When Staying in The Work, Works

September 15, 2021
By Madison Page, CEO + Co-Founder of Core to Coeur

About two hours ago I went to the doctors to get a physical. No shame to say it here– I tested positive for HPV two years ago  (it’s more common than you think), and need to see if I test positive or negative and still have it. COVID and my job as a founder kept me from seeing a doctor for the last two years. They gave me a form to fill out, a checklist of any symptoms or issues that should be updated since my last visit. I started ticking boxes:

  • Numbness and tingling in extremities 
  • Shortness of breath
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Stress with family
  • Stress with work
  • Irritable

And a couple more boxes that left me weary when I realized that I had to check them.

My doctor didn’t recognize me with the mask on, didn’t know I was her patient from two years ago. She asked me more questions about why I was in the office today. We did the pap smear, and she was out the door in less than 40 minutes. She left my summary of our visit on the chair next to me, and while I make it a point to not check the scale reading of my weight  when I go to the doctors, this time the nurse neglected to scratch it out on the summary, as I have requested for nearly a decade.

I weigh about 20 pounds more than I remembered.

There was a 25 minute period where I felt some stuff coming in. I heard my mom lamenting about gaining weight at Christmas. I imagined myself cutting out carbs for the rest of the day. Running home instead of driving. Part of me is still thinking if I should have these walnuts I am snacking on as I am writing this out.

But right now I want to share, have to share, this is where the obsessions end.

This day, I see a person who is struggling and being pulled from all sides of the spectrum. I see someone who has new psycho, social, and emotional issues from starting a business as a pandemic started at the same time. I see someone who took great comfort in salt, and Chinese food, and Netflix shows at the end of a 12 hour workday. I see someone who stayed committed to walking, at least once a day, to soothe her anxiety and get a bit of blood flow when times got tough. 

I see myself the way I need to be seen.

For all of us struggling, coping, and living with disordered eating and body dysmorphia, days like today are significant. They are very big, very wide, and hard won. I feel clear headed, strong, and open to how hard this past year has been. For the first time, I get to see on paper that the stress has impacted me significantly, and yet here I am, still opening my heart with a desire to work on myself in order to connect deeply to others. 

I am not a yoga teacher, but I practice yoga on Core to Coeur as often as I can. I’d call myself a spiritual dabbler, but committed to it. I don’t prefer the labels because in my experience, calling yourself a yogi doesn’t mean you practice yoga, it just means you call yourself a yogi. Like any practice, religion or dogma, you can hide behind calling yourself anything to shirk social and personal responsibility.

It takes practice to see yourself and stay open to the pain, and great practice to learn to listen. My personhood, my healing and spiritual awareness is a result of a 10 year practice of therapy (and therapists willing to work on a sliding scale), meditation, meditation groups, countless hours of journaling, spending a lot of time alone and in partnership, a lot of hours practicing counteraction (confrontation is my nemesis!) and as Pema Chodron says “running straight towards the attack dog”. That is what it’s going to take, I believe, to pierce the veil of otherness caused by circumstance and dehumanizing systems. It’s a lot of work.

Why? Because human beings are so terrified of themselves that they’ll do anything, literally go to outerspace, to avoid any kind of discomfort inside of themselves.

See! I just did it!  I just caught myself being judgy, but I am not here to judge. Sorry about that. I am here to practice. I am here to, as Michelle Johnson once told me, “stay in the work”.

Today, I wanted to take a moment to celebrate that these practices work and they are life giving. After 10 years, I see that the road to transformation to self love took thousands of hours of practice. If you continue to stay in the work, continue to breathe through urges and people you think are doing you dirty, you may find the way through to a deeper, quieter understanding that you are also imperfect and also miraculous. That your urges will crest but cannot stay there. You can stay in a fight and hold a gaze. Or, you can back down and say, “I am sorry, I think I hurt your feelings”. You may see that someone’s behavior used to bug you, but now they look so feeble and vulnerable that you can’t help but to love them. I am going to try that visualization in a meditation later today.

Anyway, I just want to acknowledge that this work requires bravery and self honesty. And it’s really really hard to work through delusions and decipher if you are on the right path, if you are using right language and right action. It can be confusing. 

That’s the work through, that’s the path to transformation. To be skillful in your deciphering. Sometimes the work works, sometimes it’s not enough. Today, it was enough! Tonight, TBD.

Regardless, I’ll keep going down this path.

I hope you will too.

Madison Page is the founder + CEO of Core to Coeur, a curated marketplace and community for taking and teaching virtual movement, wellness, and fitness classes. Birthed from a virtual Pilates business built on Squarespace in 2017, C2C has grown into a larger movement to democratize wellness for all people. She is a fully certified Pilates instructor, specializing in rehabilitation, functional movement, and postpartum exercise. Together with Liz Getman, she is the creator and co-host of Stretched! a podcast about inclusive wellness and digital entrepreneurship powered by Core to Coeur. You can keep up with her on Instagram @madisonpagemoves, @coretocoeur, and @stretchedpod.

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