I am grateful for redefining strength.
I have taken a little hiatus off of my strength training, focusing on my alignment and balance (and having fun!) doing Original Strength resets including long walks, pilates classes taught by my friend Lara, dance classes with my friend Lynn, and yoga from a local in-home studio. I had also been running hills twice a week in September. Each time I tried to push myself a little harder on the hills or reintroduce some strength training, my central nervous system felt completely taxed which rendered me useless at home. Instead of the burst of energy I would usually feel, my body just wanted to lie down and take a nap. I took stock of my life in September – starting our school year, doing a 30-day gut cleanse, holding my very first Book of Hours workshop, and continuing my self-care practice of meditation, writing, prayer, and doing my own Book of Hours plus blogging my daily gratitudes plus the normal parenting of five children and maintaining my relationship with my husband. My body reflected the life I was living. I was in the midst of aligning my entire life and my body was no different.
But as I continue on this path of focusing on getting a little more flexible, fixing my posture, and getting to know my body slowly again, I wondered if I was still “strong”? I grabbed Cloudy and Blue, my pair of 12kg kettlebells that my children named. I tried single overhead presses and then double overhead presses. Easy. Then I tried a turkish get-up with the 12kg. No problem. And snatches weren’t a problem. I hadn’t practiced any of these movements in months. I don’t think I lost any strength at all. In fact, I think I am stronger.
I had worked so hard gaining strength this year with my various strength training programs that this really threw me for a loop until I began to reflect on strength in general.
For me, being strong had always meant having the last word, speaking louder, not backing down, and taking preemptive measures like closing myself off so that I would never be taken advantage off. I thought I was strong when I could do everything on my own without asking for help. With all the relationships in my life, I was on the defensive, unwilling to bend. I experienced conflict more often than not and my first inclination was to fight – fight to be right, fight to exert my will, fight to be the last one standing.
I confused aggression and arrogance with strength. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy. Over the last year, I have shifted my definition of strength. I have made peace with all the challenging relationships in my life by embracing one of the hardest things that has helped me discover what true inner strength feels like.
It takes an amazing amount of strength to forgive. Think about it. There are people in your life who you don’t agree with. People who frustrate you. People who have disappointed you. People who want you to fight them. People who disapprove of your choices and humiliate you. People who abandon you. People who talk about you and judge you. It’s easy to fight back, discount them, or write them off. We all know how we get angry and defensive, feeling completely justified. I used to think to myself, “Clearly that person is wrong and I have to set them straight” or “I just don’t want to surround myself with that type of negativity so I will avoid them.” I closed myself off or complained to others or continued to be a part of these relationships but remained full of resentment and bitterness.
Forgiveness is another way of saying, “I accept this situation.” That’s it. You may not like it and it also doesn’t mean that you let the person keep hurting you. You simply don’t hold on to the feelings. You don’t keep the hurt alive over and over again. You move on and just accept it for what it is. For me, every situation is an expression of love or a call for love. It’s difficult and a continuous work in progress but I’m working on it. Just as I am working on my alignment physically, I am working on my alignment with my spiritual and everyday life. Can I accept the past as something that had to happen to get me here? It might have been painful but it was a necessary part of this journey. Can I, despite being hurt, keep my heart open? Can I keep silent in peace and not silent in resentment?
Imagine the strength needed to do that. To remain open despite a past full of hurt. To acknowledge that you are the stronger one right now that can let it go. To bring joy into a relationship after years of conflict. To soften enough with an honest hope instead of hardening in pride and despair.
42 days of gratitude…giving thanks to it ALL.
There is still some spaces in my Book of Hours Workshop coming up on October 21…and I have added a new description of the course, written by a friend who has taken the workshop and her husband who felt I was shortchanging myself…Thanks Angela and Peter. Please read all about it right HERE.