Loyalty: It’s Not What You Think It Means

My husband and I have closed our doors to our fitness gym. As I sit and reflect on the last seven years, the word “loyalty” stick outs like a sore thumb.

Growing up, this word was used a lot among my friends and I in school. It was such a fierce weapon for cliques and social manipulation.

Funny thing is, because we were just highly inexperienced, overly hormonal, and painfully insecure creatures, our “loyalty” seemed to fluctuate and mutate weekly (and sometimes even daily). We had no idea what loyalty actually meant.

And here we are now in adulthood, and many of us still do not seem to know what it is.

In CrossFit, it has commonly been referred to as a cult. In a general sense, it is, and “loyalty” is a big thing in gym boxes worldwide. Just as in middle and high school, many CrossFit members and coaches use loyalty as a weapon for membership and retention. Of course, not all CrossFit gyms are like this, but many of them are (that’s how stereotypes are formed in the first place).


Two years ago, we were forced into a situation in which we fired our head coach. That story is a whole book in and of itself.

When we let him go, he launched his own story, and then juicier versions got passed around, and the damaging game of “Telephone” was recklessly played around town.

Gossip is like wildfire, and many people use it as a bonding tool. This is where the word “loyalty” gets thrown around. This is where the word turns into a dirty weapon. And lo and behold, it was an “us against them” story.

Because some of the members felt compelled to be “loyal” to the coach, they left our gym. Not because we were negligent or incompetent coaches, or a dangerous facility, or a poor-quality service (Which we were none of those things, anyway), but because since we were not “loyal” to him, they were going to show us what “loyalty” was all about. They were going to stick it to us.

Some of the members who left told us that they were leaving because we were not only disloyal to the head coach, but disloyal to “the CrossFit way.”

Apparently, to them, being “loyal to CrossFit” meant having a chalky warehouse with over-the-top “intense” workouts, allowing everyone to perform “Rx” topless with reckless abandon and shitty form, and then taking really cool pictures for social media to post about bloody hands and a 20-min “Fran” time.

(SIDE NOTE — That is NOT CrossFit. CrossFit is misrepresented and mistreated by well-intended, but severely inexperienced coaches and owners, and even worse, who have no idea how to run a business. CrossFit is actually an incredible program that is scalable and adaptable to meet any and all individual needs, and was originally founded upon personal training to enhance daily life. Somewhere along the way, the true intent of CrossFit got shoved in the corner by competition and “Rx” workouts. But, I digress…)

And, being loyal to our head coach meant allowing him to not fulfill his responsibilities and duties, and turning a blind eye to poor behavior.

It is fascinating the stories people are willing to propagate and believe in order to remain “loyal” to each other, even when the truth is point blank.

“Ego is the anesthesia that deadens the pain of stupidity.”

Supposedly, loyalty means that no matter what, you stick together.

You stay in your marriage, even if he is cheating on you. You stay friends, even if she keeps gaslighting you. You take your alcoholic, homeless dad into your home, even if he breaks your things and hits you. You keep your best friend as the head coach, even if he sucks at his job and takes advantage of you.

Fuck that.

Loyalty is not a label you slap on someone’s forehead, and then cash out on when it serves you.

People commonly misuse loyalty to regulate their relationships (And, in their defense, they were probably taught it growing up, and have never known any differently).

It’s the string attached.

Funny thing about strings — They can break easily. And, you have to constantly re-tie and add more strings if you want to keep ‘em around. This is what we call “emotionally draining.”

Or, as I like to call it, “bullshit.”

Real, healthy relationships are only sustainable through free will and a common value system.

It’s the same thing with gym membership. The members who left us were never really ours in the first place, because they were there for the wrong reasons. They had strings attached. The members who stayed, remained because they shared the same value system as us.

“You have to weather the storm to see the rainbow.”


Loyalty is NOT family.

Loyalty is NOT a group or organization.

Loyalty is NOT even a best friend.

Loyalty is something you have WITH YOURSELF.

Loyalty is when you tell your best friend no as she angrily demands her keys back so she can drive home drunk, and then keeping the keys from here even after she breaks up with you and threatens to tell the world your darkest secrets.

You are being loyal to yourself, not her. Your value system is against drunk driving, and even more so, against allowing anyone to put others in danger irresponsibly.

Just because she is your friend, does not mean that you have to be “loyal” to her and let her drive drunk. That is not loyalty. That is bullshit.

When our head coach was bad-mouthing fellow coaches to members, undermining the owners, favoring specific clients, overstepping his authority, disregarding gym etiquette, and refusing further education and professional development, we had to put friendship aside. My husband and I had a laser-focused vision, a long-term plan, and our own set of core values for the gym.

We stayed loyal to that.

What made the situation blurry, though, was the fact that he was our best friend. And this is where loyalty got heavily abused.

Because he was our best friend, it was expected of us to remain “loyal” to him. No matter what. Just brush it under the carpet. Let it go. Look the other way. Don’t say anything. Give him benefit of the doubt…For the millionth time.

Somehow, loyalty has become something we have to obey out of social obligation.

Loyalty is a “ball and chain.”

And, loyalty also seems to mean that you have to put up with being mistreated.

Nope.

Hard pass.


Loyalty is not an obligation, nor a right of anyone to demand or expect from you.

The problem with making loyalty a relational-obligation with others is that you cannot control people. You cannot control what happens outside of you. None of it.

People change. Life changes.

Change is constant.

And, inevitable.

Loyalty is really all about learning who you are, what is meaningful to you, and how you want to share yourself with the world.

It’s about creating your own internal value system, and then practicing and mastering being loyal to that.

Being who you are is loyalty.

Every time you deny your value system to please someone else, THAT is when you are being disloyal.

If I had allowed my best friend to continue to do the poor behaviors at our gym just because he was my bestie, I would have been disloyal to myself, because my value system is built upon fairness, continuing education, hard work, and open communication.

While I can live with losing a shitty friend, I cannot live with losing my own value system.

I don’t have to live with that person day in and day out. I do have to live with myself 24–7.

Stay loyal to yourself.

The right people will show up and stick around.

They always do.

Loyalty is a one-man show. So, go rock it!

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Girlfriends

Girlfriends
The Importance of Same-Sex Friendships

As my family and I drive to Ohio from California, I keep revisiting thoughts of the people and a life we have known for over seven years.

Through high school and college, I had been burned too many times, and just shut down emotionally after graduation.

I stopped trying with people, women especially.

When Spencer and I got engaged, I had my sister as my Maid of Honor. For my bridesmaids, I had one old friend from high school, and then the rest were Spencer’s sisters and his close friends.

It was at that moment I realized how much I had shut women out.

When we started our CrossFit gym, it took me about three years to warm up to the women and build friendships.

Slowly but surely, though, I found myself actually enjoying the company of my fellow female athletes.

Fives years into our gym business, and I was suddenly reminded why I stopped with girlfriends so many years ago.

The break up with our head coach brought out the catty, gossipy behavior many women are so artfully talented at. Women don’t go for physical pain, they drill in deep to hopefully leave emotional scars.

Hurt people hurt other people.

Any person, man or woman, who uses gossip as a bonding tool with others is not a friend. Just as they used someone else to befriend me, they just as quickly used me to befriend someone else.

I learned all that the hard way.

However, through the storm, a few women stuck around and showed me what friendship really means.

Honestly, I had forgotten what being a friend was.

My handful of close girlfriends reminded me. It took me seven years to find them, trust them, and build what we have now.

We all cried my last day at the gym. I cried harder at home.

As we drive through Iowa, I wonder who will cross my path in Ohio, who will I find, trust, and build with. Will I be able to again?!

No doubt, I will keep in touch with my core girlfriends. They are worth the effort.

They add value to my life.

I never wanted to admit it before, but having a few close girlfriends is pretty important for a quality of life, as well as for personal growth and sustainability.

You have to go through the bullshit and pain to find those few.

It’s worth it.

“You are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with — Choose wisely.”

Emma

Last night, I was sitting on the couch in our living room. All the lights were off, and just the last bits of sunlight were filling the bedroom of my girls. It was their bedtime, and neither one was tired. A struggle all parents know too well.

The bedroom door was half open, and I could see the beautiful silhouettes of my two girls – One bouncing on the bed, while the other held herself up by the edge, waving one arm excitedly at her big sister. Laughter filled the air. Then, Bailey leans down and kisses the top of Emma’s head.

The only thing that would have made this moment even more magical is if by some chance Phillip Phillips’ “Home” started playing in the background.

I sat back on that couch, soaking in the moment, and suddenly realized how close we were to never having Emma.

Before Emma, I started an ambitious path to become a Chiropractor. Through some unfortunate events, I had to drop out in the first quarter. It was frustrating, to say the least. I was extremely resentful and heartbroken over the situation, and for a long time, I focused on what I had to give up.

Fast forward to two years later, and here I am, the mother of two beautiful and healthy girls, and I get to watch them become best friends.

Emma would have never happened had I not had to quit Chiropractic school.

I can go back to school anytime in my life. I can never have Emma again. The odds of us being born is well over 1 in 400 trillion!

Life is a series of chance and luck.

Hard work, planning ahead, putting in the time and effort, and all of that other stuff are important, and yes, they do make a difference most of the time, but there are no guarantees in life. Just recently, I read a story about a young man who graduated high school top of his class with a football scholarship, and he was shot and killed just hours after graduation standing up for a friend. It’s times like this we question humanity and fairness. A good kid doing the right thing, and he gets killed for it. Heartbreaking.

It is uncomfortable to think of life as so fragile. That, at any moment, it can change course, or even end.

One decision can change everything. Had I not responded back to Spencer’s email over 9 years ago, none of this would even be here today – Our gym, our girls, our friends, our families.

An email. That’s it. A simple reply changed the fate of our lives.

Last night, watching my girls giggle together, hoping that they’d wear each other out soon, for the first time since it all happened, I wasn’t bitter about Chiropractic school.

I was thankful.

Instead of focusing on what we lose or have to give up in a situation, turn towards all the things you have to gain from it. Getting laid off gives you an opportunity to find a better job, or maybe even the chance to go back to school. Getting cheated on by your husband gives you an opportunity to learn to love yourself, and find a better partner in life. Losing a loved one teaches you to appreciate life, and spend more quality time with those around you.

Life is hard and unfair. But, we always have a choice in how we deal with it.

Choose gratitude. Always.

Emma will always be my daily reminder of how lucky I am in life. A 1 in 400 trillion chance!

Thank you, Life! 🙂

Listen. Love. Repeat.

59e02a5adfda810a903d56724e47ceb7STRENGTH DOESN’T COME FROM WHAT YOU CAN DO.  IT COMES FROM OVERCOMING THE THINGS YOU ONCE THOUGHT YOU COULDN’T.

So, here’s an interesting confession I want to make…

I have not overcome my past…yet.

I have simply adapted and compensated for over 20 years, and extremely well, I might add.  Oscar-worthy, really.  I think 99% of us have done this, and most of us still are to this day.

I’ve always been fascinated by psychology and people, but I think most of that is due to the fact that I have struggled internally with a lot of my own demons for so many years, and since I couldn’t figure out myself, I decided to try and figure out everyone else.

Maybe if I could figure out others, then I’d be able to figure out myself?!

Unfortunately, that is the WORST way to try to figure yourself out.  Not to be cheesy and cliche, but all of us really are unique and individual.

All of our stories are completely different.  Our own realities are played on different channels.  Our reactions are colorful.  We can all look at the same exact piece of artwork, and have drastically opposing interpretations and emotions.  A flower in a vase can mean many, many things to many diverse people!

It all depends on our own experiences, the way in which we’ve reacted to those experiences, and then how we interpret and move forward with them.

20 years ago

Yesterday, I just realized that it has been that long since “it happened.”  And for all these years, I honestly believed that I had worked through it, got passed it, overcame it, and was this big, bad ass.

I have, indeed, overcome a lot.  But…I have not overcome “that.”  And, it’s finally time that I do…
I believe I have sabotaged a lot of opportunities and abilities throughout my life BECAUSE I have not yet overcome “that.”

Heartbreaking to realize that.  But, also empowering, as I can now get to the root of myself and find my inner strength…

f09b3efb484a87b1040aa4897346d640TENSION IS WHO YOU THINK YOU SHOULD BE.  RELAXATION IS WHO YOU ARE.

So…20 years ago…

Like so many of us, someone I trusted and respected took advantage of our relationship and his position in my life, and I learned to shut everyone out and hate myself.

I coped with the situation the best way I knew how as a 16 year old.

As an adult and mother now, I am furious that instead of having to worry about which prom dress to buy and how to get rid of a pimple on my nose, I was worrying about THAT.  And, I had NO ONE to help me.  But, that was by choice.

I was far more afraid of telling and getting in trouble, than I was of him.  That’s the beauty of his position, though…It is why it happens so often to so many good people.

Silence is a deadly and powerful thing.

Since I didn’t tell anyone, and I had no one to help me through it, I processed that pain like an “out of body” experience, so I then started living my life that way.

I lived vicariously through others on the sidelines.  

And, I got really, really good at being a person I THOUGHT others wanted me to be.  Who I was “supposed” to be.

I became a chameleon.  An actress.  I compartmentalized everything almost flawlessly.  I had everyone fooled.

Except myself.

And, that’s the thing… At the end of the day, you have to go home to yourself.  You have to live with yourself 24-7.

So, I became a swim coach, and then a teacher, and I am now a CrossFit coach, and I started these professions with the intentions of not only helping others and making a difference, but on a more selfish level, to also try to cover up my own broken pieces.

You see, being around athletes and students, people who are working on getting better daily at something, it’s a great distraction, and it made me feel like I was getting better personally.

Being the coach/teacher, I was in the lead this time.  I was in control.  I could make people see me however I wanted them to.  So, I created this persona – My “ideal” coach/teacher.

I pretended to be the person I genuinely wished I was, but deep down believed I never could be, nor was I worthy of truly being that person, anyway.

I also acted the way I thought others expected me to.  Like I said earlier, I was a chameleon, and I was very good at being the person I thought I needed to be for everyone else in every situation.

With each athlete and student that I watched succeed and grow, I vicariously watched myself doing the same thing.

Problem is…Vicariously is NOT the same as actually DOING!

So, for 20 years, I’ve given myself to others in the hopes that they would fix me, when in reality, I need to fix myself!

I’ve been tense for 20 years.

Which is probably why I have issues with grinding my teeth at night, falling asleep, and not being able to relax my muscles during a massage or yoga class.

There are less than a handful of people in my life that I have felt truly relaxed with, and fortunately I got to be with one of them yesterday.  I realized in that moment how easy it was to be around my friend, and my body was actually in a state of relaxation and safety.  I wasn’t thinking about how to carefully word my story, and I wasn’t worried about how I’d be perceived or accepted.

For once in a very long while, I got to genuinely be myself and speak for myself.

I was with a friend.

And, I was me.

Forgiveness-is-a-reflectionFORGIVENESS IS A REFLECTION OF LOVING YOURSELF ENOUGH TO MOVE ON.

I hold grudges.  A lot.  And, it’s very stressful.  I know I do it, and I hate it, and I want to stop it.

For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out why I was so adamant about keeping them, though.  Why couldn’t I just let go and move on?!

Yes, people have done shitty things to me.  And, yes, I have done shitty things to people.

For the longest time, though, I always saw forgiveness as a way of saying, “What you did is okay.”  And, of course, the things people have done to me, and what I have done to them, were NOT okay!

I am slowly starting to learn, though, that forgiveness is NOT about making a shitty situation acceptable.

Forgiveness does NOT mean that what happened was okay.  It does NOT mean that the person was in the right, or justified, or anything like that.

Forgiveness is NOT for the others.  

It is for yourself.

I am just now realizing this, because for 20 years, I’ve held that grudge not only against him, but against myself.  Of course, I’ve blamed myself for most of that experience.  What did I do wrong?  What did I do to deserve this?  I should have… I could have… I wasn’t enough… I shouldn’t have… I was too weak…

And so, because I never learned to forgive myself…How in the world could I forgive anyone else?!

The grudges that I’ve piled on throughout my life are really just my own.

Now, after 20 years, I am finally on the path to forgiveness for myself.  Once I learn to forgive myself, it will be like a domino effect.

So often we treat the symptoms, and NOT the cause.  

I am the cause of my own poison and problems, and I am my own solution.

I-don-t-need-you-to-fix-me-I-need-you-to-love-meI DON’T NEED YOU TO FIX ME.  I NEED YOU TO LOVE ME WHILE I FIX MYSELF.

So, here’s my takeaway from all of this.

I need to fix myself.

Not my mom…Not a therapist…Not my coach…Not my teammates…Not my friends…Not my daughters…Not even him…

Just me.

But, I also need people who love me.  We all do.  So often, we mistakenly try to fix each other’s problems.  Obviously, because we love each other, and want to help.

However, the truth of the matter is, the only way to truly fix yourself is to do it yourself.

And while it certainly never feels like enough from the other end, simply LISTENING and BEING THERE are all it takes to help someone through a rough time.  Really.  That IS enough.

In today’s world, we’ve learned to listen to respond, and many of us just wait our turns to speak.  We’ve all become experts in everything, and our opinions have become way too important.

I can tell you from personal and professional experiences, both from being a listener and the talker, one of the greatest gifts you can give someone you love is your ear, your heart, and your shoulder.  That’s it.

NOT your humble opinions…NOT your insightful advice…NOT your words of wisdom…And definitely NOT your well-intended, but cliche sayings and feel-good phrases.

More times than not, we don’t need you to say anything at all.  Seriously.

We just want to be heard.

We want someone to listen to what we are actually saying and validate it.  And then say, “I still love you.” ❤  I can’t even describe to you in words how powerful and impactful that is to receive!!!

So, I am thankful today to be able to say to you that I am currently in a place in my life where I am ready to fix myself, AND, I have a select few who will love me the right way through this journey.

They aren’t going to do any of it for me. But, they are going to stick around and cheer me on while I do it, and that’s all I really need.

That’s all any of us really need.

Listen.  Love.  Repeat.

13412871_10209411189299680_6751065003056403668_n

Challenge Popular Thinking

quote-when-in-doubt-observe-and-ask-questions-when-certain-observe-at-length-and-ask-many-george-s-patton-78-84-68I would consider myself someone who goes against popular thinking.  I have my mother, a couple of amazing teachers, one coach, one doctor, my husband, and a very few close friends to thank for that.
I have chosen a small, but very exceptional circle of friends in my life so that I can continue to learn and grow throughout life.

I do not value popularity over good thinking, and I’ve made that very clear all my life by the decisions and actions I’ve made, some of which were the most unpopular of all.

Going against the grain, stepping off the beaten path, and asking questions requires a lot of backbone and big balls, because there is a good chance it will upset the masses, and make you very unpopular.  People will walk away from you.  People will judge you.  People will blame you.  Let them.  The only way to fly higher is to let go of the extra weight.

A lot of people do not like change, and they especially do not like when their comfortable level of thinking (or lack there of) is disturbed by a higher level of thinking that requires confrontation and action.

Popular thinking is safe and comfortable.  It involves little to no thinking for oneself.  There are no questions asked.  No education required.  It’s quick, easy, and accessible.  It can be impulsive, and have instant gratification.  There is little to no effort or hard work involved.  There are no risks.  And, it takes the burden of personal responsibility away.

It is much easier to do what other people do, and hope, or assume, that they have already thought it all out for you.

Popular thinking is following.

Popular thinking is strength in numbers…It is also how people like Hitler came into power.  It is how elections are won, bills get passed, donations are given, groups are formed, movements get established, and businesses gain profit.

And, I already know what many of you are saying to yourself right now, “OMG!  Hitler is an extreme example!  We would NEVER repeat history like that again!  I would NEVER do something like that!”

Actually…We are repeating history, in many forms, just in other ways that we tell ourselves are acceptable because we’re not actually putting innocent people into ovens this time.

Remember the whole case against vaccines and Autism?!  We were once told that a study proved the relationship between children getting vaccines and developing Autism, and suddenly there was a worldwide protest against vaccines!

Almost everyone eagerly jumped on the bandwagon.  It became popular thinking overnight.  We accepted it as truth without question.  If a doctor says it, and has a study to go with it, than it MUST be true, right?!  That’s how popular thinking works.  We willingly follow, and hope that this doctor has done all of the thinking for us, and got it right.

And then…This came out (click on the link):  http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/01/05/autism.vaccines/

And yet, even despite this blatant truth and confession, many, many people still choose to follow popular thinking that vaccines cause Autism to this day.  The damage has been done.

Now, I am NOT here to debate the topic of vaccines.  I do not have a science background, nor will I pretend to know enough about it all.  I have no idea what causes Autism.  And, unfortunately, none of us really do yet.  I’ll leave all that to the experts!

What I DO want to point out, though, is the ease at which we, the masses, were so willingly convinced of something with little to no questions asked, and little to no further education.  So many people adamantly and passionately supported the notion that vaccines caused Autism, and yet if anyone who was able to think outside the box asked a question, they didn’t have the answers, just the words of this one doctor and study.

But, they wouldn’t hesitate to cast stones at those who challenged this popular thinking.  You were considered a horrible parent if you gave your child vaccines.  You were an idiot if you didn’t believe it.  How could we possibly question this doctor and study?!

And so, the painful separations, strong judgments, and harsh behaviors were thus formed against each other – Vaccines versus No Vaccines.  Nazis versus Jews.  Yes, very different stories indeed, however, exact same manipulation of popular thinking by one powerful man.

Popular thinking means not thinking for oneself, offers false hope, is very slow to embrace change, and brings only average results, at best.

I have a challenge for you now…

THINK before you follow.  Unpopular thinking is severely underrated, unrecognized, and sorely misunderstood, and yet, it is the doorway to opportunity and progress!

Learn to seek out different ways of thinking, and appreciate thinking differently from your own.  Expose yourself to people different from yourself – People with different backgrounds, education levels, professions, personal interests, etc.  And, be mindful, because the people you spend the most time with are the ones who are creating the way you think.  So, if you spend more time with people who think outside the box, than you’re more likely to challenge popular thinking and grow.

Always ask questions.  It is too easy and tempting to stay in one mode that has proven to work for ourselves.  Sometimes, the greatest enemy to tomorrow’s success is today’s!  Challenge your own way of thinking, and challenge others.  Try something new in new ways.  Yes, that requires risk, mistakes, and possible failures.  But, it can also lead to huge success and change for the better.

Get used to being uncomfortable.  I can easily relate this to CrossFit and our workouts.  Popular thinking is comfortable.  It’s a snuggly old blanket.  Walking on a treadmill is comfortable, too.  However, if you want real results and success, you HAVE to get uncomfortable.

Challenge popular thinking.

Unpopular thinking leads to uncommon results!

Against-the-Wind

_________________________________________________________

P.S.  If you are still hung up on Hitler and vaccines, than unfortunately you completely missed the point of my blog, and I encourage you to read it again, please.  🙂

The Power of Acknowledgment

kitten_hugsac·knowl·edg·ment

akˈnälijmənt/
noun
noun: acknowledgement
  1. 1.
    acceptance of the truth or existence of something.
    “there was no acknowledgment of the family’s trauma”
  2. 2.
    the action of expressing or displaying gratitude or appreciation for something.
    “he received an award in acknowledgment of his work”
    • the action of showing that one has noticed someone or something.
      “he touched his hat in acknowledgment of the salute”
    • a letter confirming receipt of something.
      “I received an acknowledgment of my application”

    (SOURCE: Google Search)

Acknowledgement can go a very long way.  It is such a simple gesture, and yet all too often we fail to take the few seconds that it takes to actually give it.  Not intentionally or maliciously.  We just get “too busy” and wrapped up in our own realities.  We are human, and life is crazy.

But, if we can remember to slow down for even a few seconds each day to acknowledge someone else, it will literally change your life.

And, I don’t mean the everyday, repetitive acknowledgments that we give, like, “Good job,” or “Way to go.”  While those are nice…They go into the same category as the everyday, “Hey, how are you” line we give everyone on the streets and in the stores.  They are just “fillers.”  Well intended, but not enough.

I’m talking about genuine, thoughtful acknowledgment.

When a client finally breaks parallel in their front squat after months and months of mobility and consistency, we need to take the 5 seconds to say, “Oh my gosh, John, I’m so proud of you!  You broke parallel finally, and it’s all because of the months of hard work you put in!”

When your son puts his dirty socks into the laundry hamper, instead of saying, “It’s about time,” take the 5 seconds to say, “Thank you for putting your dirty socks into the hamper.  That is very helpful to me every time you do that.”

When a stranger holds the door open for you, instead of giving a quick hand gesture and walking right by him, take the 5 seconds to look at his eyes and say, “Thank you for holding the door for me.  It’s nice to see that chivalry still lives!”

When the janitor keeps the bathroom spotless and running, rather than taking it for granted and saying it’s his job, take the 5 seconds one day out of the blue to shake his hand and say, “Thanks for always keeping the bathroom so nice.  It really makes a difference here and everyone notices and appreciates it, including me.”

When a friend gives your kids a ride home from school for the millionth time, take 5 seconds to give her a hug next time she drops them off and say, “I really appreciate you always picking up my kids after school and bringing them home for me.  I wouldn’t be able to do the things I do without your help, so I hope you know what a difference you make in our lives.”

Next time you’re walking the dog, pick some flowers from the field and give them to your wife, and take the 5 seconds to say, “I love you and thought of you when I saw these flowers.  You’re a great mom to our kids, and I appreciate how hard you work for us.”

When your husband takes the trash outside like he always does every Tuesday night, rather than comparing how many more chores you do around the house than he does, when he comes back inside one night, stop him and say, “I hope you know that I do notice the little things you do around the house, and I appreciate it.  I love you.”

And, next time you’re checking out at the grocery store, and the same sweet lady who has checked you out for the past year greets you and remembers your daughter’s birthday, be sure to take 5 seconds and say to her, “You know, I always love coming here because of you, and I appreciate how invested you are in your job and the community.  We only ever talk during these brief encounters, but you still manage to remember my daughter’s birthday among the hundreds you see every day.  Thank you!”

Acknowledgement takes 5 seconds.

But, it can last days, months, years, and even a lifetime for someone.  It really is that powerful!

In a world of can’ts, won’ts, don’ts, didn’ts, shouldn’ts, and haters, it is easy to fall prey to negativity and self-righteousness.  Lots of criticisms and opinions to be given.  It’s easy to nit-pick others, say that we could do it better, and how it “should” be done.

But, most of us are doing the best we can with what we have at that moment!

So, here’s a positive challenge for you…

Every day, take 5 seconds to genuinely acknowledge someone.

And then see the magic happen…

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Draw A Line

boundaries-2I have always worn my heart on my sleeve, and been very vocal and communicative.  I am also a very open person.  However, I think to a fault.

There is something sacred and valuable to having some mystery and privacy.

Social media has really opened a lot of doors for us worldwide.  There are a lot of great things about it.  There are also a lot of dangerous things about it that we are just now learning.

There really is such a thing as “too much of a good thing.”

More than ever before, we need to remember to set boundaries with others, and even ourselves.

First, you need to set boundaries within yourself.  It has to start with YOU.  Everything starts there!  Decide what your likes and dislikes are, your beliefs, values, morals, etc.  What is your priority list? Where do you draw the line?  Where is your limit?  And, what are the consequences if those limits are broken?  And, how will you follow through with those consequences?

Then, set those boundaries with the world.  That includes family and friends, and yes, even your most treasured BFF.  No one is an exception.  If you make an exception for someone, they will then further test your limits, and not because they are a bad person, but because they’re human, and we all test each others’ boundaries everyday.

There’s really no right or wrong answer to what your boundaries should and shouldn’t be.  This just has to be YOUR list.

Creating your own boundaries is a necessary tool for protection and self-care.  It is putting c8c015b123264d33b030e3fcc71d57dfyourself first.  It is NOT selfish or mean.  It’s healthy and functional, and allows you to live a quality of life that you want for yourself.  It also allows you to keep your priorities straight, your goals met, and your life moving forward.

If you don’t like flaky people and really can’t tolerate it, then make those boundaries clear that showing up late and/or a no-show is unacceptable to you, and if it continues, you will no longer plan outings with them.

If you don’t like dogs, make it clear at your house-warming party that dogs are unfortunately not welcomed to attend.  Let friends know that you’ll hike with them only when their dog is not there.  It doesn’t matter why you don’t like dogs, either.  People will certainly take offense to it, and others will think you are crazy, but let them think those things – That is THEIR ISSUE, not yours.

You can’t control how people react to your boundaries.  Let them react.  Their reactions are about THEM – NOT you!  

Boundaries-QuoteThe challenging part is to NOT react back to them!  When you react to their reactions, often times that is when you will crack and give in.  Reacting can also make the other person feel like they’ve found a weakness in your wall.  Even if you don’t actually give in that time, they will push that boundary again, and again, and again, and if you keep reacting, it gives them satisfaction and hope to eventually break your barrier.

Practice and prepare to RESPOND, not react.  When you react, they are in control of you.  When you respond, you are in control of yourself and your boundaries.

And, when in doubt, sometimes the best reaction is NONE!

You can’t argue with someone who won’t argue back.  You can’t continue a conversation that is one sided.  You can’t play the game with no returns.  So, if someone reacts in an unfavorable way to your boundaries, and you’re not quite sure the best way to respond in the moment, simply do nothing at all.

Their anger and frustrations have absolutely nothing personal to do with you, and everything to do with their own issues that they are dealing with.  That is much easier said than accepted, though.  And unfortunately, you will most likely be used as their reason for pain and dysfunction, and you need to still stick to your boundaries and let them go, if need be.  It is much easier to blame you for being a bad person with your “mean boundaries,” than it is for them to admit their faults and rise to the occasion.

Boundaries bring out the best in you.  It can also bring out the best in others when they respect your boundaries with you, and vice versa. 

Unfortunately, boundaries can also bring out the worst in others, and you have to okay with that.  You will be tested.  You will lose someone close to you.  You will be blamed for it, too.  But, remember, they are not walking away from you…They are walking away from personal responsibility.

Have the courage of your convictions.

Stand your ground.

Because the only person you really have to live with everyday is yourself!

assertiveness technique

You’re Not Important

 

5bf0d81f3a6ace7d256cea0af9c4e7bfSeems harsh, right?!

Let me explain, though…

The older I get, the more I understand the lessons my mother tried to teach me growing up.  One of the millions of lessons she tried to pound into my pompous little teenage ego was that I was indeed important and very special, BUT only to her, my family, and a few close friends.

The rest of the world really doesn’t care.

We live in a society that is constantly trying to tell us what to do, what to say, where to go, what to like, what to hate, what to believe, what not to believe, who to watch, who to follow, what to vote for, what to wear, where to eat, who to hang out with, what to be… Just a constant fire hose spewing in our faces.

And, what’s worse, we have social media to amplify it all.

We are increasingly growing a sense of false importance to the world.

Posts and comments made with reckless abandon all over the place.  Second by second.

6a8d5e2df29b383ce48e26cdb58c3fdbPersonally, I find sheer entertainment in it all, but it is also intriguing to my constant desire to understand human behavior.

Our inner drive for self-importance is what motivates many, if not all, of our actions.

All of us what to feel important.

The biggest mistake many of us make is trying to be important to the masses, though, rather than to the few who actually matter most in our lives.

If we put as much time and energy into ourselves and those who matter most as we did in pleasing others and playing in the popularity game, then not only would we be better people, but we would also be a lot happier!

It’s time to make a list.  Everyone will have a different list than mine.  However, there is one person you must have on your list that is on mine…

#1 is Me

I need to be the most important to myself.  And, I’m not talking about being selfish, narcissistic, and a one-man show.

I’m talking about self-love, self-care, and self-improvement.

You need to be the most important priority to yourself.  You need to love yourself, and strive for constant growth and improvement.

You need to take care of yourself – Body, mind, and soul.

When you are well taken care of, the rest of your life is easier to deal with, and you are a better person to society.  Period.

When you are not first on your list, you will fall prey to manipulation, distractions, negativity, dysfunction and confusion.

You have to stand for something, otherwise you will fall for anything.  So, stand for yourself, first and foremost!

Here is my list:

  1. Me
  2. My children
  3. My husband

It’s short, and direct.  You don’t have to agree or disagree with it, either, because it’s not your life.  It’s mine.  You need to decide for yourself who is on your list, but as I said before, YOU need to be first on that list!

My husband and I have agreed that if in an extreme situation we had to decide whether to save the kids or each other, we would both choose to save the kids.  Certainly a full-toned and highly unlikely case, however still an important discussion to have.  Hence why they are #2 on my list.

My husband is my partner in life.  Our relationship is our first priority.  We come first.  Our family is first.  And, we both put in a daily effort to make it happen.

I repeat – A DAILY EFFORT!

Now, I am sure many of you are asking, “But, how come you don’t have any other family or close friends on your list?!”

If there is anything I have learned in my short life, it is that family and friends are not to be taken for granted, nor assumed.

Life has a funny way of bringing people in and out of our lives.

Nothing is guaranteed, and that’s scary to admit.  But, it also makes me appreciate the days I do have with the people I love a lot more.  And, if and when one of them leaves my life, I take the good memories and valuable lessons with me.

So, it is not that the rest of my family and close friends are not important to me and not a priority, because they most certainly are!  When push comes to shove, though, and again, in an extreme situation, I will always choose my kids and my husband first.  That’s just my M.O.

Of all the people in the world, my kids see me as their world, and I am the most important person in their eyes.  That’s a feeling and a rare gift you just can’t get anywhere else!

My husband is my biggest fan, cheerleader, friend, and supporter.  Next to myself, he knows me the best.

I am most important to my kids and my husband, and they are most important to me, therefore, I put my time and energy into them the most.

For a loooong time, I spent countless hours and energy on others.  I put everyone else first, before myself, and even before my own family.  I took my kids and husband for granted, because I knew they loved me and wouldn’t go anywhere.

So, I made them wait while I gave everything I had to other people.

I put work first.  I tried to help everyone, please everyone, and do everything for everyone at our gym.  I tried to be everything to everyone…except my kids and husband.  I was doing “just enough” for them.

How many times do we see this in society?!  Putting work before family.  Putting friends before family.  Putting social media before family.  Putting other things and other people before family.  It happens a lot more than we’d like to admit.

For some reason, we tell ourselves that it’s okay to make them wait for us.  We know they love us, flaws and all, and they want to be there, so we take that for granted.  We don’t have that same guarantee with others, so we pine and work overtime to “win” them over, all while the ones who love us most and actually deserve our time and attention are sitting on the sidelines, painfully waiting for us to give them the same effort we give to complete strangers.

And, this is the problem…We put everything and everyone else first, and take ourselves and our few loved ones for granted.  We care more about what others think of us on Facebook than we do our own spouses.  We care more about posting favorable Instagram photos of our lives than we do in actually living a fulfilling life.  We care more about what strangers are gossiping about us than we do in what we tell ourselves.

We care more about the opinion of sheep than we do of our own, and those who actually matter most in our lives.

So, guess what eventually happened in my personal life while I was putting the rest of the world in front of myself and my family?!

That’s right…Sh** hit the fan…I lost myself in the process, and was suddenly identified only by the things I could do for others.  I needed constant validation from others.  Exhausting!  And, I was also missing out on my kids growing up and yearning for my attention, and my husband wanting his partner back in action with him.

Eventually, things will break if you do not take care of them.

Once I started putting myself and my family first, the pieces came back together.

So, after all of my blundering, what I am trying to get at is:

12193698_10207768438991949_3819249186017108548_nOnly divide yourself up among the people who you are most important to, AND are most important to you.  I am most important to my kids and husband, and I adore them more than anyone else, so they get most of me.  The rest of my family and few close friends get the other portion.  Everyone else is when it doesn’t interfere with my list.

Still having a hard time deciding who to put on your list?!  Ask yourself these questions, then:

~ In an emergency, who would you call in an instant at 2:00am, and you know they would answer?  And in turn, who would you answer the phone for?!

~ Or, if you became a quadriplegic and needed someone to wipe your ass everyday, who would that be?!  And in turn, whose ass would you wipe?!

Yes, again, extreme and highly unlikely, however, your answers to these questions tell you who really love you unconditionally.  I have a lot of people who would visit me and bring me dinners and do other nice things if I became a quadriplegic, but there really are only a few people in my life who would actually wipe my ass day in and day out without hesitation, and vice versa.

Most people find us important as it serves their own needs.  And, we ourselves can even sometimes find others important who actually are not, and/or do not feel the same way about us.  Which is why I say choose people who find you important AND you find important – It has to be mutual.

When you give your best to the right people, it comes back to you tenfold.  I can’t even begin to tell you how much more satisfying and rewarding my life is now because I put me, my kids, and husband first.  I give them so much, and they give me so much more in return.  That’s how it should be.  I don’t have that need for validation anymore from others.  I don’t need Facebook or Instagram to validate me or represent my life.  I don’t need to bend over backwards for attention and approval.  I get everything I need from my list.

When you are most important to yourself, the rest of your life is easy to live.  I will never apologize for putting me, my kids and my husband first.  I will never allow someone to interfere with my list, either.  I have boundaries, and not everyone can understand or accept that, and I am okay with that.  My decisions are easy to make because I know who I am and what and who I value most.  I can move forward with ease, confidence, and clarity.

Be your own hero.  Be your own role model.  Be your own example.  Be your own leader.

As I said before, life has a funny way of working, so who knows what my list will look like in 10, 20, or even 50 years from now.  It could change.  I certainly hope not, but until life decides to throw a curveball at me, I will continue to live by my list.

And, if at some point in my life my list does have to change, the ONE thing that will NEVER change is me being first.

I am important.

Not to the world.  To the right people. 🙂

Let Them Be

Let them say what they need to say…Their words have meaning to them and gives them purpose.

Let them believe what they need to believe…Their beliefs are what gives them hope for a better tomorrow.

Let them think what they need to think…Their thoughts are what create their own reality in which they can thrive in.

Let them love who they need to love…Those people are serving a specific need in their lives.

Let them follow the path they need to follow…Their journeys are not yours to direct.

Let them try what they need to try…Experience is the only true teacher in life.

Let them fall when they need to fall…It’s the only way to learn how to get back up.

Let them talk out loud when they need to talk out loud…Their volume fills a void inside of them, and tunes out the demons in their head.

Let them win when they need to win…It allows them to build up confidence where there is none.

Let them save face when face can be saved…For no man or woman, under the right circumstances, is incapable of any act of humankind.

Let them hate you when they need to hate you…For, it’s really not even about you.

Let them conclude what they need to conclude…It allows them to close this chapter with certainty and move on.

Let them move on when they need to move on…They no longer serve you, grow you, or inspire you.

 

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We all play a part in each others’ lives, whether for a split second in traffic when a man cuts you off, just a couple hours at the restaurant with a friendly waitress, a few months with a new boyfriend, a few years with a company, or a lifetime with a father.

How you choose to allow those people in your life – How they serve you, grow you, and inspire you, is all up to you, and you alone.

People’s words and actions only have meaning when you give it permission to in your life.

Who you choose to allow in your life, and the words you give power to, will dictate your journey.

So, choose wisely and boldly.

 

Own It

thWA7RRJ35So, I am in my 4th week of Chiropractic school at Life Chiropractic College West, and next week is midterms already! Yikes!  It’s been about 12 years since I’ve been in school, so I’m a little rusty, to say the least.  However, I am loving every second of it, and soaking in all the knowledge bombs I can! 😉

As I quickly and forcibly figure out the most efficient and effective ways to cram in my health and fitness, my schooling, quality time with Spencer and Bailey, my CrossFit business, my family, my friends, domestic duties, and everything else under the sun, I can’t help but find the entire thing entertaining.

College at 18 was a lot like shooting darts while blindfolded, standing on one foot, during an earthquake, and trying to hit a target the size of a pinhead.

Just… aimless.

I went to college because I “had” to.  I majored in Occupational Therapy because I “had” to have something to do.  I went through the motions I was “supposed” to.  But, none of it had any meaning to me.  I eventually dropped O.T., and finished my B.A. in Psychology.  It was the safest option at the time, because I just didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life.

I continued with my aimless journey as a retail manager for Fleet Feet Sports, then I leaped into elementary school teaching, which finally started to settle the earthquake, and I could stand sturdy on one foot at least then.

10270048_10203537615944017_1083241700_nThen, CrossFit came into my life, I found my footing on both feet, and suddenly I was an affiliate owner making a difference in people’s lives through movement and function.  Awesome!!!  🙂

However, I still had the blindfolds on.  As fulfilling and indescribable this period of my life has been as a CrossFit owner and coach, there was still a feeling inside of me that something was just… missing.  I just knew I wasn’t done yet.  There was still something more that needed to be done, and I didn’t know what.

And then, I found Chiropractic!

Blindfolds off.  The world wide open!

So, here’s the thing, though.  I chose to be in that earthquake, on one foot, with the blindfolds on.  I allowed people and events to keep me there.  And, for so long, I made excuses and took very little to no personal responsibility for it.  And, to be quite frank, I sat around waiting for someone else to fix my life for me.

How many people do you know who are like this now?!

You know what’s funny?  The less responsibility I took for things, the more unfair life seemed, and the more I felt entitled and self-righteous.  Imagine that! Ha!

On the flip side, the more responsibility I started to take, the easier and more fair things started to get, and I started to appreciate things more, want less, need less, and suddenly I could get those darts really close to that pinhead target!

I haven’t quite hit that target yet, but man, oh man, am I really close!  And, that’s exciting!

So, what’s the difference now from years passed?

I am OWNING everything!

My grades are not up to how well my professors teach it to me, nor how well my study groups work together.  My education, understanding, and application of the knowledge is not dependent on this school and everyone around me.  My grades are up to me and how well I proactively learn and understand the information, as well as what I decide to do with that knowledge.  I OWN my education.

11716096_10206977167330652_713893883_nMy health and fitness is not reliant on outside conditions, the equipment availability in the gym, my training buddies, or even my Nutritionist or Chiropractor.  I OWN my health and fitness by making my lunch break a priority to workout, and I make the workout count.  I choose to eat quality, real food, and drink more water throughout the day.  I get up an hour earlier on some days so I can run before school.  And, I continually educate myself and learn from other professionals and specialists to ensure my own safety, efficacy, efficiency, and quality of my movement patterns and training.

My business and coaching skills are not reliant on outside forces, seminars, other coaches, certifications, CrossFit Headquarters, athletes, or anything else.  I OWN my professional growth and education, and I OWN the management and success of our gym with Spencer.

Now, of course, it should go without saying that there are many important people in my life who help me with all of these things.  I am not trying to discount any of them!  My professors and classmates are definitely important.  My teammates and Chiropractor are imperative.  My husband and my staff are exceptional.  I cannot do all of this on my own, and they most certainly are an influential part of my life and success.

But, the important point I am trying to make is that I don’t sit back and rely on all of them to do it for me.  I am not sitting on my ass, waiting for the bottle to be fed to me.

I am finding the right people, making the right conditions, and owning everything I take in and allow in my life.

I proactively surround myself with people who are positive, successful, and are continual learners and doers.

And, all of the experiences I am given, the information I am provided, the people who participate in my life, and the knowledge I gain, it all comes down to ME and how I decide to OWN it all.

When an asshole is a part of my life and affecting me negatively, it’s not his fault that I am annoyed and pissed off.  It’s my responsibility to kick him to the curb and avoid his involvement in my life.  And, it’s up to me to ignore him and not allow him to affect me if he crosses my path again.

When I gain 5 pounds of fat, it’s not my stressful job and school’s fault.  It’s not due to lack of sleep and convenience.  It’s not my teammates’ fault for not holding me accountable.  It’s my responsibility to either prepare food ahead of time for the week, or buy quality food at the cafeteria.  It’s up to me to make time to workout daily.

And, when I get a C in class, it’s not my professor’s fault because he didn’t teach all of the information that was going to be on the test.  It’s not because class was boring and unengaging.  It’s not because my study group spent most of the time gossiping instead of working.  It’s my responsibility to ask for clarification, seek tutoring, find resources, and learn it the way that makes sense to me.

Bottom line…

OWN YOUR SHIT!

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