Handstands on the Road

Solitary Pursuits and Deeper Connections

In a few short weeks, my time at my cousin’s in rural France will come to an end, at least for a little while, when I rush back to Germany to make peace with my home country, finish the studies I abandoned in 2013 and reconnect with old friends and old parts of the mosaic that is me.

Ceci n’est pas une fille. We are all so much more than a snapshot in time. It’s our stories, our hearts, the impact we have and the traces we leave in other people’s lives that make us beautiful.

We’re about half way through and I’m starting to feel like 2019 is the change many of us have been looking for, consciously or not, the year to break us out of the rut, to shake us to our core, reevaluate and go forward stronger than ever

Personally, it is a year of solitary pursuits, a time that sometimes brings me to a point where I question whether I am simply selfish in pursuing goals that, at first, seem to benefit nobody else but me. At the same time, I am a big believer in connecting with one’s mind, body and soul before meddling with other people’s lives and emotions and it’s a lesson that, looking back, I had better learned somewhat earlier on.

So maybe, going for that lonesome run up a mountain instead of a forced family dinner, that solitary reading session in our favourite café or the evening in with the pets isn’t all that selfish, because it makes us better people in the long-run. After all, some of the people who’ve inspired me the most often did pretty solitary, self-benefiting things – the outward benefit of inspiration was simply a side-effect, but more on those folks as well as some additions to your reading list later on.

A shaky Y-scale on Puy de Dôme sometime last week. Run up that mountain, ask that stranger to take a silly picture and make a group of tourists fear for your health and safety. You owe it to yourself!

Being in one place for a little over six months now has done wonders for my health and I have finally started to sort out some of the things that I have known were not OK, not up to standard, instead of simply accepting them. While doing so, I’ve already accomplished a bunch of ticks to my new year’s resolutions list published back in January. So here are some changes in mind and body that have led to a fulfilling 2019 so far:

Wild curiosity and acceptance – Often, we are looking at occurrences in our lives with judgement instead of seeking their deeper meaning. We find loss, illness and injury frustrating and unfair instead of looking beyond the superficial emotions they trigger.

One: Recently, my funny, silly, beautiful, creative, loving uncle has suddenly passed away. While of course, the whole family was grieving and I found myself welling up with unexpected tears more than once despite the fact that maybe we haven’t been as close as we could have been, this loss reminds us to live our lives to their fullest. It can be over any day and in cherishing his memory, I want to live even bolder, brighter and unapologetically. Sing out loud on the streets, pay a stranger a compliment because you like the sexy twinkle in their eyes or the fancy hat they wear (don’t be creepy or invasive though), go on that journey, confess your love, call the friend or relative you’ve been fighting with over nothing at all. Connect, connect, connect, with yourself, your true desire and those around you.

Read recently in Dean Karnazes’ Run!: 26.2 Stories of Blisters and Bliss, I am still not 100% sure whether I fully agree with this quote, but I find it inspiring to overcome shyness and inhibition nonetheless!

Two: It’s been about two years now that I have had a persistent reminder that something in my body was off, and I am glad to have finally found the mental strength, the time and the money to look into it properly. While traveling, getting a good health insurance and doctor’s appointments can be a huge hassle, so undergoing my first ever MRI scan this Tuesday – something I have been scared of since I’ve known of the existence of MRIs – feels like a huge accomplishment.
Having a diagnosis and knowing for sure what I’ve been suspecting for a long time is liberating. I know now what to work towards and if I am being really honest, I even understand why my body has created this particular illness, so I am ever optimistic about its cure. And, what’s more, the diagnosis has given me the clear to carry on exercising as hard and as long as I wish, which wasn’t a given from the get-go.

A story I read on a bathroom wall on my Portuguese Camino in 2017. I think of it often on this journey to grow and find my truth.

Nutrition – While it’s still a long way from what I want it to be, I am happy that I am managing well to cut out refined sugar and preparing healthy meals for myself whenever I can. It’s also really helping me in doing less emotional eating, and since I’ve always been somewhat of a choc-a-holic, hardly going a day without a treat, or two, or three, this is kind of huge. Nurturing our capable, wild and wonderful bodies makes them achieve so much more of their potential while helping us to connect more deeply with ourselves.
Often, people tell me that exercising and eating clean is such an ordeal – but I try to look at it in a different way, in a nurturing, love-story-between-a-body-and-its-inhabitant kind of way and it is truly beautiful.

Running (endurance exercise)– So I’ve always had a fondness for adventure stories, pretty much inhaling Egle Gerulaityté’s epic motorbiking Tales From South America, Heather “Anish” Anderson’s so very relatable and humbling Thirst, Claire Dunn’s incredibly honest and enlightening memoir My Year Without Matches and, as of late, Dean Karnazes’ hilarious and inspiring work Confessions of an All-Night Runner. As Lily Tomlin famously said, “Exercise is for people who can’t handle drugs and alcohol,” it is one of my favourite drugs ever since I’ve been to circus school, and maybe it’s because even standing on my hands and climbing up silks in a closed room can get tedious after sometime, or because I’ve long since had a fascination with trail running, or because running is just like hiking, only faster, I’m kind of getting into it as of late. And long distances seem much more sensible than short ones – after all, endurance is sort of my thing. Who knows, maybe I’d make a good endurance runner? Here are some indicators I might: I’ve certainly never been a fast runner, I love excessive amounts of peanut butter, I have a decent pain threshold and I can be stubborn AF.

I’ve been in love with this ever since I first read it in Tomar, Portugal, on the Camino in 2017. OK, maybe I don’t exactly know what I’m doing, but I won’t stop doing it any time soon either.

Stubbornness/Endurance – OK, this one isn’t new but it just keeps paying off. While theoretical learning processes come to me quite easily, physical learning can take me some time. A lot of time, actually, but if my physical journey through circus has taught me one thing, it’s to never give up. I identify very much with a turtle, who slowly treads onwards, being passed by many times but never stops. And then, last Friday, I accomplished a thing I’ve been trying to do for nearly four years now. TURN UP THE VOLUME (oh and read the blurb if you like):

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Today, I'm on top of the world, riding a wave of happy accomplishment. Sometimes, we have goals that seem unattainable, no matter how hard we try. Sometimes, we feel like quitting. And then there are days like today when it just pays off to be stubborn and never give up. Since I first tried getting onto canes almost four years ago, I was never able to simply jump up onto them. I'd cheat, kick up standing on them instead. I'd long since begun telling myself that my legs and my bum are just too big, too heavy, that maybe I just wasn't dynamic enough. I kept doing my drills but with little conviction that they'd pay off anytime soon. Today I went for a medium sized run in the morning, which I already don't do very often, and expected to have a slow training session with heavy legs afterwards. But maybe running is just magic because Instead, here goes. Straddle jumps onto canes. And while they're not 100% consistent, they're no fluke either as I easily did 20 of them throughout the day. I never thought I'd see the day. Talent is overrated, ever tried sheer stubbornness? #handstandsontheroad #handstands #handbalancing #circus #circuseverydamnday #equilibre #stubborn #nevergiveup #neverquit #turtle #endurance #goals #celebrations #training #supercalifragilisticexpialidocious #icantbelieveit #fuckyeah #whoopwhoop #i #am #getting #carried #away

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Making peace with the past and tying up lose ends – If you know me, you’ll know that I’ve moved a lot and left a lot behind, that sometimes I don’t like looking back and sometimes I like it a little bit too much.

One: Making peace with my home country. Since leaving Germany in 2014, I’ve had a hard time identifying with the country, its people and its language and I don’t always speak fondly of my roots. However, I can’t change them either, and when I came back “home” for a few weeks in April, Germany welcomed me with open arms. Friends I hadn’t spoken to in years invited me to crash on their couches, listened to my stories, cooked me dinner, baked pancakes and took me along to conventions and jam sessions. Reapplying to uni to finish my studies has been an easy process so far and while my parents are complex as well as complicated human beings, they are still generous and welcoming.

Two: It’s been four years now, but until recently, I have still found myself grieving things left behind in 2015 by the side of a long and lonesome road in France. These things included my beautiful Buugeng and my fire hula hoop and I recently got them replaced, because after all those years, spinning fire and flowing with brightly coloured stripey objects is still very much part of who I want to be, fuck what anyone else thinks of it. Having bought myself those simple pleasures back has helped me heal, process and feel more complete again.

Sacred possessions: My handstand blocks have been with me forever, witnessing my handstand journey almost from the start. The Buugeng are freshly painted and old/new flow acquaintances in my life.

Funky goals and lofty ambitions – While a general will to grow and learn is enriching to our lives, clear goals can be a lot more helpful and inspiring, even if they are perhaps perceived as silly or unrealistic by peers. If instead of aspiring to that next promotion, an inexplicable urge to skate across Australia is truly what gets you out of bed in the morning, so be it. Now, I’m not going to share my crazy bucket list (which I hope will always have something written on it – even at 92, a life with nothing more I wish to do seems not worthwhile) just yet, but since I’m smashing through my new year’s resolutions (becoming fluent in French, sorting out my health and nutrition, making plans to build a basecamp in Germany and finish uni, becoming financially independent and crushing those handstand goals), I’ve had some more wild ideas before settling into that student lifestyle later on in autumn… call it superstition or simply not wanting to jinx it, but I’m not quite ready yet for a big reveal, so I’ll just give you a little hint for what may or may not be next this summer:

’nuff said for now.

See you out there!

x

Miri

handstandsontheroad

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