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.

Scars to Your Beautiful

I will never grace the cover of a fashion magazine, nor will I ever be a cover girl. I couldn’t even be a hand model. My body seems to be in a perpetual state of wounds and bruises and scars. There are the little reminders of the summer I had chicken pox. The scars on the inside of my upper lip remind me of a toboggan accident. There is the large scar on my elbow from stitches when I was young enough to not remember. A faint scar on my right wrist goes back to a scratch from a swing set. There are stretch marks from bearing children. A mysterious triangle of a scar at the base of a finger that has been there for as long as I can remember. These scars are memories of a sort, even if I have no recollection of the event. They are part of the history of my body.

Bruises come and go. Sometimes I know where they came from, while at other times I have no recollection of having done anything to merit the mark. At this moment, I have small bruises on each biceps. One is from the flap of a box at work, but I’m not sure where the other came from. There is a yellow-tinged discolouration the size of my fist lingering around one ankle from bumping an iron chair leg against my own leg more than a week ago. A small scrape of skin on the opposite shin, most likely also a workplace casualty. Lifting weights has put calluses on my hands and resulted in many of my bruises and scrapes. I don’t mind them, because they are reminders that I am using my body.

As I sat in the tub this morning, feeling like the effort to bathe was too much and not worth it, I noticed all my bruises and scars and considered the invisible scars and bruises that no one else sees. It is the internal wounds that have the deepest impact. Even when the wounds are not so fresh, even when the wounds have seemingly healed and scarred over, even still the pain can be felt when a pointing finger pokes into just the right spot. And it does not even matter if the cause of the wound is truth or fiction…the pain feels the same.

Wouldn’t it be nice if our body would simply send some more platelets to clot our emotional wounds? Sadly it doesn’t work that way. Perhaps everyone reacts and responds in uniquely personal ways. I cannot speak for anyone else, only myself, and I feel numb, unmotivated, one minute irritable and one minute fine. I have no problem going to work. I have no problem going to my training sessions. I have been able to go to the grocery store or to an appointment or to the library, but mostly I have no motivation to go anywhere or do anything. I did a single load of laundry yesterday. I read half of a book yesterday and finished the other half today. I made dinner last night and will force myself to make dinner tonight. I forced myself to shave my legs this morning. But really, my weekend is drawing to an end and I’ve accomplished so very little except to wear a hole on the living room floor where I spend most of my time. My head feels as if it is filled with static, sort of a headache but more like background noise that you can’t quite block out. This sort of “headache” was a constant presence several years ago when I was originally diagnosed as mildly depressed. <sigh>

I’d gladly take the physical bruises over the internal ones. The physical bruises heal fast and then they’re gone and forgotten. Physical scars might remain, but they hold no pain once they’ve healed.

Seeking Serenity

I don’t know exactly why I look to the sky on my way to work in the early hours after our opening time, but I do just that every morning when the sky is clear blue and cloudless. I am looking for a hot air balloon, which is perhaps an odd thing to be looking for so frequently, since hot air balloons are not an everyday sighting. Yesterday, as I drove to work at 5:15 AM, I finally became aware of the fact that I was looking towards a specific portion of the sky in hopes of seeing a hot air balloon. Of course, there wasn’t one to be seen yesterday morning, but I found it somewhat amusing to realize what I had been subconsciously doing for many months now.

I didn’t open this morning, but I was still headed for work around 7:30 AM. As I turned the corner, I looked up to the sky as I always do and there it was…a hot air balloon! Although my emotions are not nearly as heavy and gloomy as they were last week, I am still rather a mess of eating poorly, sleeping even more poorly, a hurricane of thoughts inside my head, and emotions still tender to the touch. The sight of the hot air balloon this morning, especially after yesterday’s realization of what I am looking for, almost reduced me to tears. But why? What is it about a hot air balloon that had me unconsciously looking for one? Between work, training, and all the stuff raging inside me, I realized that I find the sight of a hot air balloon in the sky to be simply serene. Peaceful. Calm. Soothing. As much as I am the kind of girl who prefers her feet on the ground, a hot air balloon is free to just flow with the breeze. You don’t see hot air balloons out in high winds or storms. I know what it is like to stand in the midst of strong winds and storms. I know I am capable of standing, but sometimes I just want to float in quiet peace above this crazy, hectic insane world and the storms that rage inside my heart and head, at least for a while. And I am choosing to believe that this morning’s hot air balloon was a little reminder from my God that I am not alone or forgotten or unloved, that He sees deep inside of my heart and He has known from the beginning why I keep looking to the sky.

1a. single leg box step downs + single leg glute bridges, with the box on top of a block

x 10 + 10, x 12 + 10

1b. standing single arm kettle bell presses

10kg x 8 each, 12kg x 8 each

2a. tempo squats, high bar with flat shoes

45 lbs x 6, 95 x 8, 105 x 7, 105 x 6, 105 x 6, 105 x 6

These were done with a 4 second eccentric, a 1 second pause, and a controlled rise. While the weight itself wasn’t taxing, I did find these challenging as I was essentially holding my breath for the roughly 6 seconds of each rep.

2b. flat dumbbell presses

25 lbs x 15, 34 lbs x 10, 34 x 10, 34 x 9

The right hip threatened to cramp on me during the second set at 34 pounds, while the left hip threatened to cramp as I set up for the final set.

3a. TRX T’s

3 sets of 8

3b. seated cable rows

90 lbs x 10, 90 x 6 + 80 lbs x 4, 80 x 9

3c. floor kettlebell triceps extensions

6kg x 11, x 9, x 9

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)

Confidently Stubborn

Okay, so this week without training hasn’t been too bad, but I am definitely looking forward to walking into the gym in the morning. I have no idea what my coach is going to have in store for me, although I can be fairly confident that my training will be designed to make me stronger and work on weaknesses. I’m ready.

“You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through.” ~ Rosalynn Carter

It would be easy to let my experience at Provincials shake my self-confidence. Although I have grown quite confident in my abilities, I am still humanly prone to stumbling along in the darkness of doubt. Whatever it was that happened in my back on my second squat, it flooded me with fear, uncertainty, frustration, and doubt. I still knew what I was capable of when healthy, but I was suddenly afraid that I might have done more damage to my body. I knew that I have determination and toughness, but are those qualities enough when you’ve been thrown into the fire? In all honesty, as much as I knew that I wasn’t about to throw in the towel and quit, in the midst of the pain and volatile emotions I wasn’t giving much thought to being tough enough to follow through. I just wanted to survive the day as best I could. Earlier this week my coach complimented me on being a person with strong character by pushing through when it was emotionally and physically tough. It’s not always easy for me to accept a compliment, but I’m trying.

Perhaps the biggest knock against my confidence was my failed bench press attempt. My competition bench press has been stuck at 60 kilograms since October 2015, yet I have only attempted a heavier press while competing twice, at Westerns last August and at Provincials last week. Having pressed more than 60 kilos in the gym means that I know I am capable, but my string of failures also plays with that confidence like a cat toying with a mouse. I will keep striving though.

“Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.” ~ James Michener

With my next competition not until November, I have lots of time to heal and train and focus. I definitely have goals for November’s competition, although I am not going to say too much about them for now, partly since a lot can happen between now and then but also because I don’t really have specific targets yet. So far my goals are general. I know I am capable. I just need to be tough enough to push through and to keep trying. Or maybe I am just that kind of stubborn.

The Week’s Post-Mortem

Exactly one week ago, I was roughly halfway home after a long day of frustration and disappointment at my Provincials competition, and yet, I didn’t hit the depths of despair until the next day. By Monday afternoon, I was pretty much back to normal.

Not only was I required to take this week off from training, my Precision Nutrition course, quite ironically, also had a week off of sorts. Although I have been okay with not going to my training sessions, I am looking forward to resuming my training on Monday. This week has been nice, but it has also felt quite long. I’ve enjoyed my down time. I’ve gone for some walks. I’ve enjoyed just having extra time to relax, hang out, do whatever. I have eaten whatever I have wanted, and I’ve enjoyed a fair bit of wine and a couple of sugary drinks that I typically avoid. My eating habits have been mostly controlled for the past month or so as I had some weight to cut to make my class for competition. I cut roughly 10 pounds without too much effort; in fact, I had to relax my self-control in order to not lose too much weight. Even then I likely lost too much, since I weighed in more than an entire kilogram under the limit. This week I’ve enjoyed burgers and fries, poutine, pastries, wine, Frappucinos, and ice cream. I stepped on the scale this morning and weighed in at virtually the same weight as I did for my competition! That won’t last for too long though. My next competition is with a different federation with slightly different weight classes, and I’ll be competing in the 75 kilogram class, which means I can add a few pounds to my frame.

One thing I have noticed with this week “off” has been that I am finally starting to sleep better again. I haven’t taken my ZMA for at least a week, but I’ve been falling asleep fairly quickly. While I still wake up at least once or twice a night (and toss a fair bit throughout), I am falling back asleep more quickly. It is a rare occurrence for me to actually be woken by my alarms. Yes, I have two alarms. One is through my sleep app, and the other is your typical alarm clock. My sleep app alarm is set to go off within a 10 minute window, which I always set so my real alarm would go off in the middle of that 10 minutes. For someone who is never late and never sleeps through her alarm, I go to a lot of trouble to make sure that either situation never happens! One day this week, my real alarm did actually wake me up! It had been a long time since I’d heard that annoying beep.

Despite the way the back felt during my second squat a week ago and the pain I experienced on the long drive home that night, my back actually feels pretty good this week. Sure, it’s still not perfect, but I am back to how things felt prior to the competition. For reasons unknown to me, my back feels the worst when I am sleeping. There is a great deal of achiness in my back whenever I need to change position in the night, but it feels basically okay once I’m up for the day. Go figure! I’m still doing my stretches, and I am determined that this will get better!

So, a week post-competition and I’m sleeping better, feeling better, and chomping at the bit to get back to training. I think those are all good things. My head is screwed on properly. My attitude has been re-adjusted. Tomorrow will be one more day of rest. I shall drink coffee, especially since I am staying up late tonight. I might go for a walk. I will do some laundry and housework and make dinner for the family. And, I will prep my gym bag for Monday morning.