Category Archives: Recovery

In Honor of Fitness Friday…

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When you’re open to meeting new people, you never know what random conversations with strangers can lead to…

After moving to a new town, it quickly became apparent that I needed a new gym closer to home. As much as I loved the local Planet Fitness, it’s million dollar face lift and all the new equipment that came with it – commuting an hour each way daily was exhausting.

When I found “The Club;” ten minutes from home complete with a sauna, olympic size swimming pool, jacuzzi, basketball court, affordable membership with childcare, a shit ton of classes and FREE WEIGHT Olympic bars, it was such a blessing!

(If you’ve ever gone from Planet Fitness to a “real gym,” you understand and appreciate the importance of having an actual squat rack with Olympic training bars)

For seven or eight months, while training in the weight room of the new gym, I’d sneak peripheral peaks through glass windows into the adjoining basketball court – at the class training there twice a week.

The women and men who trained displayed some of the craziest feats of strength and endurance/conditioning I had ever seen. They flipped tires, ran ladder drills and made box jumps looks easy. I couldn’t help but marvel at their strength and unity.

You know that scene in the latest Wonder Woman movie where young Diana watches the other Amazons train, desperately longing to join them? Yeah, that was me every time I watched this class.

I wanted to be part of THAT.

But fear infiltrated my Warrior heart like an undetectable poison.

I’m afraid to try something new…

What if I don’t fit in?

What if I’m not strong enough or can’t keep up?

I’m afraid of joining a class on my own…

This went on for months.

Then, through what I can only describe as divine intervention, Kathy (one of the women from the strength training class) started a conversation with me in the locker room. It was something along the lines of “Hey I see you training all the time in the weight room, you should totally come to class!” That conversation was all I needed to kill my ego, face my irrational fears and finally step into the Hybrid Strength & Conditioning class I so admired.

Just a couple of Amazons getting our Strong Woman training on! Kathy (left) my inspiration for joining the class and Steph (right) one bad mamma mamma and all round rad mama! BOOYAH!!!

 

 

Nearly a year after stepping into that class; I’ve learned to flip 600 lb and 700 lb tires, nail it with box jumps, pull a pickup truck with kegs and several dope humans in the bed of that truck and lift some crazy ass shit…like this 185 pound dead lift with two jeep tires attached on an axel! (pictured above)

As Hybrid Athletes; we train together, support one another though life’s ups and downs and encourage growth in every aspect of our lives. This dynamic group of badass athletes aren’t just people in a class, they’re family. A family that would have never become part of my life, had it not been for a cancer diagnosis pushing me to join the gym…and of course for that lovely divine intervention! 😉

This journey through “dis-ease” into health and wellness has been hard, trying, and at times completely exhausting. Yet every step of the way has guided me toward living a more fulfilled life. A life centered around gratitude and compassion with a much deeper connection to the world around me.

To read more about the PHENOMENAL WOMEN of this class and how they kick ass in Strong Woman training on the weekends too…click HERE!!!

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Rest, Recover, Reflect

Standing, unilateral, landline press with a two-inch, Olympic weight bar weighing about 44 pounds (20 kilos) 3 SETS EACH SIDE: 15 lb. plate added for 7 reps, 10 lb. plate added for 10 reps, no weight added (bar only) for 10 reps

One week ago today, was my first day back at the gym after a two week hiatus spent recovering from the flu and pneumonia.
Hit the weights hard, warmed up with a little HIIT cardio on the elliptical since my lungs weren’t at full capacity. Trained triceps and shoulders with a little bit of back. Played around with the weight doing these standing, unilateral land mine presses. By leg day on Saturday, I was riding the wave of endorphins flowing within my body – welcoming the soreness that followed from killin my quads, knowing I’d given my all.

It was longest length of time I’ve spent away from the gym since beginning to train nearly four years ago. Even during chemo, I’d only take a week off between treatments.

Feels extraordinary to have that piece of myself back in place.

But…will also say my body needed LOTS of rest with the way I’ve been running myself into the ground. Between goal smashing, being a present parent, maintaining our household, both kiddos getting sick back to back and training our new pup – I’d forgotten to be a “kindness warrior” to myself. Listening to stubborn self talk like, “Keep grinding, sleep later, write more, work harder,” led to me not only falling ill but also to the realization that I was forgetting to play and seek adventure in the everyday.

I was losing myself to my own hustle.

The level of exhaustion I experienced over the course of the last few weeks has been comparable to how chemo treatments left me feeling. It also reminded me that my tendency is “all or nothing” and how easy it is for me to burn my candle at both ends.

So I’m back to training again, but this time – mindfully – with more respect for my body than ever before. When she wants to rest, we’re gonna rest and when she’s too sore to train – I’m letting my body recuperate.

My fitness journey isn’t about a number on a scale or achieving a certain body type. It’s about loving the skin I’m in, conditioning my mind to be stronger, and pushing past my own limits…no one else’s. 

“Unbuttoning” My Cancerversary

 

Extending my sincerest gratitude to Julian Parker-Burns Photography for capturing these candid moments from open mic night

Writing short stories and creating poetry is something that, throughout most of my life, has helped me come through the darkest of circumstances with a healed heart – however bruised it may be. When I began my cancer journey, it was no different. 

This blog allowed me to connect with all of you, to not feel so alone on the road to wellness. For that, I can never begin to thank you enough  – for reading my posts, for following me on my journey, for sharing your own stories of how mine has impacted you – I am so truly grateful.

After listening to a “School of Greatness” podcast with Lewis Howes and Rupi Kaur, a few months back, something in me shifted. Rupi’s story inspired me. As much as I had spent the past year unearthing my truest self – another part lay hidden, beneath the layers of motherhood, being a woman, working hard and achieving my goals. A part of me lay buried beneath the ash of pain and sorrow, waiting to be brushed off with life anew.

A few days after listening to the podcast, a completely unrelated conversation with a friend led me to discovering a local open mic night. It offered poetry in the beginning and live music afterward, the second Tuesday of every month. It was pretty clear what I had to do.

The first time I sat down to write that poem for open mic night, was beneath the shade of a large maple tree. That is, until a group of ants decided to use me as their personal playground. I quickly moved my blanket out onto the open field. My best friend Emmylou from England was a few hundred feet in back of me, sitting on park grass, journaling away. I remember how warm the sun felt on my back, beating down without a cloud in the sky.

I was nervous about writing again. Would my poetic muse still be there for me after all this time? I had abandoned her when she was always by my side. For a good five to ten minutes, I heard that old “worrier” voice in my head, “You’re not a poet anymore, it’s been too long.” Followed by “You’ll never have time for this, it can’t be done.”

I hadn’t come this far, to give up now. I regrouped, put Lindsey Stirling on in my earbuds, took a breath and that’s when I heard her. My inner Warrior shouting to me, “It can be done, you’ve got this, MAKE the time for it!”

Like a distanced lover, who you never really had a falling out with, but instead just drifted apart from – my poetic muse embraced me with open arms. I did finish my poem that afternoon and read it that night, aloud at that open mic event. It was INCREDIBLE!

Last week I returned for open mic again. The poem I prepared was “A Letter to Cancer,” about both the struggles of treatment and the people who pulled me through. Just minutes before going on stage, it hit me that it was also my three-year Cancerversary. What a beautifully raw, emotionally charged, empowering way to celebrate being three years in remission!

A LETTER TO CANCER

Dear Cancer,

You thought You damned me,

condemned me to death.

But instead…

You breathed into my life

a power I had yet to know.

More fulfilling than the first breath that, 

into newborn lungs, flows. 

Dear Cancer,

You gave me,

bee sting pinches

for port access

just below my collar bone.

Toxins,

every other Tuesday

that took away my glow. 

Nine months of…

treatment

for

every

one

of

those

I

fought

through.

My son lent me his strength.

My daughter guided me with her light.

You thought I’d give up

when I got you.

But I had butterfly kisses

and little league baseball games to go to.

Berry bubblegum serenity

lingering on my little one’s

freshly shampooed hair.

Dear Cancer,

 Chemotherapy caused me pain…

physical pain.

I walked on invisible shards

of broken glass

each time bare toes touched cold concrete.

Put on socks

to go in the basement.

Wore gloves

just to wash clothes.

Dear Cancer,

I had enough!

In spite of You

I didn’t give up.

One week on treatment,

the next at the gym.

Protein shakes,

power lifting,

then chemotherapy again.

Slowly…

5 pounds on.

Steadily,

ten more.

Dear Cancer,

I’ve gained weight now. 

You have…

forged a fighter,

within me.

A survivor, 

an inspirer. 

Dear Cancer,

I dont hate You

anymore.

You thought You damned me,

condemned me to death.

But I see now,

You were never my disease…

You were..

my CURE.

 

Celebrating Two Years Cancer Free

The day before yesterday, 12-12-16, was my Two-Year-Cancerversary. It was also Frank Sinatra’s Birthday. Lucky coincidence? I think not.

It’s been two years since a follow up colonoscopy, post chemo completion, deemed me cancer free. What a feeling 🙂strength

How did I spend the day celebrating? The night before I attended a Reiki share with some fellow Reiki practitioners. It left me feeling super charged and ready to take on the day Monday. My Cancerversary itself was spent outdoors in the snow, acting like a five-year-old with the best teacher: my five-year-old daughter Izzy.

We built a snowman, as she yelled at me to stop singing Frozen’s “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” Not sure if it was my singing or her inner demolition queen but our snowman didn’t stay assembled long. The Madd Queen from Alice in Wonderland may as well have shouted “Off with His Head!” Because that’s exactly what my sweet, little Izzy did. Without haste she belly-flopped into the snowman. His mid-section was transformed into a powdery mist, his head airborn as it propelled toward my dog – an innocent bystandard caught in the midst of our snowtastrophe. After we made snow angels, our leggings were so caked over snow clumps we had no choice but to go in the house and change. .

Honoring the parts of my life that mean the most; quality time with my love bug being one of them

Two years ago I wouldn’t have been able to be outside with either one of my children in Winter. The side effects of chemo made it impossible for me to touch anything below room temperature, about 65 degrees. On a cold day, even touching the glass slider that led out to the patio, would cause INTENSE pain in my fingertips.  Nevermind what going outside in the snow would have done to me.

I’m reminded of that every winter. The precious gift of life I have. The gifts of health, of strength, of family and the immense support and love of my friends and family. I’m reminded of what truly matters. The cold reminds me of how far I’ve come, of the mighty giant I battled and won. Winning isn’t everything though. It’s the lessons I took away from that battle more than anything that keep me grounded, that remind me to keep a grateful heart and never forget those who were there for me while I faced my darkest hour.

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And for my next trick…

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This is it! The last photograph that will ever be taken with my port in the photo 🙂

And for my next trick ladies and gentleman…I shall make this port disappear!

In about ten minutes I’m heading to the hospital for a quick day procedure/minor surgery. Today my chemotherapy port-a-cath is being removed!!!

Getting it removed is much easier than having it put in place, according to my surgeon. When I called to ask the receptionist if I would need someone to drive me to and from the hospital, she replied “It’s just like going to the dentist and getting novocaine.” They numb the area, make an incision, remove the port and glue me back together. Not quite like going to the dentist but I understand what she meant.

No more port, no more chemotherapy.

When I dropped my four-year-old daughter off at preschool this morning I told her that when I picked her up later, my port would be all gone. We had this conversation yesterday as well but I wanted to reiterate it to her again just to be safe. She smiled at me when I told her this morning. Then she brushed my hair aside and moved my sleeve to the side of my arm, exposing the port. She looked at it for a second then looked back at me, smiled and gave me the biggest hug. Her way of saying “be brave Mommy!” after leaving a kiss on my cheek and telling me she loved me.

I’m ready.