My yoga studio recently expanded its fitness offerings making it abundantly clear to me just how out of shape I am, despite having been a fairly faithful yogi for several years. Now, there are high impact classes requiring weights and balls and integrals of jumping jacks or tailbone curls or—my favorite—deep squats. I suppose when one yoga teacher encouraged me to attend one of these classes, she had my best interests in mind. But with each knee-creaking squat or half-assed donkey kick, I’m reminded that I have, indeed, landed—or more precisely, fallen—into a new phase of life.
I’m not unique, of course. We all wake up one day and realize we are no longer young; our dreams have passed us by and we are left to pick up the pieces. Each of us must face who we are in comparison with who we had hoped we would be. While coming to terms with our bodies as they gain years, we also must wrestle with our identities.
It would be helpful if somehow the sign-posts leading to middle-age were a little clearer, alerting us to slow down earlier, to appreciate the journey, to not rush so much. Who would think months of sleepless nights, or moments of suffocating heat followed immediately by a bone-chilling rush is nearly enough to signal caution? So, with no useful flashing sign I recently woke up in a confounding stupor. How did I become this?
There isn’t enough time or space here to explain the specific details of my recent undoing. One aspect of this mid-life reckoning, however, I am ready to share, if only to add some transparency to my new social media identity and email.
I am dropping Irons from my name.
As a young and idealistic twenty-something I married my high school bestie. While I had been little exposed to the currents of feminism, I had enough farm-inspired independence that I confided to my future spouse that I wished to keep my name. Despite his openness to it, family dynamics were such that I ultimately opted instead for less turbulent waters and reluctantly changed my name, taking his while using my previous last name as my middle name.
For almost twenty-eight years I have lived with a decision that regularly reminded me of my lack of resolve; of being someone at odds with myself; of letting someone else determine the contours of the person I was born to be. The negative feelings associated with a youthful decision have not dissipated over the years but rather have intensified. With each signature and public introduction, with each new book cover or business card, I’ve felt the weight of jettisoning myself for someone else.
In the high impact fitness class this morning, the instructor motivated us, urging us to dig deep and thereby strengthen and tone our bodies readying them for a summer that is just around the corner. I don’t feel strong or toned or even necessarily hopeful that my hard work will pay off in this way.
But one thing I do know: this is my journey and Kendra Weddle is the only one who can take it, one courageous step after another. This is how becoming all I am meant to be begins for me.