Julie Seedorf: I’m still in sticking-my-neck-out mode

Published 8:00 pm Sunday, September 17, 2017

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf

I have been told to not stick my neck out. The term means risk, incurring criticism or anger by acting or speaking boldly. According to Phrases.org, it is American slang originating around 60 years ago, possibly based on a chicken with its neck stretched out on a chopping block. I must admit it makes sense. I remember my family’s chicken’s heads being on the chopping block, its neck waiting for the ax so we could eat. Oh my gosh, when I think of that I never want to eat another chicken again.

It also could go back to Shakespeare’s time and Henry V’s Fluellin, a fictional character in the play Henry V. Thinking a soldier had done a traitorous thing he said, “Let his neck answer for it.”

I do stick my neck out occasionally or maybe more frequently in words, but this time, it was my chiropractor who told me to be careful and not stretch my neck. I have been having back problems the past year. It’s nothing serious but enough to cause me pain and occasionally to be laid up for a few days.

I have to admit I should have listened to those nuns in my early years when they told me to sit up straight. I have terrible posture and my bad habits have finally caught up to me. When I am stressed and even when I am not stressed I tense up. The problem is I didn’t realize I am always sticking my neck out and locking it. I have to be careful, or I will be the chicken on the chopping block.

I always have my nose up in the air, hopefully not in a mean way but in a posture way. When I do that, I look through the wrong part of my glasses and my neck gets stiff and I get headaches. I realized I walk around like that — stiffening my neck all day, even when I think I am relaxed.

I love to dance the twist. Unfortunately I like to twist when I am sitting in a chair. I never sit straight; I always put a twist in my posture. My lower and middle back stay in the twist whether I want it to or not and then — I can’t move.

I have been working on this problem. It is a matter of paying attention to the way my body is feeling, but who has time for that when you are rushing around? When I think of it, I stop and realize my head is locked on in the sticking-my-neck out mode, and I am doing the twist when sitting or standing. I straighten myself out, but it is such a habit that I am back the same way a few minutes later.

I wish this was one of the times my handy-dandy phone would have a reminder every time I forgot to relax my muscles. Of course it would be beeping all the time, and I probably would turn it off.

It makes me wonder what it is I do that makes my health worse besides just twisting and sticking my neck out. If I think about it, I probably need a big change in diet and exercise, too. But there is life, and when I get busy I forget the moments to take care of myself. And then when I do take time to take care of myself I feel guilty and selfish and feel I should be putting my time to better use. It is a merry-go-round.

If you see me locking my neck and tensing my shoulders or doing the twist while I am sitting, know I am not in the moment but lost in  a book, a working situation, a stressful day or forgetful because I am enjoying a conversation with my friends. Hold a stick in the air or do the twist yourself to remind me to straighten up.

“When people care for you and cry for you, they can straighten out your soul.” — Langston Hughes

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at hermionyvidaliabooks@gmail.com.