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.

Pulling Weeds

I’ll be honest…my head is lost in thoughts and emotions that I am trying to process and work through. It will be okay in the end. I will be okay. Sometimes you just take an unexpected hit. Even when you ultimately know that the hit hasn’t harmed you, there is still a sting and rush of emotion. In situations like this I tend to not say much for a couple of reasons, but the main one being that I simply need time and space to process. Another reason is that I realize how volatile and deceptive emotions can be in the moment. I’m currently cycling through several feelings and thoughts, but I know that not all of them are true in this situation. I don’t want to respond or react from a false position. That wouldn’t be fair to anyone else, and it wouldn’t be fair to me. Part of my eternal struggle is with self-confidence and self-image, and the unexpected hits, both harmless and barbed, flood me with all sorts of negative thoughts about myself. I’ve come far enough in this journey to realize that not all of those negative thoughts are true or accurate. Some of those feelings can help me grow and be better. They can be used to my advantage; however, a great many of those feelings simply need to be discarded, since they only tear me down. But in the moment it isn’t always easy to sift through those thoughts and feelings. Even when I allow myself the time and space to work through them, those feelings and thoughts are insidious and quick to plant deep roots. Pulling each negative thought out is hard, emotional work. This is my thing. It has nothing to do with training or work or anything really, at least nothing that I am going to share. Sometimes I withdraw into myself, so if the blog posts become a little sparse or robotic for a time, that’s why. Or I’m just busy with life.

But anyway…

1a. snatch grip block pulls

45 lbs x 10, 95 x 8, 125 x 8, 145 x 8, 145 x 8

1b. double kettlebell bench presses

10kg x 12, 12kg x 10, 16kg x 10, 16kg x 10

1c. sit ups on the GHD

x 10, x 8, x 10, x 8

This was my first time doing sit ups in a very long time.

2a. single leg deadlifts holding 2-10kg kettlebells

x 10 each leg

2 sets of 20 alternating legs which was much easier for my balance

2b. single arm kettlebell row

16kg x 15 each, x 12 each, x 10 each

2c. renegade rows with 10 lb dumbbells

x 10, x 14, x 12

3. a 5 minute circuit

every minute on the minute: 5 pushups and then kettlebell swings (15, 12, 10, 10, 10)

Exposure

At one point yesterday, I logged onto Facebook and received notification that I had been tagged in a post by my chiropractor/friend. I clicked on the notification to see what I had been tagged in and quickly found my eyes bugging out and my jaw dropped to the floor. My chiropractor had shared a blog post of mine and offered up a little commentary of his own to go with it. I was caught off guard, surprised, and instantly uncomfortable in the spotlight. Isn’t that a funny reaction! I’ve had a public blog for years, so why should I react in such a manner when someone else shares it?

I can answer that question easily enough. For all that I am perfectly okay with exposing myself on my blog, I still tend to assume that virtually no one reads it. The blog hosting site has tracking features which allow me to see how many people actually do read my blog and the countries they are from, so I know that any given day will have been seen by anywhere from 1 to 60+ people. What I don’t know is who these people actually are. Are they people I know in real life, or are they complete strangers? I think I can be confident in knowing that a viewer from Romania is NOT someone I know in real life; however, the typical bunch of American/Canadian viewers could potentially be people I know. I just never assume that they do. I’m not sure why I assume that. Maybe it’s just easier that way. Maybe I just don’t get a lot of feedback from those who do know me, so I assume they don’t read my blog. Whatever the case…it doesn’t matter. I don’t blog for the sole purpose of being read and commented on. I do this for myself, like a journal, one that just so happens to be laid out for others to read if they choose.

And yet, for all that I assume no one I know reads my blog, I still feel a moment of embarrassment or panic when I realize that someone I know actually has read it. This is what I experienced yesterday, when I realized that Ben had shared my post. Ben has far more Facebook friends than I do, which means that the potential exposure was slightly overwhelming. Ben is infinitely smarter and more educated than I am. Why would he ever share my little post? Quite honestly, when I shared my blog post with Ben, I wasn’t even sure that he would read it. He promptly disabused me of that belief, but I’m still half-surprised that he read it. My blog is not anything special. It is just me, revealing myself, trying to be honest and real in a world that isn’t fond of either quality.

This is not the first time that my chiropractor has done something similar to me. Indeed, nearly two years ago, he made a Facebook post congratulating me on my success at a competition and the journey I had made thus far to change myself. His post made me cry, and I appreciated his kind words. However, a day or two later I received a message from a local television station about being interviewed for a segment. That was both an intensely petrifying and oddly empowering experience, and I blame it all on Ben. But can I really blame him?

He might be more than a decade younger than me, but I’d be proud to grow up to be half the person he is! I admire him, because he is a real person. I am drawn to honest, real people like moths to a flame. I value realness. I want to be seen as a real person. Known as a real person. I’ve lived a lifetime wearing masks to make others happy and comfortable, all the while I’ve chafed under the mask and afraid of being revealed as a fraud. I am no longer content to be someone I am not. Becoming Angela means that I am striving to be myself without hiding behind masks. Sometimes I still hide behind a mask, for my own comfort or yours, but I am trying to keep the masks off.

“In a world where everyone wears a mask, it’s a privilege to see a soul.” ~?

Today, I am not freaked out about the fact my chiropractor shared my post. There’s been a small increase in viewings of that particular post, but so what. Why should I feel fear or embarrassment or anxiety over the fact that someone thought my blog post was worth sharing? Wouldn’t the more natural response be a measure of pride? Or at least a sense of validation or encouragement? Okay, so I won’t likely ever feel pride in such a situation, but there’s no reason for me to react negatively. I am just me. I can only be me!

From Good to Bad in 60 Seconds

“So, if you are too tired to speak, sit next to me, because I, too, am fluent in silence.” ~R. Arnold

My mouth is reluctant to produce speech tonight, but it isn’t due to the fatigue I currently feel from being up early for an open shift or having only the caffeine from a double tall latte. I am sitting here, mostly silent, because my mood is cranky and dark. Simmering. Bubbling.

Most of the day was rather good. I had a good morning at work, attended an interesting meeting, had supper cooking in the crockpot, had a good appointment with my chiropractor…then I came home and a headache began to creep up my skull.

The reasons for the black mood don’t matter much, except to me, but my mood grew blacker still as I listened to the prattle going on around me. What I wanted was silence. What I got was noise, criticism, and condescension. That’s a combination that is almost guaranteed to ruffle my feathers and put my mood into a perilous nosedive. Actually, now I’m swiping at tears.

I could say so much, but then I’d likely be made to feel chastised like a wayward child all the more. I know that my blog is of little importance. I know that, while my blog has 1700+ followers, it is regularly read by only a handful of people. I get it. I am okay with it. But it stings something fierce to be questioned and criticized for what I share in my blog, especially when the questioning comes from someone very close, from someone who chooses not to read my blog, who seems to have no interest in understanding the context or purpose. In real life, I am not an open book. I will listen more than I speak. I keep my deepest thoughts and feelings as tightly locked up as possible, and I don’t hand out keys to those treasures very often. A person could know me for years without ever truly knowing what I’m thinking or feeling or what makes me tick beyond the surface. On my blog, I am more open, more honest, more reachable. It is easier for me to write words than to speak them. Still, even in my blog, there is a veil which separates the public projections from the private. I don’t share everything, and for good reason. When I do choose to share something, I’ve got reasons for that, too.

I want to be able to laugh at myself. I want to be real about this journey that I am on. I want to see silver linings more than I want to see storm clouds. I want to see my progress. I want to encourage others. I want to be known and understood. Maybe even sometimes I am just proud of what I have accomplished or how far I’ve come. Sometimes I just need the reminder that I am okay, that I can do it, that I’m enough.

So, when someone important to me asks, “Why would you post that picture on Facebook?!” in such a tone as to imply that I had done something horrifying and shameful…well, it crushes my heart and fans the flames of fury. It is all the more upsetting knowing that the question was spoken out of ignorance, which flows out of the refusal to take the time or make the effort to read the words that accompanied the photo. My blog post explained the photo. If you want to question why I do something concerning Facebook or my blog, at least do me the courtesy of actually reading my post first. If you still don’t understand, then we can talk about it further, but I honestly don’t think it’s all that complicated.

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

I’ve written about my theme and some goals for the new year, but I haven’t really recapped 2016. My original intention wasn’t to review 2016 at all. I usually do it, so I’m not entirely certain why I was hesitant this time. However, I’ve been thinking a fair bit about the past 366 days, because it seems like many people are lamenting 2016, happy to see it end, feeling devastated by losses. The celebrity world has lost quite a few talents this year, and this is a big part of the angst towards 2016. I understand the sense of loss when a beloved celebrity dies. We do get rather attached to our rock stars and actors. I feel the losses, too. Some more than others based upon my own level of connection, of course. As a Star Wars fan girl, the recent passing of Carrie Fisher saddens me more than the passing of a talented musician like David Bowie. But I don’t quite hold to the popular opinion that 2016 has been an absolutely brutal, horrible year based on the famous names we said good-bye to.

Death is a part of life. Countless numbers of people pass away every day of the year, most without fanfare and mourned by relatively few. Loss affects us all differently. We grieve differently, and that’s okay. Personally, I can’t judge a year based on the life or death of a celebrity, no matter how sad the loss may be, especially not when old age comes into play. The unexpected premature deaths, while harder to swallow, still cannot form the foundation of my contentment with my own life. As I’ve been thinking about all these things and hearing so many complain about how terrible this year has been, I realized that I kind of do need to recap my year, because I think I had a rather good one.

Some of the goals I achieved this year:

  • multiple unassisted chin ups (I did 2 from a dead hang)
  • multiple unassisted dips
  • broke 2 of my 100% RAW National records (squat and total)
  • set a Class 1 RAW total
  • broke my own BCPA Provincial records (squat 2x and total)
  • broke BCPA Provincial records (bench and deadlift)
  • competed 3 times
  • tried sushi for the first time
  • competed at Western Canadians
  • successfully cut weight to 148 pounds for my May competition (without killing anyone)
  • had a 250 pound squat
  • deadlifted twice my bodyweight (303 lbs)
  • got a tattoo
  • won my age/weight class at Westerns

While I could never have foreseen at the start of the year, 2016 also presented me with the opportunity to make a big change by leaving my comfortable and familiar job of 11 years for something slightly different. That has been a good change, even though it has also disrupted my normal routine. My stress level has decreased, my inner peace and happiness have increased. There is very little for me to rant about when I get home from work.

Each of my three powerlifting competitions was special in some way. My goal to compete 3 times was a little ambitious, especially since they would be crammed between mid-May and Mid-August. That kind of competition schedule isn’t ideal at all, but my coach is smart with my training and I was determined. My focus was sharp leading up to the first competition, and I hoped to break a World record. I fell short on the World record, but I still had that double bodyweight deadlift. That was also the first time I’ve had to truly earn my age/weight class win, and it was only by 5 kilograms! As I approached Provincials in June, I found myself struggling a bit to stay as intensely focused. I had goals, but a sliver of doubt had also slipped its way under my skin as is often the case when I expect to squat a weight I have never tested before. I made the squat and missed my final deadlift. The weeks between Provincials and Westerns were tough ones emotionally, as good friends experienced heart-breaking tragedy. The loss wasn’t mine, but I was not unscathed. I am fairly certain that I will feel the sharp shards of that trauma for a long, long time. At the time I didn’t know how I should feel or if that was even appropriate. Quite honestly, I still don’t know. It’s something that I haven’t talked or blogged about for several reasons, but mostly because it just feels wrong to consider myself. So I keep that private between me and God, but the summer was an internal mess. To add to the inner turmoil heading into Westerns, I was also going to be competing without my coach at my side. That was a scary prospect and unfamiliar territory. I doubted my ability to perform well without my coach there to manage my attempts, give me advice, cheer me on and slap my back. My 18 year old daughter ended up being my coach for the day, and while she couldn’t assist me the same way that my coach could, she did a good job. I had a bit of frustration with my final bench press attempt, but I broke records in every other category and won my class. Despite the quick turn-around between competitions and the roller-coaster of emotions, I performed well and have no reason to feel anything but pride.

My daughter graduated from high school in the spring. My baby! I rolled my eyes quite often at the prospect of all the preparations for prom, but I loved every moment.

This is taking much too long to write, and I am sure to have missed highlights here and there; however, I think I’ve touched on enough to provide illustrations for my year. It wasn’t perfect or without trouble, but it was mostly a good year. That is how I choose to look at it.

Body Works

I’ve started typing and then deleted at least three times already. Over the weekend I had nothing to say, and now I have several threads of thought that I am suddenly reluctant to tug on. It’s not as if the content is too controversial or too personal or too much of anything, except that it might require too much thought and mental effort on my part, more than I have to give tonight.

Despite the fact that I made sure not to sleep on my right side, in order to spare my shoulder more discomfort, I think I slept reasonably well last night. Better than the night before certainly. I woke up feeling okay. I went to work and discovered that my brain really wasn’t with me. My reflexes were slow. My thought processes were slow. DOMS was gradually settling into my chest, shoulders, quads, and hips. Then a headache grabbed hold of my head like a vise. And then, almost my entire body began to feel out of sorts. From my head to my pelvis, my bones just felt wrong. I was ever so glad that I had an appointment with my chiropractor this afternoon, and time could not move fast enough.

My appointment went about as well as it possibly could. I like my chiropractor, even when he pokes and prods the super tender spots in my shoulder and continues to do so as I grimace and cringe. And he wonders why I have a difficult time relaxing my muscles when he’s working on me!

My shoulder is now a lovely shade of mottled red from the Graston technique he employed. It is extremely tender, which makes me so glad that I don’t have do my own digging into it until tomorrow, because that is now part of my homework!

Wednesday Wiped Out

It is 7:00 in the evening as I am finally able to sit down to blog. I finished work a half hour ago. A great portion of my shift was chaotic, and so my body is feeling exhausted and beat up. I am looking forward to crawling into bed…after I blog, eat, gather my gym gear for tomorrow, assemble my stuff for work in the morning, and decompress a bit…as quickly as possible since my alarm will go off before 5AM.

1a. overhead squats

43 lbs x 6, 63 x 8, 70 x 8

2a. skater squats, holding 5 lb dumbbells

with 2 mats x 10 each leg, with 1 mat x 10 each leg

Ironically, the left leg was stronger and more stable.

2b. bottoms up kettlebell presses

8kg x 10 each, 10kg x 3 left + 4 right + 8kg x 4 each

And predictably the left arm was weaker.

3a. deadlifts with mini red bands

95 lbs x 8, 135 x 8, 165 x 8, 185 x 7

The purpose here, I think, was to work at bringing my hips to the bar, because that is something that I am not so great at doing apparently. You can see a video of my final set at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBFshqQSIeo  (for some reason wordpress isn’t letting me create hyperlinks)

3b. dips

with blue band: x 8, x 8, x 3 + 5 with red band

with red band: x 5

4a. good mornings with a small green band at hip height

45 lbs x 15, 85 lbs x 14

4b. chin ups (how did those get in there?)

large green band x 10

purple band x 7

4c. lying dumbbell extensions

15 lbs x 10, 20 lbs x 8? + 15 lbs x 2

Surprisingly, the right arm was lagging behind during the final set.

The banded good mornings were to work one of my weaknesses. I’m pretty sure that it has to do with getting my hips to the bar quickly. I didn’t mind the banded good mornings, but Michael made a point of saying that we could drop them and do something else if they weren’t working for me. Hmmmm. I made sure to tell him that chin ups don’t seem to be working for me either, so we can drop them. While I’m sure he laughed, I am equally sure that chin ups will still be in my program next week.