Life is fragile – live accordingly


When my dad died in 2000, it came as a total shock to us. He seemed totally fine and then he was gone. He had major health problems before that, quadruple bypass surgery at 48, and double bypass again at 58. They say it lasts about ten years, which was true in his case. He was 60 when he passed.

One of the hardest things was to watch how it affected the kids. My kids. His grandkids. It was so sad. So much time taken away. Snatched away in an instant. He loved spending time with them. They were almost 14, 12, 9 and 10 months. I struggled with the fact that Tayler would never get to know him. She would never get to know how funny he was. She would never get to see his soft side. He had one. Few people got to see that.

As I sit here and rewind the day of the funeral, my saddest memory is watching Spencer at the funeral. At that time he was 12. Such a vulnerable age. Such a fork-in-the-road age. We contemplated whether we should take them. But at the same time how can you shield them from death? How can you shield them from life? It wouldn’t be fair to do that to them. It wouldn’t be fair to not let them say goodbye. The whole situation wasn’t fair.

The rest of the funeral is kind of fuzzy. I remember walking into the church and seeing the casket. I couldn’t hold it together. I could not look at it. I couldn’t even really go near it. I watched people going to him. I watched them pay their respects. We were in a line just waiting to go sit down. So many people came up to us giving their condolences. So many people who knew him. That part I remember.

Once we sat down and the funeral started, I kind of got tunnel vision with Spencer. The only song I remember played was Amazing Grace. Standard funeral song, right? And why not, it’s a great song.

We were in one of the front pews, because that’s where family always is seated. I was trying to just be. I was trying to just get through it. I was trying to stay strong for the kids. I glanced over at Spencer and he was scooted way against the edge of the pew. He had both hands on top of the pew and was turned away from me. He had his head on his hands. He was crying. My heart was wrecked in that split second. I tried to comfort him. He pulled away from me. He was mad and sad at the same time. He was 12. The vulnerable age. The fork-in-the-road age.

He learned about death that day. He learned about losing a loved one. He learned about losing his grandpa. I can still see him, sitting there, so upset. It was so hard for me to watch. I questioned every decision we had made about taking them. But again, how could we deny that. I think I would have felt worse if they had not gone. I think the older they got, they would have regretted it if they had not gone. I was so focused on him, I can’t even remember the other kids. I feel bad I can’t remember. We all went through it, yet I can only remember Spencer’s reaction.

Kids are so vulnerable. Did we scar him. Did we scar them. Should he have learned about life and death in that moment? Should he have learned about life and death so young? So many questions, which at this point are irrelevant. At that point, they meant everything.

I realized we couldn’t shield them from life. We couldn’t shield them. We just couldn’t. Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes life sucks. But you know what, for sure life is fragile–live accordingly.



(in the pic, Spencer is on the left, the other two are my nephews, Dustin and Garrett)

hey fat ass

Hey, fat ass!

My in-my-own-head voice would look around to see who was talking. My in-my-own-head voice would berate me for being a fat ass. My in-my-own-head voice would call me that all the time. My in-my-own-head voice was an asshole.

If you have read my blog posts at all, you know I had some giant issues with body image and disordered eating. Some days I still struggle. I remember so many times feeling so much despair because I didn’t look the way I thought I should look. I didn’t look the way other people thought I should look. Giving a shit about what other people think of me kept me small. It kept me from having any confidence. It kept me from having any positive self-esteem. My self-worth was super low at that time.

I remember weighing myself I remember feeling so frustrated I remember feeling depressed I let the scale define me. I let the scale tell me what kind of mood I should be in every day. I let it control me. I let it.

I remember trying to camouflage my perceived fatness. I would use patterns that made me appear less fat. You know, the vertical stripes, never horizontal stripes. Black, because slimming. Baggy clothes because I thought they would make it look like I was losing weight or that I had lost weight. If the jeans felt big, I felt small. Hoodies, because they hid a lot. Ummmm, okay.

I never wanted to undress in front of anyone in gym class. Never. I always admired the ones who could just throw it off and not give a shit. I wanted to be like that. I wanted to feel okay about it. I wanted to feel comfortable. I wanted to.

Body image issues were pretty prevalent when I was in junior high and high school. I remember a friend in gymnastics who was anorexic. Her knees practically knocked together and the hair on her arms stood straight up. I bet she weighed 80 pounds and she still saw herself as fat. Another girl sat in class and would feel the side of her butt and thigh, feeling for the fat because she thought she was fat. So many others struggled with feeling like a fat ass. The pain of the fat ass syndrome – like stepping on legos.

Obviously, something triggered this blog post. I have been thinking about it and trying to figure out what it was. I have been struggling with pull-ups lately and have been working hard for the past 7 weeks and still haven’t gotten one. It has been extremely frustrating. I think the in-my-own-head voice is trying to convince me that it’s because I’m a fat ass. I broke my golden rule and have been weighing myself. That’s the first problem. The scale is a bitch and I’m not liking what she is saying. I’m not liking that number. My in-my-own-head voice is trying to creep back in and tell me how I should be thinking and feeling. It’s trying to.

I have been extremely frustrated with my progress. I have been extremely frustrated with my workouts. I need to pull myself up out of this hole (get it, pull up) and keep fighting. Not even the in-my-own-head-voice gets to tell me what I should weigh or how I should look. It does not get permission to do that. The inside-my-own-head voice is being a bully right now and I’m not going to continue to listen to it. I won’t.

The negative energy is being cleansed. I know when those negative thoughts start creeping back in to the in-my-own-head voice, it’s time to change my attitude and quit being so hard on myself. We all struggle. We all have things that are hard for us. I know when I finally get that pull-up, I will be grateful for the struggle. It has definitely made me stronger and more grateful.

Looking back at that those chapters of junior high and high school, I am grateful I had those struggles. The struggles and the inside-my-own-head voice have given me a unique perspective of which to get inside other people’s heads and try to change their in-my-own-head voices, so they can stop saying to themselves, “Hey fat ass!”

i believe life is a surprise

I watched an interview with Art Garfunkel last Sunday on that Sunday morning show. I don’t know what it’s called even. Probably just Sunday Morning. I looked it up, CBS Sunday Morning. I was close.

The interview was really interesting, as he talked about his time with Paul Simon. They have had a turbulent relationship over the years for sure. There was one thing though. At the end of the interview, he said, “I believe life is a surprise.”

I started thinking about how that is such a true statement. Life surely is a surprise. We don’t know what is going to happen in our lives. We can’t plan everything. We can’t control things as much as we like to think we can.

I started thinking about how life is a gift as well. I have met some really amazing people in my life. I have been a personal trainer and kettlebell instructor for over 7 years. Life is a surprise every day. Every day I learn something new about one of my clients. Every day there is something they are going through that I listen to.

I have a whole basket of memories from the past seven plus years. There has been good times and really, really sad times. We have been through so many things. Together.

I have been watching their kids grow up. I know their names. I know their birthdays. I know what kinds of food they like. I know their pets’ names. I know how many pets they have. I know what hurts them. I know what makes them happy.

I know where my clients shop. I know their insecurities. I know when they are feeling sad or happy. I know when they are feeling great or not so great. I know what makes them laugh. I love watching my group people bond with each other. I love listening to them laugh when they are training. After all, life is a surprise. Surprises every single day.

I’ve been there for extremely hard times. The death of a baby. It doesn’t get much sadder or harder than that. Life is a surprise. This mother, this wife, this woman is one of the strongest women I know. She does things on her terms. She does things her way. She follows her own rules. And really, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, at her training session this morning, she and I and another client, were talking about that very thing. We don’t have to fit into the box or the parameters of what someone else says we should. Who are they to tell us how we should live or lives or what our lives should look like. It is absolutely okay to live by our own rules. I commend her and I admire and respect her.

We’ve been through so many life surprises. The things we can’t control. The loss of pets, the loss of parents, the loss of siblings and friends. Marriages and divorces. Sending kids to pre-school, elementary school, middle school, high school and college. Hoping they will be okay. Hoping they won’t struggle.

I have a lot of women clients and every single one of them has such an amazing presence in my life. I love getting to know them. I love learning about their careers. I love listening to them. I’ll say that again…I LOVE listening to them. I love they trust me with their most personal problems, their most personal life things. A catalog of life items. Not all of it is pretty. Life is a surprise. Struggles, triumphs, celebration, joy, loss, sorrow and unhappiness.

I often think that if I wasn’t doing this for a living, I never would have met all these wonderful women. I have awesome men clients too, but in this post the light is shining on the women.

There are so many things I would have missed. I love the surprises of this life. There are so many chapters I have been able to witness. I am so grateful and so thankful I am able to be a part of their book of life.

I want to thank these women for being kickass. I want to thank these women for not taking any shit. I want to thank these women for being strong. I want to thank these women for trusting me with their details.

Free Range Kids

I was driving home from the studio. I was on the Highway, 1804, north. It was just starting to get dark. I always look for deer, so was scouting the ditches. Over to the left, I saw something that was so weird. I actually thought I was seeing things. I have never seen anything like it this close to town. There was a line of horses. Six or eight, beautiful browns and a few blacks. They were running full blast towards the road, coming from the east. All of a sudden I saw brake lights ahead of me. I was wondering if they horses were just going to keep running. I knew there was a fence at one of the houses, but it was hard to tell if they were behind the fence or in between some properties. All of a sudden they all just skidded to a stop at the fence. I slowed way down and as I drove by I could see the steamy breath coming out of their noses. I wish I would have been closer. I wish I could have heard them. Powerful, magnificent and beautiful creatures. Caged creatures. Wanting to be free creatures. I wonder where they would have run. I wonder how far they would have gone. I wonder if they felt trapped.

In our own lives what cages do we put around ourselves. What cages do others put around us. Do we feel trapped. Do we feel like we just want to run sometimes and just keep running, not knowing where we will end up.

Do you feel like you do things just because it’s the safe thing to do. The uncomplicated thing to do. The normal thing to do.

I started thinking about my life as a kid and how free we were to roam. Free range kids for sure. No cages. No fences. We played outside every single day, no matter the weather. We just had to come in when it was dark. Life was so simple back then. Nothing too complicated, luckily.

Today when I left my day job, I decided to drive through the alleys of the Euclid house, the Central house and the Prospect house. The houses I grew up in. The houses that hold so many memories.

I started with the Euclid house, since it was closest. I stopped in the alley when I got behind the house and looked into the yard. I could see us playing outside as kids. White blond hair and tan skin. I never understood why I couldn’t be like my brother and not wear a shirt. I didn’t get it. I could see the back step where I learned to do double jumps. It looked so small though. I could see the upstairs apartment door. The one my sister, Sherry, the fire starter, locked and then got chased down the alley by dad for doing it. It was not our apartment. Gravel and barefoot were a good choice for Sherry. He couldn’t catch her.

Next I went through the alley at the Central house. Again, everything looked so small. The yard that once seemed huge was not very big at all. I could see myself playing in the garage, reaching up for the Coke bottle that was filled with oil. That was not a good day. In case anyone was wondering, oil does not taste one bit like Coke. I could see the neighbor lady, who we swore was a witch. She was an old German woman with a thick German accent. If she could speak English at all, I don’t think we knew it. She had a pear tree. We decided to pick some. She was nowhere around. As soon as we picked a pear, she appeared at the tree. We never picked her pears again. I could see me running to Schrock’s house to beat to death the 45 record, Last Kiss. The label on the record was tan and orange. I bet we played it over 500 times. Not even kidding. I still love that song. Pearl Jam’s version is the best, in my opinion.

I then went to the Prospect house. That alley leads to the Zesto, the state-famous ice cream place. The house looked pretty sad and rugged. It definitely needs some TLC. I could see myself running up the alley. Dad was out watering the grass. He asked how I did. It was 4th grade. It was the jump rope contest. I remember telling him I didn’t do very well and then pulled out the championship blue ribbon from behind my back to show him. I think he was proud.

I am so grateful that we had so many fun times and got to play outside all the time. I’m grateful we didn’t have strict rules. I’m grateful we could roam and wander. I’m grateful we were given those freedoms to explore our childhood. I’m grateful we didn’t feel trapped. I’m grateful we were free.