There is something about a fire that draws us in – the magic of flames dancing, the smell of smoke, the permanence of destruction, the finality of turning a once physical and tangible thing to ash and dust. I love my Firepit Fridays – a fun little ritual I host for my fave neighbors where we laugh and talk and drink wine. I have a gas firepit with glass rock and it is mesmerizing. It’s beautiful and hypnotic… but we never, ever burn anything in it. My friend, however, has an iron firepit and that thing can burn the hell out of anything. It blazes so hotly we keep our distance to avoid melting our shoes and eyelashes. I love staring into the flame, transfixed by the hottest, bluest parts.
Have you ever been camping with kiddos? Once they discover the satisfaction of throwing things into the fire, there is no stopping them. All bets are off and you had better be very clear about what gets burned and what doesn’t otherwise you might find yourselves a few paper plates short at dinner. I believe that those who know how to light and stoke a good fire are magicians… they know how to stack it perfectly and light the kindling and stoke it to perfection. I believe there is a little pyromaniac in all of us… Anyone know ‘that friend’ who cannot leave the fire alone? The one who keeps stoking it, turning logs, finding things to add? Yeah, that friend has a quite a few unresolved issues, I am convinced! (I’m thinking of someone now… She has a lot that needs burning, she just hasn’t thrown her mess into the fire yet. I won’t name her, but I guaran-effing-tee you she is reading this and knows I’m writing to her.)
Burn it, girlfriend. Buuuuurrrrrrrn it.
In this ‘Let it burn’ series, I’m encouraging you to experience the freedom that comes with shedding a few layers of… whatever. My last post discussed the transformation of women-of-a-certain age who have experienced that internal fire… you know, that blazing inferno of energy that threatens to burn everything in its path but invariably we survive? The mindset shift that occurs as a result and the freedom that comes by releasing the power of other people’s opinions. I don’t think we need to wait for our biological clocks to debilitate our babymakers… that will happen eventually. I think the metaphorical burning can begin at any age with awareness and deliberate action. (Did you read that post? What did you choose to burn?)
This time, in the second post of the Let it Burn series, I want to chat a bit about the burning we experience when pushing our bodies to their physical limits. That satisfying pleasure-pain that comes after a good workout, when you’ve stretched your muscles to their breaking point and pushed ‘mind-over-matter’ to its very end. I started Burn Boot Camp when gyms reopened after quarantine and consistently torture my body at 630am (almost every weekday). My best neighbor girlfriends come too, and we trade days for being the most motivated. We also trade off driving but that’s the easier task. Like clockwork, every morning around 6am the texts begin. Who is going? Who is driving? And the never spoken, always implied WHO IS FLAKING?
The body can do way more than the mind thinks it can. Your mind quits before your muscles do – ask any fitness guru or bodybuilder about their keys to success. I promise one of those keys will be persisting even when it hurts, even when you feel you cannot go on. I love arm day – I want super buff arms instead of these soft, squishy ones. I push hard on arm day and lift those heavy weights until my arms burn and scream and threaten to fail. Leg day? Yep, love that too! My thighs burn something fierce after hundreds of squats, but I like the result, so I’ll keep squatting. I’m on the downhill slope of my 40’s and determined to keep this bootie high!
After every good workout, there is pain. Ever try to wash your hair after arm day? OUCH! It’s a funny thing to realize that we are actually tearing something down – breaking it – then allowing it to rebuild itself even stronger. There is deep satisfaction in flexing those muscles post workout and feeling that tinge of pain. It’s pleasurable. It fuels the motivation and builds the pride. We did something. <Flex-flex> Feel that? You did it, girlfriend. That muscle group hurts now but it is rebuilding and will emerge stronger and better because of this pain. If you complete an entire workout and never felt that burn, what was the point? You must burn to grow.
Yeah, gurl, here comes the metaphor.
How similar is this to building other muscles… problem solving muscles, conflict resolution muscles, entrepreneurial and courageous muscles? How many times have we experienced a breakdown before a breakthrough? Sometimes the ‘thing’ must be torn down before it can be built up. Sometimes a problem must be deconstructed before we can move to solve. A conflict must be dissected before a relationship can be mended. Sometimes the ‘extra’ needs to burn away to reveal the core.
We know our physical health is tied to our emotional, mental, and spiritual health. It’s all linked. If you’re ‘off’ in one area, it will impact the other areas. If you’re mentally exhausted, your body feels it too. If you’re emotionally stressed, your body will react. If your body is unchallenged, your mind might go into overdrive. If you’re emotionally zapped, your spiritual life might suffer. It’s all connected, and we need to take care of each part of us.
I believe we are enough, as is. I do not believe one size is better than another, thin is better than thick, or small is worth more than large. Nope. That’s a lie thrust upon us early in life and perpetuated by an antiquated definition of beauty and, as my friend Daisy might say, propagated by the patriarchy to keep women insecure and in check.
I believe your worth is inherent and there is NOTHING you need to do to or can do to change that. This post is about taking care of those parts of yourself that might feel a bit off kilter so that you are the best version of you always, in all ways.
Start where you are. Maybe it’s a walk around the block. Maybe it’s 5 wall pushups. Maybe it’s 25 squats during your next conference call. Maybe it’s playing your favorite song as loudly as you can bear it and dancing around your living room. I don’t know what will make your body burn a little, but you do. You know. You can find that exercise that challenges you and pushes you. Try a little something this week, maybe even right now. See if it makes a difference in how you think and feel. See if it boosts your confidence a little to move your body in new ways. And when the thought pops into your head to quit, and it will, see if you can do just one more. I bet you can. It’ll burn but I bet your body will rise to the challenge.
There is something truly mesmerizing about a woman on fire from within. The stuff that doesn’t matter melts away. The opinions of others. Their expectations. Their judgments. The excesses of life. The insulation from pain. The fluff of distractions. There is something equally inspiring about a woman who presses through physical discomfort to achieve her goals. To see her push past the mind’s resistance and keep lifting, squatting, jumping, pressing, and planking until she has burned away the temptation to quit and replaced it with a determination to keep going.
What if we focus on the physical this week and challenge ourselves to let it burn? How might that affect every other area of our lives?
You are Enough. Totally enough.
Through her vulnerability and a generous dose of honesty and humor, Holly Chamberlain encourages and empowers others to find joy in every moment… even the impossible ones.
Holly is Regional Sales Director for a global pharmaceutical company and Founder of The aMasongrace Project, a suicide prevention organization. She is an advocate, speaker, and blogger. Her widely-read blog, “It’s Just Me” chronicled her journey of surviving suicide loss. Her latest endeavor, “Totally Enough,” is focused on empowering women of all ages to recognize their unique value, to walk in abundance, and to rest in the knowledge that they are already enough. As is.
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