Arrive, Dig Deep, Recover, Strong. Rinse, Repeat, Even Stronger.


American Kettle Bell Swings
Kettle Bell Dead Lifts


I’ve spent a great deal of my life and energy studying and working on being an awakened and enlightened person. “Awakened” and “enlightened” are much prettier words for “owning our own struggles.” I believe “strength” is a sibling to “awakened and enlightened” because owning our own struggles requires strength to carry their weight too. Not easy.

Today, I’m reflecting on what being the strongest I’ve ever been means to me, it’s really starting to hit me, and I need to share it.

My daughter, Daniella, tagged along to a recent strength/weightlifting session. She got a chance to meet my trainer, Cece, and agreed with me that I’d made an excellent selection.

Daniella videoed and photographed me as she watched me workout. It was a session of jumping rope, TRX, dead lifts, weighted monster lunges, push-ups, kettle bell work, medicine ball tosses to improve my range of motion, etc., with everything heavier or harder than last time; and my trainer continued to teach me and push me for perfect form within each move I made.

Daniella said that I workout hard and that I’m the strongest she’s ever seen me. I know she meant this both physically and emotionally.

There’s something that feels deeply acknowledged when someone that’s known you for thirty years tells you that you’re the strongest they’ve ever seen you. Seriously.

When I got home, I saw the pictures and video that Daniella took. Though I already felt it, I could see in them that I’m in my most happy place. There I was in the picture and video, holding the heaviest kettle bell I’ve held for that exercise–or as some of you may have heard me call the kettle bell before, a “sexy-beast.” What’s not to love about kettle bells?

Hard. Sexy. Unstable. Beasts.

And while I love it, it IS (insert expletive) hard work. The kettle bell is designed to be unstable and it requires I give it more of my focus, more of my strength, more of me. My trainer counted slowly to three as I held the kettle bell up above my head. Three is a long time when you’re holding something heavy and unstable over your head! I did three sets, and I could barely finish my last set without some serious deep digging.

I’m doing something I’ve never done, something that physically drains me and challenges me, and makes me question in the middle of it why I’m doing it. Then I use my mind, not just my body, to dig deeper. I keep showing up, doing it harder, heavier, better, and with more grit.

Some of the exercises are explosive and require form, speed and force collectively – those are some of my favorites.

Nothing about my training is comfortable, or at least Cece never lets it stay that way. As a matter of fact, most of it is just downright uncomfortable. I am far, far, far from my comfort zone. These exercises continue to break tissue, I drip with sweat all over, and I get so, so sore. I go home and I tell the Hubs how tough it was–he gets it. I eat something, I shower, and I recover.

Almost daily, I can feel I’m changing and transforming into something I like and value.

A couple days later, I meet my trainer again, on time, ready for more. And it feels like elation.

The elation comes from having a better sense of myself. I’m not thinking so much about how I look–though I see so much more muscle definition and my body shape changing–it’s become so much more about how I feel. At this point, I need it to be about how I feel.

I feel strong. I can feel, as I move through my day doing my thing, that I’m in much better control of my motion and movements.

Self-care is a beautiful thing, even when it’s uncomfortable.

This past week, I had coffee with an old friend, we celebrated his (very) belated birthday. He and I have weathered a couple of rough storms (and one tsunami) together, so we both appreciate how far we’ve each come. He told me I looked great and well. He’d seen my workout videos and pictures that I’ve shared on social media. He knows me pretty well and he teased me by telling me that he can see that I’m addicted.

I responded by telling him, “My name is Mari–first names only–and I’m seriously addicted to feeling strong and well.”

Doing life strong and well? How else should we do it?

Not stronger than others, just stronger than before, or maybe stronger than ever. For me this is becoming something greater than what I can lift or move physically. It’s become mental and emotional–to see how much deeper I can dig when it gets tough. With the goal of becoming strong enough to feel certain that I could get a little broken, sweaty, sore, pushed and stressed–and even question why I’m even bothering–but still push through. Then go home and tell those most important people in my life how hard and tough it was, and have them recognize the struggle. Recover, and do it again. And again. With even better form, harder, heavier, faster, and with more power.

We all start for different reasons, but we don’t get strong just for ourselves, and we don’t do it just for others; we do this to enjoy what we have, to enjoy our family, our friends, and ourselves. To age with grace and autonomy. We do it to live well.

Just like the path of being spiritual and awakened required that I tap into my truest self, which at some point I came to realize I had it all along, so is strength and being strong. The strength, grit and explosive force is all there, waiting to be tapped into, practiced and used. We’ve always had it.

Strong. Rinse. Repeat. Stronger.


(Pics and video by Daniella d’Ambly)