becoming infinite

always learning. always growing. always lifting heavy things.


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9 weeks out – finding the drive.

today was the first day of a new, 4-week training block. i really enjoyed the last one, and i feel like my back and shoulders gained some strength and size. since it was a four day split i also enjoyed a little more flexibility with my three off days – i rock-climbed a few times, did some metcons, and once or twice just grabbed a platform after work and did some hang cleans to work on power and speed (my elbows, and really everything, are the opposite of speedy).

this past week didn’t go quite according to program. the girl i’m very much in love with and i called it quits; i’ve been sad as hell about it. it was the strangest, most loving break-up i’ve ever experienced, but i’m still so sad that it’s hard to move sometimes. and on monday i had to have a little surprise oral surgery, which led to more melting down because (a) i hate the dentist ANYWAY, (b) i wanted my mom, and (c) i now have a big-ass hole where my molar used to be.

so with all of that on my mind, i had a hard time hitting it in the gym with my normal energy. plus, my training partner and i haven’t been able to coordinate schedules all week so we both flew solo monday and wednesday.

but nothing is ever perfect. training schedules can’t be followed 100%, all the time. meal plans can’t be followed 100%, all of the time. i got in there and put in work, even on the day when i was still bleeding from aforementioned big-ass hole in my mouth or the day where i laid in pigeon bawling while i was doing my post-lift mobility.

but today i hit my projected squat opener for two triples. so there’s that.

 

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3…2…1…

if i’m counting (which i totally am), i’m three days away from my 30th birthday! now i don’t even make resolutions or hopes or wishes on New Year’s because i think that the amount of things that can happen in 365 days is so mind-boggingly vast that trying to predict your progress is just counter-intuitive…but…

i’ve been thinking a lot about my 20s – what happened, what didn’t, what i thought would happen and if it did or didn’t – and relating it to my pending decade of good times and loud laughs.

i turned 20 on the last day of my sophomore year at cornell. seven months later my bulimia and cutting were out of control and i was admitted into renfrew and then, after about six weeks, transferred to a DBT-based program at columbia presbyterian in NYC.

i was 22 when i started my dream degree (voice) at one of a handful of dream schools (hartt).

when i was 25 i started dating somebody. i fell in love with her. i started to think about things like marriage and babies and happily ever after. i graduated from college, got into grad school – two, in fact! – and accepted a spot at the university of kentucky. 25 was a good year.

at 26 i moved 750 miles away from everything i had ever known, to start my master’s degree. i was 26 when i got engaged. i met people who grew to be cornerstones in my life.

and then 27 hit. my mom died. my family self-destructed. “i love you, don’t ever leave me” turned into “you’re not being fair, i can’t be with you any more.” i successfully defended my master’s thesis and graduated, but missed the ceremony because i had my leg sawed into by a wonderful surgeon whom i adore even though it sucked.

with 27 barely in the rearview, 28 brought the decision to stay in lexington another three years and become a PhD student. most of 28 was overshadowed by knee rehab; my physical therapist and my advisor kept me sane and alive that year.

on my 29th birthday i found out that what i had thought was just a bump in the road in my grandma’s health was actually terminal. i sat on the tennis court outside the gym and cried for an hour that day. i went home and booked a flight to florida to visit; it would be the last time i would see her.

the same week my grandma died, i started training with my powerlifting coach – i was actually driving home from our first session when my dad called to tell me grandma had passed away. i broke 5 state powerlifting records while i was 29. presented at my first professional conference, visited texas for the first time, and successfully completed my PhD coursework.

after the crap that was 27, i’ve found myself hopelessly smitten with somebody and it’s weird and surprising and a whole lot of fun.

i have no grandiose ideas for my 30s. i don’t necessarily want to: get married, have babies, buy a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence. maybe i will! and that would be cool. but if i don’t, that’s just as cool.

in 3 days, i’ll turn 30. i’ll teach a sunrise yoga class at 630am and i’ll run sprints a little before nine. after i crawl back to the gym i’ll foam roll and shower and i’ll spend the rest of the day at the library, studying for my qualifying exams. my uncle will call at some point, and my dad will too. when the library closes at five i’ll go home and have dinner and look at my training schedule for the next day.

at some point while i’m 30 i’ll pass my qualifying exams and maybe even get a dissertation proposal approved. i’ll start applying for sabbatical replacement positions and for fellowships.

i’ll lift a lot of things and i’ll laugh a lot. probably loudly, because that’s how i roll.

you never know how the chips are going to fall. am i happy that 27 went the way it did? of course not. but am i in love with the way my life is in the last three days of 29? you better freaking believe it. and i’m going to try my damnedest to make 30 just as great.


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sit in the suck.

as some of you may or may not know, i am a wannabe crossfitter. i almost joined a box last january, as a “something else” to add to my half marathon training. but then i got a ticket in florida that cost 3 months’ worth of crossfit, so i abandoned the idea. and then 6 months later i connected with my coach and the rest is powerlifting history.

i was watching the crossfit regionals this weekend and event 6 is a monster: 50-calorie row, 50 box jump-overs, 50 deadlifts, 50 wall balls, 50 ring dips…and then back down again. 21-minute time cap.

i turned on the live feed at the tail end of one of the men’s heats. only 2 men in the north central region actually completed the damn thing, to give you an indication of how brutal it was. no women in north central finished; stacie tovar was the only one to even make it back on the rower. but anyhoo, while watching one of the men complete the workout, as he was on the rower just tearing away, the absolute pain reading all over his face, one of the announcers said, “he is in the pain cave right now. and with a minute left…all you can do is sit in the suck.”

the hardest skill – and yes, it was a skill! – for me to wrap my head around in DBT was radical acceptance. the idea that sometimes…shit’s gonna happen. and there’s nothing you can do to change it, so you just…sit in the suck.

i think about the weight gain that came with recovery. i fought it for years – “well i can still be this weight and recovered…ish…” – because i couldn’t accept that my mental ‘ideal’ weight wasn’t one that was healthy for my physical self. and when i did finally come to terms with that…well there were still days where i would quite literally not leave my dorm room because i couldn’t stand the thought of putting my physical self out in front of people.

see also: it sucked.

when my mom died i tried so hard to be brave, to be strong, to be graceful. and i think i did an admirable job of being, in some capacity, all of these things. but sometimes, some days…you’re just walking down the street drinking a diet coke and you get slammed by a wall of sadness and all you can do is plop yourself down on the curb and cry.

and it sucks.

i try, really i do as it’s against my cynical nature, to look for the good in things. but the fact is, sometimes things just plain suck. and you you know what, sometimes it feels good to fight it – sometimes i just need to raise hell and be angry, and maybe i am banging my head against a wall but you can’t be graceful in the face of adversity all the time, right?

there are parts of recovery that just plain suck. most parts are great; some parts suck.

losing my mom…well, saying it sucked doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.

and sometimes, you have to just embrace it. embrace it and sit in the suck.

 


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730.

two years ago tonight, my mom passed away.

in every person’s life, there are moments that become benchmarks – from that moment on, you look at everything in terms of “before” and “after.” my mom’s death is that moment for me.

seven hundred thirty days. how quickly and slowly it passed.

the ripple effect around my mom’s death was shocking. i lost my relationship. i lost family members who were more interested in developing a conspiracy theory than being supportive. i missed what became my last opportunity to see my grandmother alive and well.

two years later, all of these aftershocks still exist in one form or another. and today, of all days, i wanted to really sit down and think about how i can make the third year without my mom the most meaningful yet.

i didn’t make New Year’s resolutions. but i am making Third Year promises.

i promise to finally let go of people who make my heart heavy. nobody can take up space in my heart without my permission; i’m freeing up room for more love by getting rid of those who i have allowed to stick around and breed sadness.

i promise to continue doing what makes me happy and what helps me be the best version of myself possible. if that includes a diet people think is weird, so be it. if that includes lifting heavy things until my calluses rip and i have a weekly post-squat zombie shuffle, who cares? and if that means that inexplicably out of the blue i’m just really fucking sad one day and really miss my mom and grandma, anybody who can’t handle that can just flip right off.

i promise to give myself a break. my mom was always trying to get me to rest, to take a day or even just an afternoon off. this is my last semester of coursework (EVER!!) and it’s important to me that i keep things in perspective. balance. breathe. enjoy.

and with that in mind…i have also contracted a head cold/the plague, and since today is also conveniently my rest day i shall be spending it doing just that: resting. this choice is also aided by the fact that i am so sore i can barely move!

if anyone needs me, i’ll be buried in blankets, scrolling the interwebs for some good keto-friendly recipes and making playlists for my return to the yoga studio tomorrow.

 


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how to heal during the holidays.

two years ago, on christmas day, my family spent the day at my grandmother’s house. she had bought eggnog and kept telling us to drink it, she had bought it especially for us; finally my dad buckled and poured himself a glass. he took a huge gulp…and proceeded to launch his 6’5″ self across the living room straight to the kitchen sink, where he spit out his eggnog and made a lot of dramatic gagging noises.

“ma, the eggnog’s bad!” he says, still spitting (so dramatic!). then he picks up the carton to check the expiration date.

“ma…you bought EGG-BEATERS!”

at which point my mother started laughing so hard she fell off of the ottoman.

this is, without a doubt, one of my favorite family holiday memories. maybe i remember it so vividly because it was damn funny. but maybe, retrospectively, i’ve clung to it because less than two weeks later, my mother was dead. suddenly and inexplicably, just five days into the new year.

now my grandmother is gone too. i actually told this story in the eulogy i gave at her funeral this summer.

my mother loved the holidays. she loved baking, making candy, she loved giving people things just to see their reactions. on thanksgiving night we would all sing “it’s beginning to look a lot like christmas” on the car ride back from my cousin’s house, and mom would put her favorite christmas CDs on pretty much non-stop from then until december 25th.

while i was driving home from campus today i saw a few houses with lights out, even an SUV with christmas bulbs strung through the cargo rack on its roof. and try as i might, i cannot find it in my heart to be excited for the holidays.

ever since mom died, christmas has done nothing but make me so goddamn sad. and now that i don’t have grandma, either, it’s like the hole in my heart is magnified.

i want to be excited, to enjoy the holiday spirit, to feel that little buzz of excitement you get when you know something wonderful is waiting just around the corner.

but i hear bing crosby singing “white christmas” and all i can hear is my mother singing along. i see baking supplies in bulk and on sale and i’m flooded with the smells of mom’s candied walnuts, fudge, and trays upon trays of cookies. i see trees and garlands and decorations and i think about how my grandmother dubbed me “santa” and bought me my own hat when i was a kid, and i was in charge of distributing the gifts on christmas eve since i was the youngest and had the most energy.

when i went home this summer i packed that hat, along with the ornaments my mom made and all of her recipe cards, in one of my bins of things to keep when we sell the house.

i want the holidays to be a time of love and laughter. but two of the three people i love the most aren’t here any more, and somehow the holiday season seems to augment that void. which means that instead of singing carols and baking cookies and decorating a tree…i kind of want to curl up under my covers and not come out until spring.


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revival.

i had been meaning to make a “how i like 5/3/1 so far” post…and then my first cycle ended (how time flies!) so now that seems silly.

BUT i’m running a second cycle, and it started today! i pulled 225# for 8 reps and it was awesome. and i may have peed a little on the last rep.

i also bought these awesome and obnoxious leggings and wore them to train today.

Photo 104they’re a combination of paint splatter and camo haha. also, i had just finished eating a pizza prior to taking this photo. (yes, a pizza. an entire one. it was delicious.)

all in all i liked my first cycle of 5/3/1 well enough. pulling for reps sucks though, my hands have never been so destroyed between that and all of the pull-ups and rows. i finally bought some harbinger straps just to save me on high-volume pulls. the accessory option i chose is also really high volume, which sucks in practice (5×15…really?!) but i’ve put noticeable size on my shoulders and back, so it’s doing what it’s supposed to be doing!

i also hit an awesome milestone last friday! i told my coach i wanted a 300# pull for christmas, so “for fun” after we did a shit-ton of box squats we decided to do some rack pulls.

and i pulled 3 plates (315#) for three triples. but even more awesome…the bar bent!! i have always secretly wanted to be badass enough to have the bar bend on one of my deadlifts. now for that 300# pull from the floor!

besides straps, i also decided it was time to purchase some chalk, since my gym decided to finally allow it. however…

Photo 105the description said “one pound of chalk.” i figured, one pound, not a lot at all! i was wrong. i am now the proud owner of enough chalk to last well into my 40s. thank goodness it came packaged in 2-oz blocks.

in other news…we have two more weeks of classes, then finals, then DONE. i submitted five conference proposals today (12/1 is a common deadline) – yale, cinci conservatory, texas, MTSE in tampa (i think?), and MTMA (which this year is in virginia…which i don’t really consider to be the mid-atlantic…). oh and indiana, too. there’s another round of deadlines around the 15th, and i’ll have a couple more papers done by then and might consider prepping abstracts for those instead.

my holiday travel is booked. i’m already having a hard time thinking about christmas. last year was my first one without mom; this year my grandma’s gone as well. and they both (my mom especially) really loved the holidays, so it makes it extra hard.

i hope you all had a wonderful thanksgiving!!


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i’ll leave the light on.

i can’t adequately sum up my two weeks at home/my grandmother’s funeral/how i feel being back in lexington. but i’ll hit some highlights and thoughts just the same.

  • i firmly believe, now more than ever, that people reveal their true colors in times of duress. the thing is, though, it’s not when they’re the center of the distress; it’s when they’re one or two circles removed. that, i have found, is when you see somebody for what they’re really worth. so they offer the person/people most affected comfort and support? or do they freeze them out, minimize the situation, or try and make it all about them? i saw a lot of that these past few weeks, and it was really sad and disappointing.
  • my dad and i went through our entire house and decided what we’re tossing, what we’re donating, and what we’re putting in storage until the cabin is built. it was difficult to go through mementos and things that had belonged to my mom. i kept one of her sweatshirts, all of the christmas ornaments she made, and a stuffed puppy i found that had one of those customizable sound recorders. i squeezed his ear and i heard my mom’s voice saying “i woof you!” i think i cried for a solid hour after that one.
  • between running a baby smolov jr. on my squat for the two weeks i was home, and driving 2000 miles in fourteen days, my hip flexors waged war. i went to my PT to have them scraped today and the bruises that are forming are horrific. i would show y’all a photo, but being all up in my hip joint is not appropriate for the interwebz.
  • i brought back tons of stuff for my apartment. tomorrow morning instead of lifting i’m going to make coffee and unpack/organize. and it will be glorious.
  • i definitely need to have a tooth pulled and the clinic at the university that offers cheap dental care because it’s done by DDS students doesn’t open until the semester starts. so until then i’ll be eating on only one side of my mouth and trying to not aggravate the issue by poking at my gums and generally behaving like a kindergartener picking a scab.
  • i cannot wait to see my dad and my uncles again.

i’ll be back to my regular blogging randomness shortly!