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Fiction

Teri Lynn Miller was 43 years old when her life changed in a most unexpected way after realizing she was catching glimpses of her reflection everywhere she went. And the reflection made her more and more uncomfortable. 

Her distorted image first turned up in a reflection of a car window. She saw it out of the corner of her eye and quickly turned toward it. She stopped and starred for longer than a minute. She brushed her wild curls from her forehead and frowned.  

Teri Lynn had been a stay-at-home mom. Her husband Jim worked as a sales consultant and was gone much of the time. She felt strongly that their daughter, Lacy, needed at least one parent at her disposal, so she made the decision to stop working and stay home. 

At that time it wasn’t a big deal for her to be at home. When Lacy was a baby Teri Lynn was always busy with her and then while she grew up life got even busier.

Teri Lynn was the epidemy of the title stay-at-home-mom. She was the president of the PTA, volunteer room parent, volunteer field trip chaperone. Even at their church she volunteered for all duties that involved what her daughter was doing. 

During Lacy's high school years, Teri Lynn would volunteer to be in the snack stand at the sporting events and chaperone all the school dances. 

Lacy never minded having her mom around, but when she had the chance to fly out of the nest, she sure took the fast track, at least that's how Teri Lynn felt. She was off to college with out another thought. And Teri Lynn was alone.

The next time her distorted reflection caught her attention was in the grocery store. As she walked along the frozen food isle there it was. Starring back at her again, sad and alone. She noticed she was absent mindedly grabbing food she knew she shouldn’t eat. It was comfort for her.

It was Thursday and Jim was out on a sales call very early. Teri Lynn sat at the kitchen island with her coffee and heavy thoughts, alone again. She had nothing to do. No one to take care of. No real friends. All her friends were tied through the PTA or school events she had helped with. Girlfriends weren't something Teri Lynn ever felt like she needed. 

So, she sat in front of her open laptop. She sat so long that the screen went dark and into sleep mode. Before she wiggled her mouse to wake it up, she noticed her reflection again.  

“When did I get so old?” She asked herself with a scowl. “When did my face get so plump?” She said with another scowl.  

“Ugghhh!” She groaned loudly.  

She logged back in and opened her social media while continuing to eat the bag of Doritos, which sat in front of her. She popped over to her sister’s page to see what was new with her nephews. Several states separated the sisters, so they were not able to hang out like they had when they were younger. 

The siblings kept close tabs on each other through Facebook. Always sharing pictures and recipes. 

As Teri Lynn was scrolling past some ads that kept popping up, something else caught her eye. It looked like a flyer for some sort of fitness thing. She had never been one to play a lot of sports or go to the gym regularly, but she had meant to start walking and go to yoga. 

The flyer was bright and caught her eye right away. 

The post read, "Come as you are and leave changed. Hmm." She muttered. 

She read the rest of the flyer and then she went to the hosts FB page to learn more about her and her program. There were some videos and testimonials on the site that really grabbed Teri Lynn's attention. The flyer was for a bootcamp that started the following weekend. 

"Oh my, that's so soon, but I really need to do something like this." 

Teri Lynn did not know what was nudging her to sign up for this crazy fitness bootcamp, but she could not shake the feeling. She signed up and sent the host a message to ask some more questions. 

Her inquiry read, "Hi Tara, my name is Teri Lynn and I'm a mom and wife. My daughter recently left for college and I'm finding out I don't know who I am if I have no one to take care of at home. I'm not overly active and have noticed myself getting heavier. I’d like to possibly start going to the gym more, but I have no idea where to start. I need more accountability for sticking with it. I'm really just hoping to find myself again. I suppose that's the old boring truth for a lot of moms. Dumb I know. Anyway, I hope you have room for me at bootcamp. I would like more info when you can. Thanks, Teri Lynn." 

A response came startlingly quick. Teri Lynn read, "Hello Warrior! Welcome to the rest of your life! Don't ever call yourself boring or dumb my dear Teri Lynn, you are so far from that. We are going to change those negative thoughts into positive self-talk and introduce you to you! Welcome worthy warrior! Look for more info coming soon. I will always make room for those wishing to better themselves. You will be receiving paperwork and more info on how to log into my fitness app and access to our private group FB page. Go look around it and introduce yourself. Talk soon love! Tara

Teri didn't even realize she had called herself dumb and she never thought of herself as someone who was negative. But realized she was feeling very negative lately. 

She jumped when she heard, "What's that?" As her husband walked in with a smirk.

She wasn't expecting Jim to be home so soon, although when she looked at the clock she hadn't realized so much time had past. 

"Oh it's just a fitness thing I joined. I need something to do with all my time."

"Yeah, I guess so, but I would rather go to work than start a “fitness program”." Her husband scoffed with air quotes. 

"It looks like something that could really help me," she quickly defended. "It's more of an overall wellbeing program."

"Oh, excuse me, that sounds better doesn't it." He teased a little too harshly. 

Maybe Teri Lynn just took it to harshly, but she certainly didn't appreciate the sarcasm. She didn't understand why he just couldn't be supportive. 

She decided to forget about that interaction and turned her attention back to the posts she had been reading. She smiled at one in particular. Her mood lightened slightly, but she still wondered why Jim didn't seem to notice she was obviously going through something. 

"Ugggh!" she grunted again and stomped off to bed. 

Just as Tara said it would, the information came the next day and her fitness app was populated with some exercises for her to start. 

Tara left messages and videos in both the app and in the FB page. The crux of it was "Move your body! You need to prepare as much as you can. You did not join a spa group. This bootcamp is designed to break you down and then build you back up! 

That statement scared her a little, but Teri Lynn did her best to complete as many exercises a day as she could and she began planning to meal prep. Everything was new for her, so she did struggle a bit. She had many interactions with her new coach over the app. Teri Lynn really liked that part of the app. The accountability of it. Tara could see what she was doing and encourage her along the way. Even though some of the exercises seemed to be above her skill level, she always felt encouraged. Also, Tara told her not to give up. Any preparation would help her in bootcamp and they would get easier. 

Tara had been through hell in her life and didn't shy away from talking about it. She came out on the other side stronger and finding out who she really was. That's what Teri Lynn hoped to find too. She trusted the words Tara said and was ready. 

On the way to bootcamp that Saturday, Teri Lynn had changed her toon a bit. She now wondered if she'd lost her mind. She thought back and tried to remember when the last time she was this nervous. 

When she arrived, she was welcomed and hurried to set up her chair in the circle of women who were already there. She did recognize a few faces from their FB posts. She didn’t know what to expect at all, so she sat and listened. She listened to the stories of the women she would spend the next 24 hours alongside. She was brought to tears and laughter. Soon it was her turn to get up and tell everyone why she was there. She dreaded public speaking and froze as soon as she stood up. 

Tara walked over and laid her hand on her shoulder and walked with her to the front. She stood right there but didn't say a word. Teri Lynn suddenly realized a strength she hadn't known before. She felt a burning inside her stomach. She soon was able to open up and told the group about her struggles as a woman, as a mother, and as a wife. She told about her daughter leaving and how empty she felt. Her husband had his job and hobbies and friends and she had no one. She didn't really know why she had signed up, but she felt a really strong connection when she read the flyer. 

"I don't know who I am." She said so plain and simple. "I don't know what I like to do and I have no idea what I'm going to do now, I've only been a wife and mother. I wanted to do something just for me, so I guess that's why I signed up." 

Everyone clapped and Tara began to speak. All through the motivation speak Teri Lynn sat captivated by Tara's testimony. 

As the next session began, she realized it was time for exercise. Again, Teri Lynn started to panic. But she quickly realized that what Tara had her begin with did prepare her for the movement her body was experiencing. Although it was far more intense than what she'd done at home. 

Sweat rolled down her forehead and stung her eyes. Her arms burned. She doubted she could do another. When her arms began to quiver, she groaned. She did one more pushup but didn't make it all the way up. She pulled herself up on her knees and waited for direction on the next set but realized that it was over for now. 

The crowd began to walk back over to the chairs that still sat in a circle. "Now we are going to work on some mental aspects of this journey." Tara stated. She pulled out a box and started to hand out mirrors. All of the women looked around at each other and one pipped up saying, "I thought we weren't at a spa weekend?" 

"Ha ha!" Tara laughed. "It's definitely not that. We’re going to practice some selflove techniques throughout the next 24 hours. I'll be bringing these out and we'll do our mirror work." 

All the ladies looked confused, so Tara went on to explain more. "I have some selflove sentences that I want you to repeat while looking in the mirror. I’m going to take this box out at different times during the night. I want you to keep doing this over and over during our time together, because I want you to be able to look into that mirror and honestly say I love you and mean it." 

Teri Lynn rolled her eyes and looked down. “Oh, great more reflections!

“She muttered under her breath. She had had enough of her distorted reflection lately. Now this crazy trainer wanted her to stare into the mirror and say I love you? 

The paper with the sentences came to Teri Lynn. She quickly read through her sentences and gave the mirror back without starring into it. She knew what would be starring back at her and she didn’t like it. Tara simply smiled and they moved on to the next activity. 

To Teri Lynn's surprise, activities rotated all night long. Although time did pass quickly throughout the night she started to feel very drained and her tank seemed to run empty. And Tara didn’t lie, she brought out those mirrors every time Teri Lynn thought she couldn’t do any more. She wanted to give up and go to bed. Tears dampened her face and her appointed partner Sara, sat beside her saying encouraging words. "Come on Teri Lynn, you can do this. You're doing this for you, don't give up." 

The words clicked for Teri Lynn and she suddenly caught a second wind. She started to realize that she had given up on herself for her family. She let her needs and dreams fall away, so they could thrive in what they did. She wasn't angry about it, she loved those years, but now it was time for her to soar. She found the energy to push through the last few pushups in the set. She was about to drop for good when Tara announced that the physical portion was over. 

"Look over my shoulder and through those trees. Do you see that sunrise? Did you ever think you would see that sunrise? You should be so damn proud of yourselves!" Tara shouted. "I am proud of you! We have just a few more things to work on and then we'll have some breakfast." 

Teri Lynn knew she should be drop dead exhausted. In fact that’s how she felt when she thought there was more physical activity to do. But right then she felt exhilarated. 

Tara grabbed the box of mirrors and began to hand them out like she had several times during the night. 

Teri Lynn quickly took her mirror and beamed at the reflection in the mirror. During the night, each time she would read through the sentences and hand the mirror back unaffected. 

This time was different. She felt an acute sense of accomplishment. She smiled while looking at her image. Then she blurted out, "I love you, Teri Lynn!" Sara walked over and hugged her. Then Tara walked over and hugged her and the others followed. 

The purpose she had been looking for was now realized. She still had plenty of questions, but no more doubts. She knew she could do anything, because she wouldn't give up trying.

Dedicated to my coach! I am forever indebted to you, Tara!

July 20, 2021 20:21

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9 comments

Charlie Murphy
16:19 Jul 26, 2021

What an inspirational story! I loved Tara Lynn's character arc. I kind of predicted the camp was going to be evil, but you surprised me. Great job!

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20:51 Jul 26, 2021

Thank you so much Charlie! This means a lot to me. Glad you enjoyed it.

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Charlie Murphy
21:09 Jul 26, 2021

You're welcome. Can you read mine?

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22:21 Jul 26, 2021

Yes of course!

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22:21 Jul 26, 2021

Yes of course!

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22:21 Jul 26, 2021

Yes of course!

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Palak Shah
17:21 Aug 11, 2021

Nice story, I like how you presented the main character. It was great. Well done :)) Could you please read my latest story if possible? :))

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17:38 Aug 02, 2021

What a great story, with a likeable main character. Great job!

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