James Clear's book Atomic Habits made me more aware than ever of what is involved when creating sustainable positive health-habits. Although the suggestions Clear writes about are worthy of sharing with you, I’ve been side-tracked by another book this month.
What My Mother And I Don’t Talk About- Fifteen Writers Break the Silence by Michele Filgate.
After a morning spent reading these formidable stories, I couldn't help but recall the story of my grandmother’s (Romona Francis Walker) first born child in 1935. I felt compelled to capture the tragic event on paper; however, breaking the silence doesn't pertain in this case. My grandmother shared the experience with others, including myself when I was in my early twenties. At the time I was too young to appreciate the calamity of the event, but not too young to contemplate the effect it must have had on an 18 year old smart, motivated, young woman. This understanding has never left me; I document it here for the first time.
To say my grandmother was bright is an understatement. She earned the Green and Gold Award (UVM’s full scholarship) by becoming the valedictorian of her class; it was a college education that would never come to fruition due to the pregnancy of her first child. Rather than attending college, her fate was the more culturally accepted path: marriage.
I’ve often wondered what she would have become. How would UVM have shaped her? How would she have shaped UVM? Would she have studied medicine, education, political science? What discoveries would she have made? These inquisitive unrealized possibilities loom in my being; a being manifested in this realm because of her first pregnancy. If her brilliant mind had wound up at UVM, my mother, and her 5 siblings wouldn’t have been; hence no me, and no story.
The story of her first born is of a “stillborn” delivery; a baby carried to term in 1935. A baby according to my grandmother who was “pink, perfect, and delicate” announced dead at delivery by the doctor who pulled (sedatives were prescribed at delivery) the baby from her and the nurse that stood witness. A baby who was “moving and alive prior to delivery” according to my grandmother.
Her story has haunted me throughout the years. It’s been knocking on my soul to be shared. It’s been screaming at times to be written. It’s bled from my heart on long runs, late nights nursing my own children, and during the time I lived with my grandmother. It’s not my silence, nor my grandmothers', but rather the child that never had a proper burial, the child that didn't have a chance to grow up, the daughter of my grandmother; her name: REBECCA.
You may be wondering why your fitness trainer, wellness coach, group class instructor is sharing this. I believe true authentic health, healing, and sustained wellness is a 360 degree integration of mind, body, and spirit. I believe it’s not simply the foods you choose, but the energy and the company you’re in during meals. It’s not about the squats, rather the strength you build in your legs to stand confidently in your unique power. It’s not the 100 in Pilates, but the understanding that routines are important and provide us with familiarity and habits that ground us. It’s not the group class that burns 400 calories (although it can’t hurt during creemee season), but being part of a community; your community that shares stories such as these…this is what leads to sustainable health and healing for us all.
Becky Widschwenter- Mindful Movement with Becky