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Setbacks Happen

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“Getting hit by a bus” is a phrase I use over and over, when I’m grasping for a way to communicate something unforeseen and calamitous happening.

When I’m teaching my kids life skills, I might use it. “You need to know how to do a load of laundry. What if I get hit by a bus?”

I’ve used it at work. “I wrote down everything I’m doing in this project in a document, so that someone else can know what to do if I get hit by a bus.”

It’s a vivid illustration of a simple concept; sh*t happens that knocks us down for the count sometimes. It might be a kid getting the flu. It might be YOU getting the flu. Or losing a loved one. It’s my way of applying one term to the overarching knowledge that stuff occurs that upends plans and schedules, and those things happen to all of us at some point in our lives.

In Carissa Johnson’s case, however, what plowed her down actually was a vehicle.

In 2011 the fitness model was struck by an SUV while working at an event in downtown Denver. Most fitness fanatics are familiar with the frustration of injuries…you pull a muscle and get sidelined from judo, or yoga, or a skiing accident takes you away from your regular runs for a period of time. It’s hard to explain, but especially for those of us who look to our exercise endeavors as a way to stay balanced, mentally, the sudden removal of that outlet can have deep effects.

And Carissa’s injuries were serious. She sustained bilateral tib/fib fractures and a compound left ankle fracture. The constant pain, multiple surgeries, and extensive physical rehabilitation were only part of the struggle, though.

“Not only were my legs destroyed,” Carissa says, “But my heart was broken.”

I love writing for GORGO Magazine for several reasons, but one of the biggest ones is this; hearing how regular women overcome challenges–all kinds of challenges–and continue seeking strength helps me keep chasing my own.

Carissa’s drive to get back on her feet (literally) and back in the gym is an amazing story. It represents disaster, the kind of event that someone like me uses as a piece of figurative language to illustrate a million ways life can go sideways…and it represents getting back up after it happens, and going forward.

We all have our battles to fight. If you work, have kids, or any responsibilities besides taking yourself to the gym, you’re going to face prioritization struggles. And you’ll lose sometimes.

You’ll get injured. You’ll have to change plans. You’ll fall behind.

But you’ll find a way around it.

If you’re a woman on a quest to get strong, subscribe to GORGO and get your dose of “GET UP!!” on the regular. It’s money well spent.

This Is Your Life…

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Image: Pixabay

A friend recently shared an allegorical image with me, about how his life felt, at that moment.

He said it was like being in a burning building, wondering if you should just go ahead and jump, or wait and see if the firemen actually make it.

As dire as that sounds, I’m sure most of us (especially those who are trying to balance work and family) can relate, and have been there at some point. This friend carries a lot of responsibility at work, and has a (rather large) family, and like me, believes there is a God who has a plan for our lives…but sometimes that plan involves getting singed. Sometimes it’s painful.

I know I can relate. In fact, I found myself grasping for my own allegory a little later, when I was the one feeling overwhelmed, and it came to me pretty quickly…

The bus from the movie Speed.

Remember this gem? Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, fighting baddies from on board a bus that will EXPLODE if the speed drops below a certain point?

That’s pressure.

And I’m not kidding…life feels this way for me sometimes, as a single mom trying to homeschool and work full time. (And take showers, feed everyone, and call my grandmother on a regular basis.)

I’m driving, trying to keep an eye on the speedometer and navigate, while my gaggle of children bicker in the back, pausing only to ask me if eating lip gloss will kill a dog, or if we can pick up this or that friend, so that he or she can stay the night, or tell me that we’re out of toilet paper.

The bus also has to be fed quarters (doing laundry is a big struggle right now, so I have to fit digging for quarters into the narrative somehow), and it keeps making a grinding noise that no one else seems to hear, because every time I ask someone to listen, it stops, magically.

The “Check Engine” light keeps coming on, too, and the villain (who looks a lot like my ex) is laying tire popping, axle-breaking traps around every corner, twirling his mustache and cackling madly.

My mother calls periodically, and asks me how I am, and when I scream, “I’M TRYING TO KEEP THIS BUS FROM KILLING US!!” she sighs and says, “Been there, done that!” and then tells me how sick she’s been, or about some problem my brother is having.

Becky, a good friend who means well, also calls on the regular, to tell me that I need to put myself out there and suggest various dating websites. She also asks me, in a meaningful tone of voice, what I’m doing for myself these days and admonishes me to make time for self care.

And so on, and so forth.

Yes, it sounds crazy. Because it is.

But…(as the Artist Formerly Known as Pee Wee Herman once said, “There’s always a big but…”)

Something always happens to keep it all going.

Just when I’m about to just take my foot off the gas and let it all blow, out of sheer exhaustion and frustration, I see my mom standing on the corner up ahead with an enormous 24 pack of toilet paper, which she tosses into the door as we squeal by.

Becky calls, to tell me she knows a mechanic who likes a challenge, and is willing to hop on board in a block or two and check out the grinding noise, at his Damsel-in-Distress rate.

My oldest child convinces me that she can keep her foot on the gas just as well as I can, and tells me to take a nap.

I discover that you can do yoga on a bus rocketing through the city at 65 miles an hour. And it helps.

And we roll on.

It’s my hope that at some point, life will resemble a languorous drive in the countryside more than it does a high speed chase, but that may take a while.

In the meantime, I’m learning to appreciate those moments when help arrives, and allows me to re-calibrate for my own struggle, and maybe even look around, and see where others are in their own little dramatic scenarios, and figure out some small way that we can help them out, from our speeding bus that can’t stop. Because we have to do that…we have to figure out ways to help each other, even when we’re on the ragged edge ourselves. I believe that.

Because we’re all the stars of our own bizarre little action movies, in a way. Hopefully there’s an option up ahead to translate the high octane chase into a nice, calm, situational comedy, but more than likely, the answer is to embrace the speed and the fire, and find the peace and fun within the script we have at the moment.

We certainly won’t be bored…right?

 

A Journalist’s Privilege

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A blurb from an article caught my eye recently–the journalist made mention of his gratefulness to the subject of the interview for trusting him with the story. (It was the first time the girl–who was part of a high profile murder and abduction case–has spoken with the media since the incident.)

You don’t see that very often, any more.

You do see a lot of forced exposure–leaked information, shocking revelations (usually purchased from sources close to the subject)–but gently handled storytelling isn’t something that seems to be popular in our media these days.

Now, we do need reporters to break big stories that reveal wrongdoing, or blow whistles, and we need to hear about certain events, no matter how unpleasant.

But we also need to remember that events happen to people. And while they might be publicized, say, to help find a person who’s been abducted or bring a predator to justice, the fact is, it’s a very, very private matter for the person it happened to. It’s helpful for us to know what happened, for prevention and future safety. It can be encouraging, if the person sharing has a message for others that would be empowering, but ultimately, it’s not really any of our damn business, what happens to other people.

It should be shared softly, and it should be sincerely appreciated when it is.

And then maybe people would share more often.

When I had the chance to interview Dani Tolbert (of danigeturgunz.com fame) for GORGO Magazine recently, we talked about her fitness coaching, her famous arms, and her kids…and then the conversation turned to something she doesn’t talk about very often; an abusive relationship in her past.

I asked if she was willing to share about it, in this article, and she agreed…a very ballsy thing to do, and something that I truly believe will do what she wants it to do; encourage other women in a similar situation and help them see that they’re not alone.

I’m not being trite when I say it was an honor for Dani to share her story with me, and allow me to share it with GORGO‘s audience…it’s one of the highest forms of professional satisfaction when what you do communicates with an audience, and when it’s something important, and someone’s story, it’s extremely gratifying.

Thank you, Dani, for being willing to share, and trusting me to help you do it.

(GORGO is available only online, but the subscription is totally worth it. Real fitness, real women, real talk.)

yogaanywhereMy friend “K” calls longjohn bottoms “redneck yoga pants”.

I love yoga.

I love the physical benefits it gives, and I love the mental clarity it brings. It’s the perfect illustration of several philosophical lessons that I’ve been trying to learn in the last several months, by reading books and thinking, and while those are two of my very favorite activities–and bang up ways for internalizing ideas–there’s something about the practice of yoga that serves as a physical lesson for a few key principles. Like…

This moment is all there is.

In any pose, the strength needed to hold it seems immense if you’ve looking ahead. But concentrating on your breath, and the moment you’re in, does something for your psychological stamina, which in turn spills over into the physical.

You must be grounded.

Rooting yourself, providing a foundation–these are physical yoga principles, yes, but they also have their counterparts in the rest of your life. This earth, your core beliefs, your connectedness with your fellow man…whatever it is that grounds you, regular revisitation of it is important, as is the practice of getting your “yoga toes” under you, and learning to properly utilize your hands, when you move into handstands and inversion.

Balance is a worthy pursuit.

Don’t lie–yoga intrigues you a little bit because of how cool it looks to balance on one foot, or your hands/head/elbows. That’s okay! It is cool! And the concentration it takes to build up to those points separate the dabblers from the seekers; it takes time and effort. But it’s worth it to feel your body hover in space. Balance in life, in general is also worth pursuing. Harmony in an orchestra doesn’t happen by accident, and it doesn’t just fall into place in your life, either; you have to rehearse it.

These are the reasons that I love yoga. And I love the idea of making whatever you’re wearing the uniform, and wherever you are the studio. I’m not a wealthy “lady who brunches”. (Although there’s nothing wrong with that, and I love a good brunch when I can afford it.) I’m a single mom on a SERIOUSLY limited income. Yoga isn’t for the entitled, or any one race or socioeconomic group, it’s for anyone who wants to engage in a physical means of integrating powerful ideas.

Can’t afford to go to a studio? Visit doyouyoga.com and take the free 14 Day Yoga Challenge. Scuttle around YouTube and find some well reviewed yogis to follow. Or pick up a copy of Yoga Anatomy, either through Amazon (which gives me a kickback, and finances a portion of the glamour you see happening here) or your library, and put together something that fits you.

Research the types of yoga. Find poses you like, and some that challenge you. Set aside 10 minutes–yes, you read that right, just 10 minutes–every morning and try it. Read something meaningful beforehand (or after, or not at all, if it’s not your thing), and take some deep breaths.

If you want to really experience the joy of a shared journey…find a class. In fact, if you’re in the Oklahoma City metro area, join me at Redline Jiu Jitsu on Sunday and Wednesday nights for Yoga with Lili. (You can also try out Brazilian Jiu Jitsu there, which makes it a place of unparalleled awesomeness. I’m trying to get them to start having a Taco Tuesday, and then I can just live there.)

Even if you think “I’m not a yoga person”, I’m betting you could be, if you gave it a shot.

(If you want to follow me on Instagram, or THE INSTANT GRAMMS, as I refer to them, to annoy my kids, look me up; @jillocity. I’ll prove to you that I really believe in #yogaforall, and #yogaanywhere).

Worthy Stuff: Project Airtime

Project Airtime

 

From time to time you hear about something that just makes you remember that people do not entirely suck.

This time, the thing I heard about also served as a reminder of how fleeting life is, how much we need to focus on the now, and engage in activities we love with a very real understanding that nothing is guaranteed. The moment is a gift. No matter what it entails.

Project Airtime is a Utah-based non profit organization that takes people flying.

To be more specific, they take anyone who wants to go paragliding up, no matter what their physical challenges. Special needs individuals, people with brain and spinal cord injuries, as well as the elderly and veterans.

Founder Chris Santacroce is a professional paraglider who suffered a spinal cord injury that resulted in him being in a wheelchair for a period of time. He made a full recovery but was left with a different view of the world and an improved view of life.

In his words he went from a wholehearted “look at me and look what I can do” sort of attitude to a world where the only question was, What can I do for you?

So he founded Project Airtime.

Pilot Blake Pelton (friend of my Crazy Cousin Jeff’s, the professional kitesurfer and all around Fun Haver) says that of all the exciting things he does (and like Jeff, he does a lot), working with Project Airtime ranks among the most rewarding.

“Flying with the superheroes that Project Airtime seems to attract is hands down the most rewarding thing that I get to do,” says Blake.  “Chris has created something very special and it’s a true honor that I get to be a small part of it.”

You can be a part of it too–donate funds (or your time if you’re an experienced air sports enthusiast), and if you have someone special in your life who has a dream about flying…drop them a line.

From the Mouths of Moms…

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So, you remember the Saturday Night Live skit, about moms who can’t correctly say celebrity names?

Well, you may think they’re overstating the problem, but I’m here to tell you that it’s real. Not only that, some mothers not only f*ck up celebrity names, but regular old, run-of-the-mill WORDS.

Case in point…my Ridiculously Cute Mom.

My mom is pretty cute for a 60-something–she puts the “sexy” in “sexagenarian”–and she’s also chirpy and lovable, and sweet (mostly), and this is a good thing, because just as the cuteness of babies keeps you from strangling them from all the trouble they give you, my mom’s adorable nature evens out the exasperation that comes from having a conversation with her.

An example…

Recently, my sister-in-law (let’s call her Dollface, since that’s what she is–a foul-mouthed, crazy-tough beauty with the face of an angel) and I were having a discussion with my mom, in her kitchen.

We were talking about a particular individual, and my mother–with her trademark knowing nod, which always adds an extra layer of humor to her verbal mash ups–says…”Yes, and isn’t he a Milano?”

Dollface and I pause, look at each other, and then I turn back to my mom and ask, carefully…

“Is he a delicious sandwich cookie with a chocolately center? No, I don’t think so.”

“No, no, no…” my mother waves off my comment and tries to explain it to me. “He’s part black and part white.” She enunciates it, with the patient expression of someone exercising forbearance with an intellectual inferior. “A Milano.”

“You know, Mom,” I can feel myself slipping into my own trademark knowing nod, “I really think you’re mistaken. In fact, I know you are; you mean a MULATTO. And also…this isn’t the 18th century; we just say, “mixed” now.”

It took a minute for it to sink in, but after she realized that she was indeed messing it up, she threw her head back and laughed her evil genius laugh (it’s bizarre to see a cute little Hobbit of a woman belly laugh a deep “MWAAAHAHAHAHA!” worthy of Cruella deVille, but this is also a standard of hers).

And then she said, “That must be why I’ve had to explain to so many people what that word is!”

Yes, ladies and gentlemen…my mom has been on a campaign of misinformation, telling unsuspecting citizens that the correct term for a person of mixed ancestry is…Milano.

It’s one thing when it’s just her, but to think that the general public is being influenced by this woman…but I can only do so much. I have five kids, and I have to earn a living. She’s loose for most of the day on her own, so…if you run into a small, cute, tattooed woman in her sixties and she tries to tell you that the correct way to pronounce the name of that popular Mexican restaurant is “Chipoultice”, don’t believe her. Trust your heart. You know what you know.