Express Yourself

Admittedly I haven’t been blogging a whole lot lately, at least not much more than posts about my training sessions. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to blog. There have been days when I have felt the need or desire to blog but I didn’t. There are many reasons for the lack of blog posts, ranging from the “I have nothing to say” to the “I don’t know what I can say”. In a way, I feel sort of handcuffed in what I can say on my own blog, because someone has chosen to twist my words into something drastically different than what I have ever said or intended. While I obviously cannot control how people may interpret my words, I know my heart and my intent and I am at peace with both. Despite the peace I feel in this situation, I have been feeling reluctant to blog about much of anything beyond the basics of training. I know this is a season of sorts, and I will get past it to blog more candidly once again.

I have to admit that part of my reluctance to blog flows out of the knowledge that my blog could be read by those who choose to twist my words into something I never intended. Obviously, if you find something on the internet personally offensive to you, you have complete freedom to NOT continue to read it, right?! This is my blog. It is about me and my journey. This is my journey of self-discovery, of growing comfortable in my own skin, and knowing who I am. Sometimes my journey towards becoming Angela involves other people, because we do not go through life without being touched by others and in turn touching others. This is my journey. If you don’t like it…don’t read it. Plain and simple! I don’t blog for personal glory or recognition or followers. I have no expectation that anyone reads my blog and won’t be offended if nobody does.

And still, I hesitate. I open my WordPress site with the intention of blogging and then I hesitate. I think about who might read my blog, about who might take my innocent words and twist them into something ugly. So I pause until I have no more time to blog, or I simply blog about my training, all the while feeling censored.

Despite how I feel in regards to blogging, I am feeling perfectly fine. I am sleeping well. I am happy and at peace with myself. Although I have been hurt and rejected recently, I am doing very well. My husband and I were talking about that situation the other day, and he asked me if I had forgiven the offending party. I was kind of taken by surprise by his question, because I don’t even look at that turn of events as being worth my time or attention. Was I hurt? Yes. Am I holding onto any of that hurt or resentment? Heck no! While I do not agree in any way shape or form with the other point of view in this situation, I also don’t consider this to be worth holding onto. It’s difficult to explain how I feel without going into more detail in the situation, which is something I am not going to do. Suffice it to say that I am completely comfortable with who I am to know that I am not at fault in this situation, and as such my forgiveness is essentially automatic. Would I be comfortable bumping into this person in public unexpectedly? Probably not but that’s just me and my non-confrontational nature potentially pushed into an uncontrollable scenario! Am I losing sleep or stressed out over what has happened? Absolutely not! Like I said, I know who I am. I know my own heart and my intentions. I can put my head on my pillow each night knowing that I was true to myself, to my family, and to my friends. If someone sees that differently, then that is their problem and not mine.

I suppose this post is where I draw a line in the sand and say, “No more!” This is my blog. This blog is about me and my journey and what makes me who I am. If you have a problem with that, then feel free to stop visiting! If, on the other hand, my journey interests you, then please follow along. I cannot promise that my journey will always be cool or exciting, but I will always strive to be real and honest. I am no one of consequence or importance. I am merely Angela, a 45 year old woman, a wife of 25 years and mother of 3. I am a friend, a powerlifter, a barista, someone who is thankful for everything and entitled to nothing. Although my education is limited, I am a lover of words, and writing is how I express myself best. And this is my blog.

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Still Angela

I had expected to go to the gym this morning. I had expected an easy and light training session, not only for today but the entire week, now that my competition is over. However, I was not expecting to be told to take the entire week off from training, and I did not react well at all. When I got the news, I was still reeling physically and emotionally from the competition, and I was exhausted from that long day and only 5 hours of sleep after it. That’s not an excuse for my poor reaction…it’s merely an indication of where I was at in the moment. I had been looking forward to the gym this week, because the gym has always been a happy, safe place for me and I knew that being there could help me process, debrief, and re-order my thoughts and emotions. I could agree that my body would benefit from the rest, but I couldn’t see how the rest would help my mind.

Thanks to hurting my back in competition and the beauty of the internet, yesterday I was able to make an appointment to see my chiropractor this afternoon. What would normally be a relatively short appointment wound up being more than double the length of time and probably half of it was just talking. Have I ever mentioned how much I love my chiropractor? I absolutely do! He is a wise, old soul with a lifetime of experience in a young man’s body, and he is someone I respect and admire and gladly call my friend. He listened to me, and I dare say he heard far more than I actually said. Then he spoke and spoke, while I listened. I choked back tears. I smiled, even laughed, I think. I countered. Agreed. Listened some more. After a great deal of talking, he took care of my back and my neck and gently sent me on my way.

Shortly after I had to drop my husband off for a physio appointment at the hospital, so I parked in a shady spot close to the beach and pulled out my “Owner’s Manual” and a pen. “Who am I?” I wrote at the top of a page. The words that followed flowed out of the conversation I had with my chiropractor. Don’t ask me to repeat what he said, because I am seldom any good at taking in information, watching it swirl around inside my head, and then spitting it back out exactly as it entered. Instead of going on about what Dr. Ben had to say, I am just going to share most of my own introspective ramblings.

Who am I?

I was reminded today by Dr. Ben that I am Angela Thompson first and foremost. Being a powerlifter/fitness type person is a part of who I am, but it is not ALL that I am. I know this. I believe it, and yet, it is a truth easily lost in the pursuit of passions and goals. Ben, as much as he understood what I was feeling, explained that I needed to not need the gym to identify myself. He’s right.

A great part of my transformation and journey is because of the gym, but the real source of my success has been me. I put in the hard work. I made the choices and sacrifices. I pulled out all sorts of amazing qualities from within myself. It’s not like I found determination tucked in the back of the closet. I didn’t gain self-control and discipline from an injection or a pill. No one could give me a positive attitude and mindset or the ability to focus on the end goal. These are qualities and traits that have always been inside of me. Other people have definitely been a factor in giving me direction and wisdom and shaping me, but only I am Angela.

I am a powerlifter because I love the sport and the passion and drive it stirs within me; however, who would I be if I could no longer do it? That’s the fundamental question I have been asking myself for years in varying forms. Who am I when I’m not with Kane? Who am I now that my kids are adults? Who was I in my previous job, and who am I in my new job? Who am I when a relationship sours and ends? Who was I when I had to stop running? When a competition doesn’t go the way I expected, am I still enough? The variations to the question are almost unending, but the essence is the same. I am and always will be Angela before I am anything else. Is that enough?

So who am I?

I am Angela Elizabeth Thompson. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a co-worker, a powerlifter, a stranger who writes a blog. I am a person of faith with a deeply personal relationship with Jesus Christ. All of this is true of me, yet I am still more.

I am loyal, caring, compassionate, quiet, sarcastic, geeky, organized, focused, determined, disciplined, strong, capable, confident, willing to try something new, flexible when necessary, a planner, usually prepared, easy-going, quick to laugh, prone to eye leakage, barefoot loving, a quasi-health nut, a thinker, a writer, a dreamer. This is also all true of me.

I love going to the gym. I love training and powerlifting. A few years ago I could never have believed this would be true about me. I will always want to be at my training sessions, but I am perfectly content to not be at the gym every day. I am not so controlled by training that I need to be there all the time. I know the value in rest days, but I do not like to miss my sessions. Once I got over my initial reservations about going to a gym, I have always viewed my training sessions as an appointment for myself in much the same way as I would an appointment to colour my hair. It is something I do for myself. Do I need to colour my hair? As much as the grey tells me that I do, the truth is that I do not need to colour my hair at all! In fact, I frequently go months between hair appointments. Vanity’s control over me is not so strong. Can I say the same about the gym? I want to, yet I don’t know. Last night and this morning, the prospect of not going to the gym for a week upset me greatly. I wonder if my reaction would have been so intense had I not already been in a state of emotional upheaval. I am far from perfect, but I like to believe that I am generally a level-headed kind of person. Having that little therapy session with Dr. Ben and then writing out my thoughts has found me feeling more calm, rational, and more at peace with not training this week.

I still would like to think that the gym doesn’t control me. I can give up yummy, unwholesome food and wine for weeks at a time for the sake of cutting weight  and reaching a goal. I’m a night owl who can be completely human and functional before the early birds even wake up for the sake of my job. I have learned how to rise above, to overcome, to see opportunity in the struggle…why should this be any different? I will make it through this week, because I am Angela. I am a strong, independent, white woman, and I will be allowed to train again next week! I will learn and grow. I will be stronger for it. Through it all, I am still Angela.

 

A Stone Called Ebenezer

tattoo

1 Samuel 7:12

“Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far has the LORD helped us.’”

The back story, in a nutshell, was that the Israelites had defeated the Philistines and they placed a stone as a memorial or testament of what God had done for them. It’s a very small part of scripture, but the concept of the Ebenezer stone has stayed with me for nearly twenty years. In fact, I decided long ago that were I ever to write a book that ‘Ebenezer Stone’ would figure into it somehow. Well, I haven’t written a book and doubt that I ever will do so, but today I am placing my Ebenezer stone in the form of a tattoo!

Some reading this might be rather shocked that I am getting a tattoo. I can’t say that I blame you, as I never would have thought that I would get one either! At least not up until several months ago when the idea first sprouted. Once sprouted though, that little idea grew as quickly and pervasively as a weed, but I waited for a special moment to take place before allowing the idea to become reality. That moment was two months ago today, when I deadlifted 303.1 pounds, more than double my bodyweight.

This entire blog is a chronicle of my journey to know and love myself; however, even though I’ve had this blog for six years, the greatest growth has only been achieved over the past three years. Without a doubt, the catalyst for this was when I started training at Progressive Fitness, but I know that this journey, this growth and change, has not come without the Lord’s help. In ways big and small, God has been guiding, shaping, changing, and loving me. When I didn’t love myself, He did. When I doubted that I could ever change, He knew I could and He placed people in my life who not only believed I could but also had the ability to help me get there. When I felt lost and alone, He was always with me and gave me the most amazing people I am blessed to call my friends. For all the years that I felt useless and incapable, He has given me a passion for something that makes me feel strong and capable. For all the years that I felt invisible and insignificant, He has placed my name in record books and on television screens. Thus far has the Lord helped me!

So the idea for this tattoo took shape in my head and heart, and I am so excited!

First, there is a barbell, because training and lifting weights has been such an integral part of this journey. In the gym was where I first truly began to believe in myself and discovered the depths of my character. My husband had told me for years that I needed to do more than just run, but I was scared of weights. What a flip! Now I don’t/can’t run, but I absolutely love lifting weights. I’ve lost excess weight, I’ve improved my health and fitness, I’ve gained self-confidence and inner strength, and all that is the result of my time at Progressive Fitness, training with Michael.

Secondly, the weight on the barbell represents the 137.5 kg or 303.1 pounds that I deadlifted two months ago. How many non-strength sports women do you know who can pick up more than double their bodyweight from the floor? Three years ago, I would never have believed that I could ever do that. I probably wouldn’t even have truly believed it at the time of my first powerlifting competition two years ago. Lifting that weight two months ago was such a powerful experience. Without a doubt, my strength will not stagnate at that weight. I will lift more in the future, but that first time lifting more than 300 pounds, more than twice what I weighed…well, that’s simply momentous.

Finally, there is Ebenezer, because this is my Ebenezer stone. I am here, in this place, because the Lord has helped me get to this point. He will also continue to help me. This journey is not finished yet.

 

Becoming Herself

“She was becoming herself and daily casting aside the fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world.” ~Kate Chopin, The Awakening

There is danger in cloaking ourselves with a fictitious self, but this danger is not easily discerned, especially not by ourselves and not while we are comfortable with our disguise. The danger lies in the fact that we will get to the point where we no longer recognize our true nature. We believe that we are the costume we wear.

The problem with assuming a garment that doesn’t quite fit is that the seams rub against our skin. It chafes and itches. We are constantly tugging at sleeves not quite long enough and pulling up pant legs so long that we trip over them. Have you ever tried wearing clothes that don’t quite fit? Besides being uncomfortable to wear, clothes that don’t fit properly simply don’t look flattering. The same is true with our make-believe garments. No matter how much we think we can hide inside them, we can never be comfortable in them and we will never look quite right to others.

Oh sure, there will be plenty of people fooled by our costumes! We can probably fool the strangers we smile at on the street or the cashier at the grocery store. We can fool a good number of people most of the time, but we cannot fool everyone. The people who want to know us will not be fooled so easily, even if they are much too polite to tell us the truth.

I know from experience how difficult it can be to cast aside the costume. If you read this blog, then you are most likely aware that the title is Becoming Angela. The entire purpose of this blog is about this journey of mine, of becoming myself. This quote is my quote…well, not actually my quote, but you know what I mean, right? This is my story. This is the how and the why behind the casting aside of my fictitious self.

One thing I can tell you…this is a daily challenge. This becoming is a continuous process. I have yet to wake up to discover that I have arrived at that perfect place of knowing and being exactly who I am. I am not the same person as I was a few years ago. I’m sure that those who know me well can attest to that. This real me has always been inside…it was just hidden beneath layers of costumes that I thought, rather mistakenly, would make me someone worth knowing, worth caring about. I wish I could say that I have shed all my layers of unnecessary garments, but I know that I haven’t. It’s a journey and I’m taking it one day at a time.