The Year I Burned It All Down: 2016 In Review

I had plans for this post, I did. I have been slowly crafting it in my head. It was going to be about goals, about big things, about my body and trying to do new things. I knew I was late with a New Year’s Wrap-Up/Resolution post (which I normally love doing: see 2015), and I felt like I had to bring in something good to make up for that.

See, I had set out a semi-private goal for myself in mid-October. After hitting my PR of 280 for a deadlift, I wanted to hit 300 lbs by the end of the year. It would be a few weeks after the Honolulu marathon, and I’d have some time to get back to lifting before making my attempt. I thought that’s what I’d end up writing about.

Yesterday morning, I went for it. A little delayed, sure– I’d jumped back into CrossFit with a vengeance at my fave non-CFO box, CrossFit Kona while I was home for the holidays. This resulted in lots of gains, but also a back pull in the middle of the week. Then, a friend of ours has been helping my boyfriend and I try some new gymnastics stuff, so I wanted to let my core rest before lifting something heavy.

Monday morning, on a whim, I decided to go for my attempt. Was I tired and still monumentally hungover from celebrating 2017? Yes, yes I was. Did I eat before like a smart person? Nope.

But I went for it. I had my whole plan set out. I got up to 235lbs easy. I tacked on 20 more, rested for a moment, then pulled.

I swear, I see a strained muscle before I fully feel it. Suddenly, I see white for a second, then I feel the electricity shoot through my body. It burst right along my lower back, down my right hip and quad. I immediately dropped the weight and sat back, my entire lower body screaming.

And just like that, I knew I was done for the day. I was tempted to try and rest and go again, but I knew that would only make it worse. So, despite my romantic notions about how I was going to start 2017, I slowly started to put my weights back and knew I’d have to give it a go another day.


And, somewhere in there, is the allegory. Or, at least, the metaphor.

Let me explain: I’ve been struggling with what to say about this year because I feel like I’ve grieved it and rebuilt it multiple times already. I did it in March, in May, in August. As a writer, Lord knows I love romantic notions. I have been working towards them since childhood; I have been trying to write the narrative of my life from the beginning.

Then, something happened. I looked at the story I had been writing, this epic ship I had been building to sail off into the sunset. I had put blood, sweat, and tears into it. I had babied it from the beginning.

And then I looked at the life I had built and I burned it all down. 

Let’s be honest, that’s what I did. I did some pretty crazy shit this year, which included the systematic destruction of a life and routine I had been planning for years. I set it aflame and walked away. And I don’t regret any of it. Not for a moment.

The thing is, the whole, clichéd, rebuilding-from-ashes theme is probably a cliché because we all have to go through it sometimes. We can move down the path of our lives and try and course correct along the way, but sometimes it takes a complete destruction to actually forge something much stronger.

I know– you’ve read that somewhere before. I have too, and to be fair, I believed it (hell, it’s kind of what I did when I moved to Hawai‘i).

Here’s the thing I realized this year, though: the process of rebuilding isn’t always romantic. It won’t always fit your timeline. It won’t always happen with fanfare and confetti. Sometimes it’s the quiet acknowledgment that you have to set down your barbell and try again another day.

There’s something strangely beautiful about that, though. What would it mean if I stopped assuming that success was this shiny, noisy thing and accepted the joy already in my life? What would it look like to stop seeing success as some, forever-moving finish line and see the moments of hard work, of coming back to the mat, of thankless and private hours of sweat and tears– what if that was success instead?


 

With that, here are 5 things I’m happy about, despite the burning-it-all-down:

  1. I diversified my writing to include things about running and religion. I still love writing about education and race, though!
  2. I kept running (and got my first first-place!), started CrossFit, started Muay Thai, and started teaching Yoga again (and scored my first consistent gig!)
  3. I was in three back-to-back shows.
  4. I like to think I got offline more, got outside, and spent more time with the people I love face-to-face.
  5. I wrote. A lot. Never as much as I want to– but I put more words to paper this year than I have in a long time.

And, of course, some things for 2017:

  1. Keep writing. Stop procrastinating on the writing I have.
  2. Turn-Off Autopilot. (more on what that means here)
  3. Get a strict pull-up and start Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu.
  4. Rest/Active Recovery 2 days a week. Working out multiple times a day 6 days a week is not a thing I should keep doing.
  5. Get rid of all the clutter/books I don’t read/clothes I don’t wear. Adulting. Let’s do this.

 

Alright, 2017. Let’s do this.

 

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