perspective

Opportunity Driven

Are you driven by opportunity?

I am, or I have been categorized as such recently.

This made me think a lot about the word opportunity and what it means to me, to others, or what it could possibly lead to in many instances. Oh how I love to stimulate my mind with possibilities.

I am definitely driven by opportunity. The opportunity many would shy away from. The diamond in the rough, however normally hidden from plain sight. The chance many won’t take.

I like a challenge. Most opportunities involve challenges. I grow the most through challenges thus the challenge is an opportunity in itself.

Just a Tuesday tidbit for you as I sit outside in the heat of the sun contemplating my next opportunity and challenge. This is a typical Tuesday. No matter the season, the mind is always in overdrive. The warmth of the outside air warmed me up from the a/c of the office allowing me to defrost my mind. Relax and drift into the peaceful thinking space I like to visit often.

family

One Year

It’s been a year since since I lost my dad. I think of him often. I cherish my memories. I love to see my pictures from the past pop up on my social media timehop. I like to honor his memory whenever I can.

As I think of the past year I have many emotions. Some I can articulate. Some I’m still processing. It’s part of the grieving process for me. 

I think about how my mom is doing often. How she is getting by each day without her partner of over 60 years. How she has to manage so much without him. How she has to be strong when she probably wants to cry. How she has to stand up for herself. 

I try my best to comfort her. I try to take her away from her normal to show her happy when I can. I try to make her laugh. I try to snap as many photos as she will allow knowing my days may end with her without notice. I like to live in the moment with her. Get her to try new things. She doesn’t like to plan beyond 2 weeks in advance but she will try if she doesn’t think too much about why she shouldn’t. She is living her life to the fullest.

One day at a time we are adjusting. We lost our rock of the family. As he was put to rest my Mom arose as the new rock. A role reversal of sorts but fun for me to watch. I have learned so much from her this year. How to face adversity. How to stand firm for your beliefs. How to be independent. How to be okay with a new normal.

The last statement is probably the most important. Being okay with how the chips may fall. We can all have a plan we work towards but a piece of the plan may fall through. In those times we need to adjust. Be flexible. Learn. Chart a new path. Change the environment if need be. 

Life may test us. It may rock our faith. It may push our patience buttons repeatedly. How we react defines who we are. I want to be like my mom. A rock of sorts. A dynamic rock. A strategic rock. A rock that is durable to withstand the elements of life. 

Life doesn’t have a roadmap. It has twists, turns, speed bumps, uphill battles, and so much more. Who we are shows when faced with the hardest times. Do we buckle under pressure? Do we rise to the occasion?

My mom.

My rock.

My inspiration.

Mother’s Day was upon me when I wrote this post. I spent some special time with her this weekend. I was able to see so much in her eyes. I saw her joy for so many reasons. At the same time I saw sadness that my dad wasn’t there to share the experience with her. I saw her aging. Her body is deteriorating. Is it natural timing? Is it her being lost without him? Is it her environment partly reclusive no thanks to corona? I will never know.

Each year I will honor my dad in May. I haven’t decided all the ins and outs of my dedication but I do know I will have traditions. 

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?

challenges

I’m Not Afraid

I’m not afraid of burpees anymore.

I am no longer dreading 72 burpees in workout because I’ll be the slowest to complete them.
I am no longer completely wiped out by burpees. 10-15-20 easy peasy.

It might have taken me over 1,200 burpees in a short period of time to realize this. I learned practice makes perfect or it definitely builds confidence in your weak or feared movements.

In the past, I would do pushups instead of burpees in a workout. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do them. I didn’t want to do them. I would just prefer not to do burpees. I took the easy way out time and time again.

Then one day I said yes to a burpee challenge online. Little did I know that burpee challenge would teach me to endure in many ways. Little did I know it would help me stabilize my breathing while doing burpees with other movements. Little did I know my fear wasn’t worth fearing anymore.

I slowed down enough to take it all in. To practice vs. rush through. I am still not fast at burpees and never will be thanks to my hip mobility but I can get them done in much larger sets. I am not that graceful when I do burpees either. They are what I call sloppy burpees.

Nonetheless I can drop and do 5-10-15-20 or more at my pace without hesitation. I may not love to do them but I can and I will because they have provided many benefits in a short time.

My bench press one rep max has improved. All those extra burpees have caused me to push my body weight up from the ground repeatedly, increasing my pushing strength without me noticing. On that same line, my push ups have improved drastically. My overall form. My endurance. My strength. My ability to do unbroken sets with strong form in my core.

When we mention core muscle, I recently started doing more planks. Not a movement I’ve feared but one I really don’t like to do: well guess what I noticed my time for holding the plank and the the firmness of the plank itself has also improved. Crazy to think how much consistency plays a role in success.

Consistent and persistent are two words that are forever defined in my life in many ways. Sometimes you need to slow down in one area of life to see how you can adapt consistency and/or persistence in other areas.

Trust the process of life. Absorb the learning experiences around you. Test your limits often. Growth comes when you are stretched, fatigued and out of your norm.

Change your surroundings. Try something new. Challenge yourself to do hard things you fear. Growth is a mindset. Sometimes it takes practice. Consistent practice yields results. 

nature

Bloom Where I’m Planted

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A sea of green. Grasses of several kinds, grown knee-high and blowing in the breeze.

It’s a peaceful, idyllic scene, this acre upon acre of green.

Until…

orange!  Orange of all things.  A orange blob right in the middle of all this verdant, lovely green.  An interruption.  An annoyance. Like a lightning bolt to my eyeballs.  Piercing and wild.  Why?  Why here?

I waded through the grasses to get a closer look.  I found that this bright, almost glowing orange was actually a tightly clustered bunch of petals.  A gutsy, piercing, look-at-me! blossom.  A beauty, standing out boldly in her own way.  I studied it for a while, wondering about its roots.

Later that day, walking through the acres, I saw another orange splotch, hundreds of yards away from the one I first noticed.   How did they get there?  Are they family, I wondered?  Long lost sisters, maybe?  Or even just spreading their wings?

“It’s just a weed,” a friend said.

But it’s pretty, I thought.  What makes something a weed, anyway?

(Being me, I looked it up, of course.)

I now know that a weed can be anything that grows where it’s not planted on purpose.  That turns up where it’s not wanted.  Where it’s not supposed to be.  Even someone’s prize roses can be a weed if they come up in a pumpkin patch.

It’s all about context. Beauty can be anywhere.  I noticed and admired these orange ladies more so because they were dramatically different than all the deep green surrounding them.

From these brazen orange beauties I learned to just bloom wherever I happen to be.  Make the most of where I am, even if it’s not the perfectly sunny spot.  I don’t need approval to show my true colors.  To be myself, grow and blossom, wherever I plant my own feet. 

Have the courage to be different.  To stand out.  Will everyone appreciate it?  Not the meticulous gardeners. Who like it all in control.  But to other eyes, I might just be the antidote to the ordinary that they need.  The splash of color in a sea of monotony.   The lightning out of the blue, or green.  The inspiration to spread their wings.