benchmarksblog

WHAT I LEARN FROM LIFTING & PLAYING

Category: LIFTING

COOL

When my coach said that she would be going out of town for a week on business, I didn’t panic.

 

I stayed cool because I knew that I had been trained well, and conditioned even better, to accomplish the program goals that we had been working on together for the past 6 months.

 

However, when the bride for a wedding this weekend told me on Monday that she had decided to move her ceremony from the shaded gazebo to the outdoor garden at the park venue, I became agitated.

 

At 2pm on a Saturday in July, a typical Michigan afternoon is close to 100 degrees.

 

I was not looking forward to loading my gear in and out, then getting into a three piece suit, and playing in this heat.

 

I just checked the weather report.

 

It’s going to be a cool 79 degrees tomorrow’s wedding.

 

I should have stayed cool all along, knowing that I will always be provided the means to sparkle at my brightest.

 

 

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HARD AND SOFT

A very drunk woman said the nicest thing.

 

“His body is so hard but his touch on the piano is so soft.”

 

And just like that, I found the way back to myself, realizing that I can be many things at one time.

 

I can be assertive, but act kindly.

 

I can be independent, but express vulnerability.

 

I can be intuitive, but think rationally.

 

I can be courageous, but be humble.

 

I can be grateful, but have pride.

 

I can be loud, but always listen, quietly.

 

SPEAK LOW

When she got off the elevator, she went straight to the bathroom.

What I found out later is that she went to the bathroom to cry.

Which made it look like I had said something completely awful to her.

Truthfully, I could have said it in a much nicer way; to not lean over the piano lid In the nook of the instrument when I’m working.

But instead, I said, “Don’t stand there because you are neither a bass player nor a singer.”

Lesson learnt.

And I apologize in advance for this and any other unkind words I might say for the remainder of competition prep.

RATCHET AND TRIFFLING

I finally sat down and learnt Come Rain Or Come Shine and The Man That Got Away, two Harold Arlen tunes that I have always loved but didn’t have either the technical understanding or the musical focus to access until recently.

I also successfully completed, with ease, a German Volume Training sequence of 10 sets of 10 reps of squats at 135lbs, that I failed at, miserably, a few months ago.

So when a nice guy asked me out on a date one night, I was optimistic that it would go a lot better than the awkward string of men I had been meeting lately.

We arrived at the bar at the same time and were both dumbfounded that it was closed, without reason or explanation.

At this point, another much better looking patron showed up, and wondered out loud where he was supposed to go now.

So I suggested another bar, and we all regrouped there.

When the first guy went to the bathroom, I slid my phone over to the second guy and asked for his number, which he programmed into my phone immediately, agreeing that we should, most definitely, meet again.

Then when he returned from the bathroom, I told the first guy that I was tired. He offered to walk me to my car, where we said our goodbyes.

Except that when he drove off, I got out of my car, went back into the bar, and proceeded to spend the rest of the night making out with the second guy, a flight attendant on layover in Detroit.

I may be finally learning the repertoire that once eluded me, and lifting harder than I have before, but some things just haven’t changed all that much.

POWER

I experienced my very first brownout today.

Which meant that I still had a little bit of power coming into my place.

I couldn’t turn on the air conditioning. But I could take a shower in the half dim lit bathroom.

More importantly, all my weekly food prep was still being kept refrigerated. And I could even quickly pull out a Tupperware of poached chicken breast to reheat in the microwave as my pre-work meal, like I do everyday.

So my gratitude quickly turned into full fledged annoyance and irritation when a quick text to a neighbor on break between sets at work led to the information that we had digressed to a complete blackout.

Without power, I couldn’t do my daily morning run on the treadmill, and my eating schedule for training would be completely disrupted.

And as I sit here writing this on my phone to post on the blog, on another set break at work, I just have to take a deep breath.

I may not have electrical power.

But I do have power.

The power to believe in my own ability to make alternative plans.

And the power to trust that I will be provided for, in spite of myself, always.

BENCHMARKS

The very first songs I play everyday when I sit down at my bench in the restaurant are a medley of hymns.

 

The hymns are chosen based on the devotional reading from the publication Our Daily Bread.

 

Last Sunday, a woman gently tapped me on the arm after Amazing Grace-Old Rugged Cross-Crown Him with Many Crowns.

 

“That’s exactly what I needed to hear,” she said with tears in her eyes.

 

And I know, with absolute certainty, that I am supposed to me on this particular bench, at this very specific moment, for an important reason.

 

A few days later, I’m on another bench, at an unfamiliar gym, because my home gym has a power outage.

 

The head judge of most Michigan bodybuilding competitions is training a client right next to me.

 

And because the bench press has always been the weakest of all my lifts, I’m hesitant to begin.

 

“I’m the smallest guy here,” I whisper to my coach.

 

“That doesn’t matter,” she tells me, “You have the biggest heart.”

 

With that, I begin.

 

In the end, it wasn’t a personal best kind of workout, but it wasn’t the worst either.

EASTER THOUGHTS

So, I lost the combination lock that I had been using at the gym for the past 5 years.

 

Which made me incredibly sad because it represented some kind of credibility.

 

The lock bore the chips, dents, scratches that can only come from a daily and dedicated fitness practice.

 

My new lock is shiny and doesn’t even turn smoothly.

 

I guess, over time it will get broken in too.

 

Some things clearly need fixing and forgiving.

 

But with some other things, scars don’t have to be necessarily bad.

 

 

 

 

 

GUARDIAN

Since one of my closet and dearest friends mentioned to me this week that the Detroit Jazz Festival presents a Guardian Award to a recipient every year, I’ve been obsessing.

 

Not on getting the award per se.

 

Rather, over what exactly I keep guard in my heart.

 

I’m pretty sure I have a bunch of morals and standards in there that I try to put into practice, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.

 

A bunch of loved ones who have touched and shaped me, who remind me that I am capable of love in return.

 

But mostly, I think, there’s a lot of hope and trust in there, which keeps me faithfully guarded against that easy slide into negativity.

SWEAT

On my first day back at the gym since the cold, my trainer took a new approach to getting my strength and stamina back.

 

She loaded up a bar and set the timer.

 

“We’re going to see how long it takes for you to squat one hundred reps and sweat the rest of this cold out of you.”

 

True enough, at the end of it, I felt better than I had been feeling all week.

 

So it should be no sweat then to play this Cinderella Tea event next weekend with a singer friend.

 

All I should have to do is practice with my sheet music at least one hundred times.

 

Trust that rehearsal goes well.

 

Pray that the children will be well-behaved, receptive and attentive.

 

Hope that I won’t have any technical issues with the microphone.

 

Believe that the singer will be in good voice and arrive on time with no problems.

 

Depend on management to handle all the other events that day to ensure no other conflicts.

 

I’m sweating it just a little.

COLD

I’m just back from urgent care.

I have a cold.

The sinus pressure started last night in the middle of my first set at work. By the end of the night the post nasal drip was making my throat slightly sore.

Since there isn’t a fever or body aches, and the strep test came back negative, the doctor assured me it was a simple cold and would be gone in 5-10 days.

I have antibiotics to knock out the 20 percent chance that this might be bacterial (versus viral), and a decongestant to help break up the mucus.

I’m well enough to play.

But too under the weather to lift.

And that, even though I know I’m doing the right thing by resting, leaves me cold.