Tattoo Part Two

Since leaving Hawaii, I knew that I wanted to help people. To help people do what I did, and I’m not just talking about losing weight. Fitness is the vehicle, but more than that, I wanted to help people discover their own strength. To help moms see that being a martyr and giving without ceasing helps no one in the long run. That it’s more than okay to take care of yourself – in fact it’s necessary. That it’s healthy to show our kids what self care looks like in action. They learn more from what we do and how we treat ourselves than just lip service. As the cliche goes, actions speak louder than words.

But wanting to become a trainer and help people and actually doing it are very different things. I even blogged about having a big dream, but was too afraid to specifically articulate it publicly at that point. Dreams are scary. What if I fail? What if I am no good?

What kept nagging at the back of my mind was, “But oh my, what if you succeed?!”

Up until last year, getting certified and becoming a personal trainer was something I would do “someday”. Maybe next year. Maybe when the deployment is over. When “life isn’t so busy”. (As if it’s ever NOT busy!?) Someday. Truth? The truth is I was scared. Petrified. What if I don’t pass the certification test? What if I suck as a personal trainer? What if I can’t find a job? And the “What ifs…” go on and on.

I made a decision at the beginning of the year to make this one a year of action. I was going to stop talking about doing stuff someday, and just go do it already. Enough procrastination. Sink or swim, this dream of mine wasn’t going to go anywhere so I better lace up and start chasing it. Even if I was afraid.

I got my first tattoo a few years ago. Personally, it’s not an impulsive thing to decide to get a tattoo. I like having significance or a story behind it, or to bookmark an event or chapter in life. This year of action has been an important next chapter. This year has been one of, as Theodore Roosevelt called it and Brene Brown discussed further; “getting into the arena”:

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It’s also been a year of being afraid, nervous, but moving forward regardless. It’s been one of turning fear into fierce.

In addition to the theme of “Action Despite Fear”, there were a couple of other components that made this tattoo selection seem almost a forgone conclusion:

As a Christian, I love C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. It is a beautiful allegory of faith, grace, unconditional love, touching on themes of courage and fear and what that looks like in life. I also love the film adaptations and am thrilled that my kiddos love it as much as I do.

My Hair. Through school I was called names and made fun of because of these crazy tresses, this wild unruly mane that I have only truly embraced over the last decade or so. (Thank goodness for great hair products!)

Astrological Sign. I’m not a huge proponent of astrology, but it does pique my curiosity as some of the general descriptions are pretty close. Mine happens to be Leo.

After considering all of these things and thinking about it for a few months, this is what I came up with:

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The butterfly represented the change. The lion represents living out those changes, even when it’s hard. Even when it’s scary. I can say I chased my dream. I get to get up and do something I am unabashedly passionate about.

Fear into fierce.

Have a tattoo? What’s the story behind your ink?

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A Dose of Real

Recently over on Single Dad Laughing, author Dan Pearce wrote about what he terms a disease of Perfection. (Please take the time to check it out and read through it. Go ahead, I’ll wait.)

In the article (that you just read), Dan discusses examples of very real situations, but that we are unable to reveal our true selves for fear of what people around us will think. For a long time, I’ve thought the same thing with regard to Facebook and other social media and wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment that when we use social media, we tend to compare our real, messy, uncensored life with the highlighted, glossy, highly edited version of everyone else’s life. This only sets us up for feeling, well, like crap. In Dan’s examples, there are even fatal outcomes in situations when being less than authentic becomes the status quo.

There is always someone out there who is better, more giving, smarter, more fit, less selfish, richer, prettier, stronger, bigger, smaller….whatever adjective you like. Ultimately, there is only one YOU. There is only one Me. If we choose to be someone we are not, if we choose an inauthentic life, even virtually, then we are robbing the world of our voice, our talents and our contribution – whatever those may be. I get that, but it’s still so hard to be our authentic, let-it-all-hang-out selves, isn’t it?

He asks us to take the challenge and add a dose of “real”. So here goes:

I lost 50 lbs in 2011. I have over the last 3 years, gained 35 of it back. I loved the way I felt when I had lost the excess weight. Something changed along the way, however. I still feel pretty darn good most days. I continue to workout, I continue to gain strength, and I can still run half marathons. I still pursue health and fitness. I love moving my body, getting enough sleep, running, and being active with my kids. I care way less what the scale says. I was down to a size 6, now I’m a size 10. I started at a size 16-18. I sometimes feel like I failed because I didn’t maintain that 50 lbs loss, even though I’m in better health than I ever was before my weight loss journey began.

I struggle with depression. Yep. As a person who gravitates to the “light” and the “funny”, I still struggle with it. I’ve even seen a professional to gain tools to deal with it. It sucks. (Which is another reason I am fiercely passionate about healthful food and fitness – it keeps the darkness at bay.)

I am not perfect. We all know this intellectually, but seriously – I am not perfect. I post cute kid pics like most parents, but then there are some days that make me want to tear my hair out. I try to be the best parent I can be. There are days when I am definitely not.

I was fired and was crushed. I was told that my spin class was to be cancelled after only having taught 6 classes. The attendance wasn’t sufficient to continue to offer the class. I love spin, and was just starting to get comfortable. I was fired via email the day before Christmas. It sucked. Last week was the first spin class I have taken since being fired. It felt great to be back.

I still do not know what I want to be when I grow up. I love to write. I love to teach. I love health and fitness. I’ve done combinations of all three. I do feel that when the kids are both in school full time, my windows of opportunity will be opening a bit wider and am sensing a shift. I don’t know what I want to do, but I’m excited about future possibilities even though the unknown scares me.

This whole post scares me and I do not want to publish it. Which is exactly why I need to.

Here’s to being real.  What’s your dose of reality?

Daring Greatly

I’ve mentioned before how much I admire, and have learned from, the author of Daring Greatly, Brene Brown. I am watching her on an episode of Lifeclass and am reminded again about the power of vulnerability.

After receiving a call to interview for a Spin Instructor position at a local gym, I did my requisite freak out-happy-dance-squeal-high-five-my-friend-who-happened-to-be-here-when-the-call-came thing. But shortly after that, I began having the same doubts and negative thoughts, “Can I do this?”

In her book, Brene calls them shame gremlins. And oh boy, do they rear their heads at me when I’m scared, trying something new, or putting myself out there – as in getting up in front of people to lead them in a class.

Always, always I have to remind myself that every single time I’ve been vulnerable it has never returned void. Whether it is the creativity in my writing, opening up to new people, or teaching – it never returns void when I remember the following:

1. I have to be authentic. When I stop emulating others or putting on the “armor” of what I think people want – it works. And contrary to the gremlins, the world does not, in fact, end.

2. When people continually encourage you, it’s really good to start believing them. I’m not talking about flattery and “rah, rah you got this”-type cheerleading. It’s in the trenches, empathy, gut-wrenching, hand-gripping, awe-inspiring moments when people take the time to tell you how they really feel and what they really think about you. It’s thoughtful, true constructive criticism with a whole lotta love.

3. I can’t be comfortable and courageous at the same time. Brene spoke about the moment when our hand is on the arena door, we are about to step into some hard-core vulnerability by putting ourselves out there and being seen, and all the self doubt comes rolling. It’s uncomfortable, it’s gut-churning, I call it the “transitions”. I’m the type of person that just likes to know things before I know them. A to Z without the yucky uncomfortable process of the other letters.

The thing of it is, if I skip the transitions, shy away from the door, and decide to stay where I’m at, I never get to feel the joy, the exhilaration, and the victory of the arena. I’ll stay comfortable. It would be easier. It wouldn’t be so terrifying. (Read: vomit-inducing).

My hand is on the door. I’m walking through it. It’s scary to be sure. I will likely get my butt kicked in the transition-yucky-learning curve arena. But I’m going to get up and keep walking through that door.

It’s never returned void.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

“Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.”
― Brené Brown

“I can’t be paralyzed anymore by the critics. My new mantra is, if you’re not in the arena getting your ass kicked on occasion, then I’m not interested in your feedback. You don’t get to sit in the cheat seat and criticize my appearance or my work with mean-spiritedness if you’re also not in the arena. Now, if you’re also in the arena and you’re putting your ideas out and you’re owning them and you’re saying “I disagree with you about this and that, I think you’ve got this wrong” — then not only do I invite that, I freaking love that. I love that. I’m an academic. I’m hardwired for a good debate.”― Brené Brown