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 “that’s 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. Being labeled as “subversive” or “controversial” is nothing new when it comes to how he chooses to play his role in the game of society. Even from a young age, Rich was getting things done in a manner of hard grit sandpaper. Ruffling feathers with his ideas; all the while making strong attempts to bring sub-sectors of our community, places and ways to feel involved.
Take for instance, his involvement and passion to help get the skate park built.
I remember this town before there was a skate park.
Though I didn’t skate, 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, and cared about skating AND politics enough to jump in; because, even when building a skate park, it all comes down to politics and support of the community.
At a first and superficial glance some may assumed 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 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 the 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 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 impact fees for developers. I will never have a six penny 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 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 for 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 Oor 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 self 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.
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!
One of the best byproducts of attending Boot Camp, is the people you will meet, and the stories that you will hear in regard to individual fitness journeys. It takes courage to step out of an unhealthy comfort zone and into a whole new arena of health and wellness. It can be an intimidating thought, of jumping around in a class, sweating and jiggling all over the place in front of strangers.
Knowing that each member and leader started somewhere, brings a common bond and a common mission.
The great thing about boot camp is that it is the great equalizer amoungst it’s members. No matter what journey transpired that brought each member through the door, and no matter how long they have attended, it is a challenge to every level of fitness.
There is a good chance that if you contact Fit Body Boot Camp-Cheyenne, that you will talk to the friendly and effervescent Tristin Williams. You will recognize her at the gym by her lusterious red mane, her love of tye dye and her beast mode passion for lifing extraordinarily heavy weights. Tristin isn’t your average admin, and her fitness journey is a testament to her determination.
NAME: Tristin Williams
WEIGHT: 182lbs (starting weight 227lbs)
STARTING & CURRENT MEASUREMENTS:
ARMS– 15.5″ / 12.5″
CHEST– 50″ / 42″
WAIST-47.5″ / 36.5″
THIGH- 27″ / 25.25″
BODY FAT– 47% / 36.5%
FAVORITE EXERCISES– SQUATS (max 250)
DEADLIFTS (max 265)
BENCH PRESS (max 200)
Tristin has a unique story, on how she came to Fit Body Boot Camp, and if you were to superficially judge her, you may think that she is unhealthy. Tristin isn’t tall, standing at only 5 foot; and her body is apple shaped. Often times she can be seen wearing a hoodie, so it is sort of hard to imagine what she is packing under there. She may not have the mainstream media’s ideal body shape, but she has had two beautiful children and can probably dead lift the crap out of your average fitness buff.
I wanted to talk to Tristin and find out her fitness background, and her goals going forward…
May I have the pleasure to introduce you to Tristin Williams, Administrative Assistant at Fit Body Boot camp- Wearer of The TyeDye and Dominator of Heavy Lifting-
Me: So Tristin, tell me about your fitness past.
Tristin: Well my Mom, was a power lifter and a body builder, she held two State Records for years and my Dad was her trainer. So I grew up in the gym, in the daycare (which I despies to this day.) My mom would have power lifting meets, so she was always on the (restrictive) diets, and so they felt bad, and let me eat other things… Because they knew, “what kid wants to eat chicken and broccoli, every night?” So, they would let me eat unhealthy things, like Spaggeti-Ohs. Plus, I am an only child, and I am kind of spoiled. (laughter) Just, putting that out there… So they would ask me, “What do you want?” and I would say “Spaghetti-Ohs.” I LOVED Spaghetti-Ohs.
Tristin went on to explain that the summer between her 4th and 5th grades, she stayed with a cousin. Their collective summer mission was to beat Super Mario 3, which led to a stagnant summer of sitting on the couch, indoors, playing the beloved video game.
Tristin: So we just sat inside, obsessed with the Nintendo and eating chips. All Summer, doing nothing but playing video games.
I have always been “stocky”, I guess you would call it, but that is when I really gained weight. And then it just, kind of got worse.
Me: Oh, that has got to be one of the worst times to gain weight, just as your body is sort of kicking into hormones.
Tristin: So I gained weight, and between 7th and 8th grade, I worked out with my mom and we would go over to what is now Gold’s Gym, and I lost quite a bit of weight, and I maintained that for years. I was a size 9 for years, until I had (my first born) Isaac.
Tristin was able to maintain her weight from 9th grade , despite dropping her work outs; however as she became more social, one thing led to another, and she found herself gaining 60 lbs of pregnancy weight.
Tristin: Chocolate milk, was THE THING during that pregnancy. I was drinking a gallon of it a day. I was in a terribly abusive relationship , so I didn’t have the desire to self love, or to go do anything about the weight that I had gained. I was just misrable for a while; and then I got out of that relationship and just still felt I needed to lose this weight so somebody will find me attractive, ya know?
So for may be a year I lost some weight, I am not sure how much, maybe 15 or 20 lbs. And then (May 2006) I met my husband, and (laughter) we met each other and got married after about three months. And our plan was, to have a year or so to ourselves and then have a baby… well… that didn’t happen. We were married on September 12, 2006, and found out a week later that I was pregnant. (lots of laughter) My family and such thinks we just got married because of that, but it wasn’t.
So then I had Jaylenne, and I only gained 30 lbs with her, but I found out I have Gestational Diabetes, so I really watched what I ate, and cut out all the sugar and all of that. And so I lost most of all that weight, but I was still around 200 lbs at that time. I am only five foot, so 200 lbs is still, uh, not lookin’ pretty good on a five foot person.
The first six years of Jaylennes’ life, I was comfortable in my relationship; Rod loved me the way I was, and I am like “I’m fine.” I was drinking 44oz of Mountain Dew a day.
Me: Complacent comfort?
Tristin: Hmm mmm, yeah, I was eating fried food constantly, you know, fast food and all of that. Which I think my highest was around 230. The day I came and weighed I was at 227 and I couldn’t breathe. That is one of my goals on my sheet, is to be able to breathe. You could hear me breathing, just sitting here.
Me: Did you smoke cigarettes at the time?
Tristin: I did at the time, yeah. I smoked for 17 years. I was a misrable walking piece of human being, is pretty much what I was. I was happy with my marriage but I hated myself.
Tristin was then introduced to Fit Body Boot Camp, Cheyenne, by her friend Kate. Kate proceeded to share pictures of herself over the months that she had been training at FBBC. Tristin couldn’t help but ask what she was doing to get these results. Kate gave the low down on FBBC, and Tristin sat on the information for about a month, hesitant to call the number.
Tristin: I called and talked to (owner/opperator) Sara (Goossen) and asked things like “Are people going to make fun of me?” I thought of all the questions that a person who is over weight will want to know, like “Is it hard?” Then I came in, 11/9/13 and met up with Sara, and I got my measurements and something just clicked. I came in the next Monday, and I quit drinking soda, and probably haven’t been to a McDonalds since.
Me: Tell me about that first day?
Tristin: I came in kind of cocky because I had worked out before with my parents, and because they were body builders and power lifters, I thought I knew what I was doing. It was a leg day, we had some squats and push ups… the next day I was SO SORE for about a week. When Sara tells people in consultation, that some days going to the bathroom will be difficult, brushing your hair will be difficult, she isn’t kidding. It’s not a lie. I have never been so sore before in my entire life; but I pushed through, and I kept coming and I didn’t miss a day for months. My uncle died, and that day I still came to work out. Some people may use those as excuses not to come in, but I didn’t . I thought, that might be okay for you, but for me, I was like, anthing to not come in is an excuse, and I don’t want to make excuses. I just pushed through the hard times. I had three deaths in my family last year, and I pushed through all of them.
Tristin really started to evaluate her path forward after participating in the 12 Week Transformational Challenge, and was deeply inspired by Trainer Ashley Richards.
Tristin: I really wanted to pay it forward, and become a trainer. I am not a trainer, yet, but when the Admin job became open, it was perfect because I had worked as an Administrative Assistant for years. It was scary, I went from a full time job to part time. I took the risk, but I knew I was going to be helping people, and pay it forward, and eventually I will get my training certificate.
I am content where I am at right now.
My passion is powerlifting. I love to lift heavy shit! My mom is my hero, and inspiration for that. She is tiny, she is about five foot, and when she set her record she was 118 lbs.; her dead lifting record is 300. I do want to compete at least once. I love to max out, I love to see where I am at and how I am performing.
Me: Has this been benefical to your relationship?
Tristin: Oh yeah, my husband has been doing it with me since May or June 2014 and he has lost 35 lbs. I feel better about myself, he has always been great about telling me I am beautiful and that he loves me, but I love myself now, and when he says something like that, I can, more than half way believe it. Now I could see how he could say it, where as before… Yeah, it has been really good for our relationship.
Tristin takes a moment to attest to the words on one of the gym’s T-shirts which says “Fit Sex is Better than Fat Sex.” “It’s true!” She says pointing at where the shirts hang. “I can attest first hand to this.”
I ask what her biggest struggle is, and like most people who have made huge dietary changes in tandem with reaching their physical goals, she says “food.”
Tristin: I love me some chocolate! I thought it was going to be the soda, because I was drinking at least one huge 44oz of soda a day. At LEAST, one… I don’t miss soda. I don’t eat fast food anymore, except Subway, because I can control what goes on it. No burger joints, no fried foods. I gave away my fryer; I was frying chicken at least once a week; deep fried shrimp and fries. I kept the fryer for a while because my family was not on board with the healthy eating and one day I just decided to throw out the oil and give it away.
Me: What do you think your greatest advancements have been?
Tristin: Mentally, I would say it’s that I love myself now. Am I totally where I want to be? No, but I am over halfway to the goal of where I want to be. I don’t really focus on the scale because it really hasn’t moved much since September, but my pants sizes have gone down. I was in a 22 to 24 (size) pant and I am wearing an 11 now.
Me: Are you still smoking?
Tristin: My last cigarrette was June 8th last year, and then I started vaping. My thought process is that at a year, which will be this June 8th, I can slowly start giving up the vape. I am proud of myself because every other time I have tried to give up cigarettes, I couldn’t. I know it’s terrible. And I know that the vaping may not be much better, but I smoked for 17 years, and now I feel better. It’s definitely not 100 times better, but it is better than a cigarette. And I have these girls here to keep on me, and tell me to get off of it and I love them for it. I have had people on me (in my family) about it (smoking) for years. And one day I just decided I was sick of it. I hated the smell. But I am a firm believer that I had to decide that for myself. No one could make me do it.
Great advice, from a woman who has had some pretty deep lows and heavy burdens in her life.
You see, Fit Body Boot Camp is such a great enviroment because it works not only as a support system, but also like a family. Every one realizes that by coming to the table, they each bring their short comings; but they also bring their strengths. And those strengths are used to build each other up, not tear each other down.
Tristin, came to FBBC scared that she would be rediculed and shunned for her short comings and the past of mistreating herself and her body; instead she was welcomed with open arms, and she wouldn’t be the woman she is today, with out it.
Fit Body Boot Camp is so inspiring to it’s members, that it isn’t strange that they would be catalyzed to pay it forward and to assist others in feeling better; because feeling better has a holistic impact on a human. Imagine the state of paralysis an individual feels when they hate their body, and feel shameful about being in public. All of that mental/ emotional energy being consumed by fear.
However, erase that fear?
Allieviate the problem and the body, mind and soul get their energy back to focus on the bigger picture; the example we set for our children and their future impact on the world.
If you would like to make a change, a shift, or a transformation in your life, and you are ready to take a risk for the sake of your health, give Tristin Williams a call at (307)421-7387 or check out their FaceBook Page Here, or their website at http://www.fitbodybootcamp.com/cheyennefitnessbootcamp/. Help yourself by helping us reach our goal of impacting the lives of (at least) 5000 Cheyenne Residents with health and physical fitness.
I am making a strong guess that everyone who chooses Fit Body Boot Camp for the first time, has some nervousness or anxiety going in on the first day. Actually, let’s be honest, they are probably nervous from the day they sign up until the end of the first class.
The bulk of my anxiety happened the night before. I hate nights before events, and this is certainly an Event (to Transform myself). I attempted to get to bed at a modest 9 pm. Which is hard for me on any given day. Usually I go to bed between 12 and 3 am.
My first goal was to hit the 5 am class. I wanted to get in there and get it over with because I had already spent four days wondering what exactly it would be like.
I got up at 4:10 after a restless night of “half sleep.” I had showered the night before, already picked out my clothes… breakfast was the problem. I often time, have a hard time eating food first thing when I get up, as it makes me nauseated. I wanted a shake, but felt bad about running the noisy blender so early in the morning. I ended up settling on a banana with peanut butter. (Which in retrospect was not nearly what I needed for what I was about to experience.)
I got into the gym at about a quarter to five. Night time Trainer, Ashley was there, bright eyed (except for the contact lens issues) and bushy tailed. She gave a friendly introduction and a warm welcome. There were a couple of other women there, getting themselves ready for warm up.
I wasn’t sure what to do, and as I am willing to admit; I have a hard time initiating my own introductions. So I sat on the mat doing some light stretches as more participants slipped in the door.
Finally at 4:59ish, Ashley took to the middle of the circle and began to explain todays circuit of exercises. There were four stations, each featuring two activities that would be repeated a few times. I lost count of how many sets were happening, because this class is VERY high paced.
We began with some warm up sets of stationary exercises, and then quickly moved into the stations.
Now let me tell you, the hardest part (for me); was facing myself, head on in the warm ups. In just a few short minutes, I could feel the effect of smoking cigarettes for ten years. I could tell I had lost most of my strength and endurance that I had only a short three years ago, from working on a sheep farm.
All I could think, is “oh shit, this is bad.”
I can’t tell you how many seasoned Fitters were in the class, or how many newbies; so if your excuse for NOT trying this program, is that you are afraid of people watching you…Let me tell you now; There is NO time to watch any one else. The exercises require proper form, and it is vital to pay attention to what you are doing with your own body. Ashley a, attentively walked around, adjusting those who needed assistance in form while encouraging every one to keep going.
At the second station, my body reminded me that I was not properly fueled and I started to feel nauseous and light headed. Ashley brought me an apple juice and I took a little breather. I took about a 30 second recoup and did my best at continuing.
Periodically I feel sick, and sip more juice, breathe a little and get back into motion.
I find myself having some mental frustration that I am not already good at this. Usually I can just pick up an activity for the first time, and feel confident. I understand that not everyone feels that way about themselves, and that I am a self perfectionist by nature. I have never done most of these activities before and admittedly I am out of shape.
I need to be compassionate with myself because, this is hard work. It took time to get where I am now; unhappy about my body. And in the process of being unhappy with myself, I haven’t been very compassionate with myself.
I believe that the accountability that Fit Body provides, will assist me and many others to learn to love; not just accept themselves. To feel strong enough to improve themselves in whatever way they are most inspired.
Being happy with your body is just one step in feeling confidant overall.
Imagine all the time you spent mentally hating on your body; imagine all the times you have complained about your body out loud.
Now imagine what it would be like to have all that energy back. To have the mental freedom to not constantly worry about your bodily insecurities. Sounds refreshing, right?
I don’t have any doubt, that The Fit Body Boot camp will live up to it’s claims, as long as I stay out of my own way.
I made a mistake today. I did something that I had purposefully been avoiding, knowing if I did it, it would make my head spin and send me out of control emotionally. But I went ahead and did it anyway.
I weighed myself.
I didn’t really need to do it. I can look at myself with or without a mirror, and tell with certainty, shit ain’t right. But I did it anyway, as some sort of sick confirmation of my misery.
Over the last 3 years I have lived the most stagnant life I have ever had the privilege of living. I take care of my 87 year old grandmother. And though I love her dearly, my chosen obligation has absolutely derailed my previous life styles.
I spend 90 percent of my time at home within easy reach of my grandmother. And the small luxuries of my previous lives that I have maintained are drinking heady beers, and eating amazing home cooked food.
My weight wouldn’t matter as much if those were not the only two little bliss factors in my life.
I am use to being quite social, active, and involved in mentally and physically engaging activities. I am use to working hard, and playing hard, metabolizing both alcohol and experience.
Instead I have become well versed in Netflix, and drinking alone. Not drinking to get drunk, mind you. Drinking because I love beer.
Today is day 5 of not drinking. My body is going through a disgusting skin detox.
I stood naked before my shower, looking in the mirror, muttering to myself, “I really shouldn’t weigh myself. It is a bad idea.”
I responded by pulling the scale out of the cabinet. Stepping up, looking down. Which led to crying.
I know that concepts of beauty are not entirely tied into how much a person weighs. Beauty is a thing from within, that is sometimes evident without. I do not feel beautiful on either side of the coin. I have been strategically hiding behind costumes in order to play a role of comfort and confidence.
I have seen myself be physically content with my body before, and it is the best feeling EVER! Why? Because it becomes one less thing to worry about on a day to day basis. When I am happy with my physical appearance, I feel more capable of handing other aspects of living. No one likes the girl who is constantly worried about how she looks because she doesn’t have the confidence to radiate.
Facing the truth of how my body has morphed over the last 3 years, happened about a month ago. I stood to a challenge and went to an comedy open mic. I recorded my set. The set wasn’t bad at all, but I couldn’t get over how my once toned arms, radiated white like big wings on a bird. They seem huge.
I use to joke that women need great girl friends that will let them know when they start to get back fat. I haven’t had any girl friends around lately to remind me of my appearance. I mean what do I have to look good for when I am at home with an elderly lady 90% of the time?
The hardest part of all of this, is realizing that how I look and feel is a byproduct of me not being in the right place for me. The situation has muddled my once sharp brain, into a reclusive and miserable person. I don’t like it at all. It is hard to radiate beauty when feeling so despondent and under inspired.
I am facing the fact, that the time is drawing near to leave. I have to go.
I love my grandma with all of my heart, and I want to see her be safe and healthy, but at what cost?
I have cost my own health and well being to be with her in some respite.
People treat me like I am doing some sort of martyrdom in this experience. But I do not feel like a martyr. I feel that I haven’t done as well as I could or should have. And that feeling isn’t getting any better. I wouldn’t be surprised if all this gain has something to do with the massive amounts of cortisol I am undoubtedly producing within my stagnant stress barrier.
I have become so stuck, I am not sure what direction to go to get out of it. I just know I need to move, and shift, and stretch, and run far, far away from the anchor I have bound myself to.
I would love to spend a month with raw foodies, with active, patient lives. I would like to take the time to reprogram my neuroplasticity into a vibe more along where my heart sings.
I feel inclined to run back to other versions of my past, while truly desiring to make something new and redefined for myself. But I don’t know where to go, I don’t know who to ask. And maybe I won’t, until I just get out of the parameter I have found myself choosing to be stuck inside.
I want to feel beauty, and beautiful. I want to radiate more than I ever have before. I want to make something happen, or be apart of what is happening. A feeling that would be in juxtaposition of how the last three years have felt like, waiting.
I am too young to be waiting on death, and that is the place I have been.
I know I can’t wait on health and wellness to find me. And I know I can’t wait for myself to just get over what I am feeling.
Who do you look up to? Why? What endearing or respectful qualities does this person carry, worthy of being a hero? Do you, yourself also harness these qualities, or do you envy them and worship them in others, whilst not embracing them into yourself?
Let me tell you about my Hero.
Now I am not a religious person. I do not buy into secular doctrine presented through Churches or religious organization. I have spent some hours in the bible, and at Bible College. I have continued my research into spirituality and faith through my own accord and intuition.
My hero is whatever the embodiment of Christ Consciousness is. And let me tell you, he ain’t no hippie dippy Jesus.
Take a moment to check out this video, to see Christ Consciousness in action.
Notice these guys and their sense of humor regarding all the useless trends out there. AND then notice the authentic looks of surprise and humility of the participants in Making Homeless People Smile, WORLDWIDE.
This video makes me cry every time, because it is genuine. And it mentally takes me back to a time in my life when I was 19.
Now I only attended MCC for a semester. I left with a 0.0 GPA, because I stopped going to classes in order to fulfill what I felt to be actual work from the level of Christ Consciousness.
It started out as a birthday trip to Kansas City, Missouri. I had a bunch of birthday money, and my new best friend, Natasha, in tow. We hoped to get into an 18 and over club. We hoped to push the boundary on this new level of perceived freedom, being away from home for the first time. Pushing boundaries.
I rented a hotel room, we called a cab… and we went into the city for fun.
The night never really panned out as we planned. Early into the evening we were kidnapped by our cab driver… who was from foreign country. And maybe things got a little weird because we were pretending to be something we weren’t… we were playing roles in this new city.
We never made it to a club. We did however walk around town on this Friday night… and I saw something I had never really seen before…lots and lots of homeless people, and lots and lots of young drunk student types. And in this situation of newness, I was witness to yet another thing I was not prepared to see. Those young drunk students, being incredibly mean, rude, disrespectful and inhumane to the homeless population.
I was shocked and disgusted. I had my own experiences with bullying, but this was like watching some sort of sick torture.
Students purposely spilling soda on sitting homeless beggars. One young (I hesitate to use the word man) maliciously kicked a homeless vet’s hat, which was sitting on the ground full of change. The snickering fools walking off as the Vet scrambled across the sidewalk to gather his lost money.
In that moment, some thing flickered inside of me, and in a warm rush it is as though I stepped aside in my own body, and the Spirit of something Bigger came into my heart. It was as though my consciousness had blacked out, and been replaced by the voice and Spirit of Christ.
First thing I knew was, these people need to eat. They need some food. I have money. There is a pizza shop. I can feed them.
So I walk up to a pizza shop window called By The Slice. The guy behind the window is named Jude. Hey Jude.
With confidence, I ask Jude for two large pizzas.
“We don’t sell whole pies here. We only sell by the slice.”
“Well, I am gonna need two whole pizzas.”
“It’s going to be pretty expensive.”
“I don’t really care, there are some homeless people out here that need to eat. I need two pizza’s and a large Mountain Dew.”
Jude smiles, while shaking his head. He tells me it will be a couple minutes before the next pie is out, and he proceeds to ring me up for $91.11. Damn most expensive pizza’s I have ever paid for. But whatever, it was birthday money… and what was I going to do? Probably buy an over priced t-shirt from Ambercrombie, just because it says “Wyoming” across the front? Yeah, probably. An Ambercrombie shirt is about as useful as planking.
While all this is happening, Natasha is in the run around of my journey while following what ever this Celestial Whim was.
I got the pizzas and walked back to the two Vet’s who had their change kicked around. I stood above them with the boxes of pizza.
“Would you like some pizza?” I ask. I am confronted with looks of horror and skepticism.
“Don’t tease us.” One responds.
“I am not teasing. Would you like some pizza?” I open the box and one of the men pulls a piece out, and hands it to the fellow next to him, and shuts the lid to the box.
“You can take more than that… you can take as much as you want.” I open the box again, and let them take out two pieces each.
The man who had not yet said anything now looks at me with tears in his eyes, and asks “Are you mad at me?”
And in this moment, I know he is not talking to ME, but to the Spirit within me in that moment. That warm Spirit which was taking over, while I stepped aside and outside above myself, watched and listened as the words “No, I am not mad at you…I love you.” pour from my lips. Something I, myself, would NOT have said. He begins to cry.
I connected with this man’s eyes. I saw his soul and he saw my sacred heart. I continued down the road, looking for the desolate hovering in corners. I shared what I have to give. Few people asked for money, which I did not give, because the goal was to make sure people were fed and monetary charity is not my style.
This all happened in September of 1999. I had only been at school a few weeks… but this trip changed my life, and it changed me. School to learn who Christ was, no longer seemed like the real way to experience what that love and compassion are. I felt stifled living in a bubble of people who tout a title called Christian… but would only actually do service in community a couple times of year. Helping people seemed like it should be a daily exercise in spiritual growth and development.
The college had some strict rules on leaving campus. So I lied, and told them I was signing out on the weekend to visit family. Really I was renting hotel rooms on credit, and using the money I made at the Christian radio station I worked at, to buy bread, peanut butter and jelly; bags of chips, juice boxes, cookies and packages of granola, plastic sammie bags, brown paper lunch sacks and napkins.
Then I would drive it all to Kansas City, and stay for the weekend walking around alone down town, looking for people to feed. I never felt like I was in any risk of danger, because I was certain whatever was working through me is INVINCIBLE! It was a huge practice in sacrifice and faith. It has been from that point on in life that I knew I was to live in Service to Humanity.
I probably took six trips to KC that semester. One of the excursions a young man, about my age was curious as to what I was doing and why. And it created the most beautiful dialog, because to him, it made sense. And in that moment of it making sense, he wanted to give everything he had in order to help.
“Should I give them my money?” He asked.
“I don’t give money. I will buy something for some one if they express need, however. I think that charity through money is like trying to build a garden without getting your hands dirty. It is easy to just give some one some money, and then they go off and buy beer or drugs… you just send them off on their way. But when you feed a person, or take them to buy something they need, then you are actually participating in service. You are sharing soul space.”
“Have you ever had anyone be mad at you for not giving them money?”
“Yes. And I don’t care. If they get mad they obviously didn’t want what I have to offer. I can’t offer everything to everybody, but I can share what I do have and try to share it wisely.”
“That makes a lot of sense.” And when he walked away, I felt certain his heart had been stirred.
Over the years my service has changed shape and form. But it is the lesson of Christ Consciousness and the Righteous power that we have through harnessing It, which can create a landslide of change in fairly short period of time.
If you believe you live a life of righteous service, and yet you have never felt the Infinite Power of True Selfless Love… you have been living in a delusion, and perhaps you should step outside of your comfort zone for a while. There is nothing wrong with Humility and there is nothing wrong with getting dirty every once in a while. Selfless service is rarely a neat and tidy procedure; but I guarantee that afterward you will feel lighter and with a new sense of strength and purpose.
It’s the day after my grandfathers memorial service. I had a dozen people at our house in order to commune and share food after the small family gathering and 21 gun salute at the cemetery.
A dozen or so people of blood relation, that I do not REALLY know.
And in a way, it kind of doesn’t matter, because when I look into their faces, I see my self. And I see my history. I see the individuation of myself spread out in a dozen different but similar faces. This seems good enough.
Perhaps if I had time with them each, one on one, I would be asking questions and probing for answers on our connections… but I do not have the time for that… and to some degree maybe it isn’t even that important these days.
I use to wonder more about my family, but they aren’t the type to share, “just any story.” They all have their favorites, their classics, their patchwork of the bigger picture. Though I find it interesting, it’s the missing pieces I find far more interesting. I guess that is when I really start to use my imagination.
The ceremony for my grandfather was short and sweet. Just like him. I think he approves.
Today is a new day, and there are new patterns to be laid. New ways we have to go into each moment… because now, for my grandmother, she doesn’t have him to look forward too, despite the depressive nature of sitting in a nursing home watching a person struggle with Dementia.
Today we can be thankful that even though her legs hurt, at least she can still move them; and even though she can’t see well, at least she can still see… and even though she can’t chew so well, she can still chew enough to eat. And we start to become thankful for what we DO have. And we appreciate what we have lost, but with new eyes.
Life is never going to be “normal.” It can only be a dance of balance. Today is a new day to test the potentials of perception of “normal” and move forward into our own definition.