Reclaiming My Fire by Mash Mafia’s Kristin Pope

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I have been known by my peers for not as long as i can remember but for the better part of my life as the “crazy” one, the “wild” one, the “risk taker”, the “free spirit”, the “untamed” but I didn’t realize how to embrace this description until I was recently forced to. Literally…that is the word that comes to mind is “forced”. I was “forced” to embrace who I really am within the last 2 months. I up and moved after 25 years living happily in the great Peach State (Georgia)…Everything and everyone I know and love has always been in Georgia. Born & raised southern & slightly spoiled Georgia girl decides she is going to move to rural North Carolina to go play Lady Weightlifter. I thought this was going to be the answer to this moment in my life feeling like… “what now?” But here is the thing…life doesn’t give you answers. You have to make them for yourself. I find myself simply embracing chaos. I live with 3 male roommates that are all a part of the Mash Mafia, & I am the only lifter chick on the Senior team. That in itself should paint a nice picture of my new lifestyle. When i first got here i could not adapt. I was set in my ways. I liked my platform back home with the cool little “G” painted on it. I liked being able to have lunch with my mom or girlfriends any day of the week. I liked never getting lost or going the wrong way for miles down the interstate. I liked having a job I had been at for 4 solid years with relationships within that job that are irreplaceable. It took walking away from some of these things for me to realize just how good i had it. Forever I love Atlanta. My “home” is always going to be the place I feel most comfortable. A month in to this adventure I had to realize that I am not trying to replace those feelings but I am here to create new ones. I am here to establish new relationships, learn new things, and most importantly pursue my passion and make something of myself. I won’t lie, I cried more tears in the first month here than I have in my entire life. I was literally miserable. Missing my closest friends that have also moved away, missing my family, missing out on football games, missing my kids i coached, missing “my” platform at The Garage, missing old relationships, missing old coaches, missing “home”. Travis sat me down one day and told me that I will never regret this adventure, that no matter what I will look back and be glad I did something that is this hard. He told me that when I look back on my life, as he does, one day i will get to say “I risked it all to follow my dreams”. So after several weeks of getting nothing accomplished I took a trip home. I lifted by myself at my home gym and had to fall in love with the feeling that Weightlifting gives me when I am that beat down all over again. It is very hard to explain but something Weightlifting does for me is that no matter what is going on, when you feel your absolute worst…picking up a heavy loaded barbell can somehow make you feel a level below that “rock bottom”. It can get worse…because you could give up. It reminds you that it isn’t going to lift itself. That if you feel like you have nothing left to give, that you could to give up. But you don’t. We don’t. We pick that shit up. And then we do it again. And again. And again but heavier. And more reps. And then at some point during this torture on our bodies, we feel whole again. I feel whole again. The barbell reminds me that I am alive. That i am in control. That i am powerful, and strong, and smart, and fast, and graceful. My alone time with the barbell has gotten me through some very difficult days and this period of change isn’t going to be any different. The things I have heard as I have been developing this year into a weightlifter race through my head again daily: “get back under the bar” “thoughts become things” “love your life or change it” “stop doing that dance” haha. I found my fire again. In the past month I have grown leaps and bounds as a lifter. My technique is vastly improved. My squat strength has shot up. My speed under the bar on snatches is exponentially increased. I am training without missing on days we only hit certain percentages. I am loving the grind. I love my coach. I love my gym. I love “my” new platform. I love my teammates even though we spend way too much time together and get on each other’s nerves. I love the journey I am on. I am thankful for my struggle because I feel how much stronger it is making me day by day. I am a better person for taking this leap of faith, I am no longer weak. I know what I am capable of. Today I snatched 81kg off of the blocks and this past weekend I hit a PR Clean & Jerk in a meet that I have been anxiously awaiting for months. I have decided to believe in my own passion. I had to accept that I love this sport enough to embrace some heartache, to leave people behind, to cut out bad habits, to live a different way, to face my fears head on. One day Travis said to me “I love having you around because I never know what to expect, you are going to keep me young”. I am finally living up to that ‘free spirit” and “crazy” “wild” “independent’ nature everyone has always spoken of that i have. Everything you need is already within yourself, sometimes you just have to look harder to find it. I am creating my own kind of happiness. I am giving myself the answers. … & one day i will wear a National medal around my neck. #idowhatiwant

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