This probably doesn’t look very good.
At first glance, you might think that my New Year’s Resolution to shed the 20 from 2020 failed already. I’d love to tell you you’re wrong; that the scale hasn’t gone in the wrong direction, but that would imply that I own a scale. I own many things that contribute to my self-depreciating humor such as jeans from 2010, a mirror with a 15x reflection I call “the mirror of self-hatred”, and shirts speckled with decades-old stains of which I belie that any stain is coffee spilled this morning, but a scale I do not have. That is just too much.
This defeated elliptical machine is something else entirely.
My grandparents, all of them, were devoted, dedicated, and serious Catholics. They cited verse and offered prayers for things that seemed beyond their grasp and out of their control. If you lost something they prayed to St. Anthony. If your heart was broken, they mumbled novenas to St. Rita. And if you were in financial need, the plea went to St. Joseph, rumored to be not only the financial manager of the waking world, but also its real estate agent. An example of this is when my dad was selling his home. The house sat on the market for a long enough time that he revisited his religious upbringing. He took a trip to the local Catholic gift shop and purchased a blessed plastic statue of St. Joseph. My dad then dug a hole in his front yard and plopped the saint in, head first, and completely buried him in the dirt.
All kidding aside, the home sold within the week and sold above the asking price.
The resuscitated statue of St. Joseph sits on the mantel in my dad’s new home—a place of honor as an act of gratitude and spiritual tradition. Belief is powerful.
Not raised with the same religious ethic as my grandparents or parents, their beliefs were both a mystery and a comfort to me. They had a saints to turn to in times of need, and their faith provided a magic in the way things showed up for them. My grandfather used to say, “Never worry about money, Marianne. It will always come.” And it always has.
Many things show up when you express what it is that you truly want.
When I was married, my husband and I, who didn’t agree on anything, decided to get a dog. I am a fan of larger breeds and he of smaller. The compromise was a beagle. We agreed that we would start looking for a beagle in the weeks to come. Well, St. Francis must have been on the heavenly call that night because the next day, I kid you not, a stray beagle showed up at my husband’s work.
Things like this happen with jaw-dropping frequency. It freaks me out a little.
When 2020 became an adjective I put the magnifying glass to my words and wishes. Too many thoughts spoken arrived or left my doorstep, depending on the desired direction. Some things were hard, others challenging, but overall, and in hindsight, each was a blessing.
As 2020 moved from adjective to explicative, so did the weight. All the prayers in the world could not remove the muffin top. Maybe I had the wrong saint. I considered a gym membership and then reconsidered it as the pandemic escalated. To me, fitness centers are all about the ellipticals. I love elliptical machines. I don’t know why but I think they are a tremendous amount of fun. Fun might be the wrong word.
One day after work, I veered into a sporting goods store to look at ellipticals. With the cost too high for my wages, I heard my grandfather’s voice, “Don’t worry about the money, Honey. It will come.” Defeated and mildly swathed in shame, I drove home.
Two blocks from my house, I slammed the brakes on my little Honda Fit and nearly flipped the car tail over tit. On the side of the road, with a note reading “Free”, was an elliptical! Thank you, whatever saint oversees my exercising goals!
After some rather ingenious maneuvering, the machine made it into the hatchback of the car. With two-thirds of it hanging out, I put on the hazards and inched my way home, happy as a clam.
The same genius feat of physics that got the machine in the car, also got it out and then up the three steps into my home. Once in place and cleaned up, I gave it a whirl.
Everything worked except for one thing. The center stabilizing pole wasn’t stable. It thrashed left and right with each round of my feet and arms. Tools in hand, everything got tightened down, and I began again. It was still a capsizing boat. With practice, I learned to engage my full core moving in the slowest motion possible, for a work-out that was ‘good’ and extremely short, but where the machine didn’t threaten to bludgeon me.
One should never have to fear one’s exercise equipment in this way.
My efforts to repair the machine again and again were fruitless and I eventually thanked St. Jude, saint of hopeless causes, for allowing me the clarity to see that what I had in my home was a piece of potentially lethal junk. It sat in its purgatory of un-use for a long time.
With the dawn of 2021 arising, I made some resolutions: walk more, ride my bike, and for God’s sake, stop picking up junk from the side of the road. I decided that it was high time I treated myself better than to take in curbside crap and try to make do. It dawned on me that this wasn’t about being frugal rather it was a practice in lack of faith. I fell short on faith in myself and blind to the magic and mystery of what the great Divine provides.
The saints didn’t provide an elliptical. They gave me a mirror that was shaped like one. The universe provided a clear reflection in the form of this machine, of what I thought of myself; of how much I had settled for less in so many aspects of my overall life instead of believing I deserved better. It put on display, once again, the co-dependent tendency to want to fix everything and revealed that part of me that I thought had long since been left behind in therapy.
My resolution wasn’t really about losing weight or eating healthier. It was about loving myself to the degree that the rubbish could remain at the curb.