Toe Drama, Part 1 (In which I tell a story of toe problems)

If I uttered the phrase “ingrown toenail” to you, I’m guessing you wouldn’t shudder in fear and dread.

Me? I hear that phrase and kind of want to throw up.

Let me back up.

If you are someone who’s been around reading my random thoughts for any length of time, you know there are certain lessons I keep learning over and over (and if you’re new, welcome! What’s up? Nice to see ya!)

One of the lessons I can’t seem to hold onto is that life has a way of throwing up obstacles and challenges just as I think, “Look at me! I’m all good!” The piece I can’t seem to let sit in my gut has to do with recognizing these obstacles and challenges AS my life, not interruptions of it.

So, just as I was building back up from my tendinitis, starting to feel like I was truly on the road to recovery, lifting up some heavy shit and eyeing a 300lb back squat by the end of 2014, I got an ingrown toenail.

It was late July and it wasn’t a big deal. I googled home remedies and thought it might improve. It didn’t. The first week in August, two weeks before we left on a European cruise vacation that we had saved and scrimped and worked hard for and dreamed about for, literally, YEARS, I decided action was needed. There was no way I could traipse around Spain, France and Italy and drink in our trip of a lifetime with this bum toe.

I went to a podiatrist and, though he was a little brusque, he efficiently hacked up my toe (not the medical terminology, which I believe is “partial nail avulsion”) and sent me on my way with instructions. And for a time, things were pretty normal, as ingrown toenails go. I had a bandage on my toe for a day or so, and then I downgraded to a big ole Band-Aid.

The trip was relatively unaffected, although we affectionately called it: Europe, 2014: Don’t Step on Mom’s Toe! Because it was high season in Europe and everywhere we went my toe was in direct peril of being tread upon, usually by my own tightly packed-in family. At any given moment, you might hear me hiss, “Don’t step on my toe!”

Despite the warnings and the nickname of our vacation, my toe STILL got stepped on multiple times. Usually by my own kids. Ouch.

But, you guys, THIS:

europe vacation cruise gelato

Please take me back. At least just for one gelato. (Also you can click the image to see it full size and admire this beautiful scenery. And please take me back.)

So in the grand scheme of this amazing and possibly life-changing trip, the occasional toe pain wasn’t really figural. I avoided swimming because of it, but you know. The cruise was packed and the pool was tiny, so the idea of swimming in that pool with all those bodies was a little gross to me anyway.

When we got home and back to reality, though, it was clear that something wasn’t quite right about the toe. It had been about a month and it just wasn’t healing. If anything, it had gotten far worse, with the skin all round the toe starting to deteriorate. (eeeewwwwww)

I went back to the podiatrist the first week in September and he mercilessly hacked up my toe again. This time, I was less inclined to refer to him as “brusque” and more inclined to see that the guy was kind of a jerk. He was bullish–he barely talked to me for two seconds before he started digging into the VERY SENSITIVE area in my toe with a metal tool. At which time I am not ashamed to say that I screamed and practically leapt off the chair. And at that point I was shaking all over and asked him to please numb it up and not touch it again until he had done so.

Which he did. And then he hacked off another big chunk of my toenail and said it should heal up nicely from here. He prescribed me more oral antibiotics and sent me on my way.

Yeah, uh, the healing part? Not so much.

I tried to ignore it, because when it was all covered up by bandages, I could forget about it. Sort of. And, you know, it was early September and still warm enough to wear flip flops all the time, so for a week or so, I was like, what toe problem?

Oh, that pain in my toe? That’s nothing. (*cries in the corner from the pain*) I mean, if I could just get a shoe on my foot, I could go work out, right?

But then. Then it got even worse. The raw mess part of my skin crept ever lower, beneath the bandage, threatening to branch out from the toe.

This all seemed rather unbelievable to me. I was a normal, healthy person and I had been on repeated antibiotics courses. What was the deal with this toe? Surely if I gave it a couple more days all would be well. I mean, it was an ingrown toenail, for Pete’s sake!

Uh, no. I could barely stand the pain.

So I went back to the jerky guy, despite my hesitation at his lack of…well, anything resembling empathy.

When he came bustling in the room I was VERY clear with him. He was not to come at me with his metal tools. In fact, he was not to touch my toe before looking at it and talking to me about it. It was extremely sensitive. I told him straight out that I was afraid he was going to hurt me again.

He didn’t care. He grabbed his metal tool and dug in.

I screamed, “DON’T TOUCH IT!” Seriously. I felt like such a lunatic, but this guy was a barbarian. I was now full out shaking. He apologized. He said he thought if he could just clip the edge, he could take a closer look.

I took a deep breath, but before I even consented, he clipped into it with his metal clippers and this time, I didn’t practically leap out of the chair, I actually leapt out of the chair on one foot. I could barely control my shaking, and the toe was bleeding where he had clipped it. It was all I could do not to cry and I am actually having a mini-trauma while typing about it.

“I’m done here. Give me my records.”

He tried to sweet talk me then, told me he was going to take the whole toenail off and that would solve it.

“Nope, you are never touching me again. Do you hear me?” I looked at his nurse, “Do YOU hear me? He is not to touch me again.”

I wish I could say I stormed out of there, but it was more like a wounded hobble. I did have my records, though, so that was a win.

I went to another doctor the next day, knowing it was pretty serious at this point. The pain was so intense.

When I arrived at the new doctor, I was terrified, you guys. I will tell you straight up that I started crying as soon as I sat down in the chair. Like I had podiatry chair PTSD or something.

The nurse was so nice to me as I explained to her what had happened so far. When she unwrapped my toe she had this look of mild shock on her face. I feel like if she had some Xanax on hand, she probably would have given it to me. And, frankly, I would not have turned her down. She promised me that no one would touch it.

The doctor was amazing–Dr. Charlot-Hicks in New Haven, should you ever need a podiatrist. She took one look at it and said, “We’re just going to numb you up right away, before we do anything else.” I literally (and I do mean literally) wept with gratitude. It wasn’t my finest moment.

She did take the whole toenail off that day, and wanted to admit me to the hospital for IV antibiotics. I convinced her to hold off, what with my husband being in Detroit and all. There was this super strong oral antibiotic that she ordered for me instead.

Unfortunately, after three days on it, I started having chills and running a fever. When I called her office to let them know, they were all, “Go to the hospital. Go directly to the hospital. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.”

So what started off as a minor blip–“just” an ingrown toenail–had turned into something that was completely putting my life on hold. At least that’s how I viewed it at the moment. As if I stopped living my life when I got admitted. In fact, the five days I spent there taught me a lot…but let’s talk about that another day.

To be continued in Toe Problems, Part 2…In which I make an Important Point with this very long story. And possibly share some disgusting pictures (but way at the bottom so you don’t have to look unless you want to).

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Dear me, shut up and stay focused.

Allow me to begin this long overdue post with what I have come to affectionately refer to as “The Saddest Photo Ever Taken of Me.”

Tough Mudder

My awesome Tough Mudder teammates, getting pumped.

Wait, why is this sad? These are some badass women, getting ready to crush the Tough Mudder. And I’m not even in this picture, am I? What gives?

Maybe you caught it, but just in case, let’s take a closer look.

Oh. There I am. Pathetic.

Oh. There I am. Pathetic.

Yep, that’s me. Sidelined at the Tough Mudder and, to be completely honest, fighting back tears but trying to look supportive and excited for my friends. Because they really did kick ass.

As for me, I kicked no ass whatsoever on that August day in Vermont thanks to my injured Achilles (officially diagnosed: Achilles tendinitis). I kept wearing the boot for a week or so following my last post, and then got the clear to gradually stop sporting that sexy look and just move into a long, long, LONG journey of modified workouts, physical therapy, and slow improvement.

But I won’t say “I couldn’t run the Tough Mudder.” I will instead tell you, “I chose not to run the Tough Mudder.” Why is this distinction important to me? Because I’m a grown ass woman, and no one said “You can’t do it, Stephanie.”

Several people, whose opinions I value because of their expertise (eg, my trainers and physical therapists) advised me not to run the Mudder because, well, dicking around with an Achilles injury is a super shitty idea, and I chose to take this oh-so-wise advice seriously. (Look at me! Taking sound advice and listening to my body! Woohoo!)

I’d like to say that I was proud of my decision and it wasn’t a big deal to miss the Mudder because I knew it was the right thing to do, but that would be a bold-faced lie.

I’d like to say that I was super psyched to go to Vermont anyway and support my girls, but that would be another big fat stinking not-so-true statement.

Going there and not being able to participate, putting on my happy encouraging face, go girls go!, etc etc, was really effing hard.

Standing there in the background, watching them hold hands and get psyched up, and then take off on the course, well, it sucked.

It sucked so much ass that I had to go to the ladies’ room and take about 15 minutes to compose myself. (Not to mention the fact that their heat left around 9:20 and Tough Mudder folks did not see fit to start serving beer til 11am. A big WTF? to that.)

I wish I had a different story to tell about that day.

A selfless story that paints me as somewhat saintlike in my acceptance of being left out/left behind instead of someone who spent five hours wandering around alone and feeling sorry for herself while they ran the course.

An uplifting story that shows me cheering triumphantly as I watched my friends cross the finish line instead of swallowing over a huge lump in my throat, silently, as they hugged each other in victory and relief, having formed a bond that can only come from facing the challenges they had faced together on that course.

A bond that, even though I was technically “there,” I wasn’t a part of.

But apparently, I am not selfless, and so far, this is not that uplifting of a story.

Shit.

While I’m detailing depressing things, I may as well let you know that I also bowed out of dance crew for the October performance. This, also, makes me want to cry a little.

Ok, a lot.

Ok, I have already cried several times over this decision.

Dance crew is something I do purely for my own personal joy and happiness and nothing else, so taking a break from it and missing a performance so I can heal is just…crappy. Miserable. Sucky.

I’m also only working out 3x a week at the gym, with no jumping or explosive movements (buh-bye, box jumps, high knees, tabata rounds, jump squats…I could go on, but I’ll stop there because I think you get the picture).

So, in a matter of 2 months, I’ve gone from crushing 4-5 workouts a week, plus 1-2 dance rehearsals, to 3 workouts a week with my feet firmly planted on the floor.

I’m still putting up heavy weights, but my metabolic is significantly curtailed. And given my work to develop a healthier relationship with food by working towards intuitive eating (another long, painful process), this whole thing feels like a backslide.

My clothes are too tight.

I know I’m losing my explosive power.

I worry that when I am fully healed, I’ll be starting over, re-conquering fears of jumping on a wooden box, re-building the stamina to do 12+ burpees in a 20 second interval, re-starting my journey to do a set of 25 perfect pushups. (With this injury, just being in the plank position has been painful because of the flexion required of my ankle to hold a plank. I’ve been doing pushups one-legged on a box and it’s not going well.)

So now that I’ve gotten the bitching, the whining, the self-pity and the worrying out of the way, what now?

What she said.

What she said.

It’s time to shut the hell up, and just keep working. Do the best I can to stay focused on what I CAN do the progress I CAN make during this recovery period.

OK, maybe I will have to start over with pushups, and maybe I didn’t kick a bit of ass on Mt. Snow on August 10. Maybe my jeans are too tight and maybe I’ll have to build back up to jumping on a box when the time comes.

Who cares? Really, why would I let this bring me down? I’ll admit that I did for awhile. A pretty long while. A long while in which I alternated between pretending I didn’t care (I did), beating myself up, and throwing pity parties for myself at which I was the only attendee.

But now it’s time to just move on and adjust my expectations and my focus. It is what it is, and I have to find ways to be awesome in my current context and capabilities.

I have to see this not as a backslide, but as another opportunity to become the most kickass version of Steph that I can possibly be.

Another way to learn the lesson that being awesome IS NOT AFFECTED BY WHAT SIZE PANTS I WEAR. (*note, I am not yelling at you, I am yelling at me. In case that was unclear.*)

Right now, I have to focus on setting goals related to where I am and what I can do right now with what I have…and what I can do is keep lifting heavy shit.

For example, last week I squatted 200. I wasn’t even up to 200 yet in my plan, but I had that number in my mind as kind of a goal and I just wanted to see if I can do it. Damned if I didn’t duck under that bar and squat 200 THREE TIMES. Like a boss.

And it’s pretty awesome, when someone annoys me at work or some rude person at the airport cuts past me in the boarding line (I remember you, man in Detroit…) to just look at them and think to myself, “Go ahead, be a jerk. I could totally squat you.” It really helps, and I recommend this strategy to be able to deal with assholes with utter serenity.

So where do I go from here?

Well, I may not be selfless, and I will likely have some more moments of self-pity here and there. I may not be society’s vision of what  fit person should look like, and I may not be able to do a set of pain-free mountain climbers. At least not today.

But I am strong, inside and out.

Injury or no, I’m going to find a way to keep moving forward. It may not be the path I choose or prefer, but I’ll just create a new path and keep working to be the awesomest version of myself that I can be.

As awesome as these two little turkey are, every day:

Random picture of my awesome and badass kids to end this post.

Random picture of my awesome and badass kids to end this post.

 

Boot of shame/badassery.

I have been a very naughty girl.

I ignored an injured ankle for a coupla weeks and I got a big ole fat swollen cankle that I could barely walk on. (sad face)

I went to the ortho walk-in and they gave me the boot. I was appropriately shamed at not having seen the line between “I can safely push through this” and “Oh snap, I’m injured.”

The boot is heavy. The boot is clunky. The boot is most decidedly un-sexy and un-cool. My daughter stubbed her toe on the boot and cried, then yelled at me for putting my “stupid boot in her way!”

I promptly set about the business of being lame. I was in a boot, for God’s sake! How effing lame is that?!?

Got my lame face on!

Got my lame face on!

I schlumped/clunked/booted around noisily. And slowly. For like two days.

I was grouchy. I yelled a lot. I had no heavy things to lift.

Then, I got tired of being lame, got into my workout gear, put on the goddamned boot, and went to my workout.

And that’s when the BOOT OF SHAME became the BOOT OF BADASSERY.

With some slight modifications, I kicked the usual ass at my workout. I benched a new PR (110 for 5 reps), did some pull-ups and good mornings, and even got in a little metabolic work…with my feet firmly planted on the ground, of course.

Suck it, boot!

Suck it, boot!

So yeah, no boot-related excuses for me.

And I feel soooooo much better now.

More weight.

So, back in the day when I was a high school English teacher, I taught The Crucible. My students and I were always fascinated by the consummate badass Giles Corey.

The quick and dirty on old Giles is that his wife was hanged for witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials. And then he was accused…and as you probably know, once you were accused of being a witch in Salem during that time, you were basically screwed. So Giles refused to plead at all; he just kept his mouth shut. The Puritan law stated that a person who didn’t plead couldn’t be tried, so their “just” solution to this was to press the person.

In case you haven’t been pressed lately, this meant they would lay you down, completely naked, place a board over your body, and proceed to pile up a bunch of heavy ass rocks on you until you entered a plea. Or died, I guess. Um…yeah. It’s horrible.

Giles was in his seventies. This old dude suffered the pressing torture for over 2 days, and every time they asked him to enter a plea, he only replied “More weight.” In fact, in true badass Braveheart fashion, he yelled out those two words one final time just before he died.

As in, “Suck on that, Puritan douchebags!”

In The Crucible‘s fictionalized historical account of the witch trials, Giles is emotionally weighted down long before his untimely pressing. He is burdened by guilt after mentioning his wife reading strange books during her “trial” for witchcraft. Not surprisingly, she was hanged, and he feels responsible.

This may be one of those times when you ask yourself, “Where the hell is she going with this?”

Answer: SOMEWHERE.

Here’s the thing: I think of Giles often when I’m in the gym. As I’m loading up the bar for my next lift, I’ll say to myself, “More weight.” There’s something totally empowering about it. (I also like to imagine I have a really badass gaze going when I’m thinking this…but in reality, I’m probably lucky there’s no mirrors in that part of the gym.)

But there’s way more to this than badassery. I imagine Giles feeling freed with every additional pound of rock they dropped on him. The physical burden of all those rocks might have lightened the emotional burden of what he was going through, somehow lessening his sadness and guilt. At least, I like to think that when I lift.

Of course I’m not fighting against the injustices of Puritan society in one last act of defiance like he was. I’m just working out.

But still…when life’s burdens get heavy, it helps to duck under that bar, put something tangibly heavy on my back and make it my bitch.

It’s hard to explain, but it’s one of the most important reasons I love lifting so much.

You will laugh at my Buddy the Elf reference.

You will laugh at my Buddy the Elf reference.

No matter what kind of burden I’m carrying in my heart when I walk into the gym, loading up the bar and lifting the crap out of some heavy weights makes a world of difference. It takes away the powerlessness I sometimes feel in the face of sadness, disappointment, fear or anger.

So right now, some people I care about are struggling with some majorly heavy emotional burdens. One of them is my friend and workout partner, who is dealing with serious health issues that have kept her out of the gym for a couple of weeks.

The first day that I showed up knowing 1) that she wouldn’t be there and 2) why she wouldn’t be there, I realized almost immediately that I had radically underestimated the power of a lifting partner as awesome as her. I had taken for granted the strength I drew from having her there next to me, working the same lifts, encouraging me when I struggled and congratulating me when I had a win. I missed her and her general awesomeness, and I felt weak.

I faced the bar alone on this particular morning, and again I was glad there was no mirror because yeah, I cried a little. I cried at the sheer powerlessness I felt. My friend wasn’t there and there was nothing I could to help her. There was nothing I could say that would ease her burden or change what she was going through.

I wanted my partner back so we could get into our regular workout groove and her life would be just as it had been, with all that hard stuff having just been a bad dream she had before the alarm clock went off.

More than anything, I wished that I could duck under the metaphorical bar next to her and help her shoulder the hefty weight of all she was dealing with.

But yeah, there was no “metaphorical bar.” This is life, and the only bar I had was the actual one in front of me at the gym that morning. And it looked really friggin heavy. Like, too heavy for me in my sad and somewhat pathetic state.

So I did what I usually do in these kinds of situations. I told myself to shut up. I put on my badass face (I think) and said to myself, “More weight.”

And I lifted the crap out of it.

Yes, my friend’s burden is still heavy, and that weighs on me, too, as someone who cares about her. We all have our emotional weight to carry around, and some days it is almost too much to bear.

But the act of lifting that heavy physical burden, of fighting through the weakness and powerlessness and pushing that iron up high…well, it helps. In some way, it lightens the load on my heart, and makes me stronger inside and out.

More weight? Bring it on.

Put on the suit.

Fun fact: I am a huge Avengers fan. So when I title a post “Put on the suit,” there’s really no excuse for me NOT to include this photo:

avengers

Oh, hello.

But this post isn’t necessarily about superheroes. Well it sort of is. But anyway, on with it.

So it’s been a crazy week. (“What else is new, Steph?” you ask.) The school play is tomorrow night so we’ve been running to dress rehearsals, and preparing for shows tonight and Saturday night. But before we GET to Saturday night, we also have a big children’s event at church on Saturday morning, followed by lacrosse practice, then my son’s birthday party on Sunday.

Not to mention the fact that I have family members arriving tonight at 6pm to go over to the school with us to see the play, and the house is a mess and I have no conceivable time between now and 6pm when I could actually clean it. Well, I guess I could be doing it now but I’m pretty sure my husband and kids wouldn’t appreciate my running the vacuum at 5:03am. So yeah, dirty house + impending company=more stress.

My blood pressure just rose writing those two paragraphs.

But in the midst of this week, I had a very cool epiphany on Tuesday.

Tuesday was a kind of “meh” day. After a school delay because of MORE WINTER WEATHER (I can’t even talk about it) I worked from home for most of the day. I also had to miss my date with the iron at 6am because of the aforementioned weather.

I had a ton of work to do but couldn’t seem to get focused.

I tried to focus on cleaning up around the house but still felt so “off.” So I told myself I was too busy (not) working to clean.

I accomplished very little that day except eating a bunch of crap that was in my house for no good reason. You know, just because it was there and I couldn’t put my finger on why I was so stressed and unproductive. So obviously, eating some shitty food was the right answer.

sarcasmI tried to cut my losses by planning a work out date with Mr. Badass at 6pm. But I couldn’t find a sitter.

General malaise ensued. More food was eaten. I figured it was a wasted day and got on with it.

Then I decided to stop being an asshole and signed myself up for the 7pm class to do the ole “kid switcheroo” as my husband came out of the 6pm class.

At 6:20, I (rather reluctantly, in full disclosure) went upstairs to get ready for my 7pm tabata workout.

Again, full disclosure, I tried to think of some excuses that would make it okay for me not to go.

And then it happened.

I pulled on my sports bra and workout gear, and I immediately felt better.

I know that sounds ridiculous, but it was somehow true. As soon as I was in those black pants with my sweet ass blue training sneaks on, I felt like myself again.

The bad day was left behind. The crappy food. The sense of general wrongness.

I was ready to go kick some ass. (And I did.)

For me on Tuesday, those workout clothes were my equivalent of Ironman putting on the suit.

Ironman

It felt wrong to choose a photo that did NOT include RDJ’s face.

So what’s your suit? Put it on, and kick some ass.

***update: At 7am, I managed to clean up my house a touch, with the help of a handsome husband. I wouldn’t call it “clean and pretty,” but at least  it is “vaguely presentable.”***

How about a photo Friday?

New levels of accountability: posting a photo every Friday! I hope some of you will join me–post your photos every Friday on the FFG FB page.

Here’s the Part of the Blog Where I Share a Picture Just Taken This Morning:

(after getting my ass kicked during Circuit Blast)

Samm made me laugh.

Samm made me laugh. But the workout was no joke.

So Circuit Blast is a little insane, especially after the workout I did yesterday morning at 6am, which included a total of 32 pullups. Which is a pretty big challenge for me. But I did it and am feeling it today for realzzzz…definitely making today’s workout that much tougher.

It’s 45 second strength intervals (stuff like trap bar deadlift, push press, TRX rows, pushups, pullups, chinups) followed immediately by a 20 second metabolic interval (burpees, high knees, climbers) then 15 seconds “rest” before the next strength station. 16 stations total.

Of course I put “rest” in quotes because it’s barely enough time to stop gasping.

Along with my weekly photo, how’s about a little goal check-in too?

The Part of the Blog Where I Update You On My Progress Toward Goals:

Reduce bodyweight goal:

Well, I kinda refuse to weigh myself that often, and I haven’t yet. I will NOT judge myself by a number on the scale…but I do need to reduce. So I’ll be weighing myself maybe once a month to check progress in a healthier way than scale obsessing on a daily or weekly basis. (PSA: if you obsess over the scale, please stop. It is kinda bullshit.)

But I have been training hard and eating clean about 85% of the time, and I know those are the steps I need to take to reduce. So I’m feeling good that there’s progress happening there.

Strength goals:

  • Pushups: Today I did 15 consecutive pushups at the end of a workout that really challenged my tired body. Considering in the past I would squeak out maybe 10 in a 45 second interval–probably with multiple 1-5 second “breaks” (lame)–I feel like this is solid progress.
  • Deadlifts: I definitely pushed myself on deadlifts this week, and pulled more than I have in the past for the amount of reps we did. (Thanks to encouragement from some awesome partners! Shout outs to Meaghan and Kathrin!) Still not sure what my max is, and hoping we’ll be doing that soon enough so I can get more specific on this goal.
  • Pullups: See above. Definitely feeling good about progress here.

Endurance/Metabolic goals:

Technically this goal isn’t really in the forefront right now, as I want to build strength NOW and then work more on endurance in the 3 months before the Mudder.

However, I did count my burpees during the intervals today and made sure that I did as many on my last round as I did my first round. So I have an idea of where I am now and will continue to track these types of things so I don’t stagnate during this time that I am more focused on strength.

So talk to me, peeps. Share your photos. Update me on YOUR progress towards goals. Let’s hear it.

In Which I Live My Personal Nightmare: An Extended Metaphor

It was just an ordinary Tuesday morning, on my way to 6am class with Mike to lift some heavy shit and generally be a badass. You know, whatevs.

When suddenly, the powers of the universe turned against me and this happened:

*Disclaimer: I did not actually take this photo. But this is very nearly what I saw.

*Disclaimer: I did not actually take this photo. But this is very nearly what I saw.

Seriously, out of nowhere. One second, no snow. And the next…

And I turned into a whimpering lameass, just like that.

So ok, here’s the deal: I consider myself a reasonably courageous person. I push to step out of my comfort zone on a regular basis. I don’t hate snow or anything, and I *can* drive in the snow.

But…I am freaking terrified of driving in the snow. TERRIFIED. Like, literally white knuckles on the steering wheel, stiff back, every muscle clenched.

It is my kryptonite, probably because of a few car-losing-control-in-snow-or-ice-holy-shit-we-are-all-going-to-die experiences from way back when. I avoid driving in snowy or–god forbid!–icy weather at all costs, especially when there are hills involved.

My drive to the gym involves going down a very large hill on a highway. I have unabashedly cancelled workouts because of weather due to my crippling fear of driving on this hill in snow or ice.

So you can imagine my terror (yes, terror–go ahead and laugh at me for being a lameass, but it is true) when I got caught in what I can only call a “flash blizzard” en route to my workout.

I literally could not see the road in front of me. I was on a stretch of the highway with a 3+ mile space between exits, and the next exit was, of COURSE, at the bottom of the aforementioned terrifying hill.

I couldn’t turn around. I couldn’t keep going. I COULDN’T EFFING SEE THE ROAD!

I whimpered a little. I may have even sobbed a bit. This was my nightmare, people. It was 5:45 and still dark, and the snow was, like, EVERYWHERE.

I considered my options:

1) Just sit there, stopped on the side of the highway, until it cleared and I could see better. And the trucks came to plow. Or someone came to rescue me. (This option would likely include more sobbing).

2) Keep going. (Let’s face it, this option would likely also include more sobbing.)

I’m proud to say that it only took me about 30 seconds to discard option 1 as completely lame and out of character.

So I sucked it up. I kept going.

I kept going VERY slowly, and driving on the divots in the side of the road–you know, the ones that make that annoying loud noise when you start to veer off the lane–because at least if I could hear that noise, I knew I was going in a straight line.

Of course I had to keep going, because by the time I got to the next exit I would have already done the hardest part–the hill. And once I got down the hill, there was no point in turning around and heading home.

So even as I’m writing this, I feel sort of ridiculous. It all sounds very dramatic. (Of course, if you know me at all by now, you know this is partly just me.) But even for ME, it’s dramatic and definitely so lame.

But we all have our fears that seem absurd and make us feel like total pathetic wimps. This is mine (well, I also have an almost-as-crippling fear of mold, but we can talk about that another day).

Pathetic wimp that I was, I put on my hazards and crawled down that hill at like 10mph. More whimpering occurred, along with some praying, and the full expectation that at any moment I could and most certainly would lose control, slide over the side and pitch down the mountain in my crappy little car.

Dramatic? Yes.

Real fear? Definitely.

Obviously, I made it and lived to tell the tale. I was only a couple of minutes late for class, and still kinda shaking when I got there. I’m not proud, but against my will, I had to face this kinda ridiculous fear and push past it. Because chances are, if I had known about the “flash blizzard,” I wouldn’t have left my cozy bed.

It’s a good lesson…

Thanks, MT.

Thanks, MT.

But I think there’s more to my little story than just the fear aspect. I really thought about it after, about what it was like sitting on the side of that road, trying to decide what to do, where to go from there.

I didn’t think I could go forward. I couldn’t turn back. I had no one but myself to rely on at that moment, and I had to dig deep, regardless of how silly the fear might have seemed to my rational mind.

At the end of my workout, I left the gym sweaty and feeling badass again. When I walked outside, the sky was perfectly clear as the sun came up. Like the little flash blizzard had never even happened. Son of a bitch.

Even when you think you can’t go forward, turning back isn’t the answer either. Weather the storm; it’ll be worth it.

It’s a pretty sweet metaphor. I’ll let you ruminate.