Getting out of the Cage

I need to escape the cage that is my house, free my body from the trap that is my mind.

It’s funny. I often look at our pets, two-housebond cats, Miley and Mazey, and lament that they are confined inside the house all day, all year long, every day of their lives. They are animals, after all, they should be outside in the fresh air, chasing moles and feeling the grass under their paws. Generally speaking, though, we keep them inside, safe from the perils of the great outdoors: coyotes, cars, human beings.

What I don’t see so easily is how I trap myself indoors all day, week in and week out. I move from the house to the van and back inside again. Stale air. Meaningless chores. Slave to the endless list of tasks that my brain lays out before me like dog treats, just one more chore, just one more phone call, just one more letter. Except there is never just one more. Meanwhile my body sends me signals all day long that I have, over years, trained myself to ignore.  My hip flexors will tighten, my thighs will ache, my lower back will whine you’ve been sitting too longHow about a little motion here, folks? I think that rust is setting in.

Just a minute, I’ll mumble back. I’m working.

You said that an hour ago.

Yeah, well. Just bear with me.

You have a race in ten weeks. You don’t expect me to just pull that out of that hat, do you?

Look, I have bills to pay, applications to file, a house to clean and laundry to do.

My body will sigh in frustration and tighten the knots of tension in my shoulders.

Even on a sunny day, I am often pinned in my office chair and to this keyboard that I am typing on now. It seems there is always something more important to do than get outside and walk, move, breath in fresh air. How is it that taking care of myself falls so far down the list?  This is why my lower back gets sore, my hip flexors get tight and my shoulders hunch forward. This is why I get headaches.  We are not designed to sit or to be indoors so much of the time. We are animals, after all, not machines.

I know this. Still, I persist in my sedentary, indoor ways as though I am on some giant conveyor belt carrying me where exactly?

This is where I need to take a page from my husband’s book. I need to make getting outside and getting moving a priority. Every day. I need to set a time and treat it as sacred because my body is sacred; it’s not merely a means for me to look after everyone and everything else. I can’t keep leaving my workouts to chance like this. Sharpen the saw, as Steven Covey would say, rather than letting it get dull from lack of use.

So here’s the deal: 9 am, every day, right after I drop the kids off at school. The alternative will be a scheduled yoga class or personal training session. Got that? Huh, I think I just heard the cage door swing open.

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