Regret

7. What was your biggest regret and why?

We’re not perfect and we all make mistakes. It’s an uncomfortable truth we don’t like to think about. But facing our failures helps us in positive ways. When we admit and accept our mistakes, we grow. And best of all, we’re less likely to repeat them.

As far as regrets go, I don’t think I have actually held on to very many this year. There have been regrets, of course, like the loss of a friendship. That regret is for the loss rather than a failure or mistake on my part. Despite what the other party might say about the situation, I know that I did nothing wrong. I can mourn the loss of the relationship while not carrying the weight of regret over someone’s decision.

I would have preferred to have not herniated a disc, but it happened. Although it happened at a competition, I don’t regret my training or competing. I don’t regret the efforts it took to break all of those records that day and to set a couple of personal bests. I wish the injury hadn’t happened, but I think I am at the point where I can honestly say that I don’t regret it happening at all. The injury didn’t happen because of a personal failure. It just happened, and I am choosing to embrace it rather than continuing to wallow in misery over it.

I know that I am far from perfect, and I am more than willing to admit my faults. A year is a long time and memories tend to jumble together until the images are distorted. Smaller mistakes and regrets are most likely there, swirling among the debris, but I cannot pull many out for full examination.

However, there is one thing that I do regret and it is an action that I take sole responsibility for. In January, I thought it would be fun to see how long I could sit in a body weight squat. I stopped after 5 minutes, impressed with myself. Everything was fine until about a week later. All of a sudden my lower back hurt while squatting when I had never had back pain while training before. It turned out that my 5 minute squat had made my SI joints quite angry, and thus began many months of pain and suffering. I do regret that, but I learned a lesson. Do not sit in a body weight squat for a long period of time! Through the months of struggles, I was forced to learn other lessons that I might have preferred to avoid if given the chance, but I know I came out of those struggles stronger.

 

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Worry

6. What did you worry about most and how did it turn out?

Worry is an odd thing for me. I tend to carry a lot of figurative weight around on a day-to-day basis, things like worry and stress; however, the weight of such things isn’t always heavy. For example, as a mom I had worries for my son when he traveled to Thailand recently. This was his first time undertaking such a lengthy and distant trip and without the presence of family or a large group. I am not naive about things that can happen when traveling (or at home). Although I did worry for my son’s safety, the worry was not heavy or consuming. I went about life without dread or fear. While I appreciated the bits of contact that my son made with me during his absence, I was not dependent on them to have peace of mind. I held worry in my hands but was at peace with the situation. This is how I respond to stress and worry over many details of life. I can feel the inner disturbance yet quickly regain solid footing. My natural inclination is not chaotic or dramatic but calm and rational. Mostly.

As for worry that weighed heavily upon me, I suppose I can pinpoint two situations.

1. A friendship ended this year. At the time and still to this day, I don’t really understand what happened there. The type of worry that eats away at you only lasted a brief period of time before I reclaimed my peace and solid footing. That short period of anxiety and doubt and worry was horrible, not so much for how it made me feel but for the sense of impending loss. I am often slow to open up to new people and cautious about who I allow into the deeper levels of relationship; however, once someone has been granted access and makes the choice to accept me, I invest in the relationship and value it greatly. When a treasured relationship ends, it hurts. There is confusion and uncertainty. Worry…about so many things! What did I do wrong? What did I say? What didn’t I do right? What didn’t I say? Those questions and doubts can attack with brutality, leaving you bruised, battered, wounded, and forever scarred.

Thankfully, my confidence and knowledge of self has grown stronger over recent years, and I was able to discern truth from fiction and weigh my worries accordingly. The friendship was gone, but I was not destroyed. I think I’m stronger now.

2. The other big worry for 2017 has been and continues to be my back. My back has been through a lot this year. This current disc herniation makes my earlier SI joint problems look like a walk in the park. Tomorrow will be 7 weeks since I herniated my disc. There has been improvements. I even think there continues to be improvements, but they are slow in the coming and not always consistent from day to day or even hour to hour. I am not in screaming, agonizing pain on a scale of 100 out of 10…thank goodness! But there is still pain. Too much standing/walking and the numbness in my left leg/foot increases, pain shoots down both legs, and the back hurts/aches/throbs. When I lie down I can feel the shock of electric currents traveling down both legs. There are moments when I feel almost normal, except for the permanent numbness, but such moments are brief and sporadic. I am so weary of this injury.

In the early stages of the injury, my worry was mild. In my ignorance of what was actually wrong with me, I was still optimistic that I’d be back to normal soon. When I was made aware that I had actually herniated a disc, that little blob of worry transformed into a giant black hole that sucked all the joy, peace, and hope out of me. I was worried, and this worry was heavy. As the days and weeks progressed and my recovery progressed so slowly, that worry began to crush my soul. Knowing that discs will eventually heal wasn’t enough to allay the worry. The lessening of the pain wasn’t enough either. The continued presence of numbness and the later addition of pain and numbness in the other leg only fed the worry I held inside. I’ve cried a lot of tears. The worry has been all encompassing. I’ve been worried about how my injury impacts my ability to do my job to the level that I am accustomed and that I desire to attain. I’ve been worried about how my injury impacts my co-workers who have had to cover my short-comings and my absence. I’ve been worried about my limitations in doing basic, every day stuff around the house. Worried about the limitations in my ability to train at the gym the way that I enjoy most. Worried about my future in powerlifting. Worried about the financial impact of this injury. Stress over the process of applying for a medical leave and employment insurance. The worry about my short-term and long-term health has been heavy. Even the process of seeking medical care is riddled with worry and stress. This worry has taken a heavy toll on me.

I am still dealing with this injury, tripping my way through recovery and medical care, and slogging through the muck of emotional distress. I am still worried, and I do not yet have resolution to this problem. I am still injured. Recovery is still in progress and hazy. There will still be a financial impact for months to come. There is no sneak peek into the future. Uncertainty remains. So does worry.

But the worry is less consuming now and I feel more hopeful than I did a week or two ago. I am far from where I want to be, but I do know how to put one foot in front of the other in order to take a step forward. I know how to work hard to reach my goals. I know what it feels like to struggle, to feel challenged in a task, and to succeed. I know failure, too, but I also know how to pick myself up again. Worry isn’t done with me and my disc and I don’t know how it will turn out yet, but I know I will be okay.

 

Gratitude

The third question on the list for ending your year intentionally is:

What or who is the one thing or person you’re grateful for?

Regardless of what my year has looked like or how I feel about it, I am always grateful for the people in my life and I have long been in the habit of expressing gratitude for things, big and small, on a daily basis. Thankfulness is part of who I am, and I could go on for days expressing all that I am grateful for over the course of the year.

To choose one thing or person is a difficult task, so I am going to approach it as a group result. Have you ever watched a boxing match? When the bell rings to signal the end of a round, the boxers go to their corners where they are tended to, coached, supported and encouraged. Cuts are tended. Sweat is wiped away. Water is provided. The boxer has people in his corner. I am not a boxer, but I know what it is like to have that kind of support and I am grateful for all of it.

1. My husband! He lets me do all these crazy things and willingly spends countless hours at my competition, most of which is just waiting for my turn to lift. He cheers me on, encourages me, and takes video for me. He has been at 8 of my 9 competitions, missing out on one only because he was still recovering from hip replacement surgery. It was odd not having him at Provincials this year, and I know that I felt the loss of emotional support when that competition didn’t go as well as I had hoped. I am glad that he was there at my most recent competition. When I broke the World record for my squat and emotion was bursting out of me, being wrapped in his arms was a wonderful feeling. Now that I am injured, he is still supportive. He encourages me when I feel troubled by worry and despair. He has my back. He loves me.

2. My chiropractor! I visit my chiropractor with some regularity as I put my body through a lot. He helps keep my body functioning as well as it possibly can, but he doesn’t just twist and crunch me. He seldom fixes me up without also giving me practical skills and advice to help keep my body working well. On occasion, I am also blessed to receive words of wisdom or encouragement that nourish my spirit and soul. In my eyes, my chiropractor is more than just a health care professional…he’s also a friend.

3. My coach! Perhaps coach should really be coaches, since I have had two different coaches this year. My previous coach got me started in powerlifting and played a big role in my journey. Even though he is no longer my coach, I cannot discount his part in my story.

My current coach and I are still in the learning each other stage, I think, but I have already experienced good things under his programming. Although I no longer have the direct, real-time contact with a coach while training, I still feel supported, encouraged, and challenged by my new coach. When I started with him this summer, I was recovering from another problem with my back or SI joints and hadn’t been in powerlifter mode for several weeks. I had the November competition on the horizon, and my coach took me through training on a level I had never done before…and it worked. I could hear his encouraging comments as I was on the platform. My injury has changed the nature of my training again, but I know my coach has my back!

4. My friend Sienna! For my competition in November, I needed a handler. This was only the second time that I have needed to find someone to help me out at a competition, because that role was usually covered by my coach. My daughter was my handler at Westerns last year, and my friend was my handler this time. She was probably quite nervous, uncertain as to what to do to support me, but I think she did a great job. I have competed enough that I know what I need to do and when to do it, but it is always nice to have someone there to chalk the back, offer encouragement, and remind you what you’re capable of.

5. My physiotherapist! This is a recent addition to my support crew thanks to my injury, but I feel confident in his abilities and treatment. I tend to be highly cynical when it comes to doctors and many aspects of “health care”, so I am always grateful to find medical professionals who are not stuck on out-dated methods and systems.

6. My friends, co-workers, and family! These people have cheered me on every step of the way, through thick and thin, weight cuts and water loads, disappointments and frustrations, sore muscles and all my back struggles. When I’ve had success, they’ve celebrated with me.

 

It Is Well

“It’s okay if you’re scared about endings and new beginnings. But remember, you do it every single day. All will be well.” ~Nanea Hoffman

Four years ago today I walked into a private gym to meet with a personal trainer for the very first time. I was absolutely scared that day. Stepping into a gym was like landing in a foreign country where nobody speaks English and the food is unrecognizable. I felt awkward and out of place. So far outside of my comfort zone. My only real hope was that I might finally lose some of my excess weight, but even then I was doubtful.

The journey of the past four years has been incredible and life-changing. I am not the same person today as I was then. The road has not always been easy or free from potholes and roadblocks. There have been ups and downs, triumphs and disappointments. I have reached goals that far surpass my original goal to lose 20-25 pounds, goals that I could never have even anticipated setting for myself. I went from someone who was finally beginning to consider herself a runner to a competitive powerlifter. Four years ago, I hadn’t even heard of powerlifting. I changed jobs. I found myself.

As I reflect on the past four years and where I am today, I can see the road before me disappearing into a shimmer on the horizon. It is very true that every day is a new beginning and you cannot always see what is coming your way. The path of my journey veered slightly this summer with a change in training venue and coaching. Dealing with injury made the road bumpy for most of the year. My husband had major surgery and an ongoing heart issue. Changes at work. Relationship trials. The day-to-day stuff of life. I’ve continued to do it every single day.

 

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.

Love Lifts

“Our heart can never overindulge, for our capacity to love grows as we do it. The heart is a muscle that wants to lift heavy things, so, love-and keep loving.” ~B. Oakman

Recently I was told that my relationship with someone I considered a good friend was unhealthy. That declaration came out of nowhere, and it hit me with all of the force of a category 5 hurricane. I didn’t understand then. I still don’t understand. My first response was absolute horror that I might have done something to hurt or offend, then I was filled with a crushing sense of hurt and shame. The hurt comes from the belief that I have lost a friend, and I honestly don’t know how else to feel about it. The shame flows out of a sense that I’ve done something wrong or that there must be some inherent flaw within me that makes me unlovable and worthless, because it doesn’t really matter how much one sugar-coats the words, my heart takes rejection personally.

Roughly two weeks later, I still don’t understand what happened or why. It still hurts, and I still feel as if I did something wrong or just wasn’t enough of…I don’t even know what. Perhaps a braver person would push a confrontation and defend herself, but I am not that brave. I am a non-confrontational kind of person and, while I will defend myself when appropriate, there are times when the best course of action is simply to do nothing. I don’t agree with the pronouncement that this friendship is unhealthy, but I also don’t feel like I can express my disagreement with my friend. At least not right now.

But this blog post isn’t actually about my friend. It is about what happened to me after being told that my friendship wasn’t healthy. I cried. A lot. I didn’t sleep well at all. My appetite vanished, and the food that I forced myself to eat tasted like sawdust. I’ve been anxious, nearly sick to my stomach. My mind replayed past conversations and second-guessed every word or action I’ve made over the past year. I read through every blog post going back at least a year. Every time I’d close my eyes I would visualize old scenes and analyze them for something, anything that could have been misconstrued. I kept coming up with blanks, but that didn’t stop me from obsessing over what I could have done so horribly wrong. Self-care became a struggle. Housework was limited to the absolute necessities, so a load of laundry when I needed clean clothes for work. At home, I was grumpy and emotional. As much as my emotions were frayed and fragile, I was numb inside. This is the truth of my humanness. I feel deeply. I hold my friendships in high regard, although I have never before been accused of any inappropriateness within those friendships. The implication that I’ve been too much or too wrong hurts. It hurts a lot and deeply.

Now it is no secret that I am a Star Wars girl, so forgive me for the upcoming Star Trek reference. The previous paragraph illustrates my humanness, but this paragraph is going to reveal my Vulcan side. Why Vulcan? Because I am not only an emotional being. I am also quite logical. As much as I am confused and hurting in this situation, there is a part of me that recognizes that this whole thing probably really isn’t about me at all. There are other things at play, which I cannot and will not delve into in my blog; however, I know of those things, at least some of them, and such knowledge makes it easy for me to extend grace when my heart has been broken into a thousand pieces. There is a quote somewhere about not truly knowing what is going on inside of another person. I don’t have the energy to search for that quote right now, but the essence of it applies here. This person has been my friend. I know some of this friend’s story but not all of it. I know enough to realize that this probably isn’t about me…that is, of course, unless I am ever given a specific reason or explanation for the how and why my friendship is unhealthy.

My belief that this isn’t about me doesn’t stop me from being confused, nor does it erase the hurt and sense of loss. The comments just don’t make any sense, but I could drive myself mad trying to figure them out. My friend wants space, so I will give it, even if doing so leaves me hanging in limbo.

I have been in a somewhat similar situation before…similar yet different. Many years ago now, a close friendship ended, one that was much deeper and longer than this current friendship. That relationship ended because I wasn’t willing to compromise my principles in order to condone her attitude and behaviour. The loss of that friendship hurt deeply, and it took me a long time to find my way out of the black hole that I got sucked into, to realize that I wasn’t a horrible person, an uncaring friend, worthless and flawed.

The one major difference between this situation and the previous one is that I am not the same person as I used to be. I am stronger now, more sure of who I am and what I am not. One thing I will always be is a sensitive soul with feelings that run deep; however, I no longer want to be one who retreats behind high walls when the storms rage outside. Although hiding away is easier at times, I was created to care and love, and I’ve learned that I feel better when I am true to myself. As such, I have allowed my heart to lift heavy things, to love and love some more. If that is my only crime, then so be it! I am guilty of loving, but I am determined to keep on loving those within my circle and those outside of it.