Yesterday was a day that I felt I didn’t need to post. Not pictures of my body, not of my food, not of my dog. Just not at all.
About 7 years ago, I bought tickets to a Tom Petty concert as a birthday present for my then-boyfriend. In the car, we used to crank up Tom Petty songs and croon the lyrics in unison with Petty’s crinkly voice, drawing out the vowels, hitting the notes all out of tune. Seeing Petty live ranks as one of the highlights of my contest-going experiences (minus the stupid, drunk shenanigans my then-boyfriend liked to pull at concerts). Seeing news that Petty has died at the age of 66 is a heartbreaker.
I intermittently relied on “Running Down a Dream” and “I Won’t Back Down” as cardio songs during contest preps. Petty could pick you up, put you down, turn your frown upside down with his quirky sounds. His death carries a different impact than the one Chris Cornell’s shocking suicide had on me a few months back (an impact that I have yet to write about but is sitting on my lengthy “to write about for my blog” list). Petty’s death is a natural one. We know the idols of our times will age, wither, and pass. It’s just hard when reality hits and we witness what we think only happens to older generations…not our own. Just wait, Generation Y and Millenials. Justin Timberlake and Kesha will expire too. It’s human nature.
What is also human nature is the tragedy that occurred in Las Vegas two nights ago. Wait. What? What did I just say? Yeah. You heard me. Humans carry dark, confused, estranged, strange, conflicting, afflicting emotions inside their heavy hearts and weighty minds. I don’t know why the shooter did what he did. We may never truly know. I have a feeling mental illness of some depth and magnitude triggered his triggers. I won’t spout off about gun laws. (Though I do have my opinion; I am a liberal and I know I know…guns don’t kill people, people kill people. But heck…guns sure do make the killing a lot worse and more instantaneous.) But I will spout off about our society needing to do more to help the general population to detect and treat mental illness of any level without a stigma attached, with a safe haven and a private nook and enough health insurance to cover the lifetime of the illness…which is typically a lifetime.
Death. It happens to all. What is born must die. What has a start must have an end. What was once fresh, young, and alive must wilt, wither, and expire. We would rather it always happen swiftly, quietly, while we aren’t looking, when our eyelids are closed, our minds are shut. But didn’t that kind of happen in Vegas? Aren’t we—as a society—sitting with eyelids drooped to our phones, minds shut inside the box of our immediate circle that mimics our own thoughts and opinions, days passing so quickly we don’t even notice where the time has gone? A true tragedy is one in which no one learns a thing. Think about it: by definition, a tragic hero is one who dies by the hand of his own character flaw, who cannot escape the path that he traipses upon because he is too stuck in his own ways to see outside of himself. This is certainly a tragic event, full of senseless loss at the hand of someone who took it upon himself to eliminate life with raging bullets. But the real tragedy will be if we don’t learn from it. I see society today—draped in the blanket of social media—as an eyes-wide-shut community. I am just as guilty of it as the next person. So let us stream a conversation that has us break into our own psyches, discover how to break habits that box us in, and learn tools to break barriers so that we can swiftly evolve into an eyes-wide-open community.
I know what it is to be last
to be lost
I know what it is to rise
to shake my fist
to be more than just a name on a list
I know what it is to try
to wonder why
I know what it is to have won
to get back up
to get it done
In a well
To the sun
I am sure I'll burn
I might even melt
But all I have felt
Will build me
Bring me back
Back to my habitat
Out of ashes
Brushing off dirt
Shaking off dust
Only one way to complete
Copyright 2017 - Jodi Leigh Miller
Once a week during contest prep, I make sure to complete an outdoor run that is typically anywhere from 3 to 5 miles. I find that it helps my quads, glutes, and abs to tighten up and become more streamlined. I notice a distinct difference when I stop going for the run, and on the flip side, I notice a distinct difference when I get back on track with the run. It might be because of the cathartic release of emotions I tend to have on the run. It is just me and the pavement, something that I literally get to pound into submission without any adverse effects boomeranging back to me.
At the beginning of the route I typically take, there is a long and steadily-sloped hill. It makes starting this endeavor easy because the hill slopes downwards as I make my way out of my apartment complex and down towards a smattering of shops and a housing subdivision with its perfectly manicured lawns and vast array of colorful flowers and plants all equally and spatially arrayed. A usual upper-middle class, Dallas subdivision.
As I ran down this hill this past weekend, my ecru Nikes slap slapping the sidewalk while cars rushed by beside me, I realized that the term, “downhill,” is an interesting one in the English language. Like so many words and phrases, “downhill” carries multiple meanings that are actually quite opposite of each other. The act of moving downhill is typically easier than the act of moving uphill. Law of physics. Duh. So when we say, “It’s all downhill from here,” we could be meaning that it’s all a piece of cake. Wait. That’s another phrase I could probably write a paragraph on, especially in my carb-depleted mode at two weeks out from my next show. But I am seemingly distracted. Obviously, the word “cake” to me is like the word “squirrel” to my dog. So back to my point because this paragraph is quickly taking a downturn and going downhill. Which is my point: “It’s all downhill from here” can also mean that everything is going to hell in a handbasket.
So which is it? Is downhill easy or is it hard? Is it good or is it bad? It all depends upon the context in which you use it, like most things in life. That is contest prep. Is it good or is it bad? Is it easy or is it hard? Well, that depends. Depends upon the day, the minute, the movement, the mood, the food. There are certainly many phases of emotions and thoughts that a competitor experiences throughout a contest prep. The lengthier the prep, the longer the list of emotions and the more sway from one to the other that a competitor will experience. I have found that if one does not compete, that same one does not understand this phenomenon.
For the sake of keeping this blog post from becoming a novella, I will simply discuss one aspect of contest prep: the final 10 to 14 days before a show. They are interesting, to say the least. You’re spacey, dazed, exhausted, crazed. You’re excited and then plighted. One minute you love how you look. The next you’re ready to throw in the towel and say not now. You don’t have cravings, per se. At least I don’t. You just see normal food (and by normal food, I mean something as simple as bread and butter or a sandwich or a plum or a slice of pizza) and you start making a whimpering sound. Your face curls into a sad frown. Your mouth begins salivating all over the place. It’s like walking into a pet store to buy your dog a new toy and seeing puppies up for adoption. You haven’t thought about new puppies until this moment when their furry, floppy bodies wriggle about all over each other directly in front of your line of sight. Suddenly, you must go over and pet them, hold them, smell them. You even think of taking one (or three) home to snuggle and be with you forever. But you don’t. You know you can’t. You didn’t want a puppy before you saw the puppies. You have a dog already. So this is just a phase because the puppies are there, in front of your face and under your nose.
And yes, I have just compared puppies to pizza proving that I can take any one entity and link it to any other idea or being.
It’s also proving that my mind is working, sort of. In spurts. But I will conclude with this thought. So many writers are alcoholics. Or they regularly incorporate a drink or two or five during their writing interludes. As a bodybuilder who also writes, I cannot drink alcohol. I also cannot freely eat. So being creative while being in contest prep is quite interesting and often stalling. My ideal situation is sitting in front of my laptop with a box of Cheez-Its open, with the Donald-Trump-orange squares spilled out onto the glass surface of my dining room table and my orange-crusted fingers flying over the keys of my keyboard. My tummy full. My mind releasing. My cells alive.
But I’m starving. Hungry. Famished. Needing nourishment. For food. For words. So as I empty my body of whatever fat stores are left in these final days, I also empty my soul onto the page and find a way to create just like I find a way to lift a weight.
Now…leave me be. I am officially off to watch the Game of Thrones finale and eat my four ounces of red potato that I saved for this hour of bliss.
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.