Influences

Influences

I agree completely to the statement above. Girls aren’t born hating themselves/their bodies- we teach them to.  That power- the power to influence someone’s life, we all have it.  We have the choice to negatively or positively affect another person’s life.

I went with my mother to JC Penney’s recently, so she could buy a swimsuit.  I stood outside of the dressing room, and couldn’t help but listen to all of the other people talking in the dressing room.  All I heard were things like: “Ugh, I look awful!”, “I’m too fat”, and “I need to go on a diet”.  I was upset. How could these people all have such a negative attitude towards themselves?! No wonder we grow up hating our bodies! I took a Child Psychology class in high school because, well, it fascinated me.  Have you ever heard of “Monkey see, Monkey do”?  That’s a real thing. We grow up watching every little thing that our parents/elders do, and we start doing the same things.  We soak it all up like sponges.  So, when I stood in the dressing room and heard all of the awful things people were saying it upset me because of the battle I’ve had with my own body.  I grew up hating my body, and the thought that my niece could go through that scared the hell out of me.  I grew up wanting to look like the people in the magazines. You know those tall, skinny, airbrushed people on the covers that don’t really exist… (Because let’s be real here, perfect doesn’t exist.)  I was never enough for myself, and feared that I wouldn’t be enough for anyone else.  Those fears came to life when a family member told me, “If you just lost a little weight, then you’d be the prettiest girl in your class.”  That crushed me. That same person then would go on to give me dieting pamphlets multiple times.  This started before I even hit puberty. So, no wonder I grew up having such a negative relationship with my own body.  I bought into it. I believed what someone else wanted me to for such a long time.  I am just now starting to have a body positive relationship with myself.  I am enough.  I am strong, and have a good heart.  The shape of my body doesn’t determine who I am as an individual.  *Mind blown* I determine who I am as a person, and I am choosing to be great. I am choosing to accept me for me. I don’t just work out to change my body. I make the choice to go to the gym to be able to live my life the way I want to live it. I do it to be physically and mentally strong, and to be the best that I can be.  My body changing is just a perk of it.  My whole life isn’t about being skinny and perfect.  Being able to accept me for me is huge, and I am proud of the things I am learning and accomplishing on this journey.  I hope that on this journey I am able to be a positive influence for someone.  I want to be the person in the dressing room that says, “DAMN, LOOK AT ME! I’M BEAUTIFUL!” Sounds super cheesy, but it might rub off on someone and give them a different perspective when it comes to their own body.  That would be something incredible.

Strengh

Who’s your person? Who do you run to when you have some juicy news, or need some really good advice? Mine would be my father, or it used to be. See, the beauty of the whole situation is that I’m learning to depend on and trust myself.  That’s kind of big a deal. Well, to me it is.  I still second guess myself from time to time, but I’m making progress! I’m trying really hard to find the beauty in all of this, and working on focusing on the positives because the negatives can really suck the life right out of you. It’s pretty easy to get wrapped up in it, and can be pretty hard get out of it. It’s a choice. I also believe that each day is kind of like a test. What choice are you going to make today? So, I get up and put a smile on my face because I can. I get up and go to work because I’ve been given that opportunity to learn and grow as a person. I go to the gym after work because I’ve been given a body that is able to do some seriously cool stuff, and I’ll be damned if I let it go to waste. While we’re on the topic.. I broke the women’s deadlift record at the gym! 295lbs! Holy schnikes! I didn’t know my body could do that!! I’m a freakishly strong person.. I definitely surprise myself sometimes because I’m unaware of my own strength. At one time I was afraid to lift weights because I thought I’d get bulky. I was introduced to the weight room in junior high. I loved it. Had no idea what the heck I was doing, and neither did the adults in there, but knew I loved it. I felt right at home. You see though, there was this slight problem. I was one of the young girls that worried about what the guys would think. Boy crazy is a real thing! At least it was for me growing up. I was afraid of being strong. I was afraid that if the guys knew I was stronger than some of them, then none of them would want to be around me. Silly right? My dad noticed when I started to back off from the weight room and asked me what was going on. I told him I was afraid of getting too muscular. I was afraid that the boys wouldn’t like me. I’m shaking my head as I write this. What a silly reason to stop doing something you like. I didn’t know much about health and how the body worked at the time, and am still no expert by any means. I know more than I did back then though! So, there’s that! My Dad looked me right in the face and said, “You aren’t going to bulk up like a guy, and if a guy can’t handle your strength then he’s not someone you want around anyway.” BOOM. His advice was always perfect. Still is! We then started working out together at the gym in town, and he helped me find my strength again. Just like he is today, and everyday. He’s led me to a pretty incredible gym. One full of greatness that continues to amaze me. I even saw a sign hanging in the wall that said something about how girls shouldn’t be afraid of being strong. I knew I was right where I was supposed to be the moment I read that sign. I have me to thank for my hard work, but without that advice and push from my Dad I wouldn’t have the strong mentality that I do have. Some days it’s a little stronger than others, but it will always be there! I hope to pass it on to my kids..just like my father did for me. So, for me, strong is a choice. One of the best choices I’ve made and will continue to make on a daily basis. My next choice? To break my own record of course.

 

*UPDATE* That sign in the gym said, “The MYTH that women shouldn’t lift heavy comes from women who fear effort and mean who fear strong women.”

He’d be proud.

It has been a year of insane growth. We used to depend on my father for a lot of things. He was the man of the house. He did so many different things for all of us, and that’s how he wanted it to be. He loved providing for his family. So, when we no longer had that, we were lost. That was honestly one of the scariest parts of the whole process. It’s like figuring out how to navigate through your own storm without a compass. There are some rough patches…and at times you really don’t know which way is up. You have to learn how to trust yourself and the process, and it’s scary as hell at times. Trusting yourself can be hard. But you’ll then find that you aren’t as lost as you thought you were, and you actually know a thing or two. You find hope. Your faith in yourself (and the process) grows, and slowly but surely you start to find your way again. I’m missing my dad quite a bit today, and can’t help but think of how things would be if he were still here. It’d be so different. I wouldn’t be half of the person I am now. I feel bad saying that. I’d give anything to have him here, don’t get me wrong, but I probably wouldn’t have learned how to fight for myself in the same way that I have this past year because I’d still be pretty dependent on my dad. I’m proud of the strides I’ve made, and I think he would be too. He’d be proud that his daughter took matters in to her own hands and got herself in to a gym to better herself. He’d be so proud of her courage and strength. He’d be proud that through out some of the hardest times of her life she’s managed to become better, not bitter. He’d just be damn proud. I recently got a tattoo in honor of him. One that might not really make much sense to very many people, but to me it has depth and purpose. I got 2-01-16 tattooed on the inside of my ankle. That’s the day he passed away, and if I were to think about it from another person’s perspective I’d think, “Why would she tattoo such a sad date on her ankle?” Well, to me that date is one of fear, courage, and strength. It’s the day that changed me forever. It’s a mixture of dark and light phases of my life. There’s so much meaning wrapped up in those little black numbers, but if I had to simplify it, I’d tell you that I carry that day with me wherever I go. Every step of everyday; not a minute goes by that I’m not thinking about it. It’s a reminder to never take a moment for granted because each one has purpose. I’m starting to find my purpose, or so I think. It’s a pretty great one too. So great that once I get to the finish line not only will my dad be proud, but I will be insanely proud too.

 

“Here comes the sun”

Trials and tribulations. The rise and fall. We go through hard times, and then through easier times. Things are constantly changing. That’s life. In fact, change is the only constant we can really depend on. (And it can be a bitch for someone that sometimes struggles with the process.) I surely have some dark things to work through, but today is about some of my more recent challenges. Someone once told me that I’m a hard person to read. I don’t open up that easily to people I don’t know well- it takes me awhile. It’s been a goal of mine to be a more open and honest individual this past year, and I’ve felt like I hit a roadblock recently. I’ve been letting a lot of things get to me. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be this perfect version of me that doesn’t exist. I’ve been carrying this negativity everywhere with me, and it has slowly been wearing me down. The stress levels at work have gone up, and I started having stomach pains and problems sleeping. I became very frustrated with myself. I’d start crying any time I was alone from the frustration of not feeling like myself. By the time I’d leave work I was already spent. Worn out. Then I’d go to the gym and release some of my frustrations, but I felt like my work outs were slacking because I was so tired already. Then the frustration cycle would start all over again. I finally caved at work one morning and decided I needed to go to the doctor.  I was thinking I had some kind of imbalance or hormonal issue going on. I rarely go to the doctor’s office unless it’s something that I feel needs attention. My blood pressure was higher than it’s been, and that’s when I knew that this was a bigger deal than I had been making it.  Long story short- I’ve been dealing with some mild depression and my stress was starting to affect my health. It took a few days and I finally told my Mom about what was going on, which went well.  We made a plan for both of us to start working on the things we need to work on. We are the same in the fact that we don’t like to keep our hardships on the surface for everyone to see, but rather bury them deep for no one to know about. That’s not healthy. The baggage is heavy and it’s time to lighten the load! I think we find our inner strength and courage when we bring our troubles to the surface and fight. When we face our fears. Fight for yourself, and know that you are worth it. Know that you are enough. It’s hard giving yourself credit sometimes too, especially when you’ve been so hard on yourself.  Loving yourself can be both the hardest and easiest thing you will ever do. But man, is it worth it!  It’s also one of the best parts of this crazy beautiful thing we get to call life. So, here’s to loving me. Here’s to the good fight. Me against me, and I’m one determined son of a gun.

HOLD UP.  UPDATE. I forgot to mention one of the best parts! I had my one year gym-a-versary recently! One year of working out at one of my favorite places! ❤️Me some Grit Gym. Go check them out on Facebook and Instagram! Lots of good stuff on there!

Holidays

It’s that time of year again. I usually look forward to the holidays, but I’m kind of fighting them this year. Yesterday we had our big family Thanksgiving for my dad’s side of the family at my mom’s house. It was rough even though we all went on acting like everything and everyone was fine. It becomes more clear every time we get together that my Dad was the center piece that held everything together. He loved the holidays. He was the one that cut the ham and turkey. He was the one everyone joked with, and the grandkids/nieces/nephews all flocked to. I kept waiting for him to come around the corner and sit down next to me like he used to. I wanted to hug him and just hold on tight. I miss his hugs. I miss the way we used to pick on each other. I miss how much we’d laugh at each other. I miss him telling me everything was going to be ok. I miss how he made me feel safe and secure when I needed it. I miss the way he and my mom used to stand in the kitchen and hug each other and then whisper, “I love you more.”  I miss seeing my mom be happy and feeling complete. I miss his presence in general- he was my friend, my dad, and my rock. I find myself doing things to feel closer to him, like wearing his old shirts to the gym, or carrying this dove pin I wore on the day of his funeral with me(because it was the last place I actually was able to touch him and see him). As I write this, I realize that part of me is embarrassed for exposing my sadness, and part of me is proud that I’m letting myself feel it instead of run from it. Why am I embarrassed? I think it has a little something to do with wanting to be that happy-go-lucky positive breath of fresh air kind of person. Being sad is a real downer, and I’m not very good at it. I’d usually try to stuff that deep down and just keep on keepin’ on, but that can’t be good for the soul. I’m working on letting myself be vulnerable instead of shaming myself for having feelings other than being ok. I’ve been constantly wondering if I am playing the victim. Let’s face it, my dad died in this super traumatic and horrible way, but the only thing I can think of is that someone has it worse off than I do.  I feel guilty letting myself be sad because of how blessed I am. I feel guilty being happy every once in a while too, but that’s a whole other thing. Its crazy stuff. I know he is here with us, but all I can think of is how things used to be. I’m fighting my new normal pretty hard. I’m sure it will get easier to accept as time goes on! My dad has been making his presence well known. He’s still an ornery little shit, so there’s that. So, it’s no secret I’ve been working on myself, and I’ve noticed I’ve been changing in quite a few ways. I’d like to think that I have my dad to thank for that. If it weren’t for him, then I probably wouldn’t be the person I am becoming. Sure, I’ve had something to do with it too, but he’s had a lot to do with bringing me to where I am. And to Grit Gym. My favorite place to be really other than home. (Or the beach) I am 100% positive that my father played a hand in that too. No doubt in my mind. I’ve met some of the most incredible people in there. Adam- he’s the owner/head coach. He is one of the most influential and genuine people I have ever met. The first time I met Adam was at my Strategy session. I was so nervous to go into a gym I had never been in before and ask for help. Before my dad died I would have waited for him to go with me because I was afraid to do things like that alone. To push myself out of my comfort zone. Adam made me feel like I still had a place in the world in all of the darkness I was experiencing, and that I could do anything. He helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel, and for that I will forever be thankful. He’s destined for great things, and I hope to have him in my life for a long, long time. Next comes Evan and Brent! They are both very funny people, just like me, so we all mesh very well. Brent was all business when we first met, but he eventually let the guard down. He’s another genuine and thoughtful person. Brent is a natural at what he does and I know he will go far in whatever avenue he chooses to pursue in life. He’s one of the good ones!  EvDog(Evan), he’s one of a kind! I mean that in the best way. He started working at the gym not too long before I started going there, so we’ve been learning things on the fly together. I’ve noticed that he hates making mistakes, and tries his hardest to keep his cool even though he’s freaking out a little bit on the inside. All 3 guys hold a special place in my heart and came into my life when I needed good people in my corner the most. People seem to be around a lot the first week after someone dies, and then they all kind of disappear. So, perfect timing to gain three great friends.  I hope they know I don’t plan on going anywhere any time soon, so they are stuck with this lady for as long as they’ll let me be in their lives.   As far as the whole holidays thing goes, the only way out of the hard stuff is to go through it. It’s going to be tough. I’m sure it will hurt, but I’m strong and will come out of it(even if it’s on my hands and knees).

New Normal

Things will never be the same. How could they be after losing someone you love so much? I won’t lie I do struggle with this whole grieving process, but maybe that’s the beauty of the whole thing. I might not realize it just quite yet, but I’m making strides. I thought that it was going to be easier than what it is, and that I’d cry for a few weeks (maybe months) and then things would get back to normal. But what is normal? There really is no such thing. At least I don’t think so. And how could things go back to the way they were with such an important piece of the puzzle missing? I’ve been looking for answers. Wondering why and how life is the way it is. Long story short- I didn’t find any mind boggling answers… I just found more questions. I ended up reading a book about mourning and how you need to give yourself permission to go on that journey. It also talked about how it will hurt and be a struggle, but it will be worth it. The book was an eye opener for me. I haven’t been giving myself that permission. I’ve been running from my feelings and closing myself off. Maybe that explains why I’ve been so worn out lately! (And it’s resulted in some serious sandbagging at the gym.) It’s frustrating as hell! I honestly have grown to love working out. It’s therapy for me. I wake up looking forward to being in the gym, and that’s a great feeling. I was trying to talk my Dad into getting back in the gym a few weeks before he passed away. Creeping in the back of my mind is the thought that maybe if I would have gotten him back in the gym sooner that he might still be here. Maybe if I would have pushed the subject a little harder, then he’d still be here. I have to quit thinking like this, and quit beating myself up for something I had no control of to begin with. The book also talked about inner strength.  The kind that helps you get up after you’ve been taken out at the knees. The kind that helps you decide that you are worth it, and that you can keep going even though the only thing you really want to do is give up. The book talked about not knowing how strong you really are, which is true. I’ve been unaware of my own strength all this time. I’ve learned and accepted that it is perfectly fine to be a strong independent woman. (In fact it’s kind of encouraged now) It’s taken a lot for that strength to build and this girl is proud of what she has! Shortly after I started working out at the gym I would catch myself looking around at all of the signs hanging on the walls. I would get lost in thought because of those dang things because each one of them had such a powerful message. I couldn’t help it. One was about how women shouldn’t be afraid of being strong. We shouldn’t fear our own strength, and that because we are strong men won’t like/be attracted to us. My Dad used to say the something similar to me. I would tell him in high school that I didn’t want to lift heavy weights because I was afraid I’d get bulky and none of the boys would like me. I could also probably put lift a lot more than the boys I went to high school with. I’m freakishly strong. My Dad Would then tell me that there’s nothing wrong with being strong and if a boy couldn’t handle my strength then he didn’t deserve to be around me in the first place. That sign at the gym..it was meant for me. Just another reminder that my inner strength is going to grow through out this process as much as my physical strength. That’s amazing to me.

The First Post

The First Post

I grew up in traditional farm family. I was very blessed to have the life that I did, but  I never actually took a step back and realized how incredible its been. Sadly, it took a life altering event for me to figure this all out.  Let me catch you up.  I went to college to become a radiologic technologist. After graduating and passing my boards I was offered a weekend package job, which by the way sucks, but beggars can’t be choosers right? I was the only tech working on the weekends. They kept me in the basement of the hospital, which was dark and felt like it came straight out of a horror movie. I was constantly turning around to make sure no one was standing behind me. I somehow made it through each weekend, and then would drive the hour and a half drive home.  The positive on having that work schedule was that I got to see my family quite a bit during the week.  I’m big on family, so being able to spend time with them has always been very important to me.  I remember starting to have a hard time with my job, and hating the loneliness I started to feel when I was at work all by myself.   One morning before leaving for an extra shift that I picked up I had a break down. I walked up to my mom and told her that I was really hating my job, and that I was considering putting in my two week notice. I felt that I would rather be happy than have a job that I absolutely dreaded going to. She gave me a surprised look and said, “Madison, I really wish you would just give it some time and keep trying.”  I got really upset and started crying, which I don’t normally do. I’m sure my mother got freaked out and called my father.  My father always answered any call from family at work, especially if it was my mother. I was driving down the interstate trying to decide what to do got a phone call from my father.   I had known at that moment that my mom called my dad and probably said something dramatic along the lines of, “Your daughter is a freaking hot mess, give her a call”. Dad always came to the rescue. He had a way of just looking at me and being able to tell something was wrong. He could see something in my facial expressions or hear it in my voice, and he had me figured out. He said, “You’ve been lying to your old Dad, haven’t you?” He then said something along the lines of, “I know you don’t like your job, and you hate the long drives. I also know that you are really good at what you do, and you are good with the people. I know that you are for a fact. So, for you to give up on something you are good at wouldn’t be right. Something better will come along, and I will help you find it. Just keep going for a little while longer. You can do this.” There it was. The push I needed to keep going. So, I drug my butt into work and made it through another day, but you better believe that when I got home the job search began.  I started looking for jobs all over- Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and even some closer to home in Iowa.  I stuck with the job for as long as I could, but then  I had something pretty tragic happen in my life and I decided to call it quits.  Along came February 1st, 2016, which was and will be a day that will haunt me for the rest of my life. That was the day that everything that was normal to me changed.  The day went by just like any other. That afternoon I was looking for jobs on the computer when I got a phone call from my mother. That usually never happened because she works in preschool and doesn’t get much free time at work.   When I answered she said, “I’m taking Dad to the doctor, he doesn’t feel right and is pretty sore.” He had fallen a few days before on the ice, so I thought it nothing was too serious, and soon he’d be just fine.  My dad had had two heart attacks in the span of maybe 5 years before all of this happened, which both resulted in having a stent placed.  The afternoon went on, and I got another phone call saying, “Your dad just wants to go to the chiropractor and get adjusted again. We can’t get ahold of his cardiologist to see if we should come in and get checked out or not.” He went to the chiro and got adjusted, and then all hell kind of broke loose. After the appointment the chest pain kind of hit him like a train and he decided it was time to go to the emergency room, but he didn’t want to go in an ambulance. The man was stubborn as hell, so there was no point in arguing with him. I was told that he was laid back in his seat, moaning in pain. My mother kept trying to weave in and out of traffic, but the semis kept blocking her. By the time they got to the hospital, my dad couldn’t even get out of the car.  Someone who was once so strong, was now weak and in excruciating pain. He was rushed into the emergency room, and it was there that he went into cardiac arrest.  They tried reviving him, and even rushed him to the Cath lab to work on him.  None of it was enough. My hero was gone.  How does any of that make sense? He was just here. I even heard his voice in the background when I was talking to my mom on the phone, and now he’s not? He had a blood clot get stuck in one of his stents.  The next phone call I’d get from my mother would be one of panic and heartbreak.  She said, “Madison, come to the hospital now. I want you here. They just took Dad to surgery. Please come!” I could sense that something wasn’t right. Things weren’t good. I called my brother and we took off together towards Iowa City. During that car ride I felt this weird feeling, something that I can’t even begin to describe. It bothered me to the point where I had to reach out and grab on to something, so  I grabbed my brother’s hand and held it the rest of the way to Iowa City.  I have kind of started to believe that that was the moment that our father died. I know it sounds crazy. Our minds have a funny way of working though. We can almost sense things that have happened without knowing that they have actually happened- if that makes sense.  I honestly never imagined losing my dad so soon. I’m in my mid-twenties, and I am now without one of the most influential and important people in my life. He won’t be here to walk me down the aisle, to love on my babies, or give me any of his fatherly advice. My heart has been broken completely, and part of it was buried with the man I call Dad.

I am now in the rebuilding stages. Rebuilding myself in a way that I never thought in a million years would be possible. Part of that process started within the first few months after he passed. Let me tell ya, the grieving process is WEIRD. Like I’ve said, I feel like a crazy person most of the time. My emotions are one big cluster f*ck. I know it will get better, or so I’ve been told. I have started working on myself at a gym in Iowa City called GRIT GYM. Huge shout out to them! I HIGHLY recommend it if you are in the area and looking for place to work out!  Every person in there is amazing and can make me laugh, so I actually look forward to getting my ass kicked on a daily basis.(How cool is that?!) I started going to better my health and well-being , but it’s also like a safe zone for me. I am able to work out my frustration and any other emotions and end up leaving there feeling better than when I walked in.  I hate that it took my Dad dying to treat myself the way I should have been treating myself all along, but there is nothing I can do to change that now.  I’m doing the best I can to accept it for what it is and make the best of what I have left in this life.