dare to be different

A Fahn Suhthun Lady

(A follow up to the recent post, Redneck Sweetheart. Check it out!)

I was born in Jawja.

Lived here all my lahf.

Except for that ill-advised detouah to Ohio for a few years round college time. They made fun of me for walking too slow in that infernal endless snow and saying y’all when I shoulda said, ahem, “you guys” all nasal or something else inelegant like that. Suhthun ladies roll sweet and slow off the tongue.

Before I go on, let me translate some of this for y’all, lest you find my Suhthun accent a distraction.

I don’t have a hoop skirt. Sweet tea is not my thing but there is no other soda (pop!?!?) than a Coke. I’m still a Suhthun lady through and through.

I blush at the mention of unmentionables. I am steely and will give you the side eye while saying “bless your haht.” I fan myself when I am flustered. Well I nevah would be so vulgah!

I am polite and don’t show up to a gathering empty-handed. To knock at a door without a casserole or even a simple mason jar filled with fresh picked blooms? Why my dear mother, rest her soul, would have been simply mortified!

I’m not all lace and doilies, mind you. I am gracious and refined at times, but will dig my hands in the dirt and grime. Just be sure I have a proper apron and brimmed hat. My fair Suhthun complexion demands protection from our hahsh climate.

I will bring you a snack when you’re hungry, refreshment when you’re pahched. I can quote the Bible, Flannery O’Connor, and Dolly Parton in the same afternoon chat. I am as well read as my farmily is well fed.

Many times I smile when I am angered. I’ve mastered the gentle art of holding my tongue when others try to ruffle my ruffles. Howevah, do not test my resolve. Do not mistake my quiet for ignorance or lack of passion. Do not confuse my kindness with any sort of weakness. I’m wise enough to realize most irritants are not worth my energy. But poking the bear too many times will bring her roaring to life. On that you can depend.

I will raise my voice at the right time. What comes out of these cultured and cultivated lips will surprise you. I don’t share my sharp and critical mind with just anyone, but if you earn yourself a piece of that mind with your vahl behaviah, well, bless your haht.

Back to minding my own business in my own hospitable way. Smiling politely. With a wink and a twinkle in my eye.

Don’t cross me.

challenges

The S Word

What word(s) am I referring to?

Sex

Shame

Suicide

The three S words noted above are tricky words in a way. They can somewhat be connected. They are also difficult for many to talk openly about.

I took a poll online of some acquaintances. Different genders. Different generations. Different lifestyles. Different life exposures. It was interesting to review the responses.

Sex is hard to talk about for some due to their upbringing. Some find it tricky due to their personal choices. Others find the word only challenging if the audience was an elder. 

Suicide was next up on the list. The ones I thought could speak openly about it found it difficult. The ones that had exposure in the past were okay to talk about it but not secure or confident by any means. Others just saw it as taboo.

Shame brought up a mixed bag of reactions. Especially if shame was linked to either of the other S words. So much to think about.

At the end of the day I challenge you to think about these words in isolation. How comfortable are you opening up a discussion on the word itself or how would you react if one asked you to talk about it?

Sex – a parent has to be prepared for this conversation. A friend may need to counsel a friend on sexual orientation. A grandparent may need to offer support in an abusive situation. Don’t be afraid of this S word. Instead think about how you can prepare yourself to converse about it no matter what the circumstances.

Suicide – everyone should say the word out loud. Everyone should be comfortable asking a friend, family member, coworker or close connection if they are feeling so bad they thought about harming themselves. If the answer is yes, one should probe and actually use the S word to see if that person needs help. Today’s world is challenging for many. Being available to a person struggling may be lifesaving. Practice the word. It’s an important word to have in your vocabulary.

Shame – one can feel shame over the the littlest things. What’s a mole hill to you is a mountain to others. Understanding how a person can feel shame may help you be a better person. This S word can be tough depending on the circumstances. Keep the word in the back of your mind. Be kind to others. 

My S word project was a little random but it was very thought provoking. I hope just the sharing of the words and the brief content of this blog may make you think before you speak. Think before you act. Think before you type. Words are powerful but can also be dangerous. Use your words wisely. Cherish those around you and look to share kind words with others when you can.

Our world has enough hate today. Let’s focus on kindness and shift the S words to promote positive thoughts:

Sunshine

Smile

Supportive

Sweet

Social

Soothe

Success

The above words are a few that come to mind for me. Write your list of a words today. Practice using them in 2021. Focus on the positives but be ready to talk when somebody needs you to cover the other S words! Today’s thought post is aimed at helping others. Do what you can to be prepared to help somebody when the need arises. 

Happy January!

challenges, fitness and nutrition

The Open

This is year #5 for me in The CrossFit Open. Pretty crazy for me to look back and reflect on where I started in the sport I love to where I am today. So many memories. So many relationships built. So many milestones hit. So many adventures. All part of my athlete journey.

A couple months ago the Open didn’t seem like something I would participate this year. It seemed like another disappointment with all the Corona cancellations around my athletic competitions. Then I paused for a minute. I slowed down to appreciate where I’ve been, where to want to get to, and how much I like data. The Open is a data point for me. An accountability pinpoint in time.

Maybe I weigh more this year. Maybe I lift less weight. Maybe I’m not counting my macros right now. Maybe I’m at a different gym. The variables shouldn’t matter. It’s Me vs. Me in the Open. 2021 is a recovery year for me. A rebuild of the foundation that got some cracks in 2020. I’m looking to see how deep the cracks are or how superficial they are. The only way I will know is to push my limits and see how I fare. The Open will help me gauge my comeback results of 2021.

As I look back at some pictures from the 2020 Open, I see some faces have faded in my gym world. As I look back to 2019, I see where some new friendships blossomed and each and every one of them is still intact. A group of strong females between 45-55 years old grinding away. Daily, weekly, monthly we almost in the work. Why not celebrate our commitment, consistency, and courage in the Open? 

2018 and 2017 were a bit of a blur for me as I didn’t do as good of a job documenting all my ups / downs but that’s where the leaderboard comes in. I can see where I stacked up to others worldwide. I can see how far I have come. As I write in this blog I may inspire another to sign up for the open. Or maybe sign up for a gym membership. 

This year I have a job to sign up two newbies to CrossFit to attempt the Open: one in their teens. One in their twenties. Both have journeys in their infancy. I’m looking forward to watching them shine in their own special way. Motivate. Inspire. Repeat. 

I have hope that when I write about my fitness highs, lows and everything in between that I have an audience. The audience may change from year to year and that’s okay by me. I love to inspire all ages. All types of people. The more I impact the more I write. The more I challenge myself to do more year over year.

Thank you for being part of my fitness journey. I’m on the road to fab at 50. You have a front road seat in the journey. You will see my fitness. My friends. My family. My competition. My exhaustion. My will. My pride. My ego. My personality. My triumph. 

Bringing my best: March 2021

Why not join me? The Open is open to all ages and this year you can even compete at home. Options are available to test your fitness.

working women

A Day in the Life (These Days)

People sometimes ask me if I like my job.

My answer used to be an enthusiastic “yes!” How can I not love a job filled with reading to kids, writing with kids, doing research and helping them grow into readers and learners?

These days my answer is different. Lukewarm, at best. I get up and go to my school every required day. But I am not excited about it right now. What used to be a positive, welcoming place is now filled with “spread out!” and “don’t touch!” Books turned in are quarantined in a special room on carts until they’re safe to touch.

Instead of kids drifting in and out of my classroom throughout the day, they can only come to the media center once a week during their assigned time slots. They come in, stay in line, sit down in the distanced chairs.

They watch my whole, real face tell them a story on video while they browse tables of books with their eyes, not hands. (I no longer have a clerk to assist me, so I “clone myself” with a video screen.) If students want me to open a book, I prop it on a random page then keep moving. When they have their selections they head to the desk. I scan a barcode instead of them typing their own numbers. No touching! Then they return to the exact same seat.

Instead of laughter, the most prevalent sound is the *psst* *psst* *psst* of food contact surface spray. I scrub. I shuffle books. Gloves on. Mask on. Smiling with my eyes as best I can.

I miss my job. I miss spontaneity. I miss special projects. I miss idle chat that leads to great ideas. A few fewer rules. A few more smiles.

A highlight of the week is when I do carside book delivery to the digital learners. Some drop by twice a week. Sometimes I get to wave to the kids in the back seat and tell them I miss them. Last week a parent held up her phone so I could Facetime with her son, waiting at home for more books. I’m not the only one who is missing something.

Or the other afternoon when I had a spur-of-the-moment takeout picnic with my daughter at the park. As I was leaving I heard a girl’s voice scream in excitement “YOU ARE THE LIBRARY TEACHER! YOU ARE THE LIBRARY TEACHER!” Then her little sister, a new kindergarten student, joined in the hollering. We waved excitedly. From a distance. Even with the mask, they still see me and I still see them.

I’m determined to stay positive and try to keep connecting to kids at a time when everything is about separation. When the kids watch me tell a story and laugh at the right parts, I know I am still reaching them through all the rules and rigamarole.

The Roaring 20s, I tell myself. The Roaring 20s.

perspective

Speed Reading

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The book was “Go Dog, Go.” It’s the stuff of family lore.  I pulled it off the shelf at age 2, plopped down on our orange linoleum kitchen floor and read it out loud cover to cover.

My parents loved to tell this story of what a precocious reader I was. (My brothers would spitefully say I just memorized it because they read it to me every day.)   Still, I was in the Redbird group in Ms. Levell’s first grade class, which everyone knew was the highest group.  I’m not sure I always loved to read, but I had a knack for it from a young age.

As if that wasn’t enough, when I was in late elementary school, my Dad thought I should learn to speed read.  I’m not really sure how I learned it, but at some point I started using techniques that caused me to try to read as fast as I could.  It’s about inhaling chunks of text instead of individual words.  Larger and larger units. Zooming through page after page.

You may not be surprised that this change of speed made my understanding of what I was reading plummet.  I would fly through pages and have no idea what I had just read.  Through high school, college, and my PhD, I spent untold hours reading and rereading to slow myself down.

Even all these years later, I think I’ve still got the mentality of “faster is better” inside my reading mind.  Once I made reading a priority during quarantine, I’ve been off to the races consuming books.

As I’ve said before, the books I am reading are about mindset change.  I’ve plowed quite a few of them in a row now, more like they are mindless romance novels than anything worth ruminating over.  There’s been a nagging voice in the back of my head that says “slow down and think about it…”  Or in a couple of them, the author asks questions at the end of each chapter.  Still, I’ve breezed through them, thinking I would come back to them at some point.  That hasn’t happened.

Right now I’m reading Chasing Cupcakes, recommended by many in the Stronger U Community.  I actually didn’t love the book at first. The author came at me from the very beginning, warning that I couldn’t just traipse through the chapters without doing any work.

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Today in my reading she talked about four stages of problem solving.  The first step is sensing, where you’ve identified an issue and are looking for information to remedy it. I’ve been in this stage for months now.  Reading mindset book after mindset book is interesting…I learn something different from each one.  But I haven’t really done anything concrete with it. Yes, I’ve changed my internal soundtrack, but I need to push forward in new directions. All this endless seeking makes little difference if it doesn’t change into doing.  At some point I have to move into solving, then I can circle back if things aren’t working out.

Time to stop piling on the information and pretending that is progress.  On to doing something.  I’m daring myself to get clear on what I’m chasing and move forward.

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