A Never Before Done Thing: Day Two

Day Two of the month-long challenge proves rocky.

I wake up wanting to do something major and heroic, something that involves the conquering of a lifelong fear. What I have in mind can’t be faced alone, so I lurk by the door waiting to ambush my youthful companion when she comes home.

Me to youthful companion: Thank God you’re home. You have to help me with today’s challenge.

YC: Why?

Me: I’m going to do a headstand and I can’t do it alone.

YC: Oh God! No!

Her reaction gives me pause. There is genuine consternation on her face. She is an extremely athletic person with very little physical fear. Can it be that the youthful companion is herself afraid of doing a headstand?

Me: Wait a minute. Are you afraid of doing a headstand?

YC: Hell yes! I’ve never done one.


YC: Oops.

We forge on. Against the wall? Against the couch? In the middle of the room with YC grabbing my legs and hoisting them up?

We, meaning me, decide on the recliner, as it is the only chair in the house with a back tall enough to let me gradually slime down over the top of it so that my head will end up on the seat and my legs up in the air.

Are you out there reading this and thinking with scorn and derision, That’s not how you do a headstand!? If so, I don’t blame you, but still, that’s how my headstand was going to happen.

Was going to happen. Past tense.

YC, upon hearing of the plan: No! Don’t use the recliner!

Me: Why not?

YC: Because it reclines!

The YC is right. The recliner does recline. Not only does it recline, but it reclines fast and also tips entirely over, flinging me off and crashing me to the hardwood floor. MAJOR PAIN ENSUES. The one good outcome is that the YC rushes to my side to see if I’m okay, which makes me feel loved and cared for.

There is an actual dent in my leg from the mishap. We both peer at it in interest.

YC: You should ice that right away.

Me: Are you kidding? I haven’t done the damn headstand yet.

But guess what? All further attempts at a headstand prove fruitless. The YC comes up with a new plan, which involves a yoga chair pose followed by a gradual tip into a headstand. You know, the way yogis do it. This works right up until the gradual tip into a headstand part.

I decide that the tip myself up against the couch plan is, at this point, the best bet.

YC: Kick your legs up! Kick them!

Me: How? HOW?

All efforts prove futile. How do people do headstands, seriously? More to the point, why do they do them? Can’t your spinal cord get mushed, with all that weight on it?

YC: Can’t you please do something else?

Me: Like what?

YC: Have you ever planked?

Me: Oh for God’s sake. Anyone can plank.

YC: That’s not the point. The point is to do something you’ve never done before, right?



  1. oreo · July 10, 2012

    oh my god, you have to give warning if you’re going to make me fall off my chair laughing. i thought this was going to be some more pensive philosophical stuff about new experiences.

    but how can you never have done a headstand? and your athletic youthful companion? doesn’t *every* child try that at some point? can it be that you have amnesia regarding a universal childhood activity? or was i just strange in that i enjoyed attempting to spend time upside down? well, whatever happened years ago, you wouldn’t catch me attempting one now for fear of the scenario you experienced. although i do still enjoy walking on my hands underwater. i just need a little help with that gravity business.

    hey, i’m still hanging in there with you, partly because i happened to be out of town. yesterday we went to the duluth electric fetus for the first time, and a goodwill in duluth we’ve never been to and scored on some clothes i’ve never worn before an a train set my son had not yet played with. hooray for trying new things, but now that we’re back in minneapolis it might be a struggle to keep up. today looks like cleaning the same old house, going to the same old grocery store, running around the same old track at the gym. which seems tortuously boring. i better think of something interesting quickly or my new thing will be pulling my hair out.


  2. Karen · July 10, 2012

    I never, ever mastered a headstand. I made several sad attempts at handstands as a kid, but I’m not sure they count if your body never actually comes to a rest, just goes straight from moving into the handstand to slowly tipping over. And now cartwheels give me pause. You are to be commended for throwing yourself into this, body and soul! (Hope the dent in your leg is not permanent.)

    I love the idea of a month of new things. What a wonderful way to celebrate a birthday!


  3. oreo · July 11, 2012

    okay, i stayed with you for one more day, just under the wire. i learned to say a sentence in ojibwe and another in amharic. not sure how helpful it is to be able to say “i will kill a lion” in amharic. probably more useful to be able to introduce myself in ojibwe, considering the locale. but far more entertaining to imagine a situation where i would employ the other.


  4. alison · July 11, 2012

    Oreo, stick with it! A new Goodwill in Duluth would be just the ticket. As for headstands, I guarantee you that I do not have amnesia about the damn things. They’ve always terrified me. Cartwheels, on the other hand, are a cinch. (But Karen, if I were attempting one for the first time at this point in my life I’d probably die.)

    Off to kill a lion now.


  5. Tessa · July 11, 2012

    I did a headstand quite by accident. It was on one of my many”bucket” lists (have no idea why). So if you’re so inclined to re-visit the head stand this is a good way to inadvertently get there.

    Find a wall.
    Place yourself far enough away that you can do a down dog near the wall
    Go into down dog
    Place your hands around your head as if in prayer (which you should be doing at this point anyways)
    Your elbows should be pointing out – kinda like a diamond around your head
    Now start moving your legs in so that you are now in a very pointy down dog
    Keep going.
    When you can’t go any further slowly lift one leg off the floor.
    Keep lifting
    Yippee –
    Now lift the other one,
    If necessary lean against the wall
    Wooo hoo. See no ab muscles necessary
    Practice before you have that fabulous drink I saw on your blog.
    Good luck!


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