Being Big Abroad

Let’s start with the biggest plus I’ve found in regard to being directly related to being bigger when traveling. I’m safer. Betcha never thought of that, huh?
Sure there’s going to be haters out there, and some may be so severe as to cause physical harm (I’ve heard stories), but I feel nowhere near as targeted as I did when my body was more of what is considered standard to be attractive. Luckily I have enough redeeming qualities in looks, style and personality (a big smile goes a long way) to be treated somewhat decently and still have enough people attracted to keep me satisfied. Most important to the freedom of traveling alone is that these traits, especially my body, provide a middle ground of being invisible enough (not physically, I’m 5’10”) to have more freedom to travel alone.

Having experienced the invisible line between fat vs not fat, I have found peace. In my bigger periods, I see someone who passionately indulges in life and partakes in as much as I can. Also that I’m likely living in a place that doesn’t easily provide the healthiest lifestyle and who has probably gone through something as of late.
Yes I deal with the constant challenge of binging, but I have also come to a place of self-forgiveness, love and patience in order to make peace, balance and empower myself. Like many San Diegians, I work on balancing naughty social time by eating as clean as I can when not (with exception to my weakness for cheese and wine). This is a part of the foundational wellness routine that I am always trying to get back to. Also my constantly changing fitness routines which currently includes hiking and yoga.

Over all, I’d imagine I have a healthier diet than most Americans and am confident that I’m above average for fitness. The reason I point that out is the bottom line that being big doesn’t mean I’m lazy or living a more unhealthy lifestyle than anyone else.
Subjected to a hate and prejudice that is still way too accepted, those of us who are living large likely have a story to our size that goes far beyond the general misconceptions that are looked on with disgust. Genetics, medication, illnesses, trauma and much more. For those who shame others for their weight, I wonder how they would feel if they knew that the person who they are focusing such ugliness at has gained most of the weight from a cancer medication. Or the trauma of loosing a child. Or even someone who has already worked incredibly hard to lose 100 lbs and only has 50 more to go.
If I hear someone laughing on the street, I still become paranoid it’s about me. The likelihood of that being true is depressingly higher than someone of a smaller nature. On planes, I constantly worry about the person next to me being unhappy with having to sit by me and miserable as we both try make due with seats only compatible for those of a medium build or smaller. Let’s not even go into the pain of my knees being shoved into the seat in front of me thanks to my height. Here’s to hoping that greed of airlines is addressed in regard to discrimination against anyone who is over 5’7″ and 150 lbs.
Back to my personal struggle with weight, anxiety has caused most of my life to be something of a nightmare. Finally finding a medication that worked (Celexa), I was so worried about the increased weight prejudice that would come into play if a potential side effect of weight gain took hold that I got off of it. Ironically, a process that caused me to gain 30 lbs. Add to that losing my dog who my life revolved around and I gained another 30 lbs. It’s hard to care about what you’re doing to your body when everything in your existence is black.

One of the most surprising things I hear, and on a somewhat normal basis, is how others can’t imagine me ever being insecure. No matter how many times I hear it, I’m dumbfounded. Yes I have more confidence than most people, but constantly being hit still knocks me down. Travel means I am putting myself directly in harms way for even more ridicule than normal. In the first month I was in Thailand, the woman who ran my place and adopted me as an honorary daughter for the time made multiple comments about how I needed to lose weight. A local man who was a raging and sometimes violent alcoholic constantly made comments about my weight despite what most seemed to believe was a crush on me. A Scottish woman also visiting told me that I am the only real free spirit that she’s ever met and that I’m an inspiration. Lovely but still hurt considering I’m pretty sure she felt that way in regard to the fact that I’m so confident and skinny dip a lot despite my size. It didn’t hurt that she was so impressed by that, I’m glad to be that influence on others, but because it’s so true. One of her friends, by the way, would barely even acknowledge me. What exactly is it that’s so threatening about a little extra curve and cuddle?
Traveling big can be hard in multiple ways. Being in another country means I don’t know how much I can safely stand up for myself. It also means I have very little control over when or what I eat. Kind of hard to follow diet patterns when not having much of a clue as to what I’m putting in my mouth. *insert immature chuckle here*
When I had lost a lot of weight, I felt much more targeted by men and more women were surprisingly nasty to me. I didn’t feel safe skinny dipping or with many of the other body freedoms I had before and I didn’t feel comfortable with my body as a beautiful piece of our humanity with sexuality just being a part of it. Instead, it seemed like it was the only thing most cared about. In relation, I also didn’t feel like I had as much of a voice any more, as most no longer appeared to be interested in seeing past my packaging.
It sucked.

I always want to encourage myself and others to focus on out health and wellness first. Yes, it is healthier to not have excessive fat, but there’s more to overall wellness. Part of which includes being forgiving, honest and compassionate about doing the best we can with what we’ve got. For now, I’m going to focus on the details of my body that I do enjoy. Especially those I will lose if I loose. Firm skin, less sagging, round and pleasantly clump, etc. I appreciate that the men who are attracted to me are more likely to be confident in who they are and are attracted to as opposed to what society tells them to want or who to be. Most of all, I am thankful for the role model I can be to others in regard to learning how to love, live and stick up for themselves.

As far as travel goes, well, if I need a break from the weight-related hardships, I can always head to a country that prefer amazons. Tahiti, Samoa, Jamaica and Fiji to name an awesome few.

Less than a month until I head back to Thailand!

Recap for you new followers and update for the seasoned…
Back in May of 2015, I lost my dog and it destroyed me. That was the big life event that prompted me to once again go after my dream of traveling around the world. Like everything, it’s been ten times harder and took ten times longer than expected. Struggling against my old life, ego and much of my supposed support-system being less than supportive, I set out to Phuket, Thailand last April. While there I made amazing connections, though staying mostly stuck to my laptop writing and trying to land full-time remote marketing and writing work There are some organizations based in San Francisco Forbes has listed as best places to work and I’ve had my eye on for a while. (Shout out to Automattic!)
Anxiety over such a big life change and being stuck to my laptop stopped me from getting around Thailand. Also because I had to come back early when the woman I had tried to help out by selling my Mercedes to for $800, the car I had put $2,300 into the year before, didn’t pay me. Devastated and pressured by a conservative mother who could win awards for worry, I put myself a couple grand more in airline debt to come back a month early. After a last night of staying up all night in the pool with my awesome new pal Emma (who I will be subsequently be visiting in London come April), the woman who manages the awesome place in Phuket I stayed at, Shanti Lodge, and who adopted me saw how upset I was and offered to hold my belongings until my return. They’re still there…I hope.
Coming back, I was finally ready to admit that working remote full time would mentally keep me more in California than allowing me to be immersed in the countries I’ll be in. Not hard to imagine, that would likely set me up for a huge fail.
Turning down a couple good job offers and playing with the ideas of teaching ESL abroad (something I constantly hear others living this lifestyle do) or picking up more freelance writing and marketing work, I’ve decided through talking with many people in SF who have done this, self-reflection and the unexpected financial opportunity driving for rideshare has provided me, I am going to focus on getting the book I wrote out by Feb. 8th, 2018 (my 40th birthday) and volunteering all over the world. At first I wanted to be gone for much longer periods of time than the three to six months I’m planning for now. I’m sure it will change come even more experience but what seems to be working best so far is to head back to America for a few months at a time to earn money through rideshare, process my last experiences in the safety of home (San Diego) and spend time with my loved ones. Especially my dad who is sick and the process at which he is deteriorating has increased.
I have already grown and changed so much that I’m fascinated at the idea of who I will be a year from now when I am much farther in. Until then, the plan is to make it to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Burma, London, Paris, Japan, Bali and India with three stops in the US intermittently to earn money and go to Burning Man, be home for Christmas and to go on a cruise to the Mexican Riviera with anyone who will come for my 40th b-day. After that, who knows. Maybe a safari in Africa? Then again, maybe I’ll hit Central and South America for six months with a focus on learning to speak Spanish fluently. Finally. As long as I make my way around the world, the plan can change as much as it likes as far as I’m concerned. Reminds me of one of the things I hear writers comment about their books. At some point, they take on a life of their own and we’re just along for the ride. As always, so much love for those of you who are along for mine.

Symbols of Transition

A year ago today, I had a seizure. Slowly coming to as a couple of police officers with bad attitudes restrained me, it wasn’t until my friend’s boyfriend, who I like to think is also my pal, yelled at me about what had happened that I snapped back into reality. I still remember her terrified and hurt blue eyes the size of the moon as I switched from thinking that she had betrayed me and called the police for some unknown reason to coming to enough to realize what had actually happened. I have never had something affect my body or reality as much as that incident and was just as baffled as the doctors who couldn’t figure out what happened over the next few days.

Seeing the reminder on my Facebook news feed this morning didn’t upset me. Oh the contrary. It feels like a million years ago. To me, it was surreal. Not painful or scary. I was floating in a different reality and having a new experience. That’s life.

What it did do this morning was to instantly make me start to reflect. So much has happened. I have solidified my dream of having a lifestyle of freedom outside of normal societal restraints. I am set up to travel the world as a lifestyle and have multiple different ways to financially support that in regard to work. Most of the people I am now closest to are others with creative, adventurous and bohemian personalities who live all over the world. People who add to the life I want to live instead of inadvertently being a threat to it.

Funny how different things take on symbols of transition in life. I just so happen to put on the dress I was wearing when I held my Layla’s body through the night after she had been killed. Burning Man had unexpectedly been about processing that loss in 2015 and is where I finally found closure and said goodbye in 2016. To wear the dress today symbolizes to me that I may finally be able to move on. Before the seizure, I had been stuck in between a life and person the world had always told me to be and what I actually wanted. Looking back, it feels like the moment I finally started to violently fight back and refused to be that person so untrue to myself any longer. Whether a truth or not, what that experience has come to represent means the world to me.

Video of Me Yapping On the Subject

I’m a Party Girl

party-girlGo ahead and judge me. I’m used to it.

I love to party. That feeling of relaxing while letting anxiety and inhibitions go as the buzz kicks in is like spinach to Popeye…or maybe like water to a gremlin if it gets too late in the night.

To help people feel happy, excited and have the time of their lives is an unbelievable high. To be a part of finding that childlike innocence and excitement as they distractedly let go of their insecurities while I do crazy things like running around naked and being completely goofy. Helping others find that confidence and to feel comfortable enough in their own skin is amazing. Even more, to be reminded that it’s OK to have fun, to be OK with sexuality and to see how much beauty is in all of it. No matter where I’ve been in the world, I have experienced similar reactions.

Doesn’t hurt that I love any excuse to celebrate.

Proud of the balance I’ve been able to add to the partying side of life in order to give it the depth and importance it deserves, I’ve come to realize that I usually prefer to do the other things alone. While most are aware of these other things, many only see me when I’m partying and so still default to thinking it’s all I do. In reality, I’ve always been active in a combo of work and/or school that has equaled 50+ hours a week, volunteering, traveling, enjoying the arts, local events and have been actively writing at the same time.

There’s no escaping hardships and heartbreak in life. I often choose to take the harder path in order to go after passion and dreams. if I have to deal with the lows, you damn well better believe that I’m going to grab the highs that come with.

So cheers! Now who’s ready to hit a fabulous champagne brunch?

The 2016 Olympics Will Mean More

olympicsBeing a global nomad doesn’t just relate to one’s self. It also includes knowing about and supporting those events that help bring the world together.
Olympic torch being lit by Greek actress Katerina Lechou in her home-country on April 21st, the games are upon us once again. After a theatrical lighting that could have matched any display of grandeur on the screen, the torch was then handed off to a gold-winning Greek gymnast by the name of Eleftherios Petrounias for a six day relay to Rio. If asking ourselves what may bring us in more to the games this year from the past, one of the answers could be that the six-day journey that will be continued in one part on its way to Brazil in the hands of a Syrian refugee and made its way through a refugee camp in Central Athens. Another relating contribution of humanity and strength is being shown through the dozen refugee athletes from around the world who are set to compete in this year’s games.
olympicsWhile there are always less known but amazing stories of the athletes who give most of their lives for the possibility of competing, these competitors are being brought to the forefront of our attention in a way that highlights an area that needs more attention and help as well as instilling a sense of humanity to these games of giants that has as of yet to be so publicly witnessed.
At a time when Brazil is facing possible impeachment of president Dilma Roussef, hosting these games of the great brings extra heart to a country known for their culture and celebration. Undoubtedly an important reminder of their strength and place in a world that loves them. Something that is compounded by the much-needed building of infrastructure to the city through the inter-city transportation that will be added, a revitalized waterfront and events such as a weekend in April in which local kids were invited to participate in Olympic and Paralympic-themed sports at an event in Rio titled the Transforma Sport Festival. An experience that not only got the kids involved and taught them more about pride and global participation, but was also a grandiose pursuit of inspiration to continue an active life. Something not lost on the adults watching and those who love them.
As the Olympics continue to evolve, so does the ways it reaches people. Even those who don’t feel connected to or interested in sports may find themselves getting more involved in other ways. Ways such as through the athletes stories, joining their arduous journeys through avenues such as the documentary titled “A Fighting Chance” . In this documentary, viewers are shown the fight and hardship of four contenders and their the battle to combat whatever they have faced in order to go after their grand dreams of competing. Most around the world already have some level of knowledge about the Syrian refugee situation to find interest on some level, but it usually takes more of a look inside to be invested in these amazing competitors. Documentaries such as this are a great example of the kind of thing we need in order to make that happen.
brazilWhile there is so much to celebrate for what the Olympics is offering Brazil directly, it is important to remember that this is a global event that means a lot to most of the world and in different ways. For some, it is purely that they enjoy sports and competition. For others, it is about what it represents to and for the world. For competitors, it gives those who have spent a great part of their lives working for it, a chance to contend in the grandiose forum of their dreams in order to show the world what they can do. South African swimmer Chad le Clos being an example, as he not only got to meet his idol Michael Phelps, but also step up to show real competition against the previously untouchable swimmer. A story of inspiration, dedication and heart that is hard to not be touched by.
Whatever the reason for each of us to be interested, these games are one of the few things the world gathers together for in a peaceful and positive way. That is something to be celebrated. That is something to be championed.

Share your feedback. What does the Olympics represent to you?
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Finally Unfrozen – Telling my Story of Rape and the Start to Fighting Back

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By Bobbie White

I have been raped.
I have been raped more than once.
I have been raped more than twice.

Going through experiences of attack in different countries is terrifying. Especially the emotional reality when not sure if we have any protection and who we can go to for help. When it happens at home, where we expect to be protected, our reality is forever shaken. As Americans, we expect to be safe and to see justice where needed. Sadly, this is one of the areas where we still find excess of the opposite.

Because of past experiences and how close I am to Stanford where it happened, I was quick to jump on the bandwagon with fury about what happened with Brock Turner and how the judge has handled his crime, was sentenced, and I was all about signing the petition to get Judge Persky removed.
That being said, the mob mentality being taken against him by the media and society scares me. He is responsible for the rape he committed. I too want to see justice, but he is not responsible for all the other cases out there. With the way our society is handling it, I wouldn’t exactly be surprised if I heard that he ended up murdered or something else just as horrible.
Wouldn’t that be another heartbreaking situation; victims turning into the monsters that hurt them so?
And by the way, how about the amazing heroes involved? Let’s not forget about them. Carl Arndt and Peter Jonsson have become the kind of heroes we hope to be, but were among the few who didn’t let worry about consequences stop them from actually becoming so.
The woman who was raped in this case was also a hero who confronted her assailant in court and told her story. Something that has especially given strength and inspiration to those of us who have lived through the same.
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This case may have been the trail of bread crumbs, but it’s not why I’m here today. I’m here to share my story. Not only to help others, but to help myself. I need that to heal. I need to know that through my story, I can help others. It’s been 23 years since the first time it happened to me and so far I’ve barely been able to start.
I’ve been raped half a dozen times. Maybe one or two more, maybe one less. At a certain point my brain starts shutting it out. I go numb and blackout to survive. Even the idea of how familiar it has become is enough to darken my soul.
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I’ve wondered what makes me such a target. I get mad, upset with myself and wish that just once I could be capable of fully fighting back. Even if I got beat up and broken, or if I was killed, it would be better. The idea that no one could mess with my head that much for once. Including myself.
We hear a lot about how rape victims often don’t come forward, but rarely bout how it is due in part to being spiraled into a dark mental purgatory from which it can be weeks or even years before starting to recall what happened, let alone make sense of it.
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I was a 15 year old virgin who had never been kissed the first time it happened to me. On his 18th birthday, I was roofied and raped by the best friend of my crush in front of my sister and the mutual friend who had set up the night out. She had long-since been resentful and mean-spirited toward me, but I still let her control me. It’s amazing who you’ll spend your time with when you’re young, unpopular and insecure. It surprised me that she felt horrified by what happened.
I didn’t remember anything about it for months, but my sister and the so-called friend with us did. When that friend’s parents tried to talk to me about it the next day after this girl had told them, I had no idea what they were talking about. They never brought it up again and didn’t report it or even tell our parents.
I may not have been able to remember anything at first, but I do remember when the flashbacks started to come. the first time I was at that same friend’s house again washing my hands. As the visions came to me in small but devastating increments, I sat frozen there with the water running over my hands. That was the first moment I started to feel it. I was damaged in a way that I would never be able to recover from. My sister and I both were. We will never be fully OK.
We were in our parent’s motorhome and, in the moments I was conscious, I could see my crush watching in the mirror. I also got up and grabbed my sister by the hair to throw her across the small space in horror when she tried to save me by acting like she was our parents knocking at the door. I didn’t understand what was happening, but that will always haunt me. Her too, I suppose.
It grew like a disease and it took many years before we could confront it. Behind us now lies a trail of hurt and decisions based off that experience that have fed the horrible damage already done to us that may have been lessened if we could have gotten into therapy right away. At that young age, it just wasn’t realistic. And why, out of all people, didn’t her parents do anything? I want them to know what that did to us. I want everyone who chooses to turn the other way to know.
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The last time I was raped happened, it happened at a large social function not too long ago. The man who did it was obviously out to “get some” when he got drunk, but was brushed off as a pest by most of the women in the group.
It only took me somehow ending up alone with him and too drunk to fully defend myself (thought there was a lot of me saying NO and trying to push him off) to turn him into more than a pest. My guess is that he felt entitled, partially because he was attractive, and especially to me since we were sharing a room with another friend.
He was a rapist. And just like I feel about most rapists, I doubt it was his first time. Partially because of his “not again” type reaction when I laid there in that same spot at the hot tub motionless and crying.
Even with that already having gone down, I can remember him later in the night, once I was passed out in bed, crawling on top and trying to push himself inside of me. It was enough to bring me half into consciousness, but not fully awake. That was one of those situations that had become way too familiar and I shut down completely.
He fled the event and hotel before the rest of us woke up the next morning. There was confusion about his abrupt and mysterious exit, which included a lack of paying for his portion of the room and a vague text about a family emergency, but I hadn’t yet told our buddy who got the text and had been sharing the room. When I did tell him a few days later, I remember asking him if I should press charges and his response being that he thought my attacker had learned his lesson. I was weak, I was confused and I was terrified about being victimized again, so I did nothing.
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The time before that, shows other ways rape culture further hurts victims. Years ago, a wealthy man who frequented the golf course I worked at had been tracking me like prey for weeks. He finally got me in a vulnerable situation after many attempts, fed me drinks, and asked me to go take a look at his new fancy sports car. A friend mine who had been bartending at the establishment we were drinking at admitted later to knowing something was off when she drove by and saw us in the car, but did nothing.
I don’t blame people in her situation the way others may. I recognize that without experience, they may know by instinct that something is wrong, but they are confused and flee due to feeling uncomfortable without fully processing the idea that someone needs help. That doesn’t make it okay, but I get it.
Anyway, I called my family for help from the hotel he took me to. They picked me up and it was finally my sister’s chance to fight back. Like a bull seeing red, she charged forward with demands that I go to the hospital and press charges. I did go to the hospital and that experience was almost as bad as the assault.
They made me stay there and kept me up all night while they poked and prodded at me. They confiscated the new clothes I was wearing and treated me with different levels of disdain and judgment. For being drunk, for not remembering every detail, and for not feeling sure about pressing charges. They made me feel like the one in the wrong and victimized all over again by these people who I thought were there to protect me.
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You’ve probably been wondering since the beginning of this blog post why and how it has happened to me so many times. I’m sure there’s a lot of different reasons, and we should all fight rape culture by turning away judgmental thoughts, but I’ll still tell you my theory anyway.
I was heavily raised in the Catholic faith and have always been a “thick” woman. Growing up, everyone and everything around lead me to hate my body and sexuality. It’s a miracle that I found my way out of that. Especially with my experiences with rape starting at such a young age and having no experience with romantic love or intimacy of any kind.
But I did.
Now I pride myself on being a body and sex-positive woman who struts it as an advocate and role model to help other women. Yes, I drink. I also take risks, put myself out there and dance in the rain naked. I’m damn proud of it, too. That being said, I am also cruelly aware that the good comes with the bad, but actually falling victim to these kind of predators when my goal is to help others be happy and see the beauty of their own bodies and sexuality…it’s devastating. I do that through living by example, which is not always easy and tends to be one of the things that puts me in the spotlight. Turning these intentions into something so dark and bad is heartbreaking and something I will never get used to.
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I have a female friend who recently insinuated that I must not be being honest about how many times I’ve been through it, I’m being dramatic about what really happened, am doing something to bring it on or am just straight lying. This is one of the part of rape culture we hear about but can not fully understand, especially the damage it causes, until it happens to us or a loved one. Like the hospital and legal system, it is a trauma in its own and one that skews a victim’s mind, reality and ability to cope.
Thank God for those friends and others of you out there who remind me why I am the way that I am, why I’m doing it and why it’s good. Thank you for showing me details of situations and survivors that are similar to me and reminding me of what is right and wrong. I will never be fully healed from what has happened to me, but if I can pull good from my experiences in which to help others, I can cope. I am finally ready to add this to my battle as a warrior. Both for myself and for others.
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This is a sensitive topic with many different points of view. I invite your feedback as long as conversational and not hostile.

And to those of you who have been through it, I encourage you to tell your story. Whether publicly, privately, as a comment on this blog or directly to me. You are not alone.

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Seizure Story

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For some silly reason most of us seem to be taken off guard by the unknowns that come at us in life. One strange trait of human nature in that, as ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus pointed out, the only thing that is constant is change.
Something happened in my life a couple weeks ago that was one of those bigger moments. Even when barely coherent, I knew this would affect my move abroad, but I would never let it stop me from making that happen. Still, it was one of those moments that threw my world off it’s access…
My roomie T’s Border Collie had been scratching on her door, so she was sleeping on the couch in an effort to keep her boyfriend from being woken up. The pups usually sleep with me when P is spending the night, so his scratching must have meant that FR sensed what was going on.
When trying to sleep, T heard an eerie screaming coming from my room and thought I was having a nightmare. Shuffling through the dark to my room, she lightly grabbed my leg to tell me I was having a bad dream.
That’s when she realized the nightmare was real.
Instead of waking me up, what T felt was my body shaking uncontrollably. Instantly turning on the light, she was introduced to the horrifying vision of my arms extended straight out, eyes wide open, and blue lips with foam filling my mouth.
Screaming for her boyfriend who used to be a paramedic, P instantly told her to call 911 as he turned me on my side, now with blood coming out with the foam at my mouth, and began to clean my airway.
I turned back to a normal color, all the while being completely unconscious for the four to six minutes of terror T and P faced while saving me.
To make things even more surreal, once the seizure finally stopped, I turned on my side and went back to sleep as if nothing had happened.
I don’t remember the firefighters being there at all, but I do vaguely remember the paramedics. Dressed in dark uniforms, restraining me against my will and with one very large paramedic so obviously unhappy to be there that I could tell through my fog, I thought they were police and I was being forcibly removed. Disoriented and barely able to see, my confusion was obvious by continuous “what the fuck” type statements, struggling, and unbuckling the restraints that were being put on for protection. P started to get through when he authoritatively yelled at me to stop resisting, but it was the real look of horror, hurt and heartbreak on T’s face that really brought me back. She had fought through this horrible event to save me, and now I was looking at her with confusion, distain and my own heartbreak as I thought she was having me forcibly removed from the property.
“R! You had a seizure!” It was her words along with the emotion in those big hazel-blue eyes that really broke through.
At that moment I stopped struggling. As I was sat in the ambulance and oxygen tubes were run along my face, my body went limp in silent confusion.
It would be days before my brain would fully reset, but I knew this was one of those game changing moments that would affect my life forever.

I’m still trying to process everything, but one more month at the beaches of San Diego isn’t exactly the worst. Having already changed my working patterns and gotten rid of my belongings accordingly, I’m already living the nomadic lifestyle I plan to keep up for the next few years.
Sometimes these human bodies just can’t handle all our awesome.

Who says a dog can’t learn new tricks?

Many people say that the 30’s are the best years of your life. You are old enough to know who you are, and adult enough to be able to act on it. While I have always been active, there are things that I was never able to do. Since I turned 30, I have embarked on a journey, to do things that I had never given myself the credit to be able to do.

Unlike most children, I never really got the hang of training wheels on a bike, so I never really learned. It was never really an issue of balance, as I was quick to learn ice skating and rollerblading. Once I got to college at UC Santa Barbara, a campus with a complex bicycle highway, people told me I would never make it through without learning. I tried once and hit a fence and a parked car. As I started teaching group exercise classes, I also became certified in 24 Cycle, Reaction cycle, and took many other cycling classes. I never felt I should teach it as I didn’t properly know how to ride and was worried about what the real cyclists in my classes would think. Once I got asked to sub for a month, I was hooked. After teaching for a while, I decided it was time to learn how to ride for real. My dad bought me a 24” girl’s bike at Wal-Mart. I ride it low so I can have access to the ground in case I feel like I’m going to fall. I pushed myself along to my mom’s a few times, a block down the street. I was finally able to go that little way. I had heard about the San Jose Bike Party and really wanted to take part in it. This would be a huge test.

They publish the course the day of the ride. I went with two of my girlfriends who had done this ride before. As much as I tried to express that I would be far behind, they did their best to try to wait for me and encourage me. But this was a battle within me. By the time we rode to the start, the SJBP route and then back, it was approximately 30 miles. I have never ridden a mile in my entire life. I kept thinking of what I would do if I got lost from the group, or couldn’t do it, or got hurt. But I pushed this to the back of my mind. All my life I had never been able to ride a bike and here I was determined to go these 30 miles. I fell to the back, as knew I would need lots of room and space to fall and make mistakes. I managed to complete the ride. I was very sore, very bruised, but the sense of accomplishment I felt was amazing. After that ride, I did my research and got a new bike seat, lights and accessories

Another adventure I embarked on was learning how to snowboard. I had skied in high school, but it was a relatively few times. I took a snowboarding lesson the first time, and didn’t manage to get back to Lake Tahoe until a year later, where I rented and fell – a LOT. Then I decided to get my own gear. I did a lot of research on how to snowboard, what to get, etc. When I decide to do something, I go full out. I went 5 or 6 times that year. This year I went, and am still working on the basics, but I learned how to carve and go toe-side and that was a huge accomplishment for me as that was my biggest challenge.

My next trial is running. I do not run. I joke that I only do “paid cardio”, as in when I teach cardio classes. I, by nature, am a lifter and am more comfortable in strength training. Many of my friends have run marathons and half-marathons and I want to be a part of that. I may not be able to do that. But most of those events have 5k & 10k options. When I rowed crew in college and we had to run, I was always one of the last. But just like before, this is not going to stop me. I have set my mind to it and it will be done.

In the last year I have also kept my mind open and I have gone whitewater rafting and ridden a horse. With all the technology that is now available to us, all the help that is out there, the gadgets, the online how-to’s, audio training and apps on iTunes, there is no reason to be afraid to embark on an adventure of your own. I am not an athlete. I was never ‘the best’ at anything. I believe that I can accomplish what I set my mind to. My method of training is to start with what people have to bring. You can’t train everyone the same and not all people can be ‘beaten’ into shape. I want all people to be able to feel the way I have felt as I work on these new things. You can start at any age, and any level. There are SO many options out there, and resources that will help, guide and encourage you every step of the way. I want to encourage everyone to get out of their heads and into something new and exciting.

“If you can run a mile, you can run a marathon” – See Jane Run www.seejanerun.com

“When I first started running, I was so embarrassed, I’d walk when cars passed me. I’d pretend I was looking at the flowers.” Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic Marathon Winner

Sites to get you started / Recommended links

www.seejanerun.com

www.active.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I have been a Certified Group Exercise instructor and Personal trainer since 2001. (ACE, AFAA) I have a Dual-track minor from UCSB in Group Ex & Personal Training as well as graduated from SJSU Kinesiology:Exercise Physiology,MA with my project and studies on exercise and pregnancy.

Mission

My main concern over the years working with clients is extreme diets, unhealthy perceptions of what is ‘healthy’, finding something that works for you, and being able to maintain it.

Nicole M Thompson MA, certified personal trainer and group exercise instructor has been in the fitness industry for over 10 years. She has used her own body for experimental practice by competing in NPC Figure and Bikini competitions. While able to push herself to her limits, Nicole believes in finding out what works for each person to give them the best shot at sticking to a healthier, better lifestyle. Contact Nicole at ytweety79@gmail.com.

Nicole M. Thompson, MA
UCSB, Sociology, minor Group Ex & Personal Training
SJSU, Kinesiology: Exercise Physiology, minor Sports Nutrition,
specializing in Exercise & Pregnancy
NPC Figure & Bikini America competitor