My Grandma passed away Wednesday morning.
The funeral is happening tonight in California. With it all happening so fast, my parents decided it wasn’t worth it for me to come and asked that I stay home and look after the house and the dog.
Grandma was really old. Like, 102 years old kind of old. I knew her better when I was young when we would visit for extended periods of time. But I’ve missed out on so many trips to to California in the recent years. She always smelled like Si Chi oil and asked us to thump on her aching lower back with our fists as sort of a massage. The past few years, she had developed dementia, among other health ailments.
“Don’t come. It’s ok. Grandma and all the uncles know you’re a good girl. Grandma didn’t remember you. But she knows. It’s ok”, my mom cried over the phone.
My mother loved my grandma so well. My mother’s relationship with both her mom and her dad were really beautiful from the stories she’d tell me in broken english. She moved out a few years ago to live in California and the word that comes to mind when I think about my mother’s care for my grandmother in these past few years is: long-suffering.
It’s here that I come to grips about my own relationship with my parents. My mother doesn’t have dementia yet. I don’t think she knows how much I care for her. I hope to take after her in long-suffering. I hope to recount wonderful stories of her, in better english. And at the end of things, love her as well as she loved my grandma in her last days.
I’m so sad to not be at the funeral. To not be there yet again for Grandma. To miss out on another trip to see my extended family. I’m sad not to be there for my mom while she loses the most important and cherished person in her life.
They say, “the end of one journey is just the beginning of a new journey.” Last week, I finished my job at the cafe I’ve been working at for the past year and a half. It was the end to a journey I had given the better part of my life this past year and a half. The end of my career as a barista. The end of some relationships and bridges burned. The end of the life I’d been cultivating here. Then, the end of a life in my family. Yet, I’m about to move to Rochester. To start cultivating a life there. I’m about to begin my time as a staff member with InterVarsity. It’s the start of my mother moving back home to Long Island.
It’s in the middle of all of this where I feel so stuck. It’s where I want to stop and mourn but have to rev myself up to make a huge life transition.
But I guess here’s where I begin my first lesson in long-suffering. It’s not long-suffering if you lie down, give up, and hope things gets better. It’s the “keep on keeping on” despite the mess around you. It’s the enduring through the “long defeat”.
I’m holding on to hope that there are better days to come for my mom and my dad as they restart their lives together on Long Island. I’m holding on to hope that I’ll become the kind of loving daughter I want to be to them. I’m holding on to the belief that God’s calling is better and greater than the comfort I’ve made here, my own selfish wants, and my ambitions.
I am so thankful for the people who’ve helped carry me and counsel me through this difficult time. Thank you for enduring with me. To my best friends, my wonderful (ex) co-workers, my community from all over, and most of all to God- the ultimate example of long-suffering, love, mercy, and grace.
“. . . together through ages of the world we have fought the long defeat.”
“I am a Christian, and indeed a Roman Catholic, so that I do not expect ‘history’ to be anything but a ‘long defeat’—though it contains . . . some samples or glimpses of final victory.” (J.R.R. Tolkien)
January 2014 I started Crossfitting at Crossfit NYC: The Black Box. I don’t post or talk about Crossfit that much… I think… At least, I don’t talk about it nearly half as much as I want to talk about it ;P It’s been a full year of Crossfit now and I do want to share a few words on the journey as people are setting their New Year’s resolutions which often include fitness resolutions.
I didn’t really have a specific resolution last year. It wasn’t like, “This year, I’m going to get in shape” or “I want to lose x amount of weight.” But I was unhappy with myself. I was always at the very least somewhat active. But at this point last year, I was out of shape and not very healthy. I had actually tried crossfit in 2012. I did it for 3 months but had stopped for a full year. (I loved it in 2012 but became unemployed and broke)
I began Crossfit because I do actually love weightlifting. I started strength training in high school. I had an amazing coach. I think a lot of girls are taught to believe they only need to be lean and toned. He always use to tell me, “Women can lift strong.” He never let me lift light just because I was the only girl in the strength training class. I missed his.. I guess you could call it.. philosophy of fitness. Our weight room was the “bare necessities” and only consisted of power racks and barbells. Crossfit shared a similar foundation so that’s what initially attracted me to the sport.
To be honest though, and how I first heard of Crossfit was through a picture of Camille Leblanc-Bazinet on Pinterest. She was a woman who was beautiful yet made weightlifting look so badass. I wanted to be her. I became obsessed with wanting to be like her.
Back to January 2014. Out of shape and unhappy with myself, a co-worker of mine told me about a Crossfit box right by our cafe. I decided to join.
Unlike regular gyms, there are no mirrors in Crossfit. That has added such an interesting factor in this past year of fitness progress especially if you went into it with aesthetic goals. But that’s the beauty of Crossfit culture. You might join it for the aesthetic gains at first, but it soon becomes so much more than that. I don’t think I can say I’ve struggled with body image but I’ve never loved my body. I genuinely love the way I look now. Not because I think I look hot or because I have the “ideal body”. I don’t. My thighs and calves are huge, I have a crazy shoulder vein, forearm veins, more forearm veins (seriously though… my forearms…), my traps explode when I pull my shoulders back… And I love it all.
I look healthy. I look like I’ve worked hard. But the greatest lesson Crossfit has taught me about loving my body is not aesthetic reasons.. I love my body for what it can achieve.
I can pinpoint exactly when my perspective of my body changed. It was when I did my first toes to bar. 2 weeks before that day we had another workout involving toes to bar and I could only bring my knees to my chest. On this particular day, I decided to just go for one attempt to see how close I was getting to the real thing and I came up so hard I stubbed my toes on the bar. That was the day I started loving my body for what it could do, not just for the way it looked.
My message here is not that you have to change yourself in order to love yourself. But as 2015 kicks off, I think a lot of us fall into the trap of making fitness resolutions with the end goal, whether we’re conscious of it or not, being to look like someone else or to get that specific body type we’ve been told is “hot” by the wider culture.
I fell for it too. In fact, if you look at my Fitness Board on Pinterest, you can actually see the perspective transformation. (You can also see the exact moment in time when I started obsessing over Camille) In the beginning, I would go onto Pinterest to find pictures of hot girls with amazing physique to motivate myself to get back into shape. But it’s a lie. You can’t look like someone else. Nor can you pick and choose body parts from 100 different women and aim to have each part of your body look like this and that. You can’t look like her nor is your body a jig saw puzzle of multiple women’s body parts.
What IS possible and what I’m trying to say today is: Be the best version of yourself. If you have a fitness resolution this year, take a good look at yourself (figuratively). Ask yourself if you’re doing this because you’re trying to look like someone else. Because if you really want to make long-lasting changes, you have to let that go. Once you see that you’re not getting any closer to looking like her, you’ll lose momentum and motivation. Because that’s not how this works and you will never be happy with yourself. After a year of consistent hard work, I still don’t look like those girls I used to pin and I don’t look like Camille. And that’s completely okay. I probably love myself more because this is a body I earned. This is a vomit inducing cliche but there really is a beauty in the journey itself. Fall in love with the process of being the best version of you.
A year ago, I had poor posture. My boss used to call me T-rex because of my slouch and because my velociraptor resting arm position. Seriously, I used to work at Starbucks and we would talk about my #raptorhands. I had chronic back pain because I was standing for hours over the stove or the counter. My knees would hurt because of problems with my Illiotibial band.
Nowadays, back pain isn’t a thing I deal with anymore and Crossfit recovery and mobility education has taught me how to manage my ITBS problem. New friends tell me I have amazing posture. I’ve literally never been told I had good posture. I’ve slouched all my life and of course, it’s my natural tendency but I walk tall now. I stand up straight with shoulders pulled back because I have this new sense of confidence. All of this I gained in just a year.
Add to the list of things Crossfit has done for me in this past year alone: I have abs! That was never a thing before 2014! I can do strict pull-ups! I can lift heavier weights than some of the men in my class! I am so close to being able to do a free standing hand stand!
Fitness Resolutions of 2014: #winning. Crossfit may or may not be right for you. But for those of you who are about to start your own journeys, I hope this helps put a little more perspective on your own goals and that come year 2016, you’re well on your way to becoming the best version of you and that you’ve learned to love and appreciate every last detail of you.
You may stop reading here. This next part is for people who may be considering Joining Crossfit.