Do you ever wonder about your perception of yourself? Is it accurate? Do you see yourself better than others do? Or worse?
Me? Well, I’m confused. It is not uncommon for someone I have recently spent time getting to know to comment that I’m not how they thought I would be when they met me. I usually just chock that up to the fact that I’m a slow warmer (takes me a while to warm up to people and feel comfortable around them generally). More often than not it’s a positive thing they’re trying to say. They think I’m funnier or more fun than they thought I would be. They think I’m smarter and more articulate than they thought I would be. Etc. I’ll usually comment that my inside doesn’t match my outside, and I wonder just what kind of vibes I give off upon first meeting. I mean, do I look like a boring idiot? Should I change my hair? Anyway, the point being people usually tell me things about me that are good things. Most people are kind and don’t want to hurt people on purpose. So, I think this has a lot to do with that, but most people aren’t gonna make that junk up, either.
What do I think of myself? I’m generally pretty confident in who I am at this point of my life, at least in the aspect of accepting myself so I can grow. If I were to describe myself, though, I would tell you I’m socially awkward, weird, OCD, anxious, incapable of telling a joke (in person), ditzy, plain, slow, weak. I could go on. Negative first because those are the things up front and center in my mind because I want to work on them.
I’m almost always surprised when I hear someone compliment me or comment on me in a positive way. Even if it’s something I know I just aced.
I recently participated in a local 5k. I got a PR, and generally crushed it without much intentional training. I signed up just a couple weeks before the race, right before the T-shirt cut off date. Still, crushing it for me isn’t really all that fast, at least not in my mind. Someone I met at the gym I go to asked me about it when I saw her next. She said she saw me at the start line and decided she would try to keep up with me. Keeping me in sight was her goal. Me. I was shocked at her comment ALL day and obviously it left a big enough impression to be writing about it now.
I recently posted a video on my social media called My Fit Friend vs Mewhere a very fit woman is balancing on a board on a foam roller while rotating a weight plate around in front of her. One of those balance plus coordination plus strength things that few people can master. Then there was a shot of a less fit woman attempting the same thing, slipping off the roller and the board flipping up to hit her inner thigh. I posted it laughing because I saw myself as the less fit woman. A friend of mine, one of those amazing people who is able to be honest with me in a positive and growth inspiring way, texted me to say, “you know you’re the fit friend, right?” I stared at her text wondering who she really meant to send it to. Then she said, “you’re the fit friend, dummy.” I’m the fit friend? Nuh uh. I’m the forever chasing fit friend.
The inside most definitely doesn’t match the outside. My inner perception vs reality. I set goals, chase them, and crush them without much fan fare because by the time I achieve them, I already have a new goal ready to chase. I don’t think that’s a bad trait to have, but maybe I should allow myself to see the progress for what it is. Maybe I should allow myself to be the fit friend. I catalog negative traits and work toward changing them because I want to grow and be better than I was yesterday, but maybe I should allow myself to feel more proud of the positive traits, especially if they used to be negative. Maybe I should put a few of those positive traits up front and center in my personal description of myself.
Bottom line of this rambling post: if you see or think something positive about someone, tell them. Even if they seem like they must hear it all the time, your voice might be an incredible source of encouragement and strength they need to fight their internal negative voice. AND, Try accepting those positive comments about yourself as truth. Try seeing yourself a little more like the people who love you see you. They’re not lying.
I go to one of those chain gyms with hour long classes that rotate through stations. It’s a GOOD workout doing things I’m not likely to make myself do on my own. I like to run, stupid long and slow. I like to swim, also stupid long and slow. Most other activities are done in an effort to help me do those things better. OR to look better in my jeans. 😉
I enjoy the program at this gym for my cross training. I feel fitter than I ever have, and I PRd my last race. So, I would say it’s awesome! The nature of the gym and the times I go, it’s mostly women who populate the classes.
When I talk about it, I will sometimes hear from men, or women relaying info from some of the men in their lives, that it looks like a great workout, but they’re not gonna workout with a bunch of women. There were lots more men when I was a member of a crossfit gym, and they had no problem working out with women. But, I get it. It’s cool with me. I just have to say, I always cringe inside when I hear that.
Why? For real. Is it because they don’t see how it would be challenging enough for them because, if a bunch of women do it, then it must be easy? Pink weights and stuff. Are they intimidated that one of these women might show them up? Are they worried about getting distracted? Do they think it’s just one big gossip session? Are they just not comfortable with it? I really would like to know.
Then today happened. I went to workout at a different time than usual. Different location, different coach, different patrons. The workout was awesomely hard. The coach was great. There were several men in the class, which was cool. Until it wasn’t.
You rotate through stations using a number, sharing the station with one or two other people. So, one is on the treadmill while another is on the rower or weight station, etc. I shared the station with a man, a man with large feet who must have worn his shoes to do yard work yesterday because there was grass and dirt all over the foot plates on the rower and all over the floor underneath. Because his feet were big, I had to adjust the plates and straps every time I got on the rower. Grass and dirt sticking to my sweaty hands. Grass and dirt on MY shoes now. I even found grass in the cup holder of my car after I left because it was sticking to me. Gross.
I worked out next to a guy who spread out into my space doing his own thing, setting his things on my station, acting like I could just move over.
Grassy shoe guy got lots more grass and dirt all over the treadmill we were sharing as well as the floor around our weight station. He left his used wipes and his card (to record times) on the treadmill. It looked like he was there with his wife or S.O. which made me wonder, did she notice the disaster he was leaving behind? Does she care? I mean if she lives with him, I’m sure she’s used to it. I don’t know about the guy with no sense of personal space. I couldn’t tell what he was doing much less who he was with.
Then I decided I was glad more men don’t workout with my “bunch of women”. If you can’t handle common gym courtesy, you can stick to your “manly” workouts and stay away from mine.
I know women can be just as gross, but it hasn’t happened to me at the gym before. I’ve never had to consider asking any one of them if they could at least wipe off the mess they left before moving on to the next station. The one or two men who join the “bunch of women” I usually workout with have more common courtesy, and I love them for it.
I bet the guys I encountered today are the kind that don’t wipe down or rerack their weights after lifting, IF they even lift. I bet they blast their own music and hog equipment like no one else exists. Sigh.
My PSA of the day, don’t be that guy (or girl). Train dirty. Be clean.
I will happily rejoin my regularly scheduled gym programming very soon, and think twice about switching times and locations again.
I passed a woman in the toilet paper isle at Target. After she caught me staring at her chest (reading) and smiling, she smiled back and then did the beauty queen/hand model motion from shoulder to shoulder before going about her day. Awkward is kinda my thing, and I love when I accidentally find other people like me.
Her shirt read “I wanna be Felicia. She’s always going somewhere.”
I wish I had called out “Bye, Felicia” as I turned the corner, but alas I’m no good at being witty in the moment. It was, however, the highlight of my day, and a nice way to say “Bye Felicia” to Monday.
Sometimes my meals look like this.
And, I feel very accomplished as a cook even though it’s probably one of the easier meals to cook. I mean, one pan steak and veggies cooked in the oven. I really don’t know how much easier it could get and still be homemade.
Sometimes my meals look like this.
This would be my absolute all time favorite breakfast. No biscuits and gravy for me. Give me eggs, greens and potatoes any day.
And…. Sometimes my meals look like this.
This is the meal that most makes me feel like a tall five year old who’s just really good at pretending she’s an adult when she has to, crustless PB&J triangles with strawberry milk on a pink plastic plate. Yeah, this doesn’t look like an adult meal at all. It’s my favorite meal to eat before a long run, though, minus the strawberry milk. I drink that after. It’s my go to fast food to take with me on the go. I actually eat a lot of PB&J in various forms. It works for me.
I’m all about balance. My whole life is a balancing act. I’m always juggling a dozen different activities, running in a dozen different directions, planning around five different people’s food preferences, trying to sleep and exercise, attempting to shower and dress half way decent without giving up my sleep or exercise. Sometimes, I just need a crustless PB&J and some strawberry milk.
Approximately 620 Calories with 19 g Protein, 21 g Fat, 70 g Carbohydrates (that’s a generous estimate for the peanut butter and the jelly and before cutting off the crust ;-).
What’s your balance food?
I was pretty disappointed in 2017. It absolutely did NOT live up to its full potential. 2018, though, I’m making that sucker my year, y’all. My list of goals? Here they are.
I am very happy to report that currently I am 4 for 5. I’m only counting half for numbers 3 and 5 because my basement and garage are still completely full of useless crap, and I’m sitting here at my computer with a box of Girl Scout cookies and a Starbucks refresher. I want to say I won’t eat an entire sleeve all by myself, but I know better.
My kids and husband are still alive. I am still married. I have not yet received the call from A&E. I’m on target for my running goal, and up until the Girl Scout cookie season, my nutrition has been on point. So, bam, take that 2017.
I guess that’s what happens when you lower your standards to just above bathing and breathing.
Seriously, though, I’m a list maker, a box checker. I like having a set goal and a plan laid out that will get me to that goal. I’ve lived my whole life that way, and I’m not gonna stop now because I didn’t get to cross off as much as I wanted to in 2017. I’m having real trouble with 2018, though. I have goals, and plans, kinda. Really, they’re just the leftover things from 2017 I’m still sore about not accomplishing.
I wanted to start a new blog last year, then I spent the whole year stuck on logistics. The fact that you’re reading this means, I accomplished that goal in 2018. Let’s see if I can follow through and keep it going.
I wanted to do more creative things in 2017. I’m currently about 3 chapters into a novel I started in January. So, that’s something.
I wanted to work on hospitality, growing and strengthening friendships in 2017. The hospitality part may not happen until I have an empty nest. You have to be home to have people over.
I wanted to read through the Bible twice last year. I only made it about half way through once. A lot of that is because I got stuck in a few places and dove in, or I was only able to read and digest small pieces at a time because my days are too full.
I wanted to read through the Quran. I’m not changing religions, but I know that I get super frustrated with how the media and non-Christians who have never actually read the Bible portray it. I figure it’s the same deal with Islamic scripture. I’m curious about what is actually in there and what is misrepresented. Once again my curiosity leads me down some interesting paths. However, this is proving difficult for a person living in the Bible belt who only speaks English. And, I thought the English Bible versions and translations were confusing to navigate. I’m gonna figure it out, though. Eventually.
I wanted to chip away at my 50 marathons in 50 states goal, but I didn’t run a single race longer than 6.2 miles last year. I barely ran 500 miles total for the whole year.
I wanted to run an Ultra marathon. Obviously, that didn’t happen either.
These are all rolling over into 2018, but I’m now thinking about more long term goals, things I can’t check off in a year, things that require building over time. In my searching, I ran across an article (that I can’t find now that I’m sitting down to blog this) that suggested reading some obituaries, imagining what yours might say, and typing it out. If you don’t like it, rewrite it. Make a plan to accomplish the things you want to be written in your obituary. When you get stuck, revisit that section of your paper and revise yours again.
I sat there with the article in front of me, and paused. It was a long pause, and then I decided I would do it.
What a powerful exercise. You hear things similar to this all the time. “Live your best life.” “Live like today is your last day.” “You can’t change your beginning, but you can write your own ending.” Lots of sayings like this because I feel like it’s a universal truth. You will die. Live how you want to be remembered. I’m telling you, though, sitting down to actually see it, to read it, to picture your life summed up in a paragraph on a page in the paper most people don’t read, to attempt to write it, it’s life changing. Try it.
I’m currently working on my revision, and I’ll let you know how it turns out. I may even post it. We’ll see.
If you could choose any profession and know you would be successful, what would it be?
Me? There are a few off the wall things floating around my head from childhood, like being an astronaut or a marine biologist. One dream was abandoned watching the Challenger explode on TV and the other I gave up because it required too much math. [I know both of those would have required a lot of math.] I want to write a book, and I’m working on that. I want to live like a grown up, and not just like a tall five year old who knows how to pretend she’s a grown up when she has to. Those would be nice. But, one of the abandoned dreams that still haunts me is music. If I could do anything and not fail, I would sing.
Most people in my life now met me after college and don’t even know I sing.
I started singing, as my mom likes to say, before I could talk. If I had a piano to play and someone to sing with, I was in heaven. I can remember singing for hours, until I got hoarse, and then being sad I couldn’t sing more. I used to spend hours creating melodies and writing songs, often with a tiny keyboard and headphones sitting in my bed into the early morning hours. It was probably my favorite thing to do, and up until college, the one thing I was most confident about. I didn’t know what else I would do, but I knew I would never stop singing.
It’s funny though, that by nature I’m shy. Asking me to say my name and something about myself in a small group setting would send me into a panic, but asking me to sing on stage with a microphone was exciting. I sang my first solo when I was 6. I forgot the words and sang the same verse 3 times. Even though I messed up the song, I had discovered the joy of being on stage, and I began to crave it.
Someone told me later, everyone gets nervous, but some people are able to channel that nervousness into positive energy and use it to perform. Others allow the nervousness to paralyze them. I guess I can channel one kind of nervousness but freeze with the other.
Most of my life, I heard only praise for my voice. Things to improve, things to work on, but never really bad things. Most of the time I heard how amazing my voice was. I had family and friends that used to tell me they couldn’t wait until they were listening to my voice on the radio. Up until my freshman year of college, I couldn’t imagine a time in my life that I would quit singing. I wanted to improve and learn, and as time passed, I could only see myself loving it more.
I was one of those kids torn between all of my loves: animals, music, and art. When I was planning college, I decided to major in art and minor in music or try to double major, but there was a mix up with my admissions paperwork, actually a mix up in the admissions department explaining to me how those two majors worked. When I arrived on campus, they had me majoring in art, specifically graphic design which required a minor in advertising. So, music wasn’t even in the mix basically because at that school, you didn’t combine those two things. When I met with my admissions counselor (the future Dean of Communicative Arts, and the most influential professor of all my time in undergrad), he encouraged me to stick with everything the way it was and take music classes offered to non-music majors.
I decided to listen to him. Here’s where we get to the part of the story I don’t tell often. Usually I’ll say the rest is history. Cut to that professor and a few other’s unparalleled influence on my life, me finishing my undergrad never having changed my ‘mistaken’ major, getting married then starting my graduate degree, ultimately ending up where I am now.
I love design and art. I’m good at it. At least I was before I quit to take care of my kids and became a full time special needs parent, but I had quit singing back in college except for the shower, some choir and specials at my home church. I refocused myself on my major classes and left music behind.
The reason for the switch in focus and the loss of something so very precious to me came down to one teacher, one phrase, and one moment I just couldn’t overcome.
During my freshman year, I took a piano class and a voice class. The piano class was amazing. I learned so much, I left class every day wanting to practice and get better, and I did. The voice class, though, was a struggle.
The first couple of class periods were used for a kind of audition, a chance for the instructor to hear everyone’s voice so he knew what he was working with. I was more nervous than usual because it was a small class in a small room, queue shy girl panic. I was shaky and pitchy, I knew that, but I was not expecting to hear what he said. He told me, while shaking his head, I sounded like a bad country music singer, but maybe he could fix that. While I tried to process what he said, he then began a monologue about how so many of us must have sang for small home churches or schools and were told we were good singers pretty much just because there wasn’t much else to choose from. He intended to help us either improve or give up singing. I struggled with every assignment. He was teaching classical method, and I didn’t like the changes he was making. With shaken confidence and a lack of desire to sing the way he wanted me to sing, I dreaded the class and by the end gave up singing almost entirely.
This post isn’t about my voice or whether or not I could have ‘made it.’ It’s about the fact that I never tried to pursue music in any way going forward because I believed him. That one sentence. The words that followed. I believed him over every other positive word, every other person telling me I should sing. I decided my voice wasn’t anything special, that I had just been a big fish in a small pond, and that I didn’t have what it took to keep singing outside of my little pond. No more auditions. No more volunteering to sing every opportunity I had. I only sang with friends for fun, in the shower, and in my home church choir and a few specials when I was asked. It was so rare, I can still remember my oldest son, at least ten at the time, walking into the kitchen while I was singing, and with a surprised look on his face said, “Mom, you can sing.”
As a juxtaposition, the admissions counselor I spoke of earlier, he was my freshman drawing instructor. He’s one of those people whose gift for teaching is evident the moment you meet him. He could essentially tell you your work was garbage (although he would never actually say that) in a way that encouraged you to learn from it and inspired you to to work harder and do better. No unnecessary flattery. Just positive instruction that lead all of his students to be better artists. I don’t think I ever heard any of his students say they didn’t love him as their professor. I left music behind to continue improving in art and design. Looking back, I believe it all boiled down to the one dream crushing instructor and the one dream building instructor.
During a time when my support system was changing, when I was having to grow away from my family and friends, when I had to begin to build my own internal support system, truly believe in my own abilities and base my confidence on that belief, there was a voice that shook that unstable foundation and changed the course of my life.
I don’t know if anything would have been different for me had I chosen a different school, a different major, had different instructors, or hadn’t taken what he said to heart. There would have been other discouraging people along that road for sure, and I don’t know that I would have been strong enough to withstand their discouragement either. There’s a pattern in my life of confidence lost, faith shaken, and life altered, and to follow a dream and truly succeed, you have to be able to push through the negative voices and trust your own. The purpose of this post, though, is to share just how big an influence our words can have.
I don’t know where that instructor is now. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t remember me or what he said to me. I can guarantee it doesn’t keep him up at night. But, it is still with me. I can still hear his words as if he had spoken them yesterday.
I gave up something I had loved doing for most of my life because one man told me I wasn’t good enough. One man.
Discouragement far out weighs encouragement. Out of all the positive I heard, that one negative influence impacted me so much more.
Teachers, instructors, coaches, these people we trust to help us grow and learn, these people we show our weaknesses to in hopes they can help us grow stronger, their words have the power to change the course of our lives.
If you are one of those people, a teacher, instructor or coach, please be aware of the power you hold and strive to be the voice that encourages your students or athletes to reach deeper inside themselves and work harder to develop their abilities even if those talents and abilities lie in another arena. Speak life. Try to be the voice that still inspires them 20 years later rather than the voice that crushed their dream and haunts them decades down the road.
I won’t be attempting to break into the music industry in my old age. I won’t be studying or teaching music. Closing in on my fourth decade of life, I’m good singing in my kitchen and Sunday School classroom, and I look forward to holding grand babies and singing the lullabies I wrote when my babies were small. Maybe I’ll go back to singing in church when my kids’ schedules no longer make it impossible to make practices, that is if I decide to stop teaching Sunday school (which I can’t imagine quitting right now).
Even though, I’m ok now, in those moments when I allow my mind to wander “what if?” I can still hear his words, and I wish so much I could have withstood his judgment. I wish I was writing a whole other story today, maybe one of failure, but one where at least I tried and failed rather than gave up without a fight.
Woman runs a 5k, doesn’t die, decides to sign up for another.
Woman runs a 10k, doesn’t die and starts thinking about longer distances.
Woman decides to run a marathon and figures a half marathon would be good to mix into training. She also decides to mix in a 30k. Gets injured training for these races, but runs them anyway, hobbling a lot.
Woman persuades unsuspecting friend who has never run more than a half marathon to run the full marathon with her.
Woman and friend run marathon. Woman runs injured. Has to walk a lot. Reaches 20 miles in considerable pain. Stops for a quick pic. Crosses finish line in tears. Finds her friend, goes directly to the food, then goes home to collapse into her husbands arms swearing she will NEVER run another marathon again.
Woman wakes up the next day feeling like she could conquer the world, signs up for another marathon.
Woman has to stop running because of her injury. Woman has lots of time to obsess about running.
Woman trains like a pro, foam rolls and eats like a pro, stays disciplined, focused, and determined to make this marathon what the last one couldn’t be because of injury.
Woman has tiny panic attacks all night before the marathon, and nearly can’t make herself leave the hotel for the start line. Vomiting never happened, but was a real possibility.
Woman runs the marathon like a pro (albeit quite a bit slower than one), never walks, never really struggles, climbs the course’s big hill like a boss, finishes with confidence and finally feels like a marathoner.
Woman remembers meeting a woman from North Dakota in her first marathon. This woman planted a seed in the new marathoner’s heart, 50 marathons in 50 states.
Woman runs two more marathons and plans to follow in her new friend from North Dakota’s footsteps, almost literally.
50 marathons in 50 states before 50 (years of age).
Woman has 12 years and 3 months to make this happen.