Tuesday, May 24, 2016


                                                                                                 by Sally Berneathy

     I’ve always been a huge proponent of Mens sana in corpore sano ever since I first heard it in Latin class in high school. A sound mind in a sound body. Great concept.

    Unfortunately, practical application isn’t always easy.

     I’ve never been athletic. I was the nerdy little kid in grade school who was chosen last in recess sports.

     “You have to take her. I had her last time.”

     “No, you didn’t. You won last time, and you wouldn’t have won if you’d had her!”

     Big deal. So I couldn’t hit a baseball with a bat two feet wide. Couldn’t put a basketball in a hoop right in front of me. Those other kids couldn’t tell stories!

    But I did recognize early on that organized sports were not for me.

    Then running became a popular activity. I could do that! I could get up before dawn and run around the lake, put one foot in front of the other with nobody to criticize that I’d missed the blasted ball again. If sometimes those feet got tangled up and I fell, nobody knew but me! I loved running. I ran three miles a day. I wrote poems about running. I was going to run the rest of my life. Jim Fixx died while running. What a spectacular way to go!

     When I started writing, my running time was also my plotting time. As I ran through the early morning mist, along sidewalks and park trails, past houses and trees, the creativity increased along with the endorphins. I plotted new books, my chapter for the day, how to write out of the corner I’d written myself into. I had found the perfect exercise.

     I had great leg muscles, great lung capacity, great creativity…and bad knees. Eventually I had to have knee replacements.

     Knee replacements do not inspire creativity. Writing while in pain sucks. Writing while on pain meds can produce some very interesting…but not necessarily good…pages. I’m glad I’ve run out of knees to have replaced.

     I can no longer run. I had to find a replacement. On the advice of my orthopedic surgeon, I bought an elliptical machine. Much easier on the knees, especially bionic knees.

     But it’s boring. It sits in the basement next to a wall and never goes anywhere. No trees sprouting new leaves in spring and dropping those leaves in the fall. No houses with people inside, all of whom had stories I could tell. The only saving grace is that I can read my Kindle while spinning endlessly and going nowhere beside the wall that never changes.

     Exercises change but the writing must go on. Adhering to a routine works best for me.
·         Get up around 7:00.
·         Do thirty-minute yoga routine while listening to writing workshop CDs or, if these get boring, there’s always Investigation Discovery to get me thinking of murder.
·         Spend thirty minutes on the elliptical machine.
·         Shower.
·         Have breakfast of bacon, eggs, and Coke. Coke is essential to creativity.
·         Spend the rest of the day happily working on book in progress.
     That’s what I strive for five days a week.

     However, life frequently interferes.
Monday: Take car in for routine maintenance so the damned “Maintenance Due Soon” light will stop coming on every freaking time I start the car.
Tuesday: Take eyes in for yearly exam so I can throw away the reminder card that’s been sitting on my desk for two months.
Wednesday: Make two Triple Chocolate Mousse Cakes for Bunco group because I’ve been going to meetings for a year and eating their desserts and now it’s my turn.
Thursday: Journey across town to chiropractor and then to medical doctor because I mopped the floor after all that baking, slipped, and pulled muscles from shoulder to ankle resulting in so much pain, I couldn’t even catch my breath to curse.
Friday: Thursday’s injury makes sitting extremely painful. Must regularly change ice packs strapped to butt. Nevertheless, soldier on.

     If I’m lucky, I manage one ideal workday a week.

     Writing isn’t always convenient. It’s not always fun. But because it is as essential to me as breathing, somehow it always happens.

     By the way, I’m writing this while waiting at the chiropractor’s office.


  1. You could try Taoist Tai Chi. It's gentle on the joints. Loved today's blog. I can relate to "life" interfering with plans.