My Mom was a colourful and effervescent person. She shined more brightly than anyone I have ever known and expressed unapologetic interest in things that propelled her down less travelled paths. She was in a coven, painted banners for the Steelers when they were in the super bowl, dressed in vintage clothes to go to the local pizza parlour, was a genius lawyer, a fierce feminist, and believed in astrology. When I was 11, she had my astrological charts done for the first time. I never met the astrologer. My mom met privately with her and recorded the session, then gave me the cassette to listen to. My charts concluded that I am a triple taurus, which is apparently not super common. There was a lot on the tape, but what I took away from it, what followed me throughout my childhood, was that I would always be prone to obesity, promiscuity and laziness. At 11 years old, a seed was planted that would grow into the belief that I was basically destined to be a fat, lazy, whore. I was ashamed of being a Taurus and associated myself with only the negative aspects of the sign, but a year after my astrological sentence, I was stricken by my first bout of depression, and discovered what would actually be the thing that caged me.
Whether an aspect of my taurus nature or a side effect of depression, I have always preferred sitting on the couch, watching t.v. and enjoying a glass of wine with a copious amount of salty snacks, to the more often than not unrealised other option, exercise. I have always struggled with my weight, always enjoyed eating more than exercising, always felt worthless because I wasn’t skinny enough. I was brought up in an environment that praised beauty and a slim appearance above all else, but I wasn’t built to measure up. I went through periods when I was thinner, when I was running or hiking, or going to the gym on a regular basis, but it never lasted. I figured the whole endorphins thing was either bullshit or something my sad fat body wasn’t capable of experiencing, or maybe I was just self fulfilling a prophecy of laziness.
In the 2 years before Joe and I moved to Ireland, we were going though some particularly difficult times; my depression, drinking and eating were all in overdrive, and I gained 40 pounds. I was turning to the things that comforted me, but they were also the things that were bringing on numerous and scary health problems. I weighed more than I ever had, was constantly sad, uncomfortable and exhausted, and even the thought of exercising felt like a nightmare. When we got to Ireland, we were in a 14 day quarantine because of Covid, and I remember, on the 15th day, we went out for a walk. We had gone only a couple of blocks and I was in pain, out of breath, and incredibly discouraged. I knew I needed help, but I would be slow to seek it.
Eventually I got back onto anti depressants and started eating a bit healthier, but I was still waking up in physical pain every day, still hating myself and feeling as if my body was betraying me, when actually I was betraying my body. Joe and I started walking by the river and I slowly began to feel more energetic, but it was still a struggle to get myself out of the house, so Joe suggested Apple Fitness. I won’t lie, I fought it, and it took time for me to get started with it, but when I did, my life changed. I discovered that I actually like strength training when I have the right trainer, and that I absolutely love to dance. I look forward to it every day, I smile when I am doing it, I invite the challenge of it when the steps are complicated. Most importantly, I have discovered that exercise is the best medicine for my depression. If I am having a bad day, feeling my energy levels dropping, my sadness coming on, I do a little dance and actually feel my mood change.
Like a true taurus, I still love to eat and watch t.v, and always will, but now I am proud of being a rare triple taurus, and when I am doing my dance workouts, moving more easily than I have in years and loving the whole physical experience, I remember my Mom, blasting Earth Wind and Fire songs, dancing exuberantly around the house, filling all of our lives with the kind of joy only she could bring.