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Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Don't Be afraid to Lift Heavy

I can lift more weight than most women I know. When I back squat, it is usually more than 50 pounds my body weight. I used to be embarrassed by this, I thought it wasn't feminine or pretty. But not too long ago a woman at the gym told me that I amaze her and that stuck with me. 
The truth is, most women could lift just as much as me, some even more but they are afraid to.  Granted, I have been doing this for a long time and I love it, and as a result, I can lift a lot of weight.
There is something about lifting heavy things that make most people nervous. That is probably why we don't return people's texts when they need help moving. 
Heavy makes us uncomfortable.  There is this moment right before I step up to the barbell to lift something that I can tell whether I will succeed or not.  That first moment is crucial...it hurts but only for a second before my body takes over and I know I've got it.  There have been plenty of times where I panic and put it back on the rack.   Then I try again.  If I can't do it by the fourth or fifth try it is just not my day and that is okay. Well, I may beat myself up, but I'll eventually get over it.
Once in a while, someone may notice I'm struggling and will walk over to spot me, but they aren't there to lift the weight, they are there to lift my spirit.  Hearing someone tell me that I can do it, is all I need.  Do they actually know this? Of course not, I could crash and burn.  But if that same person came up and told me I couldn't do it, I would probably believe that and they would be right.   
Heavy is uncomfortable but not impossible. 
And the world feels heavy right now.  Every aspect of my life has felt like a significant about of weight has been added to it. 
Parenting during a pandemic will go down in history but parenting teens in a pandemic will live on in infamy. Mostly because the independence and trust they worked their lives to earn suddenly got taken away and we began treating them like toddlers again.  Repeatedly telling them no to sleepovers and hanging out with friends, asking them if they washed their hands every minute, asking if he wore a mask, and following them around so I can take their temperature.  I spent the last decade of their lives limiting screen time only to demand it now.   
I don't know how to do this and I worry constantly if I'm doing the right thing or if I'm permanently damaging them.  The good news is that every other parent is in the same boat. (Even if my sons don't think that is true.) 
While parenting at this time may be the elephant in the room, let's add in a donkey too, and have one of one of the most hostile political climates this country has ever seen. 
Then all the murders.  I have never cried more for other mama's babies than this summer.  
Heavy, heavy world.
Relationships that used to feel easy suddenly feel complicated.  Some people have snapped under the pressure and what is left is a side of them you had never seen or thought of before.  The heaviness of choosing to accept a friend's opinion even though you think it's fundamentally wrong, or deciding you just can't move past it will weigh down your heart until it feels like it is in the pit of your stomach.
And marriage, when we got married we said in sickness and in health but nobody said anything about marital health in a deadly sickness.  And more togetherness than you ever thought was possible while you both try to work from home and fight for a strong wifi connection that your wifi greedy children are already using. 
We sealed our house so tightly in fear, that we didn't allow enough air in and it felt like I was suffocating.
These are moments I need my parents and all I want is to run away to get a hug from my mom and dad but I can't because they are in the vulnerable category, and what if I spread the virus to them?  Could I live with that? All this worry feels not just uncomfortable but unbearable and utterly impossible to carry.
When I'm at my low point and my head fills with self-doubt (which I have had quite a few these moments the past six months) I remember that a woman at the gym told me I was amazing. She stood behind me and told me I could do it.  
Fear is not going to lift the weight of this worry. The belief that I can push through it, will. 
It is true, that this time is going to go down in history as a struggle.  And no matter how strong I think I am, my muscle power alone can only do so much. 

When I find darkness inward I have to lift my head and look outward to see what is around me.  It is not all doom and gloom.  

Lately, I have witnessed so many strong women that amaze me.  I may have physical strength, but the emotional strength that exudes from some women leaves me speechless.  But just like me, they didn't get there overnight.   They watched their mothers or grandmothers cope in ways that prepared them to do the same.  
Generations of women before us who persevered through war, deprivation, and oppression.  They were faced with burdens that seemed humanly impossible to carry, and they found a way to do it.
Something that I have learned from lifting heavy things is that when the weight is evenly distributed and I focus on engaging every muscle possible it feels lighter. 
The weight we are feeling in the world right now feels impossible but we can't be afraid to go heavy.   
Yesterday was a hard day for me and a friend recognized this and carried the emotional weight for me. She wasn't telling me "You've got this", she was telling me, "We've got this."  
Women show up for other women. 
We just have to look up to see that all the worry, fear, anxiety, disappointment, self-doubt, and hopelessness we feel that day has been felt by a friend the day before and will be felt by another friend tomorrow. We are never alone in this journey.  
It may still be tremendously heavy but feel a little lighter if we evenly distribute it amongst each other. For me, admitting I need help is one of the hardest things for a strong girl to do. 

In the opening scene of Wonder Woman, the Amazonian women are faced with a battle to protect their homes. At first, you see a lone woman running straight into danger. We all have that friend that appears to be fearless in any situation.  But the truth is, she was confident that her sisters, mother, and friends were united, right behind her charging full speed. Knowing that, must have made her feel confident, and maybe even invincible. This is what makes women so beautiful, physically, and emotionally.  She wasn't afraid because she knew she wasn't alone. 

We are stronger when we support each other.  We are all feeling the uncertainty and heaviness of the world right now. 

We have got this. The first step is to show up for each other. This is the most important part.  Look up and see who needs a little help. Whatever that may look like.  A small gift, a text, a drink, a note, a card, a walk. Anything you can think of to show them that you see them, and they are important. Lifting anything heavy is impossible to do without some pain, but there will be a point when it will suddenly feel a little lighter because you realize you are not alone in carrying it.  

Women were born to lift each other up. Women were born to lift heavy.