Archives for category: strength

i am always telling people to own their own lives, to do what their heart really wants, to ignore society’s mandates and to really craft a life of their own desire, because we only get one time around here.  we are the sole proprietors of our lives.  i tell them because this is the one thing that i cannot do.  not really.

but, it’s time that i do.  i own my life.

reminders come from the strangest places.  the one time i watched half an episode of sister wives (who knows where i was, i don’t have a t.v., so it was probably some hotel somewhere), the family was being interviewed by students at harvard or yale, something very “official”.  one of the lgbt students said to the family (and i’m paraphrasing), “you know, when you’re hetero, married, with 2.3 kids and live in the suburbs, you have a life.  if you are different from that in any way, you are living a lifestyle.  but, our lives are just our lives.”

i live differently than most people do.  and, i think i’m finally grown up enough to say that it is not because i have chosen a certain lifestyle, but this is just how i live.  this is my life.

there’s a lot of doubt right now floating around.

i have my last semester of college coming up.  i’m paying a lot of money that i don’t really want to spend right now to write a thesis that i feel lukewarm about to get someone’s approval somewhere and boom, i’ll be deemed educated.  even though, i’m one of the more educated people that i know.

i’m moving from vermont to the washington d.c. area in the next couple months.  even though i love vermont.  a lot.

i’ll probably be enrolling my son into formal education for his last two years of high school.  even though i have no faith in the system and even though he has not been formally educated for the past couple years, he’s better equipped for life than 90% of people his age that i know. (and at least 75% of people older than him.)

but, it’s all okay that my convictions are being challenged.  i was wrong that one time.

doubt is uncomfortable, though.  doubt makes me feel too big for the events surrounding me, kind of what i imagine a snake about to molt its skin feels.  it’s not really a pleasant feeling when one’s skin pinches and needs to split open.

the “i don’t knows” of life do make me squirm.  and, kids, i’m squirming right now.

so, to temper the rising panic that comes with feeling way out of control i am remembering a couple things that are very important and true to me.

1. the only people that really frighten me are those who “know for sure”.  where’s their respect for mystery?  where’s their humility before the power of nature?

2. there are only two decisions that cannot be undone.  one is to give birth, the other is to kill.  so, bringing forth a life and taking one away are the only things that can truly not be taken back.

3. once a snake molts, it goes through a time of complete vulnerability only to be followed by being stronger and bigger than it was before.

 

I have had a transformational weekend and from that I wanted to share some questions that are coming up for me.

What if I were KIND to myself?

What if  I treated myself as I wished others would treat me?

What if I allowed my “inner child” her tantrums and her tears and her playfulness knowing that my adult self will buy her the best things to eat, pay for dance lessons, drive her to the beach, and keep the house clean with flowers always in a vase?

What if I gave notice to my brain and moved into my body with an open-ended lease with option to buy?

What if I acknowledged that I’m free from my past and that all the associated suffering is a trick of my mind?

What if I set judgement down in a corner for a while?

What if I looked at myself with eyes of gentleness and understanding for all I’ve endured?

I’m really the only one that’s been with me the whole time.  No one else knows what life is really like experienced through my self.  The expectation that someone else will really get me and provide the things I need is bound to be unmet.  No one else really knows what hurts my feelings or makes me giggle so hard that I need to pee.  No one else has to put up with the abuse I often dole out onto my mind and body.  No one else is in my skin.  No one else has my bones and muscles and toes.  I am the only one of me there will ever be.  That’s some really special shit.

i hate the wave of spirituality, or whatever you wanna call it, that is all about ‘killing the ego’.  of course, to be clear, i hate most waves of spirituality.  on some level, they are all different forms of escapism from the messiness of life.

the ego is the bad guy i a lot of movements, i know.  i may even be attacking the golden cow of buddhism, which people tend to let squeak by as “philosophy” and not “religion”.  but, i’ve spent the last three days in bed, unable to even read because my fever was so ridiculous, and i’m feelin’ cranky, so even, you buddhism, are going down!

let’s go back to psych 101.  there’s none of my love wasted on freud, but he created the idea of the ego, the id, and the super-ego that we’ve all agreed to run with.  the id is our wildest, most “primitive” self (a wild child), the super-ego is the rule follower (it absorbs all the stories we’re told by our parents and society and sees them as law), and in between, is our ego.  our ego is what tries to negotiate between them.  our ego is our own self-identification between our primitive self and our societal self.  it is the voice that says:  this is what “I” think.

i’m not clear on how he got to be such a bad guy.  maybe it’s because neither society nor spirituality wants us to be able to say: this is what “I” think.

of course, the super-ego, the dogmatic follower of doctrine, is in all sorts of trouble from the get-go.  not because the super-ego is bad (seriously, do we still have to deal with good/bad, evil/holy?  things just ARE.), but because the stories it has to absorb from our parents and from society are, in a word, fucked.

i feel bad for my poor ego.  how does it reconcile the bullshit patriarchal paradigm and the wild child within?  it’s an enormous task.  the last thing i want to do is kill it.

looking into the world, i don’t see a problem with people’s inflated sense of self.  in general, the problem seems to be that people’s sense of self is incredibly fragile, brittle.  the ego can be a malleable, bendable thing so that it doesn’t shatter, but doing away with it completely is tragic.

it is hard for the ego to develop healthily in an environment that: 1. doesn’t want it.  and 2. lies.  the self has to incorporate a mountain of lies from society and then apologize for its own existence.

don’t kill your ego.  tell it the truth.  let it know that it doesn’t have to be rigid.  only imbeciles don’t change their mind, but your sense of self can remain intact.

granted, it’s a bit more of a mouthful than war, what is it good for?  and i’m about to rock your collective world by changing the answer to that question.  war is good for absolutely nothin, but i’m not convinced that that’s the case when it comes to depression.

yes, you read that right.  i believe that depression has a purpose. it has taken me 32 years of experience with the disease to come to that conclusion.  i’ll wait here while you do the math.  i’m thirty-eight today, so yes, i was six years old the first time that i experienced depression.  parts of me can remember the horrible feelings of wanting life to end.  i’ve also pieced together certain things as an adult looking back at pictures of myself during that time and knowing now the symptoms, seeing them manifest in my second grade self.  depression in someone that young is usually situational, and i’m no exception.

i want to make sure that it’s clear right here and now that i’m not a psychologist or psychiatrist, so i can only talk about what i’ve learned through my own research and experience.  the research, lots, the experience, vast.  lets say that if depression was a building, i’ve been on just about every floor, spent time in all the storage closets, know the pattern of the tile, the color of the walls, and there are no windows.

depression is an emotional, genetic, mental, and physical disease.  and, it’s not to be trifled with.  it is dangerous.  i lost my dad to depression and two uncles who i never got to meet.  depression has been very close to winning with it’s little battle with my brain, too.

you can have situational depression which is brought about by something that your psyche deems unacceptable in your life.  you can have a genetic pre-disposition to depression where certain hormones in your brain just don’t do what they should. you can have a depression brought on my mental exhaustion when your brain just gets too tired trying to figure something out that it can’t quite accept.  and, this one is essential to grasp, depression is physical.  just like diabetes is physical, just like cancer is physical.  what i mean is that when depression has you in its talons, your body, not just your brain, doesn’t function to its optimum.  when i am depressed, my body aches.  all of it.  my hair hurts-i can feel each follicle and the place where the hair breaks through the surface of my scalp.  my muscles alternate between humming with electricity and feeling completely used up.  my bones get really heavy and my joints feel made from concrete and old, dried up rubber bands.  and, then, there is the sensitivity to stimulus.  everything is too bright.  everything is too loud.  and everyone is just too fucking talkative.

emotionally, i will feel an ebb and flow between a numbness that stretches my skin to just wanting to cry and cry and cry and cry, and then wanting to watch the world burn. i’ve had low-grade depression which allowed me to function but, just like a low-grade fever, altered my perspective of life.  i’ve had depression so dark, like being in the bottom of a deep well, that there was no light available from the top of  the hole.  i’ve had fleeting depressions (these live on sunday afternoons).  i’ve had depressions that are nothing more than swallowed rage.

depression may manifest differently to you.

all in all, depression is the least fun i’ve ever had.

because depression is so prevalent in my life, i used to think that it was going to win in the end.  i had a very adversarial relationship with the disease.  my vocabulary in my mind was: i’m going to beat this, i have to kill it, i need to rip it from my brain, i want to strangle it.  in all my encounters with depression and even to this day, i’ve never accepted that it was me.

several years ago, i read this book.  although it doesn’t deal specifically with depression, one of the greatest things it offered me was a different vocabulary.  it gave me a different framework for things.  one of Susun Weed‘s greatest contributions to the world is her defining the three traditions of healing.  the book really explains them.  around this time, there were a lot of different things going on at once.  i was finally able to declare myself an atheist, after a lifetime of not having a word for what i knew.  i was studying to be a green witch (yep, a witch who doesn’t believe in spirits.).  i was exploring the fact that i was an animal, pure and simple.  it was a couple years later that i fell upon marks daily apple and started the paleo stuff.  all of these things congealed in me and i realized something very important about my depression.

it existed for a reason. for many reasons, actually.

it existed for an emotional reason.  the decades of abuse, of pain that i’d never found a safe place to express festered and gave depression a comfy nest.

it existed for a genetic reason.  i was very much my father’s child and in this, there was no exception.

it existed for a mental reason.  i’ve been a thinker since the age of six.  i think i always have been, but around that time, my body became a danger zone and my brain was where i went to figure things out.  depression loves a thinker.  picture a pokemon (i know…i know….stay with me).  some of them get stronger through their relationship with their trainer and others get stronger through experience in battle.  (i’ve just consulted the resident expert.)  depression is just like that.  it feeds on me thinking about it, trying to figure it out….it feeds on me attacking it.  the more i do mental exercises to defeat it, the more it grows and transforms into something more powerful.

it exists for a physical reason.  anything felt in the body is a signal.  i don’t trust my brain, even less my mind.  i mean i can do some really cool things with it, but i wouldn’t let it out in public without tying on one of these.  my body, however, (and yours, too, by the way) IS.  NEVER.  WRONG.  once depression hits my body, that’s when i no longer feel powerless.

*tune in friday for more.

**if you want a little homework assignment (especially if you love someone with depression but can’t quite understand why they don’t “just get over it”, please watch this.  if you are depressed right now, DON’T.  just sayin’.  it’s not a mood lifter.)

hello my feral friends,

i can’t wait to tell you about the couple things i did this weekend that just ignited my wild soul’s fire!  you can read about them tomorrow and the day after.

right now, i need to deal with a little topic that can get a little out of hand in my life.  it’s the opposite of express yourself, kids.  the big, many clawed beast of depression.  oh, so civilized a fellow he is.  he sits and just waits for me to no longer worry about him, reclines with such elegance that i don’t notice him in the corner there, so well-behaved he is until…BLAM!  i just get to wander around lost in my brain that he’s just invaded.  the first thing he does is close off all the little windows and skylights in my brain that let in the light.  he likes it dark, still, and that everyone carries on with polite decorum.

this is the aspect of the wild woman that i don’t talk about much.  well, i don’t think i do.  i like to pretend it doesn’t exist.  i like to put forth this image that i’m hardcore and my attitude is just as big as the sky.  sometimes.  but, i’m a pretty fragile flower really.

instead of making me need to behave, that fragility is the very reason that i need to be wild and wilder and wilder.  i can be as vulnerable as i truly am when i’m walking in the woods and my broken brain doesn’t seem broken out there.  i don’t have to wear a certain mask when i’m swimming in the ocean.  nor do i have to be a culturally appropriate lady.  i can yell outside.  i am a freer girl when i can use my outside voice.

the dapper depression monster does enjoy my company sometimes.  and, these days is one of those times.  i haven’t been getting enough sleep, mcdonald’s has probably recorded my voice three times in the past two days (just because it can hardly believe that my voice is there!), and i haven’t been able to express my self as i’d like.  oh, poor me, right?

that’s the hardest part for me.  i mean, really, is my life that bad?  nope, it’s not.  and, yep, it has been.  no need for the sob story, but, my acceptance of my tendency to share a couple cupcakes with the suited beast of many manicured claws is also the acceptance that diabetics go through or those who dance with cancer must eventually make.  i can rail against the injustice of my brain broken in places because i wasn’t nurtured by the world in the way that all children should be all that i want or just accept that there are a series of practices that i must do over and over and over, daily for the rest of my life.

one of those practices is being physically active.  my brain fucks me over consistently.  my body just wants to have a good time.

another is nourishing myself like a goddess.  herbal infusions, plenty of meat, vegetables from all the colors of the spectrum, and lots of fat makes my cells sing.  grains and sugar and seed oils make my cells weep in pain.  (true story.)

yet another (the hardest for me) is retraining my brain.  habits of thought are deeply entrenched.  just as i was brainwashed (we all were) to think a certain way, i can brainwash myself to think another way.  this is also called “doing the work” and we all know how i feel about work, especially when i’m not getting paid or with no vacation time anywhere in sight.

there are other more specific habits that fall under these umbrellas that i will probably be talking about, but my depression, contrary to what i used to think, does not need to be tamed, but let loose.

getting wild is so much more than about physical strength.  it’s also about emotional vulnerability and safety.  seriously, do wild creatures even get depressed?

in the words of the incomparable, *express yourself, don’t depress yourself!

*nope, it’s not lost on me that this video takes place in an industrial NIGHTMARE.  discuss amongst yourselves.

here are the goals that i have as i embark on this path:

daily goals:

1. spend more time outside than i do in (if anybody has great job ideas where i could get paid to be outside, please hit me up with any and all ideas)

2. eat like a cavegirl

3. sleep at least 8 1/2 hours every night

strength/fitness goals:

1. squat 1 1/2 times my bodyweight (can it be done by lil ol’ me?  we’ll see…)

2. swim a mile in open water

3. finish a sprint triathlon….maybe this one?

4. be able to climb a tall tree really quickly

5. dance a lot (a lot.)

skills acquisition goals:

1. make jerky and pemmican

2. hunt and skin/butcher a buck (of the deer kind…calm down gentlemen)

3. get proficient with a bow and arrow

4. be able to build a fire the old, old fashioned way…basically one step away from waiting for lightening to strike in just the right place

5. be able to navigate using the sky (where the heck is north?  since the second grade when i found out it just wasn’t up i’ve had issues.)

i have a shit ton more.  i’ll be adding a page of just my goals and hopefully tick them off one by one.

i’m so curious what you want to be able to do.  comment away.

this is reason 849 that i don’t like working out in gyms.  the machines are so weird.  today’s wins the cake for me.

i went in and since i try to do something a little differently every time i’m in there, i went to the one machine i’ve never tried.  it’s a bike thingy, officially called the recumbent exercise bike.  imagine gluing your lazy boy to pedals instead of a foot stool.  i programmed it for an eight minute random hill cycle.

people, i felt like a duck on a lake.

you’ve seen the little ducks just gliding along the water but you know, you KNOW, that underneath the water their little webbed feet are paddling as furiously to stay in place as donald trump’s comb over.

if someone would have taken a video of me from my waist up, you’d think i was chillin’ out, watching jersey shore (goddess forbid!).  in keeping with the spirit of the day, i almost felt rather queenly on a throne…but hips down…..madness, kids, madness.

all that was missing from the arm rests (ARM RESTS!!!!!) was a cup holder and some nachos and guac.  all that was missing for my legs was an after event sports massage.

talk about lack of body unity.  i didn’t know whether to take a little nap or break out the tiger balm.

after that incongruity, i moved on to the rest of my gym play.  i felt very machine-y so that’s what i stuck with today.  i moved on to the seated leg press, then the hamstring curl machine, then the standing leg curl machine, then the leg adductor machine.

i, robot.

speaking of robots, there’s this woman at the gym who is there before me and still going strong after i’m gone.  she’s either on the deadmill or stairstepper….for hours.  she does NOT look like she’s having a good time.  her faced is tied into a knot.  her eyes do not move from the screen that updates how many calories she’s burning.  s. a. d.  this is the opposite of being a wild one.

monday, i want to start getting into what it is to be wild.  tuesday, i’ll be getting into my specific goals….stick around.

happy monday, my feral friends,

i have a confession to make.  i have an addiction.  (wow, surprise, right?)  like, if anyone knows me for five minutes or knows anything (anything) about my “romantic liasons” you knows that i have an addictive personality.  (really?  that guy?  for almost a year?  like…that guy?)  but, this one is becoming a health threat.

it’s a heavy monkey and my supplier even gives me a discount.  he even brings this stuff for me from another town.

criminal minds.

yep, not a description of me and the supplier, the t.v. show.  it’s sick.  i’m sick.  season three is where i currently am.  i don’t own a t.v. so i was a little late to this party.  i watched season three this weekend.  friday to be more exact.  well, friday/saturday.  it’s somewhere between 16 and 18 hours of blood gore and this guy.  although this guy has always been more my type, i’m addicted to this guy.  one more.  (told you i’m addicted.) thankfully, i get plenty of both on this show.

so, yesterday was spent trying to make up for my enormous sleep debt that this bloody binge accrued for me.

but, monday is my day of intensity at the gym.  intensity equals sprint cycles and heavy weights.  generally, i try not to do both on the same day.  i did both today.  and i almost puked.

because i hate the gym as a place to workout, it’s fun to just people watch. there’s a LOT of deadmill action with sad faces and skinny fat bodies.  i would rather be fat fat and skinny strong than skinny fat.  true story.  it’s something about the fluppy skin.

anyway, today’s workout (and please, please borrow it.  it’s a good one.  although you may want to split it into two days if you’re new to intensity as opposed to endurance, a.k.a. chronic cardio.

i set the cool stair master machine to do speed intervals every 30 seconds (and apparently the machine thought it was pretty cool itself.  it had quite the attitude.  on my easy cycles, it’s screen would go blank in a glaring sort of way, then light up with “stride faster” flashing with some impatience.  i got your faster right here, stair master.)  i also set the time for these intervals to 8 minutes max.

8 minutes?  i can almost hear the condescension from my deadmillin’ friends who regularly clock 30-45 minutes and feel saintly.  trust me, if you’re doing it right, you should not be able to last more than 8 minutes.

then, it was off to the weights.  but, not right away…i walked around in circles, gripping my sweat towel behind my head, willing myself not to pass out.

i did one set of five reps each: (new to weights?  rep is short for repetition and you count every time you do an exercise as a rep.  a set is how many cycles of reps you do.  so, if you do five push-ups, stop and do five more, you’ve done two sets of five reps of push-ups.)

squats (dear squats, i LOVE you.)

deadlifts (dear deadlifts, don’t tell squats, but i LOVE you, too)

barbell bent-over row (dear row….um……..coffee sometime?)

i did them at the heaviest weight i could handle.

i was done with my entire workout in fifteen minutes.

and i KNOW you have fifteen minutes.  you don’t need a step machine or barbells.

you can just go for a walk and cycle slow walking with super-fast walking and you can just do these weight movements with empty air or soup cans or rocks or fallen tree branches.

in other news, it’s warm enough for bare shoulders today!  which is beyond awesome.  yesterday, my son took us for a drive (he’s fifteen, we have to clock the hours!) and there were people sledding.  in the snow.  on april 24.  so, trust me, bare shoulders (particularly for a wild woman who hates clothes) is big news.

proof:

yesterday we talked about the accepted measures of fitness from one point of view. i’m so excited to introduce you to the point of view of someone that i just can’t get enough of lately. i’m reading his book: muscles et beaute plastique that he wrote for women (in 1919) and i love that so many of the issues are still the same. in one passage he says that men who don’t appreciate women who get strong and put on muscle basically are misogynistic little dicked asswipes. (i paraphrased.)

his motto is: be strong to be useful. his approach to fitness is very skill based. he also encourages all of his “workouts” to be done outside wearing as little as you can get away with. my kind of guy.

his name is georges hebert and since he encourages outdoor workouts with very little clothing, i’m sure you’ve guessed he’s french. i also am working through his book: guide pratique d’education physique. i realize that all of his frenchiness may make him little inaccessible to english readers. luckily, i bring you: THIS GUY. swoon, right?

he also is french and doesn’t wear a whole lot when he works out outside. i’m also going to get to train with him in june. erwan le corre is friggin’ awesome for taking hebert’s work, expanding on it and bringing it into this century and making it available to the less francophone of us.

this system of fitness is far more skill based. each workout (i HATE that term….this stuff is way too much fun to be work! how about playout?) should include these 10 skills. don’t worry, when you’re playing outside, you tend to cover all 10 pretty naturally.

they are:

1.walk
2.throw things
3.climb something
4.picking something up
5.running
6.balancing somewhere
7.walking on all fours
8.jumping from or onto something
9.swimming
10.self defense practice

if you’ve ever watched kids play or remember what you were like out on the playground (before you discovered barbie dolls and ken dolls and found out how you could make them play with each other….i digress), you’ll know that all 10 of these come very naturally. hence, hebert’s brain baby? his system is called “methode naturelle” or natural method for those who found the french nearly impossible to decipher.

i LOVE it. it is accessible to everyone (except for the swimming which you may need to go out of your way to do) and completely scalable. it is something that you can do with your kids on your lawn. urbanites have run with it since its inception and we have this. yep, that’s right, hebert’s work spawned that phenomenon.  although it tends to be a very male dominated sport (all the fun one’s start that way, don’t they?),  girls do it, too.  i look a lot like this when i do it. (i’ll tell y’all a personal story about this soon.)

tomorrow, i’ll be hitting on one more way to define your fitness.

here’s to getting outside, nearly nekkid and playin’ around like kids!