awareness

I Went to Jail

I legit went to jail. Not in cuffs, not as a visitor. I went as a contractor. This vantage point was different. I got to observe the inmates cleaning. It’s their job to keep that place immaculate.

I got to observe the line formations by gender. I saw the orange jumpsuit uniforms. I heard the specific directives while in line such as “eyes forward, no talking.”

It was a lot to take in. I thought about all my freedoms. My ability to choose. My ability to say yes or no. Inmates have no choice, no independence, no rights, and certainly no individuality.  I couldn’t last a day in jail. 

I love my freedom to choose.  I love my independence. I love my individuality. Having a glimpse of what this life looked like is confirmation I never want to be there. I certainly applaud those who make it through the challenges of incarceration for those serving time as well as those outside the walls supporting them.

Today I got to leave the jail.  I didn’t get to share a smile. This was hard for me because I like to offer hope through positive actions and not being able to share a smile is hard. Maybe next visit I’ll find a way to share hope. Maybe I’ll work on my winks.

As you read this post think about those incarcerated who are suffering today. Say a prayer for them tonight.  

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!

challenges

PSA #42

I’m not a doormat.

I don’t appreciate being taken advantage of.

Your lack of planning doesn’t constitute an emergency on my part.

I have a schedule. 

I have feelings.

I have a to do list like most people.

If you ask I’m willing to help anyone.

If you demand I help, see where it gets you.

Are you a giver in life?

Have you felt like a doormat before?

Did you let others know how you felt?

I did.

They didn’t like it.

Will they change?

Who knows. It’s really up to them to look in the mirror and decide for themselves.

Did I change? Yes I did. I’m less trusting. I’m guarded. I’m bitchier. I’m proud of myself.

Today I gave to many. Unfortunately many close to me took advantage of me. My time. My mental energy. My talents. My pride. My joy. My rest. My smile. It was replaced with anger, frustration and grief. Did anyone even notice?

Overnight I have to glue myself back together. Dust off my crown and smile big tomorrow. For I have people relying on me in many facets of my professional life. I do all this over and over again. Sadly the people closest don’t see how their own selfishness impacts me in many ways. 

Part of me thinks they just don’t care. Other parts of me think they just expect me to do, do, do because I always have.

Did I put a sign on me that said I’m a doormat go ahead and wipe your feet? I don’t recall doing something so absurd. Not sure where this happened but it did.

I’m tired of entitlement.

As I ring in 2021. I am hitting the pause button on being nice. I’m shifting to me, me, me. I’m really the only one I can count on.  

I guess I’m thankful for 2020 and all its fuckery so I could clearly see what’s been in front of me for years. With the slowdown of life I just had more time to see it happening. In slow motion. Truly sad but true.

challenges, dare to be different

Opportunities and Obstacles

Deep breath…..

Sometimes life puts obstacles in front of us to see how we can hold up through challenges. The roars of 2020 were not for the weak in mind, body or spirit. Even the strongest and bravest souls faced some kind of adversity.

Oddly enough any obstacle can be turned into an opportunity. For me one area was coaching. How to coach through a pandemic. An obstacle to some but an opportunity to many. Nothing in a text book that I can recall on how to push through a pandemic, but that’s okay. I figured it out and am working on it daily.

As I coach I also get to share my tactics with others. Today when my efforts were validated, I got to grin knowing 2020 didn’t wipe me out. It showed me how to be resilient. It also made me more aware of the importance of sharing my successes with others. 

I am resourceful. Years of experience. A variety of tools in the tool box and each affords me the luxury of having options. Each option or path leads to an opportunity. An opportunity is what you make of it. Sharing this outlook with others will create a domino effect. 
Take a chance.

And if for some reason you missed a good opportunity, another one will come along, I promise. The key is don’t wait the next time. Seize the opportunity. Discover obstacles. Turn obstacles into non-issues. New opportunities will then keep branching off.

Trust the process.

Take chances.

Don’t be scared to learn from a missed opportunity either. It’s just like a baseball game. You can’t win every game played forever. The odds lead to some losses. And losing is okay as long as you spin it into a learning opportunity. 

My favorite business question is: if you could start over again what would you do differently? 9 out of 10 times there is a list of changes. Those are the strong leaders. Those who can’t see an opportunity from a failure will say I’d change nothing. I have unfortunately met many like the latter.

Let 2021 be a year of you. Your obstacles. Your opportunities. Your chances. Your experiences.

Don’t let Debbie Downers steer you away from chance. A chance is an opportunity for you to be great. I know many who will not take a chance in today’s uncertain times. I stand celebrating those folks as they give me more choices in which opportunity I will take and seize. 

Here’s to living for obstacles and opportunities in 2021 and beyond. Experience life. Your way.

family, friendship

Memory Chest

I recently wrote about what I missed due to the pandemic state we will live in currently. What I neglected to mention is that my memory chest had grown immensely during the same time. An irony of sorts.

A kind soul said to me one day: I hope your memory chest becomes as full as mine one day. Those words rang true to me in many ways. Many years separate us in age but quality memories ring true with both of us.

Sharing is caring and building memories involves sharing. Sharing of good times, great times, sad times, trying times and oh so many adventures. Here’s a virtual toast to your memory bank. Building the best of the best memories.

For today I am reliving my memories in photos, journal entries, blog posts, adventures and so on. Below is the blossoming of a lifelong friendship. From teammates to besties to barn buddies. Their shiny smiles can light up a room.

And then there is ageless beauty of a mother, wife, caregiver learning to soar on her own in a complex world. As you recall In my last post I said I missed smiles. The smiles hid behind masks. These two photos alone show what I wrote about. In nature, away from crowds, in the fresh air, less populated areas you are not looked upon with disgust for no mask. It’s a glorious feeling. A sense of freedom among the chaos.

Onto lazy day snuggles with your puppy. Who says you can’t grab a blanket and snuggle away. It’s never too hot to grab a blanket and pile it for a snuggle sesh.

And who can forget backyard bbqs and all the fun they bring. Memories fill the the chest. The hand written notes saved have a spot in the chest. The memorable cards saved have a secret compartment, too. The newspaper clippings from back in the day have a place as well. The trophies and other keepsakes are all part of the memory collection. The memory chest. They all make the memory chest plentiful and unique to you. Keep building yours, like I am mine.

Share the memories. Share the smiles. Make others smile. When creating this post I didn’t look for smiling pictures they were just the ones that seemed to fit. Ironically there are full smiles.

Unfortunately there are some corona memories in the bank. Hopefully they will be covered with dust soon. Until then I will escape the ordinary to find my peace and make additions to my memory bank. My words to pass on to you will be the same as the ones given to me: May your memory bank be as full as mine one day.

How amazing is it that when I wrote this post that the cup above was on my daily tea from a local vendor. How did they know a smile was on my mind? Enjoy the journey. The escape. The process in general. Pay attention to the little signs around a you.