mental health, perspective

The Web

Can you see the web hidden in the dew and the sunlight? If you can’t it’s okay. I will tell you about it.

The web is masterfully crafted. Many layers. Anchored skillfully. It was a beautiful web. There were spiders to the eye. There were no prey woven in. It was a midnight masterpiece I’m sure. One that a skillful spider crafted while I slept. 

When I awoke it caught my eye in sun. It was hard to get a picture but the dew and the sun made it stunning to admire. Not many can say they found a web stunning but on this day I did.

It’s craftsmanship had me interested. Much like life we live with many tangled layers similar to a web. Carefully crafted relationships. Overlapping work and pleasure lines. Family connections. Friend circles. All interwoven to fit what we call life.

I was drawn to this web today. A simple part of nature. Many won’t see. Many will take for granted or even wipe it a way in an instant. But the beauty of it all is a spider will get back up and craft a different web. Maybe one that can withstand more than just a simple wipe away.

This was a firmly build web. Anchored. Robust. How does your life web compare? Is it flimsy? Can it be wiped away easily? Are you memorable like this web was for me? Can you say your feet are planted firmly in life?

Life is so full of many ups and downs. Sometimes you have to pick yourself off the ground and start fresh to build a better life web. The beauty is we are all capable of doing this. 

Get after your day today. Look at your web. If it’s tangled, worn or flimsy look at options to refresh your web of life. If it’s robust and built sturdy look around and see if you can share your gift of life stability with others. Somebody nearby may need help with their web.

Enjoy your day.

challenges

Taking it on the Chin

Confession time:  I am a klutz in the gym.  OK, actually I am a klutz anywhere, but it seems to be more noticeable in the gym.  Or maybe the bruises are just more obvious evidence and reminders.

First, there were the bruises from learning how to do power cleans.  I’d clock myself in the area under my neck, leaving a nice big quarter-sized bruise.

Then, there were the shoulder bruises that clean-and-jerks left when I slammed the dumbbell too hard in transition.

The chin bruises are their own special kind.  I may have a permanent lump from doing jumping pull-ups and barely getting my chin over the bar, then hitting it as I quickly came down.

Two other scary ones happened on the chin, too.  The first was on my birthday. During the workout and we were racing to do as many shoulder-to-overheads as we could in a short amount of time.  We had to break up the sets too.  It’s hard to explain, but doing them quickly kept me from having to do more burpees or box jumps or something else ugly.  Anyway, one time I cleaned the barbell to my shoulders and then pushed it up as hard as I could, which was great except that my chin was in the way.  I smacked myself so hard I saw stars.  Thankfully I put the bar down safely and regrouped but what a bruise that was.

The final one I’ll share here was a huge lesson learned (and truly cements my mega-klutz-with-a-side-of-airhead status). In a hotel gym they had a large rack of balls of different sizes.  I thought to myself, great, I can do some slam balls.  So, I grab one of the bigger ones, lift it over my head, then slam it as hard as I can to the ground.  Of course, as you can likely predict, it was not a 20-pound slam ball, but just an inflated hard bouncy ball.  It bounced with force and hit me on the chin where again, I saw stars.  The lesson here is:  first, test new equipment.  Second, don’t do new movements in the gym when you are by yourself.  I seriously could have knocked myself out.

I love working out, I really do, and my body is capable of way more than I thought possible.  But deep inside, I’m still the little girl who perpetually wore bandaids on her skinned-up knees, Dad calling me “Grace” in jest of his stumbly, klutzy, accident-prone daughter.  Hope it made you giggle, or shake your head, or some of you maybe feel a little less alone in your clumsy.

family, fitness and nutrition, friendship

Grind It Out

The showdown took place today. A competitive event. A grind session of sorts. A last-minute change-your-weekend-plans type of gathering. Of course, sometimes the best ideas and memories are made on short or no notice. I mean you really can’t guarantee fun, it just happens when I have a bad idea. Like this one, of course. 

Really, it was just a local CrossFit competition but there were friends that were teammates and competitors. That’s kind of the thrill of the event. The more. The merrier. The crazier.  There was even family competing against family. Talk about a shit storm and I didn’t even mention the judging. Those judges that you know who no rep you for your error and you get mad about it. They are just doing the job they volunteered for.

No matter which way you look at it, the group was getting their fitness on. No matter who was on each team. Recharging their competition batteries. They were putting Corona and all its cancellations in the back seat. A much needed mindset for me anyways.

99 Problems and a Lift Ain’t One of them

Purple Reign

Cheet Cheat Never Beat

The crazy names above are three of the teams I’m highlighting in this post. My friends and family. We all showed up and we worked our asses for four grueling workouts. See below for proof. Close to 30 teams participated overall. A great turnout with today’s restrictive environment.

We all battled hard to overcome injuries, movement challenges and our minds. Our minds are a powerful tool and I have written about its power and complexities in the past. Today I saw both in action across many people.

The power of I can vs. I can’t. The power of persevering. The power of overcoming self-doubt. The power of taking action when you really don’t want to. I saw personal firsts. Personal bests. Injuries-some temporary, some sidelining and some just irritating. Wherever my fellow athletes fell on the spectrum there was always somebody there to pick them up.

A hug, a high five, a fist pump, a sign, a cheer, a roar, and so much more. This is what CrossFit is about. Community. Challenges. Digging deep. Mental toughness. Pushing yourself beyond your perceived limits. Why doesn’t everyone do it? Because it’s hard. It’s physically hard. Emotionally hard. Mentally draining. All of those factors are magnified in a CrossFit competition! Magnified beyond recognition.

You are physically fatigued. You are mentally weak. You are low on gas in the emotions tank. None of that matters though. You are an athlete. You are competing for a spot on the podium or some other significance. Whatever your reason, you are there competing. Doing your best. No time for excuses. You are on a stage. No matter how big or small the stage, you are in the spotlight as a competitor.

I loved this competition. Not because I won because I didn’t. I watched my daughter compete in her first competition. I watched her achieve things she didn’t think she could. I saw her embrace new relationships and partner through adversity. I saw her cry when she felt defeated. I heard her say at the end of it all that it was fun. I can’t wait for the next one. I’m going to be better next time. How awesome is that? The lessons she learned today will springboard her in many parts of her life and I get a front row seat to watch that growth. Simply amazing!

Whenever I can compete with my kids in a CrossFit competition, race, or business I will jump at the chance. I will put so much to the side to do it. It’s memories like these I will cherish for a lifetime. It’s an opportunity that everyone has. An opportunity many won’t seize. An opportunity I desire. 

My fitness journey is a work in progress. It has been for most of my life and it will be for many more years. In light of the recent passing of notorious RBG, I hope to still be CrossFitting my way when I’m in my 80s. Hats off to some of my competition pals. This photo isn’t all-inclusive but it is a glimpse. All warriors in a way battling their own fitness journey and I’m happy to part of their story as much as they are a part of mine.

My emotional tank is overflowing.

My mind is dancing to an amazing anthem.

My physical aches are temporary and none required a bandaid.

Big win here. Today was a success and then some.

Last minute decisions do indeed make for amazing memories.

family

That Substitute Sucks

Yes folks I’m the substitute and I suck at my job. Let’s face it. I don’t get paid as a substitute teacher. I didn’t volunteer for the role. I certainly didn’t expect the abundance of emails and stress that went along with the thankless job either. I was voluntold to accept this role and anyone who knows me probably knows that didn’t sit well.

Enter the teen girl. Super social. Loves school. Student athlete thriving in her world. Boom CORONA HITS!

Her world is shaken not stirred. Shaken to the core. She lost her routine. Her social outlets. Her sports. Her teacher bonds. She lost the sounds of the hallway and cafeteria. The roaring of the crowds. The listening ears of her teachers. The safety net of her world. Does that impact her learning and her mental health. Why yes it does!

Why do I need to get up. Why do I need to do this work. This isn’t a school environment. Who is going to help me with math? What about my yearbook? What about the school dance? How do I return my library books? How do I read the book assigned if I can’t get it? Did you realize the boy population of hot boys doesn’t exist in home school environments. No field trips. No chill time at lunch to hear the latest gossip. No flirting from across the room. What no science partner!

To say we muttered through is an understatement. We slitterred by by on a shoe string or even fine hair. Emails to teachers. Online review of grade with a microscope. Loss of cell phone privileges. We tried it all. This kid is not cut out for home school. Not at all. For that matter I am not cut out for the teacher role.

When my email flows fast in the workplace, I too need a break on the weekends. On a Saturday when I get teachers emailing me about next week or what’s missing from this week it shakes me to the core. What, a deadline missed?….not on my watch! And when the weekends blend with the weekdays there is no mental break for her or me. I actually had to ask teachers not to email on the weekend. I get they are doing their jobs but the stress of no break was too much.

The pressure the teachers were put under to go digital and maintain grades of their students was very unrealistic. If I thought my job sucked, I can only imagine what theirs looked like. Again another thankless front line job.

The teen feels like she is confined to a cardboard box with electronics and have to’s. Prison might be better in her eyes. She might even wish she had cafeteria food instead of the health-crazed food I serve.

We are finally on the other side sucking on some freeze pops to soothe our relationship. We made it out without killing each other. We still have our hair and our personalities. We now see sunlight for summer. We see activities emerging with a handful of friends.

Luck had it, she had one friend who drives and has come once a week to visit. She hangs out. They did school work. They made a mess in the kitchen. They giggled. They went fishing nearby. They got ice cream. They laughed. They smiled. They snuggled under blankets. They may have even taken a few naps.

It’s these moments that made corona in a box tolerable. It’s the moments of friendships valued. It’s the patience and understanding of let’s work together to push through. We have each other. This is a life lesson many won’t see and why I chose to share.

Time is valuable. Time is a precious commodity. How you spend your time, with whom you spend it and on what you spend it is important. It may make or break you.

She is also fortunate to have an older brother that pushes her and rewards her with a sub sandwich date to go or Starbucks drive through. Those little acts of kindness help her putter along. She had a virtual community of peers as well but none replaced her in- person interaction.

Toxicity in life can’t be avoided as people in general are messy. However, you can keep it at bay. In the school example above tolerance and patience was needed on both sides but to avoid toxicity the substitute and the student needed a break or many breaks from the insanity or work, work, work mentality. I can draw upon this experience in the future for my own work/life balance.

Life balance of sorts. For me I spent the weekend on the water at the lake. It was a much needed break from reality. No screen time just fun, fresh air and a few people. Sometimes it’s a long walk or bike ride for me. For my teen it may be a visit to the nail salon or an ice cream stand visit.

The point is have the conversation. Make adjustments when needed to push through whatever battle is in front of you. It may be a long battle for an illness or a short battle to get through a project.

Take the word of a shitty substitute. Find a way to blend and mend. Get by how you can, when you can and smile at the end. You will soon say been there, done that. Don’t want to do it again.

I am a one hit wonder in the role of a teacher. Corona better stay away because this chick wants no part of schooling her teen again in this lifetime. Love her to death but don’t enjoy teacher, mom, mentor and so on without support while trapped in my home for unprecedented circumstances with my own work deadlines.

I may be alone in this rant or not but I’m sharing as a method of cleansing my soul of havoc that was wreaked upon it for more than 60 days. I guess this was a life experience I wasn’t fond of.

Until next time. Be safe. Hug the folks you can and keep your distance from those you should. It’s summer time here! Let the adventures and memories begin.

business, challenges

A View From Behind the Mask

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I don’t bring it up often, but my family is in the restaurant business.  My husband and I met when I came to work at his family’s restaurant when I was 20 years old. I was taking a mental health break from college for a semester and needed a job, so I stumbled in to a local restaurant and ended up working there on and off for over a decade.  That’s a story for another time.

Suffice it to say, I have worked the front of the house in a restaurant for a lot of my life.  Server, bartender, hostess, manager, banquet server, retail sales, I’ve done it.  I have learned that it is not the life for me. (Add that to the list of stories for another time.)  Still, my husband’s restaurant is a huge part of our family economy, so there are certain days every year when I go to work and pitch in. Father’s Day, Oktoberfest celebrations, and so on.  Mother’s Day is usually one of those days.

As you likely know, the restaurant business has been radically changed by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Many establishments are closed.  Others are trying take-out, delivery, family-style offerings, and whatever else they can cook up. Heck, some are even offering grocery-style shopping. Pivoting quickly to focus on survival.

It was just recently that Georgia decided to allow restaurant dining rooms to open with detailed, extensive safety measures and very limited capacity.  We are lucky to have a restaurant with a large dining room. Other restaurants may not even be able to try to open their dining areas just because of the safety measures and square footage requirements.

This Mother’s Day was the first time our dining room had been open in well over a month.  My daughter and I were pinch hitting to help things run smoothly. Here are just a few of the rules: Paper menus instead of plastic sleeves so they could be disposed of each use. Gloves…I think I changed my gloves 50 times during a 6-hour shift. No bringing pitchers to the table to refill any drinks.  Just bring a new fresh glass. Spread guests out at every third table or so.  No groups over six people, which is often the minimum number for many tables on Mother’s Day at our place. Deep cleaning all surfaces…we scrubbed tabletops and every part of every chair anyone touched with sanitizer all shift. Since we couldn’t use our typical tablecloths, this was a lengthy chore. When done, we left a card on the table letting customers know it had been thoroughly cleaned.

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Maybe the biggest change was the masks.  I had a coworker from my school make me cloth masks to wear a while ago.  They are more or less comfortable.  They are much better than the awkward constricting bandana I tried at the beginning of corona. Still, after a while with the mask on you find yourself breathing differently.  It’s always sweaty and warm under there.  I was breathing more heavily, like I was working out or something, after just a minute with the mask on.  It was a relief to take it off every once in a while, or just let my nose peek out for 30 seconds or so.  Apparently it’s even worse if you wear glasses.

I wondered, could people tell if I was smiling at them? I do smile with my eyes but I’m still not sure. (No comment on my overgrown eyebrows which are tragic, or the bags under my eyes!) I wore more eye makeup thinking that would be the part people could see.

I learned quickly that most guests couldn’t understand what I was saying, so I spoke less and less as the shift wore on.  I hardly wished anyone Happy Mother’s Day, which is usually a big part of my job being the “Comfortable Committee” on those days.  I suppose I was just caught up in the strangeness of it all.  It didn’t feel festive.  Not many dressed for church.  No tables filled with gifts or flowers for the Moms. Only a handful of photos taken. The dining rooms weren’t crammed with smiling faces.  (And we are usually wall-to-wall with a waiting list for hours on Mother’s Day.)  It felt tense, with our focus on staying safe and sterile over warm and welcoming. It is what is needed right now. We want our customers to feel safe with us. Still, it is very different than the atmosphere in most years.

Just an insider’s view of what it’s like to work in a restaurant for Mother’s Day during the pandemic. Thankfully, we had quite a few people dine with us and many families took brunch and sweets to go.  This daily income is truly a lifeline for your local restaurants.

Sadly, when I got home from working, I read a long string of complaints and disappointments on social media from people who had waited hours for food ordered from major chains. Steakhouses, southern cooking, seafood, you name it.  All took enormous numbers of online orders and the system broke down.  People waited and waited, no one answering the phone, no one updating them.  When only a few miles away we had tables sitting empty and cooks and servers ready to make great food! It won’t always be perfect, but please give your local places a chance.

Our family’s place has been the site of engagements, weddings, showers, celebrations of all kinds and so many other special occasions. Please support those quirky, unique little places now.  Support the ones that hold your memories, even if it is a little strange to do these days.  If they are able to open at all, they are likely working their tails off to keep you safe and keep their business alive and employees working.  If you can, please dine with your favorite local places! Support the places you want to see come out the other side of this challenge with your dollars, your social media buzz, and any other support you can offer.