Of my skull
It sometimes feels
Stuffed with cotton
Cotton thoughts muted
Like when a Q-tip digs
Digs too deeply
Into my ear canal
Lowering the volume
The volume of life
Copyright 2017, Jodi Leigh Miller
Note: I originally had a different title to this post, but I changed it. The biggest fear a writer faces is losing his or her work. This is word choreography. It is rarely memorized. So writers depend upon the reliability of either pen-to-paper methods or technology. I was on a slight writing spree this morning while I sat and drank iced coffee and read my novel at a local cafe. I kept putting the book down and jotting thoughts into the Notes section of my iPhone. I decided this evening to share this particular blurb, but when I proceeded to copy and paste the paragraphs into an email, it looked like half of the writing disappeared. Like one minute you see droplets of water on your windshield and the next they are dried up and gone, leaving only spots as reminders that water was once falling out of the sky. I nearly cried. But it was just a bug, and the words reappeared. Thankfully. So here they are. They may not be as magical to you as they are to me. But I do like to think of my writing as akin to unicorns. After all, I have to half live in an imaginary world to get my magic to flow. So go on and read below.
. . . .
I don't think a writer can be a truly unique, creative, candid whiz of words without experiencing every emotion, enveloping him or herself in the extremes of the heart and mind like a teenage boy swimming in clouds of cologne in preparation for a first date.
I am moody.
I am different.
I see the world as one sees a movie. I sometimes lie back in my lounger, snack on popcorn, and let my eyes scan the screen. And sometimes I sit on the edge of the cushion, gripped in the scent of performance and emotional enhancement. But all the while, I remain aware that I am a bystander, an eavesdropper, a voyeur. I am real. You are the movie. Or, if you are in my life even for a teensy bit, you will become a character in my written world of woe and wonder.
Don't like me.
It's all the same.
Life. As it should be. Can be. Will be. When I wrote about me. And write about you. I swear I will finish a book before I am through.
Alaska killed me.
It wasn’t the placing that shot a hole through my heart. It was how I looked.
But quite frankly, the whole damn prep felt like a Bon Jovi song. Pure heartache. Guitar riffs creating rifts in my soul. Drums breaking my beat. I was out of tune. My heartstrings pulled and played. My love for bodybuilding frayed.
I had taken a huge leap of faith when I decided to do a 180-degree turnabout on my training after narrowly missing a qualification for the IFBB Olympia stage in 2016. One point. Do you know how close I was to earning that point? Let me tell you: If I had earned first instead of second in Alaska last year. If I had won the tie-breaker for second place in San Jose last year. If I had come into Boca at 100%. If I had chosen to do San Antonio instead of or in addition to Boca last year. If.
Do you know what “if’s” add up to? The same thing when you subtract those “if’s”. If’s have no mathematical value and no consequential existence. They are little rats gnawing on the mind, turning brainpower into Swiss cheese, getting their little paws trapped in the past’s jaws. And yet, I still squander time with examining “what if.” I wonder why.
Seriously. I wonder…why?
As an introspective individual, I analyze, re-analyze, over-analyze choices and events. I do the same with my writing: edit and edit some more and edit again and edit until I have no words or thoughts left anymore. But nothing gets done that way. It is the very thing that makes me struggle with my writing and the very thing that gets in the way of me moving forward sometimes. The first two steps of fixing a problem are awareness and admittance, so I guess I have the capabilities of fixing this.
I can’t and won’t say that I made a mistake in changing my training. It needed to be done. There are multiple benefits that resulted from the vast change. My waist shrunk. My quad sweep grew. My triceps thickened. My back width lengthened. But I lost a lot in the process. I lost me.
You know when you try on an outfit and look in the mirror and feel something isn’t quite right? Do you ever just take the whole thing off and start over from scratch? And then you go out and realize that what you originally had was correct, but you just needed a different pair of shoes and the right earrings to match? I am at that point now. I don’t need an entirely new outfit. After all, the outfit I had earned me second in Alaska and third in San Jose last year. It did turn me pro the previous year. I just need a few tweaks and a lot of extra weeks.
I wanted to hang it up after Alaska this past June. Hang it up, put it in the car, and drive it to the Goodwill center and drop it off, wiping my hands clean of this competing thing. But I know deep down that isn’t right. I remember when I fell off the 15-foot high cargo net during my obstacle-course practice one afternoon just two weeks before my third Galaxy Federation competition. I had hit the ground with a thud that knocked out my breath and stunned my mind. That was my biggest fear: falling. Failing. And it had happened. It really happened. I knew then that I had to get up and run the net again. Right away. Hop to it. No time to waste. Get back on the cargo net, climb up, climb down, make the round. I didn’t want to. I wanted to stomp off the practice course, get in my car, drive home, and forget that I had ever tried to challenge myself. But I fought that desire and sauntered back to the net, gingerly made my way up, just as gingerly made my way down, and let out a sigh of relief when I realized I had successfully touched my soles to rock bottom of the grassy ground.
I fell off the cargo net this year. I took onto the Alaska stage a physique that I never want to grace my competitive page ever again. Sure, it was just a last-minute water issue due to a couple decisions made. But I didn’t trust my gut and argue the other way. And that is what I won’t let happen again. Because I knew that morning what I felt should have been done, yet I allowed fluster and bluster to whip through my head and rattle my resolve. As a result, that internal voice got swept up in the storm.
So I shall do another show. I feel a bit gun shy right now. I have had two in a row that went awry in the final hours. But I’ve returned to a few things in my training that I know work well for me, and I’ve put my prep in the hands of someone who has shown to me that he can help me with my conditioning if I just have a little more faith and trust. So I’ve taken my own advice and put only one cook in the kitchen. But don’t worry, my posing is still mine to spice.
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.