Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Strong is not about whether you are a man or a woman...young or old. Being strong is about having desire. It's about being willing to do something you've never done before. It's about working hard and never giving up.
I saw this video years ago and was so impressed. It just goes to prove that a mother's example does make a difference and that you are never too old to be strong!
Thursday, August 25, 2011
"It doesn't have to be fun to be fun." ~Mark Twight GYM JONES
I don't know him. I've never met him, but I love this man...Mark Twight! His words and videos inspire me and make me feel excited to go to the gym and work harder than I thought I could! This is one of my all time favorites!
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
After a couple of years, I was excited to see that my trees began to grow...so much so that they needed trimming. My brother, that doubles as my handyman, explained how you know what branches to cut off. Any branches that were too low or growing down or even small branches growing inward, needed to be trimmed off because they were taking "energy" away from the healthy branches and doing nothing to help the tree become bigger and stronger. It's important to not wait too long because as long as there are branches that need trimming still there...they are taking energy and nutrients away from the branches that are good. And if you never trim the tree, it will never become as big or strong or beautiful as it COULD have been.
Back in February, I did something I thought I would never do...something I thought I would never need to do. I started seeing a therapist. My marriage was a mess and demons from the past were haunting me. I felt like I needed someone to talk to that didn't know me and wouldn't judge me. I still remember the first day sitting in a strange room...on an old ugly couch...looking at a stranger...as I wept uncontrollably and tried to tell her all the things that have hurt me or that are bothering me...in an hour. I am a control freak. I like to have control because there were times as a child when I had all my power taken from me...times when I should've been protected but I wasn't...feelings I felt that were not feelings I should have been feeling at that age. And so I try to have as much control now as I can, even though it doesn't change the past. I like to do things how I want to do them...when I want to do them. I like to always look just right and stay composed when I can. I felt so out of control...so ugly...so damaged. This was completely out of my comfort zone, but there was something strangely comforting at the same time about just getting it all out...telling all my secrets...admitting my shame...letting myself be vulnerable.
After I purged myself of all the things that were bothering me...I quickly began to try and regain control by telling the therapist what exactly I was doing to make changes and try to correct these problems. I told her how hard it was/is and how disappointed and upset some people were with me. I told her that I felt alone and scared. Finally, when I let her speak, she looked at me surprisingly unfazed and said,
"You have been hurt badly. You have held it in and made the choice to never use these things as an excuse to protect everyone else and keep a sense of pride. No one would ever believe the things that you have suffered because you have covered them up so well. Now, you have chosen to correct this by cutting off the things and people that cause you pain. The problem is that you are like a tree that hasn't ever been pruned. Instead of getting rid of these things as they came, you waited and let them continue to grow. You had so many limbs to cut off that you now feel very bare and very alone."
This made perfect sense. I had let things grow that should have been cut off sooner and made some huge changes in my life. It wasn't until the secret pain became unbearable that I finally did something about it...and I did it all at once. It has been scary to make these decisions and hard to deal with the consequences that have followed, but every day is a little better. New branches are growing where old, unhealthy ones were and the people that love me are learning to accept my changes and love me unconditionally.
So, you probably wonder what this has to do with anyone other than me. It's a warning if you will. Don't let unhealthy "branches" grow on your "tree" because it seems too hard to get rid of them. Take the things out of your life that weigh you down or keep you from reaching your true potential. Don't have friends that don't accept your commitment to eat and live healthy. Don't surround yourself with jealous people that want to drag you down. Avoid unhealthy relationships that cause you to doubt your worth and rob you of your goals. And when you do need to cut off branches, be brave. Value yourself enough to put in the work it takes to be your best. Don't be afraid of feeling alone at times or vulnerable, because in time you will be glad you made the changes. Finally, don't be too proud to ask for help. When trees have large branches that break or need to be removed, sometimes it takes a professional because the job is too big to do on your own. Rely on the people that care about you to help you make changes.
Just as it takes pruning to help a tree grow tall and strong, it takes making uncomfortable changes in our own lives to become the person we are meant to be. After the struggle...because of the work it takes to get there...in the end...we will become stronger than we ever thought possible.
Friday, August 19, 2011
"Don't be afraid of the box son. This happens in here all the time. The important part is that you don't become afraid of the box or feel like a failure. One day, you might fall again, and that's okay too. You get up and you jump again and again."He nodded and smiled at me with glassy eyes, full of tears that he never let fall. We cleaned up his bloody knee and he finished the first of 3 short workouts.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Some days it feels like you can't win...like there's a road block at every turn...and broken glass on every path. It would be easy to cry or post "FML" as a Facebook status, but that doesn't break down walls or get us further down the path.
I was feeling a little stressed and on the phone getting some advice this morning. I rushed into the bathroom to get dressed to go to the gym and workout as I was talking on the phone and kicked the door about as hard as I ever have with my pinky toe. This poor pinky toe has been broken twice before as I'm always in a hurry and not known for my agility! The pain was so incredible that it took a few seconds before I could scream, cuss, or cry...all three of which I did when I was able to.
After I recovered from the immediate physical pain, my tears went from tears of pain to tears of frustration. I thought, "Why can't I catch a break?!? I just want to go workout and do what I need to do and I feel like I'm always kicking against the pricks so to speak or bathroom doors...whatever!"
Now my toe is throbbing and swollen and I know that it's gonna hurt to put on a shoe. I even said right afterwards on the phone, "Now I probably won't even be able to workout today!" I wanted to give up, unmake my bed, get back in, and scream "FML!!!" from under the covers.As I hung up the phone and dried my tears, I realized that I am unwilling to give up. I don't care who pushes me down, or hurts my feelings, or how many times I break my toe, or what kind of bad luck I face...I am going to keep on standing back up. I can't control what happens to me, but I can control how I react to it. I CHOOSE when to give up and I'm not ready to give up! I'm going to the gym and I will workout without shoes if I can't get em on!
It's fight or flight time and I'm not ready to fly so I better start fighting! Now is the time for me to climb over road blocks and walk through broken glass barefoot if I have to in order to get to something better on the other side. I might struggle and I may come out of this a little bruised and bloody, but I will look back stronger and smarter someday! So what, if I stubbed my toe and it hurts. I have no excuse to skip working out today and neither do you!
Monday, August 15, 2011
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
By the time we're adults, it's an accepted fact of life. We know that we will get hurt and feel physical pain somehow...somewhere...sometime, but we are programmed from an early age to avoid pain...at all costs...just like I programmed my children when they were babies. We are taught that pain is bad. Pain is scary. When we feel pain, we do everything we can to numb it...bandaids...ice packs...medicine. We want the pain to go away...fast, and we are careful never to repeat the action that caused the pain in the first place.
My body is sore and tired today and my heart hurts. Today, I feel pain, but I guess that's not so unusual for me. I workout...hard..and so many times...I experience the feeling of pain. Sometimes, it's my back. Sometimes, my legs...my butt...my arms. Sometimes, it's my heart; my soul. Sometimes it's hard to tell where it hurts. I just know I feel pain. It hasn't been until the past several years that I learned to appreciate pain...to like pain. No, I'm not some kinky masochistic freak. I'm someone that has learned to respect pain...to understand it...to work through it...to live in it...to use it for my own benefit rather than fighting against it.
Pain teaches me. It refines me. Sometimes when my muscles ache, and I scramble for the Advil and ice packs, I stop and take a step back. My body is sore...hurting...because today I used it. I worked hard to make myself the best I can be. When it hurt, I didn't stop...I pressed on and grew stronger. When it was hard...I rose to the challenge and built endurance; confidence. The pain, the hurt is an affirmation that I did the best I could. When my heart breaks and my soul is battered, it is because I have been hurt..somehow...by someone...maybe an unkind word or a disagreement...maybe loneliness or disappointment...maybe unrequited love or even betrayal. This pain is much harder for me to embrace. It is very tempting to do whatever I can to ignore this pain...to find a way...any way that I can...to keep from feeling this pain...to stuff it down...to build a wall and shut myself off from the possibility. I've learned that it is important not to push this pain down but to feel it...to acknowledge it...to learn from it, because this pain also teaches me...even makes me better...stronger too. I am learning that it is better to risk this pain than it is to be alone and sacrifice happiness...love...friendship. It may be harder for me to accept the pain of heartache than it is to accept physical pain, but surviving heartache helps me appreciate those that truly love me...that handle my heart and soul with care. It reminds me that the way I treat others really does matter.
Pain is a part of life. It comes whether we invite it or not...embrace it or reject it...work with it or against it. Everyone has experienced the strange phenomenon where pain actually feels good physically. An example being the fact that massaging a sore muscle can hurt so bad and feel so good at the same time. It only takes a moment, but if we jump up at the first touch, afraid to feel the pain, we cheat ourselves out of the pleasure that follows. I will continue to see pain as a positive force in my life; a catalyst for change. I will use it as a gauge for progress. I will be patient and brave and strong and wait until the misery subsides and allow the pain to "hurt so good"...again...and again...and again.
Friday, August 5, 2011
A couple of years ago, I took my then thirteen year old daughter, Savanna, to the pediatrician to get a routine physical for swim team. Everything was just as I expected so I wasn’t paying close attention as our doctor examined her. Towards the end of her exam, Dr. Sampson told her to take off her shirt so she could check her back. Savanna was not exactly excited about this but she did it. As the doctor made notes, she told Savanna to bend over. I wasn’t really looking at her, but I saw her bend out of the corner of my eye and heard the pediatrician say, “No Savanna. Bend ALL the way over.” Still not looking, I heard, “Savanna! I need you to put your feet together…don’t bend your knees and bend STRAIGHT down!” At this point I looked up and before I could tell Savy to do what the doctor said, the doctor looked at me and said, "Mom, we have a problem. Come over here and look at this.I was shocked at what I saw! My daughter was crooked. She couldn't even bend straight over and there was a very OBVIOUS curve in her spine. In typical "Mommy" fashion, I felt guilty. I started firing off questions like, "Weren't you tested for scoliosis in 5th grade?!?" "How could I have missed this?!?" Even though, there's nothing I could've done...I felt guilty. Things started to make sense. Things like how she was always over to the side when she set up on the blocks to dive at swim meets...and why she couldn't dive straight out but plopped in the water and then had to swim twice as fast to catch up.We were sent to Scottish Rite Hospital for children in Dallas to see a specialist there. They took x-rays and told us that she had a 43 degree curve. It was too late for a brace, but too early to talk about surgery since they usually wait until there are signs in the x-rays that the patient is done growing before they operate. We went back the following year. She now had a 45 degree curve, but was essentially done growing. They scheduled us to come back a year later which was this past spring. The doctor told us that she was not required to have surgery. A 50 degree or higher curve means that surgery is absolutely necessary. He also told us that she had what is called "trunk shift" which means the top of her body (waist up) and the bottom were not in alignment. It had become very obvious just by looking at her, that there was a problem and she was very sensitive about it. In the end, her doctor at Scottish Rite Hospital recommended surgery and she made the choice to do it. Savanna was tired of being crooked...tired of not being able to dive off the blocks at swim meets like everyone else...tired of having to worry about what clothes she could wear to hide it...and tired of feeling different. We supported her decision and made an appointment for surgery.
Fast forward to last week...the week of her surgery. We got up early and drove for 45 minutes to get to the hospital by 7:45 AM on Thursday. Me, Savanna, and her dad spent ALL day seeing doctors, nurses, dieticians, pharmacists. She gave blood, took multiple x-rays, and participated in a study. Her emotions were all over the place, but for the most part...she did well. She was looking forward to getting "straightened out" and although no one sugar coated what she would go through...I knew she had no concept of what she was in for. The doctor decided to do the posterior surgery. There's less chance of infection when the organs don't have to be moved like they are in the anterior option, but that means the doctor has to move the big muscles of the back which causes a lot of pain during recovery. I worried about her recovery. I wondered how she would hold up emotionally.The surgery was successful and went exactly as planed. MOST kids are groggy...tired...and super sleepy after a 4 hour surgery when they are wheeled into the recovery area...not Savanna. She was trying to sit up and talked incessantly. She kept taking my hand and saying "Is this a dream?" I said, "No. You are all done, baby." She would say "I did it?!?!?!" I said, "Yes. You did!" It amazed everyone there...and for the next 2 days...she continued to amaze us. She was so determined to get better. She wanted to be taken off all the things that were keeping her in bed.
Sunday morning they took her off oxygen and took her epidural and catheter out. She was so excited...and then reality set in. Once she was no longer attached to the epidural, her pain had to be managed through pills...and it's not the same. She was accustomed to a constant flow of medication.Everyone has been amazed be Savy's strength and great attitude throughout this process. It's not because she never had any low times. Savanna had times where she cried, but they were few and far between. She also had times where she felt angry and wondered if her decision to have surgery was worth it. The thing is...every time this happened, it was short lived. She was always able to dig down and find strength that I didn't know she had. She still has a long recovery ahead. It's hard to readjust your whole body alignment and it's hard to build back the physical strength after being in bed. Savanna has learned that lying in bed and sleeping is not the way to recover. When she is hurting, she gets up and walks laps in our house...not because I tell her too either. It's always HER decision.Some people think that being strong means NEVER having a weak moment...never shedding a tear...never feeling afraid. I disagree. Being strong doesn't mean being perfect. It's not about being a robot that feels and shows no emotion. When life gets you down or pain clouds your judgement, we all have the ability to find strength and work through those emotions...IF we choose to.
I have been exhausted. It wasn't fun sleeping in a plastic fold out bed for 5 nights and being woken up every two hours. I missed working out and eating normal food, but I wouldn't have done it any other way. What I sacrificed was tiny compared to what my daughter has endured. Savanna has taught me so much over the past week. The last day we were in the hospital, we were walking laps around the floor and she was getting tired and hurting. She turned and looked at me with those big blue eyes and said, "Mom. I'm proud of myself! I think that if I can do this...I can do anything for the rest of my life!" I smiled and said, "Yes you can Savanna! I'm proud of you too!Savanna found her strong. Have you found yours?