benchmarksblog

WHAT I LEARN FROM LIFTING & PLAYING

Category: LIFTING

IN TUNE

I’ve been feeling grumpy at work lately.

Due to scheduling conflicts between the tuner and the restaurant, the piano had been long overdue for a tuning.

And I’ve been pretty miserable playing on a flat instrument for months now.

It’s been so long that I forgot the tuner was coming this week.

So when I sat down on my first night of the week, I was surprised to hear all the notes sounding right.

This relief is a kind of beautiful peace I have felt many times before.

Like when the fitness training program, the nutrition plan and the amount of recovery times are in all perfect sync, and my body feels balanced.

Or when I do and say the right things, making my spirt feel a certain satisfaction.

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MY SHOT

I get called for jury duty.

 

Which means what I’m really getting is the ‘privilege’ of serving my civic duty by waking up three hours earlier than I normally do, driving to the courthouse, paying an exorbitant amount of money for secure parking downtown, shivering in line outdoors with 500 other jurors in 40 degree weather for well over an hour before passing through security, tolerating the officers who scream conflicting instructions at us, and finally waiting in a room that has barely enough seats to accommodate all of us, so I slump my back against a radiator and sit on the floor.

 

I am in the first group of jurors to be called to the stand.

 

The case is murder with intent and if chosen, I am going to be committing a horrifying two weeks to this trial.

 

The prosecution begins the process of selecting  their ideal candidates by questioning us.

 

Question 1

 

District Attorney: Do you believe that intent does not change regardless of outcome? For example, if a quarterback does not score a touchdown, his intent to win the game remains the same, correct?

 

Me: I disagree. I wouldn’t assume his intent was to win the game in the first place. What if this game was fixed? Also, I believe it is very easy to restate one’s intent. If I were the quarterback and didn’t win, I would say that my intent was just to play my best.

 

Question 2

 

District Attorney: If only the court officer and I were in the room, and he sees me take this pen belonging to my colleague, the Assistant District Attorney, and then testifies that he saw me steal it, would you believe his testimony and convict me for theft?

 

Me: Absolutely not. I would naturally assume that you were returning the pen to your colleague.

 

Question 3

 

District Attorney: There are no windows in this courtroom. If someone comes in soaking wet, can we all conclude that it is raining outside?

 

Me : I firmly disagree. The toilet could have exploded. There might have been a bucket above a door and that person walked right into a prank. Frankly, I find all your questions reductive and problematic for my personal point of view. There are many other possible explanations to these hypotheticals that you seem unwilling to entertain. And that kind of reasoning and logic negates the richness of the human experience, that is to say, the grey areas that make us all unique, diverse and interesting.

 

I saw the opportunity to take my shot and I did not throw it away.

 

I am dismissed.

 

There’s more than enough time left in the day for the gym and to make it to my piano bench for work.

 

I don’t feel young, scrappy and hungry though.

 

More like old, ratchet and bitter.

 

 

HOPES AND DREAMS

I am excited when he says that he is coming to hear my last set and then hang out for a bit afterwards.

 

He seems a bit shy and nervous, so I ask him what he would like to hear to break the ice.

 

He says he likes “anything Disney.”

 

And he smiles when start I playing When You Wish Upon A Star, which opens a 60 minute magic kingdom set.

 

Before the final song, I ask him about his hope and dreams, because fundamentally, that’s what all this music songs are about.

 

He frowns.

 

“I’m not talented or muscular or good-looking or confident or anything like you … I guess I don’t have any hopes and dreams,” he stammers.

 

When he asks where the bathroom is located, I don’t think anything of it.

 

But when he doesn’t come back, or respond to any of my texts or calls, I know something is wrong.

 

I check the bathroom.

 

No one is in there.

 

I check with the hostess.

 

He hasn’t left the restaurant.

 

I check the monitors in the office.

 

I see him sneaking out the back door.

 

I don’t know what it must be like to go through life without any hopes and dreams.

 

Luckily for me, most of mine have come true or remained firmly intact.

MAKE OUR GARDEN GROW

I am not a patient person.

 

I ask my trainer every week when I’m going to get bigger and how soon before I get to move up in weight for every. single. exercise.

 

I am definitely not a patient person.

 

For that reason, I’ve never been attracted to horticulture as a hobby.

 

Growing things takes time.

 

However, something about the tulip bulbs in the clear glass vase at the grocery store caught my attention. They just seemed so eager, as though they couldn’t wait any longer to sprout from the fullness of their forms.

 

So because I was amused, the tulips came home with me and sat on a sunny spot in my dresser. I followed the directions on the tag exactingly, keeping the water level just below the blubs, so that they wouldn’t rot. Very quickly, I became excited every morning to see how much they had grown overnight, and was completely gratified when the flowers finally opened.

 

I enjoyed the tulips for a few weeks before they perished.

 

Since the tulips, I’ve successfully force bloomed some paper whites, an amaryllis is coming along nicely, and I’ve started placing avocado seeds in the rims of water filled old fashioned milk pint jars.

 

I’m still not a patient person.

 

But something about seeing these plants germinate, each at their own pace, reminds me of the immense potential I hold within, which cannot be realized on my own schedule, no matter how much I try, plan or anticipate.

 

Growing things, including muscles, takes its own time.

 

 

 

 

RUNNING OVER

When my massage therapist suggests that we try a cupping session, I am all for it.

 

She explains that the constant pressure from the suction created by the vacuum in the bowls she is about to place on my back will go much deeper into my tissues than she can reach with her hands.

 

Although it looks now like I have a bunch of hickies from making out with an octopus, I am enjoying this new treatment.

 

It isn’t painful and the euphoria from the relief is lasting a good few days.

 

I’m lifting better and playing more comfortably.

 

The best part is knowing that my cup does run over.

 

I am grateful to have not just her, but many people in my life that nurture and heal me.

THE WHOLE HOG

As the celebratory Chinese New Year period comes to an end, I am relieved.

 

Among the many traditional taboos, speaking negatively in any form during this time is strictly forbidden, lest the misfortune carries forward to jinx the entire upcoming year.

 

I did pretty well, choosing my words with carefully and thoughtfully to express myself.

 

My reply to someone at the gym who rudely asked if I was loosing more weight again was a simple, “thank you for your concern but I have things under control,” thus immediately, and effectively, terminating the conversation.

Or when a new server set a tray of martinis on the lid of my piano, I formulated the firm but polite imperative, “please remove those drinks at once; this is an 80 thousand dollar instrument.”

 

Which shocked senior staff into silence, all of whom were gleefully expecting a tantrum of epic proportions on my part.

 

So it got me thinking.

 

In this year of the pig, why not go the whole hog, and keep on speaking kindly?

FROM THE HIP

Rehabilitation on the back has been slow, but steady, and I have started to lift at what I consider to be my personal baseline numbers.

So I am more than irritated that my right hip decides to go out of alignment on Monday.

Everything is connected, and that hip was probably overcompensating more than it should have been while I focused on the first injury. 

My trainer advises me to get a massage because it’s an early catch; the muscles surrounding the hip can be encouraged to unknot before they permanently lock up.

I complain that I’ve been out of work for a week and now I have the added anxiety of not being able to perform comfortably, or for long periods of time, when I go back. 

She immediately tells me not to worry, and to be reminded that whatever has been rightfully given to me, no one can take away.

Perfect aim for shooting from the hip. 

DOUBTING

“Why do you keep poking at your side,” my trainer asks, as I finger and prod the part of the back injury that we have been so carefully rehabilitating. 

I just can’t believe that it’s barely there any more. 

So I keep touching it, multiples times, checking to see that it’s really going away, as requirement of the physical proof needed to confirm my faith in the process of healing. 

NUTS

It is crazy how much effort it took to procure freshly ground almond butter this week. 

The machine at the regular store was out of order and no one knew when the replacement part was coming in.

The manger offered me a free jar of any of the shelf brands but I refused. 

Almond butter is the favorite part of my day. 

I eat a tablespoon of it every afternoon and I insist on the freshly ground variety. 

It just tastes so much better. 

So I called same store in a different neighborhood and was surprised to find out that they didn’t even have a grinder. 

And when I eventually did find a store that offered this luxury, I had to locate a grocery clerk to refill the grinder because it was out of almonds. 

Then I had to walk to the other end of the store to get the quart size container because apparently, at this store, people only buy pint sized servings. 

So, I finally have almond butter. 

But crazy as how much effort it took to procure it, even crazier is how little effort I put into other things that definitely matter more. 

RECIPE FOR DISASTER

I’ve been making these protein snack muffins for my last meal of the day.

 

So far, I’ve created four flavors: Meatloaf, Tuna Noodle, Chicken Rice and Sweet Potato Salmon.

 

I eat them on my first set break at work and the muffins are perfectly balanced with protein and carbs to fuel me through the night.

 

This week, I finally sat down, committed to writing down the recipes for the muffins, and emailed the instructions to my trainer and a few workout buddies who have been asking for this novelty food prep item.

 

I have a feeling that it’s not going to go well.

 

First of all, the portion size may not be correct for every individual, and if the ratio of protein to carbs shifts, the muffins may not hold together during baking.

 

Secondly, I don’t season this meal at all because I eat it during work. I don’t want to feel thirsty, I don’t want to be self-conscious that my breath smells like onion or garlic, and I certainly don’t to spend any time trying to pick out flecks of pepper or herbs from my teeth.

 

I warned them, saying that these recipes were developed specifically for my needs, that they might have to adjusted for each person’s needs, and to be fully aware that blindly following someone else’s instructions could turn out to be a recipe for disaster.