Category Archives: Reflection

This Is How to Disappear


On and off,
We shared the same place
We laughed, cried,
And fought
But we knew how to
Put on the same face

And when I left,
Years later you said,
“While you were away I felt abandoned.”
I said I was looking for independence
And that’s when I knew
Things weren’t how I imagined.
We saw the world differently
Because the one who survives
Is the last one left standing.

You were always chasing the sun.
And the things we never had.
Where I was the one chasing the gun,
And all the things that were terribly sad.
I preached meaninglessness.
And the importance of chasing
Poetry and pain; it was here when
I thought we had the same face.

You said, “Come back. I can’t do it all on my own.”
But this is how you grow strong bones.
Besides, I’ve been doing it alone for years.
And there you stood on oath,
Until you upped and disappeared
Like a ghost that haunts me still.

Do you ever look back?

-Pennington

P.S.

The title borrowed from one of my favorite singers.  Their song entitled “How To Disappear.”  What can I say if it spoke to me?

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Animal Flow


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I have too much muscle for me not to put it to use.

I guess, just because I’ve been challenging myself without dumbbells and barbells doesn’t mean I can’t challenge myself in other ways.  My body craves movement.  It craves to feel blood swirling and pumping, to feel its skin get tight when performing.  My muscles crave dynamism and action.  I knew I had to think of something fast that would allow my body and I to be challenged and fulfilled.  Eventually, I came across Animal Flow or Primal Movement.

In the past I’ve done some animal-type movements but added them to workout programs when I wanted something a little different.  A few weeks ago, I decided I want Animal Flow or Ground-based movements to be the center of my attention, along with Yoga and mobility work for my continual internal and external healing.  Which reminds me, I remember getting used to ground-based movements when I was doing a lot of Ballet Beautiful and Barre work.  Half of the exercises were on the mat making it more challenging than the weightlifting I’ve already became accustomed to for over a decade.

I think subconsciously my body deeply craved ground-based workouts again, even though I was very scared (and still am) of letting go the religion of weightlifting.  Maybe not forever, but for the moment.  And so far, I’m right!  My body craves this kind of expression.  Over the past few years, I’ve come to enjoy moving my body in different ways.  I seek out more flow-type workouts that are super challenging and therefore allow me to concentrate in ways I usually don’t.

I want mindfulness, new movement patterns and new folds in my brain.  In a way, only now can I see how one-dimensional many of my movements were when I was weightlifting.  In the process, I’ve gotten better at writing a more balanced workout program.  I feel like I didn’t have a choice, but I’m not complaining.  I get better with time.  In distancing myself from what I normally do, I’m giving myself permission to see things differently, which in turn allows me to continue being open, so I can crave different things.  I love going on and learning from new journeys.  What I find interesting about practicing Animal Flow is I must work my way up, which makes it harder for me to overtrain even if (when) I want to.

I’ve had too many up’s and down’s with motivation due to chronic pain, stress and health issues that I can’t always say it’s been easy for me to be discipline 4-5 times a week every week regarding fitness over the past few years.  But what has helped me is going back to how much I love to move, how good I feel when my body is pumped, how blessed I am to have all my limbs, how nice it is to set goals and to stubbornly meet the goals and drive further for extra goals.

I’ve had conversations of giving up my love for fitness as well as conversations about why we (my different shades of personalities) should continue it.  I’ll never forget a coworker of mine when I asked her one day, “Do you want to train with me on my break?”  She said, “Why not?  You’re the trainer.”  That day we trained together and during, she said to me, “You love training!  I never see you so happy, so big with your smile until you train.”  And the thing is I never realized how happy I was when I move, exercise and put my body through intense work.  I was solely training to train.

Last night, I was elated!  I was walking on clouds, super high on endorphins.  I couldn’t get enough.  I did a move called The Underswitch.  I’ll link the move at the bottom of this entry with an article about AF.  It’s basically being in a crab walk position and rotating your entire body until you’re in a bear crawl/beast position.  Granted, it was my first time doing this move.  However, sometimes I have a bad habit underestimating myself and my physical strength.  I thought the underswitch would be harder to do because I weigh 223lbs.  Mentally, I felt like I shouldn’t have been able to do it, but physically I can do it.  I made sure to perform it a few times on the left and right, so I know it’s not a fluke.  And I had so much fun!  I couldn’t stop smiling!  There are few things in life that make me happy in this barbaric world.

I’m happy I’ve been practicing for weeks with Bear Crawl or Beast Holds.  I’ve been picking up one limb at a time and shifting my weight while being hovered a few inches off the floor just like in the video above.  I’m also practicing traveling or walking forwards and backwards also with the Bear Crawl and Crab positions, which are harder for me because I’m not the best when it comes to coordination.  Still, I think I found something I can put my body, mind, spirit and soul to use.

Have you guys done any Animal Flow?

– Pennington

Outlived Convictions


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Over the past few years I’ve been redefining every aspect of my life.

Out of tragedies come blessings unseen and unexpected. Things that I could think up is nothing compared to what life, the universe and God could give me.  I watch every aspect of my existence unfold like a pretty origami.

I whisper, it’s okay to be like water.

Form only to be formless again.
Give up the concrete.

All the little things add up.

Like leaving people and situations that no longer serve me.  It’s amazing how much I kept due to systems, two-way arrangements and outlived convictions.

It’s crazy how much one single person can be a parasite plaguing your life because they made it all about themselves.  Those people I had in my life who took up space and rarely asked, “How are you doing?  How is your mood?  Do you need help with anything?  Is that person, place or thing serving you?”

I enjoy unfriending people I outgrew and who I no longer share the same thought patterns and commonality with.  Particularly, the atheists.

I love creating boundaries with whomever I’m dealing with currently.  I don’t think enough people do this.  It’s very liberating, and time is short to deal with too many things that weigh the shoulders like anvils.  For too long I lived with a heart and mind of steel.  Always, tough, guarded and heavy when the soul needs to feel light to explore freely.

Ah, and to lighten the load further.  I love throwing old clothes away that no longer suit my frame or non-gym mentality.

And would you believe me if I say, I learned many of my new self-care habits from observing my sweet cat.  The way she grooms herself numerous times a day in meditation.  The way she pulls on her nails when she knows they’re detaching because they stopped serving their purpose.  The way she loves herself.

How many people do you know practice self-care?

Personally, I don’t know many.  The people I know are too busy looking for instant gratifications, the next editor app to make themselves appear more beautiful than what they’re not while others are taking drugs trying to escape their own jails and hells.

In treating myself with more love, care and concern, it has allowed me to heal and move past some of my emotional, physical and mental trauma.  It allows me to become hyper-aware when others, including situations are trying to disregard my care simply by trying to take advantage of me in some way.

I’m always surprised by others and how callous they are.  Like how they don’t see the fine line between respect and disrespect, compliments as opposed to insults, caring versus being indifferent.

I wonder about politeness – and is it even real?  Or is everyone just pretending to give something just so they can get something back in return?

These days I’ve learned how to speak and express more whereas before I would write everything down on paper and express myself through emails.  There were times when people who’ve met me didn’t like me very much in the beginning because I was a mute.  I was a very content mute because I love observing.  Nowadays, I’ve found some satisfaction in communicating and volunteering random information with others.

I like that I bloomed in many ways.  I used to think that being vulnerable and open was being weak.  I guess, perhaps I was vulnerable and open with the wrong people.  I realized that with my continual kindness and personal growth, I can be strong by being soft and gentle, too.

-Pennington

From Massage Spa Therapist to Physical Therapist


Life usually knows what a person needs.  I find myself forgetting sometimes that life is my greatest teacher.  And even though I really do want to believe in coincidences, I don’t.

Just a week prior to my first session with my pelvic physical therapist, my aunt gave me a gift for a 90-minute massage to the spa therapist.  So, even though my aunt was coming with me to the spa, I couldn’t help my anxiety levels because this was my first time and the idea of a stranger touching my body intimately was a bit nerve-wracking.

All these normal tiny question-based fears crept up like a cold draft in a haunted apartment like:  Will my naked body look okay?  What about that little bit of cellulite in my inner thighs?  Will they notice and are they going to feel it when they massage me?  Am I going to perspire like a madwoman because of my revved up anxiety levels and stink the whole place up like a skunk?

Ah, so with all the dread, it finally came time to strip down to my bra and panties at the locker room which brought back memories of never wanting to get undress in gym class at junior high and how other girls would make fun of me because I prefer privacy over publicity.  But I managed to get into the lovely plush robe despite the fact that some eyes were peering my way.  I confidently shook it off and strolled nervously into the massage room.

It was beautiful!  Dim lighting, meditative music, candle atmosphere.  Then it was time to undo my bra.  My panty I could leave on!  And I managed to get through it.  But because I went through this experience, I was able to not completely freak or walk out the door when I had to strip my pants and panty at the physical therapist place.

The first real session (not the initial evaluation) with my pelvic physical therapist was surprising but expected since I’ve done my research.  Still, I was freaking out internally.  The dim lights, classical music, and earthly décor put me at ease to an extent, but the rest of the time I’m sporting a deadpan expression with brewing spades and acid in the pit of my stomach.

For me, there’s nothing comfortable being half naked and having this talkative nice lady massage and stretch my stomach, pelvis, inner thighs, sit bones, hips, glutes and lower back.  Nothing.  As if nothing could top that, she brought out the vagina dilators, gloves and lube.  And I reassured myself, “This doesn’t make you gay.  This is medical procedure.  This appears sexual but isn’t sexual at all.  Relax.”

This was when I had to channel my anxiety and awkward levels to asking her a million questions about her life and her career and everything else in between, so I wouldn’t die too much in the present moment of vagina dilators.  All I could think is, if I can handle a 90-minute plus massage with wraps, hot oil and hot stones, I can handle someone sticking dilators inside me, regardless if they’re the same gender.

*pats back*

-Pennington

Everything


Now that I have my dumbbells and E-Z Bar put off to the corner of the apartment, I’ve been focusing on other things like cardio (biking), twerking, walking with nature, flexibility and mobility work.  My physical therapist has even whispered restorative yoga and has recommended some DVD’s specifically for pelvic floor dysfunction that involves yoga.  So, you know where that’s taking me.

Now I’m not the biggest fan of cardio, but I’m a fan of being healthy enough.  To make biking for miles fun at the apartment, I blast tunes on my S1-Pro Bose!  The music gives me goosebumps and sometimes I can feel the bass deep in my heart as I drown out everyone else’s music in the building.  Sometimes I like multiple sessions spreading them from morning, afternoon or night.  And when I’m in a carefree mood, I’ll ride the bike without undies because that’s something I could never do at the gym!

Some people underestimate the work it takes to twerk.  It’s a hell of a workout!  Plus, it’s something that gets my heart racing quicker than I can shake my ass, probably.  I’m not supposed to squat, lunge or do crunches, according to my physical therapist, but what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her, even though it may hurt me.  The main move of the twerk is a squat!  Still though, there are so many damn drills from standing, to bending over, to squatting on your toes, to performing movements on the wall or floor.  It’s great!

I remember when I first started twerking my body didn’t have the best muscle memory.  It felt like the first time I tried to dumbbell chest press; massively awkward and almost impossible.  I remember being self-conscious trying to chest press, more so than twerking.  Now, my ass has graduated!  It has a mind of its own and moves on its own freewill.  The only thing I need is a nickname for my twerking persona.

So, it took me a long time to be more flexible, but I got somewhere.  I stretched more of my lower body than I do my upper body because one day I want to be able to do the split.  Flexibility always reminds me of mobility work, so I do them both.  I used to think warmups, flexibility and mobility stuff were a waste of time, but that’s only because 1.  I can be kind of idiotic and 2.  because I was young and could get away without doing those things, so I thought.  I’m older now and my body is not having that shit anymore.  I must warm up and get all my juices flowing before I can dive into any kind of training just like foreplay before the climax.

Well, I’m new to restorative yoga.  I hope to practice it to the point where I turn into an airplane and levitate above the masses and hope to write about the journey of my new elevation.  So far, it’s weird to me.  At least, the process of being gentle as well as the process of consciously relaxing.  It’s eye-opening.  For the longest time, I lifted aggressively at the gym.  And to my amazement, I’ve never considered myself to be aggressive, even when others pointed and RAWR at me.  But by doing restorative yoga, I can see now how hostile, and often, how destructive I was.  Shit!  I have the injuries as proof.

Learning how to relax is something I needed in my life but didn’t know I needed in my life.  Isn’t that how it often is?  You never know what you need because you’re usually fixated on wanting something else that it overshadows what you actually NEED!  Anyhow, it’s taken me a long time to come around and relax for my overall well-being.  To be honest, the idea of being gentle to myself is/was pretty darn foreign, but I’m less guarded to being tender now with newfound appreciation.  This sums up everything!

Here’s an article to the introduction of restorative yoga if you’re curious.

Try it sometime.

Pennington

The Theme Is Being Gentler


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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

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

Different Now


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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