challenges, dare to be different

5 Words Fast

Find 5 words quick that sum up your identity. Do the exercise quickly. If you are not done yet, you took too long.

Now that you have five words, drop 2. I bet that was hard.

Drop another word off the list. I bet that was harder.

Now you reached the crossroad! You have two words left. You must drop one more word. What did you choose? Is it accurate?

This a great activity for a family, a work group, a group of lifetime friends, or just your spouse.

I did this within a business setting for a work activity. It was interesting. My word was experience. I liked my outcome. My life experience defines me. These same experiences shape me. This activity was a good one and this why I am sharing.

I did this with my daughter who is a teen. It was confirmation of how she views herself in that awkward life time. I did the exercise with a few others and the outcomes were eye opening for some and predictable for others.

No matter what the outcome, I encourage you to try this exercise on yourself. Pass it on to somebody new. You may learn something cool about yourself and others.

Embrace the awkward and go for it. 5 words. Just five words. Now remind yourself on a calendar for one year from now. See if your five words change.

When you are cooped up for a while and the board games get boring try this activity to shake it up. You can also change the five words to five things you can’t live without given the state we live in currently. Be flexible and remember to revisit this exercise in a year. It will be great to see how your mind may shift in time.

Good luck!

awareness

22 WOD to End Veteran Suicide

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The facts are stark and grim.

Approximately 22 veterans die by suicide each day.  The Official WOD to End Veteran Suicide aims to bring awareness to this issue through fitness and fundraising.

I had seen this event advertised for two years.  But, it always fell during the CrossFit Open which seemed to swallow up mine and my gym community’s attention.  With the Open’s move to the fall months, this year was the year to take the dare and lead the event at my home gym.  This was a challenge for me on multiple levels.

I’ll talk about the logistics in a later post, but for now I just want to honor the event itself, those who participated, and what I learned about the issue behind the event.

Suicide has a personal meaning to me.  My grandmother died by suicide when I was young. Adding insult to memory, I was made to feel shame over and disgust for what she did. I will share that story at some point down the road, but just for that reason, bringing suicide into the light and open conversation has become more important to me in my adult life.

The veteran connection is not as direct for me.  I have immense respect for the military, their families, and the sacrifices they make for my freedom and liberty.  I don’t pretend to know what they go through, but I try to keep learning how to be more aware, ask questions, and listen.

Organizing this event brought me learning I could not have predicted.  It turns out that multiple people in our gym community are veterans themselves who have struggled with PTSD and lost friends and family to suicide.  Opening up conversations about this enabled a new level of connection and empathy in me.

Perhaps the most profound moments of the morning were when, in line with the rules of the workout, we stopped every 22 minutes for 22 seconds of silence, to remember those who have died by suicide. After a morning of logistics, setup, money collection, answering questions, I finally got to do the workout myself. When the moment of silence came, I was overcome with emotion.

I am not a good “off the cuff” speaker. I knew I wanted to say a little something, so I shared this before the workout began. I hope this, along with some photos, gives you a sense of the event. I encourage you to dare to step forward and add your voices and your effort to the causes that matter to you this year.

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Murph, DT, Chad. Names many of us know. The famous hero WODS of CrossFit. Some of the hardest most intense workouts we do in the CrossFit Community.

Today we are here for different names and different heroes. Heroes named Cook, White, Ambrose, Love and many more. These names are all veterans, friends and family of those here today, who have died by suicide. Their stories may be less famous. Their wounds may be less visible. But those wounds are just as real and their loss is just as honorable and deeply felt.

As you go through the movements, many have names underneath them. The names of those friends and family. So think of them as we put for our sweat and effort and resources and attention to their wounds, their suffering, their heroism, and ultimately, to contribute to changing the lives of veterans after they return home. Your efforts today support Operation Ward 57 through their hope and courage programs…these provide service dogs and hotline support to veterans. I know many of us are familiar with the healing that comes with faithful canine companions and a listening ear at the time we need it most.

Our last movement, the sprints, has no name…it is for the many who suffer in silence. Who are still fighting. Who are still running even though they are exhausted, in pain, may feel they have very little left. We dig deep and keep going. So today isn’t for rounds or for reps or for time. Today’s efforts are simply for them.

coaching, inspire

Unexpected Motivation

I’m a coach. I love every bit of inspiring young kids. I enjoy watching them surpass their limits without even noticing. I admire the pure joy when they get better. I like to help kids stay fit early on in life. I like building a team or community with diverse players.

I even enjoy the uglier side of coaching. The side that includes a loss by one point or the athlete that has to overcome a bad performance. These struggles are life lessons and those learning the lessons have no idea how valuable those teaching moments were at that time. That’s the hidden beauty I see and get to experience!

As the high school season is about to start for lacrosse, I get to celebrate my past players when they reach a new level. As I was mid-post I got this heartwarming message from a family I coached for many years who now resides in another state:

Hey there, KK made varsity at her new school. She is thrilled, but you’re still her favorite coach😁😁🥍🥍🥍

Being a coach can be challenging but the rewards definitely fill your emotional tank. I had an experience with a young girl this week that I know from a distance. A few years younger than the group I normally take on, but circumstances allowed her to work with me on a special team. This unlikely pairing yielded unexpected motivation.

A great kid. A coachable kid. A hard worker. These are my favorite players to work with. The ones who are like a sponge. Ready to soak up the knowledge and soar. Maybe it’s the age? Could be since the age I’m normally with has hit puberty and normally has a mind of their own along with opinions and attitudes.

She had many firsts in her time with our team. First goal, new friends, new game rules, new field format, and higher level of competition. She attacked it all with a positive spirit, a smile and an “I can do it” attitude. She exceeded all expectations and she was thankful for her opportunity.

If her successes were not the icing on the cake then what was? What made this player special was she told me she wanted to be an author when she grew up and she knew I was an author. She did her research. She was a fan. Not the fan that wanted your autograph but the fan girl that wanted to know about the writing process. How to make her dream a reality.

How to become a writer is much like being an athlete. You have to keep working to get better. You have to have content to write about. You need to be consistently working hard to improve. You need to evolve.

The smile on her face and mine when we made this connection was the beginning of a new relationship. One of a different kind of mentoring. A challenge that I will look forward to. Motivation for both of us. Inspiration for both of us.

She likes a good plot twist. A murder mystery. A novel with a twist. She is well on her way to hitting her lofty goals as a writer.

When I put my head on my pillow as I write this entry I sigh and say life is good. No money was made in this transaction. No strategic planning was needed. Just raw opportunities to inspire another. If that’s not motivation I don’t know what is.

This weekend I traveled with my team. I was their coach. I had a job to do. What I got in return was memories, motivation and an abundance of inspiration. If I was asked to sum up my coaching experience this weekend in one word, I would say amazing.
Simply amazing.

coaching, dare to be different

Mind Training

Can you train your mind to do things?

I think you can. We all have fears and sometimes our mind makes us think we can’t do something but if we are consistent, determined and persistent a lot can actually get done if we train our mind to think I can.

Let’s look at learning to ride a bike as a child. There is a fear factor involved for most, if not all. I’m sure it has to do with road rash and how much it hurts. I can’t think back to that age but my vague memories tell me it took practice, determination and trust. Trust in my teacher(s).

Then there is learning to drive a car. This fear may fall more towards the teacher rather than the student, but practice, consistency and determination play a part in success or failure. Even how long it takes to master the skill.

For some learning to swim is a challenge. Some don’t get the exposure in their youth and have to battle bigger obstacles to learn to swim or acknowledge they can’t swim as an adult. Kind of weird when you think about it. Nonetheless one has to train their brain to conquer the new skill. Consistent practice, patience, determination all play a role in success or failure.

Conquering fears is a lifelong challenge as fears pop up almost everywhere in life. We have to train our brain to think we can. Show our inner strength and power. Show our resilience and determination. We have to look fear in the eye. We need to train our mind.

What’s also crazy is we have to train our minds while people watch. Around us others are watching and learning too. Some may even be mirroring our behaviors to improve theirs. It could be your kids. It could be your grandkids. Maybe a coworker. Maybe a student in your class. Maybe a neighbor. Any day you could have one or more watchers. Those who watch you. Those who want to learn from you. Those who want to see what makes you tick.

Show them how you train your brain. How you do the things you may not want to. How you can strive to a new level of awesomeness with just a little extra push.

When you power up yourself and those around you great things happen. Strength, positive vibes, compassion and so much more is ignited.

Training your mind is a valuable skill to be able to harness. It’s an indirect form of communication. It’s even more powerful when you can spread that power to others around you.

Escape the ordinary today. Be that influencer. Be bold. Be assertive. Be decisive. Be authentic. Add a little sassy. Maybe some smarts. You will be one hell of a badass!

Just a little whisper in your ear from one badass to another.

family, health

Getting Old Sucks

Getting old sucks on many levels. Your joints hurt. You become less flexible. Your hair either falls out or turns grey. You mobility eventually diminishes. And then your mind starts slipping. What doesn’t suck about all that?

Watching a loved one deteriorate is as debilitating as watching an addict dip deeper into their darkness. You see it in the coloring of their face. You see it in their gait. Maybe even in the speech or memory. You see it in their eyes. You see it. You live it. You hurt because of it. It’s a rippling and crippling effect if you let it consume you.

Its hard to watch whether near or far. Its challenging to not be consumed with the stress and worry as loved ones make hard decisions over and over again. Is it the right choice? Would I make that choice? Was enough money saved to cover the exorbitant care for seniors at a staffed facility? Will the staff take good care of your loved ones or is it more like sending them off to jail?

So many questions. No real answers. I don’t want to grow old for this reason alone. I want to stay as youthful as I can and live every day as if it was my last. In my experience elders of today don’t want to burden their adult children who live busy and hectic lives. I get that but then I think fast forward to when I am old. My kids grew up in a whole different world than I did. Landscape may be the same but the environment is so different. How will my kids handle me when I am older? I don’t even want to know the answer to that.

How will my family react when I reach the age of interventions and difficult decisions? I think it is time for a time capsule of sorts. One that will list my wishes as of today while I am of sound mind and body. Not my will and who gets what in my estate. What I need to remind myself of when its time to make the hard decisions that I might be too emotionally invested in to see the forest for the trees. One that can be a reminder when I am old and stubborn of what it was like when I was faced with the challenges of managing my parents’ future golden years and / or torture years as end of life nears.

Death is never anything one wants to talk about yet it is always something one should be aware of. Sudden death. Accidental death. Tragic death. Natural death. They all lead to the same harsh reality. And there is always a mess to clean up. A funeral. Tidying up of affairs. Settling unfinished business. Coping with the sorrow of loss. Moving on without that person(s). Wishing for just one more day. One more holiday. One more birthday.

I wrote this post before the tragedy involving Kobe Bryant and the others who perished in the helicopter crash (big news story). This would classify as a tragic and unexpected death. One that has lots of suffering for the ones left behind. Tomorrow is never promised. Make sure you tell those around you how important they are to you each and every day. You don’t want to live with the regrets if you are confronted with an unplanned death.

This isn’t a happy or sad post. Rather it is a matter of fact, in-your-face kind of think-out-loud post. One that may make you think of those aging close to you or maybe it may make you think of future planning or maybe it will even have you crying because of your past history. Whatever category you fall into, thanks for reading. This is just my vent to the world as I mutter my way through the life of aging with my once active folks who are now ornery, lonely, troubled, and at wit’s end with what to do next for 101 reasons.

I also thought I would publicly share that when I am old, I plan to be in the Senior Olympics. The event is still undetermined but I do plan to excel in whatever event chooses me. Betty White, an original Golden Girl, turned 98 about the time I wrote this post. The radio referred to her a sex symbol back in her day so I figure I can be a Senior Games athlete in my future. xoxo from cyber space

fitness and nutrition, friendship

I Came for the Cocoa

Seriously, I came for the hot chocolate and the swag bag that has a sweet jacket inside proving I participated. A jacket I have been eying for a few years now.  Unfortunately, I just never got any takers on completing the event with me, until this year. So excited to have earned my jacket. Thankful I get to share the adventure with some amazing people.

Participate in what you ask? The Hot Chocolate 15k road race in Atlanta, GA on a cold day in February. 02-02-2020 to be exact. When I say cold, the temp was a mere 33 degrees. It did warm up tad bit during the race for me to shed a few layers but of course the 60-degree temps didn’t hit until well after the race was over!

The random fun fact about the date of the race is it’s the same forward as it is backwards. Pretty freaky. I can’t take credit for the fun fact as my friend Sarah gave me the heads up on it. Even funnier is I finished the race in 2 hours and 2 mins…which is the the date (2/2). Crazy if you ask me, but also confirmation that I was in the right place with the right people.

We are a little over ten people deep for the event. A few newbies and a few who ran the half marathon a few months back. None of us are true runners per se but we get the job done. We cross the finish line at our pace.

Our pre-race list included some self preparation in the cardio endurance arena vs. traditional running due to the elements outside and maybe a bit of laziness. It also included outfit planning of course. Then there was the bib pick-up. The carpool. The porta-potties. And who can forget the group text messages up until bedtime the night before.

What corral are you in? F: well then many chime in with words that begin with f. Frigid. Frightening. Fucked. Flatulence. Hopefully you get the gist. Another is in c and the process repeats. Catastrophic. Cute. Cuddly. Comatose. And so on. Sounds dumb but it got everyone giggling before bed.

Sleepless. Anxious. Ready. Those are a few of the words I heard as night fell and the runners entered their sleep stage. And I caught the bug of no sleep. Finally falling asleep at 2:30 am.

I’m up about at 4:00 am and definitely tired. Met up with a group a crazy friends ready to conquer the course and the cold all while sporting flashy tutus and stylish tank tops. This is not only an athletic group of crazy women but a crafty group. One made the tutus while another made the shirts. The rest of just showed up😂.

Not expecting a great run time due to the elements, but that was never the goal for me. The goal was crossing the finish line with friends. Tackling another event that many won’t even attempt. Checking off an adventure in another month of 2020. Adding some miles to the mileage log for my lofty 2020 goal. Starting my birthday month off with fitness, friends and fun. And how cool is it that I finished in 2 hours and 2 minutes on 2/2/20.

Good fun. Amazing friends. Tons of memories. And another race adventure that I can say I did with my oldest son. This might be one of the greatest things to celebrate. Staying fit with my people always puts a smile on my face.

Another great bonus of this race is the snack pack at the end. A warm cup of hot cocoa, marshmallow, pretzels, hot melted chocolate, and some other sweet treats. A great way to end a cold morning.

This race was also dedicated to a very special person in my life who is knocking on death’s door. May our strength in the race be channeled to him as he finds his peaceful resting time / place. What a great tribute idea from one of my good friends and adventure buddies. #buddy❤️

 

dare to be different, giving, inspire

Making Local a Priority

This year I decided to make a goal to spend money with local small businesses. I actually track my spends and make a firm commitment to choose local and small even if it costs more for a particular item. I’m not going cold turkey on Amazon Prime by any means. Just making a percentage of my spend hit the local economy.

So far so good. I am excited about these choices. I am excited about helping a small business live another day.

I went to a local restaurant with friends. It had a good vibe and allowed pets in its outdoorsy environment. I decided I’d buy a t-shirt and gift card. Each was given to a different person to build the hype. Hopefully they will buy something and share their experience with a friend. It’s that simple to stimulate the local economy.

A friend works at a pet store, locally owned and operated. I have pets. I bought some special treats. Those treat make my pets happy but also helps my friend have a job.

My car needs an oil change. I can go to the corporate dealership but I like going to the local shop down the street. The service is good and I get to talk to the mechanic. I can’t get that attention at the dealership. I can even see the work getting done in the bay vs. sitting in a lobby with the TV or internet. Check out my photo above for a view of my mechanic’s shop where I happened to drop by when this sweet car was in for a little tune up. Not sure the year but it sure did have a pretty paint job.

It’s crazy what you can observe if you just slow down and appreciate what’s right in front of you. At the holidays many shop online to avoid the crowds. I get that, but then we miss the human interaction with the workers. We miss the smiles exchanged. We miss the crazy customer who gets mad when they can’t find something. Isn’t there a value in shopping in the muck of it all?

I am going to enjoy my community a little more this year by opening my eyes to what’s right in front of me.

Having a small business is hard work and when you read about one closing, you immediately think what went wrong? Well many things could go wrong but at the end of the day if I never went in to that storefront and bought their cup of coffee or their dog biscuits then I didn’t really help them have a fighting chance.

Big companies have strong leaders making key decisions and a boat load of funding. A small business is a family behind the scene. It means a kid getting to play little league or getting new shoes when mom or dad finally takes a paycheck. It means that business lives another day.

This month a local coffee house shut down as in went out of business. Is it a coincidence that Starb**** opened up next door inside Kroger’s grocery store? Probably not as folks may find it easier to get their latte while they shop vs walking a few doors down. Convenience is good but once a week visiting the local independent coffee shop could make the difference in the owner making their rent payment that month. Just food for thought.

This post could go on and on but the simple point is take a little bit of your monthly spend and divert to a local small business. It could be a hair salon, a nail salon, a restaurant, a bike shop, etc. it may not be the cheapest but I bet the owner is passionate about what they provide to the community.

While you are at it, give a local company shout out on the web. So many people read reviews. Make sure to note it’s a local favorite to build trust. Today I made my Saturday a small business Saturday and hit a locally owned place I adore called Pat’s Eatery. A place where you can sip coffee with friends for an extended period of time and the owner is cooking up a storm on his Saturday morning. The server is a long-time employee who must love her job because she is as permanent as the sign on the exterior of the building. It’s always a pleasure when she serves you. Smiles and conversations are a must.

Have fun experiencing your local community. Put your own special twist on this. Visit a farmers market. Buy from a local artist. Have a sales meeting a local coffee shop. Make a difference in community with the money you are going to spend anyway.