When I was a little girl, I was given a necklace with a tiny, gold, oval charm that, printed in dainty script, read, “Tuesday’s child is full of grace.” It’s a line from a nursery rhyme that, as far as I can tell, dates back to A. E. Bray’s 1838 collection of letters entitled Traditions, Legends, Superstitions, and Sketches of Devonshire. There are various versions of this nursery rhyme, but the first one I read in its entirety was in my Mother Goose:
Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace;
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go;
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for its living;
But the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.
Anyway, this necklace became a bit of a joke around our house, because if there’s anything I am not, it’s graceful. I can trip myself up walking across a smooth floor. I was pretty sensitive as a child, so the joking didn’t always sit well with me. One day, over our standard breakfast at MeMaw’s house of toast and syrup, she said to me, “There are different kinds of grace.” She went on to explain that, while physical grace is all well and good, an even better grace to have is grace for others.
I liked that. I was good at that – seeing the image of God in other people – even when it was buried deep. I was quick to forgive and quick to make peace. I was interested in their side of the story.
I wasn’t so good at having grace for myself. Even though I was buoyed by MeMaw’s affirmation that I was graceful of heart, I wanted to be graceful of body, too. This desire was due in part to my own stubbornness, but it was probably mostly due to my parents’ wisdom of encouraging me to do things that were a challenge to me and not letting me settle for just doing what came easily or naturally. They enrolled me in gymnastics and dance lessons, and though I struggled, I did learn to be more graceful.
[Public service announcement - if you want your children to grow up at home in their bodies, gymnastics is a great way to teach that.]
One of the first lessons I learned in these classes was the importance of stretching, and I have carried this lesson with me ever since. Stretching warms the muscle up before movement, and it keeps the muscle from seizing up after movement. I stretch every night before bed, and I stretch every morning before I get out of bed. If I don’t, it is almost a guarantee that I will trip on my way to the bathroom. Muscles need to wake up, too.
I vary the stretches I do based on which muscle group seems to need it the most, but many of the stretches I do are basic, like the ones illustrated here. If you don’t know where to start, start with those. Hold each position for 10-15 seconds before moving on to the next. And because I know you’re curious, if you do this for 20 minutes, you can burn approximately the same calories as you would burn running half of a six-minute mile.
And every night and morning, while I’m stretching physically, I use the time to also stretch myself mentally and emotionally. I review or prepare myself for the challenges of the day. I pray for people with whom I have been annoyed or angry, and I let it go. I think about what I have done well, and what I could do better.
Tuesday’s child becomes full of grace.
This is Day 15 of 31 Days of Movement, and a link-up with Marvia Davidson’s Real Talk Tuesdays (even though it’s Thursday – don’t think about it too much).