By Cosette Strong
In this edition of our interview feature series conducted monthly across a virtual platform, I will give you a window into chats with Clem as he shares his thoughts about a number of things, namely 2020s impact on our mental, emotional and physical well-being and the ways we can continue to exercise self-care. This interview took place via a virtual video chat while I was in Pickerington, Ohio and Clem was in Florida.
Cosette: With the mental and emotional and even physical wear and tear that 2020 brought about, how much more important do you feel it is for everyone to take care of their own health and well-being while navigating these uncertain times?
Clem: Well. . . It was always important, you know, to think about. But – it wasn’t something that was on the forefront of my mind when we were busy. [laughs] I would use going to work as my gym time: pushing cases, lifting projectors, flipping them… Or when I was still shooting games, sitting on the court with that camera – that 30-pound weight on my shoulder – that was my core exercise time. That was the only time when I was intentional or dedicated to working out. On the road, others would build in that time and be intentional about prioritizing it.
Cosette: But you didn’t?
Clem: [looks briefly at the screen] No… no, I didn’t. I wasn’t working out the way I wanted but I realized I needed to shift my mindset. But – COVID happened – we’re not going out; we’re not doing things. I still knew I needed to do something. I started doing these virtual workouts with a personal trainer, Coach Dee. (smiles) We kind of collaborated on creating these virtual workouts. We’d do them on Facebook every Wednesday morning. I would set up the computer, stream it live on Instagram and Facebook and there I was, like… so vulnerable. [Clem’s eyes meet mine and we share a laugh] I was dripping in sweat, out of breath, but like, pushing through. I had to create an avenue for someone else to be able to be exposed to this opportunity.
Right before the pandemic when things were slower, I did have a gym membership – I’d go at 5:30 in the morning and then things shut down, I still wanted to stay in that habit. It became a thing, people started joining in – maybe not calling in and working out live with us – but some people were actually watching on Facebook and working out with us. That was really cool.
[Clem stops for a full 30 seconds, reflecting. Then he continues.]
Clem: I guess it was really about trying to be there for people – thinking… we may be depressed in our current situations and have to give up the financial side of a gym membership but here’s something we can do together. We can move together and take our minds off of the chaos happening outside of our four walls, or even within our four walls.
It’s just about building that community one way or another… It started with me figuring out how to take care of myself, and it evolved into me trying to help take care of others and help them figure out how to take care of themselves.
Cosette: [nods] Ok, but what about the mental and emotional lift? What were/are you doing to maintain that well-being in your life? What would you advise others to lean into?
Clem: I’ve always liked to connect with other people and talk through my emotions. Not everybody is able to do that or wants to do that. If that’s not you, it’s fine. Isolate yourself and take the time to do that to manage it. If you want to talk it out, that’s fine too. Find that trusted person to talk it out and confide in.
[FLASHBACK | May 2020:
As news continued to swirl about what COVID-19 was and what it wasn’t, I found my mental and emotional health and well-being taking a toll. In addition to deciding to take some action and obtain my Coaching certification, I also decided to seek some assistance from a mental health practitioner. I needed to sort through my emotions, and I needed to progress. I knew I couldn’t do it on my own. Deciding to get help was hard because I had to admit that I couldn’t do it myself, but it was truly one of the best things I did during the pandemic.]
Clem: There are many ways I try to deal with it… going for a walk, opening my mind to nature, listening to music… focusing on the words and the rhythm. I encourage everyone to find that for themselves – find that inspiration, motivation whether in yourself or reading someone else’s story and connecting with that. [pauses] It’s really about knowing you can be that for yourself as well as for others.
Cosette: What would you tell the person who doesn’t have intrinsic motivation and drive? What about the person who’s still experiencing the strong fallout of 2020 – someone who’s lost and struggling to find what that balance looks like?
Clem: [looks squarely at the screen.] Ask for help. Find a resource. [sighs] I mean… you can go to www.CLEMCO.net and try to connect with someone. Find a relative, someone to confide in. Some people write. Find a way to sit still and search, find the peace. I know sometimes it’s hard because it takes work, and the thing is. . . no one can explain that to you. You have to find the answer for yourself – you have to find what works for you. I truly believe that if you take the time, you’ll realize the answer lies within you.
Cosette: What was that process like for you?
Clem: It started when I got tired of failing. [shakes his head] I got tired of feeling like a failure. There was an isolation period I went through when I was traveling on the road and doing shows. I started connecting and listening to others and confiding in them. We’d sit and talk and laugh and enjoy each other’s company, but I also took moments to dig a little bit and find the answers I needed. It took a long time, probably about a year … and then after curating all of the information, I took time to begin to just understand and look at myself – that information and my process helped me realize I wasn’t going along the path I wanted to go down. That’s what helped me understand the path I needed to create. That’s what helped me move forward.
Cosette: And how long did you navigate that road?
Clem: I’d say another year. Now, as we come up on this year – a full year of being in a global pandemic – I have been thinking about what I’ve done with my time. I hope to be out of this soon, but thinking about what to take from this experience to align, re-align, create, re-create my life on the other end of this.
Cosette: [nods] OK, I get that. So, now that you’re on the other side of this, what words would you use to describe the before and the after?
Clem: I’d tell myself this shit is hard, but I’m determined to make it through.
If I’m in it I’d tell myself this is hard. If I’m going into it, I’d say this is going to be hard.
If I’m halfway through, I’d tell myself I’m gonna make it, or I’d say we’re gonna make it.
Lastly, if I’m on the other side, I’d say we made it! I’d say look at what we’ve done! I’d say let’s keep moving forward!
Cosette: If you could go back is there anything you’d do differently?
Clem: [Clem answers without hesitation.] No, because I wouldn’t be where I am today if I did. I wouldn’t be connected to the people I’m connected to. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Over this last year, we’ve been building. Building patience. Building resilience. Building strength. Building courage. And it’s important that we continue to build and care for ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally so that we’re prepared for what’s coming next, and so we can be strong as we leverage our gifts to face future challenges. Join me next month as Clem and I chat about gifting and how knowing what your gifts are can help with being fulfilled in work and in life.