Monday, October 02, 2006

How Stella's Mom Will Get Her Groove Back

So I did this mother-daughter camping thing at the Y with Stella, and didn't realize how much of analogy I was in for when I got there.

They have a standard climbing wall there, and neither me nor Stella could get past about 75% of the way up. I dind't feel so bad, because if Stella can't do it (and she's a little monkey) I wasn't going to be able to. After all, she only has less than 50 pounds to hoist up there. But later in the weekend, we both decided to try the Alpine Tower. This thing is harder than it looks. There's a point where all the pieces converge, and it’s the tricky part. We weren't first in line by any means, but the first kid to give it a try got to that point and stopped. "I can't do it," she said. "Try it," we all encouraged from the ground. "Leroy (our belay person) has you covered." The kid pushed on, got to the top, and set a standard. Pretty much every kid that followed got to that convergence point, and had the self-doubt. We would all holler encouragement from the ground, and the kid would get past it, make it to the top, and come down a new person. Some kids hung longer at that point than others, that's for sure.

By the time it was Stella's turn, it had rained (and it was a bit wet, increasing the scary factor), but Stella, getting her groove back, pretty much flew up the entire thing in record time. That convergence point didn't faze her a bit, she just blew past it like it was nothing (she claimed later it was indeed nothing). Then, a few kids later, it was my turn.


Push on else be the lone failure
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
So I get going on this thing, and I make it up to the convergence point with no problem. And I had the classic issue that my feet were the wrong way. I knew my arms weren't going to be able to hoist my 200+body up to the next level -- but my feet/legs were in the wrong position for them to do the work. I stood there, holding on for dear life, and was tempted, for a minute there, to just come back down. But it was too late in the line; nobody had NOT made it to the top. I couldn't let my little girl see me be the first to blow it off. Only one other mom had attempted it (and succeeded), and she was a slender woman who looked to be in shape. But that's not an excuse. She had her own issues, I had to deal with mine. Taking two steps back wouldn't have worked here. I just had to trust my arms to hold me for the 1.5 seconds it would take me to swap out my legs. So I used my head, I got myself some good holding points. The trick was not to use the ones that everybody else used: I ended up using some of the ropes and parts of the logs themselves. You have to do what works for you, and what worked for a 50 pound kid or a slender in-shape woman wasn't going to necessarily work for me. Applying this, I swapped out the legs. Once I did that, I was "home free." And looking back, my head knew that I wasn't going to die: after all, Leroy had triple checked my harness ties, my helmet, and was clearly trained and experienced as a belayer. If I slipped, I had plenty of things helping me out. But I didn't want to have to use them. Leroy was an emergency backup, not the crutch I should use to succeed.

The home free part … well, sort of. It was still physically difficult to get all the way to the top, but the mental challenge, the point where you either give up or move forward, had been conquered. It wasn't just the "I believe I can do this" thing that was in doubt. I physically needed to figure out what I had done wrong, and what I had to do to correct it, emotional doubt aside. There was cold hard physics that had to be analyzed. And once I got past it, I still had work to do. Getting to the top, and then, allowing myself to trust that Leroy was going to get me down safely via the support ropes. (The moment when you slide your butt off the top plank took some getting into, I'll tell you.). But even that rope ladder was a bit tough. If you hung on it too long, it would start to twist and turn, but then you learn that stops quickly if you just continue climbing it.

Wow, do I have to even explain the obvious analogy to how this fits on this weightloss blog, and so perfecly explains how I'm feeling right now? I feel like I'm at that convergence point. I feel STUCK. I can't go back, no; that would be humiliating and a terrible example to show for my kid, and just another way for me to tell myself I'm a failure. But I have to trust that I do indeed have that strength, the intellectual know-how, and the emotional drive to do this. All that was flashing in my head, really, as I hugged those giant logs, trying to figure out how I was going to get past this point. And I got past it by stopping feeling overwhelmed, taking a breath, and just attacking it as a physics problem. Its amazing how much you can accomplish if you just let cold hard physics run the show.

I'm at that point right now as regards weightloss. I can see very clearly that once I get past it, I'll be well on my way again, it will still be hard, but this convergence point is really hanging me up. I probably hung at that convergence point longer than any of the kids, (certainly Stella!) and had to really think through what my strategy was going to be. I have to do the same here with the weight: there's so many things converging at this point, but the tools I need to get to the goal are in my possession. I have to just shove all the self-doubting, aside, take willpower for granted, and then apply simple physics. And I need to think this through and develop the plan.

Oh, BTW, Stella admitted much later that she wasn't scared at the convergence point, but when she got to the top, it did take a bit of guts to shove off and let Leroy lower her to the ground. OK, she's not totally invincible either. But she got her groove back by picking herself up after a disappointing morning on the indoor climbing wall, and conquering a previous failure. I need to decide if Stella was teaching me a lesson (as our kids often do, the question is do we listen), or if there's some kind of drive inside her that she inherited from me, and I need to take pride in and use myself. I suspect it's equal parts both. But as easy as it looked for her, she had her own demons to conquer, which goes to show you that everybody does.

If you're curious, you can click on any of the photos, and then click on the "Stella and Vron Conquer the Alpine Tower" set link to see the whole thing, or just click here. It was a rush, let me tell you.

2 comments:

Lori said...

I'm impressed because I have such a fear of heights (among other phobias like swimming).

You point out something that I can use to explain to my teacher and That Guy. You had to figure out the physics and analyze it. That Guy says he can't understand why I had such a hard time with swimming and now jumping off from the side of the pool...but for me, I have no experience with my body being capable of floating or allowing my brain to let me jump off the side and the confidence that I'll be okay.

Weight loss blog analogy...if we feel like we have never been successful in weight loss (and just losing weight doesn't mean success--there's that whole fat, insecure person in your head), it's hard to figure out what works and how to circumvent the stuff that doesn't work. Or maybe I'm just stretching out this analogy.

I don't know you but boy, am I proud of you for going up there amongst those kids and their parents and doing it.

The L said...

look at you two go! wow, first off your daughter has mine beat hands down. my oldest is scared to go up stairs half the time let alone something that looks like that. That;s the way to show those skinny moms.