My Story: Before I even turned 30, I found myself as a twice-divorced single mother of three working two jobs: night-shift at a “water-treatment” plant (just a euphemism for a sewage plant–real glamorous, huh?) and researcher/investigator/fact checker for a privately-owned genealogy foundation (where I was constantly being reprimanded for lapsing into my first and former career as a law-enforcement officer, hilarious and pathetic at the same time: “Shoshi! When we asked you to try to find photos of this individual’s relatives, that did NOT include mugshots! Stop going into “good-cop/bad-cop” mode! You’re not supposed to be making a case against clients! They’re CLIENTS, NOT “Persons of Interest”!) Of course, I was burning the proverbial candle at both ends, the long hours, the stress of essentially raising a family alone and managing a household by myself. I prided myself on being fiercely independent, (well, for the most part, but I admit I would never have made it without the help of friends and family.) However, as everyone knows, regardless of circumstances, constant, relentless, increasing stress takes a toll, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
I’d always been an active person committed to exercise and fitness and actually ran quite a bit in my young-adult life (but let’s face it, that was mainly so I could eat what I wanted and get rid of baby-weight in between pregnancies.) I let running go by the wayside opting more for strength-training, machine-based cardio (stair master, elliptical, rowing, stationary bike) group exercise classes (all at the local community center gym where there was childcare provided, of course!) and most of that happened at best 1-2 times a week.
At the same time, though, fitness class instructors kept asking me to get certified so I could sub for them or teach new classes. I somehow must’ve “looked the part” of a personal trainer or at least like I knew what I was doing because I kept being the person that women of all ages (and sometimes men) would approach for help with weight machines, with settings on the elliptical, with free weights. So I decided to go for it and eventually became a trainer and group fitness instructor, and this is how Sky Blue Fitness was born. Things just kind of started lining up: got promoted at the foundation when an assistant director went on sabbatical and the accompanying pay raise let me quit the job at the sewage plant. I was even given the options of flex-hours and working from home. Meanwhile, at the gym, my REFIT, HIIT, PUSH, and Cardio-Pump classes were full and I had to resort to a waitlist for prospective personal training clients. Well, what has any of this to do with running? Read on!
Pivotal Moments: Just when it looked like things were going to be okay, BAM! Eldest child’s absentee father suddenly reappeared on the scene and with his parents decided to re-open and wage an all-out custody war. (It’s amazing how small-town politics and the web of nepotism in local government can do worse things than most people dismiss as ludicrous and illegal in the movies and television! Spoiler-alert, but I don’t wanna worry you: I WON.) BAM! (yes, a 2nd BAM!) I got hit with a panel of whacked-out liver enzymes in what was supposed to be routine bloodwork; a battery of more diagnostic tests and procedures ordered; nobody seemed to know what was going on but they sure did have some scary hypotheses and theories. [Ultimately, I believe it was a result of an herbal supplement that I should’ve known better about that caused temporary toxicity/damage. Thank God it was reversible and everything eventually gradually resolved and liver panels came back normal the following year.]
You hear about all the “Couch-to-(fill-in-the-blank for event/distance)” programs, apps, “Couch to 5k,” Couch to Tri,” “Couch to 50k”… Well, how about being so sick, weak, and exhausted that it’s just “Couch!” not even “Couch-to-Bed!” (This was one of my better days of just “Couch!” during that time; my BFF Tina humored my older daughter Sierra and let her make a selfie with her, then Si-Si turned the phone on us and snapped her little brother and sister with me.) I couldn’t keep going down this awful downward spiral. I was going to fight for my family, my first-born, (and second, and third if it came to that,) for MY HEALTH, and MY LIFE and right to live it and MAKE IT GOOD. My friend posted this photo, along with others, different places in my living room where I could see it from the couch and as silly as it may sound, that was the final turning point. I was going to GET UP off of that couch and GET WELL.
An old high school buddy created a hashtag #Purple4Shoshi as a show of goodwill and support. It somehow eventually made its way to an out-of-state college’s intramural “Purple Team” that did a special shout-out and rallied hundreds of well-wishing strangers that I’ll probably never meet in person. Is it possible that individual healing and transformation can be bolstered by the crowd-sourcing of positivity? As big as a skeptic and cynic that I am, I have to admit, at least, “Definitely MAYBE.”
First Steps: As we all know, the absolute first step is JUST GET STARTED then it becomes PUT ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER. A network of caring friends and a few relatives kicked in; an early morning phone call: “ARE YOU UP YET?! GET MOVING. JUST START WALKING AROUND A BIT. YOU’LL FEEL BETTER AFTER YOU’RE UP AWHILE!” Yeah, I may have cussed at them some; they graciously put up with it. It’s just bizarre how bad liver function can affect how muscles and joints feel. Another friend who is a registered nurse would show up, “You’ve got to WALK! KEEP MOVING EVEN IF IT HURTS! GET THAT OXYGEN TO THE CELLS!” Walking laps around the backyard became walking up and down the driveway became walking around the block… things I would’ve looked down on as a police cadet. The walk became a shuffle, the shuffle became a jog, and finally, I WAS RUNNING!
Something primal had reawakened in me; that running met a need, an outlet that no other form of exercise or activity could satisfy, not running on a treadmill even, and merely covering ground by foot outdoors, walking, even walking fast, wasn’t the same. Maybe it’s just the endorphins, but it heals my mind, it helps me process and vent the anger and the rage at life’s bad stuff and annoying (and sometimes downright evil) people, and somehow, it flushes out the systemic inflammation and toxins that cause achy muscles and painful joints.
As one thing leads to another, just like getting started and moving your feet however slowly is the first step to running, running itself can transform into the first step for new adventures! Add swimming and cycling and you’ve got a Tri! It was a mini/sprint, but I did it! I’m just getting started in Crossfit, and I’m a newbie at Snowskiing, but running helps me with the essential strength and endurance. While I’m not one to look for signs from the universe, I feel that being chosen as a 2018 Skirt Sports Ambassador Champion was an incredible validation of all those other “first steps,” and it represents yet another new first step on a unique and powerful path of community, connectedness, and support along with the best high-performance fitness fashions!
The bottom lines:
- Start where you are.
- Be grateful for the body you have.
- Do the best you can with what you’ve got right here, right now.
- Find YOUR meaningful, intentional movement.
- Enjoy the journey.
- Connect with a supportive community like the Skirt Sports family to cheer you on and inspire you to go even higher!
- Revel in the transformative process!
#REALWomenMove Love ya! Shoshi