"Don't wait. Start Now."
Meet Virginia Christman. She’s a 37-year-old University Chaplain living in North Carolina with her husband Allen. Virginia is also an artist and a Crossfitter who inspires us with her willingness to keep it real by sharing her most authentic self and welcoming the same from the people around her.
We talk to Virginia about learning from (and even embracing) life’s ups and downs. We also talk about:
- Dealing with people on a REAL level.
- Knowing your own goals and being true to them.
- Freedom that comes from new perspectives on lifelong struggles.
DTGS Founder, Lizzy, gets the privilege of asking Virginia a bunch of questions and better yet, calling her a friend. Okay, here we go…
Lizzy: To get started, can you get people up to speed on who you are — you know, the highlights?
Virginia: 37, Married/Partnered, ENFP on the Myers Briggs, 6 on the Enneagram, University and Hospital Chaplain, Ordained Minister in PC(USA), louder than I mean to be, more honest than I mean to be, shorter than I meant to be (my mom always said that I’d be taller, since my feet are so big), less fertile than I meant to be (I was also always told that I had child-bearing hips — but the uterus doesn’t work!)
Lizzy: What does a day in your life look like?
Virginia: M-F I work as University Chaplain, lots of counseling and emotional work with college students and lots of interfaith and religious programming for the university community.
Lizzy: What’s good about it?
Virginia: I get to deal with people on a REAL level — full selves are welcome and desired in my presence and that is life-giving to me. And I’m trained to be an agitator, to ask questions about harmful systems and to call people to learn, grow, evolve individually and as a group
Lizzy: I love everything about that. So, what’s hard about it?
Virginia: I’m uncomfortable most of the time. I feel like people must think I enjoy questioning everything and causing disruption. I don’t. I’d really rather sit at home and watch TV or play outside, but I can’t. I don’t always know why I can’t just shut up and let things happen, but my mouth won’t stay shut when my brain recognizes injustice. I know it’s a good thing, but it can be really hard and I get really tired.
Lizzy: What do you strive for in life?
Virginia: To live with integrity. To ever-widen my circles of care. To stay hopeful about God and life even when everything looks like it’s turning to sh*t. Other people who have suffered WAY more than I ever will have remained hopeful and life-giving — I want to be that too.
Lizzy: When do you feel most like yourself?
Virginia: Truthfully, about an hour after a Crossfit workout when I’ve showered, am eating something yummy and get to make art for a few hours. Also, when I’m outside.
Lizzy: What was an influential time in your life?
Virginia: I have a long history with major depression/anxiety that started in college. When I first wanted to try to get pregnant, I knew I needed to change the medicine I was taking and began that process under the care of a fabulous psychiatrist who specialized in working with women with mood disorders who wanted to conceive children. The process of changing medicines took way longer than we planned and for two years I was simultaneously working as a Chaplain at a cancer hospital while dealing with monthly medicine changes that really left me struggling internally much of the time.
I learned through those two years that I don’t have to feel good to do good and that my depressive brain doesn’t have to be the boss of me. In a sense, I have learned how to tolerate depression and anxiety in a new way and I am so grateful for that, because it will likely be a part of my life for the duration of my life but I now know it doesn’t have to control my life. This is incredibly freeing.
Lizzy: Where do you turn for inspiration?
Virginia: People who suffer well, Richard Rohr, Glennon Melton, my counselor, Anne Lamott, Comedians (Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler), Dodi Darrow when I just need a good kick in the pants.
Lizzy: How do you feel about the health and fitness of your life? 3 feeling words!
Virginia: Up, down, repeat — It’s such a cycle. I almost NEVER actually want to work out and honestly have a lot of anxiety before difficult workouts, so there are a lot of internal battles on the way to working out. But the feeling afterwards is euphoric for me most of the time and that keeps me coming back.
I know I need structure, a team atmosphere, and competition. Those are the three keys to getting me moving. I have a much harder time with food because I have no interest in cooking and really don’t want to spend the time or energy on it. I try to follow Michael Pollan’s mantra: Eat food, mostly plants, not too much.
Lizzy: How has health and fitness looked at different times or in different seasons of your life?
Virginia: I used to run but my knees decided that wasn’t the plan anymore. I’ve been doing Crossfit for 4 years but rarely more than 2 times a week. And I set the rules — I do not let them pressure me into higher weights. I know what my goals are and they aren’t to always PR and to always do what’s prescribed. I try to push myself in certain ways, but I would never last at Crossfit if I got on the bandwagon and felt the need to do it all the time like so many do. I’m steady and that’s what works for me.
Lizzy: What’s important to you about your physical space and physical self?
Virginia: I like simplicity, I don’t want to spend a lot of money on stuff, but Allen and I do buy a lot of art.
Lizzy: What’s one positive change or habit you have made recently or would like to make to benefit your real life?
Virginia: I was an art major in college but didn’t make almost any art after I graduated. I was super discouraged about this for years but last year I made a LOT of stuff. I had to find a way to make art that fits with my current reality and I am so pleased to have started in that direction.
Lizzy: Who helps you on your journey?
Virginia: Allen is the steady eddy in my life and we have so much fun together. For all the motivation I lack, he keeps me moving and involved in interesting things. I’ve got a group of girlfriends from grad school that make me laugh and also help me figure myself out. Then I have a few parent figures that are essential and on speed-dial.
Lizzy: What’s something you want more of in your life in 2017?
Virginia: We are going to be licensed as foster parents this year, so I want more kids in my life in 2017!
Lizzy: What’s something you foresee being hard about 2017?
Virginia: Those kids in my life.
Lizzy: What’s something you’re looking forward to in 2017?
Virginia: Maternity leave for a kid I didn’t have to make — I don’t know how women physically pull off childbirth and parenting at the same time.
Lizzy: Do you have any tips or advice for someone like you who is pursuing health and fitness on their own terms?
Virginia: I can get really caught up in big plans that are always going to start tomorrow or next week, but I really just do best when I get up and get moving right now — don’t wait, start now — it’s one of my favorite things about DTGS.
That's it! Thanks to Virginia for sharing her story.