Of Physical Prowess…and a Lack Thereof

Last year, Boyfriend and I went deep sea kayaking. First off, it was fantastic. I love kayaking, I love water, and I (as of now) love being warm (because last winter was so goddamned cold). Exercise, if nothing else, warms you up…as does my ever-present worry that we’d fall behind the rest of the group we were with.

So we get to the site and strip to our bathing gear and sign waivers, etc. Everything’s fine. We got a bathroom break, life vests, paddles, water, and a brief instruction to how we’d be navigating through the ocean. We paired up and picked kayaks.

It was fine. Everything was going great.

Until we had to get the kayaks in the water.

I wanted to help. I tried to help. But the goddamned kayak was heavier than it looked. I’m equating that to the fact that it was a two-person kayak instead of a single.

But I bent down, grabbed the handle, lifted…and nearly threw my back out.

It wasn’t just embarrassing because I couldn’t lift it. I was embarrassed also because the female instructors could not only lift a single kayak — they took two kayaks per trip. I couldn’t even lift one.

One of the instructors came over and giggled a bit knowingly. “It’s okay, I got it,” she said. “I do this all the time.”

I gave her a shaky smile and stepped back with a “Yeah,” and watched her and Boyfriend carry our kayak to the water.

Maybe it’s stupid, but I felt stupid just then. Stupid and envious. The instructors weren’t these huge, buff women with Arnold Schwarzenegger muscles. They looked as strong as Sister 2. But that damn kayak that weight definitely more than I did? They could lift that. Hell, they lifted two of them at a time.

I like thinking of myself as capable. Miss Independent by Kelly Clarkson. I like thinking of myself as able to take care of what I need to get done without any outside help. I like thinking I can follow directions without needing too many directions repeated to me.

Hell, I’d gone kayaking before. I knew how to do that. No, I never put a kayak or a canoe in the water, but I knew how they worked.

And I do yard work. I weed whack like nobody’s business. I own that weed whacker. That’s my goddamned weed whacker! I put those weeds in their place, put the other lawns to shame…or at least make our lawn slightly resemble the McMansions by the elementary school, with their perfect lines of cut grass.

This was September, by god. A whole summer of weed whacking and (minor) yard work? I should’ve been buff.

It stopped bothering me after we got in the water…sort of. Boyfriend took the back. I steered. Considering how much of a stink I’d made to myself about not being able to lift the kayak, I should’ve had him steering. That would’ve given me the change to at least propel the kayak.

But no. I wimped out. I thought I might not be able to handle this and said, with all shaky confidence, “Nah, you take the back. You’re stronger.”

College-aged Feminist Me would smack me upside the head for that one. Strong independent woman! she would scream. Post-College Feminist Me just rolls my eyes at her and says I couldn’t lift the kayak, what the hell makes you think I could propel it without injuring myself? Post-College Feminist Me lives under the belief that women should support one another’s decisions, as long as they aren’t doing harm to themselves. Women, she believes, shouldn’t be limited to simply “strong” and “independent” as their identifying factors for being considered complex people.

We still had fun and I forgot all about it until last week when I, quite literally, woke up in the middle of the night, remembering how I couldn’t lift the kayak and pissed that I wasn’t strong enough to do so.

There is no excuse for that, I told myself. You can get stronger, and you don’t even need to rush into it to do it. I’d already been doing workouts on the elliptical for a few years. While I lay awake, I decided that I would get a weight — not much, just three or five pounds — and do some arm curls while I biked, for however long I biked for (about 20 minutes, or 2 miles).

Increments, I told myself as I drifted back to sleep, my plan bubbling in the back of my head. You can do this in baby steps, but by god, sister, you’re going to do this.

I got out the weight the next night, right before jumping on the bike. It’s a bit shaming to say I had a little trouble convincing myself to do it once the time got there. I literally snuck around the house, nosing in corners for the forgotten weights and plotting a way to get the bike out without drawing too much attention to what I was doing. I went through a long, drawn-out minute of mentally walking myself through actually bringing my plan to life.

It’s funny, how reluctant I am to even the tiniest change. Maybe it was because I didn’t announce the idea to anyone (like I had when I first started the bike). Any time I try something new, I usually go at it alone so I don’t make a fool of myself. This was no exception — I stayed in a separate room and just curled for a while.

It wasn’t a big deal, or eventful, or anything worth getting nervous over. I’m not out to get huge or anything. Summer’s coming, though. I’m going to get stronger.

I will lift the next kayak.

Did you ever encounter an obstacle that made you push yourself to do something you didn’t realize you’d ever want to? Did it turn out to be as bad as you’d been worried about, or was it just a little something different that might make a much bigger, better impact on your life later?

Decorating with Cake Boss Part 1

I really love watching people decorate cakes. It’s like watching a magician practice their magic tricks — it deconstructs the process so you can see all the elements to it and it’s fascinating.

Actually, I love watching most how-to videos. We watched so much Food Network and PBS Create TV and Home and Garden shows growing up, you kind of couldn’t escape it. So every time we find a cooking show or a show about completing a project, we tend to get sucked in.

Food for Thought: Unhappiness

unhappiness clmannarino

You don’t have to be grateful that it isn’t worse.


Photo Challenge: Yourself

In my natural habitat. :D

PS — Yes, I am reposting this. Thanks to the WordPress app, I posted this too early. It was supposed to happen today, but go figure, that didn’t happen the way I planned. Photo challenges, ahoy!

Food for Thought: Growing Up and Apart

growing apart clmannarino

Accept the fact that you will grow apart from people you’ve had significant relationships with. Understand when someone no longer positively affects your life. Let them go. Don’t hinder your growth.


Of Wanting Attention…but Not from -You-

The subtitle to this post should be Not Wanting to be Little Miss Nice Girl Anymore.

The people I want attention from are never the ones who give it to me. And the ones who do?

How do you politely tell someone to fuck off? I’m genuinely asking.

I used to make friends out of circumstance. The people I hung out with were kids I went to school with — I liked to think we found each other based on our then-interests. Most of the time, anyone who read the same books or watched the same shows or listened to the same music that I did was someone I lumped myself together with. When it turned out that this was the only thing binding us together, I was more than a little disappointed.

Other friends were even more narrowly circumstantially made: we were in a group project together. We were in Scouts together. We had orchestra, classes, recreational sports, theatre… the list goes on. I’m sure this was the same for everyone who went through the school system.

Then there’s the last group of friends: the people you don’t consider yourself friends with, but you’re nice to them because you don’t know how to be mean. Or you know how to be mean, but your parents taught you better and being totally truthful would hurt the person in a way that you’ve never wanted to be hurt. So you refrain from saying anything and let them glom on because they don’t leave.

But there’s always college, I basically told myself. There’s always somewhere else. You’re not staying here forever.

College was the same way. And after, many of my friends did wind up drifting apart from me, to varying degrees of hurt and my own awareness of where they went. A handful of the pre-college ones…didn’t, something they don’t let me forget. They’re not the nicest about how we maintain our friendship, either, to the point where it’s getting emotionally abusive.

And it’s always the friends I never considered myself friends with. People who appeared for a moment and then disappeared soon after, but won’t stop poking. We’ve never had the same interests, so it baffles me why they stick around.

Yet, they do.

I have, as I mentioned, a hard time telling people the truth, especially if I either know they’ll take it poorly, or if I don’t know how they’ll take it at all. I don’t think I’m alone in this, either. I feel like a lot of my female friends have this problem. Not all of them, but a good enough portion.

Maybe it’s because of that stupid “sugar and spice and everything nice / that’s what little girls are made of” rhyme. Maybe our parents or teachers or whoever stepped in at one point when we could’ve given another person a piece of our mind and said “no, no. You have to think about their feelings.” Maybe they said to us this dangerous (in this case) sentence: how would you feel if someone did X to you?

They shamed us into silence. They guilted us to be quiet by using our stereotypically most-endearing trait, our ability to understand feelings, against us in a way that makes us the bully and anyone else the victim. Or, even if they didn’t try to label us as the bully, they sure as hell wanted us to feel like we were one, like we were responsible for hurting someone else when we were only putting our own comfort first, when we were only using our voices to explain how unhappy we were with being friends with someone else.

Because it would suck if someone said to you “I’m only your friend because I feel sorry for you. I don’t actually like you and I wish you’d go away.”

(Admittedly, it’s not a nice thing to say. HOWEVER, there are kind ways to say it. See? There I go, falling into the “sugar and spice” routine.)

Alternatively, those people who shamed us into silence insisted upon honesty at all costs. “You need to tell someone the truth, even if it hurts,” they said later. And that just confused everything because now, we were forced to feel the other person’s feelings, on top of hurt them with the reality of the situation. And hurting people isn’t nice. Empathy can really suck.

I’m wondering if this is where psychological warfare had its grand beginnings.

Sometimes this leaves me with a lot of pent-up rage towards people. It makes me want to scream in their faces about things they’ve done over a period of years that’ve driven me nuts, or hurt me. But even the thought of admitting this to them would cause me to imagine how much I’d hurt their feelings.

I’d shame myself into silence. But all this silence hurts. It makes me want to be a mean girl.

But no. I don’t. Because very often, the things I was taught about how to word the truth get drowned out by my worries of hurting someone. I know exactly how they’d feel if we switched places.

In not knowing how to tell people something without hurting them, I avoid it. I pull all the tricks. I hope, plead, pray (something I never do) that they’ll get the memo all my former-friends seemed to have picked up in spades years before: purposeful radio silence has, you guessed it, a purpose. A reason.

The problem is, not everyone’s an empath. Not everyone can pick up on what other people feel like and respond accordingly. Not everyone can read social cues, and it’s certainly true that not everyone cares to. Everyone, though, can get their feelings hurt.

And those are the friends who give me the most attention. Not the ones I think are cool. Not the ones who’re doing incredible things. Not the ones I wish would just come to me before any of their other friends. Not the ones I feel the most kinship with, though I have a great deal of them and we’re close despite not being one another’s only confidants.

No, the ones who pay too much attention are the ones who won’t accept the end of this acquaintanceship. The ones who insist on staying around because “we’ve been friends forever.” The ones who will get hurt if I told them the truth about this whole “friends forever” thing they want.

Your twenties are supposed to be your defining decade. The decisions you make during this time period are supposed to set you up for the person you’ll be for the rest of your life…or at least the direction you eventually want to see yourself go in. You pick your family, your career, your goals, your personality…and you shed what you don’t want. You put aside the things that are “just for right now” in favor of things that will carry you into your five, ten, or fifteen year future.

Being “friends,” or just in contact with, someone for years doesn’t make you obligated to keep them around if keeping them around is no good anymore.

Granted, I’ve got a little ways more to go before 30 comes rolling around. Still, what happens when you don’t know how to make the hard decisions you need to make to figure out what “whatever comes next” looks like? What happens if you don’t know how to cut those ties?

Do you have friends you wish you could just drop? Let go of? Toss aside? Spirit away? How do you tell them the truth with the least amount of pain? How do you allow yourself to become free of relationships that might be (read: actually are 100 percent) toxic?

Learning Sign Language

This made me cry, it’s so lovely. Oh my god. <3

Food for Thought: Younger vs Older

younger v older clmannarino
“I remember when I was younger and I wanted to be beautiful; now I’m older and I want to be intelligent. I want to burn hearts with brilliance and engulf souls with compassion. I want to be loved for my thoughts and nothing else.”

Song Challenge: Favorite Song from This Time Last Year

I don’t honestly remember what my favorite song was, but I loved Titanium, so I’m going with that!

PS — this is the end of this challenge:

Food for Thought: Looking for Happiness

looking for happiness clmannarino
Stop looking for happiness in the same place you lost it.
― Unknown
  • Adventures in Growing Up

  • Caitlin L Mannarino

    I'm not a fan of big dogs, but I have The Hound, so what's that say about me? Dunno. I write about myself, and what's happening around me, and how I interpret the world. I also like books and nature. Sometimes, I like them together.

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