The Truth About Relationships

A couple of years ago, I learned that my grandma was a pretty tough mother-in-law to my mom.  Passive-aggressive statements, undermining my mother’s authority, and just constant poking.  My mother apparently endured years of this with a smile.

Now, please don’t misunderstand and jump to any conclusions here. My grandma was an amazing woman who spoiled and loved us!  But, being a grandma and being a mother-in-law are also two very different roles, and I only have experience with one of those roles.

My two brothers, sister, and I were always oblivious to the “adult stuff” going on around us.  We didn’t care.  We just wanted to have fun with grandma, drink her orange sodas, eat her cookies, learn piano from her, and play pool in her basement.

My mother never let on that there were ever any conflicts.  In hindsight, however, I do have memories that make way more sense now.  There were many times my mother would tell us to do something, like pick up our toys, and my grandma would chime in with a rebuttal like, “Oh, they can play for 10 minutes and then I’ll clean it up so they can go get ice cream with Gary (my father).” Grandma for the win.

There were countless times that my grandma “saved us” from our mother’s orders.  Grandma could do no wrong in our eyes!  I always chose to sit next to her, ride in her car, stay behind with her, hold hands with her, help her with the dishes, etc.

Grandma was always winning the popularity contest.

And, now I realize my mom let her win, for us.

For so many, many years, my mother put her ego and pride at bay so that we could have happy memories of our grandma.  I will always be thankful for that.

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I don’t know what happened behind closed doors all those years.  I don’t know everything that my grandma ever said to my mother, or even about her.  I don’t know if my mother ever talked back or confronted the issue.

I don’t know their story.  Their relationship.

So, I can only write about the memories I have, the little bit my mother shared with me a couple of years ago, and come to this conclusion…

Your relationship with someone is your own unique experience, and no one else will have the same feelings as you.  The way in which you react and believe a relationship to be with someone is yours, and yours alone.

It doesn’t matter who else knows it or believes it to be, nor does it even have much validation, because their relationship with that same person is very different than yours.

I could try to make assumptions and conclusions about my mother and grandma, and concoct a great story to put my mother in a good light, and my grandma in a bad one.  I could embellish my memories in favor of my mother.  Or, maybe I want to glamorize my grandma, instead, so I could twist everything to make it look like my mother was just jealous.

I have a very powerful opportunity right now…

How I decide to write this story will greatly determine how you decide to judge my mother and grandma.  And then, you may even talk with a friend sometime about this story, and embellish it even more to make it sound the way you either interpreted my story, or how you want my story to sound in order to get a great emotional reaction out of your friend.

After all, telling a story where your friend gives you a “meh” response is really lackluster, so why not make it worthwhile for both of you?!

Bottom line, don’t talk about other people’s relationships, especially with other people. And, don’t make judgments and assumptions.

You have no idea.

You only know the things you are told by others, and the way in which you “see” things yourself.  But, you do not know their relationship the way that they know it.

I have another very important choice here…

Now knowing that my grandma was rude to my mom, do I completely dismiss all of the wonderful memories of my grandma, and suddenly view her as a bad person? I could. I could decide that grandma was actually a deceitful bitch, and she was only doing those nice things for us to get under my mom’s skin. I could question every intention of my late grandma., and start to paint a completely different picture.

Or, I could see it as two women who, despite their feelings for each other, both wanted the best for us kids, and made the best of the situation to give us great memories.

I really don’t know the relationship between my mother and grandma.  Only they know how that went down.  I do know, though, that both of them loved us more than life itself.

I also know that both of them were just doing what they felt was the best for us at the time.

My grandma wanted to spoil us rotten and let us be wild, happy kids.  My mother wanted us to have a great childhood, which including having an awesome grandma.

I am thankful for them both.

My biggest take-away from all of this was that we are all allowed to have our own relationships and realities with others. Let others have their relationships, and you have yours.

What you experience with my husband, for example, may be extremely negative, and therefore you conclude that I married an asshole, and he must be a jerk of a dad. However, my experience with my husband is that he is a fun-loving father with a plethora of classic dad jokes, a supportive husband, and very hard-working man who can build a gorgeous wood staircase from scratch.

You see, just because YOU don’t like my husband based off of YOUR experiences with him, that does NOT mean that that is who he is to everyone, everywhere, everyday. Your negative experience with my husband was YOUR experience. Not mine. And, not for many, many others.

This does not, however, take away from your experience with my husband, though. The two of you may very well not get along at all, and he may have even hurt your feelings in some way because of your differences. That is your reality.

But, what we all need to start to realize and accept is that each relationship is unique, and just because we may have experienced something with someone, it does NOT mean that that is the ONLY experience a person is capable of having with the rest of the world.

And, if you ever hear of a negative experience from someone about a friend or family member of yours, don’t be so quick to forget all of your positive experiences with that person.

While reviews of others can be helpful in some situations, and give us fair warnings from time to time, take it all with a grain of salt and an open heart.

Yes, some assholes really are assholes. However, most people are actually good, and just have a bad experience with one or two specific people. After all, we are all human.

Allow each other to be more human with one another.

And, allow each other to have our own unique experiences with the world. Let people learn and do better next time with the next person.

Maybe your negative experience with someone will be the inspiration he/she needs to change for the better.

Give them that chance for change.

Give each other a chance.

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What Love Is… And Is Not

For years, I have carried a heavy burden on my shoulders.

I have a difficult time making friends with women. I have deep seeded trust issues and insecurities surrounding relationships with them. They stem from past shitty experiences. A classic Psychology case study.

What I am starting to realize in my late 30’s, though, is that I have mistakenly associated friendship with back-stabbing, lying, manipulation, jealousy, and deceit. I see friendship with women as a trap, a set up for failure.

I have formed a negative image of girlfriends in my mind, and have believed it for too long.

This is why I struggle to form new friendships.

The truth is, friendship is NOT lying and manipulating each other. It is not being jealous and competing with each other. Those things are different. My problem is that I’ve been confusing these things AS friendships, though. Hence my hesitations to start any new friendships with women.

I think a lot of us make this mistake without even realizing it.

It’s why we say things like, “Love sucks! Marriage stinks! I never want to date another man/woman again!”

Love, in all forms, is love. Yes, it IS as simple as that.

When someone lies to you, cheats on you, hits you, verbally abuses you, they are NOT loving you. That is NOT love. That is not friendship. Nor is it marriage or dating, or any of those other positive relationships.

Those are red flags, warning signs, and issues that need to be addressed. Those are wake up calls, boundary testing, and character checking.

Love does NOT hurt. Lies hurt.

Love does NOT suck. Cheating sucks.

Unfortunately, in order to have a happy marriage, a great friendship, a functional relationship of any kind, we have to sort out and filter the bad. We have to face lies, deceit, bad words, manipulation, and pain.

Those are the challenges that teach us what we want, what we need, and what we deserve in a relationship.

It is how we find true love and friendships that last a lifetime.

We have to know pain to appreciate love.

Just don’t mix up the two as one and the same.

As I shift my perspective, I find myself much more open to women in general, and a newfound excitement for friendships that I’ve been robbing myself of for so long.

When we allow love to happen to us, and deal with pain as a tool towards building a quality of life, we are no longer jaded or bitter.

Love is love.

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Change The Water

Every moment of everyday, we choose our reactions, where we focus our attention, how we feel, and what we do. Whether we realize it or not (Or even want to admit), we are constantly making choices.

A choice is what we have complete control over. However, we often muddle it with excuses and outside forces. We allow others to make our choices for us. We trap ourselves in boundaries and limitations. We rationalize and justify our own bullshit.

Depending on the stories we tell ourselves, and the realities we believe in, our choices are being made second by second within those beliefs.

So, what is it you are telling yourself everyday?

What is your story?

I’m 38 years old, and depending on who you ask, I could be considered young, middle aged, or old. Haha!

I just consider myself lucky, though.

However, I still have yet to write a book, which is something I have talked about pretty much all of my life. I love writing and reading. They have always been a passion and favorite pass-time of mine.

So, why haven’t I written a book yet?!

Because of the bullshit story I keep telling myself.

Somewhere along the way, a few people told me I couldn’t do it, or it would be too hard, too frustrating, too impossible. Despite the majority encouraging me, I believed the few, and have since talked myself out of writing my book for decades.

Ooooh, self-sabotage.

Here is MY reality – I have a deep-seeded fear of trying and working hard on my dreams, because I have been destroyed in the past. My most recent devastation was a few years ago when I ambitiously went back to school to become a Chiropractor. It was the first time in too many years that I went for greatness. And, not even three months into my new adventure, it was all ripped out of my arms by people I trusted and loved.

Life has a shitty way of teaching us lessons sometimes. But, within those painful experiences, there are always beautiful outcomes if we look for them.

Had I not been forced into that difficult situation, and had not left Chiropractic school, I would not have my second daughter today, nor my third that is on the way!

My girls are my daily reminder of gratitude.

Despite all of my gratitude, though, I still keep telling myself the same story about writing a book – “It’s too hard. I’ll get rejected too many times. It will take too long. It will never be a best-seller. I’m too busy with the girls. I need a real job. Why put all that work into something that won’t pay off?!”

What is even worse is that I am completely aware of the bullshit story, and what I can do to change it, yet I continue to soak in the same dirty water.

It’s time to drain the water, scrub the tub, and start a new bubble bath!

There is a disturbing truth in mediocrity – It’s safe, comfortable, and predictable. Sitting in the same dirty bath water, I know exactly what to expect.

We find comfort in knowing. It’s why as children, we love patterns and re-reading the same picture books. It’s why as teenagers, we repeat our mistakes and date the same losers. And, it’s why as adults, we stay in our shitty jobs and drink our deep feelings away.

Never writing my book, I can safely continue to talk about it and dream. The act of NOT writing my book (Because even inaction is in and of itself an act of choice) allows me the comforts of security, while pretending to seek out greatness.

I can make everyone else think that I am trying, even myself.

It is a ridiculous truth that so many of us play. Admit it.

C’mon, tell me your dreams. Your real ambitions. What do you really want to do? What have you thought about for years and years, and have just kept pushing into the background?

What scares and excites you at the same time?

Write down your bullshit story, from beginning to end, and then burn it.

Choose.

Decide to work for it.

Just start, and adjust the sails as the winds change.

I’m going to start to write my book.

I might die before I finish it. It may never get published. I might get rejected hundreds of times. There will probably be days when I write a ton, and then weeks when I can’t think of a single word to write. Nothing may come from my book. Or, maybe everything will. Maybe it will become a national best-seller. Maybe someday, I will see my book in the public library and bookstore.

Endless possibilities.

The one and only thing I know for sure, though, is that the process itself – The actual writing of the book, is what I will enjoy most.

All too often, we worry more about the outcome, when really, it’s the process, the journey that matters most.

We can’t know how it will end. We have no control over that. We can certainly give ourselves better odds, but never a guarantee. So, we might as well enjoy the journey itself along the way to whatever is going to happen.

If we don’t enjoy the journey, then there is even more pressure for a positive outcome, and an even bigger setup for disappointment. Everything starts to rely on that one outcome we seek.

We start to believe that the outcome is going to give it all meaning, when really it’s the PROCESS that gives it meaning. No matter the outcome, the act of working on your passion and dream is what living your life is all about.

I am going to write a book because I love to write and share it with others. NOT because I want to become a best-seller and make millions. Obviously, those would be incredible outcomes, however, those are not my reasons. Those are not meaningful to me. I am not passionate about fame and fortune. I am passionate about writing and connecting with other human beings through my writing.

So, here we go.

Let’s start writing a book!

The bubble bath is starting, and I’m soaking my feet in new water. Ahhhhh! 🙂

I Get To

I am sure many of you have heard this before – The whole “I get to” versus “I have to” perspective shift.

As much as we want to roll our eyes to this concept, it really is a game-changer. That is, IF you are really ready for this shift in mindset.

When I used to own a CrossFit gym, I used this mindset often with myself and my clients. All too often, and all too easily, we take our lives for granted. And in fitness, we take our able-bodies for granted.

The most common complaint at the gym was always, “I have to workout… I have to do thrusters… I have to do burpees…”

(But, you GET TO workout – With awesome people, with great coaches, and with a fully functioning, healthy, able body!)

When we start any sentence with, “I have to…” it’s pretty much a guaranteed suck-fest. 

And, we lose out on what we have to gain in the situation. What we could learn. How we could grow and progress through it. Come out a better version of oneself.

Remember when we were kids, and when our friends asked us to come outside and play, we’d say, “I can’t… I have to clean my room.”

(But, you GET TO clean your room, because you have a room. You’re OWN room, at that. In a warm, safe house. With parents who care about you, and pay for everything!)

Last week, I was humbly reminded of this perspective shift when we went to Disney World with our two girls – One is almost six, and the other is almost two years old.

As every family can relate, we had meltdowns and moments of impatience. Of course, we also had a ton of pretty awesome moments!

There was one moment in particular, though.

We were waiting in line to meet Buzz Lightyear and get his autograph. My oldest had an autograph book, and wanted to meet every character possible. So, we stood in line for about 30 minutes, which in a child’s world, is like 1,250 minutes.

I am also pregnant with our third, about 4 months along. The combination of my pregnancy, my oldest’s hyperactivity, and my youngest’s whiny, needy stage created a vortex of frustration for me.

I was tired, bloated, sweaty, and downright irritated.

I kept sighing heavily and rolling my eyes. When the heck would this line end?!

I HAVE TO stand in this stupid line and wait for Buzz Lightyear.

I HAVE TO pick up my youngest for the millionth time just to keep her quiet in line.

I HAVE TO be here in this hot weather, and constantly remind my oldest how to behave properly in line.

I was Negative Nancy. I fully admit it.

And then, FINALLY, we were next in line. Oh, sweet relief!

But, wait. What’s this?! Someone’s coming from the other side and cutting?! What the heck?!?!

The employee comes up to me and says, “Excuse me, ma’am, but we have a family here with Make a Wish Foundation. Would it be alright if their daughter went before you guys? You’ll be right after them.”

It took me a second to register what she was saying, because I had to put my bad attitude aside, and realize what was going on. Of course, I agreed and allowed the family to go in front of us.

And then, I watched the family.

The little girl was probably about 9 or 10 years old, and she danced around Buzz with her younger brother. The sheer excitement in her face was infectious to watch. Buzz spent a solid ten minutes goofing off with them, and making the girl laugh.

I watched her mother as she mentally recorded this moment in her heart. Tears streaming down her face. The grandparents were there, too, and they shared in the bittersweet moment.

I can only imagine as a mother myself that she was probably thinking something like, “I’ll never get to do this with her ever again. I want to remember this forever. Her laugh. Her smile. This moment where she’s not in any pain, and not thinking about the inevitable. She gets a whole day to be a kid, and not a patient. I love her so much.”

I suddenly realized that I was crying, too, because my oldest asked me what was wrong with my eyes.

I shook my finger at myself.

While, yes, we are all human, and we can’t live life in fear of death, or anything like that, we can choose gratitude at any time.

I had forgotten in a classic parental moment of frustration that I GET TO bring my kids to Disney World, I GET TO wait in line for Buzz, and I GET TO bring them back here again, and again, and again throughout the years.

I GET TO sleep soundly at night knowing my kids are healthy and safe.

I GET TO hold my youngest for the millionth time, and I know that there will be millions more ahead.

I GET TO remind and discipline my oldest time and time again, and teach her how to be a good person as she gets older and older. I GET TO watch her grow old.

I GET TO wait in this line for Buzz, and all of the other characters, and watch my daughter’s eyes light up when she meets them face-to-face.

I GET TO enjoy a week in Disney World with my girls, and then go home and continue life with them as normal. No hospital visits await us. No medications. No treatments. No Hospice. No conversations with my daughter about what Heaven might be like.

This simple change in sentence structure can re-wire everything.

Try it next time you’re dragging your feet through the mud.

I GET TO go to work today. I GET TO sit in traffic in my BMW and listen to a podcast. I GET TO work a double shift and get paid overtime. I GET TO go to the grocery store and buy anything I want for my family. I GET TO walk my dog. I GET TO wake up at 4:30am to workout at 5:00. I GET TO to read this blog post and make a choice for myself.

Choose gratitude. Always.

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Talk is Cheap & Easy

What goes around, comes around. Just don’t take it personally. Ever.

I’ve heard it before, and maybe you have, too.

It goes something like, “Anyone who willingly talks about others with you, will also gladly talk about you with others.”

Take heed, my friends.

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

And, if you enjoy talking about others with others, then please accept the consequences that follow.

All is fair in the name of gossip.

If you can’t eat what you dish out, then put down your fork and knife.

Gossip is like nicotine — That quick hit feels so good, and every inhale is a rush of sweet ecstasy. But, as we all know, that smoke is also poisonous to our bodies, just as gossip is to our souls.

And yet, we still do it.

After we finish that cigarette, we suddenly feel like shit, and need more to bring us back up. Gossip works the same way — The more you do it, the worse you feel about yourself, so you end up having to do more to get those quick, shallow hits of ecstasy.

We get addicted to talking about others. It feels good in the moment. It also allows us to hide.

When the topic is someone else, your problems get to snuggle up under a big, fuzzy blanket and nap on the couch.

We all gossip at some point. We are human.

Just be mindful of a few things:

A) WHO you gossip with (A good rule of gossip: Only say what you’d be willing to post on Facebook), because more times than not, whatever you say to someone else is being put into the game of “Telephone” elsewhere, whether you realize it or not.

B) WHY you are gossiping (Do you just need to vent about a bad boss, or are you just being a dick?)

C) WHAT you have to gain or lose from this gossip (If the person you are talking about heard what you said, would you be okay with the consequences? Is this gossip going to help you or hurt you in some way?)

D) HOW OFTEN are you gossiping? If it’s once in a blue moon, and it’s mostly to just vent to a trusted friend or family, then okay. But, if you’re doing it everyday, all day, any chance you can get, it may be time to do some serious soul-searching.

Always remember, just as you talk about others, others are talking about you.

It’s also none of your business what people say about you.

And, it doesn’t even matter.

“Talk is cheap. Words are plentiful. Deeds are precious.” ~ Ross Perot

Worrying about what others say about you is not a fuck worth giving. And, what you say about others is not worth an ounce of shit, either.

Go ahead and talk. Gossip as you will.

Just keep it in perspective.

Your words about others are just as meaningless and plentiful as anyone else’s.

A great rule of thumb I try to follow is this:

If it is true, kind, and helpful, then, and only then, is it worth saying. It has to be all three, though. The more you question yourself before speaking, the more you start to realize how much we gossip.

True. Kind. Helpful.

There’s a lot of good and love left in this world that needs to get done! 😉

Motivation is a Big, Fat Lie

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I often get asked how I stay motivated to workout, eat right, and stay the course. It may come as a surprise, but I don’t actually look for and rely on motivation, because it has failed me too many times throughout my life.

Motivation is the Casanova of the Health & Fitness industry.

He seduces us with highlighted reels of sexy transformations and emotional success stories. He makes us believe that we can be anything we want overnight.

Motivation preys on our deepest insecurities, promises instant gratification and quick fixes, and then just as quickly as he has won us over, he walks out and moves on to his next target.

That’s why our motivation fluctuates so much, and we often find ourselves in a yo-yo.

Here are the harsh words you need to hear, “Motivation does not love you! Motivation does not care about you! He only serves himself!”

His only goal is to trick you into bed, or in this case, into buying the newest fitness product, fad, or service. Once you buy it, he’s done with you.

And, the sad thing is, we keep falling for his tricks, thinking that maybe this time will be different.

Motivation is a liar and a thief.

I think we are “motivational junkies.”

We love to talk about it, post about it, take pictures about it, make videos about it, share it, “Like” it, and make memes about it. Oh, the seduction and lust!

And then, when we actually start the relationship, we quickly realize that this is a lot more work than we planned for, and motivation is no where to be found.

It’s time we sit down and admit to each other that we are addicted solely to the end result, and hardly ever (if at all) consider the countless hours of hard work and consistency it actually requires to get there.

It’s time to get real.

The only way you will truly accomplish your health and fitness goals is when they become more important than your excuses, and you are ready to put in the hard work and time required.

If health and fitness are going to become a part of your life, then you need to marry dedication and consistency, and finally dump motivation.

While motivation is incredible at first dates, he’s unstable for the long-term, and far too brittle for any setbacks or obstacles.

You need to find your pain, attach it to your goal, and create a higher purpose.

Research shows that we will do far more to avoid pain than we will to gain pleasure. So, the trick is to find a pain greater than the sore muscles and lack of sweets. In order to find your pain, you need to ask yourself why at least a dozen times, if not more, and keep going until you’ve reached your hell.

Here’s an example:

I want to lose weight. Why?

Because I want to look good in a bikini. Why?

Because I hate how my stomach looks. Why?

Because it sticks out and makes me feel self-conscious. Why?

Because I care about what others think of me and how I look. Why?

Because I got picked on at school a lot growing up for being fat, and it made me insecure. Why?

Because I want people to like me and not call me fat. Why?

Because I feel lonely and depressed. WHY?

Because I do not like myself. I do not like the way I look, and I do not like the person I have become. I want friends, and I want self-confidence. I hate being home alone all the time. I hate being single and never asked out on dates. I hate the way I hate myself! I want to finally learn to love myself, take care of myself, and be who I can be, but have always been too chicken shit to do anything about it.

BOOM! And there it is – The pain!

The higher purpose.

That is the pain that is going to fuel the fire and keep the engine running, even when motivation runs out, even when your body hurts, even when your lungs burn, even when someone hands you a slice of cake, and even when setbacks and obstacles strike (because they will).

Everyone’s pain will be different. There is no right or wrong. It does require some raw honesty with yourself, though.

Sometimes, it has to get worse before it can get better.

Find YOUR pain. And, don’t let someone else tell you what it should or shouldn’t be. Not even your coach or best friend. Don’t pick something that you think others want to hear, or what would look good on Facebook. Don’t pick someone else’s pain.

It has to be yours, and yours alone.

Find your pain, and then crush your goals!

Self-Reliance

I recently discovered Stoicism while watching a TED Talk with Tim Ferriss. What a huge shift in perspective for me. It was like finding the missing left sock way down in the bottom of the lint collector.

The more I learn and read, the more I realize how much my emotions have overshadowed my life. While feelings are important, and are what makes being a human so unique and even magically, the challenge is allowing those feelings to exist without drowning in them.

Having attachments that are meaningful, but don’t destroy you when it doesn’t work out.

Giving it your all, without giving up when it doesn’t go your way.

Sharing yourself with others, without relying or reacting on their responses.

Doing your best, without any expectations.

Living your life, without praise or criticism.

Appreciating others, without depending on them.

Taking chances, while accepting that life is all chance and circumstance, and allowing the storms and rainbows to pass.

Controlling the things you can control, while accepting everything else you can’t, which really means, control yourself, because that is the only thing you can control.

“Self-reliance. Always.” — Marcus Aurelius

Life is whatever reality you choose to create and believe in.

I majored in Psychology, and found disorders both intriguing and frightening. My worst fear was “losing my mind.”

However, I have been thinking more about this, and I’ve come to the conclusion that since we create our own realities anyway, aren’t we all a little crazy?! 🤪

My life is my choice. My thoughts and feelings are within my control.

I am everything I choose to be. It is that simple. And, that complicated.

My value system and opinions of myself are what matter most. In fact, they are the only things that matter.

My world.

Don’t ever let someone else’s flag stand on top of your mountain.

Own your world.

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! 🙂