Tag Archives: transition

Joe Shogrin: Not a Douche-bag

 

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.”

13465971_1745896805657737_3765290143080208362_n 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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Richard Johnson, Renegade Politician Pt.1

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?”

Yeah, it’s pretty much, this whole escapade is total fucking failure. At least my site lives up to it’s name now. (The infamous FaceBook page “Richard Johnson, You Failed This City)

“Why are you feeling so disappointed?”

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.

(To go to Part 2, CLICK HERE)

Fit Body Boot Camp- Week 13- Meet the Boss Lady, Sara Goossen

Fitness CAN be fun, with Sara Goossen!
Fitness CAN be fun, with Sara Goossen!

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?

March/April 2015; back in  the game after a 2 month break.
March/April 2015; back in the game after a 2 month break.

STATS

AGE: 28

HEIGHT: 5’3″

WEIGHT: 145.3 lbs

FAVORITE EXERCISE: RUNNING STAIRS, WORKING THE BACK, AND SQUATS

LEAST FAVORITE EXERCISE: BUILDING CLIMBERS

Breaks are temporary... This lady is out to GET IT DONE!
Breaks are temporary… This lady is out to GET IT DONE!

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.

None of this happens over night... it takes time to get to either end of the spectrum.   Which one would you prefer to be closer to?
None of this happens over night… it takes time to get to either end of the spectrum. Which one would you prefer to be closer to?

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.

The beginning bare bones of a fitness fortress in the making.
The beginning bare bones of a fitness fortress in the making.

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.

2011 looks good on Sara Gosseen!
2011 looks good on Sara Gosseen!

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.

2013 looked even better!
2013 looked even better!

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!”

'High Knees
‘High Knees” are different than heinies… make sure both are in good form!

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.

Not only is Jay Cutler bohemoth, but he makes Sara look like a tiny lil tea cup.  Jay Cutler Classic 2013.
Not only is Jay Cutler bohemoth, but he makes Sara look like a tiny lil tea cup. Jay Cutler Classic 2013.

 

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?”

Mommy, Wife, Business Owner and Encourager of the Masses... what can't this lady do?         Photo courtesy of  Lacey Dippold Photography
Mommy, Wife, Business Owner and Encourager of the Masses… what can’t this lady do? Photo courtesy of Lacey Dippold Photography

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.

Watch out folks....
Watch out folks….

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.

You can find out more by going to fitbodybootcamp.com/cheyennefitnessbootcamp, or on Facebook Fit Body Boot Camp Cheyenne.

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!

Fit Body Boot Camp: Day One

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.

Grasping for Beauty

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.

I know I need a change both inside and out.

Moving Forward into “Normal”

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.

Reasons Active Un-involvement Is Better Than Activism

Are you the type of person who gets upset and fired up about injustice in the world?

Are you the type of person who will join a cause in order to put your hands in the pot of injustice; in order to stir the contents, and hope the stew comes out better than when you first involved yourself?

Do you throw yourself head first into “causes” which seem to only de-evolve and leave you with a bruised head and ego?

Then maybe you should take a step back and look at so called “activism.”

Activism is in direct relation to Polarity. Activism rarely has any real solutions… rather it is a vehicle for sharing information and through that information polarizing people by bringing smaller groups together, and isolating others through conflict.

Do I believe in Human Rights and Free Will? Yes.
Do I believe Activist groups are really looking out for the greater good? Not really.

Their intentions may seem spotless, but the fact is that they are creating a sort of black hole when it really comes to change.

Maybe you will say… “what about all those people in Egypt who are rioting… don’t you think that is activism?”

Well no, I don’t… I actually see it as Active Un-Involvement.

People who are willing to say “fuck going to work, fuck going to the store, fuck this system! We are gonna rally in the streets and stop the machine by stopping participation with the expectations of our keepers.” That is active un-involvement.

The first reason this is better than activism, is because the only real way to beat any system, is to remove yourself from it. To live life as is right by your heart vs what the mainstream says.

The solution is not to start an “anti” campaign. Anti-campaigns only create more conflict by saying “this thing over here is bad.” By creating an anti-campaign you are actually still participating with the thing you do not agree with. You are not pulling yourself from participation with the other side.

A person can yell against GMO’s all day… but if they are still buying their food from a big chain grocery store… they are in direct conflict of their message.

Proof is in action, not activism. Hate GMO’s? Boycott the grocery store, build a green house and start tending your vegetables.

Invite people to eat them, or to buy starts off you…. That is Active Un-involvement, which offers a non violent active solution to an idea or system your head and heart do not agree with.

I would have to say that sincere “anti- car” cyclists are the most Active in Un-Involvement as it gets… They ride their bikes everywhere. In highly congested areas they get where they need to be faster… their calves are usually really nice, and they have found a very productive solution to staying away from the oil industry. I once had a friend like this who had ” Fuck Cars” tattooed across her calves… so while she was speeding through traffic, the drivers of cars could see her point, very clearly.

Active Un-Involvement is a way for a person to REALLY live their Truth. If you don’t agree with something, don’t buy into it. Don’t give it your energy… instead redirect your energy into the solution.

Activism, like I said, is really great for the dissemination of information… but rarely does it go much further.

Think about how much money has gone into “finding a cure for cancer,” when we have had several all along. People have been fed a placebo idea, that it is some how wrong to question alternatives and fall out of line with corrupt ideals.

People who actively un-involve themselves are free thinkers. They do not rely on a group to tell them what is right or wrong… rather they take all the information into account and think for themselves. These same people are usually very tired of falling into rank when it comes to ideas they don’t agree with, and instead of fighting back… they just drop out and create the circumstances they would like to see.

Now maybe you are reading all this, and you disagree. You think things are just fine the way they are. Or maybe you consider yourself to be an activist and this is just down right sacrilege…

Are you going to start an “anti Madge Midgely” blog? Are you going to funnel your energy into telling me I am wrong? Or are you going just blow off this article as bullshit and go right back to your campaign? Most likely you will simmer over it for a minute and move on, maybe even start your own blog about activism. And that is okay… that is your first recognition that you are capable of active un-involvement.

We don’t have to bash anyone, or any thing. We just have to educate people and allow them to think for themselves with the solution that they CAN DO ANYTHING they put their mind to, and the best way to be active is to just go and do it and see what happens.

We each choose to actively un-involve ourselves in many ways through out life… whether it is the conscious effort to not be involved in gossip, or whether it is a boycott on the Nestle’ Corp. We choose where we want to put our energy.

If you feel a massive amount of conflict in your life… look at how many mental “anti campaigns” you have running through your program. Shut them off. Redirect your mental energy into seeing why things exist the way they do, figure out what works and what doesn’t. Figure out what brings you most piece of mind and heart. Follow that, and start being active with your True Self and not the bi-polar conflict of belief without real action. Educate yourselves on Many Points of View… and then discern the Truth.

dove