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.

The F Word

My husband needs a new hip. In fact, he is tentatively scheduled for hip replacement surgery for next Monday. I say ‘tentatively’, because he was originally scheduled for last Friday…until he was bumped. Even though he is now a week out from surgery, there is always the potential for being bumped again. I sure hope that doesn’t happen for several reasons, but mainly for his own health & well-being and then so that he might be recovered enough to come to Provincials with me. It’s more important for my husband to get his new hip in order to get back to living without the pain and physical limitations he’s lived with for the past several years, but I’d be presented with a bunch of logistical complications if he weren’t able to come to Provincials. But I can’t worry about those details yet!

I had a chiropractic appointment about an hour ago, and I was in a fair bit of pain once again. The pain drags frustration and despair along with it. My face was long as I stood in the waiting room (standing because I cannot sit), and my gaze was boring a hole in the floor in an effort to keep tears at bay. Has there ever been a time that my chiropractor hasn’t made me laugh when I’ve been in the depths of despair? I don’t think so! As he pushed and poked and determined that the left SI joint was the problem more than the disc, he made a comment about me never being as f’ed up as I think I am. I laughed. Even now, replaying the comment puts a smile on my face and makes my heart feel a few pounds lighter, despite the fact that the SI joint is seriously throbbing.

Since the end of January, I have had an SI joint problem on the right side, a disc problem, and now the left SI joint problem. The pain has ebbed and flowed in intensity and in triggers, but pain has been present every day since the end of January. Quite frankly, my dear, I’m sick of it! I want it gone. I want to get back to being able to do whatever I want to do without pain. Like seriously…tying my shoes? Eating dinner at the dining room table instead of while laying on the floor? It shouldn’t hurt to put on shoes or sit for more than a few minutes. Anything and everything that I have been told to do to help the SI joints or the disc, I have done. When it comes to rehabbing, I am one of the most consistent and committed patients around. I want to be healthy and mobile and active. Being in constant pain sucks. Not being able to move your body the way you want to sucks. I’ve been living the past three months in pain, frustration, and restriction, and I do not like it one bit.

Perspective is important though. I’ve been living in pain for three months. My husband has been living in pain for more years than I can even accurately recall. He needs a new hip. While I might wish I had a different back in this moment, the truth is that I am not as f’ed up as I think I am. Discs heal. The SI joint will heal. One day this will be a memory. These past months will be footnotes in my scrapbook, challenges that I have overcome.

Today’s training session wasn’t all that I hoped it would be; however, despite the pain I experienced in the process, Michael said it was still a decent session.

1a. squats-low bar, with sleeves

45 lbs x 8, 95 x 5

with belt: 135 x 5, 155 x 5, 175 x 5, 175 x 5, 175 x 5

The back started to feel quite achy when I started at 175 pounds. I think my bar path was generally good and consistent. Bar speed might have slowed a bit on various reps in the final two sets due to the back not being too happy with me.

1b. bench press-competition grip, last rep paused

43 lbs x 10, 73 x 6, 93 x 5, 110 x 5

Then Michael decided to stay at the same weight but slow the eccentric to about 3 seconds.

110 lbs x 4, 110 x 5, 110 x 5

The first set with the slow eccentric felt a bit tough, but the following sets were better.

2a. Frankenstein squats

93 lbs x 8, 113 x 7

These were less bothersome on the back but very chokey on the throat.

2b. flat dumbbell presses-for speed, touch and go

25 lbs x 25, 25 lbs x 22

The second set was done with my feet on the bench, because the back was not happy with arching. My chiropractor thinks the left SI joint might be cranky, because I recently resumed arching during bench presses after not arching for most of the past three months. Sometimes it feels like I just can’t catch a break…

But at least I’m not f’ed up!

The Perfect Storm

With the exception of momentary glimpses of sunshine, I have been grumpy for days. Most people probably wouldn’t even know it without me saying so, because I am pretty good at putting on the happy face mask in public and I don’t remove that mask for very many people. Even if I do comment on my grumpiness, the true depth of it is simply not on display. In public. Unfortunately, my family sees much more of my grumpiness than anyone else. I feel bad about that fact, at least when my family isn’t directly the cause of my black mood. Unfortunately for them, they often are! I still love them. I do get over it eventually, but it doesn’t slide off as quickly or easily as my annoyance with say a bad driver or an inconsiderate shopper blocking the aisle. Mostly I just bottle it up.

I like to think that I am generally a fairly steady and easy-going person who is able to bounce back quickly, so for me to linger in a grumpy state usually requires a combination of ingredients to create that perfect storm.

Inadequate sleep. Pain. Frustration. Poor eating habits. Being disrespected. Being ignored. Being taken for granted. Feeling disconnected. Being treated like a child. Talked to like a child. Lack of help around the house. Complaints about lack of food or what has been prepared. The “I can’t help with ____, because I’m studying” excuses. Lack of sunshine. There are dozen things that can collide and send my mood spiraling out of control. It seems to be cyclical yet without a constant rhythm.

When I ask my grown children to help me out by considering meals that they could prepare and I ask for feedback on days that would work best for them to help…I am saying that I want some help. I know you work and/or go to school and have a social life. Guess what? I do, too! I’m not asking for you to do all the work; I’m asking for a little more help and a little less complaining.

When I make comments about the lack of help with housework, I am being completely honest. My husband does wash the dishes. Mostly and most of them. Most of my kids are capable of doing laundry and will do a load now and then. My daughter will take care of the litter box, after she’s been reminded and nagged about a dozen times. One son will sweep the bathroom floor if I am doing laundry and have shaken out the bathmat before putting it in the wash and he is taking a shower before I get back to the bathroom. Judging by his vehemence in claiming that he cleans the bathroom, I’d say that sweeping that teeny bit of floor constitutes cleaning the entire bathroom. Just like cleaning the kitchen is as simple as piling all the dirty dishes in one spot on the counter and maybe putting a few things back into the cupboards. Can you hear my dripping sarcasm through the screen?

I don’t expect to have a perfect looking home, but I am so weary of every room, every space being treated like a dumping ground for everyone’s junk. I don’t have the energy or motivation to do basic housework, like vacuuming or dusting, because I’d first have to pick up and remove everyone’s stuff. My desire to purge clutter sputters and dies, because where do I begin when the clutter is everywhere! How can I scrape up any enthusiasm for meal planning and preparation when 2 or 3 will turn up their noses and complain? Or when I do put in the effort to plan and make a meal only to have no one home to eat it or to have it go mostly uneaten and wasted? I hate, like really hate, having my time and energy wasted.

I stopped in at Chapters this morning in search of a cookbook to help me in my current food struggles. I didn’t have any book specifically in mind, but I wanted something that would have simple, healthy meals that could be prepared quickly and by anyone. While I did find several that met my requirements, I flipped through the pages and felt only a growing sense of impending failure. Every single book went back on the shelf, and I walked out without a purchase. I have lots of cookbooks at home. A new cookbook isn’t going to help me succeed in meal planning, because there isn’t a cookbook anywhere that addresses my actual challenges. Picky eaters. Variable schedules. Lack of willing helpers. I have tons of recipes. Big deal. Lots of recipes mean nothing if the food goes uneaten. I don’t need another cookbook. Somehow that truth only makes me feel more defeated.

Escape Artists

Tomorrow is my husband’s birthday. We celebrated today by going to Exit, one of those places where you need to solve a bunch of clues to escape through a series of rooms. We being myself, my husband, our daughter and two sons, and our youngest son’s girlfriend. With the exception of my daughter, this was the first time any of the rest of us had been to Exit. I’m not sure what my husband’s expectations were, but I know that I wanted to succeed. Really, I do not like to lose. At anything!

I am competitive. I always want to win. All the time. Every time. However, I have the ability to be a gracious loser, and I am always thrilled by an exciting game/competition regardless of the final outcome. I am okay with losing, if such is the case, but I always want to win. Even if it is just a card/board game with the family or a powerlifting competition.

The challenge of Exit was so much fun. It did take a little while to acclimate to the method of the puzzles, but we all were able to contribute in one way or another. The closer we got to the final door, the more we wanted to be successful. With only a couple of minutes left, we were ever so close. We were reasonably certain that we had the final numbers required for the final lock, but we were striking out with every entry of the combination. Then, with five seconds left before our time ran out, Casey entered a series of numbers, which he can no longer even recall. The light on the lock turned green and the door opened. We made it! I hate to lose. My kids must take after me, because they all felt the same way. 🙂

We went out for dinner after and enjoyed some good food and many laughs. I think it was a good day. It isn’t often that the entire family is able to get together for a meal, let alone some sort of fun activity, so I’m glad we could do all of that today.

Superhero Sunday

“Children aren’t coloring books. You don’t get to fill them with your favorite colors.” ~Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

A superhero was at my church this morning.  As I stood singing with the rest of the congregation, I saw Batman walk up the stairs to the balcony and make his way to the pew where his mother was located. Yes, Batman was a young boy completely decked out in muscle-bound costume and mask. My daughter and I shared smiles and the unspoken acknowledgement that someone was parenting well.

I don’t know the circumstances leading to this child’s attire this morning. I don’t know if there was a battle of wills between parent and child over what was appropriate to wear to church. I have no idea if mom embraced the decision, surrendered authority after a struggle, or merely decided that there was no point in engaging in battle on this point. As a parent, I’ve experienced each of those scenarios many times. I’ve let my 3 year old leave the house wearing only a jacket and underwear on a November day, because he refused to put on pants. Of course, I brought a pair of pants along with us, knowing that he would change his mind later. I stopped trying to insist that my oldest child wear pants in the winter many years ago, because he was old enough to make his own decisions and to live with the consequences. I still cannot make him wear pants (he does wear shorts!). When it came to food, I’ve covered all of the parenting bases.

Parenting can be a tough job, and parents often feel as if they make a million mistakes. We tend to think that our children are a reflection of ourselves, and our value will be judged by others based on how our children look and behave. Perhaps there is some truth in that. Our children often do reflect our attitudes and behaviour as parents. As parents, we try to instill our values and morals and heritage into our children. We have hopes and dreams for them, and sometimes we forget that those dreams may not be the same as the ones our children strive after. A wise parent knows how to support and encourage and love their child, even when there is a difference in belief, opinion, or dream. Or the outfit for the day!


23 Years

Tomorrow my firstborn will celebrate his 23rd birthday. Earlier today my daughter asked me how old I felt having a child turn 23 to which I responded that I felt like I was 23. Of course, she said that was impossible, that at minimum I would have to be 39.

One thing that doesn’t seem to change with the passing of the years is the parental worry that you’re doing a good job. Will there ever come a time when I stop thinking that I’m completely botching the job of being a parent? All of my children are essentially adults now, but they will always be my children. I will always love them, worry over them, pray for them, encourage and support them, cheer them on and hope the best for them…and always wonder if I’ve made too many mistakes along the way.

Sam takes after me much more than he does his father. He is most definitely an introvert, which means that his extroverted father doesn’t always understand him or how he ticks.

Sam is one of the pickiest eaters I know, and it isn’t always easy to understand the ways his palate changes. As a young child he would eat a lot of things, but many of those things will never touch his lips now. I could understand growing to enjoy things later in life, because I don’t mind eating some things now that I didn’t like as a child. But Sam’s food likes have diminished with the years. His idea of the four food groups is Subway, pizza, spaghetti and tacos. We’re having tacos tonight to celebrate his birthday, because tomorrow is a busy day.

Sam is passionate about hockey. He likes a variety of sports, but his main focus is hockey even though he no longer plays it. I miss watching him play hockey and baseball and tennis. He still plays racquetball, but we don’t often get the opportunity to watch. Sam has a natural athleticism and rhythm.

Sam doesn’t always say very much, but it is impossible to get him to do something that he does not want to do. Trust me! We’ve tried. Peer pressure doesn’t work on Sam, and I suppose that is a good thing.

He might deny it and there are times when we might not see it, but Sam can be very thoughtful. He has always put a good deal of thought into choosing his Christmas gifts. Getting him to give me a hug might be almost impossible, but I see his love in his thoughtfulness and generosity at Christmas. He likes to think that he’s tough, but he’s really a big softy.

Happy birthday, Samuel! I’m going to do my best to force you to let me give you a hug tonight and again tomorrow. Can I hold your Dairy Queen ice cream cake hostage until you do? And it isn’t creepy at all that I come into your room every night while you are sleeping, pick you up and rock you as I sing a song about how I love you forever. Every parent does that, right?

Pasta & Fruit Loops

It feels like it has been a long day already, and it is only 6:30 PM. Tomorrow will undoubtedly be a much longer day, figuratively and literally, but I’m content to let tomorrow take care of itself.

We left town sometime after 10:00 this morning and arrived at our hotel shortly after 2:00 this afternoon. After checking in and grabbing a coffee, we went to the competition venue to familiarize ourselves with the route and to watch a little bit of lifting. The venue looks great, and it is barely a 7 minute drive from the hotel. As we sat and watched some deadlifts, I felt nervous energy begin to flutter inside, but it was good nervous energy! I love competing, and I think I can finally say that I am ready, mentally and physically.

As we were preparing to leave home this morning, I made two of my children give me a hug and wish me luck. My youngest son had the perfect response to my request. He said, “Don’t be ridiculous, Mother! You’re going to do just fine!” And really, I think that is one of the nicest, most encouraging things he has ever said to me in regards to any of my competitions. I will take it and run with it.

We’re back at the hotel now, having gorged on pasta at The Olive Garden. I don’t always eat a lot of pasta, but I virtually cleaned my plate tonight. Of course, I didn’t really eat much today, but don’t tell my coach! I had breakfast, then a muffin on the road, but I’m not often hungry while travelling either. And, although I do not have a bowl, spoon or milk, I do have a fun-sized box of Fruit Loops (actually 2), because Fruit Loops is my pre-competition tradition and I wouldn’t want to mess with that. No, I am not superstitious. I just like Fruit Loops! 😉