Sam’s Challenge

Last October I began a journey, one in truth begun, achieved and abandoned many, many times over the course of my 60 years. A journey to better health and self-confidence, an important one to be sure, and glory-be these months later, one I am still positive and happy to be on. It is, however, a journey started on a whim and for a supremely silly reason: a television show called Outlander.

Outlander is a historical drama, with elements of romance and sci/fi, that chronicle the lives of a time traveling woman and her Highlander husband. I could wax poetic about the plot ( based on a hugely successful series of books by Diana Gabaldon ), the production ( by Battlestar Galactica writer/producer Ronald Moore ) or the locations and photography ( Matt Roberts in Scotland !!!! ), the costuming ( Terry Dresbach ), but the truth that actually set my foot on this new journey is much simpler than that ( if not a bit more embarrassing ) : the lead actor, Sam Heughan.

As I said, I am 60 and said actor is half that age, but this new found drive is not based on something as simple or limiting as lusting from a distance, although there are some elements of that ( I am a woman after all….) it is more of what he represents; strength, vitality, an exuberance in striving for physical health while at the same time taking great joy in the process, and shamelessly sharing the results. To top things off, according to those close to him, he is a genuinely nice guy and a bit of a clown, which of course adds to his stature in my opinion. I am not alone here either, as tens of thousands of fans appear to concur.

So how does one make the leap from the sedentary lifestyle of celebrity fandom to the polar opposite life choice of hiking boots, ever increasing elevation gains and strength training? Simple : Sam’s Silly Selfies. Sam would post a picture on social media, running a triathlon, mountain hiking, wearing his favorite workout gear in a gym, or some insanely gorgeous landscape shot that he actually had to physically get to to take the picture. Once posted, these shots would fly from one Twitter and Instagram account to thousands of them, fans would squee and swoon, sending them on to an ever increasing fan base. A remarkable marketing strategy for an actor, truly. I believe, however, that something quite unexpected and a bit remarkable happened.

A certain section of the fan base picked up the ( perhaps ) unintended message from Sam’s selfies; that being fit and strong, physically active and having a willingness to push oneself beyond a comfort zone could just possibly bring a bit more happiness in life. Of course nothing about that is news to anyone, and everyone agrees in principal as well, but making that leap from couch potato to active participant in life requires more than just knowledge, it requires a serious push. For many Outlander fans, of which I am proudly one, that push became Sam Heughan.

Fans across the globe began posting their own selfies, chronically their workouts, struggles, goals and progresses. @SamHeughan, @BearStrength, @F1ghtCamp addresses began to dominate fan feeds, leading to ever growing numbers of fans to fitness sites. Groups, like @BAMstrength and @OutlanderFit began to coalesce and their memberships grew as the inactive sought out the support of the active. Enthusiasm and motivation flew around the fans groups, people began moving. Sam noticed and My Peak Challenge was launched.

I am not privy to the whys and hows of how My Peak Challenge came into being, or where it all might be headed, but it feels like a positive thing. My Peak Challenge’s purpose, as I understand it, is to provide members with support and motivation, to provide an atmosphere of challenge and encouragement, to be a community for those who are athletes and those who seek to be more athletic. These are extremely early days but I think that Sam and his team can bring their expertise, enthusiasm and support to those of us who are willing to do the work, in order that we can all be successful, no matter our sport or level of ability. As in all things of course money is involved, currently there is a small signup fee for membership, from which Sam’ s chosen charity, Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research @beatbloodcancers, receives a donation and the new member a get some swag. There also appear to be a couple of companies involved on some level, to share the start-up costs and those profits, if any, down the road. How all of this will play out is still taking shape. I just know that it feels positive to me and I am in. If it cost a little bit of money, well so do gyms, personal trainers and workout gear even if one were not participating in a program such as My Peak Challenge. Add to that the charity aspect and I say money well spent!

There is already an army of participants flooding Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with their workout sessions, goals and plans for the first challenge scheduled to take place in March. The enthusiasm is high and the momentum is building, it feels fun and exciting to be a part of, and that is what a push is all about, right?

So, if I were speaking directly to Sam, I would say that I set my foot on my first trailhead after more years than I care to admit because he posted a picture of himself bagging a munro and I fell in love. Not with him ( well maybe just a little…) but with a landscape, any landscape actually, as long as I had to work to get there. I fell in love with the notion that to achieve something beyond my comfort zone would bring me to a new level of emotional fulfillment while experiencing this wonderful life of mine. And lastly, I fell in love with the thought that maybe, just maybe, at the end of my days I could look back and say, ” Well lived Rebecca, and well finished!”

Thanks Sam.

Sam Heughan and the 60 Year Old Fan Girl

OK, that was embarrassing to even write. Not the Sam Heughan part of course, he’s perfect. It is the other part that makes me cringe, and want to immediately change the title. Yet, if I did that, then why even write this piece? A dilemma to be sure, but what is a bit of embarrassment, huh, in the pursuit of a small personal truth? So, here goes, and by the way if you were hoping for a Sam exposé of some sort you can stop reading now.
This piece is about me, the 60 year old fan girl.

There have been others you know, before Sam; Russell Crowe was a big one ( at least up to the time he threw a phone at some poor desk clerk), and Mel Gibson ( before he went batshit crazy ) for another. So this is not a new experience, this dark theater kind of adoration, but it is strangely different and I have to blame JAMMF (James. Alexander. Malcolm. MacKenzie. Frazier. ) for that. You see, for all that Sam is a beautiful and extremely talented man, swoon worthy is his own right to be sure, he has become the face and voice of Jamie Frazier who IS the world’s MOST perfect man. This is were it gets all confused and demented, because it is the older Jamie that I dote on, you know the ‘Fiery Cross’ Jamie. So, while Sam is Jamie, I keep waiting for poor Sam to mature into the Jamie I long to see. Do you see? Now here is the strangest part of this whole business; my complete and utter lack of Sam lust. Do not roll your eyes, 60 year old women love sex and lust after others, it is a fact. But as beautiful and alluring as Sam is, it is his Jamie that draws my attention, not his Sam-ness. So I look at Sam, see a future Jamie and then get all heart fluttery and distracted. It is nuts!

So, in admitting that I lust for Jamie ( crazy in and of itself I know ) who now and forever will look like Sam Heughan, I am also admitting that I am indeed a 60 year old Sam Heughan fan girl (woman damn it!!! ) fuck the embarrassment, I’ll get over it. Oh and Sam, if you ever read this, when we get to the ‘Fiery Cross’ Jamie…… I might have to revise my position on the whole lust thing, just a heads up.

I Did Not Blink

Mortality stared me in the face this morning and I did not blink. Strange feeling that, to acknowledge your fragility and then to move pass the moment with just the barest of pauses. Life goes on today, for most, for me, but not for some. It was an old lover that died last night, opening the door to Mortality’s gaze. Then this morning the door was flung wider still by the suicide of a family member.

The old lover and I had not been close for more years than I am willing to acknowledge out loud, but we did keep tab on each other’s life through the ubiquitous social media thing. So the “RIP” posts caught me up short, causing me to sit back in my chair with a pang of sadness and unease. He was younger than I. The family member was an in-law, more like a friendly face at family gathers than any real emotional connection, but still people I love loved him, making his death matter. He was just five years older than I.

Bracketed, and thus identified as a potential. Sobering. But I did not blink, I put on my boots, picked up my staff and out the door I went, just another morning’s walk; two miles out, two miles back. Yet, I now know the closeness of my own Mortality, felt its eye pass over me. I did not blink, but know now with a new certainty that each breath is a blessing and every wave to my neighbors as I walk a statement that until the last breath I am here and I will not blink.