Why Write?

 

“Just write,” she said.

I wrote

Set free from expectation

Pen to paper,

An empty sheet of white.

Slowly, hesitantly

Like a mouse

Nibbling cheese from a trap.

The spring has sprung!

I’m trapped, ensnared

In words and thoughts

And emotions;

Spilling from my heart

Onto the page,

Once white, no more.

Now colour-streaked

In shades of pain,

Sorrow, joy

And exploration.

~Me! May 2005~

The other day I was asked why I write.

“Why do I write?” I echoed, as my mind rapidly flashed back to a slightly similar yet decidedly different question that was thrown at me several months ago. On that occasion, the question had been more of an accusation than an inquisitive interest. Although I was never given specific examples, the insinuation was that my writing was somehow inappropriate. “Why would you write that?!” Well, this is my journey, my thoughts, my experiences. This is about me!

So much of that conversation was confusing and odd and potentially destructive. Here and now, I don’t understand what happened there any better than I did then, except that I know myself and I know what I have or have not written. I know that I am not at fault in that situation, but that doesn’t stop me from wondering, from time to time, how someone could twist my words into something else completely. But this blog post isn’t about that old conversation, even if the more recent question about my writing brought it to mind.

Why do I write?

I think I have always loved writing. While I may never have enjoyed the more technical aspects of my high school English classes, like grammar and punctuation, I always looked forward to the creative writing parts of class. For my two years of high school in Saskatchewan (before moving to British Columbia for my final year), I was part of a school club which published a collection of student writing every year. I still have my copies. Although I don’t have many of the writings I did for class, I do still have many of the poems that I wrote in my youth inside a manila folder in my bedside table.

As an introvert, my ability to open my mouth and have cohesive thoughts spill out is practically an impossibility. My reality is that I have amazing and wonderful thoughts. I open my mouth and out comes…nothing. Or jumbled up thoughts that are completely unrecognizable from the thoughts inside my head. My inability to speak increases among strangers or in high stakes situations. Like many introverts, I require time and space to think and process before speaking. Writing allows me to do that and makes me feel as if I actually do have a voice.

Writing is how I make sense of my world and myself. It is how I process my thoughts and feelings. Some things I share on my blog, while some writings are kept for myself in a journal. I write, because I must. I know my grammar is terrible and my punctuation shoddy. I know there are thousands of writers with more talent and interesting content than me. It doesn’t matter. Not to me. I don’t write for the purpose of attracting readers or followers. I don’t write for fame or fortune or even acknowledgement. I write for myself. One thing I’ve discovered over the past few years is that writing for myself in a public forum such as a blog allows my voice to resonate within others. And obviously, writing in a public manner also opens me up to being misunderstood and maligned.

So be it.

Most of all, I write for myself.

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Vulnerable

“Vulnerability allows people to love you for who you really are, not just for how things look on the surface.” ~?

I have mentally written numerous versions of this blog post over the past several weeks. Sometimes I’ve even begun typing, but I would eventually pause and consider and delete. Despite having many thoughts that I was wanting to express, I found myself hesitating. In conversation with my husband, I described my reluctance as “circling the wagons.” A friendship ended and the emotion and words directed to me were confusing, ugly, hateful, and completely misguided. I may never truly know what happened there, but I am at peace with myself, knowing that I did nothing wrong. My peace in this situation flows from knowing my character and who I am and my confidence in knowing that I am loved and valued. My peace and awareness of my character has protected me from the heartbreak of rejection and the anger of having my character maligned. There will always be a measure of grief for the loss, especially when memory is jostled by photographs, objects of significance, and reminders of shared experiences; however, this sense of grief has no sting or pain. I suppose there is the sense that this is not my loss. If someone chooses to paint me as something I am not, then why should I be hurt by the loss of that relationship?

That is where I am at and how I feel. It is water under the bridge, flowing swiftly far away. And yet, I still often feel this hesitation to be myself, to express myself freely on my own blog. Someone has twisted my words from innocence into ugly. Someone has put words into my mouth that I have not said or written. Even though I know the truth, I subconsciously find myself closing the curtains across my heart. Many times on my blog I have allowed myself to be vulnerable, which is not always an easy thing to be and definitely goes against my natural inclinations, but being vulnerable is an important part of being real. I am not a complicated person. My life is mostly quite ordinary. While I may not be the chattiest, most out-going person you might meet in real life and it might take some time and effort to get to know me, ultimately I don’t think I’m all that different once you crack the surface. And yet, I was harshly rejected by someone who had seen me below the surface. How is it that I can be so calm and at peace about what happened, while still being subtly afraid of being vulnerable again?

 

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.