I went to Nia Saturday morning, the dawn of the weekend and of my third trimester of this pregnancy. There are days that I consider whether it is ridiculous or simply asking for trouble to continue to go dance wildly for an hour once or twice a week. But I love it, and my doctor assures me that as long as I am not having any complications and I keep myself adequately hydrated, I can do pretty much whatever I feel like.
I feel like dancing.
Nia incorporates movement from martial arts as well as several other disciplines, meaning that within the same routine you can be loosely jumping around pretending you're a dandelion and then sharply hacking away at a pretend attacker with a karate chop. Saturday's class had this fabulous martial arts section in the middle that involved squats, blocks, and repeated kicks. We cycled through it again and again, and I loved it. My kicks, wider to accommodate my belly, were still nearly as high as my instructors. I owned each and every movement and it was exhilarating. At the end of the section, the teacher turned to me and said, "That was beautiful."
As I drove home after class, I was reflecting on why I felt so tied to that part of the routine. In a moment, it was clear: I felt strong and powerful. Too often, I think people see me with my round belly, dragging my preschooler along, and note the tired look on my face. They may even pity me. Part of me is grateful for their empathy, and that part is ready and willing to sit in the recliner at the end of the day and moan about my sciatica. Poor, poor me.
The other part of me wants to look at them and say, "Look. I might not be getting enough sleep. I may have to pee all the time. I may struggle to pick up my 37 pound daughter. But I am growing a person. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE ME."
With every kick and block, I focused on that strength, measured not by muscles alone, but by resolve and concentration. Too often I think the masculine side of strength gets emphasized in our culture, the one where those who can lift heavy objects get credit. But I think you can have big biceps and still be a total [whimp]. And of course, I think that you can be a tiny little person with the strength to move mountains.
Laura Stavie Harm said, "There is a secret in our culture - it is not that childbirth is painful, it's that women are strong."
Right now, I am claiming that strength.
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