You did this to Me…

… and other things you didn’t realize your parents did to you.

Now don’t get me wrong, I understand they did the best they could and I do not believe my parents were EVIL or anything.  But let’s just say I can hear the voice of Yoda as I type, “The dysfunction is strong with this one…”  Especially my family.

But this post has a very specific INCIDENT to which I want to address.  I FINALLY get those PINK Shoes out of the box and onto my feet to try them out for a few hours.  I am visiting my Dad and feel the need to IMPRESS him with the Newness and BRIGHTNESS of my PINK SHOES; because there is still a part of the little girl in me who wants his validation and the REACTION that a good story USUALLY generates.  So I raise my FEET and announce the presence of my NEW SHOES.  Aren’t They BRIGHT??? Aren’t they cool?? Here are all the reasons I needed them… I DID not mentioned a SINGLE word about RUNNING or the 5K idea that had begun to marinate in my head.  The purpose of the Shoes were JUST to be comfortable for WALKING more. After ALL I needed to do better with my Fitbit Steps.

Somewhere before I had EVEN gotten to the punch line of my story, my dad interrupts with his commentary on RUNNING: “I don’t get runners.  Have you EVER met a happy runner?  I mean look at them they ALWAYS look MISERABLE, Unhappy.  I’ve never met a happy runner.”

AND THERE IT IS SPORTS FANS… the seed to the root of my dislike of running.  HOW is it that ONE parents perception, belief, or joke about an activity can root itself so far down deep into their child’s psyche as to generate a subconscious belief they cling to with ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY.  Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t like running the mile in Jr High (who did) and by the time I hit High School I couldn’t do the sports I wanted, why would I entertain the thought of running something that was supposed to make me feel miserable.

As soon as he made that joke about the unhappy runner, I heard my inner WOMAN scream, “YOU DID THIS TO ME!!!!” Just like Bill Cosby’s wife says in his comedy routine about her giving birth to their first child.  So I sit there through the rest of my visit and most of my ride home with a new-found sense of identity.  Mostly entertaining a lot of questions, “Who said you can’t run?  Why not do the Couch to 5K?  What could it hurt?  Why not try something else NEW again?  What have you got to lose?  Hasn’t your Dad been wrong about MOST things in life?”  Pretty Much.

So with this new-found realization about my avoidance of running, I begin anew a rebellion against the beliefs of my father. Deconstructing the belief systems I have always had, replacing them with New things.  Taking the bucket list to a whole new dimension, instead of doing things I have always wanted to but haven’t yet; doing things I have always thought I could NEVER do.  Sometimes I don’t know the reason behind the belief I couldn’t do something, but doing them none-the-less.

So November 2nd began my Couch to 5K training.  I got out on the track, in the PINK shoes and completed my first workout.  Having an app and a plan and a GPS and music and a track near by has made this EMOTIONAL first step easier than feared.  But don’t get me wrong, THERE WAS FEAR.  I have been OVERWHELMED by the internal warnings of my fearful lymbic system, “What if it’s locked?  What if you’re not suppose to use it? What if you look stupid?  What if there are people there that laugh and point?  What if your too cold, too hot? What if it starts raining?  What if it’s too hard?  What if it hurts?” and on and ON. I hear it, and push past it, like a determined healthy shopper pushes past all those COSTCO vendors begging you to try a sample of their fried food.  And I made it to the parking lot, I made it to the track, I made it around once, I jogged each interval my app said to do, and I made it through the cool down to complete 35min.

SO THERE DAD!!!! I may not have looked happy while I was doing it; I may have been SCARED out of my mind to TRY IT; I maybe have even looked COMPLETELY out-of-place by the 2 guys doing their own track workout; BUT I DID it.  I ran and finished.  There is nothing and NO ONE saying I can’t do it but me…  And I’m not saying that EVER EVER AGAIN!!!


It’s SO cool to get my way

Well it was more that I got something I wanted because some days it actually starts life in a good direction when you get something you want.  Well it helps ME anyway. 🙂

I have been struggling this year to GET THINGS MOVING.  There has been a series of sick weeks, work travel, personal distractions, and emotional confusion.  So as excited as I usually get in January to start a new years resolution or list of goals, this year it just didn’t happen.  I was focused on the new things in my life, but then it almost seemed like my life came to a screeching halt, and I couldn’t get it going again.  Which reminds me… I am now just remembering I hate January, but that is for another days’ post. 

Then something kinda cool happened yesterday.  I got something I wanted.  Now this may sound a little selfish and slightly self absorbed, but that is the simplest way to put it.  I have been looking around for a recumbent indoor bicycle to assist with my exercise program.  I used one during my physical therapy of my knee last year and discovered I really, REALLY liked it; and it was EASY.  Yes I know, I’m one of those silly people who needs to be CONNED… I mean convinced that exercise is a good thing.  That I just need to accept it is a necessary part of overall health, but lets just say the psyche is coming along KICKING and SCREAMING to this one.  I like being at rest.  I like allowing my brain permission to relax and that only happens when the body is relaxed.  But again I am getting distracted with a topic for another day. Point being… I’ve been surfing and craigslisting on occasion for a recumbent bike.   

It may seem simple or it may seem lofty, but I have been looking since September.  With the fact that ALL exercise equipment seems to come with a NOT IN MY BUDGET price tag, and that’s for the cheap pieces, its been kinda frustrating.  So I have been doing a good job of telling myself NO, and just waiting until the RIGHT deal comes around, or I have SAVED UP ENOUGH TO PAY FOR IT.  (Some days I hate Dave Ramsey.)

Then there is the job side of the equation.  They have been threatening since September to put me on the road 3 weeks a month.  So if I’m not home with the piece of exercise equipment, when am I going to use it, right?  I mean why buy a piece of equipment when you can use a hotel gym for free, this seemed so logical.  I did the math in my head, a piece of equipment that would get used 2 times a month sure does NOT seem worth the return on investment.  So again another reason to not give in to my whims and desires to BUY and wait. 

This is the One!

So there I was yesterday posting my “have room for rent” craigslist posting for like the 4th time in the last 6 weeks.  When did my usual, searches: housing needed, medifast food for discount, and recumbent bike (AND recumbant bike), glad I am not the only one who can’t spell.  And there it was… a posting just 1 day before (you other craigslisters know why that’s important), seeming modern, compact, digital, well-built recumbent bike for a IN MY BUDGET price.  Not cheap, but in the range I was willing to spend.  So I made the usually inquiries about availability, when can I come see, and made a master plan on how to convince a friend of mine to help me. (Yes, I usually offer up gas money and/or food in hopes that will be enough; if not I promise to help them MOVE or unpack or some silliness like that.) So there I was with desire, money, and a PLAN.  Now I know God laughs when we make plans and 9 out of 10 times these grand schemes of mine usually break down on one or more of the different toothpicks that I have built the bridge of things must go JUST PERFECTLY for this to work plan. 

But alas, I am here to tell you, IT WORKED.  And the lovely piece of exercise equipment is sitting in my room in the perfect spot I wanted all set up and waiting for me to dive in.  There is just something about how excited and fulfilled I get when a plan comes together.  So as I sit here making my plans for the next big accomplishment, I am giddy and proud and thankful that this little goal was accomplished.  I guess a better title would have been, I love it when a plan comes together, but I think that’s a quote or something. 🙂

Now the plan to make it a working piece of equipment and not a clothing rack.  Since I didn’t buy it in January, does that mean I have a better chance of being successful?

Let’s try the Pool – It was a Good Idea at the Time

So in the locker room, at my new Gym back in January, I am trying to psych myself into some kind of courageous posture – so let’s look at another option – Swimming.  Okay now before you completely pass out in either hysterical laughter or stopped breath in shock; I like swimming and my only issues in the past have been to get from the locker room to the pool.  Once in the pool I am golden.  But without even realizing it, this was an ENTIRELY different animal.  I mean I had just walked pasted the bank of treadmills with all the pretty people.  Now maybe I was perceiving some of those judgmental glances as a personal attack in disapproval incorrectly, but either way caused my anxiety levels to rise to completely unhealthy levels.  (I have always had a very healthy blood pressure, but I wonder what the nurse would say if she had taken my blood pressure at THIS MOMENT in my life.)

My attitude toward swimming here was some how different.  Somehow this place was not the same.  Somehow this place that was supposed to just embrace the membership of its paying members did not seem to welcome me with open arms.  Someone who probably needed to be in this place on a regular basis more than half their membership.  But I was here to accomplish a task, I was here to go swimming, so my mental verbage became JUST GET IN THE WATER, JUST GET IN THE WATER

So there I was in the bathroom stall, coaching myself into a form of courage.  Just put on the suit, just get to the pool, oh no I have to take a shower first.  Okay, it’s a girls locker room, you can do this.  Some how as I glanced around the room the only women I saw were Nike models or Reebok shoe saleswomen.  Women who had been exercising for years and knew how this all worked, and would SMELL the fear that I didn’t have any idea what I was doing.  I couldn’t remember what the guy said about the lockers, so I just picked one, hoped I wasn’t infringing on someone’s space headed toward the shower, when I realized I didn’t have a towel.  Maybe its just all those years at hotels where they provide silly little OBVIOUS accessories to a pool… like TOWELS; that it did not occur to me that I would need to bring MY OWN!!!  But I was resolved. I have like 3 changes of clothes because I came prepared for whatever I was going to do to work out, so that should help. 

I put on my suit, realize I haven’t shaved my legs in like FOREVER, but good news there IS a razor in my bag.  How in the world could this be any more crazy an experience.  Have you ever been in a Locker Room shower?  I didn’t think about flip flops, and for some reason these showers were not designed by someone who values modesty or privacy even in a WOMEN’s LOCKER ROOM.  I obviously prefer to take  my showers in a solo stall, with solid not transLUCENT windows, and a plastic curtain that actually overs the ENTIRE OPENING!!! But again I was resolved. 

Now one thing I should probably mention is that I had just started this biggest loser competition at work.  I had been trash talking with a co-worker from New Jersey and this was part of my resolve.  Because I had been so bold to not only tell him that I was gonna kick his ass cuz I was on a great food plan, but I was convinced that if I added the exercise component I would be unstoppable.  Yes Yes let’s just say I am beating him but I am also not even in 3rd place anymore.  But that is for another post and there are still 3 weeks left in the competition. 🙂  Since I had told him I was going to the gym, I couldn’t bare the idea of having to confess that I had gone in, but not worked out.  SO with that tiny ounce of crazy competition, I was not leaving the place until I had worked out for 30min in SOME WAY SHAPE OR FORM. 

So showered, smooth legged and IN my suit I attempt to gingerly walk (tile floors are slippery) to the pool get in, position myself in a lane and just SWIM.  Now its been a while, but since my youth I have loved the water and almost revert back to my 10 year old self who competed on the swim team and self coaching myself on each stroke.  Now I have been spending some sporadic times in hotels swimming laps and working on getting my stroke back.  Not quite competent enough for butterfly but I always try to make at least one length of the pool that way.  But today was a completely different experience.  I don’t know if it was the adrenaline from fear, anxiety from the perceived judgement, or just the fact that I was truly 65 pounds lighter than I was last time I did laps. 

The View from My Youth - Inspiration

But I swam up and down that lane in almost no time and found myself hitting my 30 minute marker with out worries and no pain.  WOW, I didn’t expect that.  So now the hard part, get out of the pool, get out of suit, get out of this PLACE.  So in classic JR. High fear filled fashion, I showered quick (I had even remember one of my travelling shampoos – cuz I have like hundreds), now to dry off with no towel and make it look like that was the plan.  Hair up and tight, new clothes, new shoes, bag on shoulder.  Now to walk the gauntlet past the bank of treadmills, hold your head high-you deserve to be here, you PAID TO BE HERE-exit stage right…

And somewhere in the car ride back home, I finally broke down.  Energy expended, fears faced, anxiety ignored, and mission accomplished.  It sure didn’t seem like just a gym, but now I have to figure out how to go back………… Again.

Its JUST A GYM – And Other Exercise Myths

What They Looked Like if there were 20 in a Row

I am reminded of a trap I fell into at the beginning of the year, that hundreds if not thousands of people embrace every year right around the new year.  I joined a Gym.  I know I KNOW what was I thinking?  New years resolution, new body, new energy, or new attitude it is hard to say.  I had been on the food plan about 6 months at that point and I believe I thought that if I could just incorporate a little exercise it would help keep me on track. 

So there I was at the 24 hr fitness SPORT edition looking at what looked like the biggest complex I had ever seen.  Well that’s how it feels until you start to use the gym and then you just feel like a sardine packed into a giant treadmill factory.  Of course it reminds me of how some offices are set up making the people feel like half employees because the cubicles are smaller than an average coat closet and the walls only provide an illusion of sound reduction.  But I wasn’t thinking I would be ONLY using the treadmills.  I mean I had ideas of using the bikes, taking a class, doing some swimming.  I figured if I’m paying for it I will be motivated to go.  So that is the myth all gyms are preying upon, because even though it was my own idea and ambition to join for the convenience, it was the allure of all those options that kept me paying each month despite my non attendance from February to October. 

But let’s return to the scene of the commitment, when I signed up I was assured I would get a tour.  I would have someone I could ask questions to and be guided through all this big bad intimidating equipment.  I opted to WAIT and not pay for the $100/hour trainer because I wanted to see how this was going to affect my budget.  So when I waited until my timing was right, about 2 weeks, I walked in and I was ready for this engagement in the GYM.  But I walked in the door, they swiped my card and when I asked about the tour, not only did they look at me with confusion and irritation; but it took 10 minutes for a non-specialist, non-trainer 12 year old to come to the front to “show me around”.  There was no instruction, there were no questions about what are you interested in, or what do you have questions about.  It was here’s the bank of treadmills (okay that is my word mostly because they literally looked like a set of telephones in an outbound sales office, minus the cubicles).  Here’s the locker room, Upstairs the classroom, and free weights, and the pool is at the end of the hall.  Now there may have been more, but it sure was not what I was expecting and it DEFINITELY did not satisfy my need for direction. 

As I retreated to the safety of the women’s locker room, I was trying to figure out exactly where to start my workout.  I was originally going to just do a simple 30 minute work out on a treadmill… but having walked by the farm with no privacy, protection, or even space from the outside world, I was CONVINCED that was not going to be the choice.  Did I mention that it was 5:30pm on a weeknight?  Shouldn’t that be part of the orientation packet?  Oh by the way, the busiest times are between here and there AND ALL the pretty people who are looking to hook up with each other arrive between 5:15pm – 7:00pm so if you want to feel completely self-conscious and evaluated like a Parade Pony make your entrance during those times.  So NO I would not be making my GYM debut on a treadmill, exercise bike, or elliptical.  That and I forgot the headphones to the iPod, DANG IT!!

Now what?  Trapped in a women’s locker room bathroom stall, I began to ponder the stupidity of this investment.  I had paid my good hard earned money for this place; and I couldn’t get myself to leave the stall.  Yeah JUST a GYM, just a place, JUST a one stop shop for all your exercising needs.  I was beginning to EMBRACE how much of a lie that really was.

Final Mission – Game 3

So as Game 3 approached I started to get all nervous again that I was going to make a fool of myself… especially since Game 2 (over 2 weeks ago) was such a disaster (in my mind).  We had one bye week and a rain out, so I was well out of practice by this weekend and I didn’t get to the batting cages like I had planned (I went 3 times, but not this last week).  Something in my head had me believing that I was only as good as I had practiced.  Hmmm maybe there is truth to that.  Either way I was on the road to full panic and stress about this game. 

Then something rather nice happened on Saturday… I posted a touch of my anxiety out there and I received this mighty encouraging response: “Do your best. Have fun. Make some friends. Did I leave anything out? Oh yea, Don’t get caught if you cheat.” Now after the laughter subsided from believing for a second that I would cheat or even KNOW how to cheat and get away with it in softball; but it was a fine bit of laughter I must tell you.

More importantly I began to psych myself up: remember why we are doing this… the point is to show up… make improvements from last game is all that matters.  Then the social self-talk starts: Who cares what the other team thinks?  For that matter who cares what the people on YOUR TEAM think?  Don’t worry what you look like… as a matter of fact STOP THINKING about what you look like.  Focus on the task, get out of your head, don’t try to fix YOU in this moment, just BE in the moment. 

So as I was getting my gear all organized and ready I was reminding myself not to worry about the future or the significance of things… JUST DO THE TASK.  And NOW I had my friends words in my head to help: Do your best… HAVE FUN!!! Oh yeah, that is part of why we do these things… right?  To have fun.  And during the game there were moments when I heard his voice in my head, which helped with the focusing… such simple words brought such help. 

Now I would be completely dishonest if I did not mention that I DID do a couple of TECHNICAL things to help as well.  At the batting cages I worked on my stance, tried a different size bat, and changed how I hit (I am watching the ball all the way to the bat instead of just “FEELING” it… No laughing Heidi.)  At the batting cages, I also went at a busier time, which allowed me to than battle the anxiety in my head over doing this in FRONT OF PEOPLE.  Now I know that should be a given, but I have realized in my adult life that I kind of short-circuit or melt down when I make mistakes in front of other people.  (Yes you can thank my current boss and former co-workers for generating this trauma.) 

As I began to imagine what a playing field full of competitors looks like (AND feels like), not to mention all the worst thoughts and judgements people COULD be saying… My mind began to build a mental wall around myself.  Words like they don’t matter, I don’t care about them, they are not going to tell me how I am doing, they are not the boss of me, I am in charge of me and my thoughts and my actions, I can and I will and I am going to hit this ball and make it matter and make it count.  I am going to contribute, I am not going to let all those words and fears and nonverbals impact me. 

I am reminded of something I heard (sorry dont’ remember where or I would give credit), that people who are courageous are not without fear.  They still fear all the same things the rest of us do, but they power through it and make the decision to do what is right, above the fear, beyond expectation, and seemingly impossible.  It was with a friend’s encouragement that I heard them say “Christina, you are fearless.”  But I am not fearless.  I am in constant fear either consciously or subconsciously of little things and big things, in the present and in the future.  But on this day after completing Game 3 with NO Strikeouts, 2 singles (I almost made it to 3rd running bases on other’s hits), connecting with the ball at EVERY at bat; that I realized:

I am not fearless I am just practicing courage amidst my fears. 

That each at bat was about the task, it was about regaining my ability to focus and shut out the world (I use to be a pro at this – acting has a way of demanding that skill), reminding myself of what I practiced (low and slow, watch the ball, bring the bat to the ball, CONNECT), and holding my head high with each accomplishment no matter how small no matter how insignificant to others.  In this little mission of change in my life, that I was able to be courageous even though I was fearful.

Final Mission – Game 1 In Retrospect

The first game of softball was so filled with mental rollercoaster riding that I couldn’t make myself sit down and write.  Probably should have since for the next 3 days all I could do was sit.  Oh wait I am getting ahead of myself.  New cleats in hand, with glove, water, food bag, and my new clothes… I get to the field like a 7th grader on her first day of middle school.  I might know ONE person here was the only promise.  New activity, new people, new place (I checked the gps 3 times to make sure I wouldn’t get lost), new expectations, almost new sport to me (its been well over 20 years since I played organized softball). 

YES the anxiety meter was off the charts.  The goal was to focus and just be where I was supposed to when I was supposed to, what position am I playing again?  OH you haven’t told me: I’m now a catcher.  I know I know my chiropractor is gonna kill me.  I have been doing my stretching exercises for a few weeks so I get to stretching.  NO INJURIES is one of the missions, so I MUST make certain that I don’t fail. 

Having always played outfield as a youngin, I am not necessarily equipped with all the rules or responsibilities of the catcher, but I do know this: I will be getting lots of practice throwing, after every pitch.  Side Note: Schedule more throwing time with friends.  I did have a few responsibility conflicts with one of the pitchers, I was guarding home plate during a play at home plate – but it is a well-known fact that the pitcher is supposed to run in and cover it (because they would prefer the guy get hurt than the girl).  Okay so not something  I knew, nor would agree to in normal circumstances.  But when you’re the new girl you play by the home teams rules. 

So the game progresses and I am definitely feeling winded between running to bases and running back to get glove to be in position to catch.  Can’t figure out which bat to use so I just guess.  I over throw the pitcher a couple of times.  I miss the ball coming at me a decent amount of the time.  But the final innings of the second game are wrapping up and ALL I can think of THANK GOODNESS.  I am so well past done and I am feeling kind of embarrassed about it. 

But Sunday night, after I return home feeling victorious about having completed the FINAL MISSION… I  begin to realize there will be consequences to my actions.  That even though I did not know I was pushing my body past its comfort zone it was going to spend the next 2 days in a full on and complete rebellion.  I neglected to mention I had been squatting for most of the 1st game (7 innings) in the catcher position.  To which I was informed later I did not have to do.  Either way I didn’t feel pain, so I thought I would be fine.  I would not need to stand because I could handle it.  Well lets just say sometimes what the mind conceives is not what the body believes. 

Life is Pain, Highness, anyone who tries to tell you differently is selling something.  Some how that movie quote seemed to kick itself around my mind for the next 2 days.  YES TWOOOOOO WHOLE DAYS!!! I could barely move let alone walk, let alone climb stairs (required for sleeping since my bedroom is upstairs).  Yeah this girl was hurtin for certain. It was finally Wednesday (note games are on sunday), that I was finally feeling what I would call the normal soreness of having worked out.  There were even moments of wondering… if this is the price for this kind of FUN activity am I sure I’m up for it?  Am I sure this is really FUN any more? 

but then I had to remember the actual definition of the FINAL MISSION: I didn’t humiliate myself – MISSION Accomplished!!! I didn’t die – another MISSION Accomplished.  I didn’t give up or ask to be relieved or step out because I couldn’t finish, so on that measure I am proud of what I have SUCCESSFULLY navigated.  JOB well done!!!

Final Mission – Game 2

FINAL MISSION Playing fall softball with people who know what they are doing and not making a fool of myself – In Progress. 

My 2nd game day hit me all kinds of wrong.  I struck out twice, couldn’t find my rhythm, felt completely self-conscious, was intimidated by the strangers of the other team, a little unsure with a new member of our team (why do confident character guys always intimidate me and make me feel STUPID when I’m having an insecure day?), and just couldn’t figure out how to contribute – I’m just the catcher. 

It’s amazing to me how as a kid I don’t remember FEELING all of these things when I was playing.  I remember body positions, coaches words on posture and position, do’s and don’ts about throwing and running, but I don’t remember having this psychological warfare in my head over the negative self-talk.  Was this because I was too young to have these worries or just oblivious to the world of psychology yet to know what it was so be psyched out or anxious? 

Either way this game was not pretty for me. I had been relaxing and enjoying the pleasures of Sunriver with a friend so I didn’t hit the batting cages that week.  I also have not been using the bat I bought because I am not convinced yet it is the RIGHT one; so I was trying to figure out which one to use according to what the team had and nothing fit right.   I had some how convinced myself that I NEEDED to hit harder, I couldn’t find the right stance in the batter’s box, and there was something about the other team that just well put me into a really REALLY self-conscious state.  I struck out twice, then found myself with a hit that got me out (so technically not a hit).  I just couldn’t SEE the ball and for some reason I just couldn’t connect with the bat.  Talk about discouraging, for some reason I just couldn’t MAKE IT WORK… What a strange feeling. 

Some how I came to the realization that it has been years and years since I have done something or tried something I honestly… genuinely suck at.  I couldn’t get my mind focused and turn off the distractions enough to make the body line up.  My body is still uncoordinated and out of practice in this kind of physical activity.  I had been really good at making the mind tune out distractions in the past, but with each inning and each at bat the previous anxiety and inadequacy just seemed to magnify in my head, making my concentration worse and my applied efforts disastrous. 

Fortunately, one  of the gals I was playing with stepped up and said SWING SLOWER… and step to the back of the box.  Simple instructions, something tangible I could get my mind around and what do you know… A single my final at bat occurred.  It didn’t feel like a good hit, but some how it connected.  My whole team seemed to cheer like it was a home run and I ran to first.  Whew… at least I contributed a SMIDGE. 

So all this stress and anxiety makes me wonder again WHY AM I DOING THIS??? Why did I sign up, pay the money, and began practicing like a real athlete?  Not sure.  But I wanted to prove to myself I could still do it.  I wanted to believe I still had the ability to play.  Now that that has clearly become a non-reality, I’m wondering is this really fun?  Am I finding the same amount of satisfaction I was looking for?  Has it been worth it so to speak? 

The truth is Yes!!! I have been stretching myself mentally, physically, and socially beyond my current comfort zone for the first time in quite a few years.  Even though I have not been the shining start I wanted it to be and even though my feelings do not see it as a success, there are a few things I need to remember: There have been no injuries, I didn’t make a fool of myself, I didn’t blow any plays at the plate, and I SHOWED UP… so according to that measure it was a success.  And in this life where I have made it a mission to keep moving forward… this kind of success is a good thing.