If you’re squinting at the photo above and uncertain what it’s supposed to capture—then you’re precisely as I was.
The Child and I were walking around Oakland, enjoying one of her last days of summer, when she grabbed my hand and shouted:
WOW, Mama. Look!!! He’s super strong!
Here’s where I share the fact, while we were enjoying the day, it had been a long one.
I’d done that thing with August where I’d idealized how *amazing* it would be for her to be campFREE and hanging out.
31 days of unstructured play.
It would have been awesome if the neighborhood kids weren’t campFUL and totally busy.
It wasn’t a huge deal, but by the end of a month filled with #wycwyc’ing work and together-time we’d grown a bit tired of each others company.
And a lot toward tuning each other out (yep. there’s no FAKEblogging here only the ugly truth.).
Which was entirely why, when she remarked about the super-strong man, I was only half-listening and only half-heartedly glanced and murmured:
Oh. He IS really strong.
Never one to be fooled when I’m not ReAlLy PrEsEnT she grabbed my face and spun it toward where she was looking.
And I’m grateful she did.
There, in my fave fave Oakland gym, was a man strapped into his wheelchair and working out.
He did pullups wheelchair and all. Hoisting himself entirely off the ground.
He did tricep dips wheelchair and all. Controlled, smooth movements of his chair.
Like the child I was completely in awe of his strength.
Unlike the child (who quickly moved on after a casual: Yeah I think that’s probably harder than what you do, Mama.) I couldn’t stop thinking about the man.
I spent the afternoon (and a good number of days which followed) reflecting on this stranger’s strength.
- Dips are hard. Even the lightest wheelchair would add, for most of us, i
nsurmountableundip’able weight. He was impressively strong.
- Life is hard. I can’t imagine the strength of *mind* he possessed to decide that FIRST TIME to attempt pullups/dips while strapped into his chair.
I don’t currently have either kind of strength.
I’m impressed by the former and in utter awe of the latter.
As I pondered this man and his (mental and physical) brawn one word kept coming to mind:
His actions clearly showed he possessed an attitude or belief he could conquer anything.
His movements clearly showed he possessed determination as I don’t imagine the first time he strapped in and dipped downward it went as planned.
I thought about myself and my whining as of late and came to the embarrassing conclusion Ive been lacking in the GRIT.
A word which I hadn’t even thought about—or its accompanying traits—in years.
A fact which I’m now focused on rectifying so I can GRITpractice what I long to GRITpreach for my daughter.
And so I turn to you and see your wisdom and insights:
- Are you in awe, too, of this man and his external *and* internal strength?
- Is GRIT a quality you’d say you possess?
Christy@ My Dirt Road Anthem saysSeptember 17, 2014 at 3:44 am
He is strong! I think grit is something I have developed more of the older I get. My kids get nearly a whole summer of unstructeredness, they are so ready for school by the time it starts. We do have a lot of fun and a lot of tuning out… 🙂
Healthy Mama saysSeptember 17, 2014 at 5:15 am
I find Ive gotten more, too, as I’ve aged.
Nicole saysSeptember 17, 2014 at 4:07 am
Grit is a good quality to possess…
Runner Girl saysSeptember 17, 2014 at 4:11 am
I think I have grit?
I don’t have that internal strength yet at all.
Brittany @ Delights and Delectables saysSeptember 17, 2014 at 4:13 am
WOW! I am amazed at his strength and GRIT!
lindsay Cotter saysSeptember 17, 2014 at 4:55 am
i have no words.. utterly amazed. I’m working on my grit. Some days it’s there.. other days i need to build it up, a lot!
Mar @Mar on the Run saysSeptember 17, 2014 at 4:56 am
Wow. I’m impressed and in awe. Grit is now my new favorite word.
Becky Fyfe saysSeptember 17, 2014 at 5:02 am
That is truly impressive.
Lately, I don’t think I’ve had the opportunity to display grit.
However, back when I was first trying to lose the excess weight (I lost over 145 lbs and went from morbidly obese to a healthy BMI), I think I did show grit. You see, I had a condition known as plantar fasciitis (no idea if that is spelled correctly), and what it boils down to is this: my heels were chronically inflamed. My heels were always swollen and in pain. Standing felt like I was standing with knives sticking into my heels and every step felt as if the knives were being turned and slid in deeper. And it was constant.
Despite this constant pain and the fact that just walking across the room was painful enough to bring tears to my eyes, one of the ways I lost the weight was through walking. I walked everywhere, miles and miles every day. When I got up each morning, the pain would be so bad that I stooped and shuffled painfully to the bathroom, wincing with each step. Out in public, the pain was just as bad, but I walked straight and with a fast pace, because I didn’t want anyone seeing me to realize how much pain I was in.
The doctors tried steroid injections, and they worked for a couple of months and then they didn’t. I was told that I could have a surgery on my heels which only had a 50-50 chance of working. I was NOT told that losing weight would help, and yet, after I lost a significant amount of weight, the pain went away.
Wish I could find some of that grit again now though.
Amanda saysSeptember 17, 2014 at 5:07 am
I have to say that I have not been displaying the grit lately. I want to. I plan to. Then I don’t. Good reminder that, being fully capable in mind and body, I should put it into play.
Katrina saysSeptember 17, 2014 at 5:36 am
WOW He really does give us the term NO EXCUSES
misszippy saysSeptember 17, 2014 at 5:40 am
I have to say, hard as it was (and it required grit!) to give the Tornado the unstructured time, you gave her a gift. Well done. And that man is amazing, inside and out. I have grit, but like anyone, it waxes and wanes!
Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine saysSeptember 17, 2014 at 6:20 am
Wow, that is awesome!
danielle saysSeptember 17, 2014 at 7:17 am
this man is amazing! i would be in awe as well, i am already in awe just from looking at the photo. physical challenges are incredible to me – i had full spinal fusion in 1999 and was told i’d be paralyzed by 23, but here i am nearly 36 and not only am i not paralyzed, but i ‘grit-ted’ out 2 ironman races. actually that wasn’t as tough as it was just stupid, i mean wasn’t necessary. i’m much more humbled now, no need to prove anything. i fight myself every day. putting on shoes is harder than so many things it’s absurd.
i hate to openly admit but i was born with grit. i was born into grit, surrounded by grit. i respect grit and appreciate it.
today i rather not use so much grit. my life has been consumed by grit. i want EASY. i want play. i want to make it all look effortless. i like to fool the world with a smile , people assume all is well if you’re smiling.
Heather Montgomery saysSeptember 17, 2014 at 7:36 am
Wow that is hardcore. I agree that takes just as much if not more internal strength than external! I think I have grit ona case by case basis. Not sure if that’s good or bad.
Paul Beck saysSeptember 17, 2014 at 8:07 am
About a month ago I sent you a copy of an article I wrote stating there is really no such thing as anaerobic exercise – everything a human does is aerobic. You sent me a note saying you would reply with comments as to your prospective on this matter. Has this reply been overlooked?
Letti saysSeptember 17, 2014 at 8:08 am
I would say that I have grit.
I would not say I had grit before my divorce:)
Elle saysSeptember 17, 2014 at 8:32 am
My wonderful Father was in a wheelchair (sans 2 legs) for the last 10 years of his life and grew tremendous biceps and shoulders to get himself around – and he had amazing GRIT.
GRIT is a truly admirable quality IMHO and whenever I think to whine about something I think of my own Father and just get on with things.
That fellow in the park? Truly awesome.
Janis saysSeptember 17, 2014 at 9:03 am
A jock is a jock is a jock — stop their legs, and they will find other muscles to lather themselves in sweat while using. Music is the same way. There is a marvelous virtuoso French horn player from Germany with no arms. Beethoven was deaf. Whatever your fire is, if it’s in you, it’ll find its way out somehow.
Janis saysSeptember 17, 2014 at 9:07 am
Also, I’m not sure what “grit” is regarding myself. I’d say I do possess it … in some situations, and in others not at all. I definitely do have a thick head, and if I want to do something or master something, I will do it. That doesn’t feel like stubbornness from the inside, though. It just feels like enjoying something. If I’m curious about a skill or love a particular topic or activity, I will gorge myself on it like a madwoman because it feels so good inside my brain. I don’t think that’s grit, though. I’m not making myself do it. It just feels so good to do it that I can’t stop.
Grit I think is when you force yourself to go forward into something you hate, and I’m less interested in that, in “proving something” to anyone anymore.
Erin @ Her Heartland Soul saysSeptember 17, 2014 at 9:38 am
I think I have some grit, but nowhere near as much as that guy! Major kudos to him!
Jessica R saysSeptember 17, 2014 at 9:42 am
When I’m struggling through a 3 minute run later I shall remember this man and his grit. Thank you for sharing that today and for reminding me that we truly are our only true obstacles.
mimi saysSeptember 17, 2014 at 9:50 am
He is very physically strong, and he has grit, determination, and tenacity. (Where i often have stubbornness. The difference? Tenacity comes from a strong will, and stubbornness from a strong won’t.)
Tamara saysSeptember 17, 2014 at 11:07 am
This is a great reminder that the strongest muscle (okay, I know it’s not really a muscle, but let’s overlook this fact for the sake of my point) in the human body is the brain.
Harness our brain power and the rest is easy (I’m working hard on harnessing mine this week…)
GiGi Eats saysSeptember 17, 2014 at 11:31 am
I AM IN LOVE WITH THAT MAN! IN LOVE WITH HIM!!!! I love people who have disabilities yet never see themselves as disabled!!!!!!!! They make me appreciate everything that I have that much more too! OMG I LOVE THIS MAN. Would it be too much if I proposed to him?
Danielle saysSeptember 17, 2014 at 1:39 pm
Dr. Samantha saysSeptember 17, 2014 at 3:06 pm
Awesome. Truly. Awesome. Yes to grit. Yes to pushing. Yes to not letting our self-imposed limitations limit us.
Debra saysSeptember 17, 2014 at 3:24 pm
I am grit less. I would like to think if I found myself in such a situation I would be tough and til if grit but I’d probably just not. At least until I got tired if being full of not.
Loretta saysSeptember 17, 2014 at 4:00 pm
Thank you for sharing this, Carla. You have no idea how much it means to me. I’ve been losing the “grit” battle lately. Reading this, I kinda realized I was giving in… it was “reasonable” to accept limitations… it was “understandable” after all… etc etc blah blah…
Grit. Methinks I need a good strong dose of grit.
Kim saysSeptember 17, 2014 at 5:21 pm
Firs,t I have to say that I have been in that position before after days and days of just the boys and me (especially when they were younger and the contact was nonstop) of just partially paying attention and getting called out on it – sometimes I truly need that nudge to be present.
And, that guy in the wheelchair is hardcore and amazing to the extreme. I love to see people that don’t let a disability of any sort hold them back!!!
Marcia saysSeptember 17, 2014 at 7:01 pm
What an amazing man and a fitting metaphor for the awesomeness of human determination. I share your lament of having free, unstructured kiddos but then all of their friends are camped away. It’s hard!
Grit? Yes, I’ve got some!
MCM Mama saysSeptember 17, 2014 at 7:56 pm
Wow! That’s some kind of strength (both mental and physical). I don’t often think I have grit, but when I need to, I always seem to be able to dig down and find it.
And yes, unstructured summer = good, but I was ready to send the kids back to school and structure at the end of the summer.
Doreen McGettigan saysSeptember 18, 2014 at 6:03 am
Absolutely this man is strong and yes grit fits.
I need yo get back to the nitty gritty, this man inspired me!
Cathy Chester saysSeptember 18, 2014 at 9:46 am
Let’s back up a bit. This man first had to come to terms with losing the use of his legs first, and then get to the point of working out the rest of his body. GRIT. He is amazing in his mind and body. GRIT.
Yup. He inspires me. If you ever watched some of the Special Olympics, these wonderful, marvelous people always inspire me.
GRIT, indeed, Carla. Excellent post. Near and dear to my heart.
Ruben saysSeptember 18, 2014 at 11:28 am
Wow, really inspiring article you should make more like this!
btw, love your writing style.
AdjustedReality saysSeptember 18, 2014 at 12:44 pm
No words (well, ok, some, but none that measure up to THAT).
I’m always in awe of the paratriathletes and hope if I was ever in that situation I’d continue with sport, just move divisions.
I’ve been looking for a word or phrase or feeling to bring into my race next weekend. GRIT may be it.
Amanda saysSeptember 18, 2014 at 1:43 pm
DIPS AND LIFE IS HARD.
This blog really resonated with me, as I have seen similar things at my gym. Seeing men and women go above and beyond for their own fitness and self happiness can provide me with motivation and incentive to continue working out and living a happy and healthy life like no other coping mechanism can. It is because that takes a lot of mental and physical strength, which many people cannot find within themselves. This man truly is an example of what we can accomplish with the power of thought, whether it is tricep dips in a wheelchair, or just going for a run in the morning. PUSH YOURSELF!
Thank you for the blog post, I will keep returning for more,
Jody - Fit at 56 saysSeptember 18, 2014 at 3:33 pm
In awe – man, what an amazing show of strength outwardly & internally!
Michelle saysSeptember 18, 2014 at 4:26 pm
That is amazing. Holy hell…amazing.
Grit? Hmmmm…I don’t have that kind of grit. I’m kind of wimpy…but in other ways? I’m full of grit.
Which really, just sounds like I need a shower.
cheryl saysSeptember 18, 2014 at 6:08 pm
I raise money for Challenged Athlete’s Foundation to provide athletes like this with chairs, bikes and prosthetic devices they need to compete or just get to places they need/want to get to. I work with kids who wear braces, (not the teeth kind), are in wheelchairs or walk with walkers. Some crawl around the classrooms. Some scoot. They have friends who swing them and pull them in wagons.
They all have grit.
The only grit I possess is going into work for almost 40 years to help these kids who possess more grit that we can ever think about .
Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table saysSeptember 18, 2014 at 8:46 pm
My mind is totally blown… we truly have no excuses. If you want something, it’s your to achieve!
Nick @ hgh energizer review saysSeptember 18, 2014 at 11:46 pm
It looks so weird, Who workouts with a wheelchair,
He also looks so strongrer,
Dr. J saysSeptember 19, 2014 at 11:29 am
Circumstances do not make the person, they reveal the person to themselves and often others!
Jorge @ 5-htp max weight loss saysSeptember 19, 2014 at 9:47 pm
He looks so stronger, Really Inspirational,
Salute for his fitness efforts.