One Year Sober – October 21, 2019

At night, when the air is ever so clear, a million things go through my head. A million ideas. A million what ifs, a million thank Gods. Because, really, this is when you feel things more. It’s when you tune in to your body more. It’s when you tune into your feelings more. The things you think about, the things you wonder about and the things you can’t control.

It’s been a year, one year, 365 days, 12 months since I quit drinking. Yes, I will now call it quit drinking, instead of since I had an alcoholic beverage. I have thought about it often. The first few months I thought about it what seemed like all the time. Now I rarely think about it. It’s a habit. It’s a behavior I choose to do it. It may last another year, it may not. I don’t feel any urge or impulse or pressure to drink. 

It seems when a person is contemplating either cutting down on alcohol or abstaining all together, we have a lot of fear about that. Fear of losing our identity. Because we had fun when we drank and we were the life of the party when we drank. We fear we might not be able to have fun or even be fun if we aren’t drinking. We fear we may lose friends. We fear we may lose a part of ourselves. 

All that, that’s on them, not us. 

So we start wondering and thinking and fearing and then wondering some more. Can we just stop. The idea can be overwhelming. I mean, we immediately put ourselves into the mindset that we can’t have it, which of course makes us want it more. And usually pushes us right back over the deep end. Just the idea of that truth can be an obstacle. The truth can be hard to face. But, knowing we need to make a change and thinking about making a change and then actually making the change can take some time. Truth is knocking all the time, but we usually don’t listen. I know I didn’t listen for a long time. 

The tipping point for me. The it’s time to do this point for me. The just fucking do it point for me. The last time I drank. The last time I got drunk. October 21, 2018. That was it. I was done. I drank four glasses of wine. I could feel things slipping away. My senses, my sense of okay you don’t need to drink anymore. You know that feeling, when you are on the brink of too much, but you just want a little bit more. Which always turns into not ever needing that last one. Always and never. 

I feel amazing. I feel like I own my health now. I felt out of control before. I feel like I can do anything. I didn’t before. I don’t miss the lost mornings. I don’t miss burning off the fog with the caffeine. I don’t miss the fuzzy thinking and trying to think clearly, but it just not being there. I wasted so much time. I wasted so much time on weekends. Wasted, as in sitting around waiting for some energy to kick in. Sitting around watching TV. Sitting around, doing nothing. 

The experts say that there is usually an underlying issue when it comes to drinking. Usually to mask emotions or numb emotions or because of something that has happened in the past, or whatever number of reasons. I don’t know if there is anything with me. I think I just drank to drink. I liked the taste of wine. 

Whatever my reasons, I’m happy to be done. It’s time for me to shine and keep working on myself and process things without alcohol. And I’m absolutely fine with that. 

Shift The Blame

You want it to be someone or something else’s fault. It couldn’t be you. Why would you do that to yourself? It’s so easy to play that game, but it’s a game you will never win. You will never win. Yep, I repeated that, because it’s true. You might be able to hang there for a little while, but it won’t last. Overeating is a hard truth that happens to many, many people. Especially when we work out like a dog. Especially when we are cardio-ing our little hearts out. Especially when we do this 6 or 7 days a week.

When we up our activity sometimes we think we are entitled to eat more. Not true. We feel like it’s okay to eat more now because we did more. It doesn’t quite work that way. Maybe if you are an elite athlete, but you’re not. So when you start eating more, you will start gaining more. If you are okay with that, awesome. If not, change your way of thinking. Changing your way of how you evaluate things, of how you evaluate yourself, of how you evaluate everything in your life will bring about the change. 

I have dozens of nutrition clients and behavior change and owning up to our stuff is a big part of what we do. You have to. That’s what it’s all about. Nothing is just about weight loss. Nothing is just about overeating. Nothing is just about self sabotage. That nothing is all mindset and how we have so many things ingrained in our heads from when we were little, or from when we were in grade school, or junior high, or high school. There is always something that happened to us that formed those behaviors. Something that formed those habits. Something that makes it so hard to change. But, we are doing it. We are changing. We are learning and we are progressing. THAT is what it is about. Owning up to what you are doing and owning up to yourself and being honest with yourself is what it’s about. 

You know if you are eating too much. You know if you don’t enter your numbers and eat it anyway. You know your progress is going to be slow. You need to want your results. You need to quit blaming and start listening and looking at what you are doing. 

It is so easy to blame other things and other situations. Shift that blame back to where it belongs. Shift it back to you. Blame yourself. Because it is you. Hard truths can be hard, but hard truths are what a lot of people really need.

The Edge

Why did I start? I told you what the straw was, or what it wasn’t. I had to start. I needed that edge so I could be pushed. It was there, the edge. I had to do something. The pain and emotion of feeling fake and non-committal were real. I was ashamed of how much I let my body go, of how much I let my life go. So I did something. 

I started eating macro style. Macros are what our foods are made up of – protein, carbs and fats. So what that means is that everything I ate was put into a tracking app and my job was to eat according to what my assigned macros were. It was my accountability. It was my purpose, it was my goal. I wasn’t going to fail. That was my option. I wasn’t going to give myself permission to do that. Have you ever done that? Given yourself permission to fuck up. Given yourself permission to fail? I bet you have. We all have. It comes down to how bad you really want something? Is what you are doing worth it? 

If you are doing something, making a choice to do something, that is not in line with what you told yourself you were going to do, you are making that choice. You just gave yourself permission. So, I told myself I wasn’t going to do the same thing I had always done. That would be to stick to something for a week or so and then make the choice — because that is exactly what it is — to fail or to fuck up or to whatever the shiny adjective is this month. However you want to describe it. Quit and go back to the usual suspect. The usual permission. I wanted new permission. 

Lifestyle changes and forming new habits can be hard, really hard. We are so used to being bombarded with the next best thing or the newest trend or try this, or try that, that we become so overwhelmed we don’t even know what the hell to do or even where to start. Ever felt that way? Me too. 

Tracking your food is a good first step. It makes you aware of all the choices you have been making that continue to drive you down the road to the nearest hospital or worse yet, cemetery. If you feel like you are getting more and more unhealthy every day, you need to show up. Show up for yourself. You need to take a good, hard, and honest look in the mirror and tell that reflection it’s time. It’s time to make a change before it’s too late. 

You can find macro calculators all over the internet. Pretty much plug and play. Find one. Set up your app and start tracking. I think you will be pretty surprised about what is going on. Most people are overeating fat and carbs because honestly, they taste fucking great. It’s okay sometimes, but the portion sizes are what gets most of us in trouble. Also, make sure your protein is on point. if you want to maintain muscle mass and not be a hangry bitch all the time, protein is key. 

Anybody can do it. The coach part is what I help you with. That is where the finesse comes in. That is where the tough love comes in. But, don’t be afraid to experiment on your own. What’s it going to hurt? What’s going to happen? You might just get healthy in the process. 

Diary of a Former Chubby Trainer/Nutrition Coach – another entry

Diary of a Former Chubby Trainer/Nutrition Coach

My story starts in grade school. My story is a long one and it’s not a pretty one. It’s full of winding roads and uphill climbs and some straight roads. I feel like I have been aware of my body image and aware of food my whole life. It became evident to me that my body wasn’t ideal. It became evident when a coach, someone I looked up to, would be the one to tell me my body wasn’t ideal. This started a snowball effect of dieting and bingeing and purging. The snowball got bigger and bigger and bigger. 

I was told to lose ten pounds when I was in gymnastics. I was a sophomore in high school. I weighed 116 at the time. Not 115, not 120, but 116. I remember that detail like it was yesterday. On my 5 feet 4 inch frame that is pretty much considered “ideal.” I have never considered myself ideal. 

There was a time previous though that it was also evident. I was in 6th grade and the school lunch program came out with weight watchers meals. Not the business Weight Watchers, just weight watchers as in watching our weight and what we were eating. In other words they were letting us chubby girls know that we should change. Our school lunch program gave us that option, in 6th grade, a billion years ago. Why? I remember eating tuna, with nothing on it. It came in a styrofoam cup container with carrots and celery. As I type this right now, I wonder if I was even chubby then. I mean, I must have been, right? The indecision runs deep. The trap runs deep. The emotions run deep. 

I take responsibility for my own actions and while I am not very damn happy about my gymnastics coach having a hand in really pushing me over the edge into an eating disorder, I know I made the choices. I did. It was me. I tried every diet. I really did. I couldn’t stick to anything. My after school-before practice-snack was a Reese’s double peanut butter cup and some kind of diet pop. Tab was a favorite. Because the diet pop canceled out all those extra calories, right? Interesting, the ignorance, the irony. 

I always wanted to be skinny. I was always muscular. I was always strong. I thought that was good. I thought it was what it took to succeed in gymnastics. It did take strength and muscles, but at that age, how was I to know I could be strong and muscular and not overweight. That train of thought carried me for years. Strong and muscular became my motto.

I struggled with my weight for what seemed like forever. Years and years. If I tried a diet I would lose some weight, never over ten pounds, but then would just eat what I wanted again. I could never maintain a weight loss. This yo-yo dieting was ridiculous. Bulimia became my eating disorder. It owned me. I couldn’t control it. I finally overcame the eating disorder after a few years. I was very fortunate I didn’t damage my body. 

The way we perceive ourselves is real. The negative self-talk is real. Have you ever looked in the mirror and called yourself a fat ass? I have. Have you ever looked in the mirror and told yourself you were a fucking pig or a lard ass? I have. 

Fast forward to about 2010. That sounds weird to fast forward to the past, but you know that I mean. I became a trainer and a coach. A personal trainer and nutrition coach, something I had always wanted to do. I am not sure what held me back. As I unpack things in my life and am growing in figuring my shit out, I actually think it may have been because I felt like I couldn’t be a trainer because I wasn’t skinny. I didn’t really look the part. I was muscular and strong. One would think that is what a trainer should look like, but in reality that was an excuse. It was an excuse for being overweight. I steadily gained every year. Up by 5s. 

I used strong and muscular as my excuse, my go to excuse. I used it all the time. I TOLD myself this all the time. I told myself I looked good. I was getting really good at lying to myself. 

I got fed up with it though. Every time I weighed myself, which wasn’t that often, because hey, you go by how your clothes fit, or hey, you go by how you feel, so why should I need a scale. Well, when your biggest pair of jeans become tight, it’s fucking time to pull out the scale and take a peek. I was shocked. How could this happen? I told myself again, I was muscular and strong. I let this go on for months. I kept gaining and gaining some more. Here I was a personal trainer AND a nutrition coach. What the hell? 

I was done. Bottom line is I didn’t have a slow metabolism. I didn’t have any thyroid problems (I got tested). It wasn’t my hormones. I didn’t have any kind of disease that would cause the weight gain. I was eating like an asshole, plain and simple. This was not rocket science, not at all. This was called eating way too much. No calorie deficit for this girl, no fucking way. I was eating way tooooo much. That was the problem, not that I was strong and muscular. 

I told myself to wake the fuck up. It was time to take responsibility. I was the only one who could change this. I had to. I was feeling like crap. I was tired all the damn time and I didn’t even care if I worked out. My skin looked like crap and my sleep was miserable. I had hit rock bottom. It was time to change.

I hired a coach. Shocker, right? It shouldn’t be. Even though I am a trainer and nutrition coach, I needed the accountability. I really needed it. You would be surprised how many trainers have coaches. Everybody needs a coach. 

I could feel this time was going to be different though. There was something different about this way of eating, whatever you want to call it, flexible dieting or if it fits your macros or macro budgeting. There was no magic pill. There were no magic powders or wraps. It was hard work. It was changing what I normally did. It was holding myself accountable. It was not eating whatever the hell I wanted when I wanted. It was portion control, which is really what I needed.

My excuses were done. 

I am still in a losing phase and so far am down 38 pounds and about 11 inches off my waist. I made myself a promise that I would never go back to that ridiculous number on the scale. Who cares if I am strong and muscular. That was an excuse and a big whopper of an excuse. 

No more. Losing weight is easy. The hard part is keeping it off. I plan to show up for the hard part. I plan to do the hard part. I plan to make myself a priority and to respect myself enough to stay on track. 

I am doing it. I have finally connected the daisy chain into healthy habits, into learning, into being accountable, into not eating like an asshole anymore. I feel like I am the healthiest I have probably ever been. At 55, I’ll take it. 

The pic is in black and white. Why? Because in color it seems so much worse. I still struggle a little bit seeing the before pics. I know I have come a long, long way, but there is still that inner voice, who sometimes has to pop in and just give you that tiny bit of doubt. I can squash it most of the time and I really, really do. It’s just once in a while…

I can say I finally have my shit together. It only took 55 years. If you need help getting yours together, get a hold of me. I would love to help you!

Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)

The excitement was killing me. It was my favorite place to exist. It was my favorite place to escape. Hurry up. Hurry up. Almost time. Saturday morning.

Winter was over and spring was beginning. It was the new season. The fun season. Something to do on the weekend season. 

I was in grade school, probably 5th or 6th grade, possible even junior high. We lived at the Prospect house during that time. We actually moved to that house when I was in 4th grade. 

The corner of Euclid and Capitol was the place to be. Every Saturday morning.

This is where the cool kids hung out. I remember getting there early because I was so excited. It’s been a curse my whole life. I can’t do late and on time is late to me. I have always been places early. I never disappointed.

Was it still going to cost 40 cents? Was it still opening at the same time? I wonder if I would wear the same size. I just didn’t know and I just couldn’t sit around and wait to find out. I had to leave early and get there. I had to be in line. I just had to. 

I’m not sure if Sherry was with me or if I just went by myself, but I remember sitting on the sidewalk, taking off my shoes and the guy came out. He was the guy. The guy who took our money. The guy in charge of in charge. He always wore boots and jeans that seemed too high waisted. He always wore a belt and a t-shirt. He was tall and skinny. He was just different enough to be dangerous. He always teased us. He told us the price was $1. I about died. I wouldn’t have enough money. He must have seen that I was ready to cry. He said he was just kidding and started laughing. I wish I could remember his name. 

We had to step up the high step in order to get in the building. This was a boat marina in the front of the building and the basement had boats. The upper floor, behind the store part was the most amazing roller rink. There was a long counter, made of wood, with shelves behind it full of roller skates and then there was a door into the marina store. They had candy for sale. We couldn’t buy candy when skating. Well duh, because could you imagine if something got on the floor! The floor was a gorgeous, shiny and smooth. It was made of hardwood. You always knew which skates were the best and you secretly hoped you got the same ones every week. The sound of the skates being plunked down on the counter was music to my ears. It was loud and made me giddy. I remember the smell, musty. It smelled good. I remember how it looked. It was my favorite place. There were benches to sit down on all around the circle floor. I remember by the door going in there was just a huge pile of people’s shoes. And then jackets and coats, partially hanging up and partially on the floor.

The announcer — the guy, would play the music and would call out what kind of skate it was. It was forward, just backward, couples, and singles. Sometimes just girls and sometimes just guys. Sometimes three people would skate and most times it was just everyone. 

I remember the Badger boys. Gary and Merle. Badass motherfuckers. Merle had an eye patch sometimes. He wasn’t a pirate, he had a glass eye. All the girls wanted to skate with them and all the boys wanted to be them. They had swagger. They were fun to skate with. I skated a few times with Merle and once in a great while with Gary. Jim Hull and Vonda Thompson skated as a couple and they were both amazing skaters. They were skaters to watch because they were amazing and talented skaters. We called him Jimmy back then. I still call him Jimmy as I think about it. I wanted to be like them. I always tried to perfect the backward skate. That was always something to work on. You knew you arrived when you could skate backwards with the leg crossover. The whoosh sound of the air as we went faster and faster and faster. The music was loud. The louder the better. All different songs, all different artists. I clearly remember the guy playing Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)  by Looking Glass almost every time I went to the rink. 

We skated for hours. Non-stop. A short rest when we needed or we would sit out from couples skating. Tired and sweaty at the end of the time. I never wanted to quit. I wanted to skate and skate and skate. It was social, it was fun. Everyone was nice, nobody was a jerk. We all had fun. We all forgot about everting except skating. We had a blast. When the time was over, it would still feel like you were skating. The legs were tired and we were tired, but we never wanted to be done. 

I loved the roller rink and I was so sad when they moved it down behind McDonald’s. It was never the same. It just wasn’t as fun. The roller rink was located like I said above at the corner of Euclid and Capitol, the current Olinger Law Office building. 

I heard Brandy the other day. It took me back to skating and the memories came flooding back. Some of the other songs I remember were: Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me; Brand New Key; The Lion Sleeps Tonight; A Horse With No Name; Rockin’ Robin; Black and White; and Joy To The World. 

It was a simple time. It was a great time to be a kid time. 

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

I’ve loved you since I met you. We’e been together since I was young. I think I was about 15 or 16, but I knew you way before that. I knew you when I was a little kid. It feels like it has been forever. In reality, it has been a very, very long time, just not forever. You drew me in with your beautiful smell. You drew me in with your amazing color. I loved it. I loved you. 

I craved you. I couldn’t help it. I became addicted. How could I not have? We did everything together. We woke up together. We spent the mornings together. We always spent after lunch together and even evenings. We did this for many, many years. But then you started causing problems for me. I started feeling weird and I started having issues with my body. You were harming me because I couldn’t get enough of you. 

I had to start hanging out with your less than fun younger brother. He wasn’t bad, but I liked you better. I loved you better. It just wasn’t the same. It took me a while, but I stopped thinking about you. I actually started to feel better without you. You left me alone for over six months, maybe longer.  I felt free. I really felt better without you.

One day, I saw you again. You were just right there. I couldn’t resist you. It was like heaven. We only hung out in the mornings though. It felt just right. You weren’t being mean to me. You weren’t making things go crazy. It was nice. I loved you again. You loved me again.  The weekends were the best. We hung out all day. Just like we did before. It was wonderful. 

But now, you are starting to not be so great again. You’re starting to drive me crazy. I can’t sleep at night. I lie there in bed, just staring at the ceiling. I think and think and then think some more. You are doing it again. You’re starting to be mean. 

I’ve come to the realization that we can only hang out in the mornings. That’s it, no afternoons or evenings. Even on the weekends, it can only be in the morning. The rest of the time, I will be hanging out with your brother again. He’s just not as good though. Why can’t he be just like you, except without the meanness? Why can’t he? 

I really do love you more, but I have to be disciplined. I have to be strict with you. Even though I want to hang out all the time, I have to stick to my guns. 

Coffee you have been so important to me. I really have loved you forever, but it’s back to your brother, decaf. I will see you in the mornings, but that’s it. I just can’t spend that much time with you anymore. I have to take a break from you. 

Zoom Out

It was about a month ago. Now time. Not kid time. I tried on five pairs of pants. All the same size. All fit different. None of them fit. Every single pair were too small. Or I was too big. However you want to spin it. They didn’t fit, plain and simple.

Old me would have been devastated. Now me is slightly concerned, but not throwing a tantrum. Not getting rid of all the food so I can starve myself. Not freaking out. The now me is bucking up and taking responsibility. I know I have been slacking. I have been eating too much and drinking too much wine. I know it’s time to clean it up. For me. I needed to quit eating whatever I wanted and however much I wanted.

It’s interesting how we let things slide. And now here is my point. Why do we have to slide? Why can’t we be okay all the time? Why can’t we just eat to stay healthy? Why do we feel like we have to eat all the things or drink all the things? Life is curious that way. Once we realize that we can stay in check and eat good food and drink once in a while, I think that mindset shifts and it is easier to stay on track. You have to nurture yourself. Take care of yourself. Think about what you are putting in your body. Do you really want to eat crappy and feel crappy all the damn time? I sure don’t. Take ownership of your eating. Understand how food makes you feel. Start with the basics and learn. Learn and then develop your skills. Zoom out. Take a hard look at what you want your life to look like. What you want to look like. Is it matching how you are now? If not. Do something. Take action. Make a change. Be positive and enjoy the journey.

I understand and I get it. Sometimes making changes is hard. We want to change, but actually doing the work and taking the steps and taking responsibility for our actions scares us. It just does. It’s easy, yet we try to overcomplicate it.

Well, I decided to take responsibility. I quit eating like an asshole. I started cleaning up my diet. And by the way, diet is not a dirty word. Diet actually simply means what you eat. Your diet. But, nothing can be simple in society, so it has been complicated beyond belief.

I actually started an online challenge and did the challenge right along with the people in the group. I gave them a nutrition plan and a daily workout. I stayed consistent, I ate well. I didn’t eat crap food. Like I said, I was consistent. I feel stronger, I feel better, I have more energy, I sleep better and I lost weight. Because I wanted to. Not because society told me I had to or because someone made a snarky comment. It was because I wanted to. It is okay if you want to change your body. It is okay if you want to lose weight. It is okay if you want to gain weight. Nobody gets to decide that for you, except you!

Just remember consistency is the key. You can consistently eat well and get results and you can consistently eat crappy and get results. It’s your choice, you get to pick. You get to own your results. Either way.

Angela

Angela Schweigert

My workout buddy

My work buddy

My drinking buddy

My recipe trying buddy

Her laugh

Her sincerity

Her

Her laugh was contagious. Kind of a snort but kind of not. You couldn’t help but laugh right along with her. 

She always named her cars.  At that time she had Cosmo. Her dad knew what the hell was up and he had that car running like a top.

We were in high school. She was at that time the best friend I had. It’s funny how people come and go, out and in, stay and play, and make their mark on your life. They touch your heart and they touch your life. They make your life better. You never forget them or the fun you had. They are special people. Truly. Life rolls on and you see things about them once in a while on Facebook. Or you see a parent passed. Sometimes you see the out of state plate parked at the parents house and you wonder how she is doing and wonder why you didn’t stop. But it’s okay, you just know. Because it goes without saying. It’s not necessary. Those are the best kinds of friends. That’s the kind of friend Angela is. Everyone needs those kinds of friends. They are the best. Always true. Always sincere. Always.

She was tall and lanky. She had long arms and long legs. She had a ton of long, wavy hair and a face full of freckles. She was a great listener and a great friend. 

We liked to work out. We wanted to be in shape. We used to ride our bikes out to Twin Bridges at least three times a week during the summer. It’s a jaunt. We used to laugh about the road kill we would see, unless it was a snake. That was disgusting. Other days we would go for runs or slap on some ankle weights and see how far we could walk, uphill, of course. On one of our runs, we stopped the Schwan’s truck and asked for ice cream. He obliged. We were happy. It was hot out that day. 

At that time the drinking age was 18. Not the hard alcohol drinking age, but the beer drinking age. It was winter and it was cold. It sucked. Angela’s parents were out of town, so we decided to make daiquiris. Yummy flavors. All the fruits. We had strawberry and peach and a couple other flavors. We decided to pretend it was warm out and we wore Hawaiian shirts and leis. Because that’s how we rolled. Why not make the best out of a bad situation. Winters in South Dakota, called for desperate measures. 

I remember another time we tried to make pita bread. The oven had to be extremely hot, like 500 degrees hot. I thought for sure we were going to burn down her house. It seemed like the oven was malfunctioning and the kitchen filled with smoke. I think maybe one of the 12 or so we made turned out. Obviously we weren’t bakers. 

We worked together at Sooper Dooper. We always had the dreaded 3-10 shift and 3-9 shift. It was terrible. It dragged on forever. We laughed though. We did stupid things so the time would pass. One time we put flower pots on our heads and customers thought we were crazy. Angela said we were pot heads. We got a good laugh out of that one.

We had a lot of good times. A lot of good friend times. Thanks for the friendship Angela. I will always, always remember how much fun we had and next time I see your car, I will stop and catch up. 

City Pool, Chicken Shack and Suckers

It was the summer. It was the Prospect house. Could have been the in between house, the Central house. I can’t remember for sure. It doesn’t really matter. It may have been 4th or 5th grade. 

Summers were hot when we were kids. Extremely hot. We went to the City Pool a lot. The water was blue and the sunburn was free. It was basically the only pool in town, unless of course your parents were members of the Elks Club and then you could go swimming there.

That pool was a really nice pool. We used to go there with the Kleins, Barb and Cindy. Luckily our uncle was a member, so when we said the name Friman, they let us in. Thanks Uncle Bob and Aunt Sandy for helping out your nieces with our summer shenanigans. 

The city pool was far away from our house. Not like Narnia far, just far. It was about a mile probably. Sometimes we rode bikes, but most of the time we walked, towel wrapped around our shoulders, wearing our swimsuits and clutching our money in our hands. It was all downhill. The best kind of walk. It sucked going back home after swimming though. Being dead tired from swimming all day and then having to walk home all uphill. We went swimming with the Klein girls, Barb and Cindy, a lot. They were our best friends. They were awesome summer friends. 

It cost 15 cents to get into the pool. It probably still does. I know it was not very expensive at all. The pool opened at 1 and closed at 5. The line would be long waiting to get in. We would try to get there early to be the first in line. 

The pool had a slide and a diving board. In order to use the diving board, which was in the deep end, you had to demonstrate to a lifeguard that you could swim across the pool and back. They obviously didn’t want any kid to drown. I would test it once in a while. I would go jump off the diving board in the deep end. Sometimes they wouldn’t ask me to test it. Sometimes they would. I remember it seemed like it took forever to do it. We never had swimming lessons, so it was just kind of a learn to swim on your own type of thing we did. I could dog paddle and I could American crawl, kind of. Finally, one day I did it and I didn’t die. I then had the blessing, the lifeguard blessing, to go off the diving board and to be in the deep end of the pool. Legally. My summer was made. 

When swimming time was over, every single time we walked out of the pool and down the street on our way home, we stopped at the Chicken Shack. Chicken Shack had amazing food. Chicken of course, but it was broasted chicken. The super crispy on the outside and yummy and juicy on the inside. You know, the full of grease, which made it taste even better. I don’t remember getting to eat out as a kid, but I do remember our parents getting Chicken Shack chicken. The smell was always amazing. The building was painted bright yellow. It was on the corner of Crow and Dakota. Everyone knew the Chicken Shack. Everyone went there to carry out broasted chicken and broasted potato quarters. In case you were wondering, the best way to eat broasted chicken is by peeling back the skin and shaking some Lawry’s Seasoned Salt on the meat. So delicious. Chicken Shack was the busiest place in town once the pool closed. Every single kid was in there buying something, anything, to eat, because we were starving after a long afternoon of non-stop swimming. 

We usually got suckers. That’s what we had enough money to buy. Once in a while we had enough for a candy bar, or a Chick-O-Stick. I always remember the suckers though. We would buy those Charms suckers. They were decent sized and cheap. A good treat for the long haul home. There was also another kind of sucker we would take our chances with. If you bought this sucker you could sometimes get another one free. It was a Tootsie Pop. If you found an Indian on the wrapper shooting an arrow at a star, you could get another one free. Score. Jackpot. We always tried it. We didn’t always win. 

Our adventures at the pool were always fun. We got sunburned and then the next day would have to wear a t-shirt in order to protect our skin. Apparently we never had sunscreen. We also got green hair out of the deal. Because our hair was so blonde, the chlorine would turn it green.  Green like slimy kale, not a pretty green the way everyone dyes their hair now. We were always so embarrassed, even though we didn’t need to be. We just hoped the green faded before the school year started…

Those were good kid times. We squeezed every single drop out of those hot summer days. 

Handstands for the break…

I practiced all the time. All the time. All the time. Obsessed. Obsessed. Obsessed. Handstands forever. Handstands for the win. Practice makes perfect, right? Until I broke my collarbone. Then it wasn’t so fun. Handstands for the break. 

I was 12. It was the Prospect house. The floors were hardwood and there was carpet in the living room. The giant dining room was in the middle of the house. It was kind of an odd room, now that I think about it. It was more of a family room in the middle of the house, but I think it was meant to be a formal dining room. We used it for listening to records on the cabinet record player. Simon and Garfunkel and the Carpenters. AC/DC too. My sister, Wendy, had Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. I will never understand that.

We also used that room for sleeping in the summer before the remodel. Right on the hardwood floor in front of a box fan. No air conditioning. So when it was hot, we slept in front of the fan on the floor in the dining room. 

Gymnastics was my passion. Gymnastics was my life. I wanted to be great. I wanted to be amazing. I worked hard. I always did. That day I was doing handstands all day. I would put both hands down on the ground and kick up into a handstand and try to hold it. I kept trying and kept trying and kept trying. 

I practiced for hours. It was getting late and it was about time for bed. My mom told me to stop and get ready for bed. She kept telling me I was going to get hurt. Another one of those little voices that I used to never listen to. The intuition one. You know the one. I ignored it. I was 12 for crying out loud. Since when does a 12 year old listen to the voice telling them something. Since when does a 12 year old listen to the signs their body is giving them. Since when.

I continued. It was getting close to bed time. I kept going. One more I told myself. Just one more and then go to bed. My hands were planted on the floor and I kicked one leg up and then the other. My left arm gave out. I landed right on my shoulder. Shit! That hurt! I got up and noticed my left arm was quite a bit longer than my right. I wasn’t sure what happened, but I knew it hurt. I went into the kitchen all the while saying, “Owie, owie, owie, owie.” My sister, Wendy, was there and so was mom. They thought I was laughing. Ummmm, okay. 

Off to the emergency room we went. It was so painful getting the x-rays. I wanted to die. The doctor came back and said my clavicle was broken. Clavicle sounds kind of cool, but I prefer to use the term collarbone. It was broken all the way through. I probably should have had surgery, but I came home with some kind of brace. I was to wear it for six weeks. I was devastated. How could I practice gymnastics with a broken collarbone? The brace was annoying and uncomfortable. It pulled my shoulders back and supported them and I guess that was the job of the brace.

After we got home I got to sleep in mom and dad’s bed. I don’t think I slept much at all. It hurt so bad. They only they gave us was over the counter motrin or something like that. I remember mom stayed up with me pretty much the whole night. 

I couldn’t wait for the six weeks to be up. I needed to practice. I kept thinking and wondering how weird it would feel once I got the brace off. I wondered if I would still be able to do handstands or anything else. 

The day I got the brace off was the day gymnastics practice started. I was happy again. 

My collarbone did not set right and the end of it closest to the middle of my neck, where the ends are supposed to touch the sternum, is about two inches further down than the other side and it is kind of hard to find the end of it. I also have a problem with pressing and pullups. Not that I am an expert at pullups anyway, but when I attempt them and start the pulling movement, I twist a little bit and I attribute that to my forearm problems. But that’s life and things happen that you can’t do anything about. 

I still do handstands though. I still kick up into the handstands and do them against the wall. I don’t do handstands for hours and hours though. I learned that lesson. Handstands for the break!