Thursday, January 24, 2008

Opening the Golden Door

At 5:15, the phone rings. No one is on the other end of the line. It’s the wakeup machine. Time to get dressed for the moderate hike which launches the daily menu at the Golden Door Spa. The three mile moderate is one of a number of hikes. Believe you me, there is nothing moderate about it for someone my age. On Wednesdays another more challenging mile is added And it’s raining and cold and pitch black dark. (For this tiny flashlights are provided.) I didn’t know it was to rain (no weathermen prompters, no TV), so I didn’t have on my rain slicker. The moon flashed by a dark cloud but daylight stalled somewhere over there where I don’t know.

Hikers meet in what I call the re-start room - there is lemonade, ice tea, and hot coffee - even tiny tiny triangles of a fruit bread offered only at this hour. One slice is allowed. No one turns on the only television. Too many were mourning the results of Sunday championship football. (Yes, women get upset too.) The staff leader signed to shepherd us opens the door and with a high school girl enthusiasm a bit sickening at this hour, cheers us on to get started. We exit the building and immediately spend minutes stretching quads, glutes, ankles, whatever pains, at the end of which we are given a quote for the day. "Courage is the power to let go of the familiar."

And the rains came in serious. Rain in California. Golly Gee, who’d have suspected it. Undaunted, my friend Ginny and I leapt onto the muddy path at a pace, sort of middle of the pack, and we reported on minor communications with the outside world and our daily schedules. (This is my fifth visit, her first.) We followed directional pink arrows on the ground that have pictures of quail on them. That’s our route this morning, steep in places, downhill in places, and in some places reasonably flat. Our steam spent, as we walk under the Tora Gate, (signifying we are entering a spiritual place) we begin to think about getting back to the warmth of our room and that tray of breakfast waiting for each of us. Mine is a small bowl of oatmeal with chips of fruit. I’m on the serious dieters schedule.

There’s not much time to recoup, because at 8:15 is Tai Chi with DeeJay, who is an African American artist of movement and peace. He also teaches Qi Gong, and I had a private session with him to learn how to deal with the upcoming operation and radiation following. He showed me how to tap my lymph glands that go throughout the body, and how to visualize white and gold lights of healing in chakra areas. We have to admit doctors don’t heal our bodies. Our bodies heal our bodies. Sometimes they need assistance. But no one really knows where the force of healing begins and ends. So we lift our hands up to God and his schedule for us and accept it with an agreeable spirit and focus.

With breakfast each morning is a paper fan on which the daily schedule is written, beginning after the hikes, which are optional starts to many of our days.(Many sleep in.) Then my fan would be something like this: 8:15 Tai Chi; 9:00 Nia Dance (well, it’s graceful movement with a small rubber ball) or Baby Boomer DaVinci - a dance class to music of the 60s and 70s; 10:00 Total Body Workout (too much bouncing for me) or Fitball Sculpt (which means lifting weights while lying on the big white plastic ball); 10:50 a small cup of potassium broth and garden vegetables (all fresh) - take a breath ; 11:00 H2O CSI, or Agua Dumbbells, which is integrated exercise in the hardly heated pool; 12:00 meet with personal trainer in the gym or private Pilates on odd looking machines. Lunch is at one - and by 2 you are back on the road, wondering if you can make it through all this. My favorite class is Super Circuit in the new gym - that’s two minutes of cardio on either treadmill, bicycle or elliptical; intercepted by a minute and a half on each of 12 machines centering on various body strengths. The music is wild and gutsy and it pushes you on as your body pours out sweat and energy and you wonder why you are doing all this. It’s the best thing here for feeling you’ve pushed the edge.

So I begin to count up how many hours I’ve actually been exercising that day - I try to get in 5 or 6 per day. Full force. No slack. Even though I’m starving for chocolate chip cookies. Wouldn’t you? In the afternoon, however, is a bit of pampering, which I normally shy away from - but I’m going for it this trip - different kinds of facials or body scrubs, a Thai massage in your room. Then sneaks in an afternoon Calypso Dance (if you could see the moves of the teacher, you’d see miracle beads flying everywhere - I’ve taken her class four times over the years and STILL cannot move my butt with such bump.) If you’re at the end of your rope, you can sit in on meditation to reduce stress, make healing sounds by drumming, try Feldenkrais, listen to someone tell you How to Get Happy and write Haiku about the liquid amber trees standing like forlorn gray soldiers in the cold winter mist. At night, there are nutrition experts to discuss away your bad eating habits, and private acupuncture sessions, which I’m signed for as a way to help invigorate my immune system before surgery on Tuesday.

My friend Ginny had her hair styled today and looks beautiful. She is squeezing out moments between spa exercises to continue writing her dissertation for a PhD. While pondering that my midrift has not shrunk a centimeter (is this a problem of old age?), I’m trying to keep up my blog and aim to work on a collection of poems another special friend poet Claudia Rankine has critiqued to help me organize a viable manuscript with a theme. But my toes are frosty and I must stay wrapped in oversized sweaters and a sweat jacket that comes down to my knees, worrying if I’ll have time to organize two weeks worth of snack baggies of roasted nuts, dried fruit and dark M&Ms, when I get home, as the nutritionist suggested along with green tea and pomegranate juice.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Audrey,
I was just checking on you to see how you was doing. Your blog is awesome I really love it. Make sure that you are exercising,(core)and not eating to much. I look forward to seeing you when you get back.
Continue to keep your faith in God.

your trainer,