Sunday, November 7, 2010

Move it or Lose it

On a balmy afternoon hike in the mountains behind my house this afternoon, one of my dogs halted suddenly in front of me blocking the trail. I poked her bum with my hand, nearly tripping over her, and said aloud in my best Humphrey Bogart voice, "Move it or lose it, Sweetheart." She picked up her easy trot again, and we continued on our way.

But that statement stuck with me. Move it or lose it. And in my writer's way, the way of heightened attention to any words heard or spoken, I began to wonder. What does this even mean? Lose what?

I've been thinking a great deal about atrophy and inertia as concepts lately. How when I am not using one of my skills or talents, it often feels like I'm losing my capacity for it. This has become most obvious in my experience of body. I am a relatively athletic and active person on the whole. But the past several months I have been committed to a project which has included gaining 40 pounds and intentionally letting go of a lot of my physical fitness and agility.

Now, what kind of project would require such choices? It's a long story and one that I plan to publish in a book by the same title as this blog. At this point a major part of this project is focused on paying attention to how different the world feels when lived in a heavy body, a body which feels weaker and more strained in even the simplest of situations (like jogging in an airport to make a flight).

One of my greatest joys is trail-running, a passion not hard to satiate when surrounded by endless mountain trails. But certainly one that is painfully kept just out of legs' reach in my current physical condition. So I walk and hike.

But the past few months, somewhat void of consistent activity, have resulted in feeling like parts of me are in the process of atrophy. Ankles feel rigid. Joints snap, crackle, and pop. Muscles moan and complain. I am clear that much of this is mental, and so here I find myself pondering atrophy as a spiritual concept.

When it comes down to it, my beliefs about movement are what have been atrophying. And as I walked along the trail today thinking of all the mental and emotional places in which I currently feel stalled, it occurred to me that these are the places I need to be exercising more focus and intention. Not surprisingly, my movement on the trail became more fluid and felt freer.

On that same walk, thanks to Sadie-the-dog, I realized that one of the things I have been putting off has been starting this blog. There is never going to be "better" time to get this started, to get moving. And I certainly want to move it rather than lose it!

So here is the first step. And it is one of many that lay before me, a series of steps that when linked together form a path. And this path is the way of the Clan of the Thunder Thighs! I hope you'll join me on the journey.

©Heather Barron


  1. Starting your long-awaited blog = 1 defeat for atrophy. Yay!! Love this auspicious beginning...

  2. Terrific opening! I'm looking forward to reading it as we journey the trail together!

  3. Can I join your clan? I love it! I feel part of your project already. Can't wait to see where this leads you.

  4. Thanks for starting this and inspiring me, as I too have been putting it off (despite not working OR exercising for almost 3 months now). You will always be one of my soul sisters!

  5. Hey there--thanks for including me! The line in this post about discovering "how different the world feels when lived in a heavy body" reminded me of a favorable review I recently read of a book exploring the other end of the body image spectrum entitled "Unbearable Lightness" by Portia de Rossi, in which she details with utter frankness her decades-long experience with anexoria (and her eventual triumph over it). If you have not already heard of or read it, I wonder whether it might give you some valuable perspective on your topic from an angle that you almost certainly will never personally experience. The world clearly also feels different when lived in a body that is too light. Whether we feel too heavy, too light, or too anything, it's all the same labyrinth. Thanks for taking on the role of Ariadne and helping us wend our weaving way out.