All posts by penningtonhall

About penningtonhall

Thirty-six going on forty-six. Lover of fitness and body awareness. In case of an emergency, please pass me a set of dumbbells, so I can release energy, manage my moods and try to enjoy this physical life.

The Theme Is Being Gentler


MQ3364-Wonder-Woman-Comic-Series-Girl-Justice-League-USA-Superhero-Hot-Art-Poster-Top-Silk-Canvas.

I cancelled my gym membership and felt relieved.

The first reason why I decided to cancel my gym membership is because I don’t use it anymore.  I thought joining a gym closer to home would be convenient, but it wasn’t.  I became one of those people I used to talk shit about – paying monthly and not showing up.  I decided to stop wasting money and put hundreds back in my pocket.

The second reason why I cancelled is because I don’t weightlift as heavy as I used to.  This was the purpose of my gym membership; to play with all the hammer strength machines, barbells and dumbbells until I abused and depleted myself.  Now, I can’t step into the gym without lifting heavy.  I can no longer control myself, so I don’t go.

I have developed too many muscle imbalances and there are parts of my body that are asymmetrical (according to me).  Aside from my muscles who enjoy living their life in a state of contraction, they’re holding onto emotional and physical trauma.  The tension I carry must be release from within.

Every time I lift weights, my nags escalate until it’s full-blown inflammation.  It affects me in such a way where my body keeps instructing me to listen.  Over the years, I have decreased the load, given cardio strength a try and included circuit training with lighter dumbbells/barbells only to go for heavier weights eventually.  Therefore, continuing the hurt.

And, my body goals and nature has changed.
Nevertheless, I’ve been heeding the advice of my body.

Slowly, listening.

And I’ve been listening in time to lead me to the third reason why I decided to cancel my gym membership.  For the past few months, I’ve been seeing a physical therapist for pelvic floor dysfunction.  This dysfunction coupled with my fibroid issue and stress incontinence has pretty much ruined a good part of my life that I’ll leave for another entry probably.  Because of these newly found issues, it behooves me to learn how to be gentle with myself in every regard possible.

It’s quite interesting, over the course of the last few years, the theme of my life seems to be about being gentler to myself.  My therapist has also helped me to solidify the idea of furthering my compassion for myself.  I must be gentle in how I speak to myself, in how I respond to myself, in how I regulate my emotions, in how I treat myself, in how I exercise.

It all points to being gentler and I’m actually refreshed because of it.

– Pennington

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Mom


You were the one who first broke my heart.
It was because of you I learned to make pain an art.
I’m the light, but I live in the dark.
I’m the light, but I live in the dark.
I never knew I needed love until I ached,
Until I was shaped by every escape.
In kindergarten, I dropped many tears
On the pages of my homework and always
Handed it in without a world of care.
I never knew I needed to be loved until I saw
everyone else’s parents loved them back, in awe.
In awe, I was. In awe I was because I saw.
I carried around anger like my lifeline.
And I never held it against the divine.
And I never questioned if I was good enough.
I was, despite the hefty handcuffs.
I vowed to not be like you in so many ways.
I’ve set blaze to many things under your name.

And I still don’t have a heart the way I ought to.
And I sit facing entrances, never giving my back to a view.
And many of my feelings are dead and sometimes ill-advised.
And it doesn’t matter how I tread, I can’t disguise the chill in my eyes.
And the anger I kept has evaporated nearly now that you’re gone.
Permanence is never permanent, and somehow I found a way to live on.
Your body in the coffin was as real as when I imagined it at twelve.
That was the last time I cried and put my feelings on the bookshelf.
The numbness I contained up until that day released at your wake.
I didn’t understand with every preparation came a new defense,
It’s almost as if everything in life made sense, and yet not at all.

-Pennington

Happy 56th Birthday.  You’re infinite now.

Schwinn 130 (Part 2)


Part 1

After I sent the bike shorts back, my genital numbness started again, but this time due to the Respiro bike seat.  I had to find the right seat pronto!  I could feel the negativity creeping in my psyche.  I was thinking perhaps the Schwinn 130 isn’t the right fit for my body and maybe it was more trouble than it’s worth.  Maybe I was making this a bigger deal than what it was?  Then I began to research every day because it’s a big deal!

It took roughly a month to get warmer to what kind of bike seat my anatomy needed.  I finally came across this awesome website geared for cyclist women called Total Women’s Cycling.  Here they spoke freely about genital numbness cream, soft tissue issues, hot spots, bike shorts and pelvis structure.  It was here where I stumbled upon if I’m an “innie” or “outie.”  It was here that I questioned:  Where are my hot spots?  Do I sit laid back or upright on the Schwinn or do I sit forward and aggressive?  Are my knees too bent when I’m pedaling or am I hyperextending?  Are my sit bones small or wide?  Does my hip movement have too much movement?

Based on what I’ve research and on the shape of my body, I’m an outie.  This means I have more soft tissue than the next woman.  It’s no wonder why the bike shorts did me wrong.  It’s because I have my own padding, so to speak.  I also have wide sit bones (about 168mm).  I’ve tried seats close to the size of my sit bones, but it didn’t feel quite right especially with a traditional seat.  Even though, I did measure my sit bones at a bike store, I searched for a YouTube video of a man who says you can measure your sit bones right at home with a few items.  What I took from him was:  Add 20mm to his/your sit bone measurement for comfort especially if you’re planning on going longer distance.  I added the extra 20mm to my size.

After I answered a lot of my own questions like the ones above, I still needed to find a good seat.  So, on this same website I learned about this company ISM.  I bought my next 2 bike seats from them.  I love them both!  The ISM seats are designed with a split-nose.  They’re not traditional looking seats.  I think that’s what makes them super cool!  Anyhow, these seats, the brains behind ISM and the technology itself is smart, innovative, unisex and efficient in my opinion.  I’ve tried a few traditional seats long before I thought about buying a stationary bike back when I did cycle for about 6 months out in the city streets, and I always had a problem with my lady parts being numb, sore and very tender during the ride and majorly the next day.

With the split-nose it cuts out the pressure it can add to the lady part.  So, whether I’m upright or forward, there’s no additional cushion/padding where my padding is.  It’s invisible.  It’s beautiful.  It’s all I want!  Pain-free!  Pedaling smoothly.  I want the traditional nose out of the equation because it brings more trouble than what it’s worth.  With the split-nose, circulation IS better.  It’s not cutting off my circulation and putting my lady part to sleep.   And when I get off the bike, it doesn’t feel like I broke my clitoris and everything else around it I shouldn’t have.

The first bike seat I bought from them is called Touring and it’s under the Comfort category (Comfort City) on the ISM website.  Instantly, I felt the difference when I sat down.  I notice that the front nose of the saddle felt like it wasn’t there.  It feels almost like there’s a gaping hole in the center, but not really.  I don’t feel anything digging into my lady part.  The Touring seat is smaller than what the picture has you believe.  And when you sit on it, it feels like there’s only room for your sit bones and nothing else.

I ordered the Berkley which is also under the Comfort ISM category (Comfort Fitness).  This seat feels wonderful, too.  I like this seat more because now it feels like my ass has a place to actually sit on.  Touring is simply for your sit bones only with not enough pad to go around your ass although it has a good amount of padding thickness to make you feel like you’re floating on a piece of cloud.  I don’t need bike shorts with this seat.  I don’t need genital cream.  This could always change once I buy a bike that isn’t stationary, however.  But I’m hoping not!  Maybe I’ll just try one of the ISM performance seats.

All of ISM’s bike seats are unisex.  I know some people who have a problem with the split-nose design, but I think it’s perfect!  I’ve read horror stories of men and women who injured their genitals, their nerves and even experience erectile dysfunction or can’t have sex because of the wrong bike seat.  Maybe trying something out the box will save more nerves, genitals and sex lives then we know?

And to think, there was this woman whose supposedly certified to do bike fits tell me she would do my fit for $120 bucks.  Yet, when I spoke to her about the split-nose design, she acted like she didn’t know what I was talking about.  They didn’t even sell it in her store.  She sold me the Respiro seat, and it turned out to be horrible.  So, I just couldn’t trust her certified ass.  I was confident in my own research.

Signing off with a happy seat.

P.S.

Do you guys name your bikes?

-Pennington

Schwinn 130


I always wanted a stationary bike in the apartment.  I’m not sure why I didn’t do it sooner.  Maybe because I was using the gym on a regular basis or maybe because my last apartment building didn’t have an elevator and if I wanted to get anything upstairs, I had to consider the ridiculous 5 flights to my place.  Now, I have an elevator, so easy peasy.  Plus, I don’t go to the gym nearly as much.   Over the past four years I got used to home workouts.

I also got used to buying different fitness equipment.  I’ve become a shameless collector because variation.  But I’ll admit there was a time when I was struggling with my identity, motivation and fitness goals.  For a little while I was looking for something outside to make my inside feel better, and in the meantime I accumulated tons of interesting fitness stuff.  Right about the time I started to change my attitudes and perspectives in life, I started my research for stationary bikes.

The latest badass equipment and so far, the most expensive is the Schwinn 130.  I got it for dirt cheap – $110 bucks! – from someone who was selling it on the LetGo App.  She admitted to buying it because her doctor told her she shouldn’t run anymore due to her plantar fasciitis.  So, she bought the bike, but with her busy job schedule and never being home, she never used it.  I think it’s crazy that she spent over $500.00 for a bike she never tried.  She was kind enough to let me try the bike at her house.  Then I lugged the Schwinn on a dolly back to the apartment, which was roughly 18 blocks.  It was totally worth it!

The Schwinn being in great condition made me super happy!  I jumped on the bike as soon as I got home.  I didn’t think anything could go wrong.  BUT by the second day, my body awareness was strong.  It was then I realized the bike seat was digging hard into my sit bones.  The pain was unbearable.  I felt the hairs on my body standing up and within 7 minutes I felt my body cringe and posture cave in.  Not even the gel cover that came for free with the rest of the bike supported me in any way.  Pedaling became a problem!

So, I found a bike shop to measure my sit bones and bought a new sexy seat – Respiro Athletic Bike Saddle Unisex.  Instantly, it felt different.  I can now pedal continuously with less pain.  Within the second week, I bought women’s bike shorts to be extra.  And it turns out that it was leaving my vagina numb.  I got off the bike believing I broke my lady parts somehow.  I returned the bike shorts with gel padding.  I love my Schwinn, but I have to tell you that I’m learning more about seat position, bike shorts, saddles, millimeters, bibs and a whole host of other shit I never thought I’d get into.

Work is always in progress.

-Pennington Hall 

Different Now


queen 3

Things are different now.  And of course, it’s expected as nothing in life remains the same.  I’ve become aware just how much I’ve held onto things I shouldn’t have due to fear like ideas, fantasies, job, people, places and things.  It’s strange holding onto something and being afraid of losing it.

Where does that come from?  How many reasons do we need to hold onto something?  How many reasons do we need for us to let go?  It’s kind of crazy because as people we live every day of our lives with things changing all the time, so what are we afraid of?

It’s scary to think of what we do, and what we say and how we are shaped by things simply because we’re doing what we can to keep it.  I know I bring a force that unfortunately places resistance to what is, which in the end, means I will suffer more than I must to maintain a keeping.  Well, is it worth it?

The past few years I’ve been learning and practicing with each new day how nothing is meant to last.  Everything is in an impermanent state – every face, feeling, state of mind, impression and precious moments.  And that’s something I’ve learned is okay.  As a matter of fact, with each change came more blessings and visions I could never imagine due to being rigid within my ways.

I did want things to remain the same for me like my identification with the fitness lifestyle and having my body conditioned.  However, everything is different as it’s supposed to be.  If it weren’t different, then I wouldn’t be different, but because I’m different, everything else is different.  It’s been different going back to the gym.  Sometimes it depresses me.

I still suffer from the physical trauma of having broken my ankle.  Trauma can remain in the body like the way muscle memory does.  I’ve been working on it for years now.  With trauma comes some undesirable associations like intrusive thoughts.  So, for instance, going to the gym and getting on a bike gives me anxiety as I believe (imagined; possibly irrational, but feels real) I’ll break my ankle again.  Before I get on the bike, an image will flash where I reinjure my ankle by slipping off the bike in horrible fashion – a visualization I would love to do without.

Aside from the mental intrusive thoughts, images or flashbacks I have, there are other things that come, which I call the lingering side effects of things that may never go away.  I’ll rock out on a cardio machine (preferably the bike) and within twenty-five minutes my feet will start to hurt and swell, each fueling one another.  Sometimes the pain creeps where my metal rod and screws are.  Other times the pain comes directly from the arches of my feet and travels upwards in an ache that makes me shudder and vulnerable.

Sometimes I stop for 30 seconds because I don’t want the machine to reset my time.  Other times I loosen my shoelace or take my sneakers off, so I can continue with my sixty plus minutes of cardio.  These things do depress me, especially if I look back on my past and feel like I was better than.  I don’t want to look back there because there is nothing there for me but pains of what I had, which will give me present sadness and if I’m not careful will rob me of all the blessings I do have today.

So, I don’t do plyometrics anymore.  I don’t jog anymore.  Maybe I will l someday despite the syndesmotic widening in my right ankle.  I focus on the blessings of having all my limbs.  I focus on how far I’ve come like when walking a single block would flare everything in my body because I had to learn how to walk again, which essentially meant walking the fire for me.  I focus on the resiliency and how good I feel when the endorphins fly like a thousand butterflies heading to the sunlight to fuel their wings with solar energy.

Things are different.  I’m forged by a new fire.  And it’s okay.

– Pennington

Fitness Wasn’t Everything


I had someone tell me once, “Fitness isn’t all there is to the world.” And, although, I knew that, I didn’t comprehend what that looked like or how does one practice that kind of lifestyle, until life told me to take a seat with a cast on.  It was during this time I learned fitness wasn’t everything in life.  Fitness no longer always became the focus for which I identified with.  That changed my perspective on everything else, and it also made room for everything else I had to deal with.

I believe fitness has helped me to manage my bipolar for over a decade.  The first time I was diagnosed I didn’t want to believe it.  I think it’s not uncommon to say that before I was diagnosed, life was better.  But, that isn’t necessarily true.  I want it to be.  However, I understand that the notion of my life being better in the past is most likely stemming from not having the diagnosis in the first place since I can’t unknow what I know.  Nevertheless, the moment when fitness became unavailable for me, it was easier to see how difficult it became to stabilize my mood swings and irritability in general.

I used fitness as a crutch for many things like anger, depression and the void.  There were times I genuinely enjoyed gym-hopping because I naturally thought it was healthier than barhopping.  But, those hourly long sessions five or six times a week at the gym were where I chose to avoid certain life reflections.  So, rather than cut myself with a blade or fracture my hand on a solid wall, I would train to injury repeatedly.  I was using a different method to continue to hurt myself.

When I couldn’t train for a period, I had to learn to sit with my passions.  I had to observe my pain and find times for when I could adjust in healthier ways.  I had to find new ways to regulate my recurring moods, triggers and symptoms.  This was one of the most difficult things I had to do, despite allowing myself to feel what I feel when they arise.  It took a long time for me to realize that not every feeling will remain and not every thought was something I had to believe in.  I also didn’t realize in the way I trained my mind and body reflected my pain, avoidance, passion, anger, sadness and loneliness.

I’ve been a queen of silent pain, abuse and trauma.  I’ve been cold and brutal many times, not only to myself, but to others as well.  Once I started to transition from a masculine approach to more of a feminine one, I learned how to become softer and not have a meltdown.  With changing my mindset, from being open to change and flow while being less critical, clarity came along with ease and it reflected in my training styles as a form of better awareness, in and out my fitness, and life itself.

-Pennington

See How That Works


It’s easy to put someone on a pedestal when I know nothing about them.
I imagine all these renowned blends of hot weekends and being the best of friends.
  

I like you because I know nothing of you.
I like you because in the moment I’m willing to play a fool.


I like you because I’m not emotionally invested.
I like you because I’m restless and totally tempted.


But once I get to know you I start looking for a way out.
I turn my back on you like I would any boy scout.


I start to zero in on excuses that creep in my head.
I auto-suggest and suggest until you’re unwise and dead.


I doubletalk yet act as if all my intentions are good.
I ask the lord to forgive me because I’m often misunderstood.
 
I start to pick on your flaws like a bad student.
I will say you need improvement until you lose it.


I will even make you rethink your favorite drink.
While I run hot and cold like an ambiguous sink.


And the thing is, there’s a big dark sea –
How in tarnishing the image of you, I tarnished the image you once had of me.


-Pennington

Out of the Moment


I took a cab yesterday.

When I take a cab, there’s usually a purpose for it.  When I’m in a cab I like peace, quiet and looking at scenery.  I like looking at people’s ugly faces when they jaywalk or run across in front of a moving car even.  But, this cab driver kept taking me out of the moment.  (I guess, in some ways I allowed him to.)

He talked about how awful traffic was from jump.  How traffic this and traffic that.  And I couldn’t understand why he allowed traffic to arouse him in ways he didn’t want to be aroused in.  I observed how he took himself out of the moment simply by focusing on something he should be used to by now.  Maybe this should have amused me?  But, I felt slightly bothered and I was trying to overcome my judgmental side, wondering why he couldn’t give me a more considerate quiet drive.

Traffic shouldn’t be a surprise to a cab driver like I imagine a stripper shouldn’t be surprised by men ogling drunk in lust.  It comes with the occupation.  So, to have saw him and hear the thoughts he could’ve kept to himself as he looked on over to the other side of the highway, “Now I have to wait uptown for at least a half an hour by the hydrant since there’s no way I can come back down” is to put it mildly, a hot mess.

And now I wonder if I’m a hot mess, for having wrote a blog about it. 😉

-Pennington

The Vanishing


I haven’t been in the best state of mind.  Lately, I’ve been trying to adopt different approaches such as talking gentler to myself.  My therapist says, “Try coddling yourself as you would do a young child that you actually like.”

I’m up with the moon throughout the month and down in the soil all the other times.  Occasionally, I wake up passive and on other days I wake up aggressive as fuck.  I’ve come to terms with my mood disorder.  It’s behavioral, it’s learned, it runs in the family.  A few years ago, I’ve become aware of many effects and suspected my actions may or may not have been completely me.  Things have gotten to the point where even the most basic functions of existence do not seem basic anymore.

I lost who I was.  I think this is the way it goes, right?  Aging.  I’m not sure who I am anymore, aside from a maturing woman who’s both lovely and extreme.  I must admit loudly how I’ve been working on how to manage my mood swings for years and for a good part of my life, exercise and writing have kept a slight handle on the swings, but every day the things that used to work then haven’t been working now.  I’m puzzled.

So, I’m older and in some ways, I absolutely adore it and in other ways, I don’t think I enjoy it because the short-term memory keeps failing me.  It dissolves.  I think because there’s something in the water, something in the air, you know, there are things in our food we can’t pronounce, and that shit doesn’t allow our minds, bodies or spirit to function at an elevated level.  It’s like people hit a certain age and they flatline.  I feel there’s so much working against me in general, and this goes back to how I’m not in the best state of mind.

Over the years my discipline and motivation have taken a dive, so much so, it frightens me.  There are plenty of details in between, some you guys know and others I won’t bother getting into at this time.  Still, I’ve been trying to find my new normal concerning everyday life.  I’m going back to the basics on everything and am currently on a search to reestablish some things I used to love about myself, that now feels like the vanishing of a short-term memory.

I feel like there’s a sport psychology book calling my name out there somewhere.

-Pennington

I Heart Pearl Jam


pearl jam
I’m a grunge lady, a 90’s baby.

I love anything with rock even though in the hood of where I grew up I wasn’t supposed to.  I wasn’t cool if hip-hop wasn’t the focus.  Of course, 90’s hip-hop was the best for me, too.  But, when I left my friends and their prejudices, I’d go home, crash in my room, yell-sing at the top of my lungs with all my heart and delve into the pits of my anger and depression along with Nirvana, Guns n’ Roses, Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam.

During this time, I remember enjoying Nirvana more than Pearl Jam.  I think it was partly what the media spun though:  Were you more of a Pearl Jam or Nirvana fan?  I think since I was twelve or so, Nirvana took the cake for me, especially after his death.  It rocked me to the core.  I believed I wanted to commit suicide too, just like Kurt, and I tried.

Well, fast-forward to 2001, I was living with a boyfriend at the time and he was a heavy Pearl Jam fan.  He bought their new album that came out and told me to give it a listen or three.  And it brought back memories of how I’d listen to rock music during my deepest darkest depression and write my heart out.  Once again, I was at my most miserable.

And Pearl Jam’s album entitled Riot Act became one of my many blessings in life.  Instantly, I became a Pearl Jam fan again, but this time I knew I was a fan for life because their lyrics, jam and flavor hit me in my core unlike any other band.  This album got me out of a miserable time, and it also made me go back six albums to relearn who Pearl Jam was/is, then/now.

What I love about them is they don’t change their style to fit mainstream.  They’re a 90’s band and they have done a hell of a job keeping up with sounding like a 90’s band.  There’s a lot that goes into Pearl Jam I won’t even bother to get into, but I will a little like when they went up against Ticketmaster or how they sang songs about how fucked up the Bush Administration was even though they got booed and shit thrown at them as they performed in their own concerts.

But, more than anything it’s the evolvement of the band, their songs, lyrics, personal essence, how they individually matured and yet remain collective on every album.  And, so, in turn I have grown with them and I revisit their lyrics because as I age, my perspective grows differently with each passing year.  I go back to what they’ve written, and I get it now or I get it better.  Here’s some I want to share by Pearl Jam.  I wish I can share them all, but that would be endless.

I picked out some lyrics that are dear to me because I either went through it or it resonated with me.  If you have some of your own Pearl Jam lyrics you love or song, please share them with me.  I would love to know!  Of course, I have their concert playing as I type this and sing now:  Pearl Jam Live at the Garden.  Cheers.

Pearl_Jam-Live_At_The_Garden_Bonus-Frontal

Song TitleIn My Tree:  I remember when, yeah, I was young, I swore I knew everything, let’s say knowledge is a tree, yeah, it’s growing up just like me, yeah.

Song TitleWhy Go:  She scratches a letter into a wall made of stone.  Maybe someday another child won’t feel as alone as she does.  It’s been two years and counting since they put her in this place.  She’s been diagnosed by some stupid fuck and mommy agrees.

Song TitleWishlist:  I wish I was a sacrifice but somehow still lived on.

Song TitleBetter Man:  She lies and says she’s in love with him.  Can’t find a better man.  She dreams in color.  She dreams in red.  Can’t find a better man.

Song TitleI Got Id:  My lips are shaking; my nails are bit off.  Been a month since I’ve heard myself talk.  All the advantage this life’s got on me. Picture a cup in the middle of sea.

Song TitleLove Boat Captain:  And if our lives became too long, will it add to our regret?

Song TitleLife Wasted:  Darkness comes in waves. Tell me, why invite it to stay?

Song TitleUnthought Known:  Dream the dreams of other men, you’ll be no one’s rival.  Dream the dreams of others then, you will be no one’s rival.

Song TitleI Am Mine:  The sorrow grows bigger when the sorrows denied.

Song TitleLight Years:  I’ve used hammers made out of wood.  I have played games with pieces and rules.  I undeciphered tricks at the bar. But now you’re gone, and I haven’t figured out why.

Song TitleAll or None:  Can we help that our destinations are the ones we’ve been before?

Song TitleFaithful:  We’re faithful, we all believe, we all believe it.  So faithful, we all believe, we all believe it.

Thanks for reading. 🙂

-Pennington