Strength for the Decline


It will happen, be prepared and strengthened.


Sudden death, unexplained illness, heartache, and disappointment have been the theme of my month.  Many of you who know me, know it’s been one thing after the next, for several weeks.  Feelings of grief, frustration, anger, sadness could consume me and yet they don’t because fortunately, I selfishly planned ahead and found some strength for the decline.  Read on…

A few weeks back, before all the unexpected obstacles of life hit home, I decided to do something new and fun just for me with an amazing colleague and personal coach, Rachael Renzi.  Learning something new at any age isn’t easy.  At 43, it’s scary, selfish, inconvenient, intimidating and if I’m being honest, really freaking needed!  I asked Rachael to teach me how to do aerial silks.  Think Cirque du Soleil and Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter, Pink, and ME, (l0l) twirling gracefully in the air hanging from silk scarves.  Fun and sexy and what a great mid-life crisis to escape to for an hour a week! Be honest.  You secretly wanted to be like Pink with all her “Glitter in the air” aerial stunts and maybe you even said, “I could SO do that!” Well, I DID and that has quickly become “Uhhhh, ERRRRR, crash, skid, ugh…darn this is so much harder than I thought!”

Add in some less than pleasant, real-life pains and this is where the strength of the decline starts to really take hold.  Leave it to LIFE to come crashing down raining on my parade and throwing anything but the glitter in the air!

With each week a new issue seemed to be surfacing that needed my attention, and yet I decided not to cancel my session for my aerial silks. I was holding on to it with a death grip.  Many other things have gone by the wayside these past few weeks, including work, laundry, daily showers, but not my silk session!  For some reason, I clung to it as Rachael would say, “like chatarunga strength” important.

I’m learning so much from this beautiful new art form least of all how hard it is to look poised and elegant when the poses and strength it takes to get into them are anything but effortless and fun.  The “Russian climb” for example, requires you to hold your own weight, thread one extended leg around the silks and then literally step up on the top of your threaded foot and catch the silks in a vice.  Ouch.  Oh, then you do it all again in the air and just let go, pull your body weight up, step on your own foot, and climb right up…right?!?… WRONG!

Not to stereotype, but the Russian’s are no sissies when it comes to torture!  Suffice to say I am “on the decline” in this elegant art-form way more often than I am “climbing up”.  And it’s painful to fall.  Something about the ground and getting closer to it in a fast, death grip slide is NOT enjoyable or sexy.

I, like many of you, have spent a lot of time climbing.  It’s the first thing we do in the morning.  We climb out of bed and start the day.  In many instances, taking care of someone else, even before our feet hit the ground.  The dog, the kid with bad breath in your face telling you to get up, your boss, they all need you.  You’re incredible at climbing but let’s face it, it’s hard work.  Aerial silks are teaching me the full impact of how strong you actually need to be to climb, the energy it takes out of you, AND maybe most importantly, HOW much strength is still needed for the inevitable decline.

We know what goes up must come down.  My father-in-law loved to joke, “Good thing elephants don’t fly!”

It’s simple gravity, right?  My insightful coach encourages me to imagine my movements more like “gravity-free-moon-walking”.  Often we jump up, in or even at, a situation with all our might.  We expect it to take that kind of effort.  Why then wouldn’t we want to plan our effort to stockpile some strength for the times when we come out of a situation, the decline?  Stands to reason we should require an equal amount of strength to control the fall.

You’ve heard it many times, Life is a series of ups and downs.  It takes strength, often stockpiles of it, to flow through BOTH the ups and the downs.  AND, if we expect to spend all our energy climbing, saving nothing for the decline, well that would be as silly as swirling in the air clinging onto silks and not expecting to eventually slide down…

I was really tired yesterday.  I think the energy of flowing along with a tough few weeks left me physically and emotionally exhausted.  My hands slid down the silks like water spilling through my fingers, betraying my grip, and exposing my weak intention, bringing about a giggle and a moment where I just landed and laughed.  It was impossible to hang on and climb, let alone have the strength to control the decline because I was spent.  Acknowledging that I wasn’t fooling anyone, least of all myself, I decided to purposefully plan more wisely.  Too much energy out leaves a person feeling out of control and falling less than gracefully.  Lesson learned. Thank you silks.

Just then something miraculous happened.  I decided to allow only my remaining energy to dictate my climb and my remaining strength to control my decline.  I stacked my feet and climbed exactly 1 whole inch off the ground then declined gracefully into a place of peace, landing softly in acceptance, watching the glitter fall effortlessly all around me.

Strength comes to us at all times.  My advice, don’t use it up climbing.  You’ll need some left over for the decline.