dare to be different, mental health

The Distant Shore

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A gorge in the Middle of Nowhere, Tennessee.  Calm, dark water with a hint of murkiness.

The rest of my group took off, swimming for the other bank of trees and sheer rock.

“Come on!” they called.  “Do it!”

I shook my head no as they doggie paddled, freestyled, and floated their way across the channel.

They called me and gestured a couple of more times, then they gave up when I continued to stand firm, head shaking. Nope, nope, nope. Not doing it. No sirree. Not this girl.

Then I asked myself, standing alone on the shore, why not?

Sure, I’m only a few years past being petrified to swim in any kind of water where I can’t see the bottom.  Sure, I don’t have a life jacket or any flotation device.  Sure, I have no idea how deep this is, or how far across it is (although I can see the other side).  Sure, I don’t really know how to swim in any kind of recognizable stroke or otherwise efficient way. (Which should have changed, given my story of near drowning, but it hasn’t.)

And after I told myself all that “why I can’t” stuff, I asked myself again, why not?

Then I started psyching myself up.

I can do this. I am training for a triathlon. Yes, it has been put off a year but I still need to get going. It’s not that big of a deal. I can do this. It’s not that far. Just start. Just go.

So I just walked out from the dirt “beach” and started to make my way across in some kind of swim-like movement.  Sorta freestyle-doggie-paddle, breaking into a vaguely-resembling-breast stroke at times, but never putting my head under water.  Eyes fixed resolutely on the other shore.

Yes, the fear set in about halfway across, everyone else in my group just chatting and laughing on the rocks.  I knew if I didn’t keep going I was probably in trouble, so I kept paddling along.

Eventually, the shore got closer.  My group noticed I was nearly there.  And I finally, eventually made it.  Seven straight minutes of swimming without touching bottom or using a life jacket.

Cut to the chase / return…I shaved a minute off my time and made it back in 6.  100 yards each way.

Still not real fast or real organized in the swim lane, but a small victory in calling myself on my own “nope, nope, nope” and raising it with a “why not?”

And yes, it was worth it.

What have you dared to do lately?

 

 

 

 

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.

dare to be different, inspire

New Year, New Decade, New Opportunities

I think I will start with writing something profound or brilliant in my mind.

2020 is upon us and like many I have goals to write, tackle and conquer but this year is different. It’s the start of a new decade and thus the magnitude of go bigger is something I want to do in many areas of my life. I want to escape the ordinary. Of course, my 2020 journal (pictured below) is perfect for cataloging my ebbs and flows of the year. #2020hereIcome

Lucky for me I have an amazing tribe around me willing to jump in on adventures, shenanigans and overall badass challenges I find intriguing. Some are extreme while others just take time.

Time is valuable to me. One of my most precious commodities. Where to use it? Who gets my time? What’s the value of my time and so on. Keeping this in mind I will share a few tidbits about my year of awesome!

It started in December of 2019 when I decided on a 2020 theme of me. What can I do 2,020 of to level up my fitness, for example.

Goal one was finalized: run, walk, jog, crawl, bike, row or ski erg 2,020 extra miles in 2020. This is in addition to any other regular daily workouts which is the kicker. It’s extra time. Who can commit? Who will commit? Who will cross the finish line?

Today I have about 10-15 willing participants tracking their miles along side me. Each for different reasons and each have their own path. Some have daily goals of extra miles, some weekly, some monthly and some want to count backwards. Whatever the method the miles add up to the same total of 2,020 miles. 365 opportunities await each participant. Each individual has to make a choice to put in work today, tomorrow and the the next day and stay the course of time.

Some will need a fixed routine to succeed. Others may need variety. Some may take big bites out of miles while others may take smaller steps. The power of choice. The power of self will and desire. The strength required to commit long term.

I started my first four days of the year with 7 miles a day and then jumped up to 10 miles and 9 miles respectively. Most of which I completed on my bike erg, which I love. (Thank you concept2). 47 miles down and 1,973 to go for those who like to count down. I may not keep this pace but as the hype is fresh I will bank those extra miles for the days I am traveling, sick or unable to hit my strides.

I’m pretty excited about this challenge. Will I finish? Will my friends finish? Will anyone join me virtually? Will I be able to push myself when times are tough? Can I manage my time? Basically this is a solo task. Only I can make it happen. Only I can decide if I finish. But as a bonus I have a tribe willing to attempt it with me. How lucky am I?

I am lucky, loved, blessed and all so appreciative of the opportunities I have and the memories I can make. You are also lucky as you have a front row seat to my adventures. This could be good or bad. I have not only set a lofty goal, I actually shared it with the world in this blog. How about that for a massive accountability partner?

This is not my only goal, rather one of many. Many more than others I know but for me this is a year of me. A way to launch into the new decade and see what I can really accomplish if I focus and prioritize. Dreaming big in most areas which will test me, but of course I’m ready.

What makes me ready? To start, I was invited to a vision board party. What in the heck is that? It’s a gathering of key influencers in your life who you feel inspired by. People you like to spend time with vs. those people you have to spend time with (or coworkers). You write your story so to speak on a poster board using words, pictures, objects and whatever other flair you can put your hands on. This was so in my wheelhouse. Why did I never do this before? Who cares, I’m doing it now. It’s a new decade and a new opportunity!

I wasn’t sure what to expect but I learned a ton about myself and those around me. It was empowering to say the least and fun. I don’t think I’ve used a glue stick, scissors and tape like I did that day for a long time. Talk about the memories of the good old school days before the internet became front and center.

One pal even bought magazines for the first time in ages and couldn’t believe how much they cost nowadays. See how old I am!

I will leave you with this glimpse of the sparkle we all shared that day. No need to name who did what rather it’s meant to provide a visual inspiration for others. Maybe one of my readers will feel motivated to host a vision board party.

Some chose to fill the board up while others left room to grow. Captivating just to see how folks approached the task and invested themselves into the outcome. Mine is posted prominently in a space where I can see it and be reminded of the mindset I had when I made it.

What will you do to make your decade launch special in 2020?

fitness and nutrition, friendship, perspective

What I Learned from Coming In Last

“It’s not a big deal to me how we do, as long as we’re not last.”

These words came from one of my amazing teammates at a recent competition. I nodded in agreement, and I’ve said them, too.

Flashback to my very first 5k “race.”  Run Your Cookies Off – a fundraiser for the Girl Scouts.  I was probably 80 or 100 pounds heavier than I am now, maybe more.  I had no idea what I was doing. I was a slow walker / jogger as I approached the start line in terror.  But as long as I am not last I’m ok, I thought.

I wasn’t last that day, but I was close.  I could see the last person behind me by maybe 30 yards most of the time.  I kept looking over my shoulder, fighting to stay ahead. I gasped and choked as I stumbled across the finish line, maybe 5th to last out of a few hundred runners.  But, not last.

Fast forward eight years or so to only a few weeks ago, the line comes into my head again. A CrossFit competition.  Looking around at some of the fitter people I’ve seen in recent memory, our direct competitors. Some twenty or more years younger.  But, we will be fine as long as we are not last.

After the first workout, we were second to last.  So, not last – a win!  And then, after that, for the rest of the day, workout after workout, it happened. We. Were. Last.

Yup, I was finally on the other side of the “as long as we’re not…”

And I looked at my teammates, two fierce, fit, incredible women, working their ever-loving asses off.  All three of us had been sick that week, with some of that sickness lingering on competition day.  All three of us were super nervous.  But we showed up, and we brought our best. And we cheered for each other.  And we pushed as hard as we could, pushed beyond what we thought we could do.  We pulled together and fought like heck for every rep, every lift, every jump and burpee and pushup and calorie.

And with all our fight, all our heart, all our effort, we still came in last.  (We actually tied for last with some of our good friends who made up another rockin’ team from our box, which made it all the more sweet.)

So, you may ask, what are the after effects of coming in last? Honestly, not much different than coming in higher on the board.

I’m proud of my teammates, as I should be.  One rocked her first competition ever, conquering move after move, challenge after challenge.  The other overcame huge obstacles to PR her snatch not just once but 5 times that day.  5 times!!!  I still smile when I pull out my team shirt and shorts.  We had a great and memorable day for our squad.  Weeks later, no one remembers what place we came in.

I’ve held onto a line I heard once many years back when I was just starting to get my health together.  It still serves me on crappy running days, and those inevitable afternoons when I just would rather not go to the gym at all:

As long as you show up…”you’re lapping everyone on the couch.”

No matter what place we finished in, we showed up. There are many who are less fit, and even many who are more fit, who didn’t have the guts or the gumption to just show up, put themselves out there, and see how they measure up.

There’s an old saying that nice guys finish last…now I also see that good people, people who work hard, train hard, and put forth tons of effort still do finish last sometimes. In fact, that effort may represent a huge personal triumph no matter what the leaderboard says. One that should be applauded.  Still, for better or worse, it’s just one day. One memorable day full of proud moments.

The real after effects of coming in last are what we choose to do moving forward. What matters most is what comes next. Nothing stops us from continuing to train and get better and cheer for each other. We’re already signed up for more races, more challenges, more adventures. Who knows where we will turn up next?

 

 

 

fitness and nutrition

Jumping into 2020

I jumped into 2020 with my fitness. I did a challenging 2020 workout dedicated to the year 2020 (20 reps of multiple lifts and movements) with my workout pals and I was ready for a nap after a grueling 45 minutes of go hard. In a nutshell, my body was T-I-R-E-D with a Capital T.

I recovered for what seemed like a short time as my new work year picked up less than 24 hours later. Where did the holiday break go? Why does it feel like Sunday? Talk about lack of motivation to wake up at 5:30 am to work out.

Well, my puppy beat my alarm clock today. She had me up at 4:20 to potty and play. Good thing she is super cute. #teddie  Boy I wish I had her energy at that hour. I guess the day started earlier than expected so I had a little extra time to checkout the workout in advance. Sigh.

It’s pretty much a jumprope-a-thon focusing on double unders which is a skill I have not mastered and really don’t like to work on. Why don’t I like to work on it? Because I suck most days and it requires multi-step directions which can challenge me some days in the coordination department. Good thing the new year is upon us and I had literally just listed double unders as a skills goal to work on for 2020.

I guess I have to go. I guess there may be hope for me to get better at double unders aka dubs in this decade since I wasn’t so hot last decade! Hope can conquer most things I would say. Just not sure dubs are on the hope list this year.🤪

To my surprise Mute Sports put on a great dubs class. So many tidbits of information that will help me get better and we got to try out their cool ropes. I wasn’t optimistic going into the class but I really enjoyed it. If you are searching for a rope, these guys are very helpful and I love supporting local businesses.

I ended up getting a new rope and a cute little fastener to keep it from getting tangled. I opted for two different handles because I need flair in my life. I only got the black cable because I need that thickness since I am entry level on the skill side. I will definitely put this bad boy to use each week to hopefully build up some muscle memory and link more than four dubs together at once. I also picked up a neat little round stone-type callus remover that they sell. It’s got a cylinder shape and I can toss it in my purse. Another great little gadget to add to my CrossFit trinkets.

But before I sign off, I think I should show you some of my jump rope history. My first rope was a brand I can’t recall that I purchased online. I was clueless when I bought it and didn’t do so hot with it so I gave it to a friend when I got my second rope, pictured below. This one I opted for hot pink and thicker cable that was coated because the whip marks on the other rope about killed me.

This was a good rope for me to reacquaint my self with single-under jumping. I did many, many jumps with this rope and still keep it my car in case I have the need to jump somewhere. This is a rope I seem to see at my box and other CrossFit boxes I have visited in the past. For this I would say great starter rope based on my experience.

Not long after, I got a custom rope at some point as a gift. This was thinner, lighter and had a fun look to it. I used this one off / on but never really mastered the dubs skill with it. I do however use this at home when I have time to practice. This one may be a fav just because of the aesthetic look. #wonderwoman

Some time mid-2019 I had a competition that called for lots of jumping. Singles, but the faster I could do them the better off I would be so I invested in yet another rope that a friend had. This one I have and use it from time to time but it will make more of an appearance once I master dubs. This one definitely hurts when you get whipped as it’s bare wire. Some of you may like whip marks but I’m a little bit of a baby so I’ll just say I’m not quite ready for this bad boy full time! Maybe that’s why they named it Bullet and advertise it as the fastest rope. Maybe there should be a warning that says use with caution unless you like pain.

As I close out my jump rope history I am merely sharing my woes of up down, up down, up down again and again. Much like jumping rope there are many ups and downs to finding a rope that fits you physically but also makes you feel confident enough to rock those double unders over and over again.

I will be jumping up down and around through 2020 but now I know I have options in ropes and tricks to help me be some a better jump roper. Thank you Muse for that one-on-one attention today.

Don’t get me wrong I can jump for a while doing singles. I’m improving at one leg or even alternating but I haven’t mastered the cadence, the breathing, the jump motion and the patience to be a double under dynamo. Not yet at least.

I will however keep you posted on my progress over the year. Gotta go it’s time to jump back into some emails. Let’s hope the Muse techniques and rope help me meet my 2020 dubs goal.