dare to be different

Let Your Freak Flag Fly

I love a theme.

And I love that I have friends that will embrace a theme.

For birthdays, Christmas parties, the CrossFit Open, or just a February Saturday, we choose a theme and run with it. 80s, Superheroes, Country, 70s, Retro Fitness, Fancy Tea Party, College Colors, ‘Merica, Roaring 20s, 80s Prom, themes make it fun, at least for me. They let my imagination run out to play.

When I first started CrossFit, I was a capri and very long flowy 2XL tank top kind of girl. I tried to hide in plain sight. I wouldn’t wear shorts at all. Now I’m all about patterned booty / bicycle shorts, even in the dead of winter. I like some color, I like some spice. They make me smile. My friends at the gym inspired me to just wear them, be comfortable, and have fun. I don’t really care what anyone else thinks. If you’re offended, look elsewhere!

Do I get looks when I go to the grocery store wearing my mermaid shorts and open-back tank? Yup. But, what other people think of me is none of my business. This is a huge mindset shift for me.

Same goes for our theme parties. When it was time for roaring 20s night, I tried on so many flapper dresses and none of them felt right. So I dragged out my high school drum major uniform. We did a Cole Porter show way back in 1995 and I wore a pinstriped zoot suit with paisley suspenders. Miraculously it fit, so in a sea of flapper dresses I was the woman in a suit. I held my breath when I walked in to the restaurant, wondering what other people would think when they saw me. Then I walked through the tables and realized it didn’t matter. How did I feel? Honestly, under the nerves I felt kinda sassy, a little fresh, and way more comfortable than in a dress. Now I embrace being different in situations like this.

The other night at a birthday party our theme was retro sports / fitness. We were going out to play a physical and competitive game. Most of us are CrossFit folks, so we all have our share of fitness wear. But retro…hm. Then conversations led to “athletes vs. mathletes” (and I clearly fall into the latter category.) As with many themes, I just like to have fun with them. Thinking of the 70s and bright colors, I picked some rainbow sweatbands, white shorts with rainbow trim, and a retro NASA shirt (for the mathlete) with a rainbow background. Oh yeah, and tube socks. Did I look silly? Yes. Did I fit the theme? Yes. I felt eyes on me in the restaurant but after my initial self-consciousness I didn’t really care. Yes, I realize that some people identify rainbows with the LGBTQIA community. I am an ally and have no fear of being seen or known that way. And again, what other people think of me is their business. I honestly do not care. Let em look! Let em think whatever! Moving on!

It brought back memories…I had a wild streak in high school and college that eventually faded away under piles and pounds of conformity and conservatism. Only in the past handful of years have I started to embrace my individuality again. My personality and identity not just in relation to others…as a mom, as a daughter, as a spouse…instead, really just my personality within myself. Who I am. Me.

I ran around and looked silly. I had fun and embraced my goofy side. I was just in the moment, letting my freak flag fly! Thankfully I have friends who join me in that.

Be who you are! As unconventional and unique as that might be. Be yourself out loud! You never know who is watching and feeling encouraged, emboldened, even a little less alone. Someone in your circle may be buried under the weight of other people’s expectations. Hiding their light. You never know who is inspired by you embracing who you are. Many don’t have that courage or are looking for it.

Let your freak flag fly!

dare to be different

A Fahn Suhthun Lady

(A follow up to the recent post, Redneck Sweetheart. Check it out!)

I was born in Jawja.

Lived here all my lahf.

Except for that ill-advised detouah to Ohio for a few years round college time. They made fun of me for walking too slow in that infernal endless snow and saying y’all when I shoulda said, ahem, “you guys” all nasal or something else inelegant like that. Suhthun ladies roll sweet and slow off the tongue.

Before I go on, let me translate some of this for y’all, lest you find my Suhthun accent a distraction.

I don’t have a hoop skirt. Sweet tea is not my thing but there is no other soda (pop!?!?) than a Coke. I’m still a Suhthun lady through and through.

I blush at the mention of unmentionables. I am steely and will give you the side eye while saying “bless your haht.” I fan myself when I am flustered. Well I nevah would be so vulgah!

I am polite and don’t show up to a gathering empty-handed. To knock at a door without a casserole or even a simple mason jar filled with fresh picked blooms? Why my dear mother, rest her soul, would have been simply mortified!

I’m not all lace and doilies, mind you. I am gracious and refined at times, but will dig my hands in the dirt and grime. Just be sure I have a proper apron and brimmed hat. My fair Suhthun complexion demands protection from our hahsh climate.

I will bring you a snack when you’re hungry, refreshment when you’re pahched. I can quote the Bible, Flannery O’Connor, and Dolly Parton in the same afternoon chat. I am as well read as my farmily is well fed.

Many times I smile when I am angered. I’ve mastered the gentle art of holding my tongue when others try to ruffle my ruffles. Howevah, do not test my resolve. Do not mistake my quiet for ignorance or lack of passion. Do not confuse my kindness with any sort of weakness. I’m wise enough to realize most irritants are not worth my energy. But poking the bear too many times will bring her roaring to life. On that you can depend.

I will raise my voice at the right time. What comes out of these cultured and cultivated lips will surprise you. I don’t share my sharp and critical mind with just anyone, but if you earn yourself a piece of that mind with your vahl behaviah, well, bless your haht.

Back to minding my own business in my own hospitable way. Smiling politely. With a wink and a twinkle in my eye.

Don’t cross me.

dare to be different

A Day in My Shoes

Flashback to girls night, one of those guessing games…

“Has more than 12 pairs of shoes.” My friends had to go around the circle, guessing yes or no to this fact about me about me. And on this one, most guessed no. I was shocked. Really, people who see me often don’t think I have more than 12 pairs of shoes?

Upon reflection, I’ll admit…I am pretty basic in the shoe department. I’ve never been a shoe fanatic…maybe that’s a byproduct of my size 11 feet. Most of my life my shoe size limited my selections, and I guess I didn’t love drawing attention to my big feet anyway.

The shoes I remember most from my youth were my black patent leather Doc Maartens with steel toes from a very long moody emo phase. And I loved Birkenstocks even as a teen (so don’t call me trendy on that…they’re pretty much the only shoes that support me!) But even then it was simple Arizonas or basic clogs. Keep it low key.

Up until a few years ago, I stuck to mostly brown and black. A pair of each and you can match anything. Even today, I don’t buy new CrossFit shoes every time one comes out. I have three pairs so I might get a new one once a year (and the snazziest one was a gift.) But between sandals and clogs I have at least 12 pairs of Birkenstocks. Maybe my affluence is showing.

This got me thinking about recent changes in my life. My shoe wardrobe has expanded along with my roles and ambitions. This came to me most clearly on a recent Saturday…Here’s a glimpse into a day-in-the-shoe-life of Chick 2.

Morning: Brutal CrossFit class. Wearing: Snazzy Nike CrossFit shoes. Keeping me moving through burpees, jumps, and everything else.

Midday: Planting bulbs. Wearing: Cute Sunflower boots. Keeping me safe from critters and prickers in our burgeoning flower field.

Late afternoon: Short hike on the Appalachian Trail. Breaking in my new Rainbow Merrell Antoras. Keeping me stable over rocks, ice, and leftover snow.

All these colorful shoes are new to me in the past year (and not a Birkenstock in sight!) Each has its purpose and its role in my life. They help me get jobs done with a smidgen of style or at least a bit of a smile. I’ll never be a shoe guru, but a bit of color beyond the neutrals can add variety and spice to life.

dare to be different

Thursday

Today is Thursday. I made it to Thursday. My week has been a shit storm of this, that, the other and then some. It’s like the shit was smeared across my bathroom mirror, the car window, the computer screen, the kitchen table, you name it.

I guess you get the picture I have painted. Now I’m not thirsty or I would be taking advantage of it being Thirsty Thursday. Instead I’m opting for some time in my thinking chair. Feet kicked up. Faithful dog by my side while I listen to traffic pass by in the nearby street.

I think about those cars rushing to their next destination. Hustle, bustle, and hustle some more. It’s the grind we live. For me I’m pausing in the space between activities, work and life to catch my breath. A deep breath. It’s been a hell of a week and it’s just Thursday!

This is where the self talk comes in. One day left. Another 8-10 hours of petty bullshit. I got it. I already went through the thick and gooey shit. The end of the week should be a breeze. Get after it. Make Friday your day. Slay and put all that shit in the shitter where it belongs.

This weekend I will focus on recharging. Resetting my mind. Re-engaging with my social circle. Relaxing in a new environment. I will even make it a point to eat or drink something new to step out of my comfort zone. It doesn’t matter if I don’t like it. It matters that I push my limits while recharging. It’s part of the process of reawakening oneself.

Have you ever had a day, a week or any amount of time that life just seemed to get sucked out of you? Everyone needing your time, your attention, your emotional energy causing you to be tired and ready to just shut down. That about sums up my last couple days. 

I made it to today. This fine hour where I could be doing a lot of other stuff but I chose me. I chose correctly. If I don’t take care of me, I will never have what it takes to support those around me who need me. The ones that I lead when they question their path. The ones who need a gentle nudge. Even the ones who need a firm push.

I matter just like you matter. Look in the mirror each day and smile. Reflect on why you matter. Embrace it. You make the world better. One step at a time.

For my Friday wish, I wish for whomever reading this to be content with who they are today. Not who they were in the past and not who they will be in the future. Just who they are today. The me of today matters the most. Live life to the fullest.

3Splitz Farm, dare to be different

A Doctor Digs in the Dirt

I recently wrote a rant-ish post about being a PhD. How I use my degree maybe not as a professor, but more as a thinker every single day.

I’ve recognized this a lot lately as I’ve waded into the first stages of flower farming. It reminds me of my surprise when I had a baby. When I became pregnant, I was immersed in this whole new universe and language I had no idea about. Pick up a baby magazine and I was surrounded by a new vocabulary. So many debates and decisions. What kind of diapers, how medicalized a birth, co-sleeping, onesies, products galore. It was a whole world I knew nothing about, even though it had been there all along.

Flower farming is much the same way. It has its own calendar, its ebbs and flows. So many special bloom varieties to choose from. Growing zones, soil amendments, succession planting…I am wide-eyed and soaking it all in. Just the photos on insta of all the beauty makes me swoony.

On the calendar side, so far I am playing catchup. I’m learning you have to be thinking at least 6 months ahead, and eventually a year. 3Splitz Farm is not even 6 months old (hard to believe!) so I am giving myself a little grace on that. We wanted tulips, but it took a while to find the right ones. In the mean time, I read in all sorts of places about where to source high- quality bulbs and what they should look like. My lightweight crumbly bulbs from the local mega mart weren’t going to cut it. This is a researcher in action. Most major places were sold out, but I finally found a farm with a great reputation that had the flowers we needed. The first set of bulbs went in the ground on the late side, but I’ve ordered seeds now so they should arrive in plenty of time. Slowly but surely the calendar is spreading forward. Soon we will be on pace.

Planning the land is the next challenge. It’s left me paralyzed at times, thinking that where we plant ______________ (bulbs, seeds, plants, veggies) is some kind of permanent decision. What if the flowers don’t thrive there? What if they can’t be seen the way we want them to? What if animals or pests destroy the crop? We took the step and planted the first set over the last couple of weeks. I was guided by my OLW: DO, and reminded myself that mistakes can be fixed. Of course, that’s only if we have the courage to make them! I am listening to the land and trusting that it will tell me what to do. It’s a wonderful intersection between science, wishes, and hard work.