First, I feel the need to say that everything on my site is copyrighted and of my intellectual property, belonging to myself and Phlare Physiques, LLC. I once discovered someone (I didn't personally know her) had stolen my work and put it up online as her own. I ripped her a new one and got her to take it down. If you doubt whether I can tap into my angry, stern side, just remember these three things about me: 1) I am a Scorpio; 2) I was a high school English teacher; we tend to the meanest, toughest, but still some of the coolest teachers you'll have in your high school career, and 3) I've deadlifted 330 pounds after weighing in at 114.5 pounds the day before. It takes some kind of emotion (crazy?) to pick up that kind of weight.
Anywho, now that we got those unpleasantries out of the way, let us move into my typical method of writing poetry because this particular blog post is actually a poem and not just an act of threatening legal action against any nitwits who steal my work. My poetry often forms out of fragments, sentences, and paragraphs I've jotted down in the spur of a moment. There typically isn't much I can do with said formation of words in terms of inserting it into a short story or an essay, but the flow of words and the imagery within leave enough of a handprint on my heart that I feel the need to rearrange and change the format, turning it into poetry with my magic wand. I guess it's about the closest I'll become to being a fairy godmother. Yet other times, my poetry forms out of a particular sense that takes my spotlight that day. Sight, touch, smell, sound, taste. This little diddy below actually started when I was using "butterscotch" to describe something that I won't divulge just yet, and from there the thought of cinnamon wafted through my mind. The strength of such a spice. Then, an image and feel of biting into a cookie (and not just because I am in contest prep and want a cookie). Then how I felt in the moment, how I think I am sometimes perceived, how I don't mind being perceived as such and am still troubled by it all the same. Voila! The poem below was born.
And this leads me to one last thought before I allow you (yes..."allow") to read my poem. Writers open themselves to the public, like a man wearing a trench coat and flashing the goods before covering up and scurrying away into the shadows. The sight never leaves your eyes. My words should burn a memory, like a cigarette leaving its mark on a cotton sleeve. Not everything I write that is on the creative side of things is pure fiction; neither is it true truth. But every great writer takes some aspect of the real world, of things experienced, of loves lost, heartaches gained, happiness stolen, and morning rains that eventually clear to allow sunshine through before the moon pulls it all away. So is this poem the real me? Who knows. You surely won't. What of Cinderella is real? The glass slipper? The pumpkin? Both? Neither? Does it matter? Did it entertain you? Do I entertain you? If you answer yes, then read on. What do you have to lose...besides a touch of sanity and a little reality?
Do not call me nice.
For I have a little spice.
It seeps through my pores
And travels along my skin
Crawling on all fours
I am cinnamon…
With a bite.
I crunch in your teeth
Chew as you may
Chew all day
You won’t spit me out.
Stuck in the bony crevices
So bite down
But don’t bite more than you can chew
For I am tart
I am tang
I shall sting
And you will cling
All the while wanting to fling my crumbs to the floor
One swipe of the hand
One beat of the heart
Not with me
For I have spice
And I am not nice
Copyright 2017, Jodi Leigh Miller
I am always fascinated by the knowing of things being unknown. Let me give an example.
I distinctly remember sitting in my history class during freshman year at The University of Texas at Austin (the best school…hook ‘em!). I was writing my essay for a final exam, and the preparation for it had required me to read about five books, attend lectures, and be prepared to answer any number of questions that would require me to combine the knowledge I attained from these books and class lectures. It wasn’t easy. But I was prepared.
So there I sat in the tiny seat with the desk attached, and I read the question, opened my blue book, took pen to paper, and got about 10 sentences in when my brain began meandering into the knowing of the unknown. “I wonder how I’ll do on this test,” my inner voice nudged while I kept gliding the pen across the paper and writing sentence after sentence. I still had at least ¾ of that essay to finish; yet all I could think about was what my grade would be when the professor finished reading my words. When the professor finished reading words that I hadn’t even written at the point of my curiosity. It nearly drove me batty, as I feverishly continued writing and wondering, wondering and writing.
I am like this with almost everything in life. I believe it comes from having hyper-self awareness, partially cultivated from a childhood spent as an only child.
This very curiosity drives me when I prepare for a show. It lurks in my mind when I run outside. It pokes at my brain when I practice my posing. It sits in the corner and stares at me while I shower, wash dishes, lift weights, and apply my mascara. And with my background as an only child who has always had a vivid imagination and has never a boring moment even when all alone, I can certainly come up with make-believe stories about the day of a show, complete with emotions involved. But then I have to shake myself back to reality, to present day, to here and now. And I have to squash that desire of wanting to know what I don’t know so that I can go into the unknown being more in the know. I know. That’s a lot to know.
I think this is why I never say how I’m going to do at a show. I honestly don’t know. I don’t want to pretend to know. I don’t want to be pretentious. I don’t want to be rude to other girls who also don’t know how they will do on that same stage with me. I have to work very hard to stay in the present time, to not peer too deeply at the dark shadow and question mark that cover future’s face. Sometimes, if we squint and attempt to change focus in order to see what we definitively cannot, we lose sight of what is actually important and we distort the image of what is to come.
I cannot control the future. I can only control my actions that will lead to my future. It is one of the hardest lessons to learn in the bodybuilding world: letting go of control. Most of us are control freaks, maybe even Type A personalities or dealing with OCD elements. Understanding that there are a million and one other factors at play on show day is necessary to protecting one’s sanity along the way. I know I cannot control who shows up on that stage on that day. I cannot control how they look. I cannot control how judges will view me. I cannot control how judges will view the other physiques. I cannot control what judges desire most out of the competitors they examine. I might not even be able to control the chemical make up of my body and its reactions to things I have changed or left the same in the final days, hours, minutes before a show. But I can control my preparation. I can control my mindset. I can control my presentation. And that’s a lot. A whole lot of control that I have.
I’m okay placing first. I’m okay placing last. I’m okay placing dead middle. I’m okay with all of my placings in my past. I cannot control those anymore, and I think I am finally letting Alaska go. Except to prove to myself that I can look better this year and put that better onto a stage.
The rest is unknown.
I will write today. I will push these words out like a mother in labor. I will scream and curse and clench my fists and push this baby onto the pages of my screen so I can cut the umbilical cord to this five-year act of treading water.
I wrote this before I began cardio this morning. The mere act of sitting down and typing these few sentences shifted my day just enough that I was late getting started on cardio, late getting back to eat breakfast, late getting in the shower, late getting to my morning appointment.
I always joke that I’ll be late to my own funeral. That’s probably the only time being late would be rewarded. Though maybe not. What about when you are late meeting your goals but you learn something from the detour?
I had a goal. Scratch that. I have a goal. They say you should say your goal or aspiration out loud and often so that it comes to fruition. But since my goal is about writing, I should write my goal. I want my Masters degree in Creative Writing. I want to stop personal training. Personal training was never supposed to be a steady occupation. It was a pit stop. Like running into a 7-11 to go to the bathroom and grab a diet Coke and some gum during a road trip. For five years now, I have needed to finish a piece of writing of mine with the intent to send it in as part of my application to schools I’ve chosen. It has been this past month that I have finally sat down again after multiple attempts over multiple years and returned to that piece of writing. Late. I would say I made a mistake, but I look at everything I’ve done and experienced over the past five years, and I know that’s not an accurate representation of a shift in plans.
To be sure, there is a literal, tangible deadline if I want to attempt to start a program in the spring of 2018. But there is also a looming figurative deadline. And so, if I don’t make it happen soon, then it will certainly be a mistake.
I remember one Saturday morning run I had done several years ago, back when I was in a tough relationship. (Wait…what relationship of mine hasn’t been tough? But I digress.) Headphones blaring louder than whirring traffic, heat of sun beating harder than my heart, skin sweating like a leaky showerhead, tennis shoes pounding pavement with purpose. I came to an intersection, looked left, looked right, looked left again, ran forward. A car streaked by, a flash out of the corner of my eye. He had run a red light. He had nearly run me out of my running. My thought at the time? I need to break up with this guy. (Not the guy in the car, of course…the guy in my life.) I knew that if I continued to allow myself to be unhappy, I would regret that decision of self-disrespect and stagnancy to my dying day.
I kind of feel that way today. I feel like I’ve been treading water. And my legs are tired. And my eyes want a change of scenery. I’m just waiting for my brain to catch up. For my heart to release. For the prison bars of doubt to bend just enough for me to slip my body through and escape. I may need to pretend I am Wonder Woman and do a little pushing. Push my fears. Push my words. Push my life.
Jodi Leigh Miller is a Women's Physique IFBB Pro with experience in all divisions. She is a record-achieving power-lifter, posing specialist, certified trainer, life coach, and author. She holds an English degree from The University of Texas at Austin and is a certified educator. She is an experienced, knowledgeable, multifaceted phenom.