anonymous letters

Graduation Day

 

Recently, someone close to me reached a huge goal. She called me, a mix of relief and joy in her voice, to tell me the news.  She celebrated a graduation day of a special kind.

Not everyone knew what she went through.  Not everyone could see her struggle. Most didn’t even know she was on this path. It was a kind of schooling that she took on not because anyone said she had to.  It was the kind of schooling she took on just for herself. When the time was right, she volunteered.  She committed. Invested. She did the work.

Not many people knew what brought her to the doorstep of that school.  She was pretty quiet about the learning she had to do, the lessons involved, the tests she brought upon herself.  She found her own teacher, someone she thought could help her find her way to her goals. And she worked with that teacher faithfully to learn what she needed to know. She did the work. There is no substitute for doing the work.

Life is full of schools.  Some are official, with bells and class rosters.  Some schools are of our own making, when we decide it’s time to level up, or maybe level out.  There are schools of hard knocks and schools of higher learning. Schools for driving and schools where we learn to be a passenger.  Lessons from classrooms, lessons from the streets, and life lessons that we have to learn over and over again, sometimes the hard way.  But for the most part, once we get past the tweenage years, the schools we attend are by choice.

It takes courage to take ourselves to school when we know we need to learn something but it won’t be fun or easy.  These kinds of schools aren’t required.  No attendance officer is going to call you if you don’t show up.  Holding ourselves accountable can be one of the biggest challenges we face when the topics are tough and the lessons are long. Homework is the deep challenge of learning, unlearning, and relearning how to think and live. We may not get grades, but we know when we’ve failed and when we’ve passed.

It’s not the kind of graduation where she gets a cap and gown. No cords for clubs or uncomfortable seats.  No one is sending her gifts or cards. No diploma will hang on her wall. But she does wave at the crowd, whether you recognize it or not. She smiles with a deeply confident face and a fresh mind. She doesn’t stride across the stage and shake hands. Instead, she treads a quiet victory, walking her new walk every day.

There may be no certificate, no tassel, but still…she tosses her hat into the air in an inspiring way, sharing her journey and her learning as she sees fit.  To witness her journey and her graduation brought me to a new, deep level of respect for her. I celebrate her today and every day, as she bounds toward her next classroom.

 

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.

adventure, family

Summa-time Fun, Part 1

“This summa I want to have a wicked fun time!” said the girl in her true Bostonian accent. I want to take on some new adventures that would keep me moving physically while allowing me to grow in other ways. The plan is set. The sizzling summer weather has arrived. Now it’s time to take action.

I have the usual fun in the sun planned for lake days, quick getaways and maybe some time at the neighborhood pool. That’s all good but what can I do that is different? Fun. Adventurous. And of course, memorable.

Zip, zoom, scoot, watch out new driver coming through!

Electric scooter rides in downtown Atlanta is the first of my many adventures this summer. What an amazing time! First I had to learn how to use the Lyft app for scooters to get the juice going on the scooter. That was both cool, interesting, and to me, exciting. Then the ride itself was refreshing with the wind in your face thanks to the scooters having a little pep to them. I did my own balancing act as I zoomed by folks. I may have even done a one-leg move at some point. And maybe, just maybe, I was close to crashing at one time. Clearly that would have been somebody getting in my invisible lane. Before you know it, life is just carefree in the moment. You can breathe in your surroundings. The fresh air, giggles, sunshine, the chitter chatter of passers by, the people watching, and the scenery is just amazing.

On this adventure I visited Ponce City Market area and stumbled across the scooters. It was a total accident because I really wanted to rent a bike that day and take a quick ride to see the graffiti I had heard about. Good thing they didn’t have any bikes because electric scooters sounded more interesting.

Curiosity got me and I had to check it out. I then rode along the Atlanta BeltLine which is full of graffiti and cool architecture. I didn’t want to put it back but I didn’t have much time this day. What a fun adventure I had with my family and surprisingly it wasn’t too expensive to rent the scooters. Looking for something fun to do? Check out the BeltLine in Atlanta, GA.

Teen Tidbit: Scooters are a great teen activity to do with your kids if you are looking for something new and appealing. People always ask me for ideas so here you have it.

Not too long after my scooter escapades I had a kayaking trip planned with friends. Then a torrential downpour hit and the trip was cancelled. Such a let down, but the following weekend was absolutely perfect weather to hit the river. I didn’t have a large friend group on the second weekend, but I did have a plus one. My middle son and I we were off on an excursion. Both of us could kayak but neither of us had experience on the river we set out for. Isn’t that part of the fun?

One hour drive and oh no, the boats are sold out for the day! Are you kidding me? We drove all this way to the middle of nowhere for a big let down.

Sigh! I must have had disappointment written all over my face and the lady said well, we have a smaller boat used for kids that you can go in. It’s easier to maneuver but it’s also tippable. Just my luck. “Will it hold me?” I questioned. Yes. “Will I be able to get back in easily if I tip?” “I don’t know,” she said with a smirk.

Now that I’m feeling super confident (not), my son says let’s just do it. Ummm…okay says the 150-pound athletic fit person who will have no issues jumping back on the kayak after tipping in rapids! Okay, you got me. I’m in. Here goes nothing.

The trip starts with us sliding down a 100 foot hillside covered in burlap in our mini kayaks. It was definitely a dry run…..

I was nervous but the descent was fun and I didn’t even scream. Then the hauling of the kayak to the water and an “aha” moment of okay, we are really doing this! Just me and the boy.

Off we go with no idea how many miles we were traveling or what was ahead of us in the form of rapids or water depth. The GoPro camera was on to capture our memories and we just started paddling into the unknown. The scenery was amazing. We saw beautiful birds and many turtles from small to large. It was just fun to be one with nature.

We had moments of peacefulness as we just floated. We had adrenaline rushes when we neared the rapids. We got our people watching on as much as we got to bird watch. The variety of people was plentiful and the rapids were just enough for me. Some gently rolling rapids while others had dropoffs that made me gasp. I almost tipped 2-3 times but I didn’t. I survived. I didn’t tip. I was so proud of myself. My son and I had a blast. We made some amazing memories and I learned I would want to do this adventure many more times in the future.

Travel Tip: Looking for a day trip check out Broad River Outpost just outside of Athens, GA. I highly recommend this in a large or small group, a couples adventure, teen trip or maybe even a girls day. It’s just good fun.

We may love new things or hate new things but we will never know if we like or dislike anything unless we try them out on our own. It’s that simple. I was glad I tried these two new activities this summer. I had fun. I made memories. I got to tell you all about my adventures.

Wonder what’s next? Guess you’ll need to wait for my Summer Adventures, part 2. Until next time…

perspective

Ready for My Closeup

For as long as I can remember, I have avoided being in photographs.

Don’t get me wrong, I love pictures.  I’d challenge you to find someone with more photos on their phone.  I take photos liberally. (Some might say too liberally).  I enjoy taking pictures of people and sharing those snapshots with them.  In our image-saturated social media driven society, images are powerful (if incomplete) representations of who we are, even glimpses of who we are becoming or who we would like to be.

Why don’t I like to see myself in photos?  Some is a longtime dissatisfaction with how I look.  Some is a resistance to being the focus of attention.  I’m just more comfortable focusing the spotlight on others.

Of course I know that photos have their uses. The nutrition program I am on (Stronger U) encourages photos each week.  I only did the before ones and I’m not done yet so I haven’t taken any more progress-type pics.  You get the idea.  I know the importance and benefit of pictures, but much of the time I still try to avoid them, unless I’m in a large group.

Once in a while, though, I’m brave enough to step out in front of a camera.  Recently, the amazing Milagros offered professional photography services at our gym during the CrossFit Open. At Chick 1’s encouragement, I decided to do it. One of my favorite shots is linked in this post.

Then John, our resident CrossFit Faded Glory positivity promoter, snapped a few of me doing an overhead squat in an earllllyyyyy morning workout this past week. (The early hour shows in my eyes, but the arms…!)

Finally, I did take the usual family pics with my crew on Easter, but asked for a solo one as well.

When I saw these shots, each came as a surprise to me. They don’t match the picture I have of myself in my head.  Instead of spongy and weak, I see someone who is getting stronger, more confident. My inner image needs an update.

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I encourage those of you who are hiding from cameras this week to step in front of one for a shot or two. Pose if you want, or let someone take an action shot of you doing something you practice, something you enjoy.  You may be surprised at how you look. It may also change how you see yourself.