The Danger of Caring

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Medical Professionals are an interesting breed of folk. We are not immune from tragedy striking in our personal lives, and some of us are subjected to a constant bombardment of reminders when we go to work.

I love what I do. I get to hang out with the most eclectic crazy group of people almost every day, which allows me to cope with the sadness that comes along with my job. We develop coping skills over time, and eventually we learn how to watch other people suffering with an objective eye. We would not be able to return day after day if we could not keep everything in perspective.

For many of us, laughter is indeed the best medicine. We are full of inappropriate humor, and while it may seem insensitive to some, it is actually just our way of processing the horrors of ICU, and remaining sane. We develop little rituals and we have a plethora of superstitions. (You never say the Q word, observe how slow the unit is, or mention that frequent flyers name.) We trade war stories, and we collect memories that we can use for a quick laugh.

When our loved ones are patients in our hospital, or worse in our unit, the nice little boundaries get blurred. The personal and professional worlds collide, putting us at risk in every area of our lives. It is imperative to remember that we are only human, and it is okay to feel powerless, and to acknowledge our fears. We do not have to be the professional when we are indeed- the family.

I have had this experience a few times throughout my career, and I will remain forever grateful for my coworkers who allowed me the space to be a family member instead of a nurse or nurse practitioner. It helps.

My One Regret: Tough Mudder- Mesa

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IMG_7972I just finished reading The Blogger’s account of the end of Tough Mudder. Those of you who know anything at all about it, know that it always ends with a trip up Everest and a dash through electricity.

I knew all along that Everest is not something I feel like I need to do. It just seems rather careless with a marginal knee. So, I never intended to do it. I did not expect to do what I did though.

I went and sat off to the side alone. I was not watching my teammates crushing this obstacle. I missed Amazing Daniel giving back to his team, one person at a time. You see, Daniel was paralyzed in a work accident. He still came and crushed every single obstacle Tough Mudder had to throw at him. Then, at the end, after he traversed a human ladder to the top of Everest, he stayed at the top and caught the hands of every member of our team to help them to the summit. I missed it.

I forgot about my team. I was frustrated, sore, tired, hungry, and irritable. More than anything, I was ashamed that I had stopped training for TM. I knew that I had brought all that pain and misery on myself. I hated feeling so weak and dependent on that course. I felt like the anchor that threatened to drag down the ship. I felt like I did not belong. I felt like they would have been better off without me.

Letting myself entertain those thoughts was a dangerous game to play. It sucked all my motivation out the door. It is unfortunate that I threw those dice three months before TM. I gave in to negativity. I stopped believing that I was worth fighting for. I unlearned all the lessons I thought I had learned. It is a slippery slope. Negativity only breeds more negativity. I knew that. I did it anyway.

Now, let’s keep in mind my team is awesome. They had supported me the entire time. No one made me feel this way. I did. I let the noise inside my head crowd out reality. The worst part about this whole journey to a healthier lifestyle is the way I talk to myself. I constantly undermine my successes and sabotage all that is good. I do that. No one does it to me. So, I am responsible for changing it.

Yes, TM was awesome.

Yes, TM was HARD.

Yes, I walked across the finish line- and celebrated with my team.

Yes, I hated a lot of it.

Yes, my life changed.

Yes, I made some new life long friends.

Yes, I changed my mind about some people.

I am planning to do two more Tough Mudders this year. Dallas and then I will rejoin the SDLHC in Philly. I have a lot of things that I want to do over.

  1. No crying about climbing over walls.
  2. No going off and ignoring my friends, just so I can entertain my own negativity.
  3. I will more prepared physically for the challenge.
  4. I won’t let my head do all the thinking.
  5. I will buy a waterproof camera and take a ton of pictures.
  6. I will share this experience with my son (In Philly)
  7. I will not shut out my best friend this time.
  8. I will remember that being quiet and ignoring the group, hurts people’s feelings.
  9. I will not lose my bib.
  10. I will figure out how to avoid blisters.
  11. I will get different underwear.
  12. I will laugh more.
  13. I will wear a damn TIARA. You know why? Because I am a damn Princess.

So, yeah. My biggest regret is that I missed Everest. It was a selfish move. I will not be making that mistake again.

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I really underestimated how much this would change my life.

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Nope- look at the bottom. I was terrified at that point. I swear, it is so much higher than it looks here.

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Nose wrinkle and all. I guess I did not care what I looked like. Maybe I stepped out of my head for a minute, and let my heart take over.

 

This is me. I am not starting over. I am continuing this quest. I may make mistakes, and I may have some regrets. That does not diminish what this experience was for me. Remember- in my new tribe, we have a saying:

We totally got this.

 

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. What about the rough?

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1367350149_coal_diamondOkay. Want a blast from the past?

When I was around 20, I worked as a customer service representative for a major cellular network. I had an area manager who once described me as a “diamond in the rough.” Now, I misunderstood. I thought she was saying I was the only shiny thing among all the unkept grass.

Now, I have been called the following:

  • Real
  • Raw
  • Authentic
  • Honest
  • Spontaneous
  • Crass
  • Rude
  • Silly
  • Funny
  • Vulnerable
  • Humble

And many other words.

Not quite sure what to make of all this. Not sure how it makes me feel. Not sure that it matters.

Here is the thing. I do not seek to be polished and refined. I am not looking for perfection.

I am looking for my own personal truth.

I am looking to be my best self.

I am looking for people who appreciate me for who I am, and who like who I am. As far as the rest goes… What you see is what you get. I am not full of surprises. I promise you don’t have to wonder where you stand with me. Just ask me. I’ll let you know.

Good Riddance.

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Ok, thanks for that Buzzfeed. You gave me yet another totally inappropriate idea for a blog post. (Mom, you probably will not like this one.) But, I have some plans for my funeral. No, I do not anticipate it is going to happen anytime soon; but, one can never be too prepared. Not that it really matters: I am not even going to actually be there. I want my friends and family to have a good time though.

Okay, let’s get the messy stuff out of the way first. Do not bury me. Seems like a waste of space. I would like to be cremated. AFTER you donate anything at all usable to whatever tissue, eye, or organ bank wants me. This is important to me. Organ donation is not always possible for everyone who dies… but, in the situations where it is- I feel it is the only way to go. If I am not a viable candidate that is okay.

Oh, wait. I forgot- this is supposed to be funny. Let’s skip anymore organ talk. Just know I am a registered donor. Now, what to do with my ashes? You can scatter a few of them here and there. Maybe save a small box of them to throw into the air at birthday parties or something? (Is that weird? I want to still BE there!) But, I really want to be turned into something. Maybe a diamond. Can they make them pink? Let me go look. Be right back.

Skip ahead about 6 weeks. I got distracted while I was researching the whole diamond thing. Turns out they are blue. It has to do with Carbon or something.

Okay, now for the fun part. It’s really a shame I am not going to be there. I am imagining a huge party full of my friends and family (hoping they are all ancient because we lived so long.)

Hey. You know what? Planning my funeral does not sound as interesting as I thought it was six weeks ago. (Who does that?) Apparently, I do.

Seriously though, I work in a hard profession. We see a lot of death. This may be part of my preoccupation with it. It’s kinda funny, I have scrapbook upstairs in my office from when I was a kid. There is an unusual number of death notices and obituaries in it. So, maybe I have always been preoccupied with death.

One of my biggest concerns is that something will happen to me, and I will have left something important unsaid. I do not want anyone to wonder how much I loved them, or what an impact they had on my life.

I don’t believe in an afterlife. So, that means that I have to make every day count. I do not want to be filled with regret in my life moments of life. I want to know that I lived.

There is a part of me that wants to know that I made a meaningful difference on the world while I was here. I know, that sounds rather self-important. I do not mean for it to. I just want to help people. It is not fame or money that I seek… (although- some money would be nice.) I just want to look back on my life and to know that I did the best I could with what I had, and that I used my particular skills and gifts for good. So, maybe I want to be a superhero. I wonder what my superpower would be.

To sum it up. When I die, please do not do all that embarrassing funeral stuff. Go to a bar- ask for a whiskey on ice. Top shelf- not that cheap crap. Listen to Green Day’s Good Riddance- and sing along with all your heart, because I promise you- when I was with you, I had the time of my life. Take care of my family and friends. Please, please, please- make inappropriate jokes and make everyone laugh uncomfortably.

I promise, I will do everything I can to live a long and productive life. I will live without regret. I will seek adventure every day. I will love with all my heart.

*** now, for those of you who think this is all macabre and sick- understand- I believe people only fear death because they have not fully lived. I intend to live life fully.

I am not one-size fits all. Not even close

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I have said it before. I will likely say it again. I am fat. Now, there are people who try to say things like:

“You are not fat. You have fat.”

I hate that. It makes me roll my eyes and want to scream. Give me a break. I am not in the mood to argue semantics. Do not undermine my intelligence by trying to put a positive spin on a potentially lethal medical condition. I deserve better than that. You deserve better than that.

Obesity is a medical condition. Morbid Obesity is a serious medical condition. I have that. It does not make me less of a person. It does not mean that I have zero self-worth. This is not some body dysmorphia issue. It is a medical fact. Here is the caveat. I am responsible for treating this disease.

For me, this is not due to something out of my control. I have made poor life-style choices. I ate junk food (I still do sometimes.) I have not been active enough (I am a little better, I need to work harder.) I did not put my physical health and well-being as a priority. Once again, this does not make me a bad person. Stop making excuses for me. I can do that all on my own.

As a morbidly obese nurse practitioner, I find the whole weight loss topic difficult to broach with my patients. I feel like I have no right to tell them what they need to do in order to get healthy. I am actually afraid that they are going to challenge me and ask exactly who I think I am? Well, let me tell you. I am an educated medical professional who has an obligation to try to help you achieve health and wellness. When I avoid this topic, I am not preserving either of our best interests. I am doing you a disservice.

I do not hesitate to admonish a patient for smoking, not taking their blood pressure medications, or not taking care of their diabetes. I lay out the worst case scenarios, and do my best to convince them that “you could die!” I ask questions to find out what the barriers to compliance are, and I try to help them find the tools they need to be healthy. So, why do I avoid the topic of weight loss? Why do I avoid asking them if they need tools to get healthy?

I have an obligation to be open and honest with myself, and my patients. I need to step up and take the time to find out why they struggle with living a healthier lifestyle. I never hesitate to make sure that my elderly patients who are losing weight have enough to eat, and to inquire about who helps the ones with mobility issues get their needs met.

I am not insinuating that I know the best method for everyone to lose weight. I am not insinuating that everyone who is overweight or obese is going to die. I do know without any reservation that there is no such thing as morbid obesity being healthy. Even if you have not developed any obesity related complications, I assure you, you will.

As a medical professional, I want to see my community thrive. I want to improve the health and wellness of my community as a whole. I want to improve my health and wellness.

Starting to workout and eat right is a daunting task. You feel isolated. You feel like you are on display. People do not hesitate to walk up and exclaim “OH MY GOD! How much weight have you lost?” It makes you feel like you are just a number. My self-worth has nothing to do with how many pounds I have lost. I get more satisfaction when I do something active that I could not do before. You are embarrassed when you are wheezing and out of breath after 5 minutes on the treadmill. You are going slower than anyone else. You do not belong.

This is why I think that promoting a community walking program will be beneficial for my town. We can promote activity and healthy lifestyles in a nonthreatening and fun way. We can help people with goal setting, and then help them on their journey to meet it.

So, I want to start a movement movement. I want to encourage and support people on whatever step of their journey they are on. I want everyone to have resources for their questions, and a safe place to voice their concerns.

I want to foster a community of encouragement and I want people to have somewhere to celebrate all their milestones.

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It’s way more fun to workout with friends- and it makes the selfies all the more epic.

I used to tell myself that I needed to lose weight so that I could work out. Does that make a bit a sense? I felt like I did not deserve to be helped. Everyone deserves a little help. Maybe all they need is a safe place, reasonable goals, and a few friends.

The Marvelously Mundane

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I have a pretty fantastic life. I live in a country where I can say and do whatever I want. (Obviously, within reason, and I still have to remember that there are consequences for everything.)

I have done some pretty outrageous things. I sat on Gary Allen’s tour bus when I was 16. I took a forbidden road trip at the age of 17. I had a baby at 18. I graduated from college at 27. I conquered NYC at 31 (okay, maybe conquered is a strong word. I went on vacation to NYC.) Grad school and my dream job came at 32. I completed a Tough Mudder as an old lady of 34.

Last night, I was I complaining to my mother about The Blogger’s choice of picture when he chose my blog to be his guest post. He chose one where I had my nose wrinkled up. IMG_8212

I typically reserve that expression for people in my family. I think I look ridiculous when I make that face, and I try to avoid it when possible. Except for with my son. I love it when he makes that face, and when he was a baby somehow we got this picture. bran pics for gradbook0110

This is one of my favorite pictures in the world. I love that we were making the same face. That’s my boy. There is no denying that he is my child. But, that is so not the point. What was I talking about? Oh, yeah. I was complaining to my mom about the wrinkly nose picture. You see, that is a picture you only get if I am not concerned with how I look in the shot. To get this picture, I have to be completely in the moment. This is me- totally open and just being myself.

Of course, my mother likes the wrinkly nose picture and she used this as an opportunity to bring up one of the stories my family keeps in their back pocket for maximum embarrassment effects. Let me just say, the story involves a 3 year old me, face paint, a cat costume, and my intrigue regarding the rationale of painting my boogers.

Now, there are only a few people in the world who know that story. It happened over 30 years ago. I do not actually recall the event, it was just another day for me. My family remembers, and they apparently love random opportunities to reenact the conversation.

I know. I know. Who cares? What is your point?

Our lives are a series of ordinary days with a few extraordinary days sprinkled in. The best stories, the ones that only a few know about are the best part. The regular old days that did not necessarily involve anything all that exciting. The Marvelously Mundane. The tales of family lore. All it takes is one sentence and the entire family has a private laugh, a joke that outsiders just do not get.

If I were at work and asked someone why they were painting my boogers- I would be greeted with stares and awkward silence. Attempts to explain the significance would fall flat. No one would get it. For one thing, they totally missed my cat ears and tail. Without the costume, it is hard to imagine. They would probably be imagining their 34 year old nurse practitioner asking such a ridiculous question. They would have a little less confidence in my professional prowess. (note to self- one should probably not discuss boogers and face paint at work.) *additional note to self- one should probably not refer to oneself as one. It sounds ridiculous.

So, where was I? Is there a point? Oh. yeah.

It is easy to try to define your life by the big events. This is a mistake that I make far too often.

How do you go about living a life worth living if you do not achieve greatness? (What is greatness? What would I have to do to be actually great? Fantastic? WONDERFUL?) For most of life, I have been waiting to arrive. While I am not entirely certain of the destination, I was waiting. It is almost like percolating coffee. I wanted to be full-bodied and robust. (Wait. That sounds weird. I am full-bodied. Quite robust. hmmm. Okay- just know, I did not mean physically. Unless you mean strong. Why would you mean anything? I am the one that said it. Nevermind.)

Did you know that 10 people in Australia have read my blog today? 3 people in Germany. Am I the only person who finds that incredible? Do you think they liked it? Will they read it again?

I am one of those people who possess no artistic talents. I cannot draw, paint, sculpt, sing, dance, or even act. I desperately wanted to do all of those things. I wanted to have an interesting way to express myself. I completely underestimated my capabilities. I was so busy tallying up the talents I did not possess that I totally forgot to give myself credit for the ones I have. I would never dream of judging another person as harshly as I judge myself.

There is something special about the ordinary days. Driving in the car with your mom listening to Reba McEntire, singing along without fear of judgement, not caring how you sound. Going to see a bad movie with your son. Harry Potter marathons that you fall asleep during. Curling up with a good book.

We have far more regular days than remarkable ones. I think it is time to celebrate the normal stuff. The big, special days are great! Everyone should get to experience them. However, we miss so much when we are constantly waiting for the next great adventure.

I am planning to do 2 more Tough Mudders this year. In about 6 months. If I wait until then to find inspiration, I will have missed half a year. We don’t get that many days in our lives, and we should not waste them. Open your eyes, look around. Find the beauty in the ordinary. Act like a tourist in your town. See things from a new perspective. Write your story in your every day life. Fall in love with The Marvelously Mundane.

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Impressions and Assumptions: The Blogger and Captain America

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I am a people watcher. There is a steady stream of observations constantly running through my head. Sometimes, it is exhausting to be constantly evaluating every thing that I see and hear.

(Yes, I know you were hoping this would not be about Tough Mudder. Too bad.) I just tricked you by not putting it in the title.

This is the story of how my mind was changed.

When I first stumbled upon The Blogger, I was struck by how he wrote these awesome pieces that seemed so unapologetically real and sincere. He was funny and relatable. As I read more, I realized he was just a normal guy who happened to have enough courage to just put it out there and see what happened. I decided I wanted to watch. I wanted to see how the story unfolded.

So, I joined an online health club he had started. It took me a while to figure out how it all worked, and eventually I joined a gym and started working out. I had something to talk about with these people. Over time, I go to know some of them. It was fun. It was a distraction. It was not REAL. It seemed to fit into my idea of heaven, keeping life compartmentalized and separate.

Then, I “met” Captain America. Here was a confident, insanely supportive man. He got on my nerves. I do not trust people who are that nice. They freak me out. Over time, we developed a playful push and shove. He encouraged my boxing, challenged me to do 100 burpees, and even staged a repeat ice water challenge. He wrote a post about me and how I inspired him. At first, I was embarrassed, and then, for some reason it worked for me. I was excited about getting healthy.

Now, fast forward. These two guys were part of a group of fitty fools who had done a Tough Mudder in Utah. All of these people suddenly became more real. I wanted to do one too. I wanted to do one with them.

I got my chance. There were going to be three “official” group Tough Mudders. I decided to do Mesa. I only had 6 months to prepare. The first three went well. Then, life hit me squarely in the chest, and knocked me so far off the wagon that I was not entirely certain there ever was a wagon. The group interactions were so excited and frantically supportive, and I became a skeptic. These people were weird. Why were they all so nice to each other? Why were we all so excited? What were we thinking?

I managed to convince myself that The Blogger was only doing this to advance his personal agenda. I assumed that is the only reason someone would do all of this. I doubted his sincerity every step of the way. Things felt contrived and staged. Nothing felt natural to me. My own insecurities were painting his actions in an unflattering light. I was afraid to be excited. I was sure this was all going to be some epic prank aimed at the people who were not physically prepared for a Tough Mudder. I had nightmares about the humiliation.

And then I was there. I was in a group of people who I only knew online. I was seeing them for the first time. I watched and judged. I maintained my attitude of indifference. I was afraid to have a good time, because it would be so disappointing when the experience failed to live up to my expectations.

Now, it is Friday morning. I am walking through the dining room at the hotel. I hear this voice say “And, there is Nyki.” I turn and there in real life is Captain America. He is wearing a shirt that I have seen so many pictures of him in. It is a little unreal. He is both exactly what I expected and nothing like I anticipated. He walked up to me, we had a brief hug, and I immediately reverted to the shy, uncomfortable girl who is meeting someone for the first time. Nevermind that he knows so much about me. It was like meeting a stranger you have known your entire life. Miss Snarky snuck into my head, and I immediately decided that the hug was out of obligation, and that he was not in fact glad to meet me.

(Not that he had done anything to give me that impression. I ASSUMED that was the case.) I always assume that is the case.

Dinner that night was interesting. Walking into a lion’s den of hungry people who think it is a good idea to burst into cheers when you walk through the door is startling. The Blogger took his role as a leader seriously, and he tried valiantly to draw us into a conversation where our fears could be alleviated by the group. I was unable to take it seriously. Remember, Miss Snarky has firmly embedded herself in my brain.

I made a joke, and tried to foil his attempts to draw me out. He called me on it. I resisted. He tried. I was annoyed.

Then, it was time for Tough Mudder. (Don’t worry, I am not going to give you a recap)

The first wall was paralyzing. The Blogger tried to be supportive and kind. That does not work for me. Captain America actually stepped in and saved the day. He challenged me. He was like SERIOUSLY??? This is going to be the thing that stops you? It worked. I watched him help his team through this adventure over and over again. He did not seem to be seeking approval. He was not doing it to be noticed. I would see his joy when someone overcame a fear. It was sincere. Captain America really wants to help people achieve their goals. It is genuine. Gee. What a jerk. (Kidding- I loved seeing that it was not a front.)

Now, The Blogger. It took me most of the day to come to a conclusion about him. I watched him struggle to lead this loud and diverse group. I saw him be recognized as a “famous” person. I teased him mercilessly about that. Remember, to me… he is just a blogger. I had no idea that he was famous. I did not get it.

Towards the end- we had about 3 miles left. I was hurting. I had blisters on my foot. My knee was swollen, I was looking for the exit. The Blogger walked up behind me, pulled a bottle of pedialyte out of his bag, and simply said “drink.” I told him I was done. I was tired. I no longer cared about Tough Mudder.

And, this poor guy. I know his first instinct was to try to inspire me, to give me a “you can do it” speech. Instead, he put his arm around my shoulders, let me lean on him, and walked. We had a nice talk. I do not remember most of it. There was no pressure to be having a good time. There was no expectation that I had to be enjoying walking on my tender foot. I was enough exactly where I was. This was the point that I realized that he had many of the same insecurities I did. The Blogger is not your usual natural-born leader. He is quiet and shy. He was carrying the weight of this group’s success on his shoulders. I think there was a part of him that was scared. If this went badly, it would not be a private failure. He had a lot riding on this.

We talked about me skipping some obstacles at the end. He reminded me of his TM in England, the one where he got sick. This was the make or break event. He was either good enough, or he wasn’t. I realized that this was a struggle for him too. I saw where the need to make this event special came from. I saw the desperation for this to work. He was not just looking for material to write about. He was trying to redeem himself. (Now, I am not certain if he said any of this. I honestly don’t remember anything about the conversation. This is the impression I was left with, and for me, that is so much more important.)

Now, fast forward to the drive home. After I have deposited my best friend at the airport in New Mexico. Quiet time. Reflection. This was when the whole experience hit me like a ton of bricks. I was wrong about The Blogger and Captain America. They really do just want to help other people achieve something great. I thought (errantly) that they were super confident that they had THE RIGHT STUFF to change the world. Nope, not even close. They are searching for it, just the same as everyone else. IMG_8074

The Tough Mudder was not the great thing. Not even a little.

The achievements that we all earned are so much more. We came together as a team. We faced our fears. We did the impossible.

We were forced out of our comfort zones, and we triumphed. The two weeks since the TM have been rough for most of us. We see life a little differently. We are trying to explain to people what made this so great. Words are not enough.

Inspiration comes in the strangest places. You cannot force it. All you can do is seek to live a good life, full of adventures and quests. If you are lucky- You will keep your eyes and heart open, and avoid making assumptions about how it is all going to turn out. Trust me, people will shock you. I think that we are all a lot less unique than we think we are. Let’s do the best we can with what we have. Remember, We Got This. 14660_10153505239449156_4602544733387127900_n

 

I know. You are tired of hearing about the Tough Mudder

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I know, I know. Do you talk about anything else these days?

Yes.

I do.

I promise. I am just having so much fun going through pictures and planning my next adventure with my son and my new friends.

I had not actually planned on attempting many of the obstacles. I had not been working out, and I was woefully unprepared for the TM. I went anyway. I wanted to meet these people. I am so glad that I did.

Participating with this group of people was life-changing. I feel like I was probably the one in the worst shape, I feel like I was the biggest person out there. The old me would never in a million years wear compression pants and a form fitting shirt out in public like that. I would have felt out of place and like I did not belong.

I have worked hard to overcome the negative self-talk that permeates my life. It is not easy. I think this is one of the hardest parts about getting healthy. You have to feel like you are worth the effort. Tough Mudder is so much more than an obstacle course. It is a chance to overcome your fears. It is an opportunity to prove to yourself that you can do anything.

There are videos. There are videos of me on the ground in a mud pit.

I have an interesting nose. (I hate my nose.) It is turned up, a la a pig nose. Oh, and I have always been heavier than most of the people I know. I remember when I was a kid, and the mean kids called me Ms. Piggy. Now, Fast forward more than 20 years. I am still fat, and I still have a turned-up nose. I was actually essentially rolling around in a pit of mud. I assure you, no one called me a pig.

This sounds silly but, this is one of the best things that ever happened to me. I stopped letting the bullies and mean people dictate my life. I can be healthy and active. It’s okay that I am not in fantastic (or even acceptable) physical condition. I went out and worked hard. I played. I had fun. No one told me I did not belong with them.

It is time to stop letting the voices from our past prevent us from living up to our full potential. Yeah, there were mean kids and people who pointed out our flaws. Wanna hear a secret? My son has my nose. In fact, he looks pretty much like a male version of me. I think he is the most handsome person on the planet. I do not see those features as flaws on him.

I now understand why it hurt my family so much all those years I thought I was ugly. I get it. I understand why it hurt them to see me hurting myself. I was hurting the person they loved.

Today, I am still fat. I am still slow and out of shape. I can do a burpee. I can go and have fun in the mud with a group of fitty friends. I am not ugly. Turns out, I have a lot to offer. Who I am to stand in my way?

 

The Men of The Mudder- not our team. The others.

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Okay, it is probably a good thing that I did not have a camera on this adventure. Let me tell you. There were some good looking dudes out there. Now, my group was shockingly adorable, but I felt like we were kinda like a big tribe of nomads (possibly all related or something- pretty much off limits). Besides, I was having way more fun watching the sexy calves and shoulders go running by us.

Now, imagine me kinda dehydrated and deliriously tired. You know I lost my filter- and I was talking to just about every cute stranger I could find. There were a lot of hotties.

I do this thing when I am nervous. I introduce myself to random strangers. I have no idea why. Turns out, if you tell someone your name they tend to tell you theirs. It is funny. I guess I just like to see where the conversation goes. Sometimes, it is a nice distraction. You may luck out and get a good joke. It may just be something weird that everyone watches you do- all the while wondering what on earth is wrong with you.

I do not remember any of their names now, or even what they actually looked like.I just remember thinking and sometimes audibly sexually harassing them. (I know, not very mudder-like, but you should have seen them.) Maybe next time I will take a camera of my own. Then, people will get to see the things that I am focusing on.

But, sometime around the water station with the bananas (which will forever be my favorite- even though I do not actually like bananas) there was the most beautiful man I have ever laid eyes on. He was tall, absolutely ripped, and he might have had a beard. I do know he had very blue eyes- and the broadest shoulders I have ever seen. I am pretty certain he was not wearing a shirt. He may have been in cargo shorts. I am just not sure anymore. I had a lot of fun watching that cool drink of water getting a drink of water.

I am just kidding. (No, I am totally not- but, I feel the need to redeem myself.)

See, there is something for everyone at a Tough Mudder. Lots of nice scenery, even out in the desert.

Natives, Heroes, and Heat: Tough Mudder- Mesa

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This post is dedicated to one of the most inspiring women I have ever met. I remember the first time I remember seeing her post on the HC that I am a proud member of. A friend of hers had gifted her a bootcamp scholarship from one of those weight loss shows. I was so impressed by her already. She was one of the reasons I was so excited to do this Tough Mudder.

Jill is one of the most positive and life affirming women I know. She is unendingly kind. She is so tough.

Jill is from Arizona. She had been training hard. Completing obstacle courses with her workout buddies, working hard, and eating right. She was totally prepared to rock this Mudder to the core.

Well, preparation does not alway ensure the ending that we are expecting. For unknown reasons, Jill began having problems with nausea and vomiting. Eventually, it led to her being in an extremely dehydrated condition, and when she became light-headed she had to leave the course and seek medical treatment. I know that was the last thing she wanted to do. I think if her body had let her, she would have continued regardless of how she felt.

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My Toughest Mudder. Even with an IV, she looks fierce.

Let me tell you a little more about this superhero. She was there waiting for us when we got to the finish line. She had received IV hydration in the medical tent, and was still not feeling great, and she stayed to support her team. I am so humbled by her inner strength.

I can only imagine how I would have felt. I can easily imagine that I would have left, and gone home to wallow in my shame and disappointment. The fact that she was more concerned about seeing this group of strangers complete this course shows her spirit. She is far stronger than I am.

So, imagine my heartbreak when I read her Facebook post that said “I am not a Tough Mudder.” My initial reaction was shock and disbelief. I had been thinking of her as the toughest mudder out there.

I had some guilt where Jill was concerned. When I first found out she was struggling to keep water down, I off-handedly told her to just take little sips. When I found out she was sitting on the ground by the monkey bars, I went over to make sure that the medics were coming, and then I removed myself. The nurse practitioner in me wanted to put my foot down and demand that she quit. The girl who knew that this was a grown woman who had not entrusted herself to my care, knew that was not my place. So, once I knew the medics were there I walked away. I wish I had given her hug right then, and told her that I was proud of her. I regret that.

You see, this adventure was so much more than an obstacle course. It was a life changing experience. I met some of the kindest souls I ever imagined. We all had different fears and obstacles to overcome in order to even show up. We were a shockingly large, slow-moving tribe. People would stop and look at us in awe, and ask “Do you all know each other?” We were able to gleefully answer that no, most of us had just met. Yet, we were continuously throwing our arms around each other, and posing for a ridiculous number of pictures. (There are thousands of pictures!!!)

I was overwhelmed many times by all the emotions that Tough Mudder brought out in me. I struggled with being in the middle of such a large group. I sought solitude frequently. I wanted to process what I experienced. There were many times I wished for a pen and paper so that I could find the words to describe the interactions I witnessed. For some, they thought that meant I was not okay, or that I did not like them. This is one of the pitfalls of my personality. In an effort to filter what I say, I have to remove myself from the situation. Otherwise, whatever pops into my head tends to come out of my mouth. Unfortunately, no one cares how you mean it. So, when I am overwhelmed I tend to withdraw. It is simply my coping mechanism.

You see, ADD has some benefits. I see and take in a lot of information, but then I am tasked with the chore of sorting through it all and determining it’s significance. I had faced so many fears, and still had so many more miles to go. I had blisters on my heels, and I was hungry. I was surrounded by strangers who were also friends. It was a huge amount of stressors to deal with.

I was unprepared physically and mentally for this challenge. I was unprepared for how much I would depend on this group of strangers.

Since the TM I have seen video of me completing some of these obstacles. Let’s be honest, I am horrified. I cannot believe I allowed myself to be captured in those positions. There are far more pictures of my ass on Facebook than I ever imagined possible.

Which is why, I am signing up to do another Tough Mudder with this group. Guess what? All these people have seen me blubber and cry at the thought of climbing a wall. They have seen me go off alone to contemplate my insanity. They still wanted to give me a hug at the finish line. Some of them even walked with me, with my arms around their shoulders so I could take some of the weight off my throbbing, swollen, blistered left foot. So, in October my son and I are traveling to do one together. I can’t wait for him to see the way people can come together to support one another.

I never would have thought a Facebook group and a man I call “the blogger” would change my life. More about that later.