Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Bruises

I think 23 years of raising 5 children has brought me to the place where the ability to sit in silence is a challenge. Even at my desk at work, in the provider office, I have music on to tie up the chaotic corner of my brain that my children usually occupy when I am home.  Anyone who has read my blog for any length of time will attest to my eclectic musical taste, and I will even cop to seasons in my life where a certain style will speak to me for a period of time.  Yesterday, I slipped into my Train rut that I have been in over the last couple of weeks.  Somehow, through the grief of being motherless on Mother's Day, I needed the upbeat stylings of"Meet Virginia" or "Play That Song". 



Haven't seen you since high school
Good to see you're still beautiful
Gravity hasn't started to pull quite yet
Quite yet, I bet you're rich as hell


Ah yes,"Bruises" because classic Train never dies.  Ironic I would be hearing this two days post Spartan Race.  It gave me pause to pull up the sleeves on my long sleeve shirt to survey the damage.  I had bruises on my forearms and on my inner upper left arm.  A hoisting of my scrub pants would reveal bruises on the bottom of my left thigh, a small gash across my right shin and blisters on both heels that were really more gouges than superficial.  All in all, not too bad.  Well, I should back up a bit, not bad for a Spartan.  From non racers there is the obligatory,"you're crazy" or "why would you do that to yourself?"  With ten races under my belt I can honestly say the answer to that question is different each time I race.

These bruises make for better conversation
Loses the vibe that separates



I suppose it's safe to say each one of these bruises tell a story.  My forearms tell the tale of particularly dry and gravely terrain beneath the barbed wire.  Those I am proud of as I have finally perfected my rolling technique. I did not snag on the wire even once or tear the knees out of my kick ass Spartan base layer.  They even make me smile as I can hear the voices of my teammates as in those moments they outed with our long standing joke of,"great job roller", a phrase adapted from an incident involving a particularly odd participant in a previous race.  The bruise on my thigh is likely from hoisting it over the eight foot wall where I found I did not have to use the phrase,"I don't got this" when my immense fear of heights would usually have kicked in.  The gash on my shin was from a small branch with thorns that my right shoe got hooked under as I was running, reminding me that I largely did not let the rough terrain of the race scare me enough to walk as I had previously.   I actually ran way more in this race than I ever have before.  The blisters on my heels remind me that I should listen to a friend who is constantly telling me to wear long socks.  They make me chuckle too, as I know the months of,"I told you so" with some good natured ribbing is sure to be forthcoming.






One that's five and one that's three
Been two years since he left me

The fact is, despite the engaging catchy melody of "Bruises", it is really about two old friends catching up and seeing the distant perceptions of each other they held on to were not quite like reality.  They had each had their own struggles.  It makes me think about our propensity to follow along the social media personas of hundreds of our closest friends and feel we must be the only ones struggling and should cover our proverbial bruises with long sleeves. This is where I believe Train has it right.  

These bruises make for better conversation
Loses the vibe that separates
It's good to know you've got a friend
That you remember now and then
Everybody loses





Maybe the better answer is to go for it on the hard challenges and realize the bruises that may come are not fatal.  In fact, we just might find a better version of ourselves just as I did under the barbed wire.  As for my team?  I have heard from nearly all of them as we compare our various "Spartan Kisses" as they are called, and had good conversation about conquering hard things. By taking off the long sleeves and sharing the struggle we are finding we lose the vibe that separates, and discover a caliber of friendship that does not exist in the idealistic social media profile, as well as learning every now and then, everybody loses.  


I would love to fix it all for you
I would love to fix you too
Please don't fix a thing whatever you do

So, to non racers, the physical post race display may seem a bit crazy, and at times I have had people try to convince me to stop racing because of it.  However, my fellow racers help me to see, said display is a powerful reminder of how far I have come and what I am actually capable of, as well as the joy I get in helping others to do the same.  To me?  The bruises remind me that the best is yet to come












Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Journey is so Pissed

Being the head of a motivational health and fitness company, Team 1DOS, I spend an hour each morning updating my social media presence with motivational quotes to help keep my my mighty shiver of great whites moving.  As I was perusing my usual quote sources today, I ran across this one.



I have seen it before, but still, cracks me up every time.  In fact, I was still chuckling about it as I was pulling into Orangetheory today.  Wait.  It was today.  April 30.  It was April 30, 2015 that I entered this studio for the first time.  Today was my four year anniversary of training here.  I was suddenly flooded with memories from that day.  I was 85 pounds heavier wearing my XXL t shirt and hoping not to look foolish.  What was I doing there anyway?  I could not hang with these people.  These people ran.  They used that rowing contraption.  I couldn't do that either.  In fact, in my first few months here, I used the phrase "I can't" like a comma.

Looking back, maybe this meme is not as funny as I originally thought.  The years leading into the start of my transformation were loaded with multiple tragedies and stressors.  There was the passing of three very close family members in the same year, none of which were expected.  There was the stress of a three year extremely unpredictable Haitian adoption process to get our two youngest children home,  while at the same time dealing with  the difficulties of parenting our other adopted children of trauma, all with unique issues, demanding different parts of my emotional motherhood.  There was a cross country move to avoid the racial bias of where we were living, as we found ourselves to be targets in our own community.  Thing after thing.  Crisis to crisis.  It would seem all of my plate spinning to manage it all had gotten me to a place I stopped taking care of myself or believing in my own abilities.  With years of that, Journey should have been mad as hell.

It makes me wonder how many times we take all of the stress, crises and disappointments that go with this thing called life and use them as a crutch to lose all faith in ourselves to carry on and learn to live as our best selves.  How many times do we let the,"I can't's" become so loud that believing is no longer an option?

That being said, you may be asking how my four year anniversary workout was.  I suppose if I were some sort of romantic novelist this would be the part where I would explain "I can't" has totally left my vocabulary, I now run a five minute mile and squat 200 pounds.  Let's go with no to all three things.  Did I sing some heavy metal with my besties on the treadmill like usual?  No to that too.  Today, I had a unique day when my close gym family members were missing.  Work, life and kids had kept them out of our usual 8:45 class.  It was me.  Just me in a room full of non sharks attacking one of the hardest tread blocks I had come by in some time.  Twenty-two minutes of rolling hills with no walking recovery.  Here I was with the two things I thought I hated most, working out alone and running on the hill. As I got to work for the 2.35 miles for the 22 mins I found myself on the godforsaken inclines, I thought back to the scared power walker I started out as.  The one who came in the door four years ago and would not have covered much more than a mile in the same amount of time.  I was the same person who was terrified to try anything outside the studio because I didn't trust myself to do anything alone and not quit.  Yet here I was, showing up for myself conquering things I would have responded,"I can't" to four years ago.  These may not be olympic record setting things, but large victories in my journey to believe I can be my best self.  After conquering this class, the shout out from the trainer, who has walked the whole road with me, was that much sweeter and reminded me showing up for hard things and trusting myself to get them done is far more satisfying than avoiding them because they are uncomfortable.  



I'd love to tell you that this was the happy ending of a long journey and that the trials of life have not struck me in the last four years as I have walked this road, but they have.  The worst of which the sudden loss of my mother under circumstances I'd rather not think about.  There were other trials such as major health problems under my own roof, and children with their own unique issues.  No, all those plates are still spinning, with the addition of a very special plate that is held central.  It is the "show up for myself" plate.  That one is central and securely spinning which has ironically made all the other plates much easier to manage.  So, friends, I think at the end of the day our job is to not piss Journey off.  They are an iconic 80's band after all, and that would be just wrong.  Instead, we don't stop believing the greatest version of ourselves is truly attainable regardless of where you came from or what life is handing you at any given moment, and to hold on to that feeling that the best is truly yet to come.  

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Celebrating the Finish Line

The last few weeks have been absolutely crazy.  Working lots of hours, coordinating a challenge for my business, and this past weekend coordinating a large team to run a half marathon on Saturday, with a fund raiser for my foundation on Sunday, followed by leaving said fund raiser and driving directly out of town, only to be gone for work for three days.  All in, I believe I have been on this kind of roller coaster for about six weeks.  Saturday morning I would coordinate the teams, take all the obligatory social media pre-race pics, locate the corals, adjust all my race gear, and suddenly the gun would go off and I would find myself running down the rail trail with a sea of other half marathoners on a beautiful spring day.

I don't know where I'm goin'
But I sure know where I've been

Hanging on the promises in songs of yesterday
An' I've made up my mind, I ain't wasting no more time
Here I go again, here I go again

Ah yes.  Whitesnake, the consummate 80's hair band.  Reminds me of my college days with my gigantic hair supported with the superhuman hairspray, better known as Aquanet, that my sorority sisters and I consumed so much of. I am still quite certain there is a large hole in the ozone over 200 South Summit in Iowa City. As I chuckle about that it dawns on me I am alone.  Jogging along in a sea of humanity alone in my own thoughts and music for the first time in a while, as life's busy has consumed me for some time.  I would see the sun starting to poke through the clouds, enjoy the newness of a beautiful 13 mile downhill rail trail and revel in how strong I was feeling in those early moments.  Check the pace.... first mile 10:02.  Well shit.  My half pace is really more of 11:30, but this was down hill I was good.  I was ready to roll.

Tho' I keep searching for an answer

I never seem to find what I'm looking for
Oh Lord, I pray you give me strength to carry on
'

That is, I was fine til I wasn't.  My strength began to waver, my hips and quads began to hurt.  As it turns out, a 13.1 mile downhill course was not easier, it was different.  Coming out of the gate too quick, new muscles activated, running alone, as my last half was in Disney and run with my son, suddenly everything was a whole lot harder.  I started walking at intervals at mile 9, and I really did hope I had the strength to carry on. In the end, my splits would get progressively slower and I would finish a painful 2 minutes behind my half that I did in October and nine minutes shy of my goal.  I would spend the next few days analyzing what I did.  I should have come out slower.  I should have had more even splits.  I should have trained longer distances.  If only I did....  I should have.... Days of this self questioning.



Then it would happen.  A seasoned distance runner in my motivational group would post a simple meme,"celebrate the finish line, not the finish time."  I was so busy being disappointed in my lack of PR, or my slower time from October I had missed it. 

And here I go again on my own
Goin' down the only road I've ever known
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone 

As it turns out, going out on my own, lost in my own personal race critique, I had missed a lot of things that happened in that race far beyond the timer.  There was the amazing scenery of the newly opened rail trail in Upstate New York, complete with rolling streams, and the sun shining through the trees on a beautiful spring day.  Not to mention being part of an inaugural half on this very trail.  There were the thousands of well wishers who gave high fives as I passed by and rang cow bells.  There was being passed by one of my trainers as he patted my arm and told me to keep going.  I would later be passed by two of the most seasoned distance runners I am blessed to call friends, one at mile 3, one at mile 4, who would both ask if I was OK and to tell me,"you got this," reminding me of the amazing people in my life committed to my success.  I would be completely struggling at mile ten, only to hear,"Sweet Caroline" which was my mom's favorite song, to remind me once again, even though she is not physically here anymore, she can still find ways to show me she is always in my corner, which admittedly brought some tears through the physical pain I was in at that moment.  Ultimately, I would hit the finish and be met by a few of my faster teammates who cheered for me like any solid teammate would.  Later, I would see an epic finish by a previously injured teammate, a smile that could only be characterized by freedom across the face of another who has lost over 100 pounds as she finished, and the finishes of two others who had taken on their epic first half marathon.  

I now begin to wonder, how many times do we go out again on our own, working on getting our own pace right, trying to power through the tough stuff, yet drowning in our own disappointment when we miss the mark we have set for ourselves, and later obsessively trying to figure out how to do it better.  Probably, the better focus is in on the achievement itself, taking advantage of the amazing people and stops along the way that got us there regardless of timing. 

 In the end, we did celebrate at the finish.  We raised our individual bottles of prosecco, as is our 1DOS tradition, had a lot of laughs, took turns at the massage tables, and took the most epic after shots to date.  For me, maybe the walk alone thing as Whitesnake suggests is not quite the right choice but, there is something this song gets right on the money.

An' I've made up my mind, I ain't wasting no more time

It's time for me to continue to invest in solid training, stop worrying about the PR, begin to revel in the fact that I have the most amazing half sisters (13.1), embracing that the journey to the goal will always teach me more than any PR, and most importantly stand firm in the knowledge that the best is yet to come.








Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Closer to Free

About four months ago, I took a traveling nurse practitioner job covering the eastern side of New York.  Consequently, I find myself on the road a lot and am learning how to occupy my time traveling from site to site.  I have discovered the beauty of audio books, and the rediscovery of music from days gone by.  Earlier this week, I found myself making the trek from Utica to Oneonta.  It's a straight shot south through the hills of central New York on country highways.  Sounds great right?

Well, not really, there was something oddly familiar about this drive.  Up, down, around, 55mph, 30 mph, small town cop on the side of the road....  yes.  I know all about this.  About ten years ago this city girl from Chicago was dropped into southern West Virginia for five years.  Chicago is one thing.  It's a logical grid.  The streets steadily increase in number from the center of the city in three directions, north, south and west.  East simply lands you in Lake Michigan.  You can't really get lost in Chicago, you simply go to the nearest corner and look up and read the street sign  1400 North is 14 blocks north of the loop.  Easy.

West Virginia brought with it a learning curve of sorts though.  First, I had to augment my practice of medicine with adding a good understanding of the role topical vegetables and black salve played in the treatment of infection.  I would later become proficient at administering antivenom on the occasional Sunday when the snake handling church goer was bitten by the copperhead also present at said service. Mostly though, I had to learn to understand local sayings, my drive through central New York this week reminded me of one such saying,"as the crow flies."  When you live in hill country this is indicative of how far away a place is from an aerial perspective, rather than a road perspective.

Living on the top of a hill there, just about everything was located on some other hill.  To get anywhere it took trekking down the mile long hill from my subdivision that looped around once to get down.  It was steep and slick in the winter and, if I was really lucky, I would have to wait for the gaggle of wild turkeys to clear to even hit the bottom to begin to take off to someplace else.  The bottom may hold some piece of farm equipment like I encountered this week on my New York drive slowing me to 15 miles an hour in a 55 mph zone, and then at some point I would have to cross the river that ran through the town at the bottom of my hill, and begin to ascend someplace else depending on where I was going.  Some of those hills had gravel and mud, others difficult to pass with two vehicles, causing me to have to pull off on a narrow shoulder to allow someone to pass, where I only hoped the guard rail, inches from the passenger door, would hold if disaster struck. Yes, my New York drive was exactly like West Virginia driving.  Through my frustration of the drive, the Bo Deans attempted to distract me from the annoyance of it all.


Everbody wants to live, like they want to live
And everybody wants to love, like they want to love

And everybody wants to be closer to free 

Yeah, I wanted to be free.  Free of the freaking tractor in front of me.  It's 55, he's going 10 without a care in the world.  I needed to get to work. Why am I winding around seemingly in circles through an endless sea of country roads that seem to lead to noplace?




And everybody needs a chance once in a while
Everybody wants to be, closer to free

Yeah, I would have loved to have had the chance to be free on that drive.  You know, like the crow. I would simply take off flying, avoid the spaghetti bowl of country roads and be earlier to work. I was becoming extremely impatient until I suddenly found myself emerging in Cooperstown. The Baseball Hall of Fame on my right.  Being a catcher for 12 years of my childhood coupled by my love of the Cubs, suddenly the bright green of the fields and the building itself began to lift the frustration I was feeling at the time.  

And everybody wants a good, good friend
Everybody wants to be, closer to free

I found myself excitedly using voice text to share where I was in a group chat with my business partner and finance guy, both huge baseball fans, albeit for the wrong teams....(go Cubs).  I may have enjoyed their jealousy a little too much in that moment.  Nonetheless, in those moments I began to wonder how often we look at what exists on the next mountain and dream about the day we can just be the crow and fly over with ease.  I maintain this is what keeps us wanting to be free but never quite getting there.  Perhaps the better thing to do is to start the trek down the slippery hill finding new ways to gain traction.  Try to learn the lesson from the ballsy gaggle of turkeys that  proudly occupies the road and stands between us and forward progress.  Even the beloved farmer in his excruciatingly slow farm equipment at the bottom of the hill, can help us to learn that moving slow is still forward, and there is something to be said for patience.  As we cross the river, leave the hill behind and begin to ascend to what exists on the next hill, we should take the time on the single lane road to pull aside for someone else and trust our supporters  to fully embrace our location in the climb and to serve as our proverbial firmly grounded guardrail, not allowing us to fall off the mountain.

Everybody one, everybody two, everybody free

So, maybe in thinking about it, it really isn't the crow who is free.  He will never learn the lessons along the way that go with the fight in getting from hill to hill.  He will never know the satisfaction of getting what he always dreamed of and knowing it was because he dared to brave a difficult journey.  Maybe the trick to being truly free is to select the hill, take off down the mountain, and not be afraid to press on no matter what may stand in our way.  As for me?  I seem to be settling into travel life and learning to see not so subtle reminders on my journeys, like this rainbow from my commute Sunday morning, that the best is yet to come.





Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Channeling the Hulk Within

When I was a kid, there, was the original Lou Ferrigno version of The Incredible Hulk.  A gigantic green guy that busted out of a much smaller and mild mannered Bruce Banner when his emotions ran high.  Tore right out of his shirt and exploded on the scene with yellow eyes an immediate threat to those around him.  For some reason, I loved this show.  The effects were terrible, it was the 70's after all, and even the make up was a little iffy.  Nonetheless, I loved it anyway.  I suppose it has something to do with my inane ability to keep all the plates spinning from a young age while letting very little escape.  Setting loose fiery unabashed emotion in this way probably fed my quiet childhood reserved psyche.

Image result for 1970's hulk

Nonetheless, I had a hard time not thinking about the beloved Hulk recently.  Two weeks ago, I ratted myself out in this very venue.  I admitted to the complacency that had set in in my own training and lifestyle, thus giving my trainer the green light to guide me in any way he felt best.  His advice?  A simple two word answer.  Get strong.  I had to really get my head around this.  He proposed I lift heavy, get fatigued, then move to cardio last when I was already spent.  He threw down a two week challenge of the complete opposite of what I have done for four years.  He must have read my mind, because my own vision of me suddenly turning green, busting out of my workout gear and lighting up the joint was a bit terrifying.  "Don't worry, you wont get huge".  With that, I put my trust in the pro. 

Sometimes, I feel the fear of uncertainty stinging clear,
And I can't help but ask myself how much I'll let the fear
Take the wheel and steer

This morning, I was in my car, post two hour workout, with four miles of running on steep inclines, which came right on the heels of the heaviest deadlifts I have ever done. Most of my major muscle groups were shaking, and I was trying to cool down with a little Incubus pushing into my post gym haze.  In that moment, I had to take the time to ask myself why it was I did not do this before?  Why did I not lift any heavier, when clearly I was capable, or push to exhaustion?  I suppose I had let fear take the wheel for a long time.  My previous injury, my fear of future injury, maybe even a little intimidation by the work it would take to be strong, had kept me exactly where I was.  I put a spin on the notion of the never running on the hills, choosing instead to power walk, as an "active recovery day", or an "attempt to work different muscle groups."  There really isn't anything wrong with power walking per se, but let me give myself a reality check.  I didn't WANT to run on the hills.  I just didn't want to do it.  It was hard.  Why didn't I lift heavier?  Same.  It was hard and it hurt a little.  In four years of training was I fit? Maybe.  Strong?  No, not really.  

So, if I decided to waiver my chance,
To be one of the hive,
Will I choose water over wine,
And hold my own and drive?

So far, I have made the choice to drive.  I have embraced said two week challenge and am learning all new lessons along the way. Slow, heavy reps, focusing in on controlling every fiber of the muscle as it is pushed to its limit. As it turns out, strength training is nothing like I thought it was.  It is not just lifting heavy shit and putting it down.  It was focus, control, effort, and technique and frankly much more mental than I imagined. I have gone on to experience total body exhaustion from putting every ounce of gas I had in me right out there on the floor.  These things have given me a whole new sense of satisfaction and a release I have not experienced.  It makes me wonder how often in life we shy away from the proverbial heavy lifting because the weight of the process just seems too heavy, and the hills just too steep.  

It's driven me before
And it seems to be the way that everyone else gets around
But lately I am beginning to find 
That when I drive myself my light is found

Maybe the trick is to instead show up for yourself, stop letting fear take the wheel, do the heavy lifting and see what happens.  For me?  I can say I am truly getting stronger and am finding a certain degree of satisfaction in the laser like focus I now have in the tasks I tried so hard to avoid. Things that are easily translating to my day to day life.
 
Whatever tomorrow brings,
I'll be there with open arms and open eyes
Whatever tomorrow brings
I'll be there, I'll be there

I suppose you could assume then that my earlier analogy of the 1970's Hulk and building strength  was incorrect.  Strength was not a total beast like loss of control.  It was something different entirely.  It was really more Bruce Banner.  The reality is Bruce spent his life controlling the beast within to channel the strength in positive ways ultimately turning the Hulk into a hero.  In that sense, that is exactly what we need to do.  We need to use our focus, control, effort and technique in heavy lifting situations to channel the Hulk that lives inside.  So, whatever tomorrow brings, I will show up for myself, eyes open, be stronger, and know with absolute certainty the best is yet to come.





Monday, March 4, 2019

I Don’t Wanna Be

As I drove my son to school today, he was making arrangements for his car to be picked up.  The "appointment" was set for Thursday between 8 and 5.  Yes, a full nine hour window.  Just like the cable guy or any sort of service person for the house.  He then immediately became stressed with his already busy Thurs.  How was he going to pull it all off never knowing when these people will actually show up.  I kinda chuckled at him and explained this was one of the finer points in modern day "adulting."  Somehow, his disdain for it out of the gate tells me there is a whole lot more "adulting" realities he has yet to learn, much worse than waiting for a service person to show up.

After dropping him off, I had time to reflect on what came before this car ride.  It was a particularly impressive output at the gym.  I had my highest calorie burn to date in several years.  I had decided last week that my days of Dopey prep by keeping my paces low and working for endurance needed to end.  It was time to Spartan prep.  Yep, time to push.  Oh yes.  I had this all well under control.  Controlled output before a huge endurance run, beast mode for Spartan training.  This is me, exercise guru, motivating the masses, leading by example, watch me go..... had it all Gavin DeGraw style as my current musical selection would indicate.

I don't want to be anything 
Other than what I've been trying to be lately 
All I have to do is think of me and I have peace of mind

There is only one huge flaw in that.  Did I really have peace of mind though?  I had a good discussion with my trainer today with one very pointed question.  Why?  Why did I slow down before Dopey?  Well to control the pace, go slower to go longer, seemed logical to me.  He asked if I was sure of that answer or if it was mental?  Was it fear?  Didn't I know the harder I trained the easier it was going to be outside of the gym?  I had it backwards.  I have spent the day mulling this over.  He was correct.  I was not in control, far from it.  Like the cable guy I kinda promised myself I would show up, bring the tools and get to work, yet figured out I was still waiting in the proverbial 8-5 window for months and calling it "controlled endurance training." Here's the reality.  I became complacent.   Four years in, and here I was sporting the brand of complacency that kept me unhealthy for decades.  Yes, I trained.  Yes, I ate reasonably, but did I really push, or just use Dopey as a convenient excuse to pull back as I had pulled back many other times in my life?  Every damn time I think I have me figured out and have left the bad habits behind, they appear in front of me like an unwanted house guest.  I now found myself grieving the physical gains I could have made by now if I had not done that.

I'm surrounded by identity crisis everywhere I turn,
am I the only one to notice,
I can't be the only one who's learned

Identity crisis.  That is exactly it.  Four years of life changes to learn to be the best version of myself and yet its days like today when I realize I have a lot to learn, and where I came from will never be totally gone. As the song goes, I would suspect I am not the only one with this struggle.  I suppose there is a certain amount of comfort in that notion.  Finally the grief begins to subside as I cannot have those training days back. Instead, I was  left with the bright sunshine on a snowy day and the realization that I really do not have to be stuck anymore, and pushing myself physically to my limits is going to bring about whole new discoveries that will likely raise my proverbial bar even higher.  That is a truly awesome thought.  So maybe Gavin has it right.

I don't want to be anything 
Other than what I've been trying to be lately 
All I have to do is think of me and I have peace of mind 
I'm tired of looking around rooms wondering what I gotta do
Or who I'm supposed to be 
I don't want to be anything other than me 

So, here I sit ratting myself out to the masses, grateful to the trainer that called me out so that once again I could surpass my own line of crap and show up for myself, as I have for the last week, closing the proverbial service window I have left open for months.  Time to stop wandering and get busy being me because the best is yet to come.




Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Stepping off the Struggle Bus

My 13 year old son is going to Montreal on a field trip.  Today, as we discussed renewing his passport, as his is expired, he talked excitedly about the coach style bus they would be traveling in.  Cushy seats, TV screens and even a bathroom.  I remember it well.  The giant field trip of the 80's where we got to graduate to the luxury bus.  We could bring our favorite snacks, our gigantic Walkman with a back pack full of 80's mix tapes and we even got to sit near who we wanted to.  This was a far cry from the drab junior high bus of day to day life.

No sir.  That junior high bus was not cool.  I was always one of the last ones picked up, the bus was full and I had to squeeze in, a third person in a two person seat.  There were multiple issues here.  I was obese.  People were not exactly excited to squeeze in to let me sit.  The bus was hot, I was sweating the entire trip.  There was the random pubescent boy I would always seem to end up next to, who had yet to discover deodorant and was not capable of much interaction with a junior high girl other than awkward conversation about science fiction that made no sense to me.  Surely, anything was better than that brand of daily torture. 

I suppose you could say I have been thinking a lot about buses lately.  It probably is a function of it being close to the end of February. Shiny New Year's resolutions far in the rear view, spring way out front and I am now routinely getting messages from clients who are riding the "struggle bus."  That proverbial time when goals seem amazing, but the journey from here to there seems impossible.  Missed workouts, bad meals, feelings of failure, I suppose this would be the fitness version of Seasonal Affective Disorder.


Where was our coach bus and backpack full of mix tapes that would somehow make getting from here to there easier?  I maintain my friends, that coach actually IS the struggle bus.  We struggle by surrounding ourselves with comfort.  Comfy couch, comfy snacks, comfy company and yes, even our favorite 80's jam.  When we hit the realization that we are here, we find ourselves suddenly disembarking in the middle of nowhere far off course and angry at our own failings.



"Oh, we're not gonna take it,
No, we ain't gonna take it
Oh we're not gonna take it anymore 

As we look around this wasteland of broken promises to ourselves, I think the better answer is this.  It's time to toss the iconic mix tapes and trade them in for something a little grittier, like Twisted Sister to yank us out of our self created comfort zone.

"We've got the right to choose it,
There ain't no way we'll lose it,
This is our life, this is our song"

We need to take a minute to sit down in the virtual nowhere we find ourselves in after exiting the struggle bus to find out where we truly are and where it is we want to go.  It is time to remind ourselves our stumblings are not fatal and we have the right to change direction.  It's once again time to put pen to paper and choose the goals that matter.  Only then can we find the right vehicle to get there.  

"Oh you're so condescending,
Your gall is never ending,
We don't want nothin', not a thing from you

Your life is trite and jaded,
Boring and confiscated,
If that's your best, your best won't do"

As we redefine our goals, we are also forced to look at the negativity that resides in the comments that we make to ourselves throughout our journey on the struggle bus, and realize this form of self defeat is only keeping us further and further away from where we want to be.  As we sit in this place sifting through it all, I think we need to take another look at the boring smelly school bus we rode every single day that we labeled as "torture." 



 Maybe this is exactly where we belong.  Maybe the place we need to be is actually quite uncomfortable and sweaty because after all, it isn't the proverbial field trips that will get us there.  It's the hard work in a place we don't always want to be, next to the sweaty guy on the next tread trying awkwardly to make conversation.  So, to my fellowship of fitness seasonal affective disorder sufferers I offer the following challenge.  Head out and find the smelliest most challenging virtual junior high school bus you can and climb aboard.  Do not apologize for your sweat or making the someone else uncomfortable.  Find that awkward person on the tread next to you and make conversation just a little easier as they may be fresh off the struggle bus just as you are.  Besides, adding another person to our mutual support system is never a bad idea.  One thing building a community to support us all has taught us:

"We're right,
We're free,
We'll fight,
You'll see"

Don't ever forget, anything worth having is worth working for, no matter how many times we stumble.  We always have the right to decide we're not going to take it anymore and fight for our goals even if the vehicle to reaching them is not glamorous.  When we do that we absolutely know, the best is yet to come.