Year in Review; 2015 Preview

2014 was a rollercoaster....

  • 2014 started on a sour note -- being called a "reject" but hopeful about getting back into dating.  I was also feeling ambitious and excited regarding building upon my 950 mile year in 2013. I had hoped to get back into boxing after over a year away.  
  • February was my low point:  I lost my cat, Spike, after a valiant fight against diabetes, renal failure, and cancer.  Doubt started to creep in about my identity in the weight loss/health gain world after having a bad fall in the shower the morning of going to see Alton Brown in Baltimore (2/22) -- injuring both my head and lower back.
  • A few weeks later, I finally went to my orthopedist to get my neck and back checked out.  Luckily, I didn't damage my implant or injure myself too bad, but I became scared about my back and worried that anything could injure it.  I retreated to a degree but tried to do what I could.
  • I thought February was my low point, but it turned out that things could get worse.  In April, I went radio silent for the most part.  Unfortunately, the rest of my world wasn't silent -- my refrigerator's compressor died and my landlord refused to fix it.  This began a 2+ month battle of asking him to fix it, him telling me he wouldn't, and all the stress of not being able to sleep (cause of the noise) or not being able to cook for myself (because I had to unplug the fridge). 
  • One morning mid-May I went to take a shower and found out that neither February nor April's lowest points were my actual low points.  Fighting with doctors to get care takes so much energy out of me, but as I have to live in this body (not them), I will continue to advocate for myself and fight for myself in more ways than one.
  • June 2014 was a flurry of activity, including moving apartments and my epic road-trip through the South with FitBloggin 2014 as my final destination.  I still fought with the feelings that began in the beginning of the year of being an imposer, of having nothing left to give to this community. FitBloggin 2014 was bittersweet.  I loved seeing many of my friends, and missed many people who couldn't make it.  
  • It took me a little while to wrap my head around my Fitbloggin 2014 experience.  One of the highlights was meeting Jeff Galloway, who had a special message for my father.  While the message was for my dad, I got something out of it too.  It reminded me that no matter our story, we have to fight to be the protagonist (we don't have to be perfect and we don't have to do anything all by ourselves).  July also came with a new little lamb in the family. 
  • For me, finding my way back to my fight, to my story, began with allowing myself to feel the stress, pain, fear, and uncertainty of my life (all 33 years).  Far from a pity party, I knew I had to acknowledge and give compassion towards my suffering in order to let it find a resting place. 
  • The dark cloud of the past few months (okay, almost all of 2014) parted just enough for me to take a deep breath and take stock of things.  How did I want to steer the ship?   I was also proud to announce that I had been featured and quoted in a book by Ted Spiker.  Pretty cool, right? (Review Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.) 
  • Via his book, Ted Spiker introduced me to Doug Newburg. Doug Newburg, in turn, scrambled my brain a little bit by asking me some deceptively-simple-but-actually-hard-hitting questions:
  1. How do you want to feel everyday or about your life in general?
  2. When, where, and around whom do those feelings happen?
  3. What gets in the way of those feelings or takes them away?
  4. How do you get those feelings back?
  5. What are you willing to work for? 
2015 is "The Year of Gra-"

I really want 2015 to be the year where I feel present in my body, in my mind, and in my life.  The more I've been reading, living, and listening, the more I've come to realize that it boils down to these three things (that I've even posted about before in different incarnations):

Gracefulness:  I want to be present and stress less.  I don't expect perfection, but I hope to learn a little, to be open, to let go of as much as I can.  

Graciousness:  I want to be more receptive of the people around me who make an effort to have a meaningful and constructive presence in my life.  I also want to find a way to be civil with the people who choose not to be constructive forces in my life.

Gratitude:  I want to focus more on what is and less on what isn't; on what I have versus what I lack

#GoTheDist 2015
The first time that I did #GoTheDist (2011), I tried to give each month a theme or issue a challenge.  That was very challenging.   I have been hit & miss with respect to the yearly themes/challenges.  2012 didn't have one, 2013 was "Rebuild yourself," 2014 was about reflecting on how you inspire other people.  I think that means in 2015, I need to go back to being profound.  


Okay, nothing.  Everything I'm coming up with sounds like some ridiculous magazine headline or ridiculous truism:
  • "Come home to yourself" 
  • "What's True, Real, and Good?" 
  • "Don't be an asshole"
So I'm going to blatantly steal from Doug Newburg and ask you all to meditate on the simple/hard questions he asked, but especially the first and the last:  

How do you want your every day, your life to feel? 
What are you willing to do to always feel that way?

 How to Join #GoTheDist 2015

1. Click on the SUMMARY PAGE (bookmarking it would be a good idea as you will be using it often).

2. Fill out the next available line on the "Summary" spreadsheet.  You are responsible for filling out your biographical information (columns A–D), your tracking modality and goal (columns E and F), your quarterly goals (columns G, J, M, and P), and your half-year and full-year rewards (columns U and W).  

3. **CREATE YOUR INDIVIDUAL PAGE** (The information you have entered in step 2 should auto-complete to an individual page.  Check your line number and then look at the bottom of the page.  Match up your line number and double check that your information is correct).

4. Rename the tab "@[twitter name]" or if you don't have Twitter "[nickname]" 

5. Fill out the sheet as you wish.  See step #8.

6. Update your own individual page as needed (if tracking is too hard, consider printing out your page and filling it out by hand and updating it online once a week). The total mileage will automatically be updated on the Summary tab as you report on your individual page.

7. Follow #GoTheDist on Twitter for support if you need it or to support others when they do, to announce achievements, and find new/old friends!

8. PLEASE DO NOT DELETE LINES OR TABS! Do not SORT.  If you want to add columns, please add them to the RIGHT of the page.  Please do NOT move your page around! You CAN bookmark your individual page using your browser to find it easily.

Passive Voice

You know, I've always believed in the therapeutic power of writing.  Even if I didn't publish a blog I'd write for myself.  It helps me gain self awareness in the present and perspective for the past.

I also believe in the power of the story -- the narrative that we either reflect (fact) or the one that we create (fiction).  In my old age (okay, I'm 33), I've come to realize that the hardest stories to write about are the ones we don't feel are our own, where things happen to us and we had no control over them.

A few people know the truth about this story: my spinal surgeon, a few friends, and my dad (he knows the gist, not the details -- so um Dad, you might want to stop reading now).

No Place Like Home

Doug Newburg has been scrambling my brain with his five questions:
  1. How do you want to feel everyday or about your life in general?
  2. When, where, and around whom do those feelings happen?
  3. What gets in the way of those feelings or takes them away?
  4. How do you get those feelings back?
  5. What are you willing to work for? 
My mind has been bouncing around from between each question. They're so interrelated that you begin to find an answer to one and it starts spilling over to the other questions.

Answering "how do you want to feel" was much easier for me to answer in the negative -- I knew how I didn't want to feel: broken.

Flipping around the verbiage didn't quite work; the antonyms of broken didn't quite capture how I wanted to feel because I know there is no simple repair, no time machine to get back lost time, no erasing the feeling of being susceptible.

I thought about the times and places where I felt this "opposite of being broken" and came up with the time when I took a leap of faith (March 2011) and joined a boxing gym. I had only recently found my exercise groove, my diet groove, and needed to change it up a bit to deal with the plateau on which I had been residing. My boxing trainers made it very clear that my success required both my body and my mind. I couldn't let the narrative of being broken run the show. They taught me to fight for myself instead of fighting against myself.

Of those trainers, Randolph was the one that I bonded with for many reasons. I loved it when these young, jacked guys would come in to spar and he'd slip past each and every punch. More than anything else, he saw the fire in me and knew that if my body could do more that I'd let it (in other words, I wasn't one of those people who showed up just to burn calories, but I was there to learn and fight). He would only give me crap if I mentally checked out before I physically checked out (i.e., I had to at least try, even if I couldn't do as much as everyone else). Because of this (and his extensive training/certification), I trusted him enough to turn off my brain and let him take over.

I knew that the answer to both "How do you get those feelings back?" and "What are you willing to work for?" started in the same place and with the same person:

The good news is that my form is still pretty good. The bad news is that my conditioning is kinda crap (the respiratory plague could have a little to do with that). It's not as bad as he thought it could be, but I was winded 15 minutes in and my arms were noodles for 4 days after.

I am going back tonight.

How do I get that "opposite of broken" feeling back?
I get help from people that I trust and put in the sweat equity.

"What are you willing to work for?"

Yes, I know that the more I work on Doug's questions, the more specific and detailed my answer should be, but for right now, it's enough to say that I'm willing to work for and fight for myself. Instead of working for and investing in everyone else, I'm just gonna hit the pause button to recognize that I don't need to prove my worthiness to anyone. I don't need to beg for their affection, approval, or attention. And if people don't know how I fit into their life, it's not my fault to cure or my burden to remedy.