Attitude is Everything: Fat chick at a Fitness Conference 2.0

I just just stuffed my backpack above me, and sank into my plane seat. I take a deep breath and close my eyes with relief. Im ready to head home and see my family.

I’m exhausted.

Sunburned.

Dehydrated.

And definitely, hungover.

But I feel like I just won the lottery.

My heart is full.

My LIFE is full.

I look down at myself and and survey the scene:

Even though I’m still squeezed in close to my favorite travel teammate, I’m buckled into my chair with ease. It just keeps getting easier and easier for me to travel! I say a silent prayer of thanks, knowing how HARD this has all been for me before.

Walking down the isle of the plane, my sides no longer brush and bump the peoples arms, and it feels amazing to not have to apologize for my existence…walking that gauntlet of shame.

I’m wearing pajama pants, a Palm Springs conference tee, purple shoes, and my purple running man, manicured nails are clutching my purple water bottle and brand new copy of “Love Work” by Chuck Runyon. I notice my “persist” running man, flame tattoo on my wrist and wonder if I’ve not just stepped into overkill territory?

I’m a hot-AF-post-conference MESS!!!!! But, I LOVE IT.

You see, last year I struggled.

( You can read all about that here: https://mandimonblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/14/fat-chick-at-a-fitness-conference/ )

Last year, I was still trying to be invisible. Despite my efforts, I was still battling with shame, discomfort and embarrassment with my body. And, If I’m being completely honest, not much has changed for me physically in a year. I’m down about 30 more pounds from the Lake Placid Conference. I’ve gained muscle and more endurance, but this time the weight I’m most proud of losing, was in my heart and mind.

This year I was was promoted to manager of my Anytime Fitness club, and I took that position of leadership VERY seriously. I have battled with that dark part of myself that felt fearful and unworthy. I finally surrendered to the fact that my value as a leader was NOT based on a certain number on the scale. If that were the case, I wouldn’t have been offered the position, right?

Being FAT is NOT the worst thing a person can be.

Your value and worth as a human is not worth less if you are fat. But being miserable, ashamed, depressed, suffering with pain and barely alive IS the WORST thing a person can be. And THAT is what has changed for me with the magic of fitness. THAT is what I LIVE to show the people who come into my gym everyday. The scale will move…but I must PERSIST.

My value is here NOW. It always HAS BEEN. I decided to OWN the fact that I am “representing a possibility”.

Ive decided to OWN the fact that I actually have an advantage with my size, and that WONT last forever.

I have the ability to say,” Look at me…I work HERE. I workout HERE. I was changed HERE. I found out who I truly am in HERE. I was welcomed and loved HERE…and so are YOU.”

It has been the most powerful year of my life. Realizing that all of the members in my gym, that I have the honor of representing, are looking to me as an example of persistence, and they are proud of me…that is enough to snap me out of any self doubt or sabotage.

There have been MANY struggles and setbacks…and times where my confidence and resolve was shaken, but there has been a permanent shift in me, and it SHOWED itself this week in Palm Springs.

No longer was I desperately trying to blend in and disappear. I just literally, let it all hang out, and allowed myself to just be MYSELF.

Proudly, alongside my team…my family… just like I am everyday in our clubs. Why would I want to come to conference and be anyone other that who I am everyday with my people?? If I’m constantly urging them to step outside of their comfort zone and believe in themselves…shouldn’t I be??!

Last year I was afraid to workout alongside 2,000 people for a world record breaking 3 minute workout. This year, I jumped into a live, 45 minute group session on the purple turf, in the middle of the trade show, with tons of people watching (and the AF corporate head trainer/she-hero herself, Rachel Prairie!) and did NOT CARE. I know what I am capable of.

This is it. This is who I am, and this is who has been given this amazing opportunity to live in the crazy fitness world and grind.

I TRULY was “hired to inspire” and I am so unbelievably grateful.

To my team, each and every one of you has made more of an impact on my life than you will ever know. You have made me one of you since DAY ONE and I am forever thankful for how you have changed my life and never let me give up. I’m so honored to live this life with you guys.

And, to Brandon and Amber Borden, my club owners, who just won the 2017 O2i of the Year Runningman Award…thank you.

Thank you for changing my life, and then taking a crazy risk in hiring me, believing in me and pushing me to be better and better and BETTER. I am so proud and honored to be on #teamborden and am SO EXCITED the whole AF world got to see/hear how amazing and special you two are. Also, I’m sorry I “Kanye-ed” you on stage. With all this new confidence…I do declare, I literally could not help myself. 😜

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Insomnia 

Mother’s Day this last weekend has left me feeling some feelings.  
Heavy feelings.  
Deep thoughts.  
If you’re not in the mood for some ponderous musings and reflection, move along. Im sorry to be the one to tell you this, but I’m not ALWAYS the, 100% gym rat/beast mode babe, slaying workouts and personal goals, striving for justice and equality amongst all the fitness levels and body types across the land, urging women of all ages to love themselves and promote genuine confidence all day long, chick.  
At times I have been known to be a very sensitive, and poetic Sally…and sometimes I must emote. So, turn on your Mumford and Sons Spotify station and enjoy this ride.  

There’s been LOTS going on for us, which is true for everyone it seems.  Adjusting to life as a full time working mom has been fun and thrilling, but also a huge adjustment for all of us. 
 And on Mothers Day, I found myself thinking about how rapidly my kids are growing, and how I’m running out of time to get it right for them. Knowing a thing and doing a thing are drastically different, and there’s always so much to DO.  I made the mistake of looking at their baby pictures and it sliced me open with nowhere to hide but here, in my words and sentences that always seem to somehow bring healing. 

Tonight, I find myself alone in my house with a soundly sleeping hubby, kids, and lazy dog. The washing machine is working away on dirty towels. No tv or music. Just an open window in my bedroom as I stare into the glow of my phone and type to clear my busy mind.  

This is one of my favorite times of year…when I can crack a window open at night and hear the sound of all the frogs by the little pond, way out beyond the houses in my neighborhood. I look forward to hearing them, as a reminder that warmer weather is on its way here again.  
I feel peaceful now, and weirdly emotional because I know that I haven’t sat down alone to write in so long, that I’m actually afraid of what might come through.  I had a friend at the gym ask me why I haven’t done a blog post in awhile, and I had to really think about it?  My life is FULL, and I have no complaints, but sometimes little crap builds up and makes your heart heavy. And when the mood strikes me to write it out, I’ve learned to surrender to it because telling the truth always sets you free.  

So here it is.  

I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships lately.  
How your whole life is just traveling from the most current cluster of people in a moment in time to the next.  

Family, friends and acquaintances. Weaving in and out, overlapping. Mingling and vanishing. Reunited, reminiscing, disappearing. Sometimes reappearing…sometimes forgotten completely. People leaving impressions, memories and scars. Influencing and cautioning. Defending and betraying. Trust and disbelief. Loving and hating. Leaving and staying. Messy. Complicated. Devastated. Loyal. Devoted. Powerful.  

Relationships are everything.  

Lately, I have seen close friendships all around me, whom were thought to be foundational, split and fracture over technicalities. I’m so disappointed in the way we all proclaim to love, but when it’s tested we freeze up, and break off.  

Cold, iced conversations and miscommunications in rooms and across tables, where life was once shared together. But continue to pretend to be friends online? Why? 

Hardened.

Winter.

Lately, I have watched siblings step into being adults and pull away to build their own lives and stories that don’t include me. It’s selfish I know. Bittersweet, to watch something grow on its own that doesn’t require any pruning or help from you anymore. Little shoots of life and strength sprouting up, and thriving in the sunshine…NEED ROOM to grow. 

So I’m learning to let go. 

Spring.

Lately, I have been surprised and energized by the new relationships in my life. New people everywhere! New job, new surroundings, new routines, new jokes, new perspectives, new goals, new encouragement. New experiences. Fresh chances. Fresh opinions. Fresh AIR. Giving me opportunities, life and HOPE.  

It’s been amazing and I want it to stay this way forever. 

Summer.

Lately, I have been anchored by what HOME really means. My children, showered and jammied will sometimes still let me smell them and kiss them in exchange for a few more minutes before bed. They are growing into real people, but for these little moments they are still my littles…wrapped in blankets. My husband, the only person to VOW to stay by my side, and he has. He is faithful. He is constant. Cozy and comforting. Safe and warm. My one true love. My fruitful harvest. 

Fall.

And if you blink, the season spent with people has changed.  

This compels me to STOP and breathe in every moment.  

Take NO person I love for granted, despite disagreements.  

Be in each moment, with no distractions. 

Give my full attention and respect. 

Do my best to fully live the life I’m supposed to live.  

And LOVE people even when they are unloveable.  

If you have been in my life throughout different seasons, I thank you. I know time does not permit for all the people I have loved to exist all at once, in the same time and space, but I am grateful for each of you. 

sorella minore

I was 8 years old when you were born.

You were such a beautiful baby, I was jealous of you but not in a bad way.

There are so many things about our younger years that are blurred;
we were set apart.

Destined for division.

 

As I got older, and constantly in trouble, I only seemed to seal that fate.

But now, as time has pushed us past the barriers of adolescents and we make up our own minds about things,

you have become the best kind of friend that I didn’t know I’d need.

You are strong and stubborn and adamant.

You are beautiful, and wildly authentic.

Loud and boisterous.

Hilarious and headstrong.

You are reliable and loyal and hard-working.

Independent and sharp.

You will always argue for the under dog, you can’t help it.

Most people don’t get to see the you that deeply thinks and questions.

Deeply feels and loves, selflessly.

You are a teacher, taking time and liberties that no one else does…or would.

You are vinyl records and recycled bottles of baby houseplants.

You are adult soccer leagues and recorder of our memories.

You are an artist.

Your instruments are everything in your reach.

Pens, pencils, banjo’s, ink,

cast iron skillet and bacon grease.

I’m so proud of you.

Proud to call you my friend .

Proud to call you my sister.

 

(HAPPY BIRTHDAY 🙂 )
 

 

 

 

 

 

hey, you

Michael, Michael, Michael.

How did you end up with this deep thinker and heavy dreamer?

Complicating everything, and over thinking everything and DOING NOTHING about everything.

Stuck inside my head throughout the day, trying to sift and manage the disarray.

So many thoughts and feelings.

It must be hard being ONE with such a tortured artist type.

I’m moody and selfish and absorbed with sensitivity.

There are so many reasons for you not to love me, and grow tired of me.

Fed up with me and even angry with me.

And yet…

my husband.

Where in the world did you come from?!

What did I do to deserve this love that keeps on lasting?

Stretching beyond what I ever expected.

Just a moment paused in gratitude fills my belly with butterflies as if we’ve first met.

You are the most rewarding, most comfortable and safe place I’ve ever known.

So here is my poem for the day, my revised version of the over-used and over-done proverbs 31.

This is the Michael re-mix.

 

 

Who can find a dedicated husband?

He is more precious than the finest diamonds or jewels I could own.

His wife can trust him and he will greatly bless her life. 

He brings her good, not harm, all the days of his life because he has chosen HER.

He finds a way, always a way, to comfort and protect her.

He gets up before dawn to prepare for the day of work and toil.  He has no choice.

With his earnings he hands them over, to provide the fruits of fields and vineyards across their table. 

He is strong and full of life and a hard worker.

His hands are busy with tools and instruments of his trade.  

He is generous with his time and gifts and money, and constantly helps those in need.

He has no fear of the seasons to come because he has true faith that brings him peace knowing all will be provided for.

He repairs his own house, he solves problems as they arise, he dresses himself with the dignity of a true family man.

His wife is busy and well-known in the city gates, and he is proud of her and lifts her up to reach higher and higher because he alone can see how special and rare she is…even when she can’t.

He spurs her to be better and better…more of herself. 

He does all that he can to produce fruit and provide for his family.

He is clothed in integrity and honor and laughs without fear of any outside judgement or concerns of the future.

When he speaks, his words are kind and wise and he gives criticism with care and sincerity. 

He carefully watches over his household and strives to suffer nothing from laziness.

His children rise to greet him , he is their hero!

His wife proclaims from the mountaintops,” There are many virtuous and capable men in the world, but YOU surpass them ALL!!”

Charm is deceptive and arrogance DOES NOT LAST; but a man who fears the Lord will be greatly praaaaaaaised. 

Reward him for all that he does!

Let his deeds be publicly praised!

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Aside

A Poem for You

It’s Dave Matthews weather again and no one knows that more than me, but you.

My heart curls up in a sour knot because I know you are far away.

Don’t you know that things aren’t right without you?

The world keeps moving, plans are made.

And still, you are missing.

What helps mend the bond that has been torn?

Turning each of us into beasts.

Who are we when we lose our minds to rage?

Scared and afraid to lose our grips and cause more pain.

I miss you.

Just down the road, but a million miles away and ten thousand apologies apart.

How do you speak what can not be said?

 

Recognitions can be dealt, but it falls flat.

Corrections can be made, but they seem empty.

Words meant to soften,
are received sharp, and quick like a knife.

 

Of course, instrumental solos are our native language.

So, lets reconcile to the sounds of violins and saxophones.

Lets remember the trumpets and horns.

Lets close our eyes and listen carefully to the details that elude us in conversation.

Appreciate what always weaves us back together

 

 

 

 

The here and now

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“So line on up, and take your place
And show your face to the morning.
Cause one of these days, you’ll be born and raised.
And it all comes on without warning.”

– John Mayer, “Born and Raised”

Another summer is approaching.

Quickly.

It seems spring has barely unfolded it’s offerings before the heat of summer threatens to come on in and steal the show.

I hate to be the cliche person that seems baffled at how quickly time rolls by, shaking my head at all the young whipper-snappers.
But alas, here I am: amazed that before we know it, Memorial Day weekend will turn into Labor Day weekend and we will all be talking about how crazy it is that we are approaching the holiday season.

But don’t worry, I’m not asking you to dust of your Christmas bins. (Some of us just barely got that stuff packed back up!). Actually, I’m suggesting the complete opposite.

As I type this I am enjoying being a passenger on a family drive. Taking in the warmth and the sights and feeling like anything might be possible. Feeling thankful and joyful. Feeling like what lies ahead this summer may have the potential to be one of those great summers that songs are written about. One of those summers that are filled with smells and tastes and textures that will burn into your memory like the sun on your arm, resting on the open window of your car headed somewhere promising.

Wind blowing, music blaring.

I reach over and take this snap shot as we are driving and am struck once again at how simply God nudges us. These moments are all just brief snap shots. If you’re not paying attention you might miss it completely.

Miss out on a wink from your husband that speaks more to me than hours of road trip conversation.

Miss out on little fingers wanting to hold my hand for a moment.

Miss out on little voices yelling “slug bug!”.

Miss out on whatever is in store.

No, I’m in no rush. Today I don’t want to miss a thing.

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Pushing pause on a moment

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Right this minute,
we are all safe and sound.
I’ll take it.

Hold my breath and enjoy.
No one is mad.
No one is troubled.
Everyone is right where they should be.
My family.

There is a whisper of perfection.
So frail, we must talk softly.
So subtle, I almost missed it.
A fleeting glimpse.
A bubble bouncing
on a blade of grass;
the burst inevitable but gentle.

A moment demanding to be noticed.
As delicate as a dress
being saved for a special occasion.
Taking careful time to be revealed.
Appreciated.

So, stop and listen.
Sip and taste.
Savoring the sweetness swirled
in a heavy glass and enjoyed.

Cheers!

This moment,
where all is well and rare.
Kids are outside to play.
Laughing and giggling.
Today, it seems there are no monsters to slay and I can say
I’ve mothered them well.
Relax and welcome the swell.
Pride and contentment warm my face.

I smile and glow and celebrate
a moment of jokes,
hugs and welcome homes!

In an instant, a visit.
My brother on hometown soil.
Respite for this refugee.
Our hero,
our Drakie.

We all grasp at our chance to share him.
Slice his time like a juicy pie.
Against his will, but he won’t mind.
He has no choice.
Making the rounds.
Breaking bread with friends…
before his journey beings.

Right this minute we know we’re lucky.
To see that he is still himself.
Home and whole.
Here, and FULL of life and laughter.
Stories, glories and dreams.
Victories.

Burn this onto all of our hearts,
file it away as he goes.
So when he closes his eyes tight at night we will be with him there.
Wherever he will be.
Where a war will rage
to rob him of his joy
and memories.
Innocence and revelries.

We will be as real as we can be.
Tucked into a corner of his heart that he will guard fiercely.
Visiting when the coast is clear.

This is now, for real.

As real as his big, brown bag thrown into the back of my truck.
Heavy with the clothes and concerns he has packed up.
Tossed aside for a respite,
and peace of mind.

As real as his laugh that hasn’t changed since he was a kid.
Singing and dancing in cowboy boots and fringe.
Making everyone laugh as he always did.

As real as the curly red hair kept short on his head.

As real as this moment that’s already being muted.

As real as being fully alive as we are right now!
Sewn together in a way
I couldn’t describe if I tried.

My tribe.

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Dissecting is necessary for study

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I have been off the blogging airwaves for a little over a week. My allergies have kept me busy dealing with headaches and misery which in turn has allowed me to excuse myself from writing. Which really means, I have excused myself from checking in with myself and being present and REAL. Sometimes I just get sick of myself and it all seems redundant.

In all honesty, each day I have sat down to write and I feel stumped. Writers block has finally set in after almost 150 posts since February. I just feel like I don’t have anything bubbling up to the surface right now.

There is plenty going on in my life I could write about.
I have struggling family members who haunt my thoughts constantly and weigh heavy on my heart. I have been missing them terribly.
I have witnessed true heartbreak among my friends. Death, divorce and discontentment swirled around in hushed conversations amid many different households. I have made myself available to carry burdens along side them in hopes to lighten the load. Living life together. I have prayed and wondered why? It never gets easier to hear bad news. I have put trust in God that he will surely make beauty from all these ashes.
I have scolded my children. I have had fights with my husband, fights with myself and my very own body, resentful of limitations I allow myself. Resentful of being in my own way. I have yelled and smirked. I have been difficult. Tired, irritable.
I have been juggling money and chores. Made meals and amends. I have been counseled and offered counsel. Showered and dressed. Worried and stressed. I have dodged phone calls and returned them. Faced the music and dodged bullets. Been overly honest and painfully vague. Kept my word and made new commitments. Met goals and completely blew others off. Canceled plans and forgotten things. I have scrolled newsfeed after newsfeed in a weak attempt at being connected but have realized it only leaves me feeling disconnected, bitter and jealous (every single time!).

Yet, I have belly laughed, cried tears of joy and slept so deeply and peacefully for a few nights in a row that it somehow makes up for the harder things.

Life just keeps moving…ready or not.

(P.S. One of my favorite cousins designed this logo for me in honor of my “dissection of an open heart” that is the essence of Realology. Isn’t it cool?)

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We will not hide from the pain

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“Unfortunately, though, avoiding it [pain] robs us of life, of the now, of the sense of living spirit. Mostly I have tried avoiding it by staying very busy, working too hard , trying to achieve as much as possible.
You can often avoid the pain by trying to fix other people; shopping helps in a pinch, as does romantic obsession. Martyrdom can’t be beat. While too much exercise works for many people, it doesn’t for me, but I have found that a stack of magazines can be numbing and even mood altering. But the bad news is that whatever you use to keep the pain at bay, it robs you of the flecks and nuggets of gold that FEELING GRIEF will give you. A fixation can keep you nicely defined and give you the illusion that your life has not fallen apart. But since your life may have indeed fallen apart, the illusion won’t hold up forever. If you are lucky and brave, you will be willing to bear disillusion. You begin to cry and writhe and yell and then to keep on crying ; and then finally, grief ends up giving you the two best things: softness and illumination.”

-Anne Lammot, Traveling Mercies

Just go ahead.
Let it wash over you without fighting.
Heart broken and suspended in a moment.
Our blood is the same ,
thick as thieves and stubborn as hell.
What do we do?
What do we do?
The tears crowd my eyes and fall.
Hot and fat,
little dumplings of love and loyalty.
Swerving down my face in irregular fluidity.
Offerings of understanding.
Offerings of empathy.

I will roll up my sleeves with you.
I will walk in your shoes with you.
I will wear your sadness.
I will wear your shame.
I will wear your wounds.
Promises I know I can’t keep but make regardless.

What I know for certain is,
I will not leave you alone.
We won’t leave you alone.
Even when you drift away to your island.
We will be watching your back from the shore.
And if we are lucky and brave,
we will fall apart and see how it feels to tell the truth.

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Bringing it

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” O TO make the most jubilant poems!
O full of music! Full of manhood, womanhood, in-
fancy!
O full of common employments! Full of grain and
trees.

O for the voices of animals! O for the swiftness
and balance of fishes!
O for the dropping of rain-drops in a poem!
O for the sunshine, and motion of waves in a poem.

O to be on the sea! the wind, the wide waters
around;
O to sail in a ship under full sail at sea.

O the joy of my spirit! It is uncaged! It darts
like lightning!
It is not enough to have this globe, or a certain time
—I will have thousands of globes, and all time.”
– Walt Whitman, an excerpt from “Poems of Joy”

I admit to being usually sluggish in Mondays. Today I’ve made up my mind to feel joyful and optimistic about the week ahead.
The thing that has been the hardest for me has been avoiding the trap of negative thinking. It can suck you under like a strong current.

I am taking a cue from my man Walt and am trying to find the joy in all that I have to do today. No matter how small.

O the joy of hot and fresh laundry from the dryer! Folded upon my bed, making a dent in the mountain that remains which leaves me feeling accomplished. Happy, fresh and clean.

O the joy of cleaning out my refrigerator! Knowing that my family has been this abundantly blessed to have not NEEDED some of these things?! God has provided all of our needs. Spoils are evidence we have been fed and nurtured to the hilt! Guilt and hassle melts to gratitude as I realize how spoiled and lucky we are. Wisdom teaching me this lesson, yet again, to become more vigilant in what I buy and prepare so that we don’t live in excess and waste.

O the joy of cleaning out my truck! The sand and empty juice boxes reminiscent of the adventures and travels I’ve had with my family. Trash and clothes. Shoes and toys…remnants of loud, healthy kids. The gum that’s been cemented to the door handle in the back seat I could have done without, but above it all…we have traveled. We have visited family from afar. We have explored, we have made memories.

O the joy of a Monday morning! I am blessed with a new week. A fresh start and hot coffee. How dare I utter anything but thanks?

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