good life with april orr
Part of cultivating a good life means learning to accept, be, and do YOU.
“Due to the bacteria count in the water, the swim portion of the triathlon may be cancelled tomorrow.”
Less than 12 hours out from attempting to conquer my 2013 Big Scary Goal and the swim gods blessed me with a curve ball. As if the triathlon-bike shorts weren’t enough of a challenge, now the water might kill me. Legitimately. Come race day, I would not swallow any of the water. Problem solved.
I lined up my race gear perfectly. I set out my running shoes, socks stuffed inside, and bike helmet carefully placed within reach. I hunched up to the start line. The start gun fires. Mass start. My biggest fears: touching sea weed and swallowing the lake water. Both fears came to fruition only seconds into my swim. Kicked in the face, sea weed abound, I was chugging water like it was no one’s business. I was going to die. Or grow a third arm.
I settle in, find my pace, and just go. The beach nears and I excitedly stand up and run. In a swimsuit. Unexpected new 2013 Big Scary Goal: run, in a swim suit, in front of hundreds of people. I get to the transition station, throw on my running skirt, and hop on my borrowed bike. It never occurred to me to test the gears. Many frustrated minutes later, I finally make my way out of the transition station. I find my pace, ride my race, and go.
As I pull into the transition station, I am looking forward to the run. I step off the bike and my legs evade me. I nearly fall but catch my footing and set off on the run. Music in my ears, I finally find my stride. I got this. I find my pace, run my race, and go.
As I cross the finish line, I am elated. I did it in spite of numerous unexpected challenges and obstacles. And I didn’t die. Jury is still out on the third arm. In the weeks following the triathlon, I found myself at a crossroads. The last few years, my big scary goals revolved around training for and running half marathons. One race became two, became three, became seven. The running trails were getting lonely and I was getting burned out.
Enter a friend who mentions CrossFit. A quick Google search left me intimidated and scared. I had never in my life lifted a barbell and the photos were slightly terrifying. However, I made the call and signed up for the first class. I pulled up to the gym and nearly turned right around. If not for my friend convincing me to get out of my car, I may have never made the walk inside.
Change. It’s something that terrifies me. I am a routine girl and this new fitness endeavor was way out of my comfort zone. I knew that it would be something I would either love or hate. I imagined it would be similar to boot camp type classes I had taken in the past. I was wrong. What I found was an amazing community of extraordinarily strong people and a workout that continually challenged me, broke me, and pieced me back together.
Three years later, I am immensely grateful to be surrounded by women who inspire me with both their physical and mental strength. The workouts never get easier as weights can always get heavier and times can always be faster. Numbers become the focus: the number of reps you’ve completed, the number on the bar, yet never the number on a scale. There are no mirrors to inflict self doubt. No people standing in a corner simply staring or watching. Everyone is there, head down, focused on the task at hand, getting work done.
This is where my story changes. This is where the story becomes about a girl who finally learns to focus on the numbers that matter. Weighed down by my battle against the scale, I often compared myself to unrealistic ideals, set impossible goals, and strove to be someone else…someone who was always just out of my reach. For the first time in my life, I had found a place where the number on the bar meant more than the number on a scale or piece of clothing.
I have struggled to accept my body for most of my life, always longing for long and lean, cursing the short and thick. I ran. I Zumba’d. I nearly died swimming. I never embraced my body or my thighs. Suddenly, these thighs of mine were doing things I never thought possible — lifting weights, carrying heavy things, and kicking my body into a handstand walk. I learned to accept that my legs are strong not small. I learned to accept my body for what it was and what it could do. I learned to accept me.
A lifetime of struggle overcome in the most unexpected of venues. Pieces of my story finally coming together: learning to chase big scary goals, learning to overcome adversity and obstacles, learning to find my pace, run my race…be me. I am the strongest I have ever been. Racing the clock and chasing numbers has taught me that my biggest challenger is me. Motivated by the competition of those around me, it is the goal to be stronger than yesterday that really inspires me.
The strength gained in the gym has accompanied me outside its brick walls and helps me balance the schedules of a busy, traveling husband, two young boys, and teaching. Just as in the gym, I am not competing against anyone else. Instead I am focused on the task at hand, head down, getting work done. I am nowhere near perfect and make a lot of mistakes; however, I am grateful for the strength I have gained to be forgiving of myself and to be kind to myself.
I am the accumulation of all my mistakes — evidence of trying new things, trying hard things, trying things. I am the stretch marks on my arms and legs, evidence of life experiences and transformations. I am a work in progress, evidence of past goals met and new goals
April Orr is a part of our creative team using the Stampin’ Up! products. She currently resides in Northern California with her husband and two boys.
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