Insurmountable Obstacles

Let me be honest for a moment, I made a goal this week, just like every other week since I started this journey in July. But by Tuesday it was clear the goal wasn’t going to happen. By Wednesday I had given up the dream of even writing about the goal, and this morning I gave up entirely and realized if I did manage to write about the goal then it would be like lying because I didn’t do it, I didn’t even start it, and I actually can’t even remember what it was. Ever have weeks like that?

The road to happiness or finding a more Zen like state is certainly one that is bound to be riddled with obstacles. Some of those obstacles we provide ourselves and others just happen. Those we provide ourselves fall under the intentional living I’ve been talking about all this time. They are part of our failure at choosing our own path and choosing how we define ourselves and how we interact with the world. If you fail to make those choices the path will always be filled with obstacles that are arbitrarily placed there as a result of your lack of choice. Trust me, not choosing your path is the same as saying I chose a path someone else wants me to have. This isn’t a wise move because no one knows you like you, and others will either make false assumptions about your journey or they will selfishly want your journey to coincide with theirs. No matter what the world has in store for  you, you will always be far better off making your own choices, living intentionally, and following your passion regardless of what the world thinks of this or you.

Then there are the obstacles that just happen. Things we really have little control over and more or less come out of the blue; a traffic accident, a health issue, a money crisis. It is hard to plan for or choose the unexpected. It is hard to “know” what will just happen so you can prepare and make alternate plans. These obstacles can lead you down a path you don’t want to follow and one that strays ridiculously far form the path you were intentionally trying to stay on. It is sort of like hiking through the forest on a path you choose, only to stumble on a giant tree across your path. In order to get around this tree you have to veer off to the side and sometimes that can mean a detour far beyond what you originally thought or could plan for, and before  you know it you are lost and can’t even see the tree you were trying to get around much less the path you wanted to be on.

I have one of those such obstacles in my life, and thus far I have been unsuccessful at figuring out how to avoid it, and I have been unsuccessful at finding or choosing the path that results in it not reoccurring. These kinds of obstacles are the most trying and the most annoying because it can feel like no matter what your efforts are, no matter how well-intentioned you are, it will be for nothing and you will feel defeated once again (I swear the feeling of defeat can sometimes be worse than the stupid obstacle itself). I think there are all kinds of examples of this, and if you have been following my journey, and making it your own all these months, you have no doubt found yourself faced with an obstacle you just couldn’t get around. Something bound and determined to make sure your choices in life had little value and your intentional identity could just  suck it- for lack of a nicer way to say it.

This week my obstacle told me loud and clear in a very definitive manner that I could just SUCK IT. Whatever my plans were, my goals, my dreams for the week, whatever intentional mindful, now moments I was certain would happen, could all just go take a flying leap off the nearest cliff- and I don’t mean in the fun adrenaline rush kind of way. This obstacle has me thinking about my belief that intentionally choosing a life and path, as well as an identity, that I can find the better life I am looking for. This obstacle makes me wonder if there is a limit to self-help, a limit to positive thinking, a limit to making changes and taking action. Maybe there are just some obstacles that you can never get over, around, or through?

I haven’t made up my mind about all of this yet. I imagine, knowing me, it will be a work in progress because I hate the idea of not being in control. I dislike the thought that I can’t just make something right with hard work and determination. I’m not asking for a magic wand, or a super drug. I have no problem working hard to achieve results, but that’s just it, I have been working hard to overcome my obstacle. I haven’t been sitting around whining about it or begging for the little pill; most people who know me probably have never heard me even talk about it. I have been actively searching for answers, I have dramatically changed my life and my habits. I have adopted new methods of living and eating and moving, and still the damn thing won’t go away. It is exhausting trying to out run this obstacle, it is exhausting hiding this from the people I love, it is even more exhausting to tell them and be unable to explain it sufficiently for them to truly understand it, it is exhausting to feel like I have run out of options. There are no more changes or choices for me to make. There are no more brushes with genius to be had, I have exhausted all the possibilities and tools in my personal tool box and I have come up empty.

No doubt I am a better person for this journey. No doubt I am healthier and my family will be healthier as a result of my intentional choices derived from this obstacle. No doubt I am living a richer more purposeful life because of the thing I can’t move past. I won’t say it has been a blessing, it hasn’t and I’d happily remove it if I could, but it has influenced my journey in a way that I would not have gone otherwise. A way that likely led me to my husband, my children and everything else that is good in my life. Maybe I would have gotten here anyway, maybe not. But I can go back in time and see, with pristine clarity, how my obstacle led to my choices that put me on the path I was on when I met Jay. I may not have known it at the time, and it all clings together loosely with a general appearance of being unrelated, but in the end I can easily tie it all back to the same damn thing, the same damn problem I have had for 16 years. But this week was different.

This is the first week that I finally realized the impact this obstacle has on my every day life and how much it has changed me and how little credit I gave it as I tried to be brave and fight it, hide it, or ignore it. Sounds ridiculous, 16 years and I am just now putting the pieces together? Well, denial is a powerful and dangerous tool we all carry in our toolbox. Sometimes it can be useful, but more often than not it just brings destruction. I used my denial to create a barrier around the obstacle hoping to quarantine it; hoping that somehow, someway I could stop it from influencing my life or my behavior. It was a foolish thing to do, and that is what I realized this week. Denying the obstacle was stupid, failing to recognize that my efforts hadn’t changed it, was ridiculous. Trying to be brave and sort this out on my own is no longer working. Refusing to share it and being afraid of judgment is not working.

Do you have those kinds of obstacles? Things you keep hidden and keep attacking alone? Things that keep coming back laughing at you? Things that you fear, not just because of the obstacle itself, but because of what it might mean or what others might think? How can we find true peace and contentment if we can’t kill the obstacles that influence us the most? I would love to hear what your obstacles are. I would love to hear your fight and what you have tried and succeeded or what failed miserably. Because I feel like I just recently opened my eyes and I can’t see enough fast enough. What are your seemingly insurmountable obstacles? Are they really? Have you exhausted all your options and possible choices? Please share. No really, please.

What I am reading: 3 different books because I can’t really stay focused this week. I highly doubt any of them are worth mentioning.

What I am listening to: On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons

Inspirations from the ether: Dobermans never say die Must read/watch, and apparently, if you are a weeper, have a tissue handy. Someone has already called me a bitch for not warning her :) People can be terrible and cruel, and they can also be amazingly kind and generous.  

Now moment of the week: A 4 hour nap on Wednesday… don’t knock if you need it.

Top 3 Ways You are Wasting MY Time at the Gym

I recently wrote a post about how you might be wasting your time and effort at the gym by making common mistakes. Today I’d like to touch on how you are wasting my time at the gym; probably not the actual you, since we likely don’t belong to the same gym, but the universal you, because I am certain that you are probably doing some of these things in your gym and pissing off nice people like me who are forced to put up with your poor gym etiquette.

  • Sitting on machines or benches- If you are sitting down doing nothing then move. No seriously. Get up. Unless there are several benches or machines just like the one you are sitting on, then you shouldn’t be sitting on it; especially during peak hours when the gym in full. If you are resting between sets then look outside yourself (novel concept I know) to see if anyone is patiently waiting for you to finish. If so, let them “work in” by politely asking them if they’d like to work in between your sets. This isn’t an old school video game arcade, you cannot hog your spot with a quarter on the screen. Get in, do your business, and get out. Move on.
  • Leaving weights on Barbells and other equipment- I know, you work really hard and you are just hoping some hot chick will see your great efforts, be smart enough to do math in her head so she is rightfully impressed with the number of 45lb plates you have stacked, and you’ll finally get rewarded for all you do. But it isn’t going to happen. Its time you give up the dream and re-rack your weights when you are done lifting. Here is why… there are three kinds of girls using weights in the weight room:

One, the smart girl who likes to lift and isn’t there to meet anyone, who is just annoyed at you being rude and won’t speak to you anyway because she is tired of re-racking your weights.

Two, the stupid girl who likes to lift light weight and doesn’t know how to do math in her head so you will never impress her by leaving your weights on the bar. You’re better off asking if she needs a spotter for that 5 lb dumbbell she is curling if you really want to hit that.

And, three, the girl you brought with you who is standing around looking awkward and doesn’t know why she is there and not getting  her nails done and you will have to re-rack your weight because she can’t lift as heavy as you.

If his one sounds directed at men, I apologize, but I have never actually seen a woman NOT re-rack her weights, ever.

  • Blocking traffic while you look for a “close place to park”- Do I even need to address this one? Seriously, unless you are actually handicapped or have multiple kids (because believe me I know how annoying it is to drag two children and two bags through a parking lot as they both beg to be held or both try to run from you in opposite directions), then you should pick the furthest spot from the door and get your warm up in walking from your car to the door. Seriously, you are about to go inside and get sweating moving your body, but somehow it still matters that you park closely? Just stop it.

So the next time you go to the gym, or anywhere for that matter, try to remember that you are not the only person in the world, that other people have needs just as valid, and sometimes more valid than your own, and that there are rules in place for a reason, and that most of the time the reason is so people will be obliged to be nice to one another since we can’t seem to be bothered otherwise. And you might, just might, finally earn the respect of that hot chick who will then be obliged to come over and thank you for re-racking your weights. It happens.