perspective

Stripping the Fun Stuff Away

The return to “normal” has begun.  Gyms, restaurants, hair salons, sports leagues, bowling alleys, summer camps and a host of other businesses have gotten the green light to open their doors. Yay! (right?)

Of course, nothing is really normal and the “new normal” has already lost it’s luster (if it ever had any). Opening business doors often comes along with an eye-popping list of new restrictions.

Both the chicks have recently given their views on restaurant dining.

Like restaurants, for many businesses, industries, and institutions, it’s still a strange time. We are all figuring it out on the fly, customers included.  I’ve noticed that in some cases, we are stuck trying to do the hard parts but the fun parts are what we miss now.  Here are a few examples:

Gyms are starting to reopen.  But, I never really stopped working out.  I’m still exercising in my basement or on the pavement most mornings due to financial and work constraints. Some lifting, some cardio, some basic bodyweight movement, Heroes on Mondays. I get my exercise in one way or another.

Is it the same?  Yes and no.  Yes, I get my movement in.  But some of the most enjoyable parts of the gym experience are gone.  I don’t see friends and like-minded people.  I don’t get coaching.  I don’t get to use all the great equipment. I don’t get the occasional coffee and breakfast after with friends. Sure, I don’t miss certain things about the gym, but some of the parts that made it fun and special (and the hard parts less hard) can’t be replicated in my home.

My work is a similar situation.  I am a librarian that teaches in an elementary school.  We left school for a long weekend in mid-March, not knowing that students and most teachers wouldn’t return this year.  Instead, we’ve been teaching and learning online for almost 9 weeks.

Are we getting the job done?  Yes and no.  Yes, there are lessons and many teachers working extremely hard to connect with students and families.  Yes, there is learning happening.  But, some of the parts that make school fun and meaningful are stripped away.  Field day. End-of-year culminations of work and celebrations.  Social time at lunch and recess on the playground. Working shoulder-to-shoulder to finish a puzzle or create something together. For me, it’s just walking through the library with a student and helping them find a great book.

Or reading a funny or suspenseful picture book to a live Kindergarten audience, laughing and responding together in that moment. Nothing replaces those. And those are some of the things that make school worth going to for many kids (not to mention food, etc.)  Instead, online school often seems like a lot more of the work and a lot less of the fun stuff that makes school special. (And yes, this is about the teachers, too.  I miss the energy of my students! Computer screens, while helpful, don’t cut it for connection!)

On the flip side, there are also students and families who aren’t built for distance learning.  Some have limited or no access to technology. Some need the structure and surroundings and encouragement of others working.  Some need the social benefits.  Some need the food and care that come along with being at school.  Some parents are working from home while also trying to manage multiple children learning online.  It is all extremely stressful.  School isn’t working for many, and it is definitely not the same even for those getting by.

Then, there are the fun things that are just not happening anymore at all.  Most notably for me are travel plans for myself and my family, and races I was training for.  Pleasure travel by anything other than car seems risky (and if you take a road trip, where do you stay overnight?)

I was sad that the triathlon I was training for got canceled.  They can’t guarantee safety and I am sure liability is also a big part of that decision.  Would I have wanted to participate in some sort of sanitized race?  I had mixed feelings about the virtual 10K I ran recently. Although it wasn’t terrible since I was able to do it with friends, I missed the trip to Nashville, the mass of runners, all the spectators and the thrill of race day. It just wasn’t the same. I may still do a virtual version of the triathlon at some point since I am already training.  But, some things just can’t be replaced.  You can’t take away some of the most fun and challenging parts and expect a similar experience. Again, some of the most fun stuff of life is stripped away.  And it is hard not to be bogged down in the frustration and sadness of it all.

You can’t recreate the Mona Lisa with a Magic Marker. It just isn’t the same.  And will it ever be the same?  What do I expect? I don’t know. I know many people are trying their best.  I know many people disagree about how all of this is being carried out.  Frankly, between dealing with that personal and political drama and the abundance of the day-to-day changes, I am exhausted at times. The fun stuff buoys me along and there is so much less of that.  Nonetheless, I want to try to find the celebration in the irritation.  Today, I realized I would have never bought my road bike if I hadn’t set the triathlon as a goal.  My bike has been a huge part of my sanity through the stay-at-home orders. So there is a bit of sunshine.

It’s hard not to wonder when things will get back to some kind of regularity.  What will things look like on the other end? When can we plan a race, some pleasure travel?  When will I be able to read to kids again?  When is the finish line of this mess?  I can budget my energy if I have a finish line in sight.  But now we are in the long middle miles when it’s hard to stay energized and forward moving.

I think it’s ok to pout as long as you don’t wallow in it.  Acknowledge the loss then move on.  It might be easier if we knew the story had a happy ending.  I can deal with suspense as long as it gets resolved.  I have to believe that day will come.  Maybe not quite happily ever after, and maybe this is a heck of a long chapter, but it will be resolved.

 

 

 

 

 

awareness, fitness and nutrition

Chad

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We’ve written about CrossFit Hero WODs here on the blog before.

The subject of today’s blog is one of the more recent ones, known as “Chad.”

Read the story.  It’s a worthy one.

The workout seems seems simple enough. 1,000 box step-ups with a weighted vest.  Not much movement.  Same thing over and over again.  Just counting and moving, moving and counting.

1,000 of anything, though….I’m not sure CrossFit has any other workouts that reach into 4 digits.

My mindset: It would take a while.  I knew that.  It would be grueling.  I would keep going until it was time to stop.

So, before sunrise in the middle of the quarantine, I started counting and moving, moving and counting.

As with many hero WODs, there are lessons to reflect on.  The story of Chad made me think about mental health throughout most of the reps.

Here are the lessons I learned, 50 reps at a time. As many face mental health challenges in our current coronavirus situation, some of the lessons seem more important than ever.

-It is ok to set your weight down sometimes.  You have to pick it up again eventually but it is ok to take a break sometimes.  This was easy for me to say with my dumbbell in a backpack, but what about those who can’t put their weight down?

-I had choices.  I brought out dumbbells, plates, and more.  But in the end, it seemed like too much trouble to switch even though it might have brought relief to do things a little differently.  Lesson:  Sometimes even our best advice or tools aren’t useful to people who are consumed with just getting through whatever it is.  People will often default to what is familiar because it is familiar.  When you are enduring hardship, change can be too much of a challenge even if it might help.

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-Good music helps.  Drowning out the discomfort and having a little to sing along with makes a big difference.

-After a while I lost my form and was just flailing.  I also took extra steadying or stutter steps on the ground between each step up after about 500.  I thought to myself I should be more efficient and tried to skip the extra steps and keep my form together but my body just wasn’t doing that. It needed the extra break or correction in between. Sometimes we can see a problem and think our way into fixing things, other times not.

-I would have sudden bursts of energy, seemingly out of the blue.  I’d just push right through 6 or 7.  Then, it would go back to the same slow rhythm.  Unpredictable energy levels happen.  I may seem ok, but then slow down again.

-Coming down was just as hard as going up.  You’d think the up would be the challenge, but I noticed myself coming down harder and harder as the reps went on.  I knew my knees were under pressure.  Even the easier things require effort and concentration.

-Sometimes, the only way out is through.

Surprises:

-My heart rate was SO high and I burned so many calories.  To a passer by, it would probably not look that complicated or taxing. Just up, down, up, down. What’s the big deal?  I couldn’t believe how out consistently high my heart rate was.  Sometimes we can’t tell the effort others are putting in to things that may look simple.

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-Sometimes my body just refused to step up even though my mind told it to. A few times I barely missed the top of the box.  Other times my body just stopped like a stubborn horse refusing to jump.  Just no.  Sometimes our bodies and minds don’t work together.

-I ran the full gamut of emotions.  Bored, Anxious, Determined, Giddy, Frustrated, Relieved.  All over the map.

I thought to myself:

-I wish I was not by myself.  I wished it was a partner WOD at one point, then I thought I would have settled for a buddy or even a FaceTime friend.  CrossFit is built on community and shared suffering.  It was REALLY hard to do it alone.  It just lifts you up when you see others engaged in the same task. But, sometimes in life going it alone is the choice you have.  I had many partners in my thoughts cheering me on.

-I need a coach.  When I felt my form and motivation slipping, a coach watching me, helping me, encouraging me, barking at me would have meant a lot.  Someone who knows what they’re doing, knows me, and knows what to do is a good companion.

-I had a huge case of the “I don’t wannas” between 300-600.  Not at the beginning, not at the end, just the long, wide middle.  Monotonous.  Boring.  Is it over yet?  I just kept pushing but it was mentally and physically taxing when I wasn’t in the excitement of the beginning but couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.  The middle is hard.  What about situations where we don’t know where the end point is?

-I was hard on myself.  I “no repped” myself many times when I didn’t stand up completely on the box.  But really, does it matter that much?  How many people do we know who are just really hard on themselves when it’s not entirely necessary?

-At times I lost count or had repetitive thoughts.  I got so tired things didn’t even make sense anymore.  I was taking a break every 50 reps to have water and write.  But, sometimes I would go to write things and I had already written them, or I couldn’t remember what I was thinking about when I got to the paper.

-Toward the end, I had a burst of “I Think I Can” and Miley Cyrus’s “The Climb” in my head.  It was almost time for me to go to work so I also got a little flustered toward the end thinking I wouldn’t finish in time.  But getting toward a goal can be motivating.

The aftermath:

-Pain that went all throughout my body in waves for about 48 hours.  Just gotta keep moving to keep the real pain of immobility from setting in. Pain is real.

-I was one of the first to do it in our gym group.  So, I was able to encourage people who came after.  This is one of the most important parts of being on the path, and being a survivor.  Help those who are with you or coming along after you.

Finally,

The first thing I wrote was,

-What is my mountain?

I am still thinking about that.  There are many.  Short term, long term, distant future.  This was a metaphor for many challenges in life and living.  I’ll keep thinking about it and I wouldn’t be surprised if I do it again some day.

What is your mountain?  Who can be your partner on the path?  Your inspiration?  Who can you encourage today?

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working women

Business Isn’t for the Faint of Heart

Holy smokes are you buckled in for the ride of your life? That’s pretty much what every business owner is doing each day they wake up in the insane life we live today. They buckle up for the crazy ride just like a healthcare worker. Ready to face the unknown. Ready to deal with defeat.

Don’t get me wrong business isn’t easy on normal days but these uncharted waters are not for the weak, inexperienced or underfunded CEO’s. A business owner during this tough economic climate has got to lead with confidence, control and commitment.

They must make sound decisions, fast. They have to think about their passion, their purpose, their drive, their team, their community and they have to take action in what seems like an instant. Profit is out the door for the most part.

Lives are on the line no matter what business you are in. There is something essential in everything we do, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Life may get paused but it can’t halt forever. Leaders need to face fears. Leaders need to help people around them. Leaders must rally the troops. Selfless acts in uncertain times show character in CEOs who step up when it counts. Troubled times will also highlight those CEOs who hide or make selfish decisions when the road gets bumpy.

Many good leaders will fail during this challenging time. And if they do fail, it’s temporary. A good leader will find their way to higher ground. It may take time, but one will build resilience and emerge stronger.

To all my fellow business partners, leaders, and colleagues, I applaud you. Those tough decisions had impacts, we know that. I also know you made the decisions that caused the least impact possible to your surroundings. If failure is lurking, embrace it. Failure is just an opportunity to rebuild, rebrand, rejuvenate your passion. Your power. Your footprint.

Business owners don’t get unemployment but they help file for their employees in this challenging time. Businesses may have shut down but still paid employees for as long as they could. Restaurants stayed open to feed people when they may have lost 90% of their revenue and not know how they will make their rent next month. Landlords offered shelter to those who didn’t have funds to pay when rent was due. So many selfless acts go on each day. Many nobody will ever see.

True leaders do without glory. They do what needs to be done and worry about what ifs later. That’s what they do even if it may just be the crumbling of their lifelong work.

I also caution you to be aware of those making decisions to financially benefit themselves at another’s expense during this pandemic. In troubled times this happens when a CEO may not see the big picture. Their short term decision may have long term consequences. Price gouging and hoarding may be two prime examples that come to mind.

Many may never see the crazy shit from the CEOs eyes. I write this note for those to catch a glimpse of the insanity. The burden placed on entrepreneurs who have heavy stakes in the business game. Many think entrepreneurs have it all. In reality they risk it all including the shirt on their back. Personal savings, home equity used as personal guarantees, and so on.

It’s a tough world for everyone right now. Be a nice human. Support your communities where you can. We will all survive this mess. Some of us may have battle scars while others may have bad hair. Either way the vast majority will survive. That is enough to be thankful for.

Enjoy the shit show of today.

celebrations, fitness and nutrition

Festivus Games Was No Joke

Well, this comp was a little different about 5 minutes after I signed up! Then, when I got to the competition site the crazy level stepped up a bit….the competition was 90% outside. Holy smokes.

Looking back, I somehow stacked 1/2 marathon training, a 45 day bicep/tricep challenge, a physical residence move, a big trip to see family and life on top of comp training and my regular CrossFit and adult life.

What was I thinking? I probably wasn’t thinking until I hit the WODs hard the 2 weeks prior to the event. At that point my body was already sluggish from a physical move and my arms were burning on the daily from the other bicep/tricep challenge and then heck most days my legs were like we don’t need any additional miles today!

Of course there was outfit planning. Tanks and booty shorts. This may be the most fun part of competing because my crazy partner agreed to change outfits four times. Really she had no choice but it’s part of the experience and what sets us apart from others. We beat to our own drum or anthem in many ways. Class act I tell ya!

One week to go and I rip my hand bad. How did that impact the event? Came down with a cold as well a week before so breathing wasn’t 100%. Complaints or excuses? Time to press on and put in work. This is a self note that I am sharing.

The last seven days were focused on eating well, sleeping well and staying healthy. I wasn’t perfect but I made an attempt. Rest being most important since my body is aging.

Last practice session on our weakness was a good showing. Compared to day one it was tremendous growth. Now to wait and see how the big day goes.

Comp day. It starts with the dreadful alarm at 5am, food prep, and carpool ride at 6am. Oh and let me tell you about the ride:

One passenger snoring in the back who wouldn’t share the back seat. Yup, that’s my partner!

One driver kind enough to volunteer to drive knowing the drive home will suck bad. Thank you, CW.

And then me. The sleepy one mesmerized by the cool new truck I was in. Air flowing through the seats and a massaging seat. Yup, just what I needed and I gladly staked my claim for that seat on the way home!

Then the wait for heat one at 9:50am. The morning aches and stiffness were among the bunch as we waited, joked and stretched together. We all prepped differently yet we all did it together.

That’s a lot of idle time for nervous jitters that lead to multiple potty breaks. Fun times all around meeting neighbors in tent city and taking pics as we wait. A group of friends are competing so we will have a blast tailgating and cheering each other on. Of course we are still competing so it’s not all rainbows and lollipops for those in the same division.

Did I mention our team name this time around? 2 Tatted Bitches – ha! Offensive to some but perfect to us! Check out the cool shirts we got compliments of Chick 2’s designing skills. Oh, how the announcer fumbled purposely all day on that name. However, if we made the podium he said he would say the full name prominently. And he did just that!

WOD 1 – my favorite. The deadlift ladder. Easy peasy 205 pounds. We accumulated 75 bonus points with our extra efforts in less than a minute. Took 3rd in this WOD. Feeling good but the worst is yet to come. And the pic below shows one of the good faces. There were many more crazy faces to come.

WOD 2 a and b=death! Add extreme heat outdoors, direct sun and and and….WOD was outside, 90+ degrees and I don’t usually workout outside in direct sunlight. It gave me a new respect for other athletes who compete outside on a regular basis. Body weight movements AKA devil press (named appropriately), weighted box step overs, reverse lunges weighted and a partner row. Part A we scored 4th but Part B was 8th….my no reps for not locking my arms out cost us big time. I was not happy with my judge. Well, we could have given up but this is the time where we kicked it up a notch or attempted to.

WOD 3 – Outside again with a forecast raining wallballs and snatches. Get low, get low, get low…that’s all I would hear for what seemed like an hour. My legs were shot but somehow I was going to have to squat 45 times with a 14-pound wall ball going up down up down. I wanted to puke in the heat was a gross understatement. My practice rounds were timed and my partner was suppose to hold me accountable for a personal best despite the environmental conditions. She did but I wasted breath saying “stop yelling at me.” Big mistake but I made it through by the grace of God. Our time was not our best but we squeezed out 3rd solely with our heart and desire to make up for the WOD before.

WOD 4 – the synchro WOD that I had been dreading since sign up. Not really sure how to explain this other than heavy and weird object being tossed around like a ping pong ball over and over and over again. But it was not a ping pong ball. It was a heavy anchor that bumped and bruised your body and your ego with each movement. It was brutal. And I was focused on this part of the workout making me totally forget about the 100 buy in of knees-to-chest movements. Oh crap! Suck it up buttercup because we had to place high in this round to get on that podium. Thankfully my partner killed this movement and made up for my shortcoming and we were on fire with the synchro piece. Over 100 reps of pure grit and we pulled out 2nd in the event.

It was bittersweet. A podium finish of 3rd. Hard work pays off. Good partner chemistry paid off. Supportive gym mates were the icing on the cake. Not to mention our honorary tatted bitch who donned our shirt and branded herself with Katashi just for us. Was a great friend.

We’re walking away from this event with a medal but it’s not the medal that’s most memorable. It’s the journey. The journey of training that’s years in the making. The fellowship along the way. The learning process of developing skills. The coaching you receive along the way. The commitment required to grind another day when your mind tells you to quit. Mental toughness, tenacity, determination, are all words that come to mind.

I leave you with this message: anyone can commit to changing their environment, their attitude and their perspective. Many will talk about it but won’t follow through because the road along the way is full of big hills, speed bumps and life detours. It is not easy. Surround yourself with a tribe that will challenge you, push you, motivate you and ultimately make you see your own potential. It’s really all about you, just like this post is all about me.

I’m not one to gloat per se, but I am one to share my stories with the world to offer hope to others who have a hard time seeing it in themselves in the mirror.

Happy Sunday, y’all. I’m back to training for my 1/2 marathon in 3, 2, 1….