Many years ago when I was in graduate school, I found myself overwhelmed by an intense internship (working with adolescent girls in foster care), plus keeping up with papers and classes and such. I realized that my life felt much more manageable when I also made time to do something fun once a week. I started making rules for myself about this “one fun thing.” It couldn’t be something like being on a committee or helping with a youth group that might be fulfilling but also involved taking care of other people. It had to be something that was just for me.
Over the years I have tried out a variety of OFTs. I took a ceramics class and made some pretty (and not-so-pretty) bowls. I tried out aerial dance, which was super fun, though a bit out of my comfort zone (given that I have zero previous dance experience and don’t usually feel particularly graceful). I discovered that having a fun thing that also involved some sort of physical activity (but wasn’t something boring like running on a treadmill) was a praticularly good choice.
After Tadpole was born, Roo and I were overwhelmed with figuring out day-to-day life with a newborn (and then life with two working parents and a baby) and I stopped doing my OFT. But around the time he turned a year old I felt like I was finally settling into parenthood and was ready to bring back the OFT plan. I was thinking about physical activities that I had enjoyed and remembered a few long-ago trips to an indoor rock climbing gym with a high school friend that had been really fun. I looked online and found a climbing place nearby and contacted a friend of a friend to see if she’d be willing to go with me (it works much better if you have someone else who can hold the other end of the rope!). I started going regularly. Eventually I met a number of other folks and got to a point where I could show up on a Monday or Wednesday night and assume I could probably find someone to climb with. I didn’t go every week, but usually managed two or three times a month.
I love the combination of physical and mental challenge that climbing involves. After an intense day at work, it’s great to do something that takes all of my concentration and that uses an entirely different part of my brain. There’s something really satisfying about tackling a climb that I’m not sure I can do and fighting my way to the top. Or discovering that I can complete a climb this week that I couldn’t do a few weeks ago. Plus, I get to have interesting conversations with people whose ages, careers and politics may be very different from my own. Over the last few years, it has been tricky to fit in a climbing night, given that I usually have to be at work until late one evening a week, and Roo usually likes to do her own fun thing (often a yoga class) one night. But when I make it happen, I’m so glad that I did.
For the last few months my OFT has mostly involved lying on the couch feeling queasy and going to bed at 8pm, neither of which really qualifies as fun. And in addition to that, I’ve already started having some pregnancy-related pelvic pain, which makes running (my other usual form of exercise) painful.
This past Wednesday night I went back to the climbing gym for the first time since February or March. I was horrible at climbing! I had to climb much easier climbs than I used to be able to do, and I was exhausted far earlier than I used to be. But it felt so good to be back! As excited as I am about being pregnant, it is nice to see my body as strong and capable in areas other than just making babies. And I didn’t have any problems with pelvic pain at all. I still felt a sense of accomplishment at the top of the climbs, even when they were easier than the kind I used to do. And it was good to catch up with some of my climbing friends.
I have my OB’s okay to continue climbing until 20-some weeks and am looking forward to fitting in as many more OFT evenings as I can before Baby #2 comes along and rearranges all our routines again.