What’s Next

I have been thinking about what it means to do it all. Recently, I was asked to recognize that just because I can do it doesn’t mean I should. It also doesn’t mean I should try to do it all at the same time because it rarely works well and something inevitably falls through the cracks.

I have been taking time to figure out what that means to me. I am still training for my Strongman competition next month, gearing up to accelerate training for the Spartan Trifecta, planning a workshop with a partner and I have started facilitating a creative non-fiction class at a non-profit for returning citizens.

While I love all of it, I am yearning to devote more time to short stories and reading. So I am. Even if it means one of the other things (like posting here) temporarily falls by the wayside. After reading “Heads of the Colored People” by Nafissa Thompson-Spires, I reconnected with the part of me that needs to slow down and explore what it means to bring my heart and imagination together on the page.

I remembered fretting over prompts given to me in a fiction writing class last year but ultimately happy when the stories came to fruition. I was even looking forward (albeit nervously) to critique by my classmates and teacher. I wanted to get better.

So this is me.

Saying yes to what’s next.

 

Battle

I know I will look back on this month as the time I chose to bet on myself AND trust God.

I am starting to increase my training this week to ready myself for the strongman competition in March. I finally have a date set to facilitate my first class (February 5th!). I am signing up for the second race in the Spartan Trifecta soon and buying my copyright for “What I Love About You” this week.

Executing on all of these things means I am fighting ancient battles, ones so old I was not even 10 years old when they began. I am worn from the fights but I have a renewed energy.

I was standing in the ocean a couple of days ago, foamy cool waves soaking my feet and brushing against my calves. I thought about what I want my life to look like and the things I want to let go. I want to make room for all of the possibility and trust all of the new I am embarking on will bring me to a place where some of those battle scars will have healed.

I want to go back at the beginning of 2021 to the same spot and reminisce on who I was and all of the changes I made. No journey is ever really over but I want leave the intensity of the fear and uncertainty behind.

Set it free.

Set myself free.

 

 

 

Self-actualization

Noun

the realization or fulfillment of one’s talents and potentialities, especially considered as a drive or need present in everyone.

At Afterburn class tonight, I was the only person who showed up. I was ready to work but didn’t expect to talk about where I have been or where I see myself going.

While warming up, my teacher asked me about how I spend my days. I told her about my day job and my writing and upcoming teaching. And then she asked a question I knew I would be writing about this evening:

“Do you feel self-actualized?”

I told her I feel it more now than ever before but I think it’s a journey. With the addition of these strength training and weekly yoga classes, there is a distinct difference for me. I had to change the fitness story I’ve been telling myself forever. It used to go like this:

I like to walk and jog, preferably outside. I love to dance and water aerobics but that’s really it. I don’t like weightlifting. It’s boring and it’s just not for me. I have never been an athlete.

In just a few short weeks, I am ready to alter some of those details:

I love weightlifting, especially one on one or in a small group. I love to dance, go to water aerobics classes, walking and jogging outside everyday and challenge the flexibility and strength of my body in yoga. I am an athlete, training to compete in a Strongman and my first Spartan race in a few months time. I love the powerful woman I am becoming.

There is no destination for me. I believe I am constantly unfolding and breaking old molds. I am in a state of perpetual vulnerability which can be equal parts exhausting and exhilarating.

And completely worthwhile.

 

The Sun

My hot Vinyasa yoga teacher read a gorgeous piece at the end of class. I should have asked who wrote it because I cannot seem to find it. I will ask next week. The sentence “Turn your face to the sun” repeats several times. It was a charge to be more grateful, acknowledge all of the smiling eyes and prayers made on your behalf no matter the trial.

I needed the encouragement. Though it wouldn’t usually bother me, I felt a sense of shame not being able to get into many of the poses. I felt exposed, as if I was a fraud. The insecurity of having “too much” body. Believe me, I know better but the feeling arose a few more times even after telling myself to shake it off and that those thoughts do not get to make a home here.

This is my quiet time. My prayer time. My stretch time. My solo practice in the midst of all of these sweaty, bendy bodies. Even though I was never completely settled, the piece spoke to my insecurities and reminded me of why I intend to keep coming.

Why I intend to keep coming after all of it –the last 5 days of 75 hard, the last week of bloglikecrazy, teaching, writing and training for Spartan.

Enjoying the Little Things

I knew today would be better than yesterday. Even though I was sore, my walk this morning was done and I could feel the muscles working in my legs. I had a training to attend in the afternoon and the information presented to me filled in holes I didn’t know needed to be filled. My day job will make a bit more sense from here on out.

At the training, there were crayons, markers, colored pencils and clay at the table. I arrived for the afternoon portion and people were engaged in the training but they were also coloring and rolling around brightly colored clay in their hands. Maybe this is already commonplace at many companies but it was my first time witnessing it.

I eventually asked for a box and picked up a paper with “Enjoy the Little Things” and colored a little bit. It was almost alarming how satisfying it was to be free to do so.

It really can be about enjoying the little things-coloring at work, a meditative walk in the neighborhood and for me right now, going to let my stylist work her magic fingers through my hair.

 

Day 64

I just got home from what feels like was one of the longest days of my life. Workout, work, home for 45 minutes, doctor’s appointment, grocery store trip, home for an hour to catch a breath and read my pages, strength training class, back to the store and finally back home to write this post and start cooking. At some point, I will pass out ungracefully on the couch.

Most of the days on 75hard have been fine. I never love it all but I’ve gotten through it all. There has been days where I want to fling my gallon jug of water across the room and days where I want to do the same with whatever personal development book I am reading. I also don’t love taking daily full-length pictures of myself. I have never been the person who wants to take constant photos so that part has been hard for me.

While this post seems to be shaping up to be a whinefest, please understand I accept all of these requirements are for a reason. I would never have imagined a Spartan race (let alone three), strength training, consistent yoga, axe throwing (with continuing keep a writing practice at the same time) if it hadn’t been for this.

I get it.

But some days it sucks.

Today (Day 64) is one of those days.

I accept it and I am moving on to tomorrow which I am already claiming will be a better day.

First Day

Today was my first day of strength training class. My plan is to go 3-4 times a week in preparation for my first Sprint race. Even though I am not a complete novice to weight training, I never have regularly done it.

Before class, I had a serious case of nerves. I knew everything would be fine but I told Hubby I felt like a little kid on the first day of school. I jokingly asked him to drop me off at class and wave at me from the window.

When I arrived, a group of three was preparing for class. Everyone was obviously already familiar with one another but they were all welcoming. My nerves bubbled up again as they seemed ready to jump into the workout but the instructor had already assured me I would get some personal attention.

Her patience was real and as soon as I felt it, I calmed down and my focus narrowed to concentrating on learning the movements. I completed the class and afterwards we spent time with the foam roller which was a new experience for me. Painful but I definitely see the necessity.

I am hoping every teacher is as lovely as this one but if not, I am still willing to show up. My curiosity is driving the bus these days. It wants me to see if I turn into the kind of woman who loves weightlifting and will be able to scale walls, swing from bar to bar and hang a finisher’s medal around my neck.

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.