Nostalgia

Nostalgia

This weekend I watched “Star Wars” for the first time. I don’t shun sci-fi at all but I was never drawn to that particular franchise (I grew up in a Star Trek household). I may not have fallen in love with it but I tried to see it through my husband’s eyes. He was a child when it came out so while the technology and the acting made me cringe at times, he must have seen nothing but magic and heroes stretch the fabric of reality and his budding imagination.

It was a sweet reminder of the power of nostalgia. I can instantly connect to how I felt  jumping rope in my cousin’s backyard on Long Island, pouring over the pages of “The Baby-sitters’ Club” books, dancing to Janet Jackson and Paula Abdul in our living room and watching with bated breath to see if Whitley and Dwayne were finally going to get together on “A Different World.”

I love that I don’t care if any of it was perfect. I didn’t want flawless. I wanted fun. I didn’t know it then but all I needed was simplicity. Laughing hard until the breath sputters and there is guffawing. Pumping the volume up to dance and sweat. Turning the pages, losing myself in hours of uncomplicated storyline.

I hope to reconnect with more of that..the simplicity. Fondly remembering what was is beautiful but being able to carry its essence with me now–in the present moment–is priceless.

 

What Unfolds

What Unfolds

Recently, without realizing it, I developed an obsession with the concept of time. Well, not so much time but the concepts of an alternative future and time travel.

This is not something I would normally write about but this is where I am.

No matter how silly it was (re: Seth Rogen’s Hulu Original Future Man), innovative and emotional (Amazon’s Undone), groundbreaking (the writers’ doomed vision for the world’s future in Westworld) or how prolific (Octavia Butler’s novel Kindred), over the past couple of weeks, I haven’t been able to tear my eyes or hands away from it.

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Octavia Butler’s “Kindred.” I am only sad I didn’t read it years ago.
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“Undone” on Amazon Prime.

It was happening and for some reason, I didn’t connect the dots or recognize the common thread.

Each time I read or watched, I was asking myself if I would make the same choices.

Change the past for a better future. Alter a minute detail for a shiny, new me. Attempt to take control over what’s already done.

These stories have made me examine choice in a way I haven’t in a long time, if ever.

I understand there is no sense in longing for a past that never was or clinging to a hope I will one day bend reality to my whim.

But my analytical nature examines why I made the choices I did–picked up the phone at a particular moment, took long aimless drives, booked that flight, didn’t take the leap to pursue teaching overseas when I had the chance, grew silent when I should have been shouting or simply why some people have floated in and out of my life like nameless ghosts and others seemingly tethered to me, part of my DNA.

I have found myself indulging in the fantasy: if I went through this door, maybe I would have been a dancer or an activist or a healer, adorned in vibrant headscarves and crystals or a suburban woman with a brood of children or a tightly wound, bespectacled corporate drone in a more metropolitan setting.

I will never know the truth of any of those closed doors, those unexplored lives.

Choices have been made. Deals have been struck.

And thankfully, more will come.

Everyday, I am living in the abundance of choice, the beauty of possibility. Even now, in the midst of this uncertainty.

I think that’s enough to take with me as I watch and read, in awe at the boundless imagination of others and my real life unfolds.

 

 

 

All of the Flowers

All of the Flowers

The world needs all its flowers.

I heard it at the end of a meditation today.

I heard it, hurriedly grabbed a leopard print pen that sits on our side table and scribbled it in small orange memo book.

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I then thought about all of the things and the people that I consider “all the flowers.”

Books. Heavenly books I have run into the arms of virtually everyday these past few weeks.

The pointsetta kept all year long gifted from my mother-in-law that soaks in the sun. I absentmindedly reach out and stroke its leaves from time to time.

Our balcony at dusk where we have spent precious moments relishing silence, the comfort of our mismatched chairs and the sight of the tree where I often catch the same white cat perched on its branches.

My Mom’s text messages full of videos, jokes to make us laugh, inspire hope and advice to be as healthy and safe as possible.

Work. Knowing we are still able to help people even over the phone and via email reminds me it isn’t all over.

Friends. Knowing they are there is enough. Knowing they are there and safe is even better. I haven’t done all of the virtual “everythings” but I am still happy with the occasional phone calls and texts.

My family. I want them now more than ever. They are my first flowers.

Other creators– artists of all stripes still finding their art in the midst of it. Even if their art is a reflection of their weariness in these times, I have fallen in love with your vulnerability.

The small business owners I watch hustling their wares online. I may not have hustle surging through my veins right now but I respect their willingness and bravery to try to do this in unprecedented times.

All of the flowers taking care of the sick, carrying mail, delivering food, cleaning, stocking shelves, manning service stations, driving trucks and buses.

The flowers that bring us closer together and fight for those whose voice has been muted or forgotten.

My husband’s touch and voice that reminds me we walk together, never alone.

My Creator who made all of the flowers a reality.

 

 

 

 

 

An Odd Dream

An Odd Dream

What a difference a month makes.

The last month has been out of an odd dream I can’t seem to wake up from. An odd but forgettable one where I am home, on my couch or upstairs in my bedroom, with bouts of disinfecting grocery deliveries, countertops, light switches and doorknobs maniacally, feverishly washing hands and where I take intermittent walks that consist of waving to my neighbors from afar or dodging people and cars that come too close because if they do, I might catch a strange virus that may or may not kill me or anyone I come into contact with.

This odd dream feels like something I would struggle to remember but retain enough detail to recount it to my husband as he’s preparing to head out the door for the day. An odd dream that I would share with a co-worker who would then ask: What did you watch before you went to sleep last night?

But it is all real.

This oddity is real.

I have been home since March 13th. I have been to a grocery store and a pharmacy (on the same day) once since then and have not eaten take out either. Competing in a Strongman on March 7th feels like it happened in an alternate reality.

Because it was.

I am not a doom and gloom person but I can be an anxious one. I am not in a state of panic but perhaps the privilege and the blessing of a fully employed household working from home, good books, loving family and friends and distracting technology affords me that peace.

But psoriasis and Lupus live here so we are a house of people whose immune systems don’t always do exactly as it should.

So where does that leave me?

In a variety of places.

Sometimes mourning the option to go everywhere worry free and sometimes giggling in bed with my husband because his goofiness makes me deliriously happy first thing in the morning.

It has had me fraught with worry a couple times when a cough refused to go but then I realized it’s allergy season and my neighborhood often looks like a pollen dust bowl.

It has also had me praying more, grateful for video calls, journaling, the one N95 mask we had in our linen closet, and telehealth therapy sessions. I have danced to DJs on Instagram, laughed at memes and YouTube videos, cried at people singing in unison in New York and Italy, harmonizing from their windows and balconies. I have raged at the administration and people who won’t stay home, wiped tears for the sick and the dead, signed petitions, donated money, felt restless and helpless and fearful for the homeless, the incarcerated and everyone who has to work outside of the home, ordered and got lost in books. I watched game shows and paused screens to turn to my husband and talk about all of my feelings which I have eaten a few times (see pint of ice cream in my trash).

I will continue to be in all of the places because I know I have no control over the outside world.

Just my inside one.

And that has to be enough.

For now.

Athlete Ready?

Athlete Ready?

This past weekend I became a Strongwoman. I may have always known there was an inner strength but I unveiled a woman that was physically strong, too.

My gym hosted a Strongman competition. There were many classes (light and heavyweight women and men, master’s men and women, novice men and women which was my category). I also found out we had fitness trainers among the competition which made me proud that people like me who don’t work in the fitness industry could hang and in some cases, beat those who do.

I had my husband, friends and family there to cheer me on which besides the friendly and vibrant Strongman community, was the best part. They knew and understood my investment –the time, the money and the conviction it took to believe I could do it. It would have not been as special without them.

There were five events: the log press (65lbs lifted repeatedly overhead for a minute), the deadlift (my favorite starting at 125lbs–met my goal of 315lbs), the husafel carry (carrying a 110lb iron tomb-shaped structure 100ft), the hand over hand sled pull (pulling the sled 50 ft across AstroTurf while sitting in the middle of a tire) and the sandball toss (for my class, throwing a 10lb, 15lb and 20lb over a 12ft caution tape in the fastest time).

I placed 4th in log press (16 lifts), 1st in deadlift, 3rd in husafel (16.77 seconds), 5th in hand over hand sled (I lost my balance and fell out of the tire but I was 2 pulls away from finishing before getting back in to complete it) and 2nd in the sandball toss (15.65 seconds). Overall, I finished 3rd!

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I am incredibly proud of entering the competition, daring to see myself as an athlete, grateful for pushing past fear to recognize my body’s ability and of course, for medaling my first time out.

If you had told me six months ago I would be standing in a gym, hearing someone ask “Athlete ready?”, I would have definitely thought you couldn’t have been talking about me.  But there I was standing in a gym, with chalky palms, bruised forearms, broken nails,  sore arms and a genuine smile feeling more like myself than ever.

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At 315lbs! Adrenaline rush is real! Could have pulled more but this was my PR.

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Day 74

Day 74

I am spending time with family. I often wish I could bring all members of my family together, in-laws and all. But I am grateful for the faces I see today and not even feeling the slightest hint of bitterness about what I have left to do to complete day 74.  One more workout and a few ounces of water left will have it all done.  Since I am sitting passenger side and on the way back home, I am keeping this short. I don’t want to miss many more moments.

Day 75 tomorrow!

Day 60

Day 60

I decided to take it a bit easier on my second workout today. After last night’s class, walking this morning and what felt like a particularly active day at work, I decided to not beat my body up with another strength class this evening. I do have a 5:30am tomorrow.

As I am writing this, I am almost in disbelief that today is Day 60 of 75hard. I have never worked out for 60 days straight in my life, let alone twice a day. And a gallon of water everyday, too? Nope! It also makes me realize how much can change in 2 months.

For me, the biggie is committing to completing the Trifecta but also going through workshop facilitation training to begin teaching in January and moving forward with the print version of my book.

I wish I had a way to compare brain scans from early September to now. Since I don’t have access to that, I am happy to settle for how I felt then versus now. I know too much about what I can do and how I can be to turn back. I think that knowledge is going to carry me through the rest of this challenge and onward.

I will carry it with me teaching my first class, leading my first workshop, selling my book and throughout all three races.

When the inevitable darker moments visit and the voice that sounds exactly like me threatens to sabotage everything, I will lean on these memories, draw from this well.

 

 

 

 

Everything and Nothing

Everything and Nothing

Today was long. I showed up to an appointment a day early across town after work which I have never done.  I had nothing left in me to cook. I am sore. Against my better judgement, I watched a YouTube video entitled “Spartan Race Tips for Beginners: Will You Die?”

The content actually was helpful but my anxiety was present and accounted for the entire time. I know what I committed to. The doubts and fears are natural. There will be days like today where I don’t want to complete the second workout and curling up on the couch with soup and watching “Love Jones” for the 3,000th time is my idea of active. (No worries. I got it all done). Those feelings may not let go until I cross the finish line.

So I am going to treat this like the first time I hit “Publish” on a post, walked to the start line at a 10k and into a college classroom after I transferred to a Shenandoah University as a 21-year old freshman.

There was everything and nothing to fear all at the same time.

 

 

 

 

Spartan

Spartan

Have you ever been presented with something that challenges the very idea of who you thought you were?

That happened this past Monday when podcast host Jonathan Frederick (Heart Healthy Hustle) posted an opportunity on Instagram. He interviewed Spartan race founder, Joe De Sena and a challenge was issued. Anyone who wants to complete the Trifecta in 2020 (Sprint, Super and Beast) has one week from the airing (11/4) to email Joe and Jonathan to sign up and all three entry fees will be covered by Joe himself!

When Jonathan posted about it, I congratulated him on the partnership and was content to leave it at that. But then, he replied “you in?”

Once I got a few more details about the time (can complete all three at any point in 2020), something in me told myself not to shut it down despite many things:

I don’t have a trainer.

I have never run an obstacle course before.

I am at least 80 lbs overweight.

I never thought of myself as an athlete.

I don’t know if I can find anyone to do it with me.

I have never liked weightlifting.

I can’t do a pull up.

So despite all of those things, I picked up the phone and scheduled a session with a trainer. Despite all of those things, I showed up.

The trainer put all my fears to rest. Even after completing my inbody assessment, she seemed more delighted by my muscle mass and deadlifting than discouraged by weight. She wasn’t discouraged at all.

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Amber Shaw, trainer extraordinaire who opened my eyes today.

When all was said and done, I start tomorrow. Training 4 times a week, finally incorporating stretching and continuing to track my food and pound my water. Even though 75hard has a phase that comes after this, running these races feels like what comes after for me. It set me up to believe this was a possibility for me.

Possibility is hope. Possibility is leading me to believe I can mold myself into a true athlete, a competitor and someone I might not soon recognize- a Spartan.

Day 50

Day 50

Today is day 50 of 75hard challenge.

I woke up and wanted to run today. Even as I saw the temperature was at freezing and the bed was calling, there was something greater in me this morning telling me I had to move.

My run may resemble more of a slow jog but one day that won’t be the case. I will find that my willingness to drag this body out of the bed into the frigid cold daily will mean discipline and showing my entire being the love it so richly deserves.

Today, I was discussing possible opportunities to participate in a physical competition and to follow through on a writing collaboration I’ve been dreaming about for many months. It was pointed out to me that not executing on either one of those things might mean playing small.

Playing small, minimizing, hiding all mean the same thing.

Another year of an unrealized me.

Another year of doors I tell myself I cannot open.

Even though they are already ajar.