a life to love

United States Strongman Nationals is next weekend in Detroit…. It’s been over a year since I competed.  Some days I’m ok with this, other days I miss it; but the being ok outweighs the missing.

Two weeks before last year’s Nationals, I wrote a blog after swapping out the license plate bracket on my Jeep. time to start doing the things I talked about the nerves leading up to last year’s competition, I talked how I was ready mentally for a break from training… what I didn’t realize at the time, how desperately my body needed the break too.  But most of all I talked about how I didn’t want to spend my summer just training for another competition, I didn’t want to, what felt like, waste my summer and miss out on the few short warm summer months of Michigan, only training.

Last year my Valkyrie sister Brandi took some time off and headed out with her “man-friend” (I freakin LOVE that term) to Montana for some amazing camping.  I cannot even begin to describe how jealous I am.  That is something I have always wanted to do but just kept saying, someday.  Well.  Enough with this someday shit.

I am very happy to say, a little over a year after this blog was written, I have gone hiking countless times, camping in several different locations in lower Michigan -I have yet to make it to the Upper Peninsula (that’s on this year’s plans).  I have been indoor rock climbing; off-roading at the Silver Lake Sand Dunes, run other muddy off-road trails.  Traveled to Louisiana to spend my birthday….  I went snowshoeing! Even though our winter wasn’t nearly what they usually are, I still managed to get out at least once.

 

In the not so distant past, too many times I’ve said some day, I’m gonna do this or go here…. last year I definitely decided enough of that. Enough of living my weekdays counting down till the weekend only to really do nothing more than house work and grocery shopping.Literally, wasting the days, weeks, months and years away.  Or at least that’s how I saw that mentality.  While my life has been no where near boring; I’ve always told myself, my best days are not in the past, my best days are right now and tomorrow. While I haven’t been out traveling the world, I’ve been exploring my local state in all four seasons. I’ve shared pictures on Instagram and Facebook, I’ve written short blogs on some of the adventures and my feelings.

Thursday evening, my boyfriend says to me: looking at your photos and your sister Ellie’s photos, I realize aside from deployments, I haven’t had the adventurous life that you two are living….and I want us to have that together.  I cannot even express how this made my heart absolutely SORE!!

Immediately after, I called my sister to share my excitement. She laughed but with almost as much excitement. See, Ellie and I are planning a backpacking trip. There’s no exact date yet due to all the things you on with both our jobs, and that’s ok. She recently started dating a fellow adventurer and I’m super stoked for her. But just the idea of being able to plan adventures….I’m literally beaming all over again.

Also in the past year, even more so in the past month, I’ve become determined not to be so mechanically illiterate… While, I have learned I am leaps and bounds ahead of your average woman my age, I still feel rather lost once I pop the hood on my Jeep and start looking at the engine.

So last weekend, I changed my headlights and fog lights -upgrading them from factory to LEDs.  Then my neighbor and I cut the ends of my stock JKU bumper, yesterday we secured the new stubby a little better and removed the plastic aesthetic “skid plate.”  We also got an overhead counsel smittybilt MOLLIE system installed (which I am seriously in love with this thing); I also changed the hood lettering from Rubicon to Lady Jaye.  There is a handful of other small things that was accomplished; but over all I am quiet proud of myself.  My neighbor is teaching me with hands on lessons how to tool my own Jeep which I am absolutely ecstatic!  In fact last night I sent the boyfriend a text:

me: It’s 250 on a Saturday night and I’m reading about catalytic converters.  This started because my check engine light is on.  Code came back for on the of the o2 sensors.  I had no idea there was 2.  There’s an up and down stream, I actually know the difference and which banks.  You’re probably laughing right now.  But it’s clicking, all these little things.  So I need to change one of my sensors and I’m watching a YouTube video on it…

him:  O2 sensors are easy to do

me: Well.  I’m gonna be changing one and finding out

him: lol, I love you

As minor as this exchange may seem to some, I am very proud of expanding my knowledge.  For the most part I still feel like an idiot when I pop the hood and began looking at everything, I still feel overwhelmed, however I know that I am no longer totally lost anymore.  God bless the ability to YouTube pretty much anything, and Google everything.

 

Well I guess I should confess that I am starting to get old
All the latest music fads all passed me by and left me cold
All the kids are talking slang I won’t pretend to understand
All my friends are getting married, mortagages and pension plans
And it’s obvious my angry adolescent days are done
And I’m happy and I’m settled in the person I’ve become
But that doesn’t mean I’m settled up and sitting out the game
Time may change a lot but some things may stay the same

And I won’t sit down
And I won’t shut up
And most of all I will not grow up
And I won’t sit down
And I won’t shut up
And most of all I yeah I won’t grow up

Oh maturity’s a wrapped up package deal so it seems
And ditching teenage fantasy means ditching all your dreams
All your friends and peers and family solemnly tell you you will
Have to grow up be an adult yeah be bored and unfulfilled
Oh when no ones yet explained to me exactly what’s so great
About slaving 50 years away on something that you hate
Look I’m meekly shuffling down the path of mediocrity
Well if that’s your road then take it but it’s not the road for me

And I won’t sit down
And I won’t shut up
And most of all I will not grow up
And I won’t sit down
And I won’t shut up
And most of all I yeah I won’t grow up
And I won’t sit down
And I won’t shut up
And most of all I will not grow up

And if all you ever do with your life
Is photosynthesize
Then you deserve every hour of these sleepless nights
That you waste wondering when you’re gonna die

Now I’ll play and you sing
The perfect way for the evening to begin
Now I’ll play and you sing
The perfect way for the evening to begin

And I won’t sit down
And I won’t shut up
And most of all yeah I won’t grow up
And I won’t sit down
And I won’t shut up
And most of all I will not grow up
And I won’t sit down
And I won’t shut up
And most of all I will not grow up

-Frank Turner
Photosynthesis

My beautiful doorless Lady Jaye is sitting in the garage, just waiting for me…. Yea, this morning is doing the adulting things, like going to get groceries.  But just because were adults doesn’t mean we have to be boring; living an unfulfilling life.  I also still have no interest in talking mortgages or pension plans.

2017

I have a long standing friend, Matt, who I have random conversations with in text message.  His life is busy with a wife, two young kids and a very patience dog.  He once commented how he enjoys reading my blog.  How it’s like listening to me tell a story and he enjoys the preview into my life even though we now live a thousand miles apart.  Aaaaaand he apologized for being THAT guy who was first to text message me and wake me up on Christmas morning.  I couldn’t help but laugh reading that text.  I also had to explain, that not only did my iPhone ding, but the Bluetooth speaker it is hooked up to for music (which I usually sleep to music) and then my Garmin watch buzzed with the new message alert.  There was no escaping the one ding of the phone.  But I also smiled, hearing how he enjoys these random topics, rants and self conversations from inside my head.  To me, this blog is more an electronic diary…. maybe I should start a few entries, Dear Blog…. nahhhh, lol.

Dear Diary, 😉

We are two weeks into the new year….
I’ve seen the New Year, New Me posts on social media and I’ve seen the New Year, same asshole posts. I’ve also seen the taunting tabs at the New Year Resolutioners and the return of how we were all beginners at one point.  At some point or another, we have all posted these…if you’ve had a gym membership for more than a year, you know what January brings.  Crowded gyms and wait lines for just about any piece of equipment.  While the gym owners love the sudden flow of new members, the dedicated members tend to dread this time of year.  It starts to slow in February and usually by March it is over.  Deal with it.  It will happen again next year, and the year after, and the year following that…

Last year I posted a blog, New Year, New Me….bite me. Besides the weekly summary and rambling on strongman training, in the first paragraph I talk about how I’ve never made a New Years Resolution and I was planning on sticking with that.  I talked about how things in 2015 had worked out pretty well for me, so why change anything.  Then between March and May a change started, slow at first then slowly gaining momentum, until it felt like a hurricane inside me. In May, I posted a blog (time to start doing the things), trying to put my feelings into words, feelings I had not even realized yet.  I was two weeks out from what was my last strongman competition, before an unknown injury became so bad I couldn’t even get out of bed.

In the May blog, I talked about how I was tired of saying someday to all the things I want to do in life, I talked about how it was time to start crossing things off my bucket list.  While I didn’t do any further “tooling” on my Jeep myself, I did start venturing out hiking, camping, snowshoeing…heck even my first rock climbing experience…ok, so rock climbing was after the first of the year.  But looking at how far I’ve come since making the decision of even with some day and just do it.  I’m proud of 2016 and I don’t plan for things to go stagnate in 2017.

They say, if you talk about your goals constantly, you’ll never achieve them, it’s just talk.  To an extent I’ll agree with this.  But I’ve never been one to blast my goals all over social media or to anyone who will listen.  I have a few select close friends that I confide my feelings, dreams and wishes to.  But today, I think I’m going to put a few things down here.  Going back to the opening of this blog, I told my friend Matt, how I do enjoy writing.  He commented how it must be a liberating feeling.  I distinctively remember I was standing outside in the cold January Michigan air and I lifted my face to the cold and smiled.  Yes.  Yes it is rather liberating.  Posting several very scary feelings and confessions…leaving this out there for anyone who cares to see and read.  Baring my bruised and battered heart in some aspects.  Other times, sharing my joy or sudden conquered fear. It is liberating.  This is my public diary…and in one year I want to be able to look back on this entry and compare, like I am today, on how far I have come.  How many things I accomplished and what did I add to my list as the year progressed.

So here is to a new year, a new you if you want it, the same you if you want… To finding happiness in all that you do and a full and happy soul.

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.
-C.S. Lewis

  • get my passport
  • travel outside the United States
  • get better at yoga
  • paint more
  • continue to work on MY happiness
  • rock climb, frequently
  • more camping
  • backpacking trips, yes TRIPS, multiple
  • cut back on the junk and clutter in my house …dare I say, go minimalist
  • read more

 


-Inked Amazon 💋

she lives to run

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I had taken two weeks off from work, what we call the last of my ‘use or loose leave,’ before the first pay-period of 2017.  My sister came to town a couple of days post Christmas, of course this was two days into a weird winter warm up.  The good two feet of snow that had still been on the ground Christmas day was gone along with any further plans of snowshoeing while she was here.

I should back up and say that my middle sister is a fellow adventure and contained gypsies soul.  Twelve years active duty Navy has afforded her the new scenery and constant moving around every few years, and I dare say each of her locations has been pretty amazing… California (3 duty stations), Florida, Italy…

So one of the things we had talked about was going rock climbing.  I have never been, my sister has been doing this a couple of years now, both at indoor gyms and outside.  Frankly.  This scares the crap outta me.

fear:
ˈfir/

noun
1.
an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

verb
1.
be afraid of (someone or something) as likely to be dangerous, painful, or threatening.

Somewhere as an adult, I cannot remember exactly when, but I developed some stupid fear of heights.  I remember one night on patrol over ten years ago, my partner and I were standing on top of a 8 story building.  He walked right up to the edge and peered over.  I walked up ….woah…. and back peddled a few steps fast!

Recently, I decided this was stupid and it was time to get rid of it.  So in some wild hair idea, I decided rock climbing was the answer.  It is something I have expressed interest in for a few years. A few of the guys I have dated over the years all said they wanted to go or would take me, but the actions always fell short.  My sister on the other hand, saying I wanted to go and that there are two indoor rock climbing gyms here in Grand Rapids, there was no back peddling now.  Of course I also did not tell her about this stupid fear of heights I had developed, like the asshole that I am.

We decided on a week day evening to go, of course we get to the gym about an hour after it opened and it is packed.  My nerves are at an all time high, I can feel the adrenaline running and I am doing my best outwardly to remain calm.  What the fuck am I do.  I’m listening and paying close attention to the individual teaching me how to put the harness on, how to tie in for climbing, then how to belay…. all while I can hear my own blood pumping in my ears.  Get it together woman, you were a paratrooper, get your shit together…

My sister does the first climb while I belay her.  fuck she moves almost faster than I can keep up with her.  But she comes down with a beaming smile upon her face and my instructor smiles and says have fun ladies  My sister looks to me and says, “alright your turn.”

Deep breath.  We switch, my hands are sweating and I can feel my heart racing inside my chest.

My first climb is kind of a blur, I remember looking for hand holds and just going up, refusing to look down. But I survived.  I didn’t fall to my death.  In fact, I absolutely loved it, but I still want to hide in the corner of the gym with the easier climbs and hopefully none of these insane climbers will notice the obvious newb in the corner.

Two more climbs on the beginner routes and I feel a bit more confident. img_0786 Confident enough to move up a level.  The holds are spread out a little more, my amazon height is a glorious help here.  Before I started this climb, two other seasoned climbers have moved into the little corner I’ve been wanting to hide in and we had made social with them before I started.  Now as I am climbing I can hear pointers being called out and it is openly welcomed.  In fact a few holds before the top, I missed a grip and slipped a little.  In the half a heartbeat my mind flashed, I hope she has the rope.  A split second later I felt the tug of the rope and I just hung there.

I can hear my sister call how she has me.  I can feel the fatigue in my fingers and grip.  I shake my hands out at the same time my sister calls for me to collect myself before trying again and how she isn’t letting me down the wall until I reach the top.  Bitch, I laugh to myself.  She knows exactly the encouragement I need, at this point I had already fessed up to doing this to kill my fear of heights.  She knows now that the first climb my heart was racing wildly.

I take a few moments to shake out my hands, take a could of deep breaths all while staring at the wall above me looking at the holds.  The roof and final grip seems so far away, but in truth it’s not.  It’s all in my head and I know it.  I mentally tell myself I’m not coming down until I reach that final stupid rock on the wall.

What felt like an eternity to me was probably less than 20 seconds reality.  I shook my hands out, chalked my fingers and re-set myself.  I had 3 or 4 rocks to reach and each one I could feel the pull in my forearms and finger tips, taking my time, I remember telling myself to keep my own head together…nothing out loud, everything in my head.  I’m pretty sure I resorted to my yoga breathing when I’m trying to hold some pose and my limbs are burning or balance when I’m trying not to fall over and introduce my face to the floor.  I felt extremely proud of myself when this breathing kicked in naturally to keep myself focused.  Next thing I realized, both my hands were on the final rock and my sister was calling that she had me.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

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After 4 climbs, my sister took me over to teach/work on bouldering.  My heart was already soaring and my soul happy.  We each took a handful of turns working on a route we had picked out and not deciding to call it quits or the day until we had reached the top.

To many, the routes or climbs I did that evening would be very easy.  To me, it was about learning something new and conquering a fear that had taken seed and I no longer had room for it in my life.

a free soul 

The free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it – basically because you feel good, very good -Charles Bukowski

A month ago, I posted a blog about getting out and doing more. More than just training and work.  Well… Planning weekends with friends has not been open until this weekend.  Don’t get me wrong, I have been putting plans into motion.

My middle sister read the last blog and when I went to the beach the following day, she was facebook messaging me from some where in the South Pacific -she is active duty Navy, and out to sea right now.  She made comments how she wished she was here to starting doing these things with me; but if you look at her facebook, this gal has already been doing the things I want to do.  So what better company to make long term plans with.  So quickly the conversation turned to the two of us making plans… One of them being camping, camping in Wyoming next year.

In the past handful of weeks, we have sent links for different areas of Wyoming back and forth.  I’ve asked her opinion on gear -the woman has hiked, camped, climbed and mountain biked in areas of Europe, California, Alaska and God knows where else! And largely just talking  about it, makes me so excited!

Along with making plans with my sister, my friend and fellow strongwoman, Brogan and I have gone hiking, tubing, stuffed our faces with all the good foods and topped it off with a touch of sunburns that smell like coconut suntan lotion. We are also made local plans for a camping weekend with several other girlfriends.  Which, I am hell bound I want to camp ON a Lake Michigan beach, which Brogan is just shaking her head at me.  My response, I said I don’t want to look at these cool pictures you see on REI, North Face or any of the other outdoor sites; I want to be the one taking the pictures and making these memories with my friends.  So at dinner Saturday night, Brogan was googling locations.

 

On my own there have been beach trips -yes we have real beaches here in Michigan; The Great Lakes are pretty much fresh water oceans.  I have also purchased new art supplies to replace those that have disappeared over the years, or just needed new.  I have also added a new design desk to my room, a small drawing table; and I saw small because anyone who knows the size of a drafting desk, knows just how big they usually are.  Anyway, I have spent my gym weekday rest days at my new desk, working on a few different projects.

 

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And frankly it all feels amazing and good.

My soul is happy.  I have ended each one of these days with a glow and a genuine smile, or so my buddies on the other end of snap chat say so.

 

-Inked Amazon Warrior
💋💀

time to start doing the things

United States Strongman Nationals 2016 is a day shy of two weeks out… and I don’t feel anywhere near as ready as I had wanted to.  I feel and know I am much stronger than last year, but the competition is three times the size it was last year.  I’ve refused to let myself think of it…because when I do, it starts to freak me out.  But if you’re not nervous about a competition there is definitely something wrong with you, Nationals and 340… yes THREE HUNDRED FORTY competitors… Well, that’s not different, that’s… hell I’m not even sure what that is.

The final three weeks in a training cycle seem to be the toughest mental game.  I’m ready for the break from training, I’m fighting to not become sidetracked with my diet and I have to scroll quickly through social media to avoid seeing other people’s ‘highlights.’

Which, on that thought; I’ve done some looking back and in the past almost two years I have not taken much if any time away from training.  In the last year and a half, I have pretty much gone from competition to competition.  Focusing on nothing but hitting the programmed weights and suddenly it’s summer time 2016.

Wait…WHAT?!? Summer 2016 already?!?!

In conversation with several of my fellow female strongman athletes, I’ve decided it’s time to start crossing off a few things on my bucket list.  First and foremost to not spend the entire summer training for another competition and letting the few short months of summer in Michigan pass me by, again.

Last year my Valkyrie sister Brandi took some time off and headed out with her “man-friend” (I freakin LOVE that term) to Montana for some amazing camping.  I cannot even begin to describe how jealous I am.  That is something I have always wanted to do but just kept saying, someday.  Well.  Enough with this someday shit.

Most of the want-to-dos on my bucket list consist of things that make me nervous or very uncomfortable… Which they should, right?  No skydiving is not one.  I was a paratrooper, I got paid to do that shit and at much shorter altitudes.  However, I decided to start with something small…or so I thought.

A little project.  Replacing the licenses plate bracket on my Jeep because it’s been busted, well lets just say a while now.  Doing any kind of work to my own vehicle is pretty far outside my comfort zone.  I know how to change the wiper blades, check fluid levels, add oil if needed and put gas in it…that’s about it.  But I figured just how hard can changing a licenses plate bracket be?  I mean enough Jeep owners have done it, or relocated it… So follow the directions and be good.

One problem.
No directions.
Just the bracket itself in the box.
Ok.  Hellooooo YouTube instructional videos.

First video, was decent, but of course the Jeep looks utterly spotless and straight off the assembly line.  Mine? Mine is almost ten years old and what the fuck is that and how the hell do I find it??  Three videos, a diagram, an adobe file of instructions and I now know I have six bolts I have to remove to pull off the rear bumper to gain access to these two tiny stupid screws that hold on the broken licenses plate bracket.  This took several hours a good amount of WD40, a few cuss words and some good old country music.  Eventually the bumper was off, or enough to have access to the screws and then quickly I was able to replace the plate and start the process of putting everything back together.  In what would be considered by seasoned Jeepers as an asinine amount of time.  My rookie ass was feeling pretty damn proud of the “little” project I had decided to start with.

My neighbor came over right as I was finishing and said if he would of seen me sooner, he would have come over and helped.  As much as I appreciated this gesture, in truth I’m glad I didn’t have any help.  It forced me to focus and make the job happen without someone taking over -which knowing myself, I might have let him with how frustrated I was at certain points.
He did however offer to help on any new projects, which I told him I would gladly take him up on… I have a couple that I am not sure I have the right tools or know-how to get them done.  We spent a good considerable amount of time standing in my backyard discussing modifications and him giving me his advise (which is very welcomed, and if you saw his Jeep you wouldn’t argue either).

This later got me talking to my girlfriends about a few short things I want to do… I want to travel. jeep porn.jpg I want to go camping.  I want to actually take my Jeep off-roading -something that has not happened yet, I know, I know.  Shut it.  I want to take my Jeep off-roading and camping.  I want to start doing the things we all see on Instagram and look at wishfully, daydreaming from our cubicles and computer screens.  At 37 it’s time to stop daydreaming and start putting a plan together.  It’s time to start having these pictures in my phone and not because I saved them from some random website to remind me of what I want to go…but because I was there, because I took the picture.

This by no means, means I am walking away from strongman; I love it too much.  I just need to have something besides work and training consuming my life.  Especially in the very few short summer months we have in Michigan.
Wednesday is June 1st, if I am lucky I might make it to the end of September without the doors going back on my Jeep because it’s too cold.  By November the weather here just turns shitty and unless you are into winter sports (which I am not) you’re pretty much stuck indoors until maybe April but probably May of the following year.  So basically, you have 3 good warm to hot months and two months of iffy weather, this year we got lucky and it warmed up considerably in May.

Tomorrow, I’m going to the beach.


-Inked Amazon Warrior
💋💀