Credit: Immerse Photography. Note: I LOVE my hands in this photo.
I scrolled through the final portfolio of marketing images we’d posed for earlier that month and I was, not for the first time in my life, reminded and somewhat shocked at the overwhelming, reaching presence of my hands. I started to make a game of it as I clicked-—a Where’s Waldo of sorts, Find The Flailing Phalanges—and the more I stared at them, the more alien they appeared.
It was a cold, fall morning in 2017 when we showed up for our first set of team photos and I hadn’t a clue what do to with my hands. I was hyper-aware of them going in to the photo shoot and anxious about this and the game of Find The Flailing Phalanges that was to come.
Like any kid in the upper percentile of their growth chart, extremity awareness had not always been my strong suit. I still remember driving home from my elementary school dance recital where I’d preformed a dance from each class I’d taken that year, Tap, Jazz, and Ballet, and being told that I’d done great, but could benefit from using, and controlling, my arms a bit better. “Use my arms?,” I thought, “What do you mean use my arms? I used my arms in every song!”
Credit: thanks Mom. Note: Look at those sweet, awkward limbs
Years later, while binge-watching ten years worth of home videos my dad had recently converted to DVD, I decidedly saw that, while yes I was technically using them, flopped might have been a more appropriate term for what I’d done with my arms—and that whichever parent suggested practicing arm control was correct.
Those damn hands!
In the year that followed my final game of Find The Flailing Phalanges, I started to become more aware of my body. I learned to worry less about what to do with my hands as if they were an temporary accessory to my body, a burden of height I was cursed to carry around by my wrist joints, and instead tried to explore how I could invite them to be a part of the actions I was taking.
Super great for me and my hands, but why should you care? (aside from rejoicing in the opportunity to witness my fashion week-ready dance costume and bowl cut. but really, y’all, I was adorable)
What does me learning to deal with my complicated finger feelings have to do with you?
This would probably be a good time to tell you that my attempts at awareness wasn’t just limited to my hands. That just made for the best intro.
It was about everything. The whole shebang. It was about every hunk of flesh, bone, and muscle that was moving me through the day, and the emotions that flowed through them. You know: the manic anxiety, the impatient fear, the dreadful doubt, the incredible excitement, the childlike joy.
It was about stopping to ask first: What? What am I doing? Okay but really now, what am I actually doing? What am I feeling? Okay but really now, what am I actually feeling? What am I frustrated with? Okay but really now, what am I actually frustrated with?
Next question: Why? *repeat inner-monologue above*
No diet can magically make you like yourself.
No yoga pose will transform you into a ballerina.
No amount of goal-setting will just get you to the end result.
There’s not a self-help book in the world that can stop you from being you.
So start by showing up with what you have and taking note. Start by asking what’s working and what could use a little a help. Something I’ve been discussing with friends and in my cycle classes this week is the rhetoric that comes with New Years Resolution messages that makes us think we need to break it all down and start from scratch. There’s a “total reset” mentality that starts to creep in this time for year between commercials promising us the diet that will finally stick and the SUV that will inevitably get us to take that trip out west we've been putting off.
But you don’t have to start all over to start making changes, because let’s be honest that sound overwhelming and exhausting. Step One to finding more happiness in your body isn’t waking up and throwing away all the food in your pantry and enrolling at every gym and for every fitness class in town. It’s asking yourself why you feel so unhappy there.
Sometimes you have to look down at your own damn hands, accept that they’re not going anywhere, and that you might as well starting working with them.