Fish Fairy

tyhulse-catchingwishesWhen I was about 7 or 8 years old, I found out the truth about the Tooth Fairy.  I still remember that night like it was yesterday.  I was extra excited for the Tooth Fairy to come, because I had left her a new dollhouse rocking chair.  I wanted to see her surprised face, and see her sit in the chair, so I stayed up that night.

As I pretended to sleep, anxiously awaiting the Tooth Fairy, I suddenly heard my mom coming down the hallway.  I panicked a little and held my breath.  My mom quietly snuck into my room, I felt her lift up my pillow, and then quickly sneak out.

For a moment, I was confused.  Maybe she was making sure I remembered to put my tooth under my pillow?  But, then when I looked under my pillow, I saw the dollar bill.  Instant heart crusher!

I cried myself to sleep that night.  My thoughts snowballed – If there’s no Tooth Fairy, then that means there’s no Santa…Which means no Easter Bunny…Which means…It was too much for my little heart to take.

The next morning, I confronted my mom as she was making breakfast for us.  I told her I knew the truth!  And, then I told my older brother, Nate, that I was really sad about it all.  Nate was only about 9 or 10 at the time.

He hugged me, and then he said, “Don’t worry, Kara, there’s always the Fish Fairy!”

“Fish Fairy???”

“Oh, yeah!  If you make a fishing pole, and leave it out in the swimming pool, or any area of water, and you’re well-behaved that day, then the Fish Fairy will leave you something at the end of the line,” my brother explained to me.

So, we ran out to the backyard, found a long stick and some string, and made a fishing rod and line.

My childhood beliefs were restored!

The next morning, I pulled the fishing rod out of our pool, and found a stuffed dog, Odie, from “Garfield.”  I was so excited!  The Fish Fairy WAS real!

We left the fishing line out again the next night, and the next morning I had another toy waiting for me at the end of the line!

We continued doing this for about two weeks.

Then, one day, my mom sat me down on the couch and said we needed to talk.  My first thought was, “Uh oh, what did I do this time?!” 😉

But, then she told me, “Kara, honey, I know you have been enjoying the Fish Fairy and all, but I have to tell you the truth.  Your brother made up the story about the Fish Fairy to make you feel better, and he’s been going out there every night, and giving you toys from his room.  He’s running out of things to give you, honey.  And, this just can’t go on anymore.  Unfortunately, we need to stop the Fish Fairy.  Do you understand?”

At first, I was heartbroken again, because another childhood belief was being shattered.  But, then my heart swelled up with so much gratitude.

I think it was at that moment I really understood what love meant.

The Fish Fairy story is one of my all-time favorite memories from my childhood.  I often go back to this story in my life to remind myself of what is really important.

It’s not the actual gifts and material things.  It’s the love given to you.  My brother, even at the young age of 9 or 10, loved me so much that he made up the Fish Fairy for me, and on a whim nonetheless!

The love given to me in the CrossFit community is very similar, and I’m sure many, if not all of you, can relate to what I’m saying.  That unconditional, positive regard is priceless.

When I didn’t qualify for Regionals, I felt like my entire gym tried to give me the Fish Fairy back.

It’s what we do here – We lift each other up!  When a member is down, we all jump in to give love and support, because at the end of the day, the scores and times don’t really mean much compared to the relationships and memories we are making here each and every day.

It is always the journey, not the destination.  It’s the people, not the things.  It’s the memories and how you were made to feel.

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou

My brother makes me feel loved.  CrossFit makes me feel strong.  My CrossFit community makes me feel supported.

How do you make the people most important in your life feel?

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Body Image

body_lsThe other day, I saw a nice post on Facebook by a woman named Taryn Brumfitt.  She is trying to start a new movement she calls “Embrace,” which is trying to promote global change for women to love their bodies.  You can check it all out here (click on title): Embrace

There are a lot of similar movements like this.  Dove, the skincare product, encourages the same idea to love your body, all shapes and sizes.  And, I see it all the time on Facebook – Other articles, blogs, ads, memes, and what-not that promote loving your body, no matter what.

I have to be really blunt, though.  And, I’m going to hit nerves with a lot of people, probably.  But, here it is…

I get really frustrated and annoyed with all of these movements to love your body just the way it is.  There is a HUGE hole that is being ignored here.  While I understand and appreciate what all of these movements are trying to do, there is a MUCH greater issue going on.  It is not a mere matter of body image and blaming social media and the beauty industry for our distorted views of ourselves.  It’s not a simple remedy of just loving your body the way it is.

There is a reason why people become obese.  There’s a reason why people deteriorate and let their bodies go.  There’s something going on inside.  Deep, deep inside.

Now, I’m going to put in the disclaimer now that there are always exceptions to everything, and there are those few out there who have legitimate health issues out of their control that prevent them from having a size 6 jeans or rock hard abs.  So, leave that out of this.  I’m talking about the rest of us who have the ability and capability, and just don’t do it.

When I was a freshman in college, I gained the “Freshman 15,” and then some!  And, I can’t blame it on the partying and alcohol, because I was severely allergic to alcohol then, and I just never was a big party animal.  I gained weight with food and not much exercise.  For someone who grew up super athletic, there was clearly something wrong.

I’m 5’3″ and I started college around 135 pounds.  By the time I reached my junior year, I was pushing 165, and it was not muscle!  That just is not healthy for me, and for a movement to tell me that it is okay, and that I should just love my body the way it is…It’s not addressing the real issue!

I hated my body because all of that excess weight was a constant reminder of all the baggage that I was carrying emotionally.  I ate to coax myself and temporarily soothe the pain.  But, as I added weight, it added to the obvious issues I was having inside, except now I couldn’t hide it because it was evident in how my clothes fit.

My body was telling everyone that I was “damaged goods.”

I hated my body because I hated myself.  It was never really about my body, per se.

Hating my body was just an after effect of hating myself.

I was severely unhappy with the decisions I had made in my life, the crappy people I let into my life, and the horrible experiences I had to endure on my own without help and support.  I was broken inside, and it started to show on the outside as I gained weight.

So, this is what I’m getting at here.  Most of us, especially women, have horrible body images NOT because of social media and the beauty industries, but because of something else much deeper inside of us.

Social media and the beauty industries are just the scapegoat.

It is not the responsibility of the world to give you a good body image.

It starts and ends with YOU.

It taking personal responsibility.  Fully and completely.

I reached my breaking point my senior year at college.  I was a lifeguard at our college campus swimming pool, and one day I was sitting down in my lifeguard chair and suddenly realized that my big belly was actually touching my thighs.  I cried when I got home.  I needed help, and I needed to change.  Thankfully, our school campus had free counseling on site, so I took advantage of it, and it helped a lot.  Unfortunately, though, I started in the spring and then graduated, so I only had about 2 months of help.  It was help nonetheless, though, and gave me a kick start to changing my life.

The only problem was, I went super hardcore into fitness, and although I fixed the health issue, I did not really fix the emotional issue.  It’s a funny thing…Often we say that we workout to relieve stress and deal better with things, buuut, if you never truly deal with the REAL ISSUES, then it’s just a hamster wheel you’re running on.

I was training for half Ironmans, working out two to three times a day, and super fit.  I was Wonder Woman…With a lot of emotional baggage.  I went from one extreme to the other, but still had the same internal issues.

I went from thinking that I could “eat my problems away, ” to thinking that I could “run/swim/bike/train my problems away.”

The other day, I was watching the movie, “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” with my daughter, and in the beginning the main character, Flint, invents spray-on shoes to solve the childhood problem of untied shoelaces.  But, he fails to think ahead of how he would take them off, so he is permanently stuck with wearing the spray-on shoes, and all of the school kids make fun of him.  As he runs home in the rain crying, he says, “I wanted to run away that day, but you can’t run away from your own feet.”

You can’t run away from your own problems.

Doesn’t matter if you try to eat sweets, workout three times a day, work long hours, shop till you drop, or do drugs.  Those are all just temporary remedies, but with consequences, because now not only do you still have the same problems still looming around, but now you also have new ones – Excess weight, Diabetes, sports injury, sleep deprivation, credit card debt, and addiction.

So, this is why I always have a hard time with all of these body image movements.  It’s a nice idea, and I appreciate the good intentions, but it’s just not that black and white.  Nor should anyone be okay with being 100 pounds overweight.  I don’t think everyone has to be a CrossFitter, and I certainly do not expect everyone to be super fit and 10% body fat, but I do expect people to be healthy, body AND mind, whatever that means for you.

Being a mother of a daughter now, I constantly think about how I am going to address these issues with her one day.  When she looks at those beauty magazines and commercials, how will I teach her that those are just marketing gimmicks, and beauty comes from how you treat yourself and others?  Beauty is through actions.

This past year, I went through a lot of therapy to finally address my issues from over 16 years ago that have followed and haunted me all this time.  After completing the CF Open and my therapy, I got to really experience for the first time in my life what it felt like to have all that “weight lifted off of my shoulders.”  It’s an amazing feeling.

I learned to forgive.  I learned to embrace my past, because it has made me into who I am today, and while I would never wish what happened to me to happen to even my worst enemy, I am strangely grateful for it all.

And, maybe that’s what Taryn Brumfitt and all of these body image movements are trying to get at.  To embrace your past and accept the circumstances you were given?  To forgive yourself and those who hurt you?  Maybe?  But, they always seem so sugar-coated and simple – It’s the beauty industry’s fault, and we should just love ourselves exactly the way we are.  Period.

Ha!  If only it were that simple…

Now that I have truly let go of the past, and am building a better life today, I am falling in love with myself for the first time.  And, in turn, I have very little to no body image issues now.  Go figure!  I am by no means “perfect” or “model material,” and technically I probably have about 5 to 10 pounds of excess weight.  BUT, I’m f***ing happy and healthy!!!

Because I love myself, I now love my body and the things that I can do with it.

It starts and ends with you.

No amount of Dove products and feel-good movements are going to address your own problems.  You have to go deeper than that.  Much deeper.

Beauty really is from within.  But, too many of us are too scared to go inside and get it.

Just remember, anything worth doing is going to be really hard.

Your body image is not the issue.

Dig deep.

Change

340669_257481624273506_5637861_oI think one of the hardest lessons in life is learning that change cannot happen until you are really ready for it.

And, it doesn’t matter how badly you want something for yourself, or for someone else, it’s not going to happen until you, or that person, is ready for the change.

Change is really hard.  Sometimes it can be exciting and fun.  And, other times, it can be scary or painful.

But, it’s also inevitable and necessary.

Problem is, while the world and the people around you keep changing, if you’re not changing along with it, then you get left behind.

I see it every day…People getting left behind because they are not ready for change.  It breaks my heart at times.  Other times, it makes me angry and frustrated.  And, other times, I just have to let it go.

Don’t ever confuse my lack of force to change you as not caring, though.  That is so far from the truth!  I have just learned to patiently (and painfully) wait for you…

I have often been asked why I don’t chase people down and try to sell and promote CrossFit more around town.  Why don’t I try to recruit more members?

Because…CrossFit is a lifestyle change, and it’s really hard.  Completely rewarding and totally worth it, but, until someone is truly ready for this change, it’s not going to work.  I can nag and hound someone until I am blue in the face, but it’s not going to change that person for the better, nor will it last very long, until he is doing the hard work and effort himself because he wants it for himself.

It can be extremely frustrating, though, to watch people you love get left behind.  Especially when you know that things could be so much better for them if they just did X, Y, and Z.  It’s so tempting to just do it all for them.  And, temporarily that may work and make you feel better.  But, the hard truth is, the second you stop doing it for them, you then have to watch them fall right back to where they started from, and everything you did for them was really just for you.

My father has Diabetes Type II.  He’s had it now for about 10+ years.  With a proper diet and exercise routine, it can be well managed.  However, to this day, my father still chooses to eat and live the way he always has for his entire life.  Frozen pizzas, Diet Cokes, lots of milk, potato chips, fast food, popcorn, and anything deliciously processed.

There was a time that my mother prepped and planned his entire diet using the South Beach Diet plan.  It was A LOT of work for her (on top of her full-time teaching job, and everything else).  But, for the most part, it was pretty successful, and my dad lost weight and was doing really well.

Guess what happened when my mom stopped doing it, though?!  Bingo!  Right back to his old habits!  Not overnight, but gradually, over time, he slipped more and more.  My dad also does not check his blood regularly.  And, unless my mom or sister nag him about it, it just doesn’t happen.

For years, I was angry and sad about my father and his resistance to change.  I just could not understand why he wouldn’t want to change his lifestyle for himself, and us!  I thought he was being selfish and stubborn.  I felt like he was choosing food over all of us.  We were not important enough to change.

But, that’s not it at all.

It’s NOT about us.

It’s NOT about me.

It’s NOT personal.  This is where most of us get caught up, though.  This is why most of us get hurt.  We take it too personally when someone doesn’t change, rather than realizing that it has absolutely nothing to do with us.

It is a true case of, “It’s me, not you.”

My father would jump in front of a train for us.  He is always willing to drop whatever it is he is doing to come help us.  He will always come get us if our car breaks down, even if it’s across the country.  He will play for hours with our kids.  He will do whatever it takes to make us happy.  My father is one of the most fun-loving and caring men out there.  He loves us, and he shows it everyday through the things he does for us.

But, my father is addicted to food.  It may sound silly, but it’s just as real as a drug or alcohol addiction.  Certainly not as immediately dangerous or severe as drugs or alcohol, but a problem nonetheless.  And, quite often, easily overlooked or brushed off because it’s “just food.”

I’ve reached a point in my life where I have decided to just be thankful for the days that I have my father here, enjoy the time I have with him, make sure Bailey gets as much time with him as possible, and just keep the door open for him.

There is always that hope, that possibility that one day he will be ready to really change, and I will be right there to support him.  Until that day comes, though, I will no longer nag him, lecture him, give him guilt-trips, or do things for him, because not only has it not changed anything, but it is also very draining personally.

There is a point in a co-dependent relationship where you have to decide what is best for yourself.  Sleepless nights worrying, anxiety attacks when my mom calls thinking this is “the call,” and nagging fights are not how I want to remember my days with my father.  Nor does it make my own life very “liveable.”

Quality of life.

What does a “Quality of Life” mean to you?  For me…Right now…It’s loving and enjoying my father, and not enabling him, not nagging him, but also not ignoring or pretending.  It’s accepting the circumstances, knowing that I only have control over myself.

So…What makes some people change, and others not?  How can some live for new adventures, and others stay stuck in the mud for their entire lives?  Some are ready for change at the age of only 15, while others take 80 years before finally taking that leap.

It’s the unknown.  And, that is what makes it so frustrating and scary.  I’ve spent too many years being frustrated and scared about my father, though.

I only things I know and understand at this point are:

1. My father loves us unconditionally.

2. My father loves life – He is a true kid at heart.

3. My father loves food.

4. He is not ready to change his lifestyle…And that has absolutely nothing to do with us…It is not personal, and I cannot take it personally.

5. Doing for others, and doing for yourself are two totally and completely different things!!!

I don’t know what it will take, or when it will happen for my father, if ever.  The only thing I can do at this point is just keep hope.

The only constant in life is change, and the only thing you can control is yourself.  I cannot change people, just as much as they cannot change me.

Only I change me.

And only they change themselves.

Keep an open mind and heart.

Love unconditionally.

Adjust your sails as needed.

And…Enjoy the journey, storms and all.