Gecko Fingers


This morning I woke up feeling tearful and with a Cliff Richard song in my head. ‘Fraid so, readers, I was mad about Cliff from the age of nine until, well let’s not get into that. The words were:

“I wake up crying, after tossing and turning and yearning the whole night long.

Pretty baby, since you went away, I haven’t spent a happy day.”

I’d slept badly, worrying about my  workload and how I had a couple of weeks or so  til I leave for Christmas in Europe. I knew I had to complete that list before I went. The song, I figured, was in my head for a reason, though I had had plenty of happy days since I arrived.

And then I went to yoga.

It is the second time I’ve been and I go because I am the laziest exerciser in the whole world and if I can’t walk to it I don’t go.

Yesterday, I started weekly personal training sessions with Stephen. Because he lives in our condo and uses our gym and I only have to walk downstairs and cross the pool area to get there. And because after actually, unbelievably, loving my sessions with Jess in The Hague, I promised myself I’d keep it up. I’d even lost six kilos this year and my target was another three. But also, in the land of sleeveless tee-shirts I wanted to improve the look of what my Aussie friend, Jill, calls ‘ferdubba-dubs’ and I call Bingo Wings.

And today was yoga. Led by nimble, smiley, Hui, it seems I am the oldest in the class by, ooh, about a decade or more. I hate seeing my wobbly bits in the mirror when the others have not a wobbly bit in sight. I try not to actually work out how many of them could be my children.

They don’t put the aircon on at this class and I tried Bikram once and hated it. If I do yoga I don’t like to sweat you see. But I go … because it is downstairs and because I want to make some friends in my own condo. And I can shower before and after a class.

downwardfacingdogyogaHui has the most amazing ability to splay her toes and fingers so wide they look webbed at the base. As she pressed her fingers and palms into the mat in Downward Facing Dog I realised they were like a gecko’s fingers, fitting for a country where we have been known to find a gecko in the pantry.

I have never found it easy to splay my toes or my fingers. I have always envied people who can lift one toe at a time as if they were playing a piano. I wish I could twiddle my toes. In reality I can hardly twiddle my fingers. The upshot of this (and a too tight hamstring caused by too much time on my derriere) means I put too much pressure on my wrist, which ends up red and painful. We do a lot of Downward Facing Dogs in Hui’s class. The class is tough. Great, but tough. Hui let me modify my position.

So there I am sweaty but managing a variety of contorting postures and it hits me –

The person who ‘went away’ in the Cliff song, is me! You see, I believe that…

  • I don’t like exercise.
  • I don’t do things for myself that are good for me (food excepted)
  • I get up, dressed and eat breakfast at my computer. I do things for myself, like exercise, after work not before.
  • I am a busy person. I race around all day from appointment to appointment.

But something unusual is happening in Kuala Lumpur.

Yesterday, I hadn’t sat at my desk til about 11.45. It had happened a couple of times the week before too. And yesterday, I’d worked til about 7pm and then not slept because – duh – I had worked too much. It might have felt like ‘not enough’ as I lay there ‘tossing and turning’, but it had been too much. Too much when I consider that overwork had made me ill a year ago and four or five hours a day had been my max since January. Here I was, in a new place, assailed all day by new experiences and faces and a million things I didn’t know yet. I haven’t unpacked yet. Of course it was waaay too much!

I had tried to go back to being an approximation of the ‘old me’ (the old me of more than  a year ago, the one who had the burn out) within 10 weeks of a move. I was doing what I always do when I move country – hit the ground running. Who was I trying to kid? At my age!

But you know, though I had mourned the passing of the ‘old me’ in that everlasting wait until dawn, as Hui gently pushed me into a twist the likes of which my body had never sen before I knew, deep down that I needed this desperately, I realised that the ‘new me’, the older me, the newbie me, needs a different kind of normal. And it’s OK.

I always promised myself that ‘one day’ I would be nice to myself and I’d start to exercise properly. Permanently. When I had the time. Only, I had made pretty darn sure in a silly subliminal way that I never had the time.

Now it is ‘one day’. And you can’t get any easier or closer for lazybones here than three floors below my own apartment.

Weirdly enough, this IS what I wanted. But that doesn’t make adjusting any easier. It’s like wearing new shoes. They look great on the outside but give you blisters on your heel.

At the end of the class, I asked Hui what the reason behind my inability to press my hand down on the mat properly.

“You need to be more grounded,” she said.

Like, double-duh, as I think young people may say these days.

Cliff, thanks for the wake up call.

6 thoughts on “Gecko Fingers

  1. Maybe its our age, maybe its the tropics but right now balancing our lives is the most important thing! It sounds to me like meditation could be another on your list 😉

    Look forward to seeing you again soon. xx


  2. Funny and hilarious, I was chuckling my way through while reading this. Thank you for the gentle reminder that we do need to slow down and take time for ourselves. And no, you’re not yet that old. xxx


  3. This post had me cracking up. I realize how little you actually know about a person you’ve known for some years. The toe twiddling thing, for example. Had no idea. And the wiggling bits on your body. Oh Jo. Don’t despair. Those “kids” can only hope to have your ability to encourage and inspire. Don’t SWEAT the small stuff!


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