JOURNALING THROUGH COLLAGE: A Healing With The Arts Project

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The following is my final project for the course, Healing With The Arts, through Coursera, in conjunction with the University Of Florida. 

In our current world, so much of our content is now found on electronic devices. Very rarely can one be found reading a “real” book, or the newspaper, or thumbing thru a magazine. Many can now be found with an electronic device attached to one hand so much so that it is as if it has become an extension of that hand, eyes diverted looking only at the screen with an occasional head lift to take a look at their surroundings. It’s a sad state that many have found themselves lost in. What was supposed to make our lives “better,” I believe has made the state of our lives sadder, worse, lonelier. We interact more with others via text message, rather than by voice. Rarely do people write any more as handwriting is no longer taken seriously in schools.

I sit and ponder the state of our society, of our world. So many individuals are “lost” and feel disconnected. With the increased use of electronics, I wonder how many individuals are walking around with untapped potential, untapped creativity? When I asked a few of my friends, colleagues, and even a few patients how they were releasing their creativity, I wasn’t surprised to hear many of them reply, “What are you talking about? I barely have time to cook, let alone eat, and you’re asking me what I’m doing to be creative? Seriously?” I was serious when I asked them the question, and when I replied that they appeared to have time to scroll through their FaceBook or InstaGram feeds, that they had time to Tweet on Twitter for hours – HOURS – but no time to pen their thoughts down in a journal, or to do the things they once loved because their electronics had taken over the precious hours of their day, they had no response except to look at me dumbfounded.

I cannot say that I have not fallen prey to my own electronics. I will be honest and tell you that I have found that hours have passed as I mindlessly scrolled through meaningless FaceBook posts. As an Emergency Room Nurse, I have noticed an increase in the number of patients who come into the ER complaining of anxiety and depression. Many cannot pinpoint the cause of their anxiety, most times it’s generally, “I just don’t know. I just don’t feel right. I don’t feel like myself.” I can relate, and I know that the cause of my own anxiety, although not as severe as my patients, was related to the fact that I wasn’t doing much creatively. There was a time where I journaled feverently. I remember the feeling of writing and being able to purge on paper, and ultimately finding the answers to my “big” questions as I wrote.

Over the last year, I was fortunate enough to see where my life was lacking. Where I was sporadically journaling, I began to make an effort to journal at least three times a week, or more when I felt it was needed. I enrolled myself in an art class where I found that where I once felt inept and would have never considered myself an “artist,” I was actually flourishing. It was through this untapped and unused creativity that I found my anxiety lessened and eventually disappeared. I began painting more, journaling more, and looking for other creative outlets.

I have always been a person who loves words. I love books and I love writing.  I’m one of those people who feels that written words speak to me. I feel at times that they are hidden messages that come to me in my time of need. For years, I collected quotes or sayings, cutting out of magazines words that spoke to me. I never really did much with my clippings except tucking them in my journal or saving them first in an envelope, then in a box. Then I began taping them to the pages of my journal and what eventually transpired for me was a journal that told my own stories. Seeing the words made them come alive in my head. What began as just me looking for a way to save the words that I found to keep them from becoming lost or destroyed, became a journal filled with words that told stories.

I chose this project for my final because I believe that we all have a story to tell, but at times can’t find the words to tell it. I believe that when we can sit and become mindless, thumbing through old magazines, cutting with scissors, and using glue and construction paper that it can transport us to a time when we were once children. I believe that we can remember what it felt like to have no worries, laughing with our friends, and feel carefree. I believe that it is in this time that the messages that we need to see will appear. I know that there are no accidents, that the things we need to see or hear, or that need to happen will appear when we are ready and when we need them to appear. I believe that the words and pictures when placed on the construction paper or on the journal will let you see what you need to see.

For my final project, I present to you my journal. The journal that I have kept with the words and pictures that speak to me, that tell stories. It only matters to me what they mean or say. I am the only one that can put meaning to the messages because what others may see will not necessarily be what they see. My journal was put together without my inner critic whispering in my ear. It was an effort to not feel as if I were going to be judged as this is a huge fear for me. It was put together without me thinking about what others may think of my work. I know that if I put it together thinking of what others may think that it would not be what is. I believe that my journal is my authentic, higher-self speaking to me letting me know that I’m okay. Besides, I believe that journals are personal and are not truly meant for public viewing.

Journaling can be cathartic. I find that being able to purge what lies within me allows me more space for more creativity and positivity to seep into and penetrate in the spaces of what was previously emptied. Journaling, written or via collage, has changed me in ways that I feel has allowed me to grow enormously, and I believe that if it can do this for me, I can only imagine what it could do for our world as a collective. It would require the one journaling to give up the use of their electronic devices, for one, to free up their hands to use scissors or a pen, and to free up that part of their mind that craves the use of creativity. I believe that this form of journaling an excellent tool for growth and transformation as it allows for purging what plagues one’s mind, for visioning for the future, for dream building, and for spirit to speak when one is looking for answers to the questions that their soul asks.

To do this exercise, it it not necessary that one spend much money. Requirements:

  •  Plain, unlined journal of any size – preferably a 5×8″ or larger.
  • Old magazines.
  • Scissors, Glue. Tape.
  • Imagination.

There are NO rules when it comes to journaling via collage. Some individuals will find that by setting an intention prior to starting, that they are able to gain clarity on an issue troubling them, or a question that they have been asking. This is not necessary.  Many times what emerges is a what the one needs to see or hear at the time. It can provide clarity. Other times, one can use this form of journaling to dream build or vision build. It has been said that when you hold the vision by constantly bringing it into the forefront of your thoughts, that you can make it come true. Other times, you just need to purge your thoughts and you’ll find that once you are able to get what’s eating you on the inside, out, that you’ll feel much relieved, you’ll find a sense of calm and peace. What you may want to do with that piece that allowed you to purge is to take it outside and release it into the Universe by burning it and letting it go.

From the old magazines, cut out any words or pictures that appeal to you. You may find that many words and pictures appeal to you and that’s okay. If you find that there are many objects, you may want to consider using a poster board for your project.

Taking the objects that you cut out, place them in any order or manner that you wish onto your journal, or poster board. You can place them in any place that you choose, again there are no rules. Place them in a manner that is visually appealing to YOU.

The following photographs are actual photographs of my own collage journal.

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Simple, plain unlined journal.
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Vision board!
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Obliterated

Obliterated.

Yep, I’m sure that that’s the word that the orthopedic doctor told me when I saw him on Thursday. I believe his exact words were, “You obliterated your ACL.” I couldn’t tell you exactly what he said afterwards because I blacked out after I heard “obliterated.” Not blacked out in the sense that I passed out, but more like I was not able to focus or make out any words for a few seconds afterwards.

I didn’t understand. To obliterate something is to make it gone, disappear … And, yes, he did say that it was gone. My ACL was gone. Not visible in my MRI. He showed me. I looked. Then I looked again. Couldn’t see it.

My encounter with the orthopedist was not a favorable one. He kind of pissed me off in that he was not optimistic with my care. When I asked him what my options were he went on to tell me that it was “not common practice to reconstruct ACLs in 40 year olds.” He went on to suggest that I “might want to consider getting a custom brace instead.” Being that I was totally caught off guard by the fact that he told me my ACL was obliterated, I was not able to think of questions that I wanted to ask, and I had a whole slew of questions. I was quick witted enough to give him a snarky remark when, during my examination, he told me that my lateral knee pain was not consistent with an ACL issue. Um, you just told me that my ACL was obliterated and the MRI report also states that my iliotibial band (IT) was torn. The IT band runs lateral to my knee so, um, duh!

I was disappointed that the appointment was not going the way I was picturing it would be going. I did ask for an orthopedic surgery consult. I asked him to have an orthopedic surgeon look at my MRI to get his opinion. I also asked for a Physical Therapy consult. And I asked for a hinged knee brace to prevent my knee from moving laterally (side to side) since that most of my pain was with lateral movement.

I left frustrated. And by the time I got home I was ready to shed more tears. I briefly recapped my appointment to my husband who was just as dumbfounded as I was. I wish that he would’ve come with me, but I honestly didn’t believe that the news would be as devastating as it was. I shed my tears then picked myself up, took a deep breath and remembered that I would not let it get me bitter. I know better, therefore, I will do better, be better.

I have yet to talk to an orthopedic surgeon. I have yet to figure out what to do. I can’t weigh my options out yet as I don’t know what all of my options are. So until then … No news is good news. Until then it’s #KneeBraceChronicles2Point0.

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#KneeBraceChronicles2Point0

The Voice I Need To Hear

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Top: Talking to the bar. Bottom: The exact point where my knee buckled.

It happened AGAIN. I tweaked my knee while attempting to lift/pull a weight during a clean and jerk. I was fatigued, and it was my last weight in a clean and jerk ladder. In actuality, it should’ve been “easy,” but like I said, I was already fatigued, really tired because it was the last part of a very long, taxing workout. But … it was not to be.

I should’ve known better. I should’ve let it go, but I wanted to lift that weight. I wanted one lift. ONE. I had enough time. I am strong enough to do it – when not fatigued. I thought I could do it once. So … I let my ego get the best of me and my left knee buckled. Yes, it’s the same injured one. Didn’t matter that I had a knee sleeve on. It was painful physically, but more than that, it was painful mentally.

I laid on the floor for a few minutes, writhing in pain, and not once did I hear my husband ask me if I was okay. Not once. The voice I needed to hear most was silent.

It’s not that he doesn’t love me. I even believe that he thought maybe I’d just get up. But it’s always been like that – he just doesn’t talk, not like that. Not when I need him the most. I got my own self up. But it got me thinking that when I need him, he may be there physically, but it’s as if he’s not there because he says nothing. I don’t know what it is. It would almost be better if he were not there.

I should be used to it, and I am to an extent, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t hurtful. It hurts a lot. When I was delivering our children, not once was there encouragement. When I went in for surgery, not once did he say, “You’re gonna be okay.” When I’m afraid or anxious, it’s always the same, we don’t really talk about it. He’ll ask, but it’s almost half-hearted and not sincere. When running races, there is never any clapping or cheering from him. When I need him to talk to the kids, he says he does, but I’m not entirely sure that he really does. So, it’s not new, but maybe I’m just tired of it. I’ve put up with it long enough. I’ve never said a word. I probably won’t say anything. I know that he can’t read my mind. I know that if I want anything to change, I’ll have to say something or I’ll just have to suck it up and shut up.

I’m tired of hearing from others that I should know better than to try and lift weight like that. That I’m not a youngster anymore and that I should be more careful. To that I will say, this is MY life. I know exactly how old I am. I also know the risks that I take when I do the things that I do. I choose to do the things that I do because they are things I need to do. I don’t owe anyone any explanations. I don’t have to justify my choices or my behavior. It’s MY life, plain and simple. So for those who are belittling my choices, Fuck You. I wil not apologize for that.

To my silent husband, may you never know the hurt that you have instilled within me. May you know that I understand that this is how you are. I get it. It doesn’t change that it’s hurtful, and that I am hurt. And just because I don’t say anything about it, doesn’t mean that what you’re doing, what you have done is okay. It’s NOT okay. What this says to me is that you don’t care enough about me to ask, that you’re assumption that I’m okay is far from the truth. Your actions speak much louder than words. Your voice is the voice I need to hear the most, and it’s the one I never hear at all.

Maybe I shouldn’t push “publish” yet, because, well, just because maybe I’m just reacting. More like overreacting. Most would say it’s my own fault, and maybe it is. I let it get this far, but know that it’s not without trying. I can’t make him talk. I can’t make him change. I feel like a little kid again, waiting for my parents to take care of me. Waiting for my mom or dad to say something that would make the hurt a little less. Wishing that they cared enough to notice that I hurt. It’s where I learned to tolerate physical pain. It’s where I learned to just keep my mouth shut.

Physically, I know I’ll be okay. My knee will heal, just like every other wound I’ve encountered. It will heal, and the scar will remind me of how unimportant it was to anyone else, how it didn’t matter to anyone else. But it matters to me. I care. And it’s MY voice that matters to me because I care about ME. I’ve always cared about ME. I’ve always been the one to take care of me, and I will continue to be the one to do what I need to do to get ahead, to move forward, to heal. For now, my tears free fall, silent, like a salve onto the wounds of my body, and deep within to soothe the depths of my soul. Take care of you, Row.

You need you more than you need them, trust me.

I Got Me

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I saw this on my FB feed and it took me back to when I was 8! I wish I knew who to give credit for this pic. I really love the caption.

When I think back to my childhood – mainly from the age of 4 to probably 8 – I have NO memories of being randomly hugged, or rocked to sleep, or even being tended to when I was hurt or sick. What I remember is being left to my own devices.  I remember being chastised for crying. I remember the feeling of needing to be held so badly, but there was no one … NO ONE.

What I remember, what I learned was that *I* rocked myself to sleep. *I* was the one who picked myself up. *I* wiped away my own tears. *I* bandaged myself up when I was hurt. *I* soothed my own broken heart.

Me.

Just me.

Even though I’m WAAAAY older now, I’m still triggered by so many things, so many memories. Even as I write this out, I can feel the tears welling up, and the heartache in my chest. I remember my 4 year old self crying for attention, but receiving none. I remember myself as an 8 year old, having had enough, and just wanting it to end. It’s so visceral and it feels so real. And it’s painful. Very painful. So I remind my small, 4 and 8 year old selves, that it’s okay, that we’re okay … I got them. I’ve always had them.

It’s always been me.

I got me.

Vulnerable

I never thought or believed that “I” would be this anxious person, however, there have been a few things that have occurred in the last year or so that have cause me to question myself and place doubt in my head.

I have always bragged that, “Row. doesn’t cry.” I know what that sounds like, even sitting here typing it sounds so absurd to me. I am just not one to show my vulnerability. It’s so hard for me to be real and to show that side of myself to the world.  It’s painful. Very painful. I don’t like it. It’s such an uncomfortable feeling.

I believe that what is happening is that I am starting to emerge; my REAL self is wanting to come out as it has been stifled for so long, and I am being forced to show my vulnerability, my realness, my raw, real self for all the world to see.

The focus of my worry has changed. Last year, my son went off to college and I thought I was going to die. When my daughter had her first seizure, I thought I was going to die. When my youngest boy was having some issues, I felt his pain and angst. When my oldest boy calls me anxious and frustrated, I also feel his anxiety. When my children call me and tell me bad news, it makes me crazy. When my husband is sick, I worry. I love my children and my husband more than anything. Everyday, I can be heard muttering prayers to God and the various Saints to ask them for protection, and to thank them for blessing me.

It worries me that my anxiety level is heightened at times. I know that this is normal. I know that I can’t save the world. It’s weird though that even thought I know these things, that I still feel so … lost. No, the anxiety lies in the fact that I do not have control over everything. That I can’t keep everyone safe and at home with me. Life happens, I understand that. It’s just so hard for me to cry, even to my husband who loves me dearly. I don’t like the palpitations, the racing thoughts, the feeling of suffocation. The feeling is fleeting, but seriously, if I were not a nurse, I would have truly believed that I was having a heart attack or, worse, believed that I was dying. Thank God that I am a nurse though, and that I am able to recognize the symptoms and work through it. Movement helps. Meditations helps. Prayer helps.

This “rawness” is so uncomfortable for me. I know that I am not immune to the problems of the world. But it is just so uncomfortable, so painful. I know that life happens. I am going to go with this feeling. I am going to accept all that is being placed before me and I am going to see where it takes me. It’s weird that I can talk to people and counsel them, but it’s just not supposed to happen to me, you know.

I am vulnerable. I am human. There, I said it. I am human. Surprise, surprise. I have my share of problems and life’s issues, I just don’t share all of my craziness with the world. I don’t like to verbalize my problems. I just don’t think that it’s appropriate to share my drama with the world. I keep my drama to myself. I write. I pray. I meditate.

Everything is okay. Everyone is okay. All is well. It’s just my perception of things. Fear is a mental game. It has power over me that overwhelms me at times, but once I realized that I have power over my thoughts and fears, once I can harness this and truly understand this then my fears will have no real power over me.

I know that when all is said and done, when I come out of every event that is thrown my way, I know that I am not the same person that I was before I experienced it.  I’m usually stronger, wiser, and ready for new growth. I just have to get through it. I will get through it, and I will be better because of the events that I experience. Maybe my purpose for this is to use my story to encourage others.

All is well. And, yes, world, Row. is HUMAN.

Breathe, Row. Just breathe.

Rhabdo Row.

CrossFit's Uncle Rhabdo
CrossFit’s Uncle Rhabdo
Rhabdo Row.
Rhabdo Row.

Rhabdo Row.  There’s a story behind this nickname of mine, and I know that you’re dying to hear it.  It’s not that exciting though, really.

It’s been a rough year for me.  I truly expected 2013 to be a great year for me. It was supposed to be a great year for me!  Actually, it’s a been a good year, just not the best year for me athletically. Well, it didn’t start off the best year for me athletically. It’s getting better, but I’ll get to that.

Where do I begin?

At the beginning of the year, I switched CrossFit boxes.  Not because I didn’t love the box that I was training at, or because I didn’t love my trainer. It was an issue of finances that started this domino effect. At the beginning of the year, I reinjured my shoulder – first rib, really, but aggravated it none the less.  It had been healing, however, because one of my new trainers was not familiar with me, despite my explanations of being unable to perform certain lifts even if it was lighter weight, I aggravated my right first rib.

When it came time for the CrossFit Open, I once again changed boxes.  This time, it was to a new box. It was literally a brand new box – fresh, clean.  I changed boxes because I needed to belong to an CrossFit Affiliate in order to perform in the Open, and I just needed a change from the current box I had been training at.  I loved this new box, it was fun, as was its energy.  I enjoyed training there.  I was doing well during the open until the 13.4 WOD – clean and jerks, and toe to bars.  I knew that the weight of the clean and jerks was heavy.  I hadn’t lifted that much ever, however, at the urging of my trainer who basically told me, “You’re doubting yourself before you even touch the bar,” I would do it.  And I did … I was okay until the second round.  I had cleaned the weight and was set up to jerk it, however something was not right … It felt almost as if the weight had come off my bar and hit me in the left knee.  I had no pain, my left knee just caved and brought me immediately to the ground and I was unable to stand. I’m not exactly sure how I made it home. I was lucky that I happened to have a knee sleeve in my bag that someone gave me. It provided enough support for me to drive my stick shift Mini Cooper home.

And so it began … my knee injury took me out for a good 4 months. I injured it at the end of March, and had surgery towards the end of May, and was cleared to return to work out at the end of June.  I was not able to do much of any kind of workout because of the fact that not only was my lower body injured, but my upper body was still healing from my shoulder/first rib problem. So when my orthopedic doc cleared me to workout, you better bet I was back in that gym faster than he could finish his sentence!

I started off “slowly.” Well, my version of “slow,” which was NOT exactly slow or easy.  I returned to my beloved Kick Boxing class, thinking I’d get my cardio in while working my upper body. Well, kick boxing and mixed martial arts involves a lot of lower body movements and even with my knee sleeves, it was still difficult to really maneuver. I could do a lot of the movements, but not all of them. I was able to improvise but it was frustrating and I tweaked my knee on more than one occasion.

My Physical Therapist was able to help me with a lot of strengthening exercises and movements.  My weekly Physical Therapy sessions that were an hour long had me sweating as if I’d run a 10K.  Jumping, stretching, running backwards, and performing the movement that put me out of comission. Every week something different. Every week was harder and harder, but more mentally challenging as well as physically challenging.  I believe that my injury cause more mental trauma than physical trauma. My Physical Therapist, Todd, really understood this and worked with me to help me overcome my fears of jumping.

The Workout!
The Workout!

I made my way back to CrossFit in July. I had scaled my workouts and the trainers at my box were understanding of my need to start slow. I had attended the 2013 CrossFit Games in Carson in late July.  That following Monday at noon, I returned to the box with a renewed spirit.  The WOD was one that was the final WODs at the Games – “Cinco,” which consisted of 800M Run, then 5 Rounds of 25 Pull-Ups, 7 Push Jerks, rest then 100 AbMat Sit Ups. No biggie, right? I was working out with my son and another girl, there was no pressure, and I scaled when I had to. Aside from working out in extreme heat (108F), I didn’t feel that the workout was difficult.   I finished and was sore, but that’s to be expected.

As the days passed, the soreness in my upper arms became intense, but tolerable, and I had expected that as I had done an workout which I had not done in a long time.  Com’mon, I’d expect anyone who did 125 pull-ups in a workout to be sore.  I didn’t panic, I just went about my life – working, and doing my daily household duties. It was on Friday though, 4 days post-workout,  that I noticed something slightly concerning … my urine was cola colored.  As a nurse, I knew.  I knew that I was experiencing rhabdomyolysis. I showered and dressed, let my husband know what was happening, and had my youngest son, Noah, drive me to the ER where I worked so that I could make sure that my kidney function was okay.  When I got there, I proceeded to tell them what I believed was happening, and had them work me up for rhabdo.

Beast Mode in the ER.
Beast Mode in the ER.
Popeye Arms!
Popeye Arms!
Liters #10 & #11! My eyeballs are swimming!
Liters #10 & #11! My eyeballs are swimming!

My IV was started, labs were drawn and sent for processing, and my bolus of IV fluids was running wide open. An hour later, I received the news … I was greeted by one of my favorite doctors who said, “What the fuck did you do? Your CK is the HIGHEST number that I have ever seen in my medical career!!!” I cautiously asked what it was … 197,500 mcg/L, normal is 10-120 mcg/L.  Yeah … Just a little off. There was no way I was going home that day, I needed to be admitted to the hospital for hydration and monitoring! My kidney function was always good, it’s the main reason why I went to the ER to get checked.  I am thankful that I knew all of the symptoms, and that I knew exactly what needed to be done. I really did surprise all of my docs though – from my ER doc, to my admitting MD, the nephrologist who came to see me, then my own MD! None had seen CK levels as high as mine. As the nephrologist said, “You are just compact, full of muscle. You had a lot of muscle to kill! But you’re young and healthy. You’re gonna be okay.” And that I am.  I am okay.  I was ALWAYS okay.

Shortly after this episode, it was ironic that CrossFit took a huge hit in that several articles regarding how bad CrossFit was and how it caused this serious illness called rhabdo! (You can read various articles here.) I was livid.  People were coming out of the woodwork, telling me that I was lucky, that I should quit now, and that I should never go back to CrossFitting ever again! What. The. Fuck?!

CrossFit did NOT cause my rhabdomyolysis! My body was fine, I was okay. I knew what was happening. I don’t blame anyone for what happened.  I especially do NOT blame CrossFit.  There were several things working against me when I did that workout, Cinco … 1) I am an experienced, previously conditioned athlete who had been out of commission for several months. Although the workout was not “intense,” it was for me because I had not worked out that intensely for several months. 2) The weather was HOT. 108 degrees at noon.  This was not the most opportune time to workout. 3) I was slightly dehydrated.  I had not kept properly hydrated over the weekend, nor was I properly hydrated for that workout despite me drinking water during the workout. 4) Although I was a conditioned athlete prior to my injury, my body was not exactly in the same shape, but my mind was. My mind knows to push, and when it should’ve said, “Slow down, Row., this is your first intense workout.” It said, “You’re okay. Keep going.” So I did. Should my trainers have known? Yes, perhaps, but by all accounts, I was on the road to recovery, and I scaled had scaled the workout. So, I don’t blame anyone for my injury.  I take personal responsibility for what happened.

Subry loves me!
Subry loves me!

It took about 3 weeks for my CK levels to return to normal.  Once I was cleared, probably about two weeks later, I was not doing any form of CrossFit exercises, just kick boxing and spinning.   I was forbidden by my husband to return to the box in which I sustained my knee injury and where I my sustained my illness.  In my recovery time, my old trainer, Gabe Subry, had reached out to me to see how I was doing, and to offer me encouragement. He talked me off the ledge more than once.  I had attended one of his seminars on CrossFit for Competitors during my recovery time, but I was going crazy not being in a box! My husband knew this, and had been talking to my Gabe also. After much convincing by Gabe that I would be okay, it was then that I was given the okay to return to the box with Gabe only, no other box. The rest is history …

I ran my first half mary in Nov.
I ran my first half mary in Nov.
Mechanics ONLY for the first few months.
Mechanics ONLY for the first few months.

It’s now been 4 months since that fateful event, 6 months since my knee surgery. In the beginning, Gabe had me working mechanics only during my workouts at 209 (the box). Mechanics ONLY, no deviations, and every trainer – EVERY trainer at 209 was on board with the plan. I am now at about 80% capacity – squatting more and without any pain, and performing movements that I haven’t done in soooooo long, including cleaning and jerking more weight than what took my knee out last March. I got my CrossFit Level 1 Trainer Certification!!! And I’ve even run my first half marathon post knee surgery. The only thing is, I can’t box jump … YET. I still have a little trouble with jumping down from the box, and I’m slightly afraid because I’ve tweaked it before jumping down. It’s such a mind f*@%! Progress. It’s all progress. I’ve come a long way, and every little, tiny bit counts. I’ll take that.

Stronger than ever ...
Stronger than ever …

As for the nick name, Rhabdo Row., it was given to me by one of my beloved ER Docs, Dr. H. He heard my story and thought I was insane to return to the scene of the crime. Insane, but brave. He was dumbfounded when he heard my CK results, so when he sees me down the hallway, he yells out, “Hey, Rhabdo Row.!!!” I know it shouldn’t be a badge of honor, but I like it. I like it because I have survived! I am a survivor! I like it because I am so much STRONGER than any illness or injury. It shows you that I can kick it’s ass!!! Take that!

As much as 2013 has taught me, I am sorry to see it come to an end.  I am looking forward to a “fresh” new start in 2014. Come at me, 2014. Show me what you got! I’m ready … Here we gooooooo!

No. Fucking. Way!
No. Fucking. Way!
#Truth right here!
#Truth right here!
It makes sense already ...
It makes sense already …

Christmas Letter Musings

We’ve all done it now and again … Wished you had what another has. Not covet, just wished. I won’t lie. I am ashamed that I have done it more times than I care to admit. Logically, I know that it’s that I shouldn’t, but I still can’t help myself … I see something that someone has and wish that I had one/it also. (Sigh.)

Yeah, I know, I know. Like I said, I can’t help myself sometimes.

Women who don’t have to work, who have all this leisure time to do whatever they want, who have husbands who give them whatever they want, with their perfect appearances, perfect, smart children, expensive cars, perfect bodies, clean houses. My friends that I workout with with their seemingly perfect athletic bodies, who can run for miles, lift enormous amounts of weight, eat whatever they want.

I know … I know that their lives are not as perfect as they seem. I know that appearances presented on the outside are NOT always as they appear on the inside, or as they appear once their front doors are shut. I know that. I know that people lie. I know that sometimes those women with their perfect little lives are not perfect. I know that those athletes who seem to pose endless energy and speed and power, were not always as they were. I know because I’ve had the misfortune to see the other side of some things that I once believed were perfect.  I know this, but I still can’t help but wish … just for a fleeting second, wish. It’s just so different when you’re on the outside trying to look in. The story is not always the same.

Here’s something else that I know … I know that at times, people look at me and think the same thing. I know that there are others out there that covet, or rather wish they had what I have. I can’t help but smirk when I think of that. My life is FAR from perfect, yet there are those out there who believe that it is. I have to say that I do have a blessed life. My family is amazing. I have a great husband. My kids are healthy, funny, and I love them oh so much. I have an education – two Bachelor’s Degrees, a bunch of certifications. I have a good career. I can take care of myself and my family. I have a nice body – not perfect, but rather a work in progress.

I have no idea WHY I’m blogging about such a thing as coveting and envy. I think it’s because I found one of those “Christmas Letters.” You know, the ones that people send out at Christmas time that chronicles the highlights of their year? It made me ask, even though I know what the answer is, “Is her life really that perfect?” I got slightly envious as I reread the letter and I had to laugh because I know that if I ever sent one of those out, it would have to be full of my family’s life’s trials and our comical follies. It would be a positive letter, but written in such a way that you’d know that my family is far from perfect, but we’re doing well and that we’re blessed and happy. It made me think about my life today and how it could be better, but also how it could be WORSE. I do not want for anything. I lead a blessed life and maybe I’m just writing to remind myself of that … and to thank God for everything that I have been blessed with.

There’s really nothing wrong with a little pang of envy now and again. There’s nothing wrong with coveting as long as it’s fleeting and not acted upon. It’s when jealousy and greed step in that the problems arise. We should be happy with what we have been given. There is always room for improvement, so if you don’t like something, change it. If that’s not possible, do your best to change the way you think about it. It’s all about perception. Seriously … Listen, it’s not your circumstances or your situation that determines if you’re happy or successful, or whatever, but rather, it’s your perception, your mindset that determines if you are happy or successful.

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes by

Wayne Dyer. He always said that, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change.” When I first heard that, I remember what a powerful impact that it had on me. I wish you all a life that is blessed and happy. Remember that we’re not all supposed to be the same, that we’re all programmed differently, that we were all placed on this Earth for a different purpose. Let’s do more work to keep our own homes and family intact, rather than worrying about what the Joneses are doing and trying to keep up with them. We’re all gonna make it out of here, but until then, let’s do the best to help each other out.

Starting Over

12 hours post injury. Thank God for my knee sleeve!
12 hours post injury. Thank God for my knee sleeve!

It’s been 2 weeks days today … Exactly 2 weeks ago I had surgery to repair the knee that I had injured in a fluke. 12 days …

I had been waiting for that day for what seemed like F O R E V E R … So when that day came and went, it was a HUGE relief. It was also a pretty 012uneventful day. The only “complication” to my surgery was the reshuffling and a slight scramble to make sure someone would be home to meet my daughter when she got off the bus, as my original scheduled surgery at 0845, was pushed back to 1230. Easy fix, my oldest son would be able to help us.

This gown is sooooo NOT me!
This gown is sooooo NOT me!

From the time that I arrived, I was greeted with kindness. The Admissions Representative verified my information and my identity. Chris was given a run down of the patient tracking monitor and it’s miscellaneous color codes to determine where he could find me. The Tech who roomed me was funny. My Nurse was calming. I found that we knew many of the same people and worked in the same places. Although she missed my IV on the first try, I didn’t hold it against her – things happen, what can I say? It was interesting to be on the “other” side of the gurney – to be the patient rather than the nurse. The anesthesiologist made a brief appearance – I’ve worked with him before and his demeanor put me at ease immediately. He reminded me that all would be well. Lastly, my surgeon waltzed in to have a few last minute words with me. We discussed repairing my meniscus and making sure that should my ACL need repair as well, that he would repair it versus bringing me in for another surgery. After that, it was a matter of meeting the nurse who would wheel me into surgery, and the rest is pretty much history. I seriously don’t remember much after that. Actually, I don’t remember anything at all because they loaded me up with some Versed and I was a gonner! I’m pretty much a light weight when it comes to benzos and narcotics – doesn’t take much to put me out.

My husband says that he barely had enough time to grab a coffee when they were paging him to let him know that my surgery was completed and that I was in recovery. 20 minutes he said. 20 minutes. All that, repaired in 20 minutes. BooYah!

Bye Bye, Blue.
Bye Bye, Blue.
3 days post-op.
3 days post-op.

So here I am … 2 weeks post op … My husband pretty much kept me loaded around the clock on my pain meds for the first two days. His reasoning was that I’d move around more if I were pain free. I used crutches for the first 2 days, but really I was good to go afterwards and just progressed from a limp to now a slight limp. I had my first workout a couple days ago when I decided that enough was enough and and I had my Noah bring my spin bike in … my goal was 30 minutes. I made it to 27 minutes when my knee started to pop slightly right around that time, and, although I really wanted to finish out the 30 mins, I thought better of it and stopped where I was. Add in some sit-ups, then some 3 x 30 sec and 1 x 60 sec plank holds, and 20 minutes of hula hoops and I was pretty happy that I’m making my way back.

As hard as it is to start over, to start from the beginning and build up … I’ll say this … at least I CAN start over. At least I have this opportunity to start over. At least I CAN begin again, and build myself into a STRONGER machine. I would NOT wish an injury on anyone. This experience of being injured and sidelined has really taught me that I would not be a good invalid. I as not my best at all while injured – my behavior was shameful and dramatic to a point. I am much too active and love working out too much to have been down for just the short amount of time that I was out. I found out a lot about myself that I really didn’t like, things not worth remembering much less repeating. I was too anxious and too depressed. So unlike me.

I’m really looking forward to getting back into FULL OUT Beast Mode training, and running. I returned to work yesterday, and I get the stitches taken out on Friday. I have an appointment to see my Physical Therapist next week. I’m really looking forward to seeing Todd because I know that although I’m my knee is healing up well, it’s inside my head that I have the most issues. I’m afraid of re-injuring myself, and I know that I’ll baby it and possibly hinder my recovery because I’ll be afraid. Going to Physical Therapy and seeing Todd will help me “get out of my head” and help me heal mentally which is what I really, really need.

Get ready for more exciting posts as I crawl out of the abyss and I train code 3 beast mode … Train HARD. Train SMART. Eat WELL. And most of all have FUN!!!

Dark

Darkness

Allowing one to hide in the shadows

Black

Moonlight

Monsters, Werewolves, Bats

Where Evil lurks beside me, inside me

When one should sleep but cannot . . .

Tired eyes wide open, searching unable to find what one is looking for

Thoughts run amuck and freely

Reaching but not touching

Screaming silently within or is it silent

False awakening back into reality

Only to find that one is still in the abyss of one’s darkness

Thoughts Before I Go Under

Later today is “D” day … The day I’ve been waiting for for just about two months now. Well, I haven’t actually been waiting for it for two months, but let’s just say that I’ve been waiting for this day to be fixed, done, over with for a LONG time.

Almost two months ago, I injured myself during the CrossFit Games 13.4 Open WOD.  It was a freak mis-step that caused my knee to snap and buckle and take me out just like that … ONE teeny mis-step.

In these last few weeks being out and sidelined from doing what I love most – running, working out, kickboxing, crossfitting, etc. – I’ve been battling a lot of inner demons that at times got the best of me, and brought out an UGLY side that I didn’t like or enjoy. Today I start to come back and kick those demons in the teeth for the turmoil they have caused me! I’m done. I’m done being bitter. I’m done moaning and complaining. I’m just done because I know that what’s done is done, and I do ultimately believe that everything happens for a reason. No accidents.

12 hours from now I’ll have been rolled into surgery and starting my recovery both physically and mentally. As much as I’ve come to love Blue, my beloved hinged knee brace, I love being physical more, and I need to put her away to begin my healing.

Thank you to my friends and family who have put up with an impossible side of me that I never knew existed – not like this anyway.  I’ve never taken my health for granted. I’m thankful that I am healthy and strong. It’s time to get healthier and rebuild myself … I’m coming back – better, stronger, faster, wiser …

Catch you on the other side in a couple days …