My training partner and I made a huge commitment this summer to train and enter a competitive weight class for our first-ever competitive Strongman contest. Speaking for myself here, that choice to do meant that there are several things this summer I chose not to do.
I didn’t say no to things because I didn’t want them. Actually, for the most part, most things I’ve said no to are because they didn’t fit with the choice to be an athlete in the way I’m attempting to be right now. This confuses me a little. I can understand more easily the feeling of saying no because I don’t want something, which can often be hard for people like me who are socialized as women. We tend to say yes just to keep the peace, because sometimes our lives and livelihoods depend on our likability.
But saying no because in other circumstances I would say yes, but I can’t right now; or saying no even when I would like that thing very much, but I don’t have the capacity to take on more right now- these are all difficult choices for me to make. I’m someone who tends to take on a LOT and loves doing that, mostly because I have so many cups that there is almost always room to fill one more. But really being conscientious of my limits and my desire to have free time for rest and recovery and play is new for me. I think training has helped encourage me to find more of a balance in what I say yes to and what I say no to.
But there is still something lost in the saying no. I’ve said no to several parties, opportunities for work and speaking gigs and having my writing more visible. I’ve said no to long weekends, beach days, cold beers, sleeping in, staying up late, and cooking some amazing recipes. I’ve said no to new restaurants, baseball games, and walks in the park with friends.
These are all things I want. And I want to take a moment to recognize that these are not things I will say no to forever. Just for now.
Because I want to say yes to other things. A clean home, good food in the refrigerator, quality time with my sweetie and my pup and cat, getting strong and competitive for the contest, giving good quality therapeutic care to my patients, cultivating my spirituality, harvesting herbs, berries, and vegetables from my garden, going for hikes with my dog, and giving myself lots of room to let what’s important emerge. When I say no to something I wish I could do, I am reminded that it’s okay to want things, and I feel grateful for knowing more deeply what it is I want.
I remember, too, that this is temporary. I will soon be saying no to competitive training, at least for a few months while in maintenance mode. It’s also helped boost my creativity by having to say no and then finding another creative way to get a similar kind of experience. I said no to buying a painting recently because I don’t have the funds to purchase art right now- but I did have enough money to buy a couple of canvases and paints, and make my own art. Not only was it a wonderful intuitive process to create abstract art, but it boosted my creative confidence. If I have to say no to something, it means I am doing something else I really want. And that the want of the other does not have to hold any kind of moral weight. It is something I will get to in time, if I still desire it.