Exercising My Scoliosis Demons

Pain pulses through the left side of my body charging across the point where my spine twists around then curves to the left shooting a sharp pinch into my shoulder blade muscles and pulling on my neck muscles where the dull pulse pounds.

Looking and listening to water or a steady breeze calms the ache and so does lying down on hot cement.

My medicine lately… Juicing apples, spinach, beets, and ginger. They help heal the daily episodes.

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Tea, chamomile, deceives the pain.

Chiropractors and massages keep it under control.

And exercise laughs at my pain. I sometimes exercise for hours because the heat that generates through my body wipes out the signal somehow.

The next day my muscles ache but my body celebrates with stretched grins and power. It’s always worth it though.

But, if I miss a day, the pain taunts me. Pulsing.

I’ve done everything I can to run from it, especially to hide it. I know how to wear clothes specifically so that it’s hard to see the curve. A purse placed just right helps shield me from people.

But, doctors never fail to wince when they check my spine. It’s clearly painful to them and they sympathize with clenched teeth.

Diagnosis Scoliosis

Finding out that you have scoliosis right when you’re beginning middle school tries your soul. It buries you under a billion painful emotions pointing you to a closet to hide in. You fold up inside yourself and learn to never let anyone touch you again.

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When I was eleven years old, I had to bend over as if touching my toes while a woman ran something that felt like metal down my spine. About a week or two later, my mother told me I had scoliosis.

About a month later, I was being covered in wet bandages, plastered. At a time when I was already insecure about my changing body, doctors inspected me and told me I had to wear a brace or undergo spinal surgery because the curvature was 20 degrees and getting worse.

Then, I was told to quit all my sports, even running.

No more gymnastics and no running.

I could walk, not run.

I just stood there, feeling like a spineless creature wrapped in a shell. I felt spineless because my spine had taken me over and was controlling everything I was and everything that mattered to me.

So, I decided to make friends with it even though I hated it. Besides therapy exercises, the doctors told me I could dance.

I was allowed to dance.

Fine.

Dance it would be.

I danced for an hour a day and adhered to my therapeutic exercise plan in between. It was the only time of day I was free of my brace so I pushed right over the limit. I forced my spine toward its opposite, yelling and screaming at it with each move.

But, it never disappeared. It just hung around. Bullying me.

Pleading with the Pain

Now that I’m older, I don’t fight it as much as plead with it.

Now, I still hate my spine, not with the same bitterness, but with a tired feeling of self worth, talking to it, telling it I really deserve to live like a normal person, I’ve earned this.

It doesn’t listen. It laughs a scornful laugh.

But, exercise laughs back. It turns up the heat and beats it. Exercise sometimes even soothes it, pretending to be my spine’s friend.

I jog, sometimes sprint, then walk, teasing my spine, putting pressure on it to release the pain. It does. It goes. It leaves.

Yet, I know I can’t do what I used to so I ease away.

I have an exercise ball that I lie on, bobbing, releasing tension. If that doesn’t work, there’s the zero gravity chair.

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Afterward, an arsenal of tea helps center me.

And, I know, it will be back so I cat stretch.

I swim. I ice it.

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I start all over again.

I exercise my scoliosis demons.

Written by Lisa Chesser for the DP Challenge

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Sometimes, we just don’t need to talk.

Relationships grow, crumble, fade, part, and regenerate. It’s when they’re quiet that you know you’ve done something right. It’s the kind of quiet where neither one of you needs to talk. You don’t need to ogle each other like teenagers or stare lovingly into each other’s eyes like you desperately can’t live without the other person.

You just move quietly together allowing the other to be, to exist without you, with you, it really doesn’t matter.

Space Clouds
Space Clouds

My husband and I have had these moments and I’ve thought, well, we’ve finally arrived. We’ve made it. We really just don’t need to talk.

We can just float together.

But, he doesn’t see it that way. He wants to talk, as if there’s something wrong with me for not joining in the sea of incessant chatter that bulks up the world around us. I know it’s not all just him. I know that between his coworkers burping on about how people should “talk” and the mounds of general media telling us we need to talk more, he’s bound to agree with them.

Couples must communicate, yes. I do this and that’s when he decides that he’s too busy to talk, which is completely different from what I’m talking about here.

On vacation, he pointed out an older couple who read the newspaper, looked up to check a noise or just enjoy their whereabouts, and ate quietly together, barely talking. He scoffed sarcastically, “You think that’ll be us someday?”

I thought, I hope so.

He said, “They haven’t said a word to each other,” and he said this bitterly. I then realized he needed to talk right now so that he knows that I love him so I tried. I still try. I try to do a lot of listening more than anything. It’s rough because I prefer silence. He doesn’t understand it but he does know how I feel. At least I think he does.

So much of my life consists of talking that I cherish the quiet space between it all. I literally gulp, choking up when I hear the blowing wind against the palms of trees.

Tears build, fall, and drop when I see clouds swirl and that beat that blends with the flap of a bird’s wings. Silence seems to slip through my fingers like water running through the tap. So when I’m wrapped in it, when it surrounds me, I warm myself with it.

It’s not the same as people who stare at the glare of their smart phones and just ignore each other.

Two people appreciating silence seals their bond as if sitting together in a temple or a church. Only, there’s nothing to worship or think about because you’re already there…in heaven.

There’s that breathing, the heavy kind. The kind that you hear right before you fade into each other.

Merging
Merging

Written by Lisa Chesser

We are All Clowns.

SadClownThere we were. Our stage lit up. Our eyes blackened, mouths drawn in the shape of a distorted smile, giant red noses, oversized coats, huge feet. We fought for attention.

And, we got it.

We were the clowns in Slava’s Snow Show.

It all began with a noose hanging around his neck, which he only feigned to tighten. He was the single clown who wore a bright-yellow jumpsuit making him look like he had the body of a frumpy muppet.

Slava's Globe
Slava’s Globe

As he glanced to his right, another clown walked onto the stage dragging his own noose around his neck.

When they saw each other, the performance began.

Isn’t that me? And, you?

On the verge….

Then we connect and lose ourselves in a quiet dance.

I watched the foolishness, the silly adventures, the dramas, and finally understood who I am, who we all are in the blogging world. For the last few months, I’ve pondered my blog. What’s the purpose of it really?

Am I inspiring you to be brave, smart, and bold? How can I do this better, differently? Why don’t you stop by more often? Why don’t you like me more? What would other bloggers want to read? What would anyone want to read? And, why?

So, I wrote a bit, but mostly I read your blogs, hoping to gain insight into what you want, to find a secret trick to gaining your interest. I wanted to draw you in and connect with you. But, I still didn’t “get” it.

Then, there I was last night, watching Slava’s Snow Show and everything emerged in a wild clown drama on a paper snow-filled stage.

We blog to write to read to love to remember to show to dazzle to cry to rage to surrender to melt to rebound to bounce.

We are clowns so sad, awkward, funny, ridiculous, and proud.

We conjure up a makeshift ship in the middle of a stage and one of us pretends to be a shark while the others sail on. We step into the imaginary ocean and reveal each other for who we really are:  clowns.

We sweep up our messes only to get our hand caught in a spider web that suddenly sticks to all of our fingertips scattering to an obscure audience that pulls it apart and tosses it to the floor.

Webs
Webs

We need intermission to rest.

Then we regenerate and find that someone shot arrows through our heart. We struggle and find it was our best friend, again. We hurt each other.

We freak out. A crazy clown sitting next to a tilted table, we scream then fall. Everything goes black.

Repeat.

Then one of us is knitting and rocking in a chair in the corner. Madness.

Darkness.

We pack our bags and travel.

And, we weather storm after storm.

All with big fat smiles painted on our faces.

We are foolish.

We fall.

We bounce back.
We bounce.

We bounce.

And, we are so magnificent.

We are Magnificent.
We are Magnificent.

Written By Lisa Chesser

The Green-Eyed Monster: A Letter to People with Straight Hair

I just got my hair cut and I loved it…when it was wet. When it dried, when the humidity settled in, I wore a beautifully highlighted but not so cool Afro. As much as I love Afros on other women, which we’ll talk about in another post, on another day, I don’t like an afro on me. I don’t look cool or sensational in mine like the boys from Unlocking the Truth or stunning like Beyonce.

Taking the world by storm and Unlocking the Truth.
Taking the world by storm and Unlocking the Truth.

So, I’m jealous, too jealous, of all of you straight-haired wonder beings out there. You foreign creatures who need not straight iron but only do it if you feel a stray hair is out of place.

Too abate my jealousy, I became the unofficial stylist in my various groups as I was growing up. I was the girl with the frizzy hair who braided all the other girls’ hair.

I needed to feel the soft silk in my fingers and imagine it was mine. All mine!

My eyes are green, literally, and I truly felt like a Green-Eyed Monster. I wanted their hair. When my grandmother told me that it was the crust from the bread that made my hair curly, I ritualistically broke it off my sandwiches and waited for my hair to uncurl. But, alas, it never happened.

Yes, it was that bad. And, as much as I’d like to say I’ve gotten over it. I really haven’t.

So, I’m going to spend a ridiculous amount of money and get the keratin treatment everyone’s raving about. I will hopefully say goodbye to my curly hair and have a glorious go at straight hair heaven.

Inspired by the Daily Post Challenge.

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The Best Summer Ever

The great part about being a parent is always the intensity with which kids force me to have fun. They bend my perception of myself backwards to a time when I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to stand like that or say those things.

So, here’s what happens when you spend summer with kids.

1. You learn the meaning of freedom. You swim!

Kids see water and jump in. No wondering if their thighs are too fat or if the water’s too cold. They go for it. So, for those of you bent on hibernating, remember, this is summer so swim.

This is me documenting it via Vine…all because of the Weekly Writing Challenge. Thanks for the spark.

2. You make movies.

They don’t just watch movies, they make them. My sister taught them how to think like filmmakers and this is one of their awesome creations with her help.

3. You eat ice cream and you’re messy about it.

The messier the better.
The messier the better.

Everyone was being so neat and nice, so polite. But, my son indulged in his cotton candy ice cream cone and made a mess. I did have to stop him before he got out of control.

4. You build a Lego Ship.

In lieu of homework, mine negotiated a challenge, “We’ll build this Lego ship.” So, they conveniently stretched the construction period out to four days long, but the results speak volumes.

5.  You day dream.

Tilt your head back. Close your eyes or stare off at something in the room or at the ceiling then let your mind wonder to those places we rarely speak of because we’re too busy going from here to there or trying to meet a deadline.

6. You draw or doodle.

Sketching your favorite cartoon or TV character when you should be focusing on work keeps you relaxed and sometimes refocuses you if you’re struggling to finish writing. If you’re listening to someone who’s thoroughly boring, then doodle.

7. You dance.

Dance. Wiggle. Move. And do it often. Smiles follow.

8. You watch Nacho Libre, a lot.

Nacho Libre starring Jack Black became my son’s obsession. Thank God it was a funny one.  Interpreted, this one means find a movie you really like, that makes you so happy you want to see it over and over again and do just that.

9. You’re gross.

Pick your nose and fart if you feel like it. Just promise, don’t be ashamed. Kids never are—at least not during summertime.

10. You sleep, a lot.

Go to bed late. Sleep until noon. Need I say more?

For a double whammy, I’ll use this time to say that I’m so proud of them. Without even knowing it, they’ve managed to give me amazing moments to write about and give you a laugh or two–thank you to the Daily Post Challenge.

Woman of Steel Uses Comedy as a Weapon

When she made me laugh right in the middle of a full-on breakdown, sending salty snot flying from my nose, I knew my sister was my hero.

The first time I saw her perform standup, it left me not just laughing but gaping in awe of her ability to hurtle a crowd into fits of laughter.

So, with her 3,000 miles away, I often use her clips on her website and YouTube to remind me that laughing has a way of turning pain into light so that it becomes far away, and transparent.

On our summer visit in Los Angeles, that light shown even more brightly. On the night we ventured out to watch Man of Steel, it become apparent that she owned the title Woman of Steel and that her superpower is laughter. It was her birthday and she chose it thinking that she would entertain my children and still see a great movie.

Jill with Joan on set of Fashion Police.
Jill with Joan on set of Fashion Police.

After watching Man of Steel, I walked out feeling the same way I normally feel when I leave a much-anticipated film or even television series that I’m disappointed with. I felt disoriented and unappreciated. I felt like Hollywood could care less about what our daughters and sons learn and they definitely underestimate their ability to interpret anything more than cheap lines and renditions of X-Box or PlayStation games.

Then my sister laughed and laughed again. “What was that? My brain hurts,” she blurted. She asked the kids what they thought and they shrugged and displayed that slanted twist of their mouths, their eyebrows raised.

Then it happened. Superhero Woman of Steel mode kicked in and POW! She riddled us with joke after joke, which I can’t remember because it comes at you so fast, this blur of laughter hitting you then wrapping around you so tightly that the only thing you can do is double over in fits of laughter.

She always does this, well, at least most of the time. She, my sister and comedian Jill Michele Melean, always forces us to laugh at the absurd and even more so the depressing.

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When I’d break up with a boyfriend, she wouldn’t comfort me as much as make me laugh. “You’re gonna be okay. Now, here are some things to look forward to:  You’ll have plenty of time to write. And, more importantly, you’ll lose a lot of weight.”

Again, the snot flew.

Sometimes, I’d get angry and even sometimes cry harder, but she’d wake me out of my coma and laughter always followed.

As kids, if I was sad, which was often enough, she’d come running over ready to make faces and throw a nice smelly fart my way.

She was completely and utterly inappropriate and I thank the heavens for beaming her to down to me.

So, this is for you. For those times when happiness seems too far away, Jill Michele brings us laughter, the perfect weapon.

Dream Home in Venus Domes

Tucked away somewhere in Florida, there’s a place called Venus. In particular, it’s the Venus Project created by Jacque Fresco. Dreams live there.

And, the homes do too.

They’re domes and at first glance they look like igloos, but in Florida that would be a paradox to say the least. I found out about these futuristic homes when my sister last visited because she and her boyfriend were trekking over to see the Venus Project first hand.

When she first showed me a picture of the homes I shunned them and thought, I like my box. But the more I read and learned about the ideas that Jacque proposed,  the more I like the idea of domes.

English: Jacque Fresco and Roxanne Meadows at ...
English: Jacque Fresco and Roxanne Meadows at The Venus Project. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) proposed, then the more I returned to my own home, my box, the more I dreamt of a dome.

The global vision that he created with the Venus Project condones living in harmony with earth by embracing technology. It quite literally creates your own little world for you. The homes mean less environmental damage and also more safety. It’s hard for a tornado to pick up a dome and domes clean themselves. Leaves float off. Life flows.

When I look at my children, I think, where will I live when I grow old? I don’t want to burden them. I don’t want to burden anyone, not even the Earth. I also think, I want to have a sanctuary, a place to live, a place of my own.

The way our Earth holds us, the dome cradles us. I dream of domes with anticipation in a future where, well, we aren’t cruel or greedy, where the news isn’t all about hate, death, damage.

I dream domes.

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