But how are you going to do it?

I shared in “20 Questions with Mel Bell” that I’ve always wanted to change the world. There have been many different times and many different ways I have thought I would do that. Some felt more right than others but so far nothing has really stuck. I’ve found myself wondering if I was where I was supposed to be more times than I can count. I always wanted to know if I was doing God’s work, if I was on the right path, and I’ve always felt like something was off.

First I was going to change the world through music and writing. Or that’s what I thought as a kid.

Then it was going to be through becoming an adoption counselor and becoming the person who lead me when I was in need.

Then maybe I was going to work with women who had experienced domestic violence and help their children find some normalcy.

Then maybe I was going to help kids love being active and learn to move properly so we were going to change the world through children.

Then maybe it was nutrition…

Then birth…

And would you look at that, we’re right back to adoption.

Sometimes I wish this calling would either leave me alone, or just show itself so I could get on with things.

But I’ve been so disconnected for so long that I couldn’t truly figure out what it was that was calling me. I’ve been barking up these trees but nothing has been right. I felt out of tune with what the universe needed from me.

Recently, I’d say I had a bit of a break through. Eh, I don’t know that that’s the right wording. More so, I’ve just been seeing the same phrases and themes over and over and over again. One is women.

The concept of womanhood won’t leave me alone. It comes up over and over and over again. Female empowerment, the future is female, babes support babes, raising your sisters up. Women are a mother fucking powerful force, man. (DISCLAIMER: not that men aren’t. I’m not anti man, I’m pro person, specifically women, ok? Can we just leave it at that?)

Trauma is another. For a long time I didn’t have the language to put around this. Honestly, I still don’t. Here’s the basics, my family wasn’t the most normal (who’s really is though, right?) My dad was a drunk, I was pregnant at 14, you can imagine the scene for yourself, right. So while I’d say we weren’t on the far end of any spectrum, there was still some shit going down. Anyone who grows up in any home with any number of uncertainties will experience trauma. Over the last year or two I’ve learn so much about how our bodies hold on to that. Personally, I didn’t understand what I was experiencing until recently. There’s a REASON I don’t trust my own body in weightlifting (more on that in the “How a bad training day lead me to therapy” post), there’s a reason I experience physical and emotional symptoms of stress even though I’m years removed from those situations.

Breath/Exercise bringing up the rear here. These two I put together. I would not claim myself to be athletic in any sense nor am I a yogi. As a kid, I hated playing sports but I always did. Since then, it’s been about 6 or 7 years since I found Crossfit and never looked back. Crossfit led me to BIRTHFIT and to Olympic Weightlifting and to Chiropractic care, and to the notion of using your breath for power (i.e. stabilization during a lift, or connecting to your body during yoga or meditation). Maybe feeling powerful is more the theme here, now that I think about it. So much of why women stay in negative and dangerous situations is because of the loss of power (money, physical power/strength, job security, job position, or simply being believed). That’s why my mom stayed married to my dad so long, she didn’t have any power. These women escaping domestic violence, someone else had taken power over them. When my mom taught me to shoot a gun, I loved feeling powerful. When I clean and jerk a heavy barbell, I feel powerful. When I walk away from a person or situation that’s not serving me, I feel powerful. When I connect with my breath, I am powerful.

So these things just keep coming up and coming up and over the last few years I’m all out in space looking for what I’m supposed to be doing in life while the universe is basically trying to knock me down with what it needs from me and I’m just missing it. hahaha It’s funny to think about, actually.

One of the more recent times the puzzle pieces started to come together for me was during the BIRTHFIT seminar. I realized how much trauma can take place around birth - it’s a lot.

Then these books, The Big Let Down and Active Birth basically fell in my lap and I learned even more about how certain populations specifically are experiencing more interventions during birth, are being marginalized and under cared for and how that’s leading to a whole domino effect of negative consequences for mom and baby.

Then thanks to Gabby I’ve learned about epigenetics and how we carry all the experiences of our ancestors and how we were literally in our grandmothers body living all the things she was living and that allllllllll of that will very literally effect how we as person will interact with the world. (Stuff You Should Know Podcast also did a great basic episode on Epigenetics.)

Thanks to my time getting to work for undeserved and at risk populations, I understand how all of these things are effecting them on the daily yet, often we don’t have the understanding or tools to deal with it. Cue BIRTHFIT and breath work.

I mean HELLO MELISSA HOW HAVE YOU BEEN MISSING THIS FOR SO LONG!!!

Anyway, I’ve been rambling for a while here. I guess my point is just that… we can fix this. We can positively change the experiences of generations to come (aka change the world!!).

When we advocate for ALL women that they have the birth they desire and that is ACTUALLY safest for baby and mom, we are able to have a positive impact and reduce risk for both in the future.

When we help a women connect to her body after she’s been shut off from it for so long because of sexual abuse, we are able to have a positive impact for her and her potential children.

When we HOLD SPACE for women to connect and share their voice and their story we allow for a community to be built and support systems to come together for each other.

Recently, I’ve been reaching out to local non profit agencies in the Nashville area who serve women. I want to be the beginning of something great. At this point, I feel so strongly about the good that we can do that I would work for free to make it happen.

Saying these things out loud or typing them for the world feels like a force leaving my body. It feels strong and powerful but also heavy because this work needs to happen. Thank you for holding space for me in this journey by reading these words. You may not agree, and that’s ok. But if you do, I hope you’ll join me in this journey to create a better world for our children and the women in our lives.

LOVE,

MEL BELL SHEFF

How a bad training day lead me to therapy

I had been to therapy before. My parents…errr my mom dragged me as a 5th grader. She dragged me and the rest of my family too when my dad was having a particularly difficult time reining in his alcoholism. I probably should have been going to therapy for like a long time before this but I wasn’t. It’s not that I was ever against it, I just never really made time for it or felt like I needed it. I thought I was like… normal - p.s. what even is normal? Another conversation for another day.

At some point, I found CrossFit which lead me to Weightlifting. I love weightlifting. Have I said that before? Well, I do. And eventually I started actually caring about my numbers and getting stronger so I got a coach to help me. If you know me, and have ever seen me snatch you know how much I can struggle when I start counting the numbers. I just am such a freaking mess about it. I start imagining myself dying. I’m literally imaging throwing the barbell, elbows buckling, and the barbell dropping directly on my head and killing me. That’s terrible, huh? So I’ve just always really struggled to have faith in my body and my ability and gravity, too, I guess. hahah At meets, I never know the numbers. Just recently, have I been able to know my approximate openers.

So because of all of this, I snatched the same number for a very very long time. 3 years I think. At least. Finally, I don’t know how but I went through a phase and made some progress. I accidentally made it past some mental blocks and I was feeling pretty good about things. Then of course, I came across a new block.

I’ll never forget the day. I had already coached that morning. The numbers to hit had been in my spreadsheet since Tuesday and here we were on Saturday and I’d been stressing about them ever since I saw them. I warmed up, felt great, built to about 85% and started missing and freaking out. I pulled the same numbers over and over and over again. Dropped the weight, built back up again. Over the course of probably two or 3 hours. It wasn’t heavy but I was terrified. Finally I called it quits after not getting anywhere near to what I was supposed to hit. By then, I was so dead and frustrated, I couldn’t even clean and jerk or squat as scheduled. I was so defeated. To top it off, someone at the gym I was in decided it was great to make comments on my weight and body composition… can we just say, a) inappropriate, and b) terrible timing!! So I left in tears.

My coach and team were all out of town at a big meet. Unreachable. And I’m just over here having a melt down over some stupid snatch numbers.

I went home and ate my feelings and then began the search for a sports psychologist. I didn’t want to ever go through that again. I had goals and things to accomplish. I did not have time to stand in front of a barbell afraid. I was in her office the next week working on things.

It’s funny, though because from being in her office, we unearthed some other pretty gnarly things that I’d been burying and not addressing. I’d say from there, that lead me to seeing Gabby and doing all the work we’re doing now. If you’re lucky to know Gabby and what she does, you know it’s as intense as it gets… in a good way.

Who would have ever thought that something silly like snatching would lead me to finally deal with some trauma from childhood and my young adult life? Who would have thought it would encourage me to show up the best I could in my marriage and in motherhood?

I guess, my point is that sometimes when it’s time to make a change it’s not the obvious thing that the universe uses as your cue. Sometimes it’s something totally unrelated. Sometimes we learn the most from the smallest thing in life.

LOVE,

MEL BELL SHEFF