I was taught a beautiful lesson by an old French gentleman. His vegetable garden was exquisite and I stopped to admire it (“C’est beau le jardin monsieur” in my best schoolgirl French). He gently moved his arms from side to side saying “doucement, doucement” which, translated, means “gently, gently.” He was telling me that he gardens very gently to produce such a wonderful result. I suddenly understood at a core level that I don’t have to go hell-for-leather doing stuff. I can go “doucement, doucement.” I have been practising this ever since I spoke with him and it has honestly changed my life. I just hope I can remember now that I’m home. I’ve certainly done so whilst unpacking and sorting out all our stuff – a job that usually leaves me feeling drained and in need of another holiday. So my new mantra is “doucement, doucement.” ~ the lovely Fiona Newsome, a woman I’ve known for several years and who is a member of my private Facebook group, “A Room Of Our Own: A Place To Practice Profound Self-Trust + Acceptance”
I love that expression, “hell-for-leather.” It’s British-ism meaning “characterized by reckless determination” and “at breakneck speed.”
I have certainly approached many things my life that way, especially exercise. And I know myself well enough to know that I tend to go hell-for-leather when I am feeling desperate.
It shows up when I think I need to prove myself, when I want to show off and be a badass , or when I think thoughts like, “My body is bad and wrong” which usually results in me feeling fear and despair, which usually results in me making stupid decisions (and, as I like to say, any choice made from a place of desperation is destined to backfire, sometimes spectacularly).
And even though I know myself pretty damned well, this is a lesson I am having to learn again.
My right shoulder is my teacher this time. Over the past several years it hasn’t been quite right. In fact, I remember tweaking it when, in a moment of badassery, I was pressing two 35-pound kettlebells over my head.
Since then I’ve gotten physical therapy (a couple of years ago…and it seemed to get better), seen my chiropractor, and saw an orthopedic guy who x-rayed it, saw nothing wrong with the bones, told me I had an impingement, and to do some stretches, which I did. And I continued to see the chiropractor.
About three months ago, it got worse. The chiropractor recommended physical therapy again and after four weeks, it’s still not any better. The PT is convinced that I have a labral tear and perhaps a rotator cuff tear , not to mention bursitis and tendonitis.
An MRI will reveal what’s going on.
But that’s not really the point of this post.
The point is that I am learning that there are times when it’s okay to go hell-for-leather and be badass, and there are times when doucement, doucement is the better choice.
After a couple of months of pretty much no real activity (and noticing that my favorite jeans have become uncomfortably tight), I joined the medically oriented gym (MOG) at my PT’s location.
Instead of being a know-it-all, I have asked the MOG leader to direct me and design a sensible, gentle workout routine that takes into account my shoulder issues, as well as my goals. I have asked her to help me make sure that I keep my need-to-prove-something tendencies in check.
Short-term I want to comfortably wear those jeans again, keep my body as fit as possible, and get my shoulder prepared for whatever comes next (either more intensive PT or surgery and rehab).
Long-term, I want to resume swinging, snatching, dead-lifting, pressing, curling, and cleaning my kettlebells AND I want to start running again. And my inspiration for this is coming from a place of doucement, doucement rather than from hell-for-leather.
I truly love my body right now. It has not betrayed me, it has brought me to the next step in this on-going lesson I am learning. And for that I am grateful.
I would love to hear about the lessons your body has taught you.