I have to admit it; I am completely enamored and biased by people from Wyoming. Specifically Cheyenne, Wyoming.
I was born there; raised there, excited to leave there, and reluctant to come back.
I’ve said it once and I will say it again; I think I came from a really special “breeding ground.” It gave us everything other than what we wanted, and we made do with what we had.
I stepped outside my FB echo chamber today, to check out my Cheyenne Friends List. I set this up almost ten years ago, as a new offering on the FB platform.
See it automatically set up a “Cheyenne, Wy” friend group, but it was purely based on the people who listed Cheyenne as their current home town. At that point I created my own list including people I have known over the 18 years of growing up, and then adding people I met living there, from real life and online interactions.
Some of my favorite people from my past, exist on that list. I root for them the hardest. I believe in them the most. They rarely disappoint.
By this point in my life, I thought I would be the type of person that would be “followed” or “friended” for this specific type of list but somewhere down the line I really stopped giving a fuck and I am sure people have noticed and unfollowed or unfriended me along the way.
I am no longer the over achieving-personality pleasing person I thought I was. I am not jumping large social hurdles, or even putting up much appearance at all. I am okay with that because it leaves me time and energy to root on other people. It gives me something outside of myself to “believe in.”
Personally, I feel pretty solid in the fact that I have to keep myself in balance enough to the point that I can’t really rely on others for supplemental encouragement or energy; nor do I want to be an energetic vampire. So we sit in stasis.
I will admit I know some amazing people who continue to exist with amounts of personal drive that I have a hard time fathoming, but probably could have trumped in my earlier years.
These people are from my home town. These are people I want to follow. People I knew, “once upon a time.”
I want to see how they thrive and fall. I want to be there to encourage them no matter what.
But I feel this way about other people who have fallen in and out of my periphery since then. I never want to see them hurt. I do not want to contribute to their pain. I believe in them and their purpose.
Perhaps it is just those old stories, of when we were young and lacking confidence and suddenly found ourselves falling into a new group of friends, or perhaps it is just that rubbernecking attitude like watching a car wreck on the highway; I will never leave on a purposefully mean note. I may not agree with everything they say, but I feel that they represent me on some level, whether due to geography of once upon a time or some other relating factor, I believe deeply in who those people are and what they have to offer.
I love my Wyoming Kin. I love having a list to check up on, when I am curious.
I say : Go dominate the world with the amazingness that you are my fellow Wyomites. Always ask Wy-Om-In(g) here? Wy-Om-I- (will)ngly to stay or go? You know the Wind will always blow you in the right direction, if you are listening.
Wyoming- sometimes you aggravate the shit out of me, but for some reason, I always have your back; the people you produce and spit into the vast space of time and separation are worth keeping and holding close. I will remember this when you forget.
Wyoming you are more akin to the dandelion than you are the Indian Paintbrush… unless of course they are plant cousins, and then I can see the relation and purpose in distinction.
Here is a bowl-full of love for the vast, beautiful creativity that was able to dissipate outside the square we were living in. I hope to see your beautiful faces, sooner than later.
In the meantime, we will still be here waiting for you to return with your wild seeds, ready and willing to plant a new and colorful generation.
I may or may not have outwardly appeared to be a “goody-two-shoes” as a teenager. I didn’t really party; I was involved with the church, and several after school activities. I was usually preoccupied with jumping through the necessary hoops that lead to good grades and a well rounded college application.
In reality, I was a bit of an adventurer with a keen sense of intuition when it came to whether or not my adventures would lead to real trouble. Lucky for me, nothing too terribly bad happened.
I didn’t get caught very often, but I remember one specific case which lead me to getting grounded about a year after getting my drivers license at sixteen.
During the summer, I had been working at Sloan’s Lake, life guarding my days away. As one might imagine, being a relatively cute girl sitting on a life guard stand, day in and day out, brought male admirers. By this time I had been driving myself to work for almost a year, and I was riding high on that feeling of freedom while making money doing something I enjoyed.
Early in the summer, I was approached by a tall bleach blonde fella. He had that tanned surfer look (conch necklace and all) that didn’t really look natural for Cheyenne, Wyoming native. He was hot. He was way more hot than any of the guys I knew from school.
I have to be honest here, I am a sucker for a good looking man; so much so, that my brain and intuitive capabilities just fly right out the window. The insecurity arises in me, and for some dumb reason, I need to be liked. I want to be wanted by this person. I will be willing to do stupid things for his attention.
So the flirtation began with this guy. Everyday he would come to the park and flirt with me, and I definitely flirted back. I was a couple months away from seventeen. He was twenty four and in the military. I was familiar with flirtations of young military men…one of my friends was constantly dating them opting for what they appeared to offer in the sense of maturity in comparison to high school boys.
Military guys always had nice cars and extra money to throw around.
So, this guy (I can’t remember his name to save my life, but he seemed like he was a “Josh”) and I can’t seem to get enough of each other.
I remember one time, my parents took me and my siblings to the mall for casual “pick what you want to eat from the food options” dinner and some strolling around… and once I separated from the clan, I went to a pay phone and called the guy, and met him in the parking lot where we proceeded to make out for an hour and a half.
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
When I realized how much time had passed, I freaked out, tried to get myself together and went to find my family in the mall. I remember my dad grilling me about where I had been, and me making up some dumb excuse about running into a friend, and how we must have just missed them while walking around.
I didn’t want to lie. I also didn’t want to get into any trouble and for some reason I don’t think my parents would be too happy about some twenty four year old surfer Airman having his tongue down my throat and his hand up my shirt.
I was intoxicated by this guy. Which should have been a clear sign that I was making bad decisions, OH, but the RUSH! My hormones were on FIRE! I would do whatever I could just to get a couple of minutes with him. He had taken a part time job working at the Hardees on Dell Range, and after church my step mom would ask where we wanted to eat; if I knew he was working, I would beg to eat there. Sometimes I would drive over there after school, just to see him for a few minutes before going back to school for play practice. I was completely propelled by sexual energy.
One day, I remember telling my dad that I was going to be at the library all day, studying. That wasn’t a normal place for me to study. I didn’t usually have a lot of home work, and what I did have I was usually able to finish during breaks in rehearsals. I am guessing that out of place statement, tipped off my dad’s own intuition.
I left the house and drove straight to Hardees, where Dude would be getting off of work shortly. When I got there, he told me that he wanted me to meet some other dudes that he lives with at the barracks. My heart started to flutter, I knew that guests under the age of 18 were not allowed in the barracks. He assured me that no one really checks ID’s or anything, and that we would be fine. So I left my car parked at Hardees, and hopped into his car and went with him, on base.
I think it must have been a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. The guys in the barracks were drinking, playing video games, fooling around being boys, snapping towels and rough housing. The guy took me to his darkened bedroom. He asked me to sit on the bed, and from there he switched on a strobe light and pulled out a stack of Hustler magazines.
He started pulling off his clothes, and asked me to show him what I liked in the magazines. Little did he know that I was planning to save my virginity for marriage, and that these magazines were really freaking out the Prude in me. I started to panic, I didn’t want to be in this guys room any more. I didn’t feel safe. I told him to shut it down, and to take me back to my car.
There was about a half hour of him trying to convince me to just “loosen up and have a good time.” It didn’t occur to me how crazy this situation could have gotten, I just knew I needed to get out of there. The drive back to my car was awkward at best. He sort of half apologizing and me getting the sense of dread that comes when I know I am about to get caught for drawing outside the lines.
As I got into my car, a girl a couple of years older than me, that I recognized from elementary school, came storming out of the restaurant, and briskly walked up to the passenger side of the dudes car. She immediately started yelling at the dude.
I quickly pulled out of the parking lot and drove home, feeling some sick humiliation.
Once I was home, my dad stood waiting for me in the kitchen.
“Where have you been?” He asks.
“I told you, I had stuff to do at the library.”
“Oh, really? Because I decided I wanted to get some audio books at the library, so I went over there, and I didn’t see you.”
” I was kind of over in a dark corner by the periodicals.”
“I looked over there.”
“You probably just missed me. My stomach has been acting up, and I went to the bathroom several times while I was there.”
“Mandie, you weren’t there.”
“Sure I was.”
“Your car wasn’t there.”
BOOM. Back in those days, the library was pretty small, and if you were at the library it was pretty obvious by the parking situation… my ’82 blue Mustang hatchback was easily recognizable, and it had been his mothers old car, so he was really familiar with it… and no, it wasn’t at or near the library. Something told me he had probably seen it on Dell Range, and had also stopped into Hardees to see if I was there. Shit.
“Where were you?” He probed again.
I couldn’t tell him the truth. I couldn’t tell him that an adult man had taken me where I wasn’t suppose to be in an effort to try and get me naked. I just could not tell my dad that… so again, I lied. “I just went over to a friends house. She’s having a hard time right now with a break up.”
He knew he wasn’t going to get the truth, and so “Lies have consequences, Mandie. We are taking away car privileges for a week.”
“But, how will I get to school?”
“Your going to have to get up earlier, and ride the bus.”
“But State Drama auditions are this week, and there isn’t a late bus.”
” I guess you don’t get to audition for State Drama, then.”
“But, that’s not fair!”
“You probably should have thought about that before lying about where you were going.”
And that was that. I begrudgingly rode the bus for a week, missed auditions and packed that bitterness into my heart. Stupid boys, always messing my shit up.
The story doesn’t quite end there. Nope, I came to find out that I was being played by a Player. This guy was stringing along several underage girls. His “main girl friend” happened to be nineteen, and she happened to work at the same Hardees, and she happened to be that same girl I recognized from elementary school who got into his car the day of the library fiasco.
The guy ended up telling her who I was, and where I went to school. She knew what I drove and went to my school and waited for me. I had speech practice or something and so I didn’t leave the building after the last bell. She was waiting at my car to beat the shit out of me. When I didn’t show up, she punctured one of my tires and left a threatening note that I should “watch my back.” What had I gotten myself into?
Being somewhat confrontational, I needed to clear this mess up. So, I drove over to Hardees, and saw his car, went in and grabbed a booth directly in front of the registers and waited for him to see me and come over. Immediately his girl friend was hot on his heels, telling me to “get the fuck away from my man, you bitch!”
I calmly say that I am not here to fight. And that she can have this sad excuse of a man, that is a dirt bag. I then went on a tirade about how gross it was to take me to his dorm, and to try and get me to do stuff I didn’t want to do, and if she was okay with that then they deserved each other. Then I slipped out of the booth and walked out the door, just as the girlfriend started to go off, full throttle on the dude.
Immediately I felt a sense of relief that I was done with those people. I wondered if the girl had recognized me from elementary. I recall her family seemed highly dysfunctional and poor. She had the look of someone who had been dealt a pretty rough hand and her decisions weren’t making it any better.
About four years later, I got a part time job working in a makeshift call center for a vacuum company selling “air purification systems” out of the downtown mall near the Crown Bar. It was more money than life guarding, and consisted of cold calling numbers out of the phone book. Employee retention was low, and it seemed at least two people a week would leave or be replaced.
Imagine my surprise when that woman of the past comes walking through the door, fresh from jail looking even worse for the wear for her age. I immediately hope that she doesn’t recognize me. I hope that she still isn’t with that guy. I am immediately very friendly to her, very helpful. She tells me some of her history; drug abuse, jail time, half way houses, parole officers, drugs testing weekly.
I remember it was July. Frontier Days was a couple of weeks away. This lady had no license, no car. I drove her to a couple of appointments that she had to fulfill because of her legal troubles. I never brought up that guy… but I did bring up the fact that I know we went to the same elementary school, and that she use to dress very “western.”
She admitted that even though she looks like a thug, that she was still a cowgirl at heart. I had a pair of barely worn Justin boots and a couple of pairs of Wrangler jeans I never wore, and brought them to her the next day, so that she could get all Western for Frontier Days if she wanted.
I quit the job not long after that because it felt like a scam, calling numbers from pages in the phone book, and being told “Mr. So In So is dead.” I couldn’t prey on people like that.
I’d like to think that despite everything, that I did something right by being kind to that lady.
I’ve never really thought about being a mother, or what it actually means to be a mother.
I suppose more likely that I have given it some severe criticism over my days.
You know that moment when you just submit to how things are; how you are sure they will always be in the midst of knowing, while STILL trying, somehow, to make it better – perhaps over compensating in some mentality that had served you for a good long while; but has become such a self identifying characteristic, that letting go is hard, and humbling and tough to move beyond?
Yep. That is me.
I could blame the anti-mom game on my early life; social programming, feminism, Disney, and the World In General… but I won’t.
I made a choice of self preservation due to trauma in early life… and I have unabashedly stuck to it. I empowered myself by it; I gave it life and definition. I fed it by ignorantly and fyoulishly adhering to my trauma blinders.
HA! Like I think I have always known things!
When I was a child, I wanted to be a Grandma, above all…but, I also knew I never wanted to be a mom- so being a grandma, was probably out of the question.
I grew out of attempting to age quickly, and clung to the idea of being “The cool Aunt.” My tag line is “When you can’t handle the transitions, save your sanity and send them to me.” I believed I could be the bridging gap between generations, despite being a decade older than my sister.
Somehow, being single and childless, in my mind, equaled freedom which directly translated to “more room to comprehend and connect.” It also meant “choosing ones own connections” aka “being exclusive and reclusive, mysterious and confused.” “Appearing more purposeful than I actually feel.”
I have been, successful.
Successful at avoiding certain responsibilities by “opting out.” Successful at using the word “No”, even when it’s too much, going too far. Successful at building a very strong fortress around my totality of being-ness. Successful at giving out selective passage with time limits, to those who dare venture these walls.
But hey, what is your definition of “Success”? Is it at all defined by your MOM?
Mothers, just…they just aren’t suppose to just leave, ya know?
I don’t know… I mean… based off Disney, they are bound to. Moms exist as a memory with Disney. Why is it all the girls and boys who love Disney movies the MOST, still have their mom‘s?
Right?!? They not only HAVE them… they are CLOSE to them…
I guess, I should admit, I never really “bonded with my step mom in a way that would ever give me a real “Mommy” vibe. In the same breath, I will admit, I gave that woman hell with solidified child thoughts.
“You AREN’T MY MOM!”
“Why did you choose HER?”
“She WILL NEVER understand me!”
What wasn’t childish, and I didn’t understand back then, was the fact that I was unknowingly competing with an adult woman for my fathers’ attention.
Whoa, right?!? No one tells you that at 9 years old, even if you are going to a therapist who is SUPPOSE to help you navigate shit exactly like this; why? Because you are STRONG, you are RESILIENT, you are SMART, and if an adult explains it properly, YOU WILL COMPREHEND AND OUT DO EXPECTATIONS!
On the other hand, you can still carry all those attributes and go on like a bumbling fool because the adults around you are afraid of breaking a child who has already broken. A child seeking security, and finding everything around themselves a suspect. A child adapting, but never REALLY feeling like they are trusted or heard. Ho, Hum.
I don’t blame the effect of this on any one but myself these days. And, I am hard on myself, so I ask myself things like “Why didn’t you see this and understand this dynamic earlier? What is wrong with you? Why do you continue to fixate on things that are more easily accepted AS IS, instead of ruminating solutions to the past free-will decisions and actions of others? If that is what they would have thought was best, they would have. You know they are doing their best just like you, but you STILL SHOULD HAVE SEEN IT and KNOWN.”
UGH. Someone please bring me a 2×4 to beat my own head in.
That has been my life on repeat in variations for TWENTY-EIGHT YEARS!
Coincidentally, my step mom married my dad at the age of 28, in May, nineteen years ago this year.
I had just finished up my first grade year. And let me tell you, it was an EPIC year. I went to Ireland with my grandparents, my brother and my dad. I felt like I landed in a place made just for me, except for my sensitive stomach. We traveled in a rented van and stayed at B&B’s and I felt like the magic of my heritage was upon me. During the school year I had a beautiful and kind first grade teacher, Miss Rolfe, who was super nice and magical.
Then The End of The Year came. A week before the last day of first grade, I found out my Miss Rolfe was getting married, and on the last day of school we made a celebratory field trip to Brimmer Park, down the road from Baggs Elementary. I remember my grandma took me to buy a gift, and I chose two silver candle holders. I was excited to show her how much I adored her.
We had a child like bridal shower in the park. We all brought gifts, and over sized white t-shirts for her to sign in magic marker. On mine she drew an eye + heart+ you. I felt that inscription in my heart. She was beautiful, she taught with kindness and I thought she would be there forever.
At the end of our picnic park party, Miss Rolfe broke the news; the man she was marrying had something happening in Arizona. She wouldn’t be at the school the next year; she was moving.
My heart broke, and I am sure my attitude showed it. My grandpa picked me up from school and we walked the three blocks home. I was miffed.
I remember being home a while and my dad came in. I was in the kitchen, and he knelled down to me sitting at the table. He asked me something like “What do you think about me marrying Karen?”
And my heart sunk lower in my chest, but given the opportunity to express, I said “No…No.”
I received an answer that culminated in “It’s too late.” I had no “real choice” in the matter.
So finding out I was getting a “new mom” with no choice, and realizing I wouldn’t be returning to Baggs Elementary; I was hit with the realization that I lost a teacher, a school and all my friends; but, hey, I was gaining a step mom and a move to the country west of town, to a new school and house.
I stayed mad for two decades, and anything I deemed my step mothers doing in my misery, went into my brain archive.
How DARE you ask me, what I think and feel, if in the end, it matters, not?
I have always fallen victim to my observations and opinions.
How does one become malleable? Roll with the punches and keep your mouth shut. Make up your mind and keep it to yourself. Suffer in silence.
I looked for my dead mother until I was fifteen; thinking somehow, someway, she could get away faking her death and continue living with another family in the same town. I looked for her in the aisles of stores, and in the clouds when I flew on planes. I thought, in my youth, that you could just put a bouquet of flowers on the roof on birthdays and Mothers day, and she would just float down and get it. It all continues to give me cognitive dissonance.
But… you know what pulls me out of that dissonance?
I am THIRTY SIX FUCKING YEARS OLD! This shit is old hat. I graduated high school half of my life ago. Life has moved on. Everyone is moving on in their own way.
If I am honest with myself and my observations, these truths are undeniable… I have kept myself stuck despite knowing the evolving truths….
My dad has someone who loves him, and her loves her back.
My sister has an attentive mother that adores her, and she deserves that.
They all have done the best they can with me, but I kind of scare them.
Everybody is fighting to comprehend the day to day, and it’s changing swiftly.
My step-mom has always done the best that she can with no guide book, she is brave and resilient; but most like me, adaptable.
I wish I came upon all this alone, but I didn’t.
I have been really blessed in my adulthood to have surrogate mothers. Women, regardless of age, whose lives seemed to somehow collide into mine.
I haven’t had the same “call and check in every day” or “pop in unexpected” or “care for you when you are sick” kind of relationships; but I have had some eye opening realizations and some heart felt growth. But honestly, I mean, in my own experience the one thing you have to face about a surrogate is, they will always be there MORE for their own in the most natural and organic way. You are not really the Fruit of Their Loom, er Womb.
Kind of the same thing with my “step” situation.
She has my sister, and my sister has her; and in no way would I ever wish a woman to grow up motherless. They have a pact I will never truly understand. And I would never do anything to keep them from it.
I hypothesize that maybe if you have enough surrogate moms, you can actually plan that into your schedule and hug more frequently, and have a reason to make lots of handmade cards? I don’t know. What I do know, is, they are there when I need them,most times. But I don’t ask for, or expect much, and that makes it easier for everyone. Life is like that. Sometimes, you have to just figure it out on your own because no one is there to pick up the call or rescue you.. or just soothe you.
And that is okay too.
Some of us have to learn to “Mother” ourselves.
My surrogates and my step mom have taught me more about themselves and myself in regard to the life around me by their unique perspectives and my willingness to listen and observe. They present perspectives I don’t have on my own, unless I really try. They DO HAVE birth children! They understand love on a level that I don’t They have and continue to ride that roller-coaster which may not be ending soon when it comes to life transitions and need.
Rumor has it, “You always want and need your mother… no matter how old you are.”
What do they want in return? These Mothers? Proof of existence? Proof that their pain and turmoil and worry isn’t in vain? Proof that their best attributes can rub off and be impactful and important through progeny?… Justification to a certain degree, that the risk was worth it? The worry has worth?
Honestly, I don’t fucking know. I am not even going to pretend right now. Tell me.
The best I can come up with, is, they are like me; care taking spirits. I took a different angle, and I know that the out come will be different. I have no expectation than to have to deal with the most gruesome parts of mortality alone. They probably expect or at least hope their children will be there to hold their hands through it, when it is their time.
I need to work on honoring this, because quite honestly I have previously just shat upon a Mothers purpose, Their purpose. We don’t have life without Mothers. We do not have balance without Women… and care taking humanity would be a lost cause without that energy.
But, I’m not a feminist…?!?
I don’t have to be, because regardless, Mothers gonna keep Mothering. I apologize if I wasn’t appreciative before. You all impact the totality of the past,present and future. We need your love and attentiveness. We need your kindness and structure. We need your support, and your presence. We need your fearless protective nature.
You are a TREASURE.
May all you Mothers, have a Mother Pluckin Mothers Day.
The weather and the campaign trail are getting hot this July; and the heat radiating from Cheyenne City Council Candidates canvassing neighborhoods, is no exception. This 2016 election brings out twenty-eight candidates between three City Wards. It appears that Individuals are crawling out of the woodwork this year, inspired to step up and serve their local community.
One of these candidates is Joe Shogrin campaigning for Ward 3.
A local political supporter wondered why I hadn’t interviewed Joe, yet, based off of my unprompted interview with Mayoral write-in candidate, Richard Johnson; and I said “If Joe wants to talk, I will sit down and listen, and write something up.”
Well, Joe Shogrin DID express an interest to sit down and talk with me about his campaign and his visions for Cheyenne’s future; double bonus win for him, I live in Ward 3, as well. So, we had an impromptu and rather casual meeting over a beer in my humble garage.
Joe stands at about six foot four inches. He is a man who looks like he can lift some heavy equipment with agility… which all makes sense, when I find out he is a High Voltage Lineman. As I understand it, this isn’t easy work for the weak of heart, fear of heights type. This is work that transcends seasons, and jumps straight to badass modern necessity; a-no-one-likes-being-left-without-power-during-a-snowstorm-kind-of-labor.
In 2010, Joe Shogrin left Altus, Oklahoma (population 22,000) for the fine (if not larger) town of Cheyenne, to continue his work as a lineman.
Now, personally, electricity scares the dried fecal matter out of my colon. I don’t really understand how it works. I know that it is especially dangerous when prefixed by the words “High” and “Voltage”. This isn’t the case when it comes to Shogrin. Joe isn’t scared of electricity or heights. Joe loves his job. Beyond that… Joe LOVES helping people.
“You know the thing that really drives me, is being out there in the middle of an ice storm or a lightening storm, and there are all these people out there who are out of power and suffering… and, I know, we gotta get that power back on.”
Before working in the electricity business, Joe was humbly working as a janitor; however, when he found out that his first baby was on the way, he realized he needed a real career in order to support his growing family.
As luck, God, or good grace would have it; Joe found himself at the right place, at the right time when he went into the Altus City Building to ask about available jobs. He was presented with the opportunity for an entry level, seasonal meter reading gig that would be laid off in six months. He took the job, reading meters for six months, and at the end of it promptly joined the Linemen Apprentice Program.
Joe credits most of his career longevity and advancement with his ability to self teach and seek out knowledge in his chosen field. I make a mental note that these are great attributes for individuals to possess when running for public offices that represent widely varied demographics. “Cheyenne is an interesting market because a lot of our Councilmen (people) are small business owners, so they look out for small business interests which is an important dynamic that needs to happen, but I feel like the council today isn’t really for the people. Politics shouldn’t be that way at any level. They are there for us, there to serve us. That is what I want to get back to. That is why I want to be on Council. I feel like we have a problem here; a disconnect from the people to the Council; the Council to the people, right on up into the State house and the Senate, upward. We basically have disconnects on every level of Council right now, which is dangerous.”
These are potent observations, that should not be taken lightly; especially from someone willing to put their name in the hat to play a long standing local political game. I think about Rich Johnson’s comments about his beginning attitude in politics being idealistic and optimistic, and how much has changed in his perception of what he could change during his first year in council.
Politics is like High Voltage line work… it isn’t for the weak willed, and easily battered. Maybe Joe really has a chance at winning a seat and assisting in some much needed changes.
I want to know why Joe thinks he would be a good fit for City Council. “I’ve worked for the city (as a lineman) and one of the biggest strengths I bring to the table is moderation. Mediation is where it is at. I am some one who is willing to moderate and work in the middle. You give a little bit here, you take a little bit there, and after a while you have a compromise.”
So, Joe Shogrin is a willing mediator in favor of compromise. He comes across as open minded and level headed, not to mention brave, with functional risk taking. (Heck, you have to possess those attributes to get that far off the ground to deal with electricity in treacherous weather….) “I am very supportive of our local economy, but our economy goes through these boom or bust cycles every 10 years with oil. We have good employers; (it just seems) when we are comfortable making money, we crash. We don’t plan ahead, we don’t set anything aside for when the bottom falls out. You can’t base your economy off of two or three (major income) issues with a city this size; we have to diversify our income sources and work load as well as the types of jobs we have. I am kind of disappointed because I see our Council and Candidates, and when I talk to them they are like ‘ We have to support small business!’ And I agree 100%, BUT, we also have to support moving forward to the next level so we can (as a community) support small business. If people have money in their pocket, they are going to spend it and they are going to spend it here, mostly. Now they may go to Fort Collins, but we could build up our down town area; do stuff that will keep them ( local money) here.”
We talked for awhile about Keith Coombes recent Facebook post for Ernie Novembers’ Record Store, calling out downtown business owners for having such short business hours; especially in the summer time, on the week end. Just a few weeks ago Keith kept the business open an hour later than their usual 9 pm closing down. Ernie November, already stays open later, every day of the week, than any other non food related walk-in place of commerce in down town Cheyenne. By keeping the doors open for interested patrons, beyond the posted closing time, thereby engaging the community; the business was able to make an extra $500 bones on the books. This is great for one small local business… and it should be inspiration to other small business owners to take heed and ride the periodic tides we have when it comes to downtown interest and seasonal shopping. (Here is a link to Keith’s post if you want to check it out for yourself.)
“One of the constituents (running with me) is big on down town. His platform is ‘Bring Back Downtown.’ He says that he goes down there at night, and it’s dead except for the bar scene. You have a couple of beers and walk around, but there is nothing to do. It makes you wonder, what is there to go down there for? The bar scene? That may not be what the Councils’ job is, but, it’s also (what adds to) a perception of the community. Everyone is struggling to make a living, and so as a Council, what can we do to help them? I know that business owners are making their own schedules and want their time… not everyone is willing to work 12p-9p; and it isn’t the Councils job to impose that… but as a friend of the community, working to be in the Council; I would suggest that they really look at that and consider adjusting. Maybe try working some different hours and see what you get in the results. Downtown is essential to so many activities in Cheyenne. We have the Plaza, the Depot and space; sadly, it is underutilized. Bring the people in like we do on Friday’s. If I am to be a steward of peoples money, I’m not just going to spend it (willy nilly). I am not going to spend it on something that I wouldn’t spend my own money on.”
Joe is a blue collar guy, working blue collar work. He has to get his pants dirty and his hands callused to do what he does. He has to challenge his fears and step into the unknown in order to help strangers. He finds satisfaction in a job well done. I admire these attributes in general, and especially when it comes from those who feel invigorated enough to step from their obscure silence into a cooperative community position; willing and excited to help tow the line.
I shared my concern about certain ambitious projects in the city that seem to be rising to the top of discussions without real priority; for instance, the Sky Bridge. It is a very large scale project that was introduced to the town as “a way to make our skyline unique”, yet it doesn’t seem that this project should be any priority; especially when taking into consideration that there are so many defunct properties in down town… It seems like an over ambitious project with no real connection to realistic priorities as it pertains to actually improving Downtown Cheyenne for its residents. Another example is the Children’s Museum that started as a granted project, and is now being presented as a building that will be paid for with tax dollars, under the guise that it will invigorate a down town that already has a parking problem, and few options for kids. (On a personal note, I think the Museum is a great idea, but it belongs closer to Lions Park with other kid/family friendly activities; perhaps in the existing old terminal of the Regional Airport, which is historic in itself.) I also share my concern that we are wasting resources with all of these surveys that cost money to assess, in order to figure out a consensus for the direction of down town. “A project like the Sky Bridge should be funded by grants on a Federal level. And if they try and make us pay for it through taxes, I am going to fight it. I will dress up as Darth Vadar with my friends dressed up as Chewbacca and everything, and I will say ‘DO NOT PASS’ and have some fun with it. Most of these surveys are coming from the State level. I have been talking to some of the candidates I am running with, who are interested in interacting on that level, and I think I can smooth a road over between State Statutes and City Council. If that could happen we could make a positive impact in Cheyenne and Casper, because (State statute) it effects them too. “
Joe is a big proponent of calling out what doesn’t work, and then figuring out solutions that work best for everyone. He has a soft heart for those around him that are suffering from circumstances that are out of their control. He asserts his compassion by volunteering community service, coaching soccer and mentoring children who have no fathers. “I could be at home watching night shows like everybody else, but instead I choose to invest my time in the future. I have been watching City Council meetings for about two years. I get upset about it because they are suppose to be the voice of the citizens and some of the things they vote for are not Citizen Friendly. It’s like, if I started ‘Joe’s Lawn Mowing Business’ or ‘Joe’s Tiki Hut Stand on The Corner of Joe Rd.’ Then my interest would be ‘well I gotta make sure they don’t close that little loophole, so I can keep my business.’ That is how they (City Council) work, they protect only what serves them. I serve people. That is who I want to serve. I care about everybody, including them. So far as I can tell, there is no real Leadership on Council.”
Joe is quite the people person, and he aims to lend a helping hand whenever the opportunity arises. This is an attribute more leaders should have. “I am the type of person that will pull over and help you if I see ya stranded on the side of the road… or if I see ya struggling with something. If I see you struggling with your lawn mower, when I am driving by, I will stop to help you because I am pretty good with stuff like that.”
Shogrin’s goal in acquiring one of the Ward 3 Council seats, is to bring together the community of Cheyenne. He understands that many hands working together, can accomplish more in less time. He believes that some of the beautification that needs to happen in the city, could be accomplished quickly if we could set a time and date to get together to get things done. He notices that people are some what “shelled off” in this city, and he wants bring them out of their isolation. He wants to have a strong community that cares for the welfare of one another.
“We have to take care of ourselves. Not just our house, but our community. That is hard to talk people into doing because people are so introverted and shelled off from the world with their face in their cellphone on Facebook.”
Joe has a unique perspective on running for City Council, he doesn’t view it as a competition and he doesn’t view the other constituents as opposition. “I can’t say enough nice stuff about the people that I have met who (are also) running. I mean they all seem like really nice people. I am not running against them; I am running WITH them. In all honesty, if I get in, and they don’t all they gotta do is call me and say ‘Hey, Joe. Watch out for this. Can you help me with this? ‘ In my mind I am running with seven other people. We all want the same thing; we want to make Cheyenne stronger, bigger, and better. Basically I am surrounded by seven other people that have the same heart for the City that I do; so why would I make an enemy instead of a friend? I care for those people. Win or lose, we are in it together.”
Team work and compromise,is not a platform many actually run on… in fact, to some it may not even seem like a platform at all. The truth speaks loudly in this moment; if we truly love our City and desire to make it better, we have to work together and prioritize our compromises. Is Cheyenne mature enough to be progressive and thoughtful in it’s evolution? Cheyenne is large enough, to start carving out it’s own unique image in the comparative landscapes of other cities. What do we want to represent to ourselves and prospective future residents, and visitors alike?
As the cost of living continues it’s incremental increase across the boarder in Colorado; Cheyenne is bound to be a destination for those who can’t afford to live in Colorado’s changing economy. How can we encourage those who move here, but retain work in Colorado, to spend their money in Cheyenne with local business’? Especially when the heart of the city is in somewhat sad disrepair? What can we do to beautify our town and effectively diversify?
” A constituent made a comment about maybe trying to get the homeless people out of that area (downtown), and the Wyoming Tribune Eagle spun it like they’re a homeless hater . I’m like ‘No.’ The press will do that to you.’ But, responsibly, if you get them out of the area, you help give them means and ways to work. You gotta work with them, to have them work with you. There is always a balance, always a compromise to work things out. My friends joke that I could negotiate a deal between the Devil and God. I say, ‘I might be able to’ It’s about compromise, and it’s about working together and that’s my whole agenda.”
One of the big compromises Joe observes that needs some attention, is the wages in our great State. At this point in time, wages for most jobs doesn’t even come close to competitive national averages; which could be one reason Colorado transfers, may choose to keep their jobs and money across the boarder. Joe is concerned that our below average wages need to be addressed as a way of adding to the positive draw for current and future residents. “If you have a CDL other places you average about $50,000 per year. Here you make about $12.24 an hour, which is about $25,000 dollars a year. And here you have to have a Heavy Machine License, because a lot of these guys have to go unload heavy equipment… so that is additional, but typically a Heavy Machine Operator will make $60-70 thousand a year. Not here. We may pay those guys $18 an hour. Then we have our Fire and Police departments, and we are growing, so we need to think about that because those departments are going to have to grow in the future. Since I have been here, I think we have grown by 6,000, that’s a lot, and now we are short on both Fire and Police. I was talking to both Chiefs, and basically Fire needs another outpost over on the east side of town. Those business’ on the east side of town actually have higher insurance rates because the response time of the Fire Department. That is one of our bigger employment centers over there. There are 2000 plus jobs in that area. “
An area of address Shogrin finds pertinent, is the need for City funding to diversify their support into more of the activities and organizations in town. Joe then referenced the failing Ice and Events Center that was taken over by the City a few years ago. Lack of advertising and promotion of activities at the Event Center has made it slip to the back of most peoples minds when contemplating a fun family friendly social activity.
“The city tends to really support four or five organizations. We don’t promote our business’ well enough. There are local business’ here, that I haven’t even heard of. You can go down off Dell Range into one of the local shops; take my friend who owned Kabob King. When he took over that building down there behind Applebees, and I go in there to have a Kabob Burger, and I look over at Applebees and their parking lot is packed. I look at his parking lot, and there are two cars in it. Applebees is a big box store. 90% of the money they make over there goes back to the corporation and the rest goes to service and bar staff. We have a lot of organizations that can help you promote your business, but a problem I see, is they are not all under one umbrella and they need not be governed by the City Council because that says corruption. Maybe not this year, maybe not next year, or even in eight years; some where down the way, it’s going to get corrupt. Corrupt government pisses me off more than anything. If I see something right or wrong going on, I am going to call it. If it’s wrong, and I am doing it, I am going to apologize and get re-educated. I’m not above that, it’s a strength I have going into Council, if I get there. I’m not above admitting when I am wrong and learning something new. Sometimes I need help too, and I am not afraid to ask for it.”
Observing past candidates and current Council meetings leaves much to be desired in even giving the illusion of working together as a committee for the people. Many meetings run long circles around the issues with little being accomplished with the time spent meant to progress the city and address issues. Members seem unwilling to compromise or budge on their stances, which begs the question, are these representatives REALLY FOR the people and the City, or are they solely fixated on protecting their own personal interests? “I am like, one percent asshole. Other than that I want to bring people together. At the end of the day I want us all to work together as a team. My first goal in City Council, would be to bring everyone to work together as a team. The first thing we have to realize is the first priority is, we are working together for the same reason; We are for the people, we are for Cheyenne. It’s an easy commitment. If some one is 25% right about something, we don’t have to just shoot them down. You take that 25% and build on it. Without our town having a great future, our business’ will not have a great future. If business doesn’t have a great future, the town isn’t going to have a great future and have a chance to actually become prosperous. “
Joe noted that Cheyenne’s focus has seemed geared toward the tourism that is primarily generated during the summer months in the Capital City, versus prioritizing the actual residents and business’ that run year long that actually supports city programs with tax revenue. He feels that if we invest in the beautification and maintenance of our city, it will be more attractive both aesthetically, and and in functionality. “You see beer bottles sitting in the gutter for 3 days and no one wants to pick it up. We don’t practice due diligence in picking things up. One of the issues we have with downtown is it just needs a new coat of paint… and if enough people were to help, we could get it done in three hours. It doesn’t have to take a lot to make a place look awesome. If the City were to prioritize, and set aside a few days where city employees just went around helping people get things cleaned up…Can you imagine all these experts in their field with a budget and some grants, and we could clean up downtown nicely. We have beautiful buildings, they’ve just been neglected. “
Every downtown is known for having a ghetto area. How can Cheyenne, revitalize and address the issues that arise from an alcohol infused area that draws homelessness and at-risk adults, effectively? How do we clean up our act with out over gentrifying? How can we assist sub-sectors of our community that are disenfranchised and potentially dealing with chemical abuse and mental health issue, who are drawn to these areas where like minded poverty stricken peers congregate?
“I know why they congregate down there. Both of our Homeless Resources are down there within walking distance. You have the intersection of two busy highways right down there, and on top of that you have three places downtown there that offer free wifi. Then you are also in walking distance of MLK park, in which they sleep in if they can’t find a spot that is safe to sleep at, at night. It’s not about making the homeless people leave downtown, it’s about giving them an incentive to leave downtown. I think that is the problem people have had with downtown ‘Oh, it has to be clean’ and they want to do like they did in Denver. They swept through the homeless parks and rifled through their things, destroyed their things.”
Overall it appears Joe Shogrin really is for the people and the City. He is most definitely NOT a douche-bag. His apparent willingness to work with and for others, all while focusing on resourceful solutions that capitalize on the unique expertise and strengths of individuals working as a team, seems profound and exactly what the city of Cheyenne needs right now. With this attitude many positive things can be accomplished over a shorter period of time, thereby accelerating us into a bountiful future for this Magic City.
If you would like to connect with Joe on Facebook, click here.
If you would like to call and schedule a chat with him about any questions or concerns you may have, give him a call at (307)630-8342.
If you haven’t already, you still have time to register to vote; the primary election is in August and the race is heating up. You can register to vote at the County Clerks Office at 2020 Carey Avenue.
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If you are a Cheyenne resident-voter that follows local politics, the name of Richard Johnson, has probably popped up in conversation more than once around the water cooler.
In all seriousness, it appears that he has a completely diametric effect on those who have taken notice of his politics; whether from the outside looking in, or first hand. You either love him, hate him or find yourself completely confused by him and his presence in the political arena.
Some may say, though, that “is par for the course when it comes to politicians.” Rich, however, is far from par for the course when it comes to politics.
And, now, our Black Sheep Councilman, is running for Mayor, on a write-in campaign.
Richard is a life long resident of Cheyenne.
He has been labeled as “subversive” or “controversial” and those labels are nothing new when it comes to how he chooses to play his role in the game of society.
From a young age, Rich was getting things done in a manner of hard grit sandpaper. Ruffling feathers with his ideas; all while making strong attempts to involve sub-sectors of our community, places, and ways- to feel included in the conversation.
Take for instance, his involvement and passion to help get the skate park built.
I remember this town before there was a skate park. I didn’t skate but many of my friends did and I knew how badly they wanted a place to go; a magical place where they could do what they wanted to; a place where they weren’t going to get yelled at or cited for “illegal skating.”
Rich was just a few years older; he cared about skating AND politics enough to jump in, quickly discovering the depth of agendas when building something new in a city. Ultimately it all came down to politics and support of the community.
At a first and superficial glance, some may assume that Rich is just out to break things.
Breaking the systems and people who view him as obstructive or destructive… but can One individual really break something that is already blocked and/ or broken? Can One individual use their own transparency to show others that they need not pretend that superficial fixes and ignorance will alleviate a certain history of systematic dysfunction, that no longer fits our growing and changing the economy?
I suppose Richard is out to challenge that in a very direct way that will yet again ruffle feathers.
This is not to say that in the process of his involvement, officially with the City Council, that he hasn’t himself changed, and noticeably so…
It’s a moody spring day in Cheyenne, Thursday in the third week of May; we decide to meet up at the new Danielmark’s Brewpub, to discuss his effect on the community, and the reasons for the write-in campaign.
Rich looks like I feel; tired, and perhaps retaining some water. On his head is a black ball cap that proclaims “DON’T ASK ME 4 SHIT!”… ironic accessory to wear to an interview… when all I have is answers to ask for.
As per usual, he has also accessorized with one of his favorite black metal band t-shirts; today it’s Panzerfaust. According to Wikipedia
“Panzerfaust is an inexpensive, single shot, recoil-less German anti-tank weapon of World War II. It consists of a small, disposable pre-loaded launch tube firing a high-explosive anti-tank warhead, and was intended to be operated by a single soldier. “
This could be the end of this article. Whether or not he realizes it (and I guess that he does), he sums himself up consistently, without the help of others.
My hope for this series of pieces is to give you a more clear view of where Rich stands on topics effecting this town. For those of you who may be on the fence, or just on the side of the fence where the haters hang out; This is for you.
We grab our brews, and head out to the nice new Danielmark’s patio, and jump straight into it.
“Well, Rich, tell me about how you have become who you’ve hated?”
Basically, over the last month, I have done a huge paradigm shift from who I was before January 5, 2015. Pretty much before that, I was an idealist, and now I am the fucking worst pessimist you’ve ever fucking met.
“So you basically skipped realism, and jumped straight to pessimism?”
Well, because I know that there are ebbs and flows, and right now it’s on a flow, and soon it will be on an ebb…and we’re going to get another old man as Mayor. And I bet you that this year the status quo is going to go out in droves and kill everything (progressive.) I was actually waiting for more candidates to run against me, not because of who I am, but basically because of what I stand for. So I thought there would be a lot more opposition candidates. I mean they have nine more days to file… I figured they would come in a put the kibosh on it. I mean if they really look at it, I haven’t done anything except repeal some laws and ordinances. Like spitting is coming up, and weapons. Basically (the) chickens was a thing that nobody thought should happen, but I just did it to piss people off.“
“Are you maybe just being a little too hard on yourself? I mean, you have only been in the position a year, and it probably takes at least a year to figure out what you are doing, since you hadn’t done it before.”
No, I knew exactly what I was doing. I did it with the skate park. I knew what government was all about, that’s why I thought I could just, kind of, mesh in. But, you know, really, it’s just smoke and mirrors. I don’t really feel like anything has really been accomplished in seventeen months.
“But, you didn’t have a clear plan, right?”
No. And I never do. I never run on that type of shit. I told them, that I have no agenda. For my write in, let’s just say that this community better hope I’m never elected for Mayor.
“What does that even mean?”
I will raise the impact fees for developers. I will never have a sixpenny or seven penny tax, where you have to pay for a fire station because a developer wants to keep a couple of million for themselves. I WILL RAISE IMPACT FEES, and I WILL make developers pay for fire stations and more police officers. And I know, the Chamber of Commerce is going to come after me and tell me that I am not supporting local business. Then the Council is going to flip flop on me because they are a bunch of cowards. They are going to get scared that suddenly local business’ that hires local employees, is going to get the shaft again. If you look at inflation rates the Walmart on Livingston paid $125.00 for their final flat.”
Richard then explains his observation of wasted funds on spaces, with things like landscaping, in the name of “beautification” with plants that are having a hard time surviving in our climate at the times of year that they are planted. At the same time he is addressing his experience with the community complaining about the overgrown Green Way, that is justified to not be trimmed as a means of “trash mitigation and purification of waters with natural grasslands.”
Johnson makes note that Cheyenne lacks a specific beautification plan that is symbiotic with the climate and environment of the city and surrounding areas, and that citizens and business’ are wasting funds yearly on everything but long-lasting beautification solutions that can also add to the potential uniqueness of Cheyenne.
Maybe it was the topics of trash and monetary waste; that the conversation led next to the other Mayoral Candidates running for office.
As you may have heard before this article, Johnson is running on a write-in campaign. No signs, no banners, no $25.00 entry fee to put his name in the hat. He doesn’t think you need to spend money on a campaign, and he is out to prove it in his own renegade way. Some people are laughing, I know… and maybe I am giggling a little on the inside, too. My reason is, “you never know until you try, and if you don’t put any money in… what do you have to lose?” Right?
A slight controversy recently came up online, after Marian Orr announced her Mayoral bid with videos, balloons and bright orange posters. Richard boiled it down to gimmicks and things that would end up as trash in peoples yards. In turn, he encouraged voters to avoid posters on their lawns and in their business’, and instead, actually investigate what the constituents were currently doing in the community that would prove they should have a seat ( whether City Council, Mayor, or beyond.)
Social Media followers of Richard Johnson and active participants in the community eager to try their hand at city council agreed with his logic. Gabe Pina of Pina Accounting and the Downtown Cheyenne Business Coop is running for a seat in Ward 3 City Council. He was inspired to ask his supporters to donate to one of several community charities in lieu of campaign donations.
I almost feel like an asshole now, every time I go into a new business opening because I am surrounded by fake assholes. I am surrounded by ‘candidates’. It’s almost like everything I have done for the last year and a half on my own was “Oh I am elected, now I have to really go out and support my community. “
And support his community he did. “Richard Johnson, You Failed This City” has been just as abuzz with community events as it has been with Johnson’s personal rants; raves, observations, controversial pictures and not so rhetorical questions.
Anything having to do with Cheyenne; issues within the community have been posted to his social media participants, by Richard himself. Concerns by the public have been emailed to him, and he has posted them anonymously to gauge the interest of the community with topics raised. Overall, Rich has made a pretty concerted effort to attend as many events as possible regardless of niche or perceived “cool” factor.
More than once, Richard has arrived unannounced, and not specifically invited. And, perhaps to some onlookers, who may have been selfly placated in their own perceived superiority; were the least impressed with the effort in which Mr. Johnson was asserting himself into political circles concerning this community in the fine state of Wyoming.
So, though perhaps not out to impress, Richard Johnson is more willing than others to play the game and attempt to beat it by breaking the status quo. Whether he breaks it, or perhaps just overloads the system; there is bound to be an impact for Cheyenne.
I am writing this as a “Thank You” to all of you who have touched my life, or in return, have been touched by mine.
It is easy to get caught up in ourselves; our world is very ego centric. It is easy to take things and people for granted; to forget that we are all in a symbiotic relationship.
I want to spend this post, thanking those who have imparted some influence on my course in life… which is nothing at all like I thought it would be: once upon a time ago.
Many times, I have told myself, that “I feel too much.” And it is overwhelming. However, as an empath, I just feel all the time, on such an acute scale… it is hard to describe it in detail.
For me, it has come as depressions. Luckly, I know I am strong enough to ride the storm, but, admittidly, they are annoying. No one wants to be unhappy and stifled for weeks on end.
This letter of appreciation, is for all of you who have believed in me, and supported me through my doldrums. It is for those of you, who showed up to read a post, because you needed it in the moment.
My life has been one of servatude to humanity. My work, on such a small scale, is an act of prevention and inspiration.
I know that it is realistically insane to be happy or upbeat, all of the time. Not only that… but it is hard to do. I know that we are all sorts of sensative about things, people and situations, due to our past experiences. I know that certain things can act as triggers to deeper feelings, often catalyzed in an unintentional way. I know that sometimes a stranger says the perfect thing, at the perfect time.
I write for that part of a human. I write to that part of the human. I don’t reach millions of people per day… maybe five on a really productive day. I don’t do what I do for fame or following… I do it because I have been there. Once upon a time, I needed my own medicine and there was no one to administer the remedy. Mostly because I didn’t believe in myself.
I say THANK YOU, because I know whole heartidly that there is no way we would end up connected, if we didn’t have something to connect over.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for feeling and using resources to reach connection. Thank you.
Thank you for having the strength to try and figure yourself out and do better for yourself.
I am blessed to be reaching you, who are only miles or oceans away. I am blessed to have your input and opinion based off your own personal experience.
Thank you for showing up. Thank you for allowing me space to be vulnerable. I appreciate the ability to be heard by you; my wish, is to always leave something worth thinking about; in hopes that when we leave ourselves, we leave them better than when we found ourselves.
If there are topics you would like to discuss, please leave a comment, and I will work on that. I want to bring you content that inspires you to come back for more. I would love a deeper dialog on here, and it is YOU, I am talking to.
The friction of skin upon skin, creating a burn like Sin.
Being in one of the most social of lady places; the bathroom, I queried another female patron.
“Do you have any powder, by chance?”
Answering the question with an action, she pulled a large zip-loc bag out of her purse.
“I need just enough to dry out my lack of thigh gap.” I respond with more dryness than my pasty but saturated Vaginal neighbors.
“Ohhh, hunny.. this aint’t talc… It’s coke.”
Immediately, I imagine the options of relief.
“Too expensive for my needs, but I bet the numbing sensation is worth it;” imagining the potential, I add ” I need four miles worth of ‘numb’ dryness.”
She queries, “Four miles?”
I am pretty sure at this point she is already coked out and her brain is having a hard time equivocating.
“Yeah… four miles home. I think by cab that is about fifteen bucks… and that just seems too much to me, for this podunk town….. too much, even though, I… Even though I am having thisissue.” At this point I am attempting to handle the pain with a smile… I am a liar, and this shit hurts.
Eyebrows cocked, head tilted, she questions, ” An issue?”
“A woman’s issue…”
She looks incredulous for a moment until a spark of understanding, spreads over her already tightened facial muscles.
“OOOoooohhh, Auntie Flo!”
I see she is now slightly softened by compassion and understanding.
“Uhmm… No.” I can’t help but pause, acknowledging that if that WAS the case, it would be the least of my concerns; and that is why God made toilet paper.
“No?” She repeats, but with a sense of fear… like maybe I will tell her I just found breast cancer, or one of my ovarian cysts just escaped.
“No. I have heinous thigh sweat, and…uhm… massive chaffing.” I don’t know why I am so ashamed of saying this in front of a person carrying enough cocaine to be indicted on a felony, but it is how I respond, nonetheless.
“oh. OH. OooooOOHHHHhhh!” Images percolate in her mind and her eyes get big. I like that she seems to REALLY “get it”.
“Oh, hunny… that’s rough!”
Without losing a beat… I say,
“No, it’s RAW!”
I have pulled her into coke induced empathy, and she nods knowingly. “Yeah… whew, them’s the pits.”
On a roll, I say “More like the crevasses.”
Still feeling a bit desperate and despondent about returning to the bar, I ask ” So, do you have anything else in that big, magic bag that might help me?”
She begins the notorious “Puffy Purse Scavenger Hunt.” Digging deep in its depths for something significant or (in her mind) useful.
” Uhm, well, how about…Preparation H? err… uh.. Advil?”
By the looks of it, she has a whole different set of ‘women’s issues’; the pain, numbing my verbal filter, causes me to outwardly express as much.
I am disappointed AND defeated, but she is quick to respond, “Damn straight! I do! And I don’t leave my house ill prepared.”
God Jeebus, she must be a Virgo… I know what she is talking about, because USUALLY, I AMthat lady (minus large zip-lock bags filled with illegal substances).
Agitated with my observations, I add in a whisper of “apparently…” with far too much judgement and sarcasm.
An awkward silence ensues, and I find this to be prime time to exit stage left. Besides, she doesn’t have what I need, anyway.
Betcha if I needed a safety pin, there would be one floating around in there.
Maybe, just maybe, this is my fault.
Maybe, if I was at a family restaurant, instead of this dark bar, I would have better luck with my needs.
Maybe under other circumstances I could find a nice overweight and sympathetic mother… with a small baby, and an overstuffed baby bag.
And I would ask for her help… and she would reach deep into that well stocked baby bag of hers, and pull out just ONE of ten travel size baby powder bottles; and she would hand it over with loving care, and say “Keep it. You know you’re going to need a reapplication some where down the road.”
And she would wink at me, maybe even squeeze my hand or my shoulder and I would feel safe, protected and loved.
I would respond with a smile and a humble “Thank you”; thinking my good Karma must be returning in the form of self preservation, and I would walk home properly powdered.
Instead of looking for a family restaurant, with a responsible mother carrying a plentiful baby bag; I walked back into the bar intent on the only legal numbing I know… whiskey.
They know me here and the bartender asks if I will take another double Jameson on the rocks. I say “yes and add on a pint of Fat Tire.”
My favorite short order Cook sits to my right, and says “I’ve got those, put ’em on my tab.”
“Oh you don’t have to do that… I’ve got it.” I respond with a shyness.
“Nah, you gave that warm knit hat that you made, to my friend who was sick… and that hat kept her head and ears warm all winter.”
I can’t argue with such kind logic, and thank him for the drinks.
My good Karma is not in fact going to self preservation right now; or maybe it is, it’s just my momentary perspective…. I do need these drinks right now, if only to distract my brain from the chub rub forming on my inner thighs.
“Well, thanks again. I really appreciate it.”
And I do appreciate it as I slip out the back door to the patio; to go think some more about perspective.
The Zen Buddhists say to “judge nothing.” To see all as life, without duality.
So I adopt this perspective for the moment and take a long swig of whiskey. I hold it in my mouth for a while, letting the alcohol drench all of my taste buds. Slowly, I swallow it’s gentle burn down my throat.
I let the alcohol sit in my mouth like a tincture; letting the medicinal properties seep into the porous membrane of my mouth, allowing the liquid to cross the blood brain barrier and stimulate an exquisite release of dopamine.
Anyone observing may think I am contemplating the “swallow.” Wondering why my process is less smooth and desperate as their own, as they urgently suckle the heads of bottles containing weak watery beer. They drink it like they need water, like a hungry baby at the nipple.
I am outside, and no one is here. No one to watch or judge.
The air is thick with humidity and the clouds compound into a thick grayness above; growing heavy with precipitation, the thunder begins to take over.
I smile at the age old vision of God and his army of angels rolling bowling balls down an infinite bowling lane. Each roll of thunder, a ball. Each strike of lightening, the strike of all ten pins. After some time, it begins to hail. Perhaps this is a sign of a Heavenly game of 300, and the hail is celestial confetti falling to Earths floor.
The hoots and hollers, vibrating clouds, reverberate the cheers of a job well done. The Heavenly Team has won the League Championship.
Unbeknownst to them, we sit below like ants; watching as our flowers are beat free of their petals and our cars become dented with new geography.
A few people now have gathered beneath the rain shelter. We chat about the weather, avoiding conversations that dig much deeper. It’s okay… I didn’t come for more than distraction from my physical malady; which I have almost successfully mastered, until I again remind myself of the impending four miles. Four Miles… for miles.
I take the last drink of whiskey, and chew on a couple of ice cubes as I stand to take my first apprehensive steps toward home.
Are you familiar with the action of a wrecking ball?
That is Sara Goossen in a nutshell. The lady is powerful, energetic, and ready to knock excuses out of the way. She is a bright and compassionate person who sees the potential in people and then helps individuals harness their inner bad ass. This talent is an imperative staple in her personal business model.
October 1, 2012, Sara opened Fit Body Boot Camp- Cheyenne, with 14 clients. Her goal is to change the lives of 5000 of Cheyenne’s citizens by 2017. As of April 2015, she has trained and cultivated a community of 1200 residents who are interested in adopting a healthy life style. That is an average of 400 people a year, getting active and aware in the fair city of Cheyenne and it’s surrounding areas. No small feat for this 5’3″ wrecking ball.
Sara and I got together to discuss her fitness past and her optimistic fitness future; how she came to start FBBC and some of her own trials and tribulations in the fitness process.
Before I jump into the interview, I would like to state that when you are looking for a gym, and a support system to help you change your habits; having a leader like Sara is imperative because she has run the gamut of unhealthy eating and body weight issues. She has children, she knows struggles and excuses. She has taken initiative on her own, in her own life in order to transcend her past hang ups. In turn Sara has turned hardships into valuable insight for those at any point in their fitness journey.
It may be easier for certain people to take her ethic very seriously because she didn’t start out on this lifestyle right after high school or college before having children; when most women’s bodies are still in that youthful metabolism. She wasn’t always healthy. It was a choice that she had to dedicate herself to; which meant a long road of challenges that led to the changes that are evident in her today.
Let’s find out more, shall we?
WEIGHT: 145.3 lbs
FAVORITE EXERCISE: RUNNING STAIRS, WORKING THE BACK, AND SQUATS
LEAST FAVORITE EXERCISE: BUILDING CLIMBERS
Let’s talk about your fitness past, eating disorders, all that stuff.
It goes so far back, it’s disturbing… so, okay, 10 years old; my mom told me I needed to stop eating granola bars because they were making me fat and at that point in time I had just finished some book, I can’t remember the title of, and it was talking abou this girl who would throw up, because she was so fat. So…I…followed suit.
Thank God for Children’s Literature, right?
Yeah, I was like, “Well, now I am well informed and I can solve this problem.
(Sara reminences with awkward laughter.)
So, at ten years old that started fourteen years of just roller coaster disordered eating; ranging the spectrum of binging and purging to just starving myself. When I got pregnant with my son, when I was sixteen, I kind of just said “Fuck it. It doesn’t matter if I am skinny; it doesn’t matter if I am fat…I am pregnant. I can eat whatever I want and have no guilt.” I gained 50 pounds when I was pregnant with him, and I lost ten. I lost some weight nursing, but after I stopped nursing him, I continued the disordered eating cycle.
Just picked it up where you left off?
Yep, just picked it up right where I left off. And I knew… I was an athlete in high school, I knew about nutrition but it’s not something that I ever listened to because disordered eating was so much easier than learning how to feed myself. At nineteen I married my now ex-husband, (my daughters’ father) and gained all that “happy weight” I maxed out the scale before we got married, at 197 lbs…. so, I looked like a cow in my wedding dress.
Thank god for girdles….
After that we were trying to get pregnant with Emma, and couldn’t get pregnant… couldn’t get pregnant. We tried for two years, and I finally went to the doctor and asked “what is going on?” I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and the doctor told me that I had to make a lifestyle change, or else…. “you’re going to end up with diabetes; you are more apt to have certain types of cancer, you are just going to get fatter, your thyriod is going to peter out…” All the things that go along with PCOS… “This is your future. You either make a change now or enjoy your future where it is headed.”
At that point I sought help because I knew my disorder was no longer a sustainable way to live life. It wasn’t mentally or emotionally healthy.
So I lost about 20 lbs. and we got pregnant with Emma through a series of fertility treatments. When I was pregnant with Emma I only gained about 20 lbs and then I lost it all right away. At that point they (the doctors) said “Well you are probably not going to be able to have any more children, so don’t worry about it.” And I thought, okay, cool; I am just going to go back to doing the whole weight loss thing, because I still had fifty pounds to go.
So I lost another twenty pounds, and then I got pregnant with my daughter Ileena… BOOM! I remember going to my dads house and saying, “Well… I am pregnant again just when I was gettting my ‘sexy’ back.” My grandma looks at me and says “Well honey, maybe that’s the problem.”
Double edged sword on that one…
Yeah! So I got pregnant and did that whole thing and I only gained fifteen pounds with Ailena , and I lost that all right away. November 2009 I found Body For Life, Bill Phillips, transformation.com ; whom I heard about from my step-mom. So I thought, I am going to try this thing. (Everybody thought I was crazy for starting during the holidays.) It was pretty easy; three days of lifting, three days of cardio, all high intensity intervals. By doing that the next three months I was able to loose the rest of the weight. About half way through that three month process I was like “Ya, know, I want to help other people because I can do this as some one who has struggled their whole life with eating well and taking care of themselves … I can help some one else do this.”
I got my personal training certification.
How long did that take you?
It was about four months and about that time I was working for my dad as his administrative assistant amoung other things. I decided that I would try this training thing before and after work, and see what happens. I did that and it just blew up, so in June 2010, I quit my job working for my dad and I started training full time.
I was doing a lot of one on one training and two boot camp sessions at a local gym. I was making money, doing something I love. I worked there for two years and I left because there were some issues that made it neccessary for me to get out of that environment. I decided, I am just going to start my own place; I left and they came after me with for violating my no-compete/ no-solicitation agreement.
Looking back, I was so mad at the time. I was furious, like how could they do this? How can this stand up? Well, it stood up because I had solicited the people who had signed up with me, but were also their clients. I had to take a year off of training and I went back to working for my dad for a year and within that year I knew I needed to do something. I was miserable.
When you are following a life of passion and suddenly it is taken away; it’s like the wind has been knocked out of your sails. You don’t even feel like a human being. I started looking down in Colorado for places I could move to and open up. I was doing all this during the same time I was being sued and working for my dad; I also had gotten a divorce from my kids father. It was everything that could go wrong, did.
I was at an impass; like shit, what do I do?
I looked down in Boulder and I spent about six months driving back and forth, just looking for a location I could open up. I encountered road block after road block.
By this point I had already talked to the CEO of Fit Body, who has been a long time friend. I told them, I want to do this but I have to wait until this year is up or I am screwed.
Was that part of your Non-compete agreement? Did you have a time limit to wait?
Yes, that was the year. One year to the day, October 1, 2012; we opened up with fourteen clients. I was just so excited to be open and be able to do what I love to do. That’s it… the rest is history. Here we are today; looking for another space, a bigger place… sitting down with the bank and talking about bigger loans.
That’s pretty quick, only three years.
Yeah, less than three years actually.
How do you know the CEO of Fit Body?
The fitness industry is so small, it really is. So if you don’t know every one you soon will if you stay in it long enough. I met him doing a master mind. I was in there with the two founders of Fit Body Boot Camp, Steve Hochman and Bedros Keuilian. I was in Steve’s Master Mind and through that I met Bedros. We had several conversations and talked on the phone several times, emailed back and forth; He called me up one day and said ” What’s it going to take to get you to open a Fit Body? And I told him, “You know what it will take, you know what I am up against right now. It’s going to have to take one hell of a deal and some patience and that is where it’s at.” So he said “Alright, let’s make it happen.”
At this point it was going from licensing to a franchise, so they were looking for people and I just happened to be one of those people.
Do you get together with other gym owners?
I do know a lot of the Fit Body owners simply because we get together quarterly; every three months, usually in San Diego or Chino Hills, California. There is a great community with in Fit Body, even from a corporate structure coming all the way down to the clients. It’s nice that we can just continue to pay it forward. It’s pretty cool, and a very unique situation.
Would you like to talk about your competition stuff?
OH YEAH! Sure! I don’t want to bore you to tears with business.
I first competed in August of 2011, I also ran the Denver half marathon in October 2010, and after that I gave myself permission to never run again. (laughter.) I find it really useless and painful. It turns out I am better suited for lifting heavy things than go fast.
Did you do this on your year of sabbatical?
No, it was right before everything blew up in my face. Then I competed in my second figure show August 2013.
Did you win anything?
I did. I placed 5th in the second show, I was pretty excited about that. Granted there were only six figure competitors, so I was 5th, but I was happy to have something to take home, regardless.
My first show I did there were 36 figure competitors, and I think I finished 34th. So I was like, “I think I have improved!”
Were these in Wyoming?
The one in 2011 was in Loveland, Colorado. The Warrior Classic, and the other one was in Wyoming, and that was the Jay Cutler Classic. And that Dude, is a Big Dude. I have a picture of him somewhere.
He was there?
Yeah, he is huge! He is a moose of a man! My head is as big as his shoulder!
He could pick you up in the palm of his hand!
Honestly I am getting the bug again, to compete. I am trying to weigh out the time commitment that it takes, along with my other obligations to see what it will take… if it’s something I can feasibly do right now while keeping everything else balanced. I do love competing .
If you wait to have your own place, you could put on your own competition, in house competition. Then you won’t have to go too far.
That is one of the most fun things about competition; you get to meet so many interesting people from all over the country. People who are busting their asses just to get super lean for just a minute. It literally lasts a day. You deplete enough to have a six pack for a day, and then you gain 20 pounds the next day because you drink water. It’s crazy.
It would be interesting to time lapse a person going through the build up to competition, and then the 24 hours afterward. Once you get the tanner off, and start drinking water again, it’s like what the hell? You blossom like a flower.
You still eat, you carb load the day of to fill out your muscles because you have depleted to the point that you have taken all the glycogen and striped your body of literally everything. It’s not something you want to do often because it is kind of dangerous, BUT, it’s still fun to push your mental ability and physical barriers. That is big for me, because I love the challenge.
Are you a challenge junkie?
I totally am! I love the personal challenge. Competing against other people is fun, but figure prep is anywhere from 2-5 months.
It’s kind of interesting that you have struggled with disordered eating which is in and of itself sort of an addiction, and pushing your body to a limit and challenging it, but not in a very healthy way. And here you have turned your addiction around to a healthier way of expressing it. Yet, there are still these extremes that you go to.
It totally is. What I think helps me with competing and the lifestyle of body building is the structure that it provides. It’s like a security blanket. You take some one with an eating disorder who has struggled with that their entire life, and you say, “you don’t have to struggle, here is some structure. Have a nice day.” It’s like, “okay, this is safe.”
Then the biggest struggle, is will power to be able to keep on the regamine.
Yeah, it’s like any other fitness goals… as long as you have that dead line… the finish line at the end; it makes it that much easier. It’s not like you have to do this for a lifetime or else… It’s here is your dead line, and then you reset the goal. And that is something that is really, really exciting for me.
Through competing I learned to accept my body, where ever it is; whether I am 120 pounds or 145. I am still strong, I am still beautiful and I am still worthy of love and acceptance and success. That is one of those things that I have accidentally learned through the process. It is a by product.
I know a lot of people who compete who struggle with that mindset. Like if they don’t have a six pack they are done for. They are like “Oh My God, My Life Is OVER!”
It basically boils down to bulemia or dysmorphia. It’s all activated on the same brain wave length, same neurological pathway. It’s been nice to find freedom from that as I have gotten older. To not be stressed out about the numbers, to see yourself and be like “You look good!”
IT’s a good example to your kids, too.
I hope so. Sometimes I wonder, “am I ruining these little people?”
Instead of “You’re the reason mommy has a drinking problem,” it’s more like “You are the reason mommy has an exercise problem.”
That’s funny beacause when I took two months off earlier this year, my kids were like “what is wrong with her?” I did not feel like myself. I felt like I was insane most days; like absolutely bat shit crazy.
You needed to be exerting yourself.
Yeah, I needed that rush of endorphins and I think it was something that I had always taken for granted because I have been doing it for so long, it’s just been part of my life for so long. When I completely took it out, I had no idea the impact it would have on me. Not just physically but spiritually, emotionally and mentally. I got to tell you, the week we started working out again, my husband and I; He was like “Gosh you are so much easier to be around.” And I knew he meant that in the sweetest way possible, instead of being a jerk, and I was like “I know, trust me, it’s easier to be in my head.” I went to the doctor and I asked am I schitzophrenic, what is going on here? And she said “I think you are depressed.” And I just needed exercise.
So tell me about your favorite success story to come out of here.
My favorite one, honestly, is from when I very, very first started. He followed me when I opened Fit Body. His name is Austin, he was 16 when he came to me he was 386 lbs. and he was tall and huge. He knew he had a problem. He was home schooled so he didn’t have a lot of interaction with other kids. The reason he was home schooled was because when he was in school, the other kids were just horrible to him because he was so big and kind of awkward and quiet.
He would come, every single day to Boot Camp. At that point in time, they were 1 1/2 hour sessions, he would show up at 6:00 AM, every day. And even if he couldn’t do it, he would struggle through it.
He asked me, “what do I eat? how do I do it?”
His mom was onboard, but I didn’t see her much. Sometimes she would come and walk while he did Boot Camp. Every now and then she would come talk to me, well when I took the year off, Austin started power lifting and he took his focus off the weight loss. Then he came over to Fit Body when I opened, and he brought his mother with him, and they did it together.
It was just so, so, so cool. He ended up losing 110 lbs by the time he was 19. Then they moved to Oregon. He was such a great, great kid. It was just so cool to see how he was able to influence his mom because it’s usually the parents who influence the kids. He was able to influence his mom after two years of going at it by himself.
Was she also over-weight?
Yes, she was, but such a nice, nice gal. I look back on those two, especially Austin and I think “That kid could have made every excuse in the world because teenagers do, adults do. Teenagers learn from what the adults model.” He just was like “I am tired of this. I am tired of being the ‘fat kid’. I don’t mind being a ‘big kid’, I am 6’3″. But I am tired of being the ‘fat kid'”
The last Halloween he was here, he dressed up as The Hulk; and that involved taking off his shirt, and painting himself green, and walking around with out a shirt on. Two years prior to that you would have never seen him do that. It was so cool to see him blossom from this awkward quiet, video gamer (indoor) kid to this little ball of life and energy, and sass.
It was fun to not only see his journey of weight loss but also to see how he grew as a person. To see him evolve into an adult from a kid that just didn’t want to be fat and made fun of.
Do you stay in contact with him?
I do. I stay more into contact with his mom because he is a young adult now and all over the place.
It would be interesting to see if he takes a career in Fitness from this influence. It seems like people who a great at teaching come from a past of being ostersized.
So, we have touched on this, but obviously Fitness has a positive effect on your homelife.
Oh God, yeah! The kids are like “Mom, go work out, you are driving us crazy.” It is also nice though, because my husband and I can share it together. Every morning Monday through Saturday we go work out together, and then go to work and do our thing. It’s been a good bonding experience for us too. Although it did take us three years for him to come and work out with me. The first time we exercised together, he was having a bad day and we were just friends at the time. I was like “he’s having a bad day, just go lift, and he will be fine.” Well a half hour in, he is dry heaving on himself, and I was like ” I thought you were in shape?” Well, after that he didn’t come back to work out with me for three years. And he comes to boot camp, and he makes it through the whole thing, and after that he said “I am going to have to wait until you are ‘deconditioned’ a little before we can work out together.”
He took the oppertunity while I took two months off to “even the playing field.”
Since then it has been nice, in the last couple of months to have that morning time with my husband because we have five kids… we need that time together. It’s nice to have that time and cheer each other on.
What are some of your future goals?
Really my mission is just to help people and it always has been. I am in the business of changing lives and if I am not changing lives, then I am doing something wrong.
YOU RUINED MY LIFE THROUGH EXERCISE!
Ha, ha! Oh man, if some one said that to me, I would have to reevalute everything. I really do just want to leave an impact on this world. And, Cheyenne… God Bless it, and all of it’s citizens; (but Cheyenne) is a FAT city. Overweight, unhealthy; spiritually, mentally and physically. People are over worked and under paid, or over worked and over paid. They have little or no time for their families , no time for themselves; no time to do anything. So we have people spinning their wheels, but for what? At the end of the day if you don’t have your health, you have nothing left. I don’t want to out live my children. I see obese kids around and I want to slap their parents. I don’t want to beat the kids, but I want to slap the parents. It makes me so mad. But then I look at it, and you have to change the lives of the parents before you can change the lives of the children. At the end of the day, it is our job as adults to make those responsible decisions. It isn’t easy, but it is our responsiblity.
It’s in my heart to change the health of this community, if not the entire community of Wyoming, but that’s a long way off down the road. I want to continue to make a difference in peoples health and in their lives.
Thirty minutes of exercise might not seem like much, but it can change how a wife treats her husband. She is in a better mood, she feels better about herself, she feels more attractive… she actually wants to be with her husband instead of saying ” I don’t see what you see, at all.”
It changes how a mother treats her children because she has more energy, she will want to take them to the park, or go hiking and do stuff. Or maybe she is just in a better mood and doesn’t want to paddle their butts just for being little people.
It is just fitness, it is just a work out… but it can change EVERYTHING. I have seen it with myself. I saw it when I started my journey years ago and I still see it today. If I don’t work out, I need to work out because I start feeling ‘cagey’ inside. Anxious.
What has your biggest triumph been in your personal fitness journey?
I think just staying the course. Every day is a new day. I can’t say one event has been a real defining moment in my health and fitness journey. I think it just staying course with the lifestyle. I mean sometimes I fall off, just like anyone. I go on a little cookie diet, when I feel stressed, and then I gain eight pounds and then I have to lose it again. At the end of the day just knowing that I am doing what I need to be doing is just great. But when I am not doing that I can tell a difference. So for me, it’s just committing to the lifestyle.
Is there anything you would want to change?
No. Not really because I believe even the hard stuff is lessons. And I think I am far more grateful now toward some of the hardships that I went through. When you look back at it, it just gives you an oppertunity to learn about yourself; to learn about others and the way the world works. Hardships are often self inflicted. So if anything it’s just learning about who I am and who I want to be and who I do not want to be. It’s just about growing up.
Would you like to give any tips or inspiration?
It’s just about consistency. You have to pick and plan and be consistent. It doesn’t matter what your plan is, as long as it has some good foundation of physical health, mental health and spiritual health. Even if it’s CrossFit or lifting or body building or boot camp; whatever it is, I think it’s just about picking something that works for you and stick with it. I know Boot Camp isn’t for everyone. I wish it was. At the end of the day finding something that works and sticking with it long enough to get results. So many people just go about their life by starting a new program every two weeks, saying “But I am just not getting results.” and I am like “Dude, it’s only been two weeks. Do you know how long it took me to lose 70 pounds?”
How long did it take you?
Beginning to end it took three years. Granted I got pregnant twice in between, but it took me three years to lose that 70 pounds. It’s not going to happen over night.
After spending all this time taking other peoples measurements; when do people, on average see a difference for themselves and accept that change is occurring?
Typically eight weeks, especially for women. I call it an 8 Week Miracle. Literally nothing on the scale can change and inches may not change, but may be your clothes fit differently. For whatever reason the inches may not change, your body fat may not change, and then one day you wake up and somewhere between the bedroom and the bathroom, you realize you lost your ass. It’s like it’s just fallen off somwhere and you hop on the scale and you are down ten pounds from the night before. And you will be like “what the hell? My scale must be broken.”
So you call in a spouse or a loved one and you have them hop on the scale and it says what it always says to them, and you hop back on there and it says the same thing, “you are down 10 lbs.”
You have to trust the process, long enough. Not just “half commit.”
“Oh I am just gonna work out for eight weeks and hope that everything is going to happen. You have to have a plan. Have a plan of attack and exicute it flawlessly. Even if you have one bad day, okay, perfect; get back on the band wagon, but don’t let that one bad day or one bad meal derail you for the next six months.
So I think that is the key. Consistency. You have to be consistent, no matter what. And that goes with anything; if it’s fitness related, or business related, or if you want better relationships. What ever it is, BE CONSISTENT! STICK WITH YOUR PLAN! Things WILL change.
In summery; Knowledge, is the awareness that all action has a reaction, and Wisdom, is using that awareness to your advantage whilst utilizing all available resources.
Fit Body Boot Camp works because of the significant insight that the program lends through collaborative Wisdom and Experience.
Fit Body Boot Camp is calling out more of Cheyenne to get involved in their fitness; and during the month of May we are taking extra efforts to expose residents to the opportunity. If you have been following this blog and you are tempted to try it; COME ON DOWN! Let them know you read this blog and that it has helped you to take the first step in health and wellness; or if you are new to town and looking for a fitness community and this seems up your alley, come take a test drive.
If this article interests you and you would like to read more, check out these related blogs. And as always I appreciate “likes”, comments, suggestions and subscribers; so please feel free to interact. And remember kids, Fitness is great, but Burpees SUCK!
If you want to meet a woman who gets right down to business, look no further than Fit Body Boot Camp Trainer, Amber Lemberger. We met up at the gym on a lazy Sunday afternoon to discuss her roles at boot camp, and give her clients a view of her journey.
Amber has a sense of poise about her. She is friendly and professional; dressed in shorts and a white running jacket. Hanging from her ears were some of the most sparktacular earrings I have ever seen. They matched nicely with her beautiful wedding ring.
Amber looks like a fitness instructor but not just any fitness instructor; a Classy Fitness Instructor. Her whole aesthetic appears carefree and yet, intentionally manicured. I imagine her at her primary employment at a dentists office… face half covered in a mask…wearing scrubs or lab coats all day. I imagine her wearing this during the interview about fitness, and the juxtaposition of it makes chuckle on the inside.
Let me introduce to you, Amber Lemberger; part time American Fitness Association Certified Fitness Trainer, Certified Dental Assist, 2011 Warrior Classic Body Building Competition 4th Place Winner, and Aspiring Mother.
STATS INITIAL WEIGH IN OCT. 2013 / MARCH 2015
WEIGHT: 120LBS/ 111LBS
ARM: 10.25″ / 9.25″
CHEST: 33.25 ” / 32″
WAIST: 25.5″ / 24.5″
HIPS: 34.5″ /32.25″
THIGH: 22″ / 19.75″
BODY FAT: 20% / 15.2%
FAVORITE EXERCISE: SQUATS & ANYTHING WITH LEGS
This interview basically starts before it begins. Amber is excited to talk, and has read my previous interviews, so we jump right in and I hit the record button.
ME: So I am basically doing these articles to allow people to get a good idea of what’s going on here (at FBBC), to make it less intimidating.
AMBER: One of the biggest things I think , is that people think we are perfect. That we have had no problems or that everything has come easy to us, and, I am like “no”… it’s definitely far from that. I think that is the most important thing for people to see. We all struggle, we all came from somewhere. ”
Amber was born and raised in Independence, Iowa; and was involved in basketball, volleyball, and tennis through out high school. She takes a minute to reflect, “Basketball was by far my favorite.”
Amber quit sports when she attended Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa as she pursued education in Dental Assistance.
AMBER: I worked out here and there when I had time when I was at college, and then I graduated college and moved here (Cheyenne) in 2005. I occasionally worked out when I wanted to, nothing super intense or crazy. I didn’t eat the greatest, I still ate out and all that good stuff.”
In 2011, Amber was working at Smart Sports, another fitness center in Cheyenne. A few of her comrades were encouraging her to compete in a fitness competition. She decided to jump on board and change her lifestyle, in order to see how well it would go.
August of 2011, Amber enters the Warrior Classic after just 16 weeks of training involving a super intense eating and exercise regime. She lost approximately one pound a week with the help of a personal trainer and placed 4th in her category. Still in the competitive mood and under peer pressure, a year later, Amber returned to the 2012 Warrior Classic and received 9th in her class.
AMBER: No sweets, no bread, no fruit. Basic meat and vegetables and complex carbs; the entire time. I also Carb Cycled the entire time. Then I was on very low, restricted carbs the last two weeks. Toward the end you cut water. I took fourth, it was exciting. It’s very intimidating getting on that stage for the first time. I was so nervous that I was shaking…but I had just busted my ass for 16 weeks, so I am just gonna get up there and strut my stuff… I am gonna give it all I got!
After I competed, is where I struggled; it’s tough. You have seen what your body can do, but you also have to be able to have a maintainable body. A figure body is not maintainable, it’s not healthy. At that point it’s not maintainable unless you want to be a raging bitch every day for the rest of your life.
(Amber chuckles, knowing full well what she is talking about.)
You are literally restricting yourself of everything, you get one cheat meal a week. A MEAL. That’s it. I had sweet potato pancakes every Sunday as my cheat meal, and they were fantastic! The last five weeks I didn’t get a cheat meal at all. (She pauses) It’s hard, you really have to accept your body the way it is and be okay with that. That was really hard for me. I struggled for a long time.
ME: It must be hard to put yourself in that position; to be judged by people and to purposefully put yourself in the situation where you are being compared to the person next to you.
AMBER : It’s hard because so and so up there may not be natural, using steroids or other things. Now, I personally, can not do those things to myself, that’s not something I wanted to do; so I had to be okay getting on stage next to somebody knowing that they aren’t natural. You have to know down in your heart, “You know what, this is me, and I look damn good for training for 16 weeks even if I don’t get first place.”
It’s definitely hard, and they (the judges) are really critical of you. They told me “You need to trim down your legs.” I was on the stair mill 50 minutes a day for WEEKS, and they still told me I had to lean them down, more. I was just like Ugh (exasperated sigh).
ME: It must be hard to be judged like that after pushing your body as far as it would go, and have to them tell you “Eh it’s still not good enough.”
AMBER: Yeah, for sure. One of the things that was hardest for me is I just don’t have a big upper body. So that effected my points, too. The experience alone, and saying that I have done it was…. I just was totally down with that. All of it. The tan, having your suit glued to your butt. It’s something you will never know, unless you do it. I mean standing nude in a cold tent, being sprayed with three coats of tan. You have to bend over, and spread your legs. At that point you’re just like “who cares, I trained way too long to not be here and sticking my butt in your face.”
The whole experience, gives you a high for the whole day. You can do anything on the day of a show, because you know “I’m almost done.”
It’s been a ride since 2011. A lot of ups and downs.
Amber moved right in to talking about Fit Body Boot Camp.
AMBER: I knew owner Sara (Goossen) from competition and in September 2013, I thought, “I am going to give Boot Camp a go.” I wanted something different. I don’t want to spend two hours in the gym, a day. I don’t have time for it.
I came in and I heard Sara was looking for a trainer and I love helping people. I am a dental assistant during the day and it’s a very helpful profession. It’s very gratifying. You get to see so many good things throughout the day, you also see some pretty bad things but you get to make people feel good about themselves. And that’s what I love. So I met with Sara, and she said “You know, I never would have thought that this was something you would have wanted to do.” So I started coming in, and working with her a bit and then I started training. And I love it! I love helping people. I love being here.
My training style is a little different. When I am in here, I am serious. When I work out I have bitch face. When I am here, I am focused on working out and getting people where they need to be. I mean, there is laughter and joking, but it’s more “We are here to get this done.” I am here to push you, and if that means sometimes it’s tough love, then it’s tough love, ya know? I love seeing people succeed. I love seeing people do something that they couldn’t do before.
I try to put the heavier weights in peoples hands, I love pushing people to the extreme because that is what they want, and they are so much happier when they surprise themselves.
The best compliment is when some tells me that I helped push them. We all need to be pushed, even me. We have to push each other. There are days when I just want to shut off the alarm and not show up, and I have to push myself.
I was lifting alone at 4:30 in the morning, and then Amanda McDaniel started lifting with me, and it made all the difference. Having some one show up that early, it’s like “Hey, I am accountable to you.”
I am very motivated, I don’t need anyone else to motivate me to get here; but when I am working out, it’s good to have that push or to have some one next to me. Like, “oh she is faster than me.”
ME: It seems that is one of the things that makes Boot Camp so successful, it includes everything you need to jump in there and get things done. It takes care of the awkwardness.
AMBER: Oh yeah! Everyone here is so helpful. And it doesn’t ever feel like Bobby Jo is better than everyone else. If some one is struggling, you show them or help them. If you’re new, I don’t think anyone has ever felt secluded. We are all, always trying to help them jump in; which can be hard for a trainer because we are always watching the time and keeping track of the sets that you have done. You are trying to watch form, and help the new people learn what they are doing. Sometimes it’s difficult; there is just so much going on at once. Sometimes people may not understand how much we have going on in our minds in one 30 minute training session.
ME: Not to mention watching 20 people, making sure they don’t injure themselves.
AMBER: Yeah, you can’t always see everyone. Sometimes people think they can hide that they are nauseas or light headed, and they hide it pretty well until they can’t. And I am like “you have been feeling like this for the last 10 minutes? Why didn’t you say something?” But sometimes they are afraid to say anything, but that’s the hard part, knowing if they are “okay”. Is their form okay? (As a Trainer) You want to give your attention to everyone but sometimes it’s hard.
What is nice, is that people that have been here for a while will jump in and be like “Hey this is how you do this.” And that is really helpful.
I have regulars in my class, and it’s nice because I get to know them and build lasting friendships. Knowing that they can confide in you and that you can share your own stories with them is great. Like I said before, sometimes people don’t think that you struggle as a trainer. But they do, they have. I can attest to that on a daily basis. I mean, I have had body issues my whole life. It’s nice to be able to share that with clients because they think that it’s just them; but no, I’ve been there.
ME: It’s great that these friendships are built on encouragement instead of falsehoods or just blowing smoke up each other’s ass.
AMBER: It is nice. It is nice to know that people can come to us. I like that. These are true friendships. I had a girl message me today, and I message her every morning to come work out, because she has a hard time getting up. So at 3:45 every morning I send her a text, “Hey Boot Camp Today!” Anyway, she texted me and said, “sorry to bother you on a Sunday.” And you know, it doesn’t bother me. I want them to know that they can call me on Sunday, it isn’t a big deal and I want to be able to help whenever I can.
It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is; we all need some one to confide in, and that is what friends are for.
ME: What strides do you feel you have made through boot camp?
AMBER: I think it has made me accept myself more. A. Because I find I am happier with myself, I have gotten better results with the way I feel I look better than I did when I was just doing my own thing with the lifting and cardio. I am probably the happiest with myself that I have ever been just because I feel stronger. I feel like I am in the best shape I’ve ever been in; cardio wise and everything. Boot camp has definitely made me feel better about myself. I think it’s all the encouragement and the fact that you GET RESULTS with what you are doing. 90% of it is diet. If you watch what you are eating and come to class every day, you are going to get results in less than an hour a day.
It’s made me realize more isn’t always better. Killing yourself in the gym isn’t always better. To even go and do 20 minutes on a stationary machine… I just can’t do it any more. I just don’t want to do it. It’s like the most dreaded 20 minutes of my life!
ME: What do you feel, on your fitness journey, that your biggest struggle has been?
AMBER: Self Image for sure. I am the most critical of myself. I preach to people, like, “Don’t weight yourself.” “Don’t stress about the numbers.” But I am probably one of the worst critics in the past of weighing myself entirely too much. I would pick myself apart on a day to day basis, especially after competing.
ME: So it never manifest, for you, as an eating disorder?
AMBER: I have never “not eaten” or thrown up. I would say I had body dysmorphia, and a self image issue but it never been to a point of not eating or throwing up. I have to eat every two hours, I feel like I could kill someone… so if I am not eating every couple of hours then I am not doing okay.
ME: Do you feel like Boot Camp has been beneficial to your relationship?
AMBER: Yes, I do! It’s made me feel better about myself. My husband is very supportive of everything I do and he is very loving . He always tells me he loves me and that I am beautiful, but he said it’s hard on him when I am hard on myself. He would say “My wife is wonderful, my wife is beautiful…but she is saying other”. It was really hard on him. But now I am happier with how I look and that makes it easier on him. He would be giving me these compliments and I would be “uh-huh, sure, okay.” In one ear and out the other. When you start feeling better about yourself it makes life so much easier.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have days just like every body else. We all have our days where we just don’t feel like ourselves.
Amber and I chatted a bit longer off the record, and I can honestly say that she is an amazing and resilient spirit. Her positivity toward helping others is quite inspiring and I wish her the best with her future endeavors, namely, of the baby making variety.
Having a compatible trainer can help make or break your physical fitness routine. At Fit Body Boot Camp, the trainers are all very personable and passionate about helping others succeed at their fitness goals and living a life style of health. Each of them is willing to assist where ever necessary in order to lead by example.
Client’s aren’t just clients….this is fitness family.
Come check it out, and be inspired, no matter your fitness level!
What is the best part of going to a gym? Getting in shape and feeling better.
What is the worst part of going to the gym? Finding the will power and motivation to create a life style change.
This is where most gyms fail their members. They may have 16 rooms and a bunch of classes, but generally they feel very impersonal, and unless you go with a partner, or have a trainer; there is a good chance you will walk in and out with out having said a single word to anyone else.
When I use to go to a “regular” gym, I avoided eye contact, and would make my way to the Cardio Cinema, where the room is dark, and there is a large screen playing a movie, helping to create the illusion that no one is watching me. I found the regular gym to be, intimidating.
At Fit Body we all know that steady stream cardio, does little to raise the metabolism for much longer than the duration of the actual exercise; but before I was with Fit Body Boot Camp, I was unaware of that fact.
So, each time I would go to that dark room, I would hop on a cardio machine, and zone out. I was consistant with it for about 5 weeks, and couldn’t see any improvements. I stayed away from the weight machines and free weights because it had been years since I had lifted, with out instruction I was wary of injury. Those 5 weeks started to get really boring, jumping from one stationary cardio machine to the next. I wasn’t being challenged physically, but mentally I was being challenged to just walk through those doors on a daily basis. Eventually I just stopped going, feeling defeated.
Fast forward to January of this year, when I joined Fit Body Boot Camp-Cheyenne’s 6 week Transformation Challenge. From the moment I signed up, I was given paper work to read regarding nutrition and how the body uses that energy through food, to build muscle. I was also invited into an online Facebook Accountability Group with all of the other Challege participants.
Right away, I knew this wasn’t some ordinary “figure it out for yourself” program. The trainers want to encourage a healthy lifestyle that will create noticeble results quicker than your average cardio class, and they also want to train people to make this a sustainable lifestyle of fitness.
In orientation I had to write down, my goal weight/size, and I was informed of an incentive that, if I get to my goal within the year of attending FBBC… They will PAY ME $300.00!
I want to look better and feel better, and wear a size 8 in jeans… I have a ways to go, but if I reach my goal within the year, Fit Body Boot Camp will be paying for my new wardrobe! See what I am saying about incentives?
Everyday that I am able to show up, I am able to look at people, and have conversations with them. I am learning about their lives; these are the people who make up my community both in and out of the gym. They are people who come from all walks of life. For me, this is an incentive. There is a sense of trust, that if you can jump around and jiggle together, then you might as well learn the name of the people next to you. You start to see who is who, and when you interact in the online accountibility group, you find a little family of people who all struggle at times, but also have triumphs. Here is where you can find 24 hour support from a community of people commited to bettering their own lives and assisting others in their desire to be better as well.
Part of the sponsored accountibility is the personal responciblity to record a food log, and hand it in. There is also a sign in sheet that one must remember to sign everyday. You must weigh in at least twice a month. All of these things are being recorded by the Trainers, and being noted in your personal file. The reason is to show progress, and trigger point what may be stunting progress. It’s also being used as part of an incentive program called “Fitty Club.”
Fitty Club is exlusive and invite only. It will include a night out for dinner with all the trainers and winners, and their families. It will Include awards, and prizes! Yes, prizes…
For the last Six Week Challenge, the Fitty Club met up on a Thursday evening at Two Doors Down, a local eatery with some great options for those who are eating clean. (The Tuna Wrap or Salad seemed to be most popular with the Club members.)
There was a lot of laughter and jovial conversation, as Challenge Winners were able to sit across from one another and talk over their meal; a pleasant change from huffing and puffing, red-faced and focused during Boot Camp.
After the meal was finished Owner Sara Goossen casually called up the winners to recieve their awards.
1st Place was taken by Amy Porter with 12.89% overall change, which took into account weight, measurements and body fat. She was awarded an Ipad mini and a $50 gift card for Itunes! She was plesantly surprised by her gift.
2nd Place went to Michelle Heinen with 10.26% overall change, and she won $200. I know right?!?!
3rd Place was hard earned by Courtney Tatum with 9.54% overall change, she won 1/2 off her next month.