I once lived on oranges, ramen noodles and toothpaste for 6 months. I slept under boulders in Yosemite National park, smoked used cigarette butts out of ashtrays at the Yosemite Deli and lived life by my own terms. I had dreadlocks, a dream and what I thought to be a clear vision plan. I would never be boring. More importantly I would never be weak.
Being a self described dirt bag was easy. I had grown up dirt poor so living simple was easy. I truly didn’t know much else. So this was my plan. I would spend a couple more years hitchhiking and dirt bagging my way from climbing area to climbing area and then I would go figure the rest out. I was in no hurry, The mountains had called me and I answered.
One dreamy morning years into my groove I found myself sleeping behind the infamous Camp 4 in Yosemite National Park under a boulder. Climbing bums didn’t pay for camping! Anyone even remotely connected to the rock climbing community knew this was the place to be. Rangers would make their rounds around 7 am so I was up by 630, and off to El Cap meadow to handle my morning ritual. This is where my best thinking happened. Peeling an orange I slowly ate my rations for the am and enjoyed it’s sweet grandeur.
As I lay there I stared up at El Capitan’s intense beauty. My dreadlocks below me acting as a pillow, I could see climbers up on its 3000+ foot face. The climbing life was foot loose and fancy free but after a few years of keeping this pace I was starting to yearn for something normal, like a bed.
I wanted to go to college, I wanted a writing career and a family. I knew the party was over that morning so I was in deep reflection mode. I made a solid promise to myself as the morning dew was still settling on my face. Number one, I would always love myself as I had these past years in the mountains, and I would never stop being me. Oh, and I would never be a soccer mom. (Insert eye roll here, oops). At that time I really didn’t know how profound this moment would be later in life.
Fast forward 21 years. I am all the things I said I wouldn’t be. I drive a Luxury SUV, live in the Southern California suburbs (The mountains here are its bitsy), I’m in Real Estate Sales, (Never would’ve guessed that one) and my daily lists look more like this.
Those years in the mountains I pushed my levels of physical endurance to the ends of my psyche. I did long backpacking trips for weeks on end alone SCARED OUT OF MY MIND, I would do a 12 mile trail run for lunch IN FULL SUFFER MODE, and a 3 hour climbing session before dinner. On a typical day climbing I would have to use all of my mental energy to focus so I didn’t die. This threat was real as silly as it sounds. Most of my friends from those days are gone. Many from sports induced trauma. I considered myself strong mentally and physically.
Well when I left that life I didn’t go back. 4 kids later I am here, I am alive and I have the scars to prove it. Bikes have given me my life back and have kept that valuable need for adventure my soul seeks. One ride at a time I am finding that old Holly again. Sometimes I still sit somewhere alone on a trail and peel an orange. That quiet solitude when I hear nothing but the wind flowing through the trees, do I feel the core of who I am settle. Many times I sat there and said to myself, “But do you feel strong…………I think so?”
And then I go home where all hell is breaking loose. Only mothers of 4 little ones may follow my anxiety moving forward…..HAHA
Jesus take the wheel! Its not uncommon for me to walk in to 2 babies crying, one teenager that hates the world and a 10 year old boy that is a hyper active example of hyper active. They all take their “crazy” to a new level. Not sure what I expected when I spread my genes around like I did. My children can rattle even the most relaxed visiter. My own mother is often found sitting in her car in our driveway when my husband and I return from date night, She’s like, Im out! Yes my kids seek adventure as feverishly as I have and their energy levels reflect that.
They make me completely nuts. They tire me to my very core. The endurance I need to be their Mother makes a mockery of my previous life of Marathons, backpacking trips and Ironman’s. My mom-self laughs at what I used to think was strong. Oh you ran 26.2 miles uphill in the snow? How cute. Spend a day with these assholes on 4 hours of sleep day in and day out and lets see what you are made of. I assure you its a suburban soccer mom version of Hell Week. They make me feel weak as hell and there are days I feel like I can’t be their mom. I am wrecked mentally and physically.
Get up for School, then drop offs, pick ups, (someone forgot there lunch) , babies wiping poo on the wall, 4 year old has locked herself in the bathroom again, I’m late late late, dogs are howling at a ice-cream truck, work, work work, baby hears ice-cream truck and also howls, soccer practice, nap times, dinner time, bed times, tantrum time, “witching” hour time and FML life time. At around 7 every evening my hubs and I can take no more. Please God let them sleep. Yeah they don’t sleep. Alcohol, coffee, repeat!
MY girlfriends and I laugh that my house is an all out shit show. But its our shit show and we love every second of it. Well most of the time we do………14 years ago my first baby was born over a month early right after my cancer went into remission. We named her ZOE (greek word for life), then came Justice (all 9lbs 7 oz of him). I knew this kid was going to kick my ass up and down but he was cute in his hyper tazmanian devil sort of a way.
The mom thing, I was rocking it . However when it came to my poor body I was trashed. My body was tore back. I was sad and frustrated but I knew with hard work I would get my sexy body back. Right before I got pregnant wth Justice my body was so rad I was a featured athlete in 4 page article inBest Body Magazine. I got most of my body back. Sorta……
Well then came my 3rd (9 lb 3 oz), my baby girl Marley. Oh hot damn this chick was rowdy from day one. My poor body was now starting to go to a place of no return. But guess what? It sorta went back. Then came Willy……………>WELL SHIT! Point of no return, This guy weighed in at 9 lb 14 oz. and came via C-Section. SIGH……the surgery was horrific as was the recovery.
After 4 pregnancies with the little punks laying the LONG ways in my stomach and having no remorse for my body I was left with some pretty gnarly carnage on my abdomen. I would spend long minutes staring at it in disbelief. How could this happen? I would never rock a bikini again. another heavy Sigh…………..
I sat many hours staring at my stomach. I hated it, or did I love it? I wasn’t sure. Some days I would almost cry looking at it, there were even days I was quite proud of it. It was a perfect replication of something I couldn’t control. Sit ups wouldn’t fix it. 3000 miles on the bike didn’t change it. It just hung there slack, mocking me, just like my children. The challenge of loving it lurked in my thoughts through most days as I shoved it into spanx for work, tucked it into chamois for riding and sucked it in when I could.
My new challenge would be learning to truly love it. Not just pretend love it when I was pretending to be strong minded. This took deep reflection. Remember I promised myself I would never be weak. What does that mean? Shit I am a human woman! I like looking good! But what does that mean? The journey began to work on my mind set.
So with my youngest 2nd birthday coming up on me in the next couple months , I made the decision, its time to rock the shit out of my MOM body. Its way more rad than any of my Enduro injuries, way more brutal than any sports injury and way more fascinating than any boring bruise. My children permanently branded me with their bodies as they grew in mine. How do I get to that point where I really truly accept and love the body I was blessed with?
When I broke it down I have been either pregnant or breastfeeding for 10 years of my LIFE! WOW cut a lady some slack will you Holly! SO I started with committing to this photo shoot over 6 months ago. During that time I truly seeked the answers to my insecurity. I’ll be honest I never found that answer. Maybe there isn’t one.
MY stomach was a constant reminder of the sacrifices I have made for our babies and will joyfully continue to make. Life isn’t perfect , and motherhood in my world is a shit show so why should my abs look any different? They don’t define me. I would no longer see my stretch marks and empty layers of loose skin as a defeat. Instead I would see them as my trophy. I LOVE TROPHIES! “SO come on girl…….look at yourself,” I would plead within.
The day came for the photo shoot, I was nervous, excited and apprehensive. I have hidden my stomach for so long when I took my shirt off for the this photoshoot I felt as vulnerable as I if I was baring my Vagina. True story. I started to sweat I was so nervous. I took a deep breath. Then the moment happened. MY children (all four of them) put their little hands on my belly. I fought back tears. The intense gratitude I felt for them sharing this moment with me completely made the mind shift I was seeking. I loved my mom bod! Guess what , so did they, and so does my husband. Yeah he was checking me out. I saw his eyes. LOL
Its funny how people can perceive me. I hear all the time how tough people think I am. I am self conscious and have things that make me insecure, just like anyone else. When I tell them how profound of an experience motherhood and the changes in my body has been for me they blank stare me.
For me the BIG moment was knowing that I had almost faked myself into believing I loved myself. Remember I would never be weak and I would never be boring. Well I now realize its in these weak moments that help us have a huge powerful break through. I have broken through my friends! I am on the other side.
My body feels strong. I feel powerful as a woman and as a mother. I feel sexy and love watching my husband pine for me. I love feeling my abdominals hiding under my loose and scarred stomach. My abdominals fire now and guide my body through technical Enduro trails on my bike. I could kick your ass if I wanted to. (A little giggle for my close friends) HAHA I am on fire right now and I truly love my body. What a journey this has been.
I wonder how many people do this ? DO you really love yourself? Be honest. Seeing how STRONG I look in these photos helped me see Me for who I really am. I am Strong, scarred and RAD! I urge you to really look at yourself for the beauty created. My scars are a road map of where I have been and where I will go. These children of mine in all their wild glory knew exactly what they were doing when they chose me as their mother. Out of respect for them and the GOD that gave them to me I will love my body for the rest of my life. Amen sisters, and I hope you can do the same.
Thank you Zoe. Thank you Justice. Thank you Marley and thank you Baby Willie. I adore you 4 to the moon and back and would shred my body limb by limb and do it all over again for you in a heart beat. You are glorious.
So Cheers, eat an orange, live life by your own terms, be authentic, and a big huge salute to all the mom and dad bods out there. Lets ride!