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Janet Sheridan: Go out of bounds

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I should quit thumbing through the magazines in doctors’ waiting rooms. The out-of-date publications harbor germs from sneezing, sick people and tempt me to read stuff I’d ignore if I weren’t trying to distract myself from the reason I’m in a doctor’s office.

Last summer, while waiting to have a mammogram, I picked up a January 2015 issue of Shape Magazine and strayed into an article that urged me to “Celebrate the New Year by going out of bounds, breaking your own mold, doing things that make you feel excited, curious or nervous.” The author claimed I’d develop strength and confidence from expanding my horizons and listed challenges guaranteed to recharge my boring life. Some of the suggested activities and my reactions follow.

1) Work your way through a cookbook. If I ever decide to tip myself into insanity, I’ll start an activity that requires me to master mincing, deboning, braising, caramelizing and emulsifying so I can produce duck confit, muddled grape sauce, layered garden salad with anchovies and figgy pudding. Joel wouldn’t know whether to be astonished, appalled or appreciative, and I’d be too busy cleaning up the chaos in the kitchen to notice.

2) Redecorate a room in your house. When Joel and I decide to do a little painting, the next thing I know I’m shopping for throw pillows and helping him carry unwieldy furniture out of a house with steep stairs that lead to narrow doors, across the lawn and up a multitude of steps to the garage attic: an activity I gave up years ago in order to preserve my marriage.

3) Go rock climbing. Impossible. My knees whine when I climb out of bed.

4) Spend a weekend without your cell phone. Most days I forget I have a cell phone; so a better challenge for me would be to spend a weekend using it. However, I’m afraid if I commented, posted, called, e-mailed, texted and Face Timed for an entire weekend, my horrified grandchildren would change their telephone numbers, hide me on Facebook and close their email accounts.

5) Take up scuba diving. I’d love to join my husband in his favored activity, but from an early age I’ve panicked when I’m in water over my head. I remember swimming with friends the summer before sixth grade. I was diving, swimming, floating and having a great time when I glanced at the pool’s edge and noticed I’d strayed away from the five-foot mark. Panicked, I forgot I could swim. I panted, flailed my limbs, swallowed water and clutched at my friends until one of them said, “Janet, stop it. Just stand up.” Picture that behavior in full scuba gear. Uh-uh.

6) Go surfing. Sure. When giraffes water ski and ostriches snorkel.

7) Try a full-contact fitness class such as kickboxing or akaido to let out your aggression. I have a major problem with this challenge: aggression doesn’t know my name. When playing dodge ball, I hoped I wouldn’t catch the ball and have to throw at my friends; meanwhile, they threw killer balls at my head and had to stand against the fence to think about their behavior.

8) Create something of beauty and meaning. I tried this once. I made my boyfriend a three-layer birthday cake with vanilla pudding between the layers and fluffy whipped frosting, a creation I thought both beautiful and meaningful. He tasted it, said he couldn’t eat anything so sweet and instantly became my former boyfriend.

10) Go to a nightclub and dance every dance. The dancing would be enjoyable. Staying up late enough for the dancing to begin would be unbearable.

I guess I’m not prepared to go out of bounds.

Sheridan’s book, “A Seasoned Life Lived in Small Towns,” is available in Craig at Downtown Books and Steamboat Springs at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore. She also blogs at www.auntbeulah.com on the 1st and 15th of every month.

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