Since arriving in Manhattan seven months ago I have gone through somewhat of a physical and mental transformation. Some of this has been positive, self-determined and others, well, not so positive and imposed by others. The positives: I am learning piano; I am pushing my running and fitness and am the fittest I have ever been; I am pursuing my dream of being a writer by starting this blog. So far so good. But now for the negatives.
Manhattan is the world of 'anything is possible', where people strive and drive themselves to succeed. Like so many areas of modern culture this also applies to your physical appearance. There seems to be an attitude here that if something in your appearance isn't quite perfect you should want to fix it. It all started with the hair. My new hairdresser looked at my half wavy, half straight, fine, non-photo perfect locks and suggested a straightening treatment. I imagined myself with Jennifer Anniston hair and handed over the cash. The result of the 'hair upgrade' was a mustard, straw like substance that could no longer be truly called hair. Not a smart idea.
We then moved further down the body. My dentist took one look at my Irish teeth and recommended a 'dental upgrade', I listened to all that he could do (which would involve facial surgery...eeek!), looked at the beautiful picture of the new teeth that any American Idol contestant would be proud of. In the end I said, 'But I want to look Irish'. He looked at me with confusion.
Fast forward a few months, I booked myself in for a nice, relaxing facial. As I lay there enjoying the scalp massage, the therapist gently whispered in her buttery voice, 'How would you like some Derma abrasion today?'. 'What's that?', I asked. 'Oh, just a more effective way to exfoliate your skin'. Great! Ah, no, not great. But at least the red face complemented the mustard hair. Nice.
The next area ready for an upgrade were my knees. As a result of pretty heavy training I have managed to pick up a pretty standard knee injury but with a half marathon coming up I have been desperate for it to heal quickly. So, off I go on a whirl wind of acupuncture, Pilate's, sports doctors and physical therapist. As I lay on the therapist table and had two people stare at my knees in rapture as I twitched them up and down repeatedly, I finally began to have enough. I am 35, if I run, I will get sore knees. My hair is wavy. My skin is aging. It is all best left alone. I am up for a good bit of general maintenance but I have had enough of the complete overhaul.
However, the 'knee twitching' revelation was the precursor to the spinning epiphany that I had at the new spin mecca in Tribeca called 'Soul Cycle'. As I was just at the top of a big climb, my legs were screaming and I couldn't open my eyes because the sweat would sting them, the instructor's inspirational words came over the pumping music. 'You are not here because you obsess about your appearance. You don't starve yourself or go to the exclusive, narcissistic designer gym across the street. Women who do Soul Cycle do it to push themselves, to be their own type of athlete, to see what they are capable of. None of you want to be 'cookie cutter' women'. When the music kicked into the Killers 'All these things that I've done' for our downhill it all, finally, fell into place.
The only problem is, next week I am off to the obgyn......will have to go prepared to defend myself against the 'magic kingdom upgrade'!
yours, with soul