Discovering life beyond the barbell / by Dana McMahan

‘Grace? She passed away 30 years ago’

The entire movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is one long favorite scene. But one of the best is asking Aunt Bethany to say grace.

Clark: Since this is Aunt Bethany’s 80th Christmas, I think she should lead us in the saying of Grace.
Aunt Bethany: What dear?
Nora: Grace!
Aunt Bethany: Grace? Ohhh…She passed away thirty years ago…
Uncle Lewis: They want you to say grace…. The BLESS-ING!!!
Aunt Bethany: Oh.

Today is my last birthday in my 30s. I’m not one for new year’s resolutions, but I liked the idea a friend had in making a birthday resolution so I’m totally stealing that. It’s not so much a resolution as it is a word for this year. I was awake part of the night and spent some time trying to think of the exact word I need. I wanted it to be something like thankful or grateful, but also partly to give myself a break and not expect so much — too-high expectations being behind some injuries, not to mention stress — and to forgive myself when I do something wrong. I loved the name of a drink my my husband had last night at our joint birthday dinner (his birthday is the day before mine, which makes for a celebratory week!). It was called “Don’t Worry About It,” and I wanted my word to have a bit of that as well.

When the alarm went off, I had fallen back asleep. This never happens, but I woke up with the precise word I needed in my head.

It’s grace. That feels like an old fashioned word (in fact it is) but it fits everything I’m looking for.

Sunrise on the Rogue River in Oregon.

Sunrise on the Rogue River in Oregon.

I need to give myself a grace period when I need it — like now. I’m clunking around in an air cast, an ugly gray boot, because I hurt my big toe walking around NYC in high heels a few years ago and aggravated it every time I did a lunge or I sprinted or even went on a long walk. My sports doctor finally showed his exasperation with me, when he told me the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. So for the third time in two years I’m limited in what I can do, this time because of something as ridiculous as a tiny bone in my foot with a stress fracture. This has to be a grace period while the little bone heals, a time that I’m not working out like I like to (I’m swimming, which is another story because my flailing about in the water is the least graceful version of swimming you can imagine) but I have to accept it. And I can do it with grace or I can make myself miserable. Wouldn’t it feel better to do it with grace?

And I need to give myself grace when I’m not accomplishing everything I want rightnowthisveryminute. I’ve been freelance writing for about seven months. I’m not in every publication I want to be. But I can never be in ALL the things. If I allow myself grace I can be thankful for what I have done so far, and optimistic about what’s next.

I need to give other people grace. Other people have other motivations and they’re not always going to do what I wish they would do. That’s it. I can’t change that. Even when it’s hurtful –like the woman who commented on this blog to give me her (incorrect) theories on why I’ve had so many injuries and tell me she would “never listen to somebody who has destroyed their body in such a short amount of time” — I can let it get to me, or I can give them grace and move on. Obviously that’s not the easiest path, but, hey, I’ve got a year.

I’m under no illusion that when I turn 40 in 365 days I’ll be living in a permanent state of grace. I can’t change 39 years of a short temper and no-holds-barred, everything it takes goal-oriented nature. But I have a better chance of remembering now and then to allow myself and others grace than I do of ever being a graceful swimmer, and I’ll take that.

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3 responses

  1. Amy

    Happy Birthday! Forty isn’t as bad as you may think (I know you have a year to be graceful until you freak out).

    This is a lovely post. I wish I could be this reflective on birthdays. I appreciate your thoughtfulness and I find your goals admirable.

    August 29, 2013 at 9:25 am

    • Thanks Amy! I appreciate your kind words :)

      August 29, 2013 at 10:43 am

  2. Happy birthday, Miss Dana!! :)

    I love this: “If I allow myself grace I can be thankful for what I have done so far, and optimistic about what’s next”

    I think everyone needs to reflect on their lives (myself included!) so much more! I think we are always pushing for what we don’t have or can’t have, that we forget to look back at how far we have come and the journey that got us there!!

    You are inspiring to so many women, forget the haters ;)

    August 29, 2013 at 11:59 am

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