A Night Owl Exercising in the Morning
a rare appearance
The world right before sunrise possesses a unique sort of quiet, a stillness completely satisfied with its delicate silence. The world is dim, light just beyond the horizon. Slowly each bird adds its voice to the soft trill that welcomes the new day.
In college, I got up every other day before sunrise, threw on my athletic gear, and jogged down a street lined with old oak trees. When I looked up, I could see the light shining through the branches that arched over the road, almost touching. Some days, I felt like I was passing through a cathedral formed from the natural world.
It’s been over a decade since I regularly awoke before the sun. A night owl by nature, I rarely function well in the morning. But for awhile there, I could pretend, adjust my nature to make it work with my schedule. Now, I have to flow with whatever my body tells me.
Now I lurk in the small hours of the morning, my face glued to my iPhone. Somehow, I keep finding myself in the wellness and exercise rabbit holes on TikTok. Perky white women in messy buns tell me that with enough will, I too can make “healthier” choices by starting my day off right—with lots of exercise.
Aside from wondering what horrific sin I must of committed against the TikTok gods to deserve being fed these cookie cutter women proclaiming that will power can cure all ills, I can’t help but notice that most of these wellness influencers possess nondisabled bodies and an ample amount of leisure time. Gone is the meditative state I used to experience on my morning jog. All that’s left is the empty promises of able-bodied norms.
At its best, exercise isn’t about staying on trend, showing off your body, losing weight, gaining muscle, or fitting into pre-pregnancy jeans. It’s about caring for your body and mind in the best way that you are able. For you, that could look like listening to heavy metal while power lifting. Perhaps your mind feels rejuvenated after a yoga class. Or maybe right now, all you can do is walk your dog around the neighborhood. What’s important is that you are taking time for what your body needs.
Now as an underweight 30-something with joints that are way too enthusiastic about jumping out of place, I rarely see the quiet of morning. I miss the intense sense of peace and well-being that I used to experience in my former life. But intense cardio workouts are not what my body needs right now.
So today I’ll shuffle over to the gym and walk my 30 minutes before gingerly trying to go a mile on the elliptical. It’s not a lot, but today it’ll have to be enough.
Things I Made Recently
It’s EDS and mental health awareness month, so I wrote about representation of chronically ill and disabled writers in literature.
Mental illness runs in my family, so from an early age my parents tried to instill in me that mental illness was just part of the human experience. They normalized it in such an important way for me. Here are some books that do that too.
Book Riot’s Audiobooks Newsletter
What I’ve Been Listening To This Week
“The Kindest Cut” by Melissa Febos (New York Times Magazine)
Melissa Febos talks about how she elected to have breast reduction and the emotional aspects that came along with that. Febos is an essay master. I read her for the first time last year and now have gone and bought all of her books.
I listened to this article via Audm.
Not Your Average IV User: Episode 13 - Sarah Wilson
I have really appreciated how this podcast has given people in a recovery a platform to tell their own stories.
Heartbreak: A Personal and Scientific Journey by Florence Williams
Heartbreak begins with Florence Williams’ divorce. It’s messy and earth shattering for Williams, who never expected to be back in the dating world. In addition to writing books, Williams is a podcaster. So she decide to record everything she could, which eventually led to this one-of-a-kind testament to the end of her marriage and the beginning of her new life as a newly single woman at fifty.
This audiobook takes a unique spin on the format, including clips the author recorded of conversation she had during and after her divorce. Williams also interviews scientists who study partner attachment and the physical effects of divorce. I really enjoyed this audio experiment and would love to see other audiobooks venture into a more experimental landscape.
Linking Links Linking
As a zebra, I’m very excited for this month, especially for the representation of EDS patients with gastroparesis. This summer marks ten years since I first developed gastroparesis, a condition that causes a paralysis of the stomach where it doesn’t empty correctly. I’d love it if y’all read through and familiarized yourselves with the different types of EDS and how they can manifest. This way, more people will learn how to be better allies to folks with EDS.
What is EDS and HSD Awareness Month?
Every May, people all over the world show their support for people living with and affected by the Ehlers-Danlos syndromes (EDS), and hypermobility spectrum disorders (HSD). Our shared mission is important throughout the year, but May is a time we all come together, share experiences, and highlight what is needed to progress change.