Motivational quotes float around Pinterest like dandelion fuzz, getting stuck on my boards and in my head. One of them comes out of the mouths of the instructors at the studio where I work out many mornings: It doesn’t get easier, you just get stronger. A quick search lead to this possible source of the quote:
“Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient.” (Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free)
For the past few months I’ve been dragging myself out of bed for a 5:30 barre class — a variety of classes really, from barre to cardio kickboxing to a boot camp that might be my favorite. I’ve been there 107 times since I started going in March.
A friend started coming to classes a few weeks ago. Thursday morning as we stretched before class, we laughed a little about various sore body parts. She mentioned she’d hoped she’d stop being sore after she got over the initial discomfort from starting a new workout. I paused and shrugged a little, shaking my head.
I still get sore.
I know I’m stronger than I was when I started. My kicks are higher, my lunges lower, and I recently added weighted gloves to kickboxing days. The changes, though, came about so incrementally I can’t pinpoint when they happened. And that greater range of motion means my muscles still scream at me some days.
My old Care Bear rests on the couch a few inches from my still-sore legs. Abbey brought it down last week after a slightly painful dental appointment — mine, not hers — and I haven’t been able to take it back upstairs to the stuffed animal bin. He was a birthday gift over thirty years ago, gifted by my dad and tucked under covers in beds from my childhood canopy to my dorm room and beyond.
Last week, I turned 39, the age at which people like to joke about having one more year before 40. I laughed and ate cake for dinner and breakfast and tried not to think too much about how this was my first birthday without my dad.
I still felt my breath catch in my throat.
Tears don’t catch me off guard as often as they did in April and May. I know when they’re coming, the weight in my chest a familiar presence I recognize and acknowledge, as I try to figure out if the tears are stoppable.
I still feel them trace their familiar path down my cheeks some days, but some days I don’t.
The sharp realization that he’s gone isn’t getting easier, but I think I’m getting stronger.