“Costume is a huge part of getting into character. Your body soaks in what you’re wearing, and you turn into someone else.” ~Jane Levy
Relationships. Dang, we make them difficult, don’t we? I mean, it’s actually simple if you think about it. In each relationship, we play a role and wear a costume. As long as we stay in character, those relationships roll along without too many bumps in the road. In one relationship, we’re a daughter, and in another, we’re someone’s mom or grandma. At times we’re a friend or acquaintance, a student or teacher … a neighbor, sister, cousin, aunt, employee, or employer. Suffice to say, we’re many things to many people. And in each role, we put on a distinct costume, whether we realize it or not.
We offer a friendly smile and thank you to the bag boy who pushes our overloaded grocery cart out to the Suburban that’s literally rocking in the parking lot, locked and loaded with a couple of wild kiddos who just got out of school for the day. (Ummmm, yeh, that very detailed example might be personal to me.)
We offer a completely different smile and thank you to our mom when she takes the time to cook our favorite meal.
And when hubby brings home flowers, he gets his own special sort of thank you. Boom-chicka-wow-wow, right?
It’s a costume. A familiar role. And it’s as predictable and boring as dirt. As long as each role we play remains in its designated box, those relationships will remain dirt, predictable and familiar. The message is pretty obvious. Don’t ever, ever, everrrrr treat the bag boy like he’s hubby. haha. It’s much safer to stay in the box and to be dirt.
Some roles are easy. As moms, for instance, we know exactly what our role is, don’t we? The moment that baby is placed in our arms, we put on our motherhood costume, and you couldn’t rip that costume off of us if you came with a mechanical claw, a couple of raging bulls, and fifteen knife-wielding zombies who haven’t eaten in weeks. We are mom, dagnabbit, end of story.
The role of employee, employer, teacher, student, and acquaintance are straight-forward as well. These roles are far less emotionally driven than the role of mom/child, but we know what’s expected of us, and we can easily meet those expectations.
Other roles are more hairy-scary. Kids rebel. Grandma’s sometimes overstep and spoil too much. A neighbor might not like the color you painted your house. And a best friend might choose a new friend.
If a child would remain true to his role by respecting parental authority, his life, and the life of his parents, would be so much easier. If Grandma would support parental authority and willingly give up her Matriarchal superpower, more families would stay intact. If Joe-Blow neighbor would support his neighbor’s right to paint his house chartreuse green, there would be no need for fences or home owner associations (preach!). And if every best friend valued the gift of having an old friend who loved her way back when she had braces put on her bucked teeth, used pasty white Clearasil to cover zits on her face, and went through a third break up with the same loser guy … then friends would be friends forever.
Are you getting the general gist of how life-altering these roles are?
Well hold on, because if you have a significant other, things become even more complicated. What role do you play in your relationship with your significant other? Are you the princess who is adored and cared for by your prince charming? Are you an equal partner where you both demonstrate mutual respect and decision-making authority? Are you submissive to an all-powerful partner … or are you the power player? Is your significant other somewhat like a father figure? Or more of a best friend? Were you high school sweethearts? Or did you meet on Tinder when you were sixty?
Whatever the role, our romance began somewhere, and that beginning continues to direct the relationship. For instance, I have a friend who married his high school sweetheart. She’s a couple of years younger than him and was crowned homecoming queen her senior year of high school. To this day, more than thirty years later, he still refers to her as his homecoming queen. In his eyes, she is forever his high school love. I’m actually fairly certain she hasn’t aged a single year in his eyes.
I have another friend who complains to her husband all the time. “Why don’t you do this?” Why did you do that?” “You make me so mad!” She badgers the man constantly, but her husband always responds with (insert a grown man using a baby voice here): “I’m sorry, honey, will you forgive me?” … then he gives her a bear hug, a kiss on the cheek, and tells her he loves her. She rolls her eyes, giggles, and tells him she loves him too. This goes on every day and has for more than two decades. I think she complains just so he’ll hug her, kiss her, and tell her he loves her. It seems insane to me, but this has worked for them for more than twenty-five years. They’re one of the happiest couples you’ll ever meet.
There’s another woman who was a widow. She met her (current) husband on Christian Mingle. He was a widower, too. Their entire relationship has been built on how fate magically and mysteriously brought them together through internet dating. They’re both in their late sixties / early seventies and talk about how they met all the time.
Each of my examples demonstrate a role and a costume. It’s the normal, predictable, and expected that make up the foundation of what makes those relationships work. The dirt, so to speak.
God forbid if the high school sweetheart in my first scenario ever ceases to see his bride as his homecoming queen.
In the second scenario, what would happen if the man’s wife did her normal complaining, but instead of receiving the typical hugs, kisses, and I’m sorry, the husband started accusing her of complaining too much? What if he called her a pain in the — you know what?
And in the third example, I hope there never comes a day when the former widower tires of gloating about meeting his bride on an internet dating site. I hope they both continue to acknowledge their magical, mysterious, fateful meeting … until death parts them.
The small roles that are played out in relationships hold tremendous power to make or break a marriage and/or relationship.
So what does this have to do with being fit and healthy?
First, to feel alive, you MUST have relationships. And if you’re going to have relationships, you’re going to be much more mentally and emotionally healthy if you succeed in them. Grab hold of your role, embody it, don’t change your costume, and respect the boundaries each unique relationship in your life has established. Some of those boundaries have been put in place by God, some by society, and some by our own volition. Whatever the case, treasure them, protect them, utilize them, and keep peace.
Second, if you really want to become fit, you need to wear the costume and play the role. Buy the yoga pants, ladies. Wear the sneakers. Pull your hair back in a pony and sock a cute strapback cap on your head. If you dress the part, and if you embrace the role, you’ll succeed in every area of your life, including in fitness. Your body soaks in what you’re wearing, and you turn into someone else. Do you want to become a runner? Dress the part. Do you want to become a yogi? Dress the part. Then join a gym, hire a trainer, buy a treadmillor an elliptical machine, or take part in a regular exercise class. It’s not only important to dress the part, you have to actively play the role.
Every time I run a race, I look forward to being given my bib and number. It makes me official. It makes me a runner. The 5k race is a role. My bib and number is a costume. My body follows what my mind believes … and it works. Every. Single. Time.
The method is so simple, perhaps it’s too simple, yet we sometimes miss the obvious. Why do we make life more difficult than it has to be? If a fifty year old woman can still be her hubby’s homecoming queen more than thirty years later, you can certainly be fit and healthy.
Just my thoughts.