Tag Archives: Childhood Stories

How I Changed My Mind About Weightlifting

As I mentioned last week, weightlifting wasn’t something that I immediately liked when I first tried it.

This week I’ll dig into the reasons why that was so and how I tweaked them so that I could finally enjoy this form of exercise.

No Training, Limited Equipment

Man struggling to open pickle jar
I’m sharing this stock photo because it made me grin.

The high school I attended was small and rural. It had a tiny weight room for student athletes and the occasional gym students to use.

Our mandatory gym classes for ninth and tenth graders were my first introduction to this form of exercise.

The problem was, our gym teacher gave us no training on how to use the equipment in that room. It was also cramped, hot, and crowded there. We generally spent twice as much time waiting in line for the next machine as we did actually exercising.

The first college I attended had nothing but two stationary bikes in their fitness room. The second college I attended had a large room dedicated to weightlifting, but once again our instructor didn’t teach us how to use the equipment safely or pick an appropriate workout for a complete beginner.

I was mildly interested in weight training by this point, but I was scared of accidentally hurting myself. This was the U.S. we’re talking about, and my family considered ourselves lucky to have reached a solid lower middle class existence after my mom graduated from college and found a decent job when I was in my early teens. That is to say, there was little to no extra money lying around for unexpected medical bills if I accidentally hurt myself.

Sensory Overload

Closeup of someone opening their eye wide and feeling overwhelmedMy limited experiences with gyms as an adult were of loud, hot, bright, crowded places.

The combination of those four things can be quite overstimulating to me, especially when I’m trying to concentrate or learn something new.

Kudos to everyone who is energized by all of that stimulation, but I’m not wired that way.

I’ve since visited one high-end gym that was a much more understated place to work out. There was no background music I could remember and the other people there were all working out quietly with plenty of extra machines, weights, and air conditioning to go around.

While it’s currently out of my budget, I am willing to revisit that topic if I ever have so much money that paying those high fees every month feels worth it.

 

Baby Steps

Man and dog standing on a step as the dog contemplates walking down it.So here I was as an adult who wanted to build muscle but had no idea where to start or how to do it safely.

My first baby step into weightlifting was a cardio fitness routine called Dorm Room Workout that included a a few minutes of weight training in the middle and at the end of their routine. If I could still find it anywhere online, I’d link to it here!

A family member had previously given me a set of five-pound hand weights I’d tried using once or twice, but I’d loaned them out to another relative by this point.

What I did have on hand were some soup cans, so that’s what I used for those portions of the Dorm Room Workout. They were light enough that I could copy the instructors moves precisely and didn’t have to worry about hurting myself.

I started to gain a little more confidence in my physical abilities.

Slow and Steady

A rack filled with small dumbbells

At this point, I started watching other videos of instructors doing weightlifting routines.

My other relative had returned the five-pound weights at this point, so I had something a bit more challenging to work with.

Once I’d seen the videos a few times and knew what to expect with them, I tried actually exercising to them. Yes, the trusty soup cans were trotted out first, but I eventually moved onto actual weights once I felt stronger and more confident in my abilities.

The nice thing about many weightlifting videos these days is that they include modifications. I couldn’t do a full pushup when I began, so I did them against the wall or, when I was stronger, on the floor while leaning on my knees. There were some weightlifting moves I wasn’t strong enough to do yet either.

Was my form perfect? No, but because the stakes were so low I adjusted it a bit each time and did my best not to move up to heavier weights or harder types of pushups until I was sure I was ready.

I no doubt could have proceeded much faster than I did, but I’m a cautious soul who would rather move slowly than suffer a painful injury that requires surgery or months of physical therapy to fix. To this day, I always try the modifications in new workout videos of any sort, but especially the weightlifting ones, before jumping straight into the more challenging versions of them.

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: A TV Show That Influenced My Life

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

I wasn’t sure which book or film to pick for this week’s prompt, so I’ll be answering it with one of the first TV shows I ever remember watching that has stuck with me well into adulthood: Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.

The Mister Rogers Neighborhood workmark.

Sesame Street appealed to me as a small child, too, but I preferred the calmness of Mr. Rogers. What a soothing, gentle man he was.

He had a marvellous way of making topics even grownups struggle with sometimes easier to understand and taking the fear out of experiences that sometimes frighten small children like moving to a new house or visiting a doctor.

His show modelled so many important things for his viewers: kindness, respect, inclusion, tolerance, curiosity, the pursuit of knowledge, and the importance of letting your imagination roam free sometimes.

I think all of us who watched his show when we were little were very lucky, indeed. I’m glad reruns of it are still reaching today’s youngsters.

Vintage Science Fiction Month: My First Taste of Vintage SciFi

Vintage SciFi Month was created by Little Red Reviewer and is moderated by Red Star Reviews. Any science fiction film, short story, play, or book released before 1979 is eligible for this celebration of classic science fiction. 

Let’s take a walk down memory lane today.

My family didn’t have cable* for most of my childhood, and there were a few years there when we didn’t own a TV either.

Photo of Burgess Meredith from The Twilight Zone episode "Time Enough at Last".Many of the shows we watched were old enough to have sold rerun rights to public TV or to channels that could be tuned into if you had a good antenna. This means that my first taste of vintage science fiction might have been a little out of the ordinary for the average kid my age.

I had no idea what The Twilight Zone was when I began watching Time Enough at Last.

All I knew was that I totally understood where Henry Bemis was coming from as he was distracted from reading over and over again as he went through his day.

There’s nothing like being in the middle of a good book only to have to stop and put it down when someone asks you a question, it’s time to eat, or you have some other urgent business to take care of.

Sometimes I’d grab my book, load up on snacks, and go hide underneath a piano or behind the couch so I could finish at least one more chapter without interruption. Bemis tried similar tactics, including taking his lunch hour in the vault at the bank where he worked so he could finally read in peace.

The trouble was, he picked that particular reading spot on the same day something terrible was about to happen to his city that would leave him the sole survivor.

Yes, you’ll have to watch it for yourselves to see what that tragedy was and why he survived.

What I remembered being most fascinated by was his reaction to leaving the vault and discovering his entire world had changed forever. I would have been frightened and yet he seemed oddly relieved. He finally had all of the time he could ever want to read!

If you haven’t seen this episode yet, do give it a shot. The ending was as clever as it was thought provoking. While I do see some plot holes in it that I didn’t notice as a kid, I still enjoyed the process of seeing how Henry reacted to a day in which literally nothing went the way he thought it would.

*We didn’t have Internet access either, but I grew up at a time when that was still common for non-wealthy people who didn’t work in the tech industry.

If you remember what your first taste of vintage science fiction was, tell me about it in the comment section below!

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Something I Collected as a Child

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

I have one predictable and one unexpected answer for this week’s prompt.

The predictable answer: books. I had several relatives who would send new books to me as Christmas and birthday presents. Between those gifts and the libraries I visited, I was always lucky enough to have something good to read.

cupped hands holding soil and earthworms
This isn’t me, but you get the idea.

The unexpected answer: earthworms.

Yes, I’ll explain this one.

After my two pet hamsters lived out full, happy lives and went to hamster heaven, my mother repurposed their old glass cage into a container to grow a few plants. She placed it in my bedroom.

I was about nine or ten at this point and wondered how my plants would fare if they didn’t have any earthworms to aerate and enrich their soil.

This thought bubbled to the front of my mind again the next time I went outside after a storm and saw earthworms lying on the sidewalk. Worried they might drown, I picked a few up, brought them home, and put them into the soil where they’d be safe from predators, careless humans, or future thunderstorms.

This was something I continued to do every so often without thinking to tell my parents about my private collection of rescued earthworms.

When I was eleven, my family moved a few thousand miles away to a new home. One of the last things we did before we moved was dump out the soil and plants from that container into the backyard.

My perplexed (and maybe slightly horrified) mother saw dozens of earthworms wiggling their way free as we emptied out the soil. She asked why there were so many of them, so I told her. Mom was too stunned to reply at first.

I didn’t get in trouble, but she did gently tell me not to rescue any more earthworms in the future. Apparently, they can fare quite well for themselves if you leave them to their own devices.

I’d like to think I amused my parents! If nothing else, they had ample proof they’d raised a compassionate child.

Mindfulness During a Snowstorm

black and white photo of person walking alone on a city sidewalk during a snowstormJanuary is the quietest time of year in Ontario.

Life slows down here quickly once this month begins.Not only have the majority of the big winter holidays have passed by, the weather itself isn’t terribly conducive to driving anywhere even before this pandemic began.

The overnight temperature can dip to -25 Celsius (-13 Fahrenheit) or colder, and we often have sleet and snowstorms taking turns making slippery messes of our roads and sidewalks.

There is nothing like sitting next to the windows in my home and watching the snow blanket everything on those days.

Sometimes it falls so quickly that buildings on the other side of the street have been transformed into dark blurs of colour behind a shimmery white veil of snow. Anything past that point is so smudged beyond recognition that I wouldn’t know what it was at all if I weren’t already familiar with it.

My mindful approach to these days is something that started early in life. Let’s meander for a while.

Quiet Snow Days

These storms remind me of the years I spent growing up in a small town in Wyoming. Sometimes it snowed so heavily that all of the highways and other roads going into and out of town were closed. Residents were asked to only use local roads for emergencies, so almost everyone stayed home and waited out the weather.

two wooden cottages almost totally covered in snow
The snow was this deep in the nearby mountains, but not quite so heavy where I lived.

I was a slim, petite kid. For a while I remained just barely light enough to walk on top of snowbanks that had partially melted and then frozen again.

Those moments were pure magic and required no thoughts flitting through my mind at all while I carefully walked without leaving a trace in the snow.

These snowy days of the present also remind me of a massive blizzard many of us on the eastern half of North America experienced in the late 1990s.

It happened as my family was moving across town, so I had many opportunities to see the snow as my parents were driving and in the yards of both our old and new homes.

My siblings and I had our typical two weeks off from school for the Christmas holidays that year. It began snowing heavily right before we were scheduled to return to school. For the next two weeks, school was cancelled one day after the next.

Sometimes it would be delayed by an hour or two before being cancelled. Other days were so stormy that everything was cancelled immediately. I remember waiting quietly for the news each morning with no expectations since our superintendent was normally so reticent to cancel school despite how much time it took the county to salt and plow all of the rural roads that would bring students back to class eventually.

Once the announcement was made, there was often a moment of silence as I wondered how I should fill my time on yet another unexpected day since we were between semesters and I’d finished the homework we’d been given before Christmas break began.

Then a few of the members of my household would either drive across town to our old house to take another van full of stuff to the new one (if the town roads were cleared and salted recently enough for this to be safe), go shovel off the roof,* or put a previous load of stuff away.

*It was an old, flat roof in some places. That snowstorm was so heavy and never-ending my parents were afraid the roof would be damaged if they didn’t clear it off.

Snow Encourages Mindfulness

Even beyond these personal experiences, snow itself encourages silence. It dampens sound as explained in this post.

close-up photo of a snowflake Have you ever taken an outdoor walk during or after a big snowstorm? Whether you live in a big city, a small town, or miles away from the nearest neighbour, the world becomes a much quieter place after a storm like that.

All of that snow acts like insulation. Everything from bird chirps to the roar of a river (if it hasn’t already frozen over) to the rumble of a truck driving down the road is quieter than it normally would be.

Even the soft crunch of boots walking on fresh snow is quieter than normal.

If you’ve never experienced this sort of moment in time, I hope you’ll have a chance to try it someday.

The world is such a quiet, solemn place then that I find it easy to walk without thinking. Nearly all of the familiar landmarks in my area will still be recognizable during or after a big storm, but their edges are softened and muted.

I live in an urban area where it is pretty safe to walk outside even during the heaviest snowstorms, so sometimes I’ll go stand on the sidewalk (far away from the road) and watch the snow cling to everything from skyscrapers to my glasses.

In those moments, there is no need for words or thoughts. The snow will end when it ends. Until then, I sit indoors or stand outdoors and marvel at the feeling of snowflakes coating my hair, coat, boots, and every other surface they can possible reach in this corner of the world.

If you have snow where you live, how do you react to it?

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: My Earliest Memory

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews. Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year. I’d forgotten this, but it turns out that WWBC had this same prompt last year! I talked about eating apples that were still attached to the… Read More

5 Homeschooling Tips From a Homeschooler

I recently read that there has been a surge of families interested in homeschooling thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. As someone who was homeschooled for several years, I have some tips to share for anyone who is planning to or thinking about homeschooling their kids this year. Before we dive into the meat of this… Read More