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“And everywhere around us things is moving and growing and changing.” Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbit. It’s true. Even as I write this, the sky is changing. Clouds are drifting to the east. A light purple hue is seeping in along the west. Soon, it will be dark, the clock will strike midnight, and a new day will begin.
Change is inevitable. A trite phrase, but one that deserves existence. Some of us embrace the changes that come our way. We meet them head on, shake their hands, and travel with ease in whatever direction they take us. Others of us try desperately to avoid or ignore change. We wrap ourselves in the blanket of stagnation and tell ourselves that we are better and safer for it. And so we continue with old habits, run in the same circles, and bury our heads in the sand of ignorance, believing this sameness is bliss.
I remember a time when I was scared to move. I didn’t know what the future would hold if I stepped out of my cocoon of familiarity. As a result, I doubted myself. I limited my possibilities. I gave up the steering of my own vessel. I thought consistency equaled stability. I know now that is not the case.
Growth and progress are necessary elements in a human’s existence. Without these two qualities, we simply exist but cease to make an impact on society around us. Take bodybuilding. If I do not change my body, than I am not building; therefore, I am not bodybuilding. The same thing occurs with the mind and with the heart. If I do not change my mind…if I do not change my heart…then I am not building my brain nor building my emotional state. I see what I do as a bodybuilder as a metaphor for who I am as a person, and this is why bodybuilding is a lifestyle for me. It infiltrates every fiber of my being. All along the way, as I have torn apart muscle fibers in order to spark growth in my biceps, my quads, my glutes, my lats, my delts, I have also torn apart my heart in order to spark growth in my outlook on life.
I strive to grow as a complete person, to make the choices that will help me to move, grow, and change with the same grace as those clouds in the sky I mentioned earlier.
Thomas Dylan’s “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Goodnight,” exists at the top of a very crowded list of my favorite poems. To me, this poem preaches living. Not just existing. I would hate it if my “words forked no lightning.” I would despair if I did not “burn and rave” throughout the remainder of my days. I understand now why I was so distraught and unhappy two years ago. I was merely existing in a shadow of my life rather than taking control, facing change head on, and steering my vessel through ALL waters, no matter how stormy or calm.
I am not someone who can be stagnant in life. I need big hairy audacious goals to quantify my existence. It’s why I strived for a pro card over a decade ago. To me, that was the top of the mountain of the competitive world, and I like to strive for the top. And so, I fought hard in that journey to the top. I clung to the side of the mountain as winds whipped against me, as rocks loosened and threatened my grip, as others shimmied past me. I clung. And clung. And clung. I never let go.
But sometimes we have to let go and fall a little in order to achieve forward progress. I’ve learned this hard lesson in many aspects of my life: personal, professional, athletic. In the past few years, I have switched a few mountains, and I stand before you today a happier, more confident, more successful person. If I allowed fear to control my life, if I didn’t embrace change and reflect on the impending results of the various changes in my life, then I would still be clinging to the same mountains.
And so, though I’ve recently won the title of Ms. Natural Olympia, my climbing doesn’t stop. There is a world of snow caps to visit. Come join me as I determine how to reach them and then watch…watch…watch me climb.