A few days ago I was in the grocery store on my way to workout. I was wearing this shirt along with my black baseball hat that has a Marine Corps pin in it (I wear it most days).
A store employee stopped me and asked if I was a Marine. On the rare occasions someone asks me about a military shirt I’m wearing, I tell them I wear it in support of friends, so that’s what I said. He proceeded to explain that I didn’t have the right to wear the shirt since I didn’t earn it. He said his son was a Marine and I was insulting them and being disrespectful. I tried to explain but he was having none of it and just kept re-stating his position. He was quite cemented in his view. I left the store feeling awful, mostly because I was unprepared for the conversation and was disappointed in my own response. Nothing like that has ever happened before so I was caught off guard. I went looking for peanut butter and instead got a lecture from a stranger…and I didn’t respond correctly.
Let’s see….why do I have this shirt? Because a Marine asked me to post a photo wearing it…a Marine I was pen pals with through two deployments in Afghanistan. Where did the pin come from? A friend I met a the gym long ago, a Marine, who served in Vietnam. It happens to be something I treasure which is why it’s pinned to a hat I wear all the time. If you look at a couple of the photos I posted from my trip to Jamaica, you’ll see the same baseball hat. Where I go, it goes. I didn’t wear it on the plane ride over so I put it in my purse. I wasn’t about to check it in my luggage. I wouldn’t be happy if I lost my bathing suits and clothing but I’d be VERY upset if the airline lost my hat (and therefore my Marine Corps pin). I guard it carefully.
I’m sure somewhere in the world there might be a Marine who wouldn’t be happy to see me wearing my shirt or pin. I haven’t met him yet. I’m guessing this man’s son said he didn’t like to see people putting on Marine Corps stuff and pretending to be Marines. That would absolutely, rightfully be upsetting….to me too. Stolen valor is no joke and there are slimy people out there that get a kick out of pretending to be something they’re not.
The man was right about one thing. I didn’t earn those things but they were given to me by people who did so as far as I’m concerned I’m “walking on the right side of the law.”
The thing I re-learned from this is that no matter what there are people who will misunderstand you. They will express their opinion and they can’t be reasoned with. It’s not worth trying. It’s a waste of breath, brain bandwidth and precious time. Next time I’ll simply thank the person politely for “their unsolicited opinion,” turn my back and walk away.
I worked out on vacation! It’s true! I not only brought workout clothes to Jamaica, I actually used them which is quite unusual for me. Most of the time my workout gear stays crumpled up in the bottom of my suitcase for the entire trip. This time I got it out, put it on and marched myself down to the very nice gym at the resort each morning.
It’s interesting how bodybuilding creates instant camaraderie wherever you go. I never got anybody’s name or delved into their personal business but every morning I saw the same faces in the weight area. By the end of the week, we were all smiling at each other and greeting one another like old friends when one of us walked through the doors of the gym. I was always there. There was a woman with a curly black ponytail and a bounce in her walk, a young kid (16) who trained like crazy and a very tall man who I’m pretty sure played college volleyball.
There was also a military guy. I’m guessing but it’s an educated guess. I say that because he had the camouflage/IR flag tattooed on his forearm and some other tattoos I couldn’t see very well on his upper arms. I saw he and his wife on the beach one afternoon and she had the MOST beautiful tattoo. It wrapped around her hip to her stomach and was of a swallow flying holding dog tags in it’s beak. It was incredibly well done and I wanted to stare (admire) but made myself behave.
I didn’t spend all my time at the gym. Most of the time I was either eating or playing around on the beach!
Some of you may know that quite a few years ago I found a photographer whose work I fell in love with. A trainer at my old gym knew about the military tribute photos I liked to post and she told me I should take a look at this guy’s stuff. His name is Jesse Hodge, he’s an Army veteran and as soon as I saw his photographs, I knew that I wanted to work with him. I have a head full of what I think would be great military tribute and patriotic photos but I don’t have the expertise or experience to bring them to life. It seemed to me that we could have a productive partnership and his information said he worked with regular people, not just professional models.
Unfortunately for me, he didn’t return my interest and my emails and phone calls to him went unanswered. It just wasn’t meant to be.
My number one favorite photo of his was one he did of a woman on the beach with a Navy shirt on. It’s just beautiful in every way. A few days ago, I went to view the photo again. I typed “jesse hodge navy girl” into the search box….and lo and behold, what did I see??
There’s the Navy photo I love so much in the upper left part of the screenshot…but if you look two photos to the right, there I am! Don’t ask me why my Ranger tribute picture comes up under “Navy girl.” I’m not the boss of the Google search engine and I understand very little of how certain photos end up certain places. Not only am I in that spot, if you look carefully, you’ll see me an additional three times. When I scrolled down just a little more I found another of my photos.
I just had to laugh. There I am, all up in the mix. Poor Jesse! My very unprofessional, simplistic, glorified selfies are right alongside his wonderful creations. See, he should have worked with me. At least that way he’d be proud to have me so closely associated with his name. You gotta love the amusing little twists life serves up!
This was created for me by a talented artist named Igor Lukyanov from Ukraine. He saw some photos of me on a bodybuilding site and made this for me. I love it, and have it on the wall in my office.
I’ve been thinking about Igor a lot these days. Russia has a hold on the Crimea region and people are in danger of losing the little bit of autonomy they managed to hold onto for a while. It reminds me how precious freedom is and how it is always in danger of being encroached on or worse, lost altogether.
I know many American citizens take freedom for granted, never considering how it was won, maintained or consequently how it can be lost. It’s always been paid for by the few; by the thinkers, the watchers and by our military with grit, determination and great sacrifice. Yes, paid for by the few but enjoyed by the many.
I look around this beautiful country of ours and I know how much small groups can accomplish and I’m proud…but I also worry that perhaps one day there will be too few standing. Matters of liberty are hardly the stuff of general conversation. Too many people seem entranced by what the Kardashians are wearing or who the next Idol is going to be. It’s not that we don’t need time off to think about light matters and to enjoy sunshiny days, trips to the zoo with our children and parties with friends. It’s just that it seems to be the meat we chew, what we live on and not just the icing on the cake anymore. It would be well to remember that each generation must do their part. We must watch for and stand against people who dedicate themselves to eroding the liberties we enjoy. We must always be vigilant, knowing that what was once won, can also be lost.
President Reagan once said “Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where people were free”
If you just got a post from me, please ignore it. It wasn’t finished…as you probably guessed. It was in process and not ready for prime time. Why, oh why is the “publish” button so close to the “save draft” button. I do have something to share with you ….but not until tomorrow. Let’s just call that a tease piece, a little preview.
Hope you have a relaxing night…sweet dreams! I’ll see you tomorrow!
On Wednesday of last week I asked my ten-year old to take my phone and use the camera to get a photo of my back. He did so and then we scrolled through the pictures to see if he’d been able to get a good one. He pointed to this one and said “You look like a guy that’s been shrunken down and got a woman head put on him.” It made me laugh. You see, he wasn’t trying to be rude at all. He knows I like muscle and that I’m always chasing just a little bit more so it definitely wasn’t a mean dig.
I took a look at the picture and I had to concur. I wouldn’t say I look like a shrunken man but there IS something off about this photo. I think my head looks especially giant…or something. Together we decided the reason the photo looked strange is that my phone was broken. That’s it…a broken phone! Clearly, the camera suffered a catastrophic malfunction. Good thing we figured out what the problem was.
This just goes to show that while photo documentation is a great tool, you’re not always going to like what you see (especially if you have an enormous Tweety-bird head in the picture). It’s a good time to have a laugh and move on.
I’m always advocating that people try different things to help them along the road to fitness. Cross training is a great way to maximize benefits from time spent exercising and it does wonders to stave off boredom (which is a real killer for those who make fitness a lifestyle). I’m definitely most happy and comfortable in the weight room but I do like to try new things now and then. Over the years, I’ve done aerobics classes, kickboxing, zumba (where I learned that I should never dance in public) and once upon a time I decided to try a boot camp. This turned out to be an ill-advised decision!
As the class was gathering I noticed that it was full of young men in their 20′s and one bouncy woman, also in her twenties. The instructor walked in, gave us some crazy instructions (like do 200 push ups, then 10 bear crawls across the basketball court, then 200 shoulder presses with the barbells at the front of the room…then come back for more instructions). He turned on some acid rock blasted at an incredibly high decibel level and shouted “GO!”
Everybody dropped and started doing their push ups. The guys on the right and left of me were banging them out like machines. I got to 25 and needed a rest. I started to get up to shake out my arms and the instructor yelled “Stay down! You can’t get up until you’re done!” Oh geez. I rested there on my belly for a minute and then kept on going…and then stopped when I was fatigued for more rest. Meanwhile the instructor kept pacing up and down the line making people start over if they cheated on a rep.
At some point, while I was still finishing up my push ups, and everyone else was on the second or third part of the rotation, the instructor yelled “Get it together! Your cardio conditioning is pathetic. How are you going to run up a hill with all your gear, then recover and fight?” That’s when I knew for sure I was in the wrong class. Running up a hill with gear…to engage in combat was simply not on my list of things to do. At that time I was a 40-year-old mother of two. I was planning to push things like shopping carts and strollers…to pull things like red wagons and thinking about carrying a one year old around in my arms.
At the end of the class when I was rather pathetically finishing up the last of the exercises in the rotation (and everyone else, including the bouncy woman was relaxing because they’d finished long ago) Mr. Instructor walked over to me and asked “Do you want to be buffed or tough?” I looked at him and in all seriousness told him he could keep tough. I wanted to be buffed! I never set foot in that boot camp hell again.
I learned several things that day. I had quite a lot of time to think while I was face down on the floor trying to recover from physical exhaustion. I learned that I prefer buffed to tough. I learned that boot camp isn’t for me. I learned that the wood on the basketball floor had some pretty patterns in it. I learned that the instructor had on ugly shoes and I learned that I’m not quite ready to run up a hill with gear to fight!
Things are on track. I ought to have a happy bikini body by the end of March when I’ll be strolling on the Jamaican sand. Weather has been dreary at times lately so I cheer myself with thoughts of the beautiful warm beach I’ll be visiting. There’s something about the water, sand and sunshine that I find relaxing and invigorating at the same time and I can’t wait to get there. As usual I’ll take workout gear along and as usual it will probably stay right there in the bottom of my suitcase until I get back home. Vacations are for doing as you please and vigorous workouts don’t often make the schedule when I’m busy lolling around pretty places.
I’m pleased with the progress I see from the pull ups I’ve been doing. I have definitely gained a bit of muscle mass on my upper body which is certainly welcome. I still can’t pull up that much extra weight (I’m stuck at 25lbs) but since it offers my body a challenge its had the desired effect. A few more weeks and I’ll be able to fully assess the results.
This week I’ve added some extra cardio and will keep it in place until my trip. My goal is 45 minutes to an hour a day. I switch between the recumbent bike, the rower and power walking outside. All fluff must go!
Keep working hard out there!
Like the shirt in my Ranger photo? It’s one of a kind. The design was created by Rocky Ball for some Rangers who wanted a flag ……I saw it, thought it was great…a unique and handsome image. I contacted him to see if I could use it for a tribute photo. He liked the idea and allowed me to make this shirt out of it. He’s a great guy and a great designer. If you need someone to do graphic design please consider giving him a call! www.rockyball.com
Here we are on one of my very favorite days. Valentine’s Day is always special. I like everything about it. I like the pink, red, chocolate and flowers. I like the teddy bears and the cards with awful rhymes in them. Who couldn’t revel in a celebration of love? Maybe I enjoy it so much because it’s a chance to stop and take stock of the love we receive but more importantly of the love we give into the world. You see, I think that’s our job. What else are we here for except to shine the light of love into the dark cracks? We don’t have to go looking far to find places where a little word of kindness can make a difference. Every day presents us with opportunities if we are looking for them.
…and while we’re looking for those opportunities, we must also remember that we deserve our own gentle treatment and encouragement. There is nothing noble in being unkind to yourself. Whatever tasks you take on, whatever goals you set (in the gym or out) you will fall short at some time or another. That is inevitable. The way you respond, however, is critical to your future success. If you allow a blaming, shaming internal dialogue you probably won’t be able to salvage much from the experience. Nobody learns or grows well in an environment of negativity and that includes the one you build yourself with cruel thoughts and words directed internally.
While we celebrate this beautiful day, remember that you have great power to affect the world. You never know how much a simple, loving word or deed can mean to someone else and you can’t very well do a good job of finding those opportunities if you’ve torn yourself to shreds with your own thoughts. Be easy with yourself. When you stumble, take a deep breath, resolve to do better, dust yourself off…and keep going.