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 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.