Category Archives: My Story

Why do I lift heavy weights?

I was at the gym again this morning, lifting heavy weights.

Often I will stop mid-workout, turn to the guy next to me (not to be too gendered, but in the room where I lift, with the rack and the benches and the heavier weights, it’s mostly guys around me) and laughingly say, “Why do we do this? I mean, it’s kinda weird. We pick up heavy weights, move them around a few times, and put them down. What do we accomplish?”

The guys in the room generally laugh and say something witty back. And, in retrospect, I guess they’ve been kind because none of them have said to me, “Your weights really aren’t heavy!”

They’re heavy to me.

So, why do I do it? I was thinking this through this morning after my workout. Why do I push my body so hard? Especially as I get a little bit older and a little bit shorter – and any of you who know me know that getting a little bit shorter is probably not the most desirable thing on my agenda – and the heavy weights can’t help but push me in the wrong direction. Why do I do it?

Why have I deadlifted more than my bodyweight? And bench-pressed way more than my body weight? (Got that bragging in well, didn’t I?) Why do I?

Well, first off, it’s fun. I love lifting, and I love lifting more than people think I can. Second, when I started lifting I was in business school, and it was way more fun than studying. Then I developed muscles, because I have the type of body type that does. And that was fun too.

And third, and probably deepest and therefore probably most “important,” it makes me feel powerful. Being physically powerful makes me feel completely powerful.

As someone who was, I guess at least in some ways, somewhat of a victim when I was young – or at least somewhat victimized – lifting heavy weights makes me strong and makes me feel strong. Maybe it’s like when my oldest child, who only saw themselves as a “smart kid,” became a varsity athlete and began to see themselves as an athletic kid.

Maybe it’s changed how I view myself. Or maybe it’s given people a chance to view me more how I view myself (and less how my size might lead someone to view me). Deadlifting 115 lbs. reminds me of how powerful I am. As does bench-pressing 120. (I’ve now successfully bragged and told you roughly how much I weigh. ☺)

I like being strong. I probably was always strong on the inside, and I like being strong on the outside too. I like the way it feels, and I like the way I feel. I like reminding myself – as I’m learning more and more we all have to learn, or relearn – that, as Christopher Robin once said to Pooh, “You’re stronger than you think you are.”

I think that’s why I lift stupid heavy weights.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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Everything counts

It seems that my yoga instructors are hell-bent on reminding me of life’s guidelines. Just the other day, the instructor reminded me (us) that everything counts.

Every thing counts. Every breath I take is an opportunity to breathe deeply and breathe in joy and love. Or to miss it. Every yoga pose is a chance to build my mental, physical and emotional muscles, as is, actually, every moment in my day. Every transition – from yoga pose to yoga pose or mundane activity to mundane activity – has the possibility to teach me more, ground me more, help me remember what I want to remember more.

I don’t mean to put added pressure on myself to always be on. I don’t want to put such emphasis on being present and aware that I’m mad at myself when I’m not present and aware. I don’t what to use my humanity as an excuse to beat myself up.

But I do want to remember that I can let every moment be a moment that matters. I can choose to enjoy the moment I’m in, learn from the experience in front of me, and suck the life juices out of my life – and my day.

I don’t have to let it be pressure; I don’t have to let it pile on stress. But I can show up as much as possible in every moment possible. The stranger on the street? I can smile and say hello and have a human connection. The wait for the delayed train? I can read something I want to read or text someone I want to connect with or just be in the moment with nothing to do but breathe and look around. The blog post I’m writing? I can pour my heart into it. Or I can decide to practice doing this thing less than perfectly and let whatever I write be enough.

Each moment, each task, each encounter, each space and to-do in my life is an opportunity. Because everything counts.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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Make new friends but keep the old

I sang this song when I was a Brownie, a bazillion years ago. I can still see myself sitting in a circle in a classroom in my elementary school. I must have been eight or nine years old.

I lost many – okay all – of my old friends when I left the Church. I had been a best friend with Rev. Moon’s daughter and with a few Korean children who were born into and raised in the Church. When I, as my brother says, simply disappeared from Church life, I disappeared from them as well.

One of the hardest parts of leaving the Church was losing what felt like everyone and everything that had been important to me. Everyone and everything that I had loved. I wondered where my old friends were. I wondered how my old friends were. I wondered if I’d ever see them again. And I wondered if I’d be flush with shame if I ever did see them – shame at leaving and sinning and walking away. Shame at abandoning the Messiah and letting God down. Shame and disgrace and self-loathing. Do you get the sense that leaving the Church filled me with at least a few not-so-good emotions?

Yet despite these fears, I still longed to reconnect. I’ve been on my journey to revisit and remember, and finding my friends felt like it would help all the shattered pieces of my past fall even more into place.

I did. It did. It was amazing.

I’d found Rev. Moon’s daughter a number of years ago – my memoir culminates with us reconnecting and with my attending a service at which she delivered a sermon – but I again hadn’t spoken with her in years. I reached out to her a few weeks ago and ended up having dinner with her and her family. There are no words for how amazing it was. There are no words for how whole-ing it feels to reminisce with someone who was there, who gets it, who gets me. To not have to explain myself, or the Church or the beliefs, and to agree that things were crazy and that it was hard. So hard.

Rev. Moon’s daughter then reconnected me with one of my friends whom I hadn’t seen since I was about sixteen. Whom I used to see every week. And that friend reconnected me with another friend whom I thought I would never see again.

There are no words for how wonderful it was. How wonderful it is. I had lunch with one friend, and we laughed and cried and held each other. We swore we wouldn’t lose each other again. We tried to make sense of all that had happened to and around us, all that we’d been taught, all that we’d believed. My friend whom I thought I’d never see again – well I haven’t actually seen her yet, but I’ve seen a photo and we’ve talked much of it through via text. And we swore we’d never be torn apart again.

We talked about the Church, and each time I said, “I know I got some good from it too. I think my heart is so big and I love to love so much because of the Church.” Each time they said, “No, you were that loving when I met you.”

My heart is filled with such love at finding my old friends. My mind is bending over in on itself, and also watching all the missing pieces snap into place.

Make new friends but keep the old. I’ve finally been allowed to keep my old friends.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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