On January 1, 2022, I decided to do one handstand a day and document it, which is the official way to say I took a selfie. I had three rules: set up a self-timer, get upside down, and no retakes if I didn’t like the photo. I wasn’t sure where I was going with this mini project, but it felt good to recall the muscle memory of thousands of handstands from my younger days. I looked forward to my daily inversion and I was on my way to a handstand-a-day for the year of 2022. As a repeat non-follow-through-er (yes, I realize the irony), it felt good to be in the follow through camp.

As the weeks, then months passed, I felt strong. I started envisioning the finish line, the thrill of victory. I’d write a blog post titled, “365 Handstands: Zen Warrior,” or maybe, “365 Handstands: Frumpy to Pumpy in One Year,” …something would come to me. I’d get such positive feedback from friends that I’d share my post on Instagram. Initially a slow burn, it would catch the attention of Amy Poehler, who also struggles with a weight fluctuation of 10-to-15-pounds, and she would ‘like’ the post. Retired gold medalist soccer player Abby Wombach would recognize herself in the display of grace from a fellow aging athlete, would also ‘like’ it. From there my handstand story would bounce between athletes and comedians until it was a full-on viral event. I would be contacted by Jemele Hill, Brene Brown, and Robin Roberts for interviews. Jemele and I would talk about breaking away from corporate America. Robin, after listening to my podcast chat with Jemele, would request a feel-good puff piece with no cursing. Brene and I would discuss “living in the arena” and having the courage to follow through with our dreams. They will all want to know what inspired me, if I was still doing handstands every day, and what advice I have for my millions of “handfans,” the nickname coined by my husband and me because we think we’re hilarious. The handstand phenomenon sweeping the nation would eventually lead me to my life’s work with Michelle Obama where we join forces and pledge to teach every child in America how to accomplish their goals through daily handstands.

I made it to August 9th when I had to stop.  A sharp neck pain very likely due to the previous 220 handstands, and always using the same leg to kick up with, had set in. I got treatment and waited, but it was persistent. I reminded my inner perfectionist that this wasn’t the Olympics, that I hadn’t been training my whole life for this, and that I didn’t need to fight through the pain. My inner perfectionist replied, “Fine.” But then cataloged this as a failure and added it to that non-followed-through-on list. But then the kinder, confident, stronger part of me spoke up reminded me that I make the rules and I define the success criteria. It said, “Hey, 221 handstands ain’t nothin’.” It reminded me that in 2022 I faced the latent grief of losing my father the previous year. That I changed roles at work three times while discovering that burnout is real. That I lost a healthy, strong, vibrant peer to cancer. I lost my beloved 96-year-old powerhouse mother-in-law who I only had the pleasure of knowing in her 90’s. I buried my beloved 17-year-old kitty, and we unexpectedly rescued a tiny new kitten and named her Ruby. It reminded me that I got covid for the first time in August, celebrated my 52nd birthday in September, AND I did 221 handstands in 2022. I’m going to call it a win.

4 thoughts on “221 Handstands

  1. OMG! That is fantastic and I can’t believe you never said a word about it. I’m so proud of you and making it to Aug 9th is a huge accomplishment. Love you.

  2. You ROCK Tracy Cate. And the balancing ones are especially impressive. Plus you can write. Is it enough that your yoga-loving, not-famous sister-in-law admires you?

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