QOTD: “It’s Got Nothing to Do with You”

It's got nothing to do with you if one can grasp it.

Here’s a confession for you: I’ve never been huge David Bowie fan. Shocking, right? Of course, he was my first sex symbol. I remember watching him (and those leather pants) in Labyrinth at around 5 years old, turning to my mother, and asking “Is that what sexy means?” Don’t remember her reaction, but if she was anything like she is now, I’m sure she blushed furiously and wished she could melt into the carpet. Seriously, though, how does anyone not fall in love with Jareth at first site?

Other than that, though, my only real exposure to Bowie was through the radio hits, which, for the most part, I could take or leave. Sounded good, had great lyrics, just missed whatever that certain something is that reaches out and snags your heart strings. Yeah, I’m a heathen, I know. Don’t write me off entirely, though, because I’m about to tell you something important: I’ve recently discovered a Bowie song that means something to me. One that I play over and over, and listen to when I need an emotional boost (which is all the time, lately, it seems).

The song is “Up the Hill Backwards,” from the 1980 Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) album (which also features “Ashes to Ashes” and “Fashion”). The song was released as the 4th and final single from the album, hitting the radio in March of 1981. The song did not receive critical success, only reaching 32 on the chart in the UK, and not making a splash at all in the US.

At late bloomer, as always, I first heard the song about a month ago, at the end of the movie Adult Beginners, which tells the story of a 35-ish guy who loses a tech fortune and moves in with his sister’s family, acting as a nanny while he gets his life figured out. The movie rang some bells for me, but it really hit home when music started playing over the last scene, and Bowie’s voice told me, “It’s got nothing to do with you, if one can grasp it.” To be honest, it felt like a home-based Camino moment. I instantly started crying, and then spent the next hour listening to the song on repeat.

I’m working the morning shift at the hotel today, and on my walk to work, I was thinking over some current life issues – work, relationship, self-worth, future adventures, that kind of thing. It occurred to me that there’s so much that’s out of my hands. I can’t control how others feel about me, or if they care about my ideas or feelings. I can’t control how others live their lives. I can’t control the weather, or housing prices, or the stock market. The world goes round. Shit happens – but beauty happens, too. Pushing back against the Universe causes undue stress. It’s time to realize that, while I can be a force of good in the world, and that I can effect change by doing my best, the things that I worry about, that my vanity and pride hone in on and stress over for far too long – these are the things that have nothing to do with me.

In life, as on the Camino, it is my job to breathe deeply, think kindly, and keep moving forward. In this way, and only this way, will I truly be at peace with myself, and an example to others.

 

Ch-Ch-Changes

Man. I’m so glad I threw caution to the wind and took my chance to go to Spain last year, because life is certainly not throwing me a bone at the moment. The Camino brought me back to myself, but that knowledge came at a price, and it appears that price is steady employment. It’s probably going to be awhile before I’m able to drop everything and go off to explore the world again.

It appears that my full time job is about to become an hourly position unless something magical happens. Once it goes hourly, I won’t be able to afford rent on one job. Not that I can currently afford rent, since I haven’t been paid in a month, but I’m not going to let myself get too worried yet. I’ve lived through worse. For instance, Hurricane Katrina was MUCH worse. I lost most of my possessions, had to move to a new city with $30 to my name, was disowned by my family (it was short-lived, but really defined an era for me), never did get that damn FEMA check (but my grandparents sent money, which was a real help), and you know what? Despite the pain, loss, and uncertainty, I actually had a pretty good time. I got to explore a new city (Chicago), meet a ton of new friends who are still my friends today, and not being able to afford to eat meant that I lost about 20 lbs and looked fabulous! It also had the side benefit of teaching me that material goods, no matter how expensive, are actually worthless, which helps in times like this when I’m forced by necessity to sell off all of my belongings to pay rent. So there’s that.

All this is actually pretty funny, because the last time I remember feeling empowered and in touch with the Universe this much was roughly Winter 2005. So. Here we are again. This time I’ve got blue hair, two Masters degrees (and the corresponding amount of student loan debt), and luckily, some ideas on how to move forward towards a life I’ll enjoy for some time to come.

This is also the last blog post that I’ll be posting from this computer, since I need to sell it. No worries, I actually put a new Macbook Air on credit for work before I found out that work was drying up. But it’s better to have the new one now instead of getting stuck with an old one that could conk out at any moment. I’ve had too much bad luck with computers to put my faith in a 5-year old Mac, and there’s no way I’m getting stuck with no computer and no backup plan in the middle of an underemployment spell – that’s never a good idea for freelancers.

OK, wish me luck, luvs. I could use all the good energy you’ve got to spare right now.

 

Shifting Into Gear

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A tiny, glowing part of the Chewbacchus parade, my favorite thing about Mardi Gras. Image via NOLA.com.

It’s Mardi Gras weekend here in the Big Easy, and most people are out at the parades or attending various parties. I’ll be heading to a couple of grand events later in the weekend, but for the moment I’m enjoying one last dose of quiet before diving headfirst into the celebration.

For the last week or so, I’ve been gathering up everything I have that’s worth anything and posting it on Amazon or Ebay. My goal is really to pare down my belongings to the point where my house doesn’t feel full of stuff, but rather full of possibility. As the piles of junk start to disappear and the surfaces clear off, I’ve found that my creativity is returning bit by bit. I’ve been able to come up with some creative storage solutions that managed to elude me for almost two years, and I figured out how to afford the new computer I so desperately need without putting myself in further debt. Several sewing projects have been attempted and completed successfully, I learned a new origami pattern, and I had a cool idea about how to make my closet work better for me last night that I intend to work on as soon as Mardi Gras has passed.

Another thing that’s going to change with the season is my health. I’ve actually been taking good care of myself. I’m on medication for my anxiety and depression, am attending therapy regularly, and walk/work out daily. After much thought, however, I made the hard decision to quit my gym for the year to save money. I realized that though I love lifting weights and hanging out with the people at the gym, my finances (and emotional state) are never going to improve if I keep spending that obscene amount of money on working out each month. In fact, after doing the math, I realized that I could easily afford to enroll in a Fitocracy program online, WITH my boyfriend, and still save enough money to buy a month’s worth of healthy groceries. I loved that gym, and maybe I’ll make enough money in the future to return, but for now it’s more important to focus my attention on my financial fitness. I’m actually very excited about the Fitocracy program – it’s called Hormonal Fat Loss. If you’re interested in checking out any of the training programs at Fitocracy, here’s a COUPON CODE FOR $20 OFF. Even better for me, when you use the code, I get $20 off, too!

Maybe most exciting of all is that I recently made the decision to start dressing like the me that’s been inside, hiding, all this time. Tomorrow I’m headed to get a new haircut that’s sure to give my parents a heart attack. I want it to look something like this:

shaved-side-hairstyles

Not sure if the stylist is going to have the time for the color, but I know the cut is going to look amazing. Really looking forward to making a splash at the Orpheus Ball on Monday night. I found this beautiful dress on Rent the Runway that’s right up my alley – a little more tech while still being glam:

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Image via Nordstrom.com, because I’m too lazy to find it on Rent the Runway right now.

And I got the most beautiful vintage earrings on Ebay to complete the ensemble:

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Check out these bad boys…

Welcome to 2016. It’s going to be my year, but I’m happy to share it if you’re nice 🙂

Making Space For Me

When I moved into this apartment over a year and a half ago, I brought much of my old life with me. Boxes and bins, bags, books, furniture, and with them, plenty of leftover negative emotion. Luckily, I also brought hope, and the first sparks of happiness. But as I’ve gone on making my nest here, I’ve come to realize that moving forward is harder when you’re holding on to too much of the past, be that physically or emotionally.

About a year ago, I started getting rid of things. I sold things that could be sold on Ebay or Amazon, and put other bits and pieces out on the curb for passersby. Periodically, I’d look through my possessions and reassess how they made me feel. If I held a positive emotional attachment to an item, like the stuffed rabbit my grandfather gave me before he died, or the wooden cactus that reminds me of my dad, I’d keep it. If it affected me negatively, like presents from an ex, or clothes that reminded me of how much weight I’d gained, I found a way to get rid of them. Very slowly, my apartment began to feel lighter, less jumbled.

It’s crazy how much stuff one 400 square foot space can hold, because I’m STILL cleaning. Right now I have another ten items on Ebay, a list of products up on Amazon, and a big box of other stuff that needs to get listed tonight on Ebay and Craigslist. That, after putting at least a box of random things out on the curb every single week.

However, I think I’m getting somewhat close to the end. It’s time to go through my closet one more time to eliminate any pieces that don’t fit. I’ve ordered all new underthings (all in black, to eliminate time wasted each morning making such a silly decision as what color underwear to wear today). I bought a new size of my favorite jacket, the one that stopped fitting my shoulders when I started weightlifting. No use in holding on. I’m going to cull my shoe collection to 1/2 of its current size, since I only ever wear my sneakers, TOMS and Tevas anyway. I’m also going to sell my Arabian Nights book collection, and consolidate my jewelry boxes.

Once my belongings are pared down, I’ll revise my work station and get started with the big bad plan for my new year – building a new career identity. While I still have my job as online marketing director for my New Orleans ad agency, I’m also going back to school in a few days for a certificate in Copyediting. On top of that, I’m going to start making my origami & jewelry-making business, one piece at a time. By 2017, I plan to be a hell of a lot closer to the me I see when I close my eyes at night.

It is said that, “Fine words butter no parsnips.” Work is required. I am worth it. I will not wait any longer for the world to make space for me. I’ll just make my own, thanks.

 

 

Feeling Stronger Every Day

C’mon, you know I couldn’t resist a Chicago reference!

I’m feeling better this week than last. Last Tuesday I had that doctor’s appointment where I found out that I have prehypertension (which means that my blood pressure is a bit high), Vitamin D deficiency, and my BMI classifies me as obese*. Awesome. Still got a couple of weeks before I get to go to the next doctor and do some serious digging into the rest of the symptoms that I’m pretty sure are related to a hormone imbalance, but I wanted to get a jump on fixing what I could with a renewed focus on diet and exercise. (*I do put stock in there being such a thing as a healthy weight, and I’m definitely not where I should be, weight-wise, but BMI isn’t the best way to determine it. Here’s a New York Times article on the discrepancies of the system.)

On Wednesday I put on my big girl pants and went back to eating 95% paleo, instead of my typical 60%. I’m also testing out how I do with intermittent fasting, eating my full day’s worth of calories between 10am and 6pm most days to give my body more time to rest between processes. For more info on intermittent fasting, here’s a great article from Nerd Fitness with all the basics.

Dropped coffee (I was already only drinking decaf, and it was still giving me jitters) from my diet, and I’m taking it easy with alcohol, as well. Taking all of my supplements (magnesium/calcium, multivitamin, B complex, D, probiotic, glucosamine, and fish oil) every day, but I was already doing that. Also went back to drinking an ounce of water per pound of body weight, which means that I have to pee pretty much constantly, but between the water and cutting out coffee, my skin is looking great!

One thing I’ve noticed is that since I started cutting off my ability to eat at night, I’ve weirdly stopped craving food. Went to the grocery store tonight and was able to walk right past those homemade double chocolate caramel brownies that I typically adore. (Though I’m not a saint – I did buy a dark chocolate orange peel bar to get me through the late night work session I’m about to embark upon after finishing up this blog post.) I’m also starting to pay attention to when I’m actually hungry vs. just bored – and guess what? Every time in the last week that I’ve felt like I should be eating something “after hours”, thus far it’s ALWAYS been related to boredom or being upset. Of course, I pretty much knew that, but reaffirming it by taking a mental note each time it happens is going to be very helpful in the long run. Hopefully, at least.

Last week I worked out four days at Iron Tribe, and this week I’m going to try for five or six. That doesn’t include steps – I’ve been aiming for (and hitting) 15k steps per day. That’s nothing new, though. I’ve been doing 15k steps per day for months now. In fact, I’m thinking of upping it to 20k steps, but for the moment I think it’s more important to get fully into the new eating schedule and take care of my right calf, which has been kind of tight lately. I don’t want to overwork it too much and damage myself, because my daily walks keep me sane. A day without a good long walk just feels wrong somehow.

All of the above is important, but the biggest changes are the ones that were already happening for me at the gym. The weight might not be falling off, but there are other ways to take a look at fitness, and it’s evident from the inches that I’ve lost and the new challenges that I’ve been undertaking during my workouts that working out is working, period. I’m finally able to see some definition in my arms, I’ve lost an inch off of my waist and thighs, two inches off of my boobs (sigh) and holy crap, can I lift some weight!

When I started at Iron Tribe last October, I had trouble just lifting the 35 lbs. bar without plates added. This Monday our workout included 2 reps of push presses for our heaviest weight, and I put 85 lbs. over my head – the most weight I’ve ever put over my head in any lift (strict, push press, push jerk, you name it)! I also have a feeling that if we weren’t doing 5 second holds as part of the press, I might have been able to do 90 to 95 lbs. In fact, I’m just realizing that I PR’d in my clean, too, since I put 95 lbs. into my front rack but couldn’t complete the press. Yay me! Adding it to my list of current PRs: 135 lbs. in front squat, back squat, and deadlift, 85 lbs. push press, and a 95 lbs. clean. Sweet.

Tuesday’s workout was better, but for a different reason: I had three personal firsts that were directly related to being stronger, all in the same workout. First off, we had to open and close the workout with 15 burpees. I typically try a couple of regulation burpees, then get worn out and do a scaled version where you step up instead of jump up. I got through NINE in the opening round, which is huge for me. Here’s a pic of me doing burpees at the end of the workout (22 minutes to do 15 burpees, 5 rounds of 6 pull ups and 6 deadlifts, 15 more burpees – I finished in 16:52), with my coach, Shelby, beside me helping me through those last few reps. Doesn’t she have the most amazing arms? I’m asking Santa for two of those this Christmas 😀

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The next good thing to happen was during pull ups. If you can’t do an unassisted pull up, you can use a resistance band to help support your weight and get you back to the top of the bar. If you squint a bit at the photo above, you can see green and red lines hanging near the top of the shot – those are the bands, dangling down from the pull up bar. You put one foot in your band(s), cross your ankles, and do the pull up as normal, and the bands help you pull your own weight back up to get your chin over the bar.

There are multiple weights of resistance bands, and people with less arm strength combine two bands of the heaviest weight, or maybe one of the heaviest weight and one of the next weight down. I usually use the two heaviest bands, but yesterday I felt stronger, and had a hunch that I’d be able to do a little better. So I used a strong band and a weaker band that even a month ago I wouldn’t have been able to do a single pull up with – and I rocked it! Was super tired by the end of the workout, and almost couldn’t get that very last pull up, but I got there after a few attempts. My arms were noodles today, but it was so worth it.

Today was also a victory, but in yet another sense – I got so bummed about not being able to make it to the gym because of work that I ended up putting work on hold so I could walk the 45 minutes there, do my workout, and walk back. Not a single regret 🙂

Alright, time to get some of that work done, so I’ll sign off. Have you been seeing any big changes in your life (physical, mental, spiritual)? I’d love to hear about them. Drop me a line in the comments!

Tackling Tribal Wars

ITF NOLA's Gray Division teams before Tribal Wars started.

ITF NOLA’s Gray Division teams before Tribal Wars started.

This weekend I competed in my first-ever fitness competition. If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you’ll have seen me talk about joining a gym called Iron Tribe Fitness. I’ve never been to a crossfit gym, but I hear that the two are very similar, but technically they’re both their own brands. So I’m not a crossfitter, I’m an ITF athlete…which suits me just fine.

I go to the gym four or five days a week, unless I’m traveling or sick. The workouts are 45 minutes long, and consist of a warm up, cool down, and about 35 minutes of HIIT training / weight lifting. Every day is something different, so you never get bored. The coaches are really hands on, and there’s a real camaraderie between coaches and athletes. Everyone’s very supportive, no matter your fitness level, and over the course of the last nine months I’ve ended up making both gym friends (folks that I chat with on site), and real life friends (people that I hang out with outside of gym-related activities). When I started at ITF, I had no clue how deeply my life would be affected, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve grown to adore my coaches and the people I work out with, and genuinely look forward to that precious time each day when I get to just go and work up a good sweat with people who not only don’t judge me, but also help me forget to judge myself for awhile. To put it mildly, it’s a great feeling.

Even with all of the above being said, I was still very nervous to sign up for Tribal Wars, the annual Iron Tribe competition. The event is for teams of four, competing in one of three divisions: Gray (lowest weight and reps), Orange (more weight and reps), and Black (lots of weight and reps, ie. superhuman effort). Our workouts at the gym are color coded, as well, and I’m typically working out in the Gray range, so I knew that I’d be competing in Gray as well. Easy. But none of my regular gym friends were competing, so I didn’t know how to tackle that. Luckily, the coaches were really helpful on that level, and set me up in a team with three other people I hadn’t met before in class, but ended up really liking.

Last Friday I hitched a ride up to Birmingham, AL with Lauren, another girl from the gym that I’d said hi to on occasion but didn’t know that well. As it turned out, she ended up being awesome, and we talked non-stop on the five-hour trip from Louisiana to Alabama. We were also in the same hotel room as our female coach, Shelby, which ended up being a great arrangement, since our personalities meshed really well. We all crashed pretty early, then woke up at 5:30 the next morning to make it to the stadium for Tribal Wars by 6:30. My team had had a hard time getting together prior to the competition, so that morning was the first time we were all in one place. We talked strategy, sat through a “how to” session where the event judges ran us through what constituted a rep or a no-rep (that means that you’ve done something incorrectly and that rep won’t count), and got ready to rumble.

My team after the competition.

My team after the competition.

My team was named The French Squatters, which was meant to be a pun on French Quarter and the numerous weightlifting exercises that involve squatting. It was funny enough, and none of us really cared that much about the name, but there were some truly funny/clever ones out on the field. I loved The Chalking Dead (where the logo had a chalk handprint), and Double Stuffed (their logo was a kettlebell that looked like an Oreo cookie), but my favorite one was 2 Jerks & 2 Snatches. There was also a team that wore Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles t-shirts. Can’t remember their actual team name, but they wore cool uniforms. Really looking forward to next year’s team name/uniforms. I’d love to put together an all-girl team named The Power Snatches!

Each division had three workouts overall. I didn’t pay attention to how the workouts were being scored, but there were several different things that were being calculated, involving weights and times, and a certain number of reps were required in each workout. The event took place on a college football field, and each team had an aisle to work out in. I don’t know much about how football fields are marked, but the aisle was the area between the horizontal lines that mark the field. Yard lines? Not sure, and not taking the time to look it up.

Doing kettlebell swings in Workout #1.

Doing kettlebell swings in Workout #1.

Anyway, Workout #1 for Gray Division sent two people to one end of the aisle, and the other two people to the other end. At one end, the two people had to do 100 barbell cleans (55 lbs) and 100 box jumps. At the other end, the other two people had 300 single unders (jump rope) and 100 kettlebell swings (26 lbs). After both sides had completed all assigned activity, all four team members met up in the middle for 15 team barbell burpees, where all four people had to do a burpee and jump over the equivalent of a barbell, then all four would do a burpee on that side, then jump, then burpee, etc, back and forth. All team members had to jump and land with both feet off the ground, or it would be a no rep and the whole team would have to repeat that burpee. I was most worried about the burpees for this workout. My teammate Olga and I were on the jump rope / kettlebell side, and didn’t have much problem taking care of them. I tripped a couple of times on the jump rope, which I honestly didn’t expect because I’m typically pretty quick at single unders, but she picked up when I faltered, and I did my fair share of kettlebell swings to help her out. I was surprised to really love those, by the way. I keep finding exercises that I used to be afraid of, and now really like. What surprised me most is that even though I was afraid that I’d be really slow and hold my team up on the burpees, we were all about the same level of proficiency, and I was even faster at some points. That surprised me a lot.

Workout #2 was a 300 meter shuttle run where the first team member ran up and down the field, then as soon as the first person got back, the second person and the first person could go again, then as soon as the second person got back, the first, second and third people could go, etc. As soon as the first person was done with the run (3 trips across and back the short side of the football field), they could go to the sidelines where there was a rack set up with a barbell and weights. All team members then had the remainder of the time for that workout (I think it was 15 minutes overall) to reach their heaviest weight for a complex of 3 front squats and an overhead of each person’s choice. I was a little bit disappointed on this workout, to be honest. My shuttle run was a lot faster than I’d thought it would be, but in the end there wasn’t enough time to get to my heaviest front squats / overhead combo. My PR with an overhead up until that point was 75 lbs, but that day I knew I had more in me. Since we were working our way up to adding more weight as a team, there just wasn’t enough time on the clock to adding any more weight, and my final weight was the same as my existing PR. I honestly think I could have done at least 85 lbs, but that day I was planning on trying for 95 lbs. Oh well – that gives me something to try for in the coming weeks. One great thing about the front squats is that I wasn’t very confident that my squat was low enough, and I was afraid of getting a no rep. I’ve historically had a lot of hip and back pain, and though squats have really been helping me get rid of the tightness in my hips, I still was worrying all the way up to the competition. While I was working out, Lauren took some photos of me from the stands – and look at this awesome front squat! I don’t look beautiful in this pic, but I look strong, and I’m very proud of it.

I finally get low enough in my front squat!!!

I finally get low enough in my front squat!!!

My feet are too far apart, and I could have put more weight over my head. But this is me holding up 75 lbs overhead, when 9 months ago I struggled with just putting a 35 lbs bar up there.

My feet are too far apart, I’m making THE WORST expression, and I could have put more weight over my head. But this is me holding up 75 lbs overhead, when 9 months ago I struggled with just putting a 35 lbs bar up there, so I’m sharing it for posterity.

The first two workouts had been common knowledge for a few weeks before the competition, but the final workout was kept a mystery until that day. We had to do weighted forwards and backwards lunges with 2 kettlebells (26 lbs for girls, 35 lbs for guys), a 250 meter row on a rowing machine, and 100 push presses as a team (55 lbs for girls, 75 lbs for guys). The hitch was that the first person would do the lunges, run to the rowing machine, and as soon as they got strapped into the rowing machine, the next person would pick up their kettlebells and stand with them (no lunges) until the row was complete. At that point, the rower would run to the push press station and start working on push presses, and the lunger would start doing lunges, then move on to the rower. The person doing lunges could never start doing them until the rower was done, and if at any point the person put down their kettlebells the rower had to stop rowing until the kettlebells were back in hand. After all of the team members were done with lunges, rowing, and all 100 push presses, then they had to do this weird exercise called a mudskipper (after a fish native to the region that walks on land). One team member puts their toes on a frisbee, gets into what basically turns out to be the plank position, and uses their hands to walk across the football field and drag their feet behind them. The best strategy that we saw for this was to do more of an inchworm move, where instead of making the back half of your body deadweight, you bring your knees towards your chest, walk hands forward, scoot knees to chest, walk hands forward, etc. It covered a lot more ground more quickly, and was a great ab workout.

The Gray Division teams after competing, sweaty and happy.

The Gray Division teams after competing, sweaty and happy.

In the end, my team didn’t win. We finished 45th out of 47 teams. But to my surprise, I wasn’t disappointed at all. We worked REALLY HARD. It was a great workout. We finished everything we started out to do, and never gave up. For a team where only one of us had competed in Tribal Wars before, we did a damn good job.

What was even more surprising for me is that after the competition was over, after we all got together on Saturday night to take over the hotel bar, and after the biggest Cracker Barrel breakfast the next morning, all the way home I couldn’t help but plan for how I’d be better next year. I walked into Tribal Wars feeling pretty apprehensive, not sure that I’d even make it through the workouts, almost certain that I was bound to disappoint my teammates and make a fool of myself. I left Birmingham feeling awesome. I’d made new friends, completed a really hard workout, and had complete faith that I could do it again – better – next year. It also gave me the idea to start thinking of every workout between now and the next Tribal Wars as competition training. It’s entirely possible to get much, much stronger between now and then, and I’m going to do it.

Breakfast at Cracker Barrel on Sunday - we had so many plates that we were running out of room on the table!

Breakfast at Cracker Barrel on Sunday – we had so many plates that we were running out of room on the table!

Overall, I’m really grateful to my Iron Tribe friends and family for being there. I have a lot of issues with my body. I was never confident about my physical appearance to begin with, but gaining so much weight over the last couple of years has been an enormous strain on me. I feel like Tribal Wars helped punch a big ol’ hole in those clouds of doubt. Yes, I’m aware that my body doesn’t look how I’d look in an ideal world. But I’m happy to trade out those worries for the time being, and to instead concentrate on how powerful and capable my body is. I’m so strong, and only getting stronger. I’m totally OK with that.

Finding My Way

I'll be traveling the Camino Frances.

I’ll be traveling the Camino Frances.

A few days ago, I bought an expensive plane ticket.

Wait, let me back up a bit.

A few weeks ago, my credit card limit was raised. I’ve been good about paying it off, so I guess they decided I was good for it. Ha! Anyway it was completely out of the blue. I hemmed and hawed, but eventually came to the decision that it was the Universe telling me to get off my ass and commit to my pilgrimage, already. So now we’re back at the beginning of the story – I bought an expensive plane ticket. The credit card gods laughed with glee.

I thought that after a day or two, I would have processed this information to the point where I could sit down and write a few words about it in my blog. What it means to me, what I’m scared about, what I’m happy about, how I plan to go about making the room in my life for this giant step, etc. Instead, there’s this big blank space in my mind where the worry/joy/excitement/trepidation should be. It kinda feels like I might be in shock, to tell you the truth. Except would I realize it if I were in shock? I don’t know.

Here’s a somewhat related “aside” for you: I realized today that when my brain thinks I’ll probably freak out about a fact, it just skims over it. For instance, every morning I wake up and look up the workout of the day on my gym’s website. Every class that day does the exact same workout, so it’s handy to take a look, get prepared, then go into class at some point and knock out those exercises. The WOD info is also written on a white board at the front of the gym, and the coaches give us a mini lecture before the workout begins, outlining exactly what the workout will entail. Easy, right? Last week, despite reading the website, listening to the instructors, and reading the whiteboard, I completely screwed up the workout. I missed three whole rounds of exercises (which I might have said was literally impossible, except now I know it’s definitely not).

This is what a WOD (workout of the day) looks like at my gym.

This is what a WOD (workout of the day) looks like at my gym.

I wrote it off as a strange day, and moved on…but then today I almost did it again. I read the workout online, talked about it with my coworker, read the whiteboard, listened to the coaches explain it, and then right before the workout started I realized that I’d somehow been thinking that we had 80 reps to do, when in fact we had about four times that amount of reps. I won’t bore you with the details, but let’s be clear that this is REALLY weird. It occurred to me during my coaches assessment today that I must be just letting my brain slide right over any unpleasantness, for fear of freaking myself out. Not exactly what I’d prefer, but interesting to note for the time being.

Anyway, so here I am, less than ten months til blastoff, proud holder of a round trip to Paris and a lot of random information about the pilgrimage. I feel prepared, intellectually, to choose the correct items for my pack (including said pack). I feel prepared, physically, to start training for the really, really long walk. But spiritually? And emotionally? And financially? Not so much.

That’s OK. I’ve got time. There’s also this great community of American pilgrims on Facebook who talk about stuff like this every day, and talking with them has been helpful. I even met someone who’s going to loan me her SPOT GPS so I can have a way of telling my friends and family where I am on the journey – pretty cool. I feel ready for the challenge, and ready for the change. I deserve it. My soul is hungry for it. This is exactly where I’m supposed to be. Maybe that’s what has me so scared.

You know that part in Interstellar where Matthew Mcconaughey’s character is trying to dock his little landing craft with a wildly spinning spacecraft, and you’re just watching, holding your breath, thinking “holy shit, dude!”? I feel like maybe that’s what my spirit and my body are doing right now. Like I’ve been so out of whack for so long, and everything’s finally getting aligned. So yeah, I’m in shock. It’s a shock. It’s completely necessary.

This is good.