going to Peak Performance to help out since one of the PTs there hurt his back. I know it will be 5 patients, one after the other with a 45 min break mid-morning. Then I’ll rush back to Woodland Park to set up for my Release Pain Workshop from 4:00-6:00 tonight. I’ll likely get home after 7:00. My eyes are gritty and heavy and my body is achy with exhaustion. I wish I could just sleep for another 2 hours, but I know that my mind will not allow peaceful sleep to come.

After my meditations I do a quick search for the Chinese Medicine Calendar and discover that the waking during the 3:00 hour I’ve been accustomed to lately corresponds to the Lungs. No surprise to me. I’ve been through this before. Waking during the 2:00 hour for Liver, 3:00 for Lungs. Lungs is Sadness and Grief. With Mother’s Day looming ahead, I know what the grief is from. I don’t feel sad, just numb. Holidays and birthdays just brings up anxiety, obligations, grief, confusion, and guilt in me.

I move on to my workout. I do a yoga routine. I like Yoga with Adriene and have been doing a home practice following her YouTube videos for about 4 years. I decide on a Pranayama Breath and Spine Video this morning. I am happy at the strength I feel in my body. As I hover in table top position I feel strong and it’s fairly easy. I finish my meditation and it’s time to get the girls up.

May 10, 2018

I am a little more rested this morning. I once again stayed up later than planned working on my website revisions. By the time I got home from teaching my workshop and spent some time with my family, it was after 9:30 that I sat down at my computer. I got to bed at 10:45 and decided not to wake early this morning. I knew I needed sleep above all else. Today will be another busy day, with patients scattered from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.  I sleep in until 5:45 and then get up to wake the kids. I feel better this morning and am grateful for the restful sleep last night. No waking in the middle of the night.

This morning I finish a little early with my 11:00 patient, by about 15 minutes. She asks if she can be done. After going through her exercises I could have done more with her but she asked if I would take the time to do some self-care for myself if she left early. I promised her I would take that 15 minutes to care for myself, do some breathing and stretching.

What a gift she gave me by allowing me that 15 minutes.

I did as promised and set my timer for 15 min, then settled down with my legs on the wall and wedges under my hips and arms splayed out to get a chest and back stretch. It was glorious as I drifted into a light sleepy state. I woke up just before the 15 minutes was up, refreshed and ready to get back to work. I really should do this daily!

May 11, 2018

Marc is out of town so this morning I settle for another yoga routine. I slept well last night, waking only briefly at 12:45 to use the bathroom. I wake up at 4:45 but don’t get out of bed until 5:00, after checking in with Instagram. I get sucked in so easily, but sometimes it’s nice to just catch up on what others are doing. I like Lindsay Elmore. She is doing her yoga training in Thailand right now and I like her style of writing. I enjoy reading long, meaningful posts like hers. I get out of bed, get my yoga clothes on, brush my teeth and head downstairs.

This morning I mix Eucalyptus and Peppermint together in the diffuser. I’m hoping it will energize me this morning. I pick a yoga routine for Stress Melt, pausing it partway through to spend some time stretching my hamstrings and back as I feel this is really where I’m needing some love this morning. My head and spine feel tight, so I just relish in a deep, gradual hamstring and dural tube stretch.  Then it’s off to wake the girls up and get them out the door for the bus.

Today is my 16th wedding anniversary. I am tired and my husband is out of town. Tomorrow we plan to go out to eat for dinner, so I’m hoping I can get some restful sleep tonight. I am happy to see my my abs peeking out as I get dressed for the day.

May 12, 2018

Saturday morning. This morning I get up at 7:00 because I want to make it to the Body Sculpt Class at the gym at 8:00. I get ready to go and do my usual morning wake up with a meditation. This morning I choose a meditation on Loving Protection and then I feel ready to go.  I arrive at the gym early so I can set up my spot in the classroom.

Class is always something different. Usually there is a different instructor, as they take turns leading the Saturday morning class. But even if it’s the same instructor they come up with a different routine each time. I like it because I get to experience different styles of teaching but also a different workout each time.

Today there are 7 of us in addition to the instructor, Cathy. She leads us through a warm-up of marching, hamstring curls, and side steps with various arm motions. Then we move on to a total body workout covering the legs, arms and abs. We use an aerobic step for some lunge/squat work, a washcloth for some hip work (sliding one leg to the side and back to work the standing leg), Pilates core and leg work on the floor on a yoga mat, light arm weights with combined leg work with squats and side lunges. It’s a great workout for 60 min, including some stretches at the end.

I am grateful for the time I took to strengthen my body and today I feel great about myself. I remember the first group exercise class I ever took. I was in grad school at KU Med Center in Kansas City and my friends and I got into working out at Kirmayer Fitness Center on campus. I paid a monthly fee to use the facility unlimited, and I got into a routine of using the treadmill and free weights. They offered classes for an additional fee, unlimited or pay-as-you-go. I wanted to spice up my workout routine, so I decided that step aerobics sounded like fun.

I was so afraid to go to class because I had never taken a step aerobics class and I wasn’t sure I would be coordinated enough or in shape enough to follow along. What if I fell off the step? Or if I looked like an idiot? Or if I had to stop partway through because I was huffing and puffing and needed to catch my breath?  So many fears running through my head and it took me a couple of months to build up the nerve to try it anyway.

I was used to running outside and on the treadmill and was familiar enough with weight machines and free weights, but I really wanted to try a class. I wanted something fun and thought a class would be a good way to work out. It was! I went by myself because the friends I usually worked out with weren’t interested.  All my worrying was for naught.  The instructor explained everything we needed to know and there were a lot of repeating motions in class.  There were also several mirrors, in front of us and to each side, which maybe sounds intimidating, but they helped me see myself so I could tell if I was doing things correctly.

That aerobics class gave me the confidence to try a yoga class, too. I survived step aerobics, how hard could yoga be? I thought to myself.  That was way out of my comfort zone, but I was intrigued by the promise of lengthening and strengthening at the same time. I made sure to get a back row position so that I could fumble my way through class. Turns out I really liked yoga, as it made me feel strong yet peaceful and relaxed afterward. The instructors always explained things, and I had other students close by who seemed to know what they were doing, so I just mimicked their moves and poses.

Since those classes from way back when, I’ve enjoyed other group classes over the years at different gyms and I have come to realize that no one is watching me and critiquing my form or laughing if I mess up. You know, my worst fears! I guess I’m not the center of the universe after all, and turns out everyone seems to be more worried about themselves during classes like that. Ha!

Maybe we’re all feeling a little self-conscious and wrapped up in ourselves that we aren’t paying attention to others. And over the years I’ve learned to give grace to others, and myself. I’ve caught myself turning and going one way when others have gone the opposite way. I’ve had to stop and catch my breath, or modify things that were causing me pain or that I simply couldn’t do like the instructor. I’ve relied on my knowledge as a Physical Therapist to easily adapt exercise to fit my body and fitness level. And you know what, I’ve even helped others along the way, too. Sometimes indirectly because I see them copy my modification, or sometimes directly when I give them a hint of how to modify things when I see a person struggling.

It’s been a great week of working out.  The physical work always helps me mentally as well. And I’m finding that the meditations and yoga help me find some spiritual balance.

All in all I really feel like keeping this fitness journal and having an accountability partner to help me establish a new routine has been very helpful.

If you too are striving to establish a workout routine or balance for better health, please share something that you have found helpful. Post your comment below so we can all learn from you, too!

Justine Calderwood

The Healing Spot Physical Therapy

"We Help Individuals Overcome Pelvic Floor Issues, And Heal Bowel & Bladder Conditions So They Can Be Active and Pain Free Again, Regardless of How Long It's Been"