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To Live and not Just Exist

Choosing life, happiness, peace and joy. Oh and weight loss too

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choosing life

Everything has a season

This place, this format, this freedom – it has served me well.

From my very first post – The Fat Chick to my very last Things I learnt after Joining an MMA type gym, there has been healing in this place. Allot of laughter. A few friends.

But everything has a time. And all things must end eventually. Although this place will always be my first love. And for that sake I will leave it open and I will take it with me.

To live and not just exist was a mantra I claimed, when shit got dark.

But it is a time for new beginnings.

A time for branding.

A time to reclaim the things that were lost to me.

So forgive me if I quote myself – even if I do damn well make myself cry everytime:

“Stand tall and stand brave.
Allow no one to steal your Grace.

Stand not swayed by rhetoric or prejudice.
Opinion is only as powerful as education.

Stand not bowed by condemnation or judgement.
Your right to be is immutable.

Stand strong in courage and acceptance.
Life is too short and boring otherwise.

Stand unique in your own beauty.
We are all a canvas.

Stand powerful in your nature.
It is completely as it should be.

Stand gracious in your oddity.
God favours the interesting.

Stand lightly on the shoulders of friends.
They will keep you afloat.

Stand clear of the judgement of others.
Inevitably the high ground they inhabit is theirs alone.

Stand wise in your experience.
Life is one long lesson.

Stand in awe of your Self.
Know that your true being is precious.

Stand tall and free and bold.
Allow no one to hold your past against you.

Stand your truth.”

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Things I learnt after joining an MMA type gym:

I have been sick again. No biggie. Except it always is. This time though – I stayed off the cortisone. YAYAYAYAYAYAYA….

Sorry. Got a bit excited there for a minute.

What with the sick and all, and it takes me forever and a day just to have clear lungs again, and the spending allot of time indoors so you don’t breathe cold air and what what…. A very odd thing happened to me.

I missed going to the gym. I missed the challenge. The comradery. The giggling like a spastic tonsil. The sense of getting stuff DONE.

I will probably only be able to go back in a few days because I am gifting myself a few days to get completely better. But to help me get through this odd sensation of missing a thing that actually causes me to walk funny, here are a few things I have learnt after joining an MMA type gym:

  • Stairs were probably invented just so that your trainer can torture you.
  • Every day is leg day
  • Not all stairs are equal.
  • Badly done burpies are still better than no burpies at all.
  • Skipping like a deranged monkey with one leg is better than not skipping at all.
  • It takes 8 gym days for your brain to actually figure out the whole skipping thing. At approximately 06h07 on the morning of the 8th day, you will be skipping like a graceful and rhythmic swan. In my mind anyway. If swans could actually skip that is.
  • Also on the 8th day, you will do your first proper set of assisted (feet hooked into something or someone) sit ups. None of those half crunch things here. No, no, no. Full sit up, gloves touching my mirror partner. Graceful as a dolphin. No grunting, snorting and panting here. No, no, no. Ok I lie. There are huge amounts of grunting and snorting. But you will still do them. Like a boss.
  • I am as agile and flexible as I am fit. Which is to say I move like a blob of butter in cement. But moving is what actually counts.
  • You don’t have to be good at something to love it.
  • The relative sense of accomplishment that accompanies every single ache is profound.
  • Sometimes, the instruction to move going from your brain to your thighs (I’m talking to you left thigh), is completely ignored. More than ignored. It goes to its room and sulks for a few hours. Leaving you hobbling around like a lopsided turtle singing its own theme song. And by theme song I mean curse words muttered at a level only bionic dogs can really hear….
  • Sometimes, just showing up is already a win.
  • Once you have successfully managed to collapse onto the toilet seat, your will to ever stand again leaves you.
  • Not all ow’s are equal.
    • Some ow’s are perseverance.
    • Some ow’s are accomplishment.
    • Some ow’s are strength.
    • Some ow’s are a lesson.
    • Some ow’s are sweet.
    • Some ow’s are worth the breath.
    • Some ow’s are Oorah and Hooah.
    • Some ow’s are worth the standing all skew like a retarded tree for a moment when you stand up, while things settle and other things loosen.
  • It is impossible to balance on a Pilate’s ball when you have the rhythm of a deranged dandelion in front of a fan.
  • It is even more impossible to plank on said Pilates ball when you have been cursed blessed with as much boobs as I have.
  • Lifting with your legs and not your back is all very relative until you have to try lift and push a tractor tyre down the length of training hall.
  • Shin pads don’t mean doodely if the person you are ‘fighting’ is as new to kickboxing as you are and their sense of placement is as crap as yours is. Be prepared for a sore inner leg just next to the shin pad thingy. Please notice I said ‘fighting’…. Fighting without quotes implies some kind of skill. I have only ” skill.
  • Knowing where to place and keep your feet AND boxing with the correct hand first AND thinking about where your kick is supposed to go AND being correctly defensive is FREAKING HARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Clearly this is multitasking at a whole new level.
  • Kettlebells are from the devil

Yes – I get completely and utterly physically knackered. But in that moment, my mind is silent. My mind is calm. For the first time in a long time. My mind is consumed by what I can do.

Not what I can’t do.

Sometimes going to the gym every day is kinda like the Nac Mac Feegle – all bravo and yelling and disorder and theft of livestock and tattoos but when you get right down to it…

Brave as hell.

And just as crazy.

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I saw Hope today.

Today, I saw Hope.

I have already seen Grace and Faith in Town. Both of them Gifts that could so easily have been missed and overlooked.

Lost in the busy and the noise and the life that we live. Lost in the numbness of humanity.

Today was much like any other day. I got up, fed the things I love, drove the farm roads to work.

Today, I categorically did not feel like going to gym. From the moment I woke, I fought my own head.

“It’s cold.”

“It’s too early for this today.”

“I am so tired.”

“My ankle is sore.”

“My back is sore.”

“I have a sniff, people in the office are sick, I am probably well on my way to another session of cortisone / hospital.”

“I don’t want to.”

Sometimes, the thoughts in my head win. Sometimes, I fall back into bad habits and negative ideas and a uniquely twisted reality that is all mine, finely crafted from years of being way harder than I need to be on myself.

Precision honed to be cutting, demotivating, devastating and soul crushing.

There it is.

“I don’t want to.” Because what is the point? I have been doing this for a month and a half. And I have not lost 1 kilogram. Because everything is weight to me. And weight is everything to me.

“I don’t want to.” Even though I can climb a flight of stairs faster now, than I did a month and a half ago.

Even though I love it and it makes me feel like I am accomplishing something.

Even though every step is a journey to better. To healthier. To stronger.

I don’t want to. Because today it was just hard. Hard to be positive. Hard to be kind to myself. Hard to be motivated. Hard to be me.

Every step into the office a fight to convince myself that I am worth it. It is worth it. Get up and get going.

I am not sure why today was so hard. It just was.

Even when I was sitting taking my takkies off at Redemption Fitness Centre, my head was still at war with itself.

“You know you are probably getting sick so why bother?”

“You know you will fail in the long run, like you always do, so why not just give up?”

“You know you look especially large today and all the beautiful people are going to stare at you right?”

You get the idea.

And don’t get me wrong. None of these are formulated thoughts that run through my head. These are all just dark and oppressive snippets of thought, accompanied by the overwhelming weight of sadness and desolation.

I sat in the stillness of my heart and my mind and looked into the darkness that lives so very close to the edge of my soul, and I thought about letting it engulf me again. I thought about failing again.

Instead. I stood and looked out into the lit darkness beyond the windows. I thought about my path and who I am and where I am.

Again – none of it consciously formulated into structure. Just snippets of an idea and a feeling of light. Of potential calm. Of cleansing tears.

A moment in a moment where the dark of my soul fought the light of my soul. And I found a bit of Hope.

Hope for better. Lighter. Love. Laughter. Joy. God. Peace. Family. Strength.

Hope for me. For who I am. Who I have become.

Who I will be.

Hope. Just for me.

Sometimes God lives closer to you than you think.

The Small Things

Sjoe, I have been gone a while.
Thing happened. Reality shifted. Time passed.
And here we are.
Life has this really annoying and occasionally cool habit of throwing stuff back in your face. At your lowest, or your highest, or somewhere in between. A little memory. A little song. A little blog.
A little bit of God.
I forget sometimes how far I have come. How hard this road was to travel. Sometimes I traveled it alone. Sometimes with family. Sometimes with friends. I have written before about being the Black Sheep. About being the Fat Chick.
Reality is – we are who we are in the moment. As kind or vicious, as generous or selfish, as alive or dead, as happy or sad. All we have is a moment. Because the next moment may be a life ender. Or a reality shifter.
In a moment, a Blessed moment, I walked into a gym with a little bit of hope. And I met a lovely lady who runs a gym, a lady of passion and laughter.
In a moment, an Inspired moment, I faced a lifetime of fears around what I look like. Around inherent sporting ability. And I thought screw it. I joined a gym.
In a moment, a Divine moment, I remembered that even though it is hard. I really do like exercising. I am crap at it. But that doesn’t change the Joy.
I have written before about finding Joy in the small things.
Sometimes the small things are the ache that comes from 18 flights of stairs.
The laughter that comes with trying to skip.
The giggle that accompanies a burpee done in the style of a deranged alien.
Sometimes the small things are driving on a farm road at 5 in the morning. In the mist.

Just you and your God.

Sometimes the small things are realising that you came from here….

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And you have gotten here so far…..

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With a whole world still to go…..

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Me

Hello.
You don’t know me. Not yet anyway. I am you, 27 years on.

You turned 40 the other day. It came and it went much like any other day. There was some celebration, there was some sadness. But it passed. Much like any other day.

You worry so much about not fitting in. About not having friends. About what people think of you. About whether your mom and your dad value you. About whether your brother and your sister love you.

Stop worrying. All those nights of tears and fretting get you absolutely nowhere. Not one bit of the energy you expended ever changed anything anyone ever thought of you, did for you or meant to you.

Stop worrying Jessie. You will be ok.

I have to tell you that your dad dies soon. A massive heart attack. Norine comes, and Stephen eventually. And then they leave and it is just you and mom.

In time, you forget what he looked like. You forget what he sounded like. You forget who he was. Because you barely knew him. All that becomes important is whether or not he was or is proud of you. And it doesn’t matter one way or the other. The only person who has to be proud of you, is you. Learn this now. Learn it well. Because you will fight this demon all your life. And it will win. Every time someone doesn’t measure up to the ideals you have set for them. Every time someone leaves. Every time someone disappoints you. Somehow, you manage to turn it into something you did wrong.

Stop. Learn the lesson. Don’t take other people’s shit on as your own. And try to remember your dad as best you can, for as long as you can. Because you will miss who you think he was, who you hoped he was, who you believed him to be every day for the rest of your life.

Over time, your mother develops an unhealthy attachment to you. Your nature, and her nature, clash and crash and nothing good comes of it. It will shape you and affect you in ways that no one will ever understand. Don’t let it. So much of the heartbreak you face, comes from this one simple fact. Your mother, however unintentionally, will mould you into a soul that is very damaged. Stop. Learn the lesson. Don’t let another person’s weakness become your own. But remember always, she did her best. It may not have been good enough for you, but it was her best. Don’t turn away from her. Love her as best you can. Because she is your mom. And one day, she will be all the family you have close to you.

When you get a bit older you are going to fuck up monumentally. You will think your life has ended. You will think you will never recover. You will believe that you are done. Don’t. Stop. It makes you strong in ways that no other person will ever be strong. Although the fear of it will haunt you forever. You will recover. You will get better. You will be okay. I promise. Just keep breathing. One breath at a time. This one moment does not define who you are. You fucked up. You are not a fuck up.

Even older still and you will get sick. Some weird mystery illness that they still argue about. Stop. Don’t let any doctor who you think knows better, tell you who you are. Don’t let them pump you full of the meds that will balloon you to 170kg’s. Don’t let them. Question everything. Make sure it makes sense.

Older still, and you will realise that you are ok alone. But that being alone all the time is hard. It is hard to never have anyone to rely on. It is hard to do everything alone. But you will find a few souls that hang out in the periphery of a life. Always there. They love you. Find them. Keep them close. You will need them.

One day, you will realise that your family is made up of so many animals. People will laugh at you when you call a dog your closest. Don’t care what they say. Every single life in this life, is worth love. Love them completely. Time will come when they will become your reason for waking. Your reason for going home. Your reason to be.

So much doom and gloom. So much to face in a short life.

And I haven’t even really started.

So let me tell you this.

You are beautiful Jessie. You are compassionate and kind and generous and smart and funny. You are loyal and true.

You are beautiful.

I am proud of you.

Every little bit of you.

Every big bit of you.

Every broken bit of you.

Every whole bit of you.

Learn your lesson Jessie. You matter to the only person that matters.

Yourself.

You are exactly who you are meant to be.

And you are awesome.

Fanatics – the quickest way to get me to leave the venue….

If there is one thing in this world that I believe in, it is that every single person has a right to be exactly who they are. Part of that is also a belief that each of us has a right to our beliefs.

Fanatics and extremists per se don’t really bother me. At various times of our lives, each of us needs to believe in various things, to various degrees. Sometimes to get us through the day, sometimes to get us through an event, sometimes just so that we can keep breathing.

I have some hard core beliefs of my own.

There is a responsibility that comes with fanatical beliefs, though. The responsibility to allow others the same freedom you afford to yourself. Tolerance. Patience. Love. They should always trump judgement.

I met one such soul today. And I couldn’t run fast enough. Their beliefs trump all else. Family, friends, government, God. Even reason and logic. Even love and affection. Granted. Believe what you chose. However, you do not have a right to tell me or anyone else who to be, who to be friends with, who I am, and what I should or shouldn’t do.

You do not have a right to discard people like things, because your absolute logic supposedly trumps every single thing that they are. Every single bit of themselves.

You do not have a right to force your belief onto others, in the egotistical belief that your way is the only way.

Yes, you do have a right to not chose me.

But doors swing both ways.

While you are so busy being completely right and righteous, you forget that I also have a right.

A right to surround myself with people who love me and enjoy me and care for me above and beyond what they might think I should be or become. People who accept me. Even if I am flawed. Even if I am wrong. More importantly, who love me even when they think they know better.

I have a right to run. From your intolerance. Your discard. Your opinion.

Some people are not good for you. And you are not good for them.

Circular logic.

Are either of us right? Are both of us wrong? Does it matter?

I chose not to be around someone who cannot fathom who I am.

You have a right not to be around someone that you believe doesn’t measure up.

Neither of us are less than because of the choice. Maybe we are better off.

I met a fanatic today. It did not matter what the belief was. All that mattered was the intolerance.

A fanatic met me today. It did not matter who I was. All that mattered was that I did not measure up.

Doors swing both ways. Always.

And being right, absolutely right, to the nth degree? Damn that must be lonely.

Stand

image

Stand tall and stand brave.          
Allow no one to steal your Grace.

Stand not swayed by rhetoric or prejudice.                   
Opinion is only as powerful as education.
                                    
Stand not bowed by condemnation or judgement.            
Your right to be is immutable.

Stand strong in courage and acceptance.               
Life is too short and boring otherwise.     
                
Stand unique in your own beauty.            
We are all a canvas.

Stand powerful in your nature.  
It is completely as it should be.

Stand gracious in your oddity.   
God favours the interesting.  
    
Stand lightly on the shoulders of friends.
They will keep you afloat.

Stand clear of the judgement of others.             
Inevitably the high ground they inhabit is theirs alone. 

Stand wise in your experience.
Life is one long lesson.

Stand in awe of your Self.
Know that your true being is precious.
          
Stand tall and free and bold.
Allow no one to hold your past against you.                

Stand your truth.

Lessons at 40…

I turn 40 this month, here are 10 things that I have learnt:

  1. Tattoos are not as painful as you think they are. Except when they are. And when they are, it really is all in the mind.

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  1. Sometimes, when your body is not perfect and you struggle to accept it, you put beautiful and meaningful things on it just because they are beautiful and meaningful. And because it is still my body. And I will find a way to accept it.

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  1. Finances are freaking hard. They should teach it to you in school. Really. You are busy learning habits (good or bad) from your parents before you even have money. Then in your 20’s you start to implement those habits and then your 30’s hits you and whammo – OH CRAP central. So I decided that all is not lost. I still have a good 25 years left to fix stuff. Step one – henceforth, I shall be requesting cash donations, cash presents and cash contributions from all and sundry. Anyone?
  1. Cats are moody. Moody as hell. Except when they are not. Which is not often. More often than not, they will scope you out from a distance, evilly plotting all sorts of plotable stuff. But when they love you, there is little better than hearing a cat purr and watching them smurgle. Oh and cats on catnip. Best. Short Movie. Ever.

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  1. Dogs are love. Absolute love. If you were to ask God to personify love, He would tell you that He already has. Also loyalty, acceptance, joy and happiness

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  1. Family is not just blood. If you are lucky, they are introverts and extroverts from all over the globe and they get you. Even when they don’t.
  1. Living is not just what they tell you in the movies. Living is what you chose for yourself. As outside of the norm as it might seem to others.
  1. Accept who you are. You are not perfect. But you are perfectly you. Never let anyone tell you any different.
  1. I do not understand people. People are complex and mean and kind and honest and liars and evil and good and a pain in the ass. Animals are simple. They are what they are, within the boundaries of their species. Unless you set a human on them.
  1. Life at 40 is not over. It is not downhill. It is not the twilight of my whatever. It is much like any other year. It is learning and loving and finding and joy and acceptance.

I never followed the path society seems to dictate to us from the cradle. I never had the husband, station wagon, 2.5 children, white picket fence, and divorce. I did not fit that mold. I don’t think I ever will.

I follow my own path. It has been hard. Harder than I can maybe put into words.

I have failed so spectacularly on occasion that Hollywood could make a blockbuster movie of just the snippets. Melissa McCarthy would play me. Funny, sarcastic, deadpan as hell.

Other times I have let what others think of me interfere with who I am. Too often I put the ideas and opinions of others ahead of me. And sometimes I feel a concrete block of not being enough, like an actual weight on my shoulders, trying to press me into oblivion.

But I have learnt. I am beautiful. With beautiful things on a not so perfect body. And it is my own perfection.

I am unique. I am singular. As are you. In whichever form you chose for yourself.

The only person I need to be enough for, is me.

And I am enough.

I am

I got caught up in the idea that I had wasted some of my life the other day. Wasted it on not feeling good enough, not being thin enough, not being enough really.

Wasted it on doubting myself. Doubting my abilities. Doubting my inner being.

Wasted it on endlessly looking for …. Peace? Acceptance? Love?

Wasted it on people who don’t deserve time. On endeavors that I knew would harm me? Collecting stuff that ultimately adds no value?

Except, the idea occurred to me, that every single thing I have ever done, has led me to here. Every person, every fault, every word, every endeavor, every ‘thing’ I have coveted / wanted / needed, every failed relationship, every miserable moment.

Every glorious moment.

Every honorable friend.

Every smile, every laugh, every step on a very hard road.

They have all brought me to this place where I drove home from bootcamp last night singing and dancing to some silly song that I don’t even remember anymore. But I remember dancing.

Because bootcamp bitches. But more so because

Joy….

Fit….

Love for self….

Acceptance of self….

Doing the best I can, and actually doing it.

Being the best I can be, even it if it is not perfect, it being enough.

Facing life head-on. With a smile and a laugh and a joy that I have not had before.

Because I am. I am loud. I am the carrier of a bit of excess weight. I am sarcastic. I am self-conscious. I am too often lost. I am too often doubtful. I am kind. I am loving. I am honorable. I am a good friend. I am a brilliant daughter and sister. I am not alone as long as there are friends. My friends are not alone as long as I breathe. I am courageous. I am hard working. I am brave. I am too often sad. I am more often loved.

I am the best of me.

I am.

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