Blog

awareness, perspective

Struggles

Everyone has struggles in life. Some dwell on them while other move past them. Sometimes struggles are magnified and lead to homelessness. Maybe not any one reason gets that person to such a state but there is a homeless population.

Some have drug and alcohol riddled backgrounds. Others may have some bad luck and financial woes. There may even be criminals lurking to hide out. Whatever the case they are human beings living through a struggle of life.

This past week I visited a homeless shelter. It was a big one and I came around the time where many were loitering outside in the cold. I stuck out like a sore thumb. I was a dressed in business attire for my work- related visit. How I felt the pit in my stomach as I strutted by those not as fortunate as me.

I heard comments about my shoes, my jacket and so on. It was a humbling experience before I even got in the door. Once I got in the building I had to clear the metal detector and other safety measures. Something I didn’t even think was needed but that shows you how naive I am.

The lobby was full of a diverse group of people. I could share my mental picture in this post however I’m opting to keep it to myself as I think many need to experience a visit for themselves to appreciate what they have and offer kindness to others.

I was escorted to the second floor on this day. I was meeting with 50 men working to better themselves through a residential program. Each had their own stories and struggles that they will soon overcome. Each was blessed to be in the program. Each was making strides today for a better tomorrow.

It was a great experience. I met some people who may not have otherwise crossed my path. My experience gave me many things to think about.

How many will graduate the program?

How many will relapse?

How many will end up in jail?

How many will not live to tell their story?

How many will help others?

How many people don’t ever get the chance to spend time with people who are trying to better themselves, to go from hopeless to hopeful? 

I will never know the answers to these questions. What I will know is I worked to improve communities today. I was kind. I extended an olive branch to others. I provide valuable information to others and my hope is that at just one received my message. The point of this post is just one. Just one person can make a difference. Just one person impacted can then make another difference. The domino effect impacts positive change. Positive actions are free. We all have the ability to offer hope and kindness to others less fortunate than us.

Never lose sight of who you are, where you came from, your life struggles and how you can impact others. I share my story today to help anyone near or far who needs hope. 

dare to be different

Let Your Freak Flag Fly

I love a theme.

And I love that I have friends that will embrace a theme.

For birthdays, Christmas parties, the CrossFit Open, or just a February Saturday, we choose a theme and run with it. 80s, Superheroes, Country, 70s, Retro Fitness, Fancy Tea Party, College Colors, ‘Merica, Roaring 20s, 80s Prom, themes make it fun, at least for me. They let my imagination run out to play.

When I first started CrossFit, I was a capri and very long flowy 2XL tank top kind of girl. I tried to hide in plain sight. I wouldn’t wear shorts at all. Now I’m all about patterned booty / bicycle shorts, even in the dead of winter. I like some color, I like some spice. They make me smile. My friends at the gym inspired me to just wear them, be comfortable, and have fun. I don’t really care what anyone else thinks. If you’re offended, look elsewhere!

Do I get looks when I go to the grocery store wearing my mermaid shorts and open-back tank? Yup. But, what other people think of me is none of my business. This is a huge mindset shift for me.

Same goes for our theme parties. When it was time for roaring 20s night, I tried on so many flapper dresses and none of them felt right. So I dragged out my high school drum major uniform. We did a Cole Porter show way back in 1995 and I wore a pinstriped zoot suit with paisley suspenders. Miraculously it fit, so in a sea of flapper dresses I was the woman in a suit. I held my breath when I walked in to the restaurant, wondering what other people would think when they saw me. Then I walked through the tables and realized it didn’t matter. How did I feel? Honestly, under the nerves I felt kinda sassy, a little fresh, and way more comfortable than in a dress. Now I embrace being different in situations like this.

The other night at a birthday party our theme was retro sports / fitness. We were going out to play a physical and competitive game. Most of us are CrossFit folks, so we all have our share of fitness wear. But retro…hm. Then conversations led to “athletes vs. mathletes” (and I clearly fall into the latter category.) As with many themes, I just like to have fun with them. Thinking of the 70s and bright colors, I picked some rainbow sweatbands, white shorts with rainbow trim, and a retro NASA shirt (for the mathlete) with a rainbow background. Oh yeah, and tube socks. Did I look silly? Yes. Did I fit the theme? Yes. I felt eyes on me in the restaurant but after my initial self-consciousness I didn’t really care. Yes, I realize that some people identify rainbows with the LGBTQIA community. I am an ally and have no fear of being seen or known that way. And again, what other people think of me is their business. I honestly do not care. Let em look! Let em think whatever! Moving on!

It brought back memories…I had a wild streak in high school and college that eventually faded away under piles and pounds of conformity and conservatism. Only in the past handful of years have I started to embrace my individuality again. My personality and identity not just in relation to others…as a mom, as a daughter, as a spouse…instead, really just my personality within myself. Who I am. Me.

I ran around and looked silly. I had fun and embraced my goofy side. I was just in the moment, letting my freak flag fly! Thankfully I have friends who join me in that.

Be who you are! As unconventional and unique as that might be. Be yourself out loud! You never know who is watching and feeling encouraged, emboldened, even a little less alone. Someone in your circle may be buried under the weight of other people’s expectations. Hiding their light. You never know who is inspired by you embracing who you are. Many don’t have that courage or are looking for it.

Let your freak flag fly!

perspective

People Post

It’s no secret I enjoy people in general. I enjoy meeting new people. Talking to people. Building relationships. Socializing.

The list could go on an on. However I thought about a handful of new people I met this month. So many different backgrounds. I enjoyed the varying spirits, energies, attitudes, etc. It confirmed again how much I enjoy people generally. And in today’s world how genuinely nice people can be despite different backgrounds or ways of life.

Not all of these folks will stick around long term. Some may have a distance between us limiting time spent. Some may be colleagues you see before they shipped off to a new destination. No matter what the circumstances I met new people and learned a few things. How amazing is that.

These kind of relationships are exciting. Noteworthy. Maybe even blog material quality, hence this post. Then there are those folks in your life that just seem to be stuck there. Lurking in the shadows. Like flies on shit or worse. The ones you want to go away. Maybe even far away but they just linger like a bad smell. A stench!

At times I have maybe two of those floating nearby for one reason or another, but right I now I have four crazies lurking in my vicinity. These four individuals alone may not be so annoying or demotivating, however,  combined they are a toxic cocktail. A mix nobody would ever order up. If these four had a cocktail drink named after them it would be called ‘sewer water’. Hopefully you catch my drift that I’m not fond of any of these characters.

This is really odd to me since I generally get along with everyone or anyone I choose to communicate with. Funny thing is I have no desire to speak, socialize or mingle in any way with the sewer water crew as I’ve named them! For me it’s a tough pill to swallow that I have to say I am not fond of people because I actually adore people in general.

The world today has a unique backdrop. A pandemic. Most folks have never lived through one and I can see some may be sour to an extent because of these extenuating circumstances. However, some people are just negative Nellies and they are unable to see in the mirror just how unapproachable or unbearable it is to be around them.

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink. I guess I will leave on the note that I can’t make every sour patch person like others. I can just make a conscious choice to walk away from negative people. 
Taking the high road is also better than joining the ranks of the complainers of the world. Life is too precious to let others steal your joy but if you are a negative Nelly or sour puss open your eyes! You may be surprised what comes your way if you are kind.

Kindness matters today. 

fitness and nutrition

Max Mentality, Part 2

I’ve written before about my inability (or unwillingness) to hit my max effort. I instinctively shy away from redlining. Sending it. Whatever you want to call it.

My comfort zone is running along between 60-80 percent most days. It’s my sweet spot. My happy place. I don’t feel out of control there. I’m putting in work but I can keep going. And frankly, I can stay at that place (and that pace) for a long time. Long endurance work is my strength over short sprints at high intensity. I’m much more turtle than rabbit.

I listened to our box’s CrossFit podcast the other day and they were talking about the upcoming CrossFit Open. Our coaches were trying to describe it, to prepare people who haven’t been a part of it before. The Open is CrossFit’s yearly(-ish) community testing event. You can see how you stack up against many others in the sport, and if you’ve been a part of the community for a while, you can see how you are progressing against yourself, year-over-year. For that reason, there’s a special competitive spirit in the Open. You have a judge and more eyes on you than usual. People push themselves to their max. After such punishing workouts, you often see CrossFitters rolling on the floor, struggling to breathe, even throwing up on occasion. If you haven’t witnessed it before, it can be surprising. But to many of us, it’s just another Open workout at the box. Just with extra sweat and a DJ.

The coaches took a minute to talk about this and made a point to say, if you haven’t gone to that max space, that rolling-on-the-floor-unable-to-breathe-uh-oh-I’m-gonna-puke place, you should try it. I’m thinking to myself, why does that feel so vulnerable? Like going there would take a special brand of courage I’m not sure I have?

I have been wrestling with what to expect of myself this year. I’ll write about that in depth in another post. But I have noticed that our new programming is giving me opportunities to dip my toe into maxing out. I haven’t “redlined” or “sent it” or thrown up in a conditioning workout. But in small ways I have hit failure. I’ve attempted some lifts lately that I’ve failed on. (Usually I don’t venture close to this point!) One I attempted again after I failed it and made. Another I didn’t. I recorded these weights in my notes, something I haven’t done in a long time. Perhaps that’s a sign that I am ready to get more systematic about keeping track of my progress.

Maybe the most glaring instance happened the other day, when we were working on jumping in skill progressions. We usually do a few broad jumps in warm ups and they are something I feel weaker at compared to many. On this day, we did a series of broad jumps for max distance, then rotated to other movements, then back to broad jumps. We did this several times. Each time I got back to the jumps, I felt better about them. In warmups they don’t feel natural, but working on them a few times did. On my third series of jumps, I really tried to push myself to jump longer. And of course, on the last jump, I landed on my heels then fell back into a roly poly ball on the floor. Nothing like going tail over tea kettle with 20 sets of onlooking eyes. Was I embarrassed? A little. But I also laughed. I smiled as I got up. I realized that I had actually pushed myself beyond my comfort level. So I couldn’t hold the landing? Ok. I know what to work on. A friend told me to engage my core, which I did the next round and didn’t fall. I’ll get better at it, failing forward. Inch by inch. Progress.

A little snapshot of going bigger. It might feel foolish. I might fail. People might see. All part of the doing and growing that this year holds for me. What will I fail at next?

fitness and nutrition

Burpees to Burpees

I finished a challenge a few weeks ago. 1-100 burpees. Starting with 1 on day 1, then adding a burpee to the pile every day for 100 days. It took me 102 days, to be exact. There were several times in the challenge when I missed a day for whatever reason. The workout had too many burpees already, my exercise time was already packed, and so on. (We decided workout burpees didn’t count for the challenge. Talk about some rough days!) Those challenge burpees would roll over to the next day. Once I got to the 70s it was too hard to make up days. So, I just decided it was going to take as long as it was going to take.

At the end, I learned that I am capable of enduring. In the 70s my body started to show wear and tear from all the extra movement. A sore left knee was the big challenge. At some point in there I gave up my pride and stopped jumping back and forward on the burpees. Just step back, chest to deck, step forward, and a hop with a clap on the top (often on one foot to protect my knee.)

At the gym, I would sprinkle them in a handful at a time before class, a few in a break between other movements, and so on. At home, the easiest path was just to set a timer and do them EMOM style…Every Minute on the Minute, until I reached the day’s total.

Did I dread them? Yes, especially as the numbers got relentlessly higher. Did I do them? Yes.

Have you ever had the experience of saying a word so many times it stopped making sense? Burpee was that word over this 100 day challenge. I know people were sick of me talking about them. They were as sick of seeing me do them as I was of doing them. Burpees burpees burpees. Who thought this crap up? What does it even mean? I muttered this hundreds of times while waiting for the next minute to begin.

At the same time, I’m planning our first acres of flowers and our second round of vegetables. Walking through a home improvement store to get some mulch, I see the display of little packets…Burpee seeds. It was a day when I hadn’t done my burpees yet. I felt attacked. Could this be? Burpees are everywhere. Relentless.

In the end, I completed it. A mental challenge as much as a physical one. Written in my book, first challenge of the year completed. What’s next is anyone’s guess, but at least one of the challenges will be the seeds! (Hopefully, that one is prettier!) Any ideas?