Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Lessons in the Gym

You know that the Universe loves you and wants you to be happy when it starts answering your prayers.
Caveat: This one gets long.
Grab some tea and put on some nice music.
Feel free to come back and read it at a later time.
My feelings won't be hurt, I promise.

Lately, I've been praying for the ability to be calm even in extremely chaotic, stressful, and personal situations that seem to happen so often lately, and during which my emotions go all over the Unhealthy Map, wrecking my peace of mind and playing havoc with my physical system.

So yesterday, in a renewed commitment to self-care, I went back to my regular Tuesday routine: acupuncture, therapy, sauna. How blissful and restorative. Then it happened: two women in the sauna that I had never seen before had stuff spread everywhere -- phones with house music cranked to full volume, water bottles, unused headphones and hair bands, towels. I navigated the explosion of personal affects and sat down on the bench. The one woman spoke to me, "Someone's sitting there." I was confused, because, clearly, I didn't bump into anyone as I took my seat. "She just went to get some water." I continued to say nothing. "That's her phone," the woman said, gesturing  well-manicured, glittery nails to the device blaring house music. She looked at me pointedly. "This is me not saying anything," I said calmly. "It's harder than you might think." I closed my eyes again. "This is me not saying anything about you being in here with no clothes on," she said in an openly hostile and disapproving tone of voice. I opened my eyes and looked at her to figure out if she was serious. Not only was she serious, she was staring a challenge at me, clearly expecting a response. "Oh." I said. I closed my eyes again. (For the record, I was covered with a towel, but that's not exactly required. You can be buck-ass naked if you choose. I like that.) She proceeded to go on a tirade about how no one wanted to see my naked self. I didn't say anything.

The woman of the personal effects came in, took one look at me, and proceeded to get huffy. The other woman started telling her about how she told me not to sit there but how I said I didn't care. All this conversation had to happen at top volume to be heard over the music, of course. When the conversation was getting nasty-personal about how I looked and behaved and didn't have the right to sit in the one place where there wasn't any stuff, I felt my inner panic routine ramp up. But then, I saw the middle-school moment for what it was -- completely unrelated to me and really sad -- and it derailed altogether. By realizing I didn't have to participate in this little drama-fest, it didn't take long for my heart rate to come back down (FitBit had it at 188 at the peak-my max is considered to be 178) and the fluttering in my chest to subside. I started breathing normally again, just in time for them to decide to run me out of the sauna by dousing water on the rocks repeatedly and turning the music up even louder and -- dig this -- singing along. Yeah, I still didn't care. 

Even after the second bucket of water was dumped, one ladle at a time, my heart rate didn't go anywhere near what it was when they were being all MeanGirl about the whole thing. Of course, it really did get hot in there, and they had to take breaks -- once to get more water for the rocks and twice to go tell the manager that I was *gasp* in there without anything on under my towel. The second time, the counter person came in to see what was up. I waved and said "Hi, Sarah." She looked at me long and hard, told the women that I was perfectly fine the way I was (duh!!!), waved and left.

See there? That's the Universe giving me the opportunity to get what I asked for -- peace and serenity in the face of toxicity. 
I just had to step up to the plate.

Bonus: I got a really good steam room workout without having to leave the sauna, even though the steam room is down for repair this week. 
Thanks, Ladies!!