It’s a Funk and I’m Going to Dance

I’ve been caught in a funk a few days back. It’s one of those moments when nothing in your closet seems to make you look good, coffee stays bitter despite two packs of sugar, people laughing around you annoy you, the shining sun does nothing to uplift your dampened spirits. So like any normal person who goes into such a deep batshit crazy funk, I decided to let it all loose with a weeping version of me inside my apartment.

It was due to a lot of things, I guess. The death of my 14-year old cousin finally pulled the trigger on the many things I kept unconsciously bottled up inside. Life’s been happening both too much and a little lately, I had to find a way to strike a balance. Maybe it’s quarter-life crisis, maybe it’s just because I don’t like winter, or the unexpected dose of homesickness. The things I had to go through took a toll on me and before long, whatever fort I built to protect myself has crumbled into pieces with the atomic bomb news that my very young cousin died just like that. Life has suddenly told me straight up that it isn’t fair and yes, it can suck.

It’s very difficult to be sad abroad and I only realized it a few days back while I was in the middle of weeping all those emotions out of me. In spite of that, two things temporarily saved me from the breakdown and gave me the much needed endorphins to counter whatever it is that’s bad and nasty brewing inside of me. I decided to exercise and eat healthily this week. I’ve taken a break today because it’s been raining outside and because I needed my body and muscles to recuperate for the weekend.

I biked last Monday and Wednesday like I was training for a Tour de Something. I monitored my progress steadily, switching gears as I felt my feet hit the pedal more naturally, rotating it in consistent motions that do not strain my calves. My focus was zeroed in on the road ahead, overtaking people if their speed could break my current momentum. I also timed my uphill climb, caring to build on leg power from a few meters away instead of straining my legs right there on the lowest point upwards. I also tried to time my breathing in the most crucial times I needed to push down the pedal so that effort becomes minimal and distributed all over my body. I don’t know if what I did were in the books but it felt great because I gave into the intuition that biking also has its own rhythm, a right way of doing that benefits rather than drains out your energy.

In the end, I was able to cover an otherwise 90-minute ride to about 45 minutes. My lower body did not feel spent one-way and evaporated my fears of having to go home wanting to cry out of exhaustion. I used to do that to myself before when I bike–no plan, no monitoring, no time schedule. This ends with me being too tired to enjoy the ride back home. But because my brain needed to focus elsewhere this time, it focused on my self and the work I’m trying to do well. I ended up feeling happy, amazed, and most of all, accomplished.

Aside from biking, I also decided to jog in the mornings and the evenings as a complimentary activity to biking. Instead of walking a few steps and automatically launching into a sprint, I had taken measures to stretch before I started to walk then jog then walk then jog…pacing myself in a way that would push me past my current capacity. I used to only be able to jog continuously for a fourth of the park but because I jogged in a steadier manner and gently pushed myself further when I started to feel like my legs are burning and my lungs will run short of breath, I was able to cover more distance and move beyond my current threshold. I also tried a few crunches which I suspect were the reason why my lower abdominal muscles hurt a bit today.

Then of course, diet. I have stayed away from meat and rice for this week if I can help it. I’ve been eating vegetarian food since Monday, only indulging myself in pork today via hotpot. I was also consciously staying away from too much sweets which, if you happen to know me personally, you’d know is such a big leap of change for me. I was monitoring not just the stuff I eat but also what I drink. If you offer me a free ice-cold bottle of Coors, I would politely decline. No joke.

These changes brought a lot of perspective into my life. I felt better not just because I noticed that I felt lighter but also because it showed me that I am capable of taking care of myself in the way I should. I have always been proud to say that I love myself and I see no reason for me to want to be anyone else but me. While I still believe in that, I think I have forgotten something quite essential–loving yourself does not mean you should forget about leading a healthier lifestyle.

To top these all off, I had a fun conversation again with the Banshees–the best girl group there ever is on the planet and whom I love to bits and pieces and atoms. Our dear Ina just got married and it brought back all the happy memories I had when I saw our other friend Paola get married a few years ago. Both of them wed in such an inspiring way, I just can’t help but feel lucky that they are my friends. I feel blessed to have witnessed their love story and how both of them had become such fine women who will make (and have made!) truly amazing mothers and wives. Nathan, dear boy, you are a very lucky kid.

As I write this, I know that my rhythm’s improved so much that the funk’s finding it hard to keep up with my new moves. My timing became more precise. My coordination’s smoother. My transition has gone from messy to clear, exact, and downright suave. Life’s funk has gone from total drab to good job.

I guess living abroad does have its pros but when the cons hit you hard, they will really hit you big time. It’s especially harder when you have to face everything on your own and realize somehow that you are being made to face it all on your own. Because it’s a way for you to grow, to be strong, and prepare you for the great life you wanted and know you deserved. I feel good because I have come to realize that if I am capable of caring and being strong for myself then what more can I do for the people I love or will love or will create and love?

So…funk? What funk? The only funk I know now is the beat that makes me skip, feel giddy, and dance. And dance to this lovely albeit crazy tune called life, I will.

Because I can.

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