Spread Love

11650663_10206885422837097_1535398151_nI’ve been reading a lot of great books lately, and the most recent one is “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.  I read the entire thing while on my flight to and from Minnesota last week.

Life-changer!

By the end of the book, I had a cornucopia of mixed feelings.

One of my deepest feelings was that of personal shame and regret.

For so many years, I have been a self-righteous prick!

Coaching and teaching have been my profession since I was 18 years old, so I’ve been at this for over 17 years!

But, I’ve realized something…

I have criticized and condemned people along the way.  I have talked poorly of others.  I have used shame as a way to “motivate” others.  I have posted many blogs with an “I’m right, you’re wrong” attitude. And, I have always had this dysfunctional need to tell others when they “lack integrity.”

The Psychology major in me knows that this self-righteous path is due in large part to my past and the hard experiences I have had to face…The choices I made that I once swore I would never do because “I’m better than that.”

The harder I fought my past, the harder I condemned and pointed fingers at people to make myself feel better.

man-in-the-mirrorBecause I could not look at myself in the mirror, I grabbed everyone else’s from them and forced it in to their faces.

Now, there are two sides to this coin.  I sincerely wanted others to succeed and be better people, too.  I wanted to help them avoid the mistakes I made.  I wanted to live vicariously through them as redemption.

And so, I used condemnation and shame because it was the only way I knew how.  I was given so much of it by other authority figures throughout my life, and I also gave it to myself tenfold daily.

So, here is my public apology to all of you, past and present, for ever condemning or criticizing you, and making you feel unimportant.  While my intentions were sincere, my execution was lackluster, and even harmful.

Okay, what do we really need more of in this world?!

LOVE!

Yes, I know, that sounds really cheesy, but it is the truth!

How many comments on Facebook are negative?  How many times do news reporters and show hosts criticize and condemn people?  How often does your mother, father, husband, wife, boss, supervisor, customer, co-worker, friend, and perfect stranger remind you of the things you either did not do, did wrong, or need to do more of?!

How many times throughout the day are you reminded of all of your faults?!?!

And, how many times throughout the day are you appreciated, praised, or even just smiled at?!

coffee-stainIt’s a chain reaction.  The boss spills his coffee all over himself during traffic, so he takes it out on you in the office.  You then take it out on your kid after picking him up from school.  He then takes it out on his little sister during playtime.  She then takes it out on your wife during storytime.  So, then she takes it out on you as you’re both getting in to bed, and now there’s no “cuddle time” for you!

While you can’t control anyone else, you can control yourself.

When your boss rips you a new one at work because he’s pissed about something else unrelated to you, instead of taking it personally and inadvertently returning the poor favor to your kid, strive for understanding.

It’s too easy and too ingrained in all of us to jump to judgement and criticism.  It’s natural for us to become defensive, but before you react, reconsider.

Change the reaction.  Change the action.  Change the course.

If instead you notice your boss’ coffee stained shirt and offer him your extra one in the car, and share in the frustration of spilled coffee in traffic with him, he will then be defused and realize he was too hard on you earlier.  He then asks if you’d be interested in helping him lead the next project coming up, which could potentially be the foot in the door you need to move up in management.  You then praise your son on his good grades after picking him up from school.  He then helps his sister climb across the monkey bars and high-fives her efforts.  She then snuggles with your wife during storytime.  So, your wife then “snuggles” with you in bed!

Way better day!!! 🙂

So, here’s some new “life rules” that I am practicing daily:

1. Never criticize, condemn, or complain about anyone or anything.  Ever.

2. Give honest and sincere appreciation, and do it often.

3. Avoid any and all arguments, especially ones you can win.

4. Ask meaningful questions, and avoid direct orders.

5. Let others save face.

6. Give others a good reputation to live up to! ❤

7. Be genuinely interested in others, and let them talk about themselves more.

8. If it’s not true, kind, AND helpful, then don’t say it.

productmockupAnd…One of the most important lessons I keep in the forefront of my mind now is that under the right circumstances, there is no act of mankind that I am not capable of myself!

We are internally driven by the need to feel important, and yet, we spend so much of our time telling and showing each other how unimportant we are.

What if, instead, we spent more time building each other up?!

What if we gave more benefit of the doubt?  What if we smiled more?  What if we walked away from an argument?  What if we let someone else be “right?”

What if we strive for more understanding?  More compassion?  More love?!

Imagine…A world with more love!

Be good to each other.

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“People will forget what you say, they will forget what you do, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

~ Maya Angelou

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Doesn’t Really Matter

1185156_10201738525407878_1441643318_nA couple of months ago, I had someone ask me if I would ever write about my traumatic experience in high school.

No doubt, I have definitely considered it, many times, in fact.  I have even made a few rough drafts.

I used to share my story with friends, co-workers, first dates, and pretty much anyone who would listen.

I had this compelling need to tell anyone and everyone.

For some reason, I felt like it defined me.

I also felt like people could see right through me, like they knew something was “wrong” with me, so I’d beat them to the punch and tell them how f***ed up I was.

Before, I shared my story for all of the wrong reasons.

Mainly, for attention, and not the good kind.

But, also as a test – Would they still be my friend or boyfriend knowing that I went through this?!

A year ago, I would have shared it, and it would have been to help others who are going through a rough time or similar experience.

But, admittedly, it would have also been for praise and attention…That unhealthy need to be recognized as an “inspiration” for overcoming such a tremendous obstacle…Honestly, complete bullsh**.

But…Every time I am about to share my story, there is something that holds me back.

That little voice inside that tells us, “No!”

Thank goodness I have listened to that voice!

Not that I don’t want to share my story, but when it comes right down to it, folks, my story doesn’t really matter.

Let me ask you this…

What if I told you that I was held at gunpoint in a bank, and had to watch someone die?

Or, what if I said that I got pregnant in high school and had to get an abortion?

How about if my story was that my uncle molested me one night while my parents were out to dinner?

Or, let’s say that I was beat up by a group of girls in the gym locker room and was in the hospital for a week?

What about if I was in the Marines and had to leave my dead friends behind on the battlefield?

Let’s even go out on a limb, and say that I was tugged back and forth through my parents ugly divorce.

None of these are true…However, I bet you had very different reactions to all of them, and maybe even thought differently of me.

Don’t deny it.

We all do it.  We are human.

Held at gunpoint and watching someone die would be a horrible experience, and I’m sure many of you empathized for me.

Getting pregnant in high school and getting an abortion.  How many of you judged me?!  Judged my parents?!  How many of you thought less of me?  How many of you made religious judgments on me?  Did any of you feel any empathy at all for that one?!

An uncle molesting me – How many of you pitied me?!

Getting beat up in the locker room – How many of you thought, “That sucks, but that’s not traumatic.”

Being a Marine – How many of you glorified me?

My parents going through an ugly divorce – How many of you said, “Sh**, my parents did the same thing,” or, “That’s so common nowadays.”

So, my point is – People often think differently of you when they hear your story.  

It’s really unfortunate.

And, most often, it is not intentional or ill-willed.  It’s a learned behavior.

But, the truth remains, and as a whole, I do not want what happened to me back then to interfere with what I want to do now.

And, I definitely do not want or need people to pity me, nor talk about what an “inspiration” I am.

Can I be blunt for just a moment?

I really hate the word “inspiration.”  It’s so meaningless today.  And, often times, really patronizing!

So, let’s just stop using that word.  Please.

Sh** happens.  What you do with that sh** is what is important, though.  You can either sit it in, throw it at people, push it into the corner, cover it up with stuff, or, you can clean it up and throw it away.

Whatever my story is, it doesn’t change the fact that I have overcome it, and have been evolving into a better person.  It doesn’t change the fact that I live to make a positive change.  It doesn’t change the fact that I love people and the world.  It doesn’t change the fact that I am a good person.

If you ask me in person, sure, I’ll talk to you about it.  But, please ask me for the right reasons.  I have no problem talking about it, but not to fill your own need to gossip or pity others, or even to feel better about yourself for a brief moment.

My stories are accessible to everyone, but all that I ask in return is respect.

10928047_10205580519455328_527607395_nSo, what’s my story?

It’s still being written…  😉

Be Great Right Now

BackToSchool-Guess what?!

I’m going back to school…I’m getting my Doctorate Degree in Chiropractic!

At quick glance, it seems like an impulsive decision.

I made the choice to apply to Life West and Palmer a few days after we had an awesome seminar at our gym by a chiropractor.  Within three weeks, I decided on Life West, did a half-day tour, completed the entire application process, was accepted into the program, and I start in July!

Yes, it all happened that quickly!

But, what seems like an impulsive decision, has actually taken me 18 years.

Yes, 18 long years.

Huh?!

You see…It’s been just a little over 18 years since my traumatic experience in high school, I was only 16 years old, and since that time in my life, I have sabotaged many, many opportunities and opened doors.

I had very little to no self-worth and confidence.  I truly believed I wasn’t good enough, nor even deserving, of being anything more than a lump on a log.

Being “average” was comfortable.  Being average meant no one was looking at me, and I could easily hide and go unnoticed day to day.

Being average did not bring any attention to me, and that felt very safe.

In hindsight, I realize that was my way of protecting myself from any other potential danger.

As a kid and teenager, I was actually very outgoing, ambitious, and outspoken, and I brought a lot of attention to myself.  I loved the spotlight!

But, then, I was used and abused, and suddenly getting attention was a very bad thing.  It meant danger.  It meant pain.

So many times, I got close to greatness, and then ran away like an a**hole with cold feet on his wedding day…

I could have been an Occupational Therapist.

I could have owned my own Fleet Feet Sports store.

I could have competed on the Team at the CrossFit Games.

I could have been a Family & Child Psychologist.

I could have qualified individually for the CrossFit NorCal Regionals.

All of those could have happened…But, because of me, they didn’t.  I had many excuses back then, and really good ones at that, but after many years of growth and change, I can finally admit out loud to you that it was all my own doing.

I made those things fail on purpose!

I truly could not believe that someone as awful and pathetic as myself could actually be someone that awesome.  The horrible things I used to tell myself…The self-doubt…The disbelief…The poison that seeped through my bloodstream and heart…

It makes me sad to think that I used to believe those things about myself.

And, it makes me even sadder when I watch others do the exact same thing to themselves today.

But, then…

I married Spencer.

We bought a house.

Got a dog.

Opened up CrossFit 707.  And, it became an incredible family!

Had a baby girl.

Expanded and grew our business.

Started my own blog.

And, all the while, my husband asking me, “When are you going to finally write your book?”

This question is what sparked the “new me.”

I do love to write, and I would be elated if one of my books got published, but in all honesty, writing a book isn’t even the point here right now.

It sounds corny, but every time Spencer asked me this question, what I actually heard was, “I love you, and I think you’re amazing, and I want the world to see it, too.”

The more he asked me and encouraged me to write a book, the more I started to believe that maybe I could actually be something great.

Ahhh…The power of love! 😉

So, in a nutshell, after years of darkness, and then years of ruined opportunities, followed by years of regrets and wishes, and then finally years of therapy, Spencer, and CrossFit, I suddenly found myself believing that I could actually become a doctor.

To most, this doesn’t sound like any big deal.  People become doctors every day.

It’s not even becoming a doctor that’s the important part here, though.

The points I’m trying to get at are…

A. Genuine and constant love and support can go a long way, and many times without you even realizing how powerful it is to the person you’re giving it to (Thanks, honey).

B. It’s never too late to change directions.  Never.  Seriously, never.

And, most importantly…

C. When you finally give yourself permission to be great, great things happen! 🙂

I have a friend who told me she’s always wanted to go to Nursing school after I told her I got accepted to Life West College.  I asked her why doesn’t she just go for it now, then, and we can study together.  The excuses came out like a cannon full of confetti.  But, nothing out of the ordinary – I’m too old, it’s been too long, it will take too many years, I have too many things going on now, it would be so overwhelming…The usual excuses so many of us give ourselves.

But, the truth of the matter is, the “right time” really doesn’t exist.

For a rare few, it actually happens, and good for them.  For most of us, though, life happens.  Kids happen.  Lay-offs happen.   Deaths happen.  Illness happen.  Divorces happen.  Accidents happen.

Where I am at in my life right now, there will never be a “right time” to go back to school, but I know it’s what I want to do…It’s what I’ve always wanted to do, but was too afraid to do for far too long…So, I just did it.

And now with school in my very near future, the question remains of when we’ll have a second child…And, inevitably, I’m sure I’ll get pregnant within the first week of school. Haha!  Of course I would, right?!  But, we’ll make it work.  Because, waiting until I’m done with my doctorate is definitely not the right time, nor would it be as safe as I will be close to 40 then.

So, to my friend who wants to go to Nursing school, and to any of you out there in the same situation, I say – JUST DO IT!!!

The “right time” is right now!  

11263863_10206568634717592_1597926397_nEvery year that goes by, you will wish you had done it last year.  Every friend or family member you see accomplish your dreams, you will have wished you started when they did.  Every decade that goes by, you will have wondered what would have been had you done it then.

So many years of wishing, wanting, and wondering.

I’ve already had 18 years of that…That is plenty long enough for me!

I’m ready to live the rest of my life with adventure, risks, mistakes, a little bit of fear, and a whole lot of satisfaction and fulfillment.

After all, if it both scares and excites you, then it’s definitely worth pursuing! 😉

Give yourself permission to be great.

Stay Tuned…

hiatus

No, I haven’t left.  I’ve just been “living my life,” and actually asking  a lot of important questions.  I’m not going to go in to too much detail just yet, because I’m still searching for some answers, but once I get all of my ducks in a row, I will have a great post for you!  🙂

So…Please stand by…

Live Your Life

10850192_847813375240325_7104050146132093880_n

As I reflect on the 2015 CrossFit Open, I find myself asking where I want to go from here in my competitive career.

I’ve broken through the fact that I do not want to be an individual competitor, at least, at this point in my life, but as far as training goes from here, I actually feel the desire to just train for fun.

What exactly do I mean by that?

Well, as I said in my last post, I have never really experienced CrossFit in any other form other than competition.  It’s all I’ve ever known for the 6 years I’ve been doing this.  And, there is a part of me that lives vicariously through my members who are truly just training for life and fun.

Another part of me is feeling my mortality, and there are others things far more important to me than qualifying for Regionals – For instance, having a second child.  Continuing to grow our gym and inspire others to be healthy and fit. To be a better wife.  To be a better mother.

To be a better me.

I secretly fear death almost every day.

I saw a great video shared on Facebook the other day.  It’s a profound interview with author, Maurice Sendak.

Please take a moment to watch it, and even watch it a second time…

When I saw this video, I started crying, because it really hit home for me.  I rarely, if ever, talk about politics and religion, because people are extremely passionate about their belief systems, and I’ve seen it rip families and marriages apart.  So, I’ve always just left it out of the equation, but I do have my own belief system, as well.

Without going in to too much detail, though, I will say that I deeply share in Maurice Sendak’s sentiments – I am in love with the world!

And, that is all that matters.

Whether I am religious or not, I love the world, and try to live my life with the utmost quality and passion.  For when the day comes, I hope to be able to say to goodbye with a smile.  And, even more so, I hope that I will be remembered with fondness and appreciation.

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

Thinking about the Open and my mortality, I’ve suddenly started asking myself, “If tomorrow is really it, what do I want to make sure to leave behind?  What will my ‘mark’ in this world be?”

I don’t want to be remembered for my 178# Clean & Jerk, or my 95th finish overall in NorCal, or my Strict Muscle Ups, or even my 250# Back Squat.

I want to be remembered for being an inspiring coach, a loving mother and wife, a good friend, a hard worker, a giver, someone who strived to make a positive change in the world…A happy person.

I keep thinking about Maurice Sendak’s last words in the interview, “Live your life.  Live your life.  Live your life.”

Three simple words.

Yet, a very difficult task for most.

Too often, we live other people’s lives.  We live through their expectations of us, or what we think they want from us.  We be the person who we think we have to be.  We do the things we think we have to do.

So many of us are prisoners…All while holding the keys in our own pockets!

I’ve been a prisoner of CrossFit competition for over 5 years, and while I am grateful for all of the other wonderful things and people it’s brought into my life, I am ready to live MY life, and train for MY goals.

Go live YOUR life.

Love the world.

Top 100

1185156_10201738525407878_1441643318_nAs I sit here typing this, I can’t help but give a heavy sigh and shake my head.

The 2015 CrossFit Open is upon us, and we just finished WOD 15.2, and I find myself in the exact same spot as last year…And the year before…And the year before that…And the year before that…

I’ve always placed top 100…Every year…Never moving up that damn Leaderboard…Never making Regionals…

WTF?!

I could type up my entire sob story for you right now, but I’ll spare you the dramatics and just get right to the point…

I don’t think I really care to quality for Regionals, or ever to make it to the Games…At least, not as an individual, and not at this point in my life.

Say what, coach?!!

Well…Here’s the thing…

I’ve always done fairly well, and thoroughly enjoy team competitions.  Always!  But, time and time again, I give individual a shot, and I find myself miserable and frustrated every single time.

Team competitions, I get excited and always have fun and treasure for a lifetime.

Individual competitions, I want to throw up, and secretly, I don’t get pleasure out of it at all.

I actually hate individual competitions!  And, I’ve never been able to admit that out loud until now.

I think Regionals has just been this meaningless goal that I placed on myself right from the start, just because.  It’s the same as how we just always have had “Rx” in our WODs…Because that’s just always how it’s been done…But, then when we finally questioned it, we realized there was a better way for us, and now it’s actually more awesome at the workouts!

Regionals was always this goal that was just assumed on me from the start…I progressed rapidly in CrossFit and showed a lot of potential, and so instantly, I was pegged for competition.

It’s all I’ve ever known in CrossFit —> Competition.

It’s never been a true hobby or lifestyle for me.

I’ve never experienced it the way 99% of you have and currently are.

I think I’ve always wanted Regionals because it’s always been expected of me by others.  I’ve allowed this label to define me and control my CrossFit training, when in reality, it’s not important enough to me.

And I know it’s not important enough to me, because when I got pregnant in November, my first thought was, “Hooray!  We’re having a baby, AND I don’t have to worry about the Open this year!”

And then, when the pregnancy didn’t work out, my first thought was, “Damn…Now I have to actually do the Open and try for Regionals again…F***!”

Not the words of a champion…And, definitely not the words of a Regionals-hopeful.

These are the words of someone who needs to re-evaluate her goals, and then be honest about them – With herself, and everyone else.

These are the words of someone who’s been suffering from “competition depression” for too many years, and needs to remedy the situation.

Regionals Team?  YES!  That actually excites me!  Thinking about my team in 2016, and the thought of hopefully competing with my “family” out in that stadium gets me pumped and ecstatic!

Regionals Individual?  No…Nope…Not really.  It doesn’t excite me the way Team does.  And, it actually stresses me out and makes me turn away.

So, what’s the deal, coach?!

Let me make some confessions here, and lay it all out for you in black and white…

Back when I first started competing in CrossFit, I participated at Sectionals, which is similar to Regionals now, except that you didn’t have to qualify for Sectionals (CF wasn’t that big, yet), you just signed up for it and competed with every other hopeful.

That was by far one of the worst experiences for me personally, because after every workout, I ran to the women’s bathroom and cried my heart out in disappointment at my performance.

In hindsight, I really wasn’t ready for that competition, both physically and mentally.  I was thrown in to it, and I went in with complete naivety and lack of experience.  I chased waterfalls, when I should have been sticking to the lakes and rivers. 😉

From there, it set the stage for all the years to come in my CrossFit career.

I should have stepped back from competition after Sectionals, and re-started my training with fitness in the forefront, and a break from competing.

But, I didn’t.  And, I never have since then.  And, I think I’ve been battling with “competition depression,” as I call it, since that day.

I say I want it, I mostly train like I’m going for it, BUT, really I do and say just enough to play the part well, when really, I am constantly fighting and struggling inside.

After every team competition, I am left elated and grateful.

After every individual competition, I am left defeated and deflated.

Today, after completing 15.2, I walked outside to be alone for a few minutes, and I ended up sitting on the curb crying my heart again…I was back inside that bathroom stall at Sectionals so many years ago.

I had to really think for a moment, and answer some hard questions as honest as possible with myself.

Why aren’t you climbing that Leaderboard each year?  Why is everyone else passing you by, and you’re still exactly where you started?

Because, I haven’t been training hard enough to really earn it.  I’ve been allowing everything else in my life to be more important than this.  I’ve neglected my weaknesses time and time again.  And, I’ve even let some of my strengths plateau.  I’ve self-sabotaged this entire thing.

Why aren’t you doing more?  Why aren’t you training harder and hitting your weaknesses?  You know what you have to do to get there, so why aren’t you doing it?!

Because, I like the idea of it more than the actual work of it.  Because, I don’t like individual competition.  Because, I’m just not wired to be an individual, I’m designed to kick ass with a team, but I haven’t been able to really see that and admit it until now.  Because, I’ve been trying so long to force myself into this mold, but it’s not my mold to fill.  And, because it just hasn’t been important enough to me to make it a #1 priority like other things in my life.

So, what is really important to you, then?!  Why are you doing the Open?  Who are you doing it for?!

It’s important to have fun and enjoy the ride!  I keep doing the Open the way I’ve always known it to be, and the way I think everyone expects me to be, but really, I don’t know anymore why I do the Open, because every year, it makes me miserable and unhappy, and I always end up burning out and taking about 2 to 3 weeks off from CrossFit by the end of it.  I’ve been doing the Open for everyone else, and NOT myself.  It’s never been for me.  Never.

So, what do you want?!  What will make you happy in CrossFit?

I want to walk away from individual competition, at least, for this point in my life, and focus on just having fun in my CrossFit workouts, and enjoy more team competitions, and put more effort and focus on Team Regionals with my friends.  I’m always happy with my teammates.  Always.  That is my home.  That is where I belong.  That is where I want to be.

So, what about the rest of the Open?!

I’ll still do my absolute best, however, it’s not for everyone else, anymore.  It’s not for Regionals (And, honestly, it never was), it’s not to prove anything to anyone, and it’s not even for the sake of competition anymore.

It’s learning to let go of this heavy false pressure I’ve been putting on myself, thinking that everyone expects this of me, when really, those who love me and support me just want to see me happy and successful in whatever route I choose, and whether or not I ever qualify for Regionals, they will be proud of me regardless of my placement on the Leaderboard.

It’s time to finally do what I should have done over 5 years ago.

Take a step back and re-prioritize my goals and aspirations for ME, and not the world.  Admit that I’m not an individual competitor, but I AM an awesome teammate!

Stop the vicious cycle that I torture myself through every year during the Open.

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  Albert Einstein

I’ve been driving myself insane for far too long.

Enough.

I need closure from Sectionals.

I need a new outlook on CrossFit and competition.

I need inner peace.

And, that is what I’m going to do!

Heartfelt

I am going to preface this by saying that this is a heavy topic today, but I need you to read it with an open mind and heart.  I’m not trying to point fingers or place blame.  I’m not trying to have a debate with anyone.  And, I’m definitely not trying to be ungrateful by any means.  I believe that most of us are good people, and do and say things with good intentions, but even good intentions can still be wrong or hurtful at times.  You may not like some of the things I have to say, or you may take offense to something, but I ask you to take a step back, and attempt to understand what I’m actually trying to get across here…

_________________________________________________________________

Life has such a beautiful and painful way of teaching us things, and if you pay attention, you can always come back stronger and better for it.

I often have thought about the saying, “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger,” and I have to be quite honest now – That saying is not true for everyone!

There are people who become bitter, or withdrawn, or vengeful, or even twisted from things that don’t kill them.

It only makes you stronger IF you are actually paying attention to the lesson at hand, and then go forth ACTING positively on that lesson for the rest of your life.

We have SOOO many inspirational quotes and sayings that we regurgitate to each other in difficult times, and we post them on Facebook, and share Instagram photos of them all the time.

It’s all well-intended and good…Buuut, unfortunately, most of us are still missing the mark.

And, a lot of us simply reiterate those sayings and phrases without actually understanding them and/or actually living by them.

Recently, I had a very disappointing experience, and it’s one that no one likes to talk about.  The problem, though, is that it happens all the time, and yet, because we don’t talk about it, most of us don’t know how to deal with it appropriately.

So…

I want to talk about it…

Back in November 2014, I got pregnant.

We told our families at Christmas-time.  And, a few close friends.

I had a lot of morning sickness, but it was a welcoming symptom, because I knew the outcome would be well worth it!

I had my 8-week appointment, and was very excited for the first ultrasound.  We even brought Bailey to see the baby! 🙂

The doctor, however, was not excited about what he saw.  I have never felt such panic before in my life.  I honestly didn’t even know how to process that moment.

The doctor scheduled me for one week later to see if anything would change.

That was..the…longest…week…EVER!

And, it was everything I feared.  No growth.  No heartbeat.

No baby.

I have had many heartbreaks and disappointments in my short lifetime, monumental ones, at that, but never have I felt such a heavy heart like this one before.

I can’t even explain it to you, not even with the best Shakespearean phrases and poetic lyrics.

It’s something you have to feel for yourself.

And, many, many women have felt it before me.

It’s actually very common to miscarry.

What I learned from this experience, though, is that just because miscarriages are very common, and “everyone and their mom” have gone through it before, it doesn’t take away MY pain and disappointment.

Just because it’s common, and happens all the time, and tons of women have had this disappointment before me, that doesn’t change the fact that I am suffocating right now with heartache.

This is MY experience.

This is MY time to grieve and process.

This is MY heartache to have.

So often, the first things we want to say when someone is grieving are things like…

“It’s okay, it happens to everyone!  My mom and sister had miscarriages, too!”

“It’s not your fault.  It just wasn’t meant to be.  Something better will come along.”

“I had 3 miscarriages before I had Alex!  Betty had a miscarriage last year, too!  Don’t worry!”

“Be strong!  Hang in there!  Stay tough!  Keep trying!”

“I need you to stay strong for the rest of us!”

“God just has better plans for you!”

“The baby is in a better place!”

“Time will heal.”

We all mean well.  Of course we do!  I am so guilty of all of these, though.  And, mainly it’s because I personally have very little experience with death and situations of this magnitude.  So, I default to all of the things I’ve heard other people say before…Which, is what many of us do, too!

After it was confirmed that the baby had no heartbeat, I quickly shut down and avoided everyone, including my family.  Not because I didn’t want or need the support, because I totally did…But, because I didn’t want to hear all of those “thoughtful, yet completely regurgitated” phrases.

When I finally did start talking to people about it, it changed me in a lot of ways…

When someone told me, “It’s okay, honey, it happens to everyone!  It’s really common!” It made me feel like my experience wasn’t important, then, because I’m just a “number” among the thousands of miscarriages that happen in the world.  I’m no different, so no one really has the time to soothe me, since this happens to everyone all the time.

When someone said, “Stay strong!  Don’t cry!  You’ll get through this!  You’re so amazing and I’ve always known you to fight through things!” It made me feel like I wasn’t allowed to cry and break down…So, I did so underneath my covers late at night.

I was “shamed” into dealing with my pain privately and in secrecy.

The one time when I needed to let go, and let someone else hold me up, I was denied that.  I think because so many of us don’t know how to correctly support someone, we throw the responsibility back onto the person in pain.  Not intentionally, of course, but it’s an unfortunate coping mechanism that many of us use without even knowing it.

Don’t ever tell someone in pain that they, “Have to be strong” for you, or the kids, or whoever.  It puts far too heavy of a weight on their shoulders…shoulders that are already collapsing.  And, as uncomfortable as it can be to watch someone suffer, if you deny them that time and support, it can have detrimental consequences!

It’s okay to be sad, disappointed, angry, upset, and depressed.  It’s okay to cry.  It’s okay to “take a day off.”  It’s okay to let someone else take the lead for awhile as you recover.

There is a false notion that being in pain is a sign of “weakness.”  But, the opposite is true.  I find it heartbreaking that so often we convey the message to each other that feeling pain is “weakness,” and suppressing it is “strong.”

Stop doing that to each other!

I had one person tell me, “It just wasn’t meant to be.  There was just something wrong, and it got taken care of by nature.  It’s better this way.”  It made me feel like something was wrong with me.  And, no, it’s NOT better this way.  It would have been better if my pregnancy was healthy and worked out.

I think the absolute worst thing to say to anyone, though, is “Well, it could be worse.” Or, “It’s not the end of the world.”

Don’t ever say that to anyone.  Ever!

While technically those are both very true statements, and the intentions are to make the person realize that even in dark times, there’s always things to be grateful for still, those statements are actually telling the person, “Hey, come on, seriously, you don’t have it that bad.  Buck up!  You’re just being a big baby right now.  It’s not that big of a deal.  We’ve all been through worse things than you.  This is child’s play compared to others.  Quite your whining and crying.  You have it so good still.  I don’t want to hear anymore from you.”

Again, very well-intended words coming from a good place, but actually really offensive!

A few friends shared their own miscarriage experiences.  I get it.  They’re trying to make me feel like I’m not “alone.”  They’re trying to connect with me.  I appreciate that.

But, when they started talking about themselves, it took away from MY grieving.  I suddenly had to “share the stage” with them, and it just wasn’t the right time.

I needed the stage all to myself.  I needed them to just listen and let me cry.

I needed to be “the only one” right now.

I started thinking about all of the times I tried to support someone during a difficult time, and I cringed, because I’ve said all of those things before, but now I know how those things are received by the people in pain.

It made me want to call every single one of them and take back everything I regurgitated to them that was so cliche, typical, expected, and repeated by society.

Such empty words.

Now, I actually really hate the saying, “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”

I hate a lot of those sayings and quotes now, because we use and abuse them so often, and they are just a slap in the face to people in pain.

It was really hard for me to not show my annoyance with people, because I knew they were just trying to be supportive and helpful, and they all have the biggest hearts on the planet, so I appreciated the effort dearly.  I really did.

BUT, it made me realize how inaccurate we are at supporting each other (including me).

We’re doing it wrong.

All wrong.

And, it’s time that we admit that, and talk about how to do it better.

It’s actually quite simple, though.

Just be there.

Be present.  

Bring them dinner without asking them.  Do their laundry.  Take their garbage out.  Hold them tight when they break down, and just let them cry and scream and snot all over you, even if it’s for 3-hours.  Listen.  And, listen well.  Really listen!  Hold their hand.  Text them a quick hello.  Bring by a cup of Starbucks coffee.  Send some flowers.  Take them for a walk, and allow them to be silent the whole time, if they want.  Bring them some groceries.  Rent some movies and sit on the couch with them.  Take them to the beach and read a good book.  Babysit their kids for a few hours so they can do something else, even if it’s just taking a good, long nap.  And, respect their privacy, if they want it.

Let them have their time on stage.

Let them grieve and process.

Let them do it THEIR way, and NOT yours.

We all grieve and process differently.  But, I think we all need acknowledgment and validation of our own feelings.

We need to be able to be ourselves.

We need to be able to let go and be vulnerable, and, yes, even ugly, during times of pain.

And, often times, you don’t even need to say anything.  Leave the regurgitation behind…

Just be there.

Your presence is much louder than anything you can say!

You don’t need to be Superman.  You don’t need to be ever-wise and philosophical.  You don’t need to “fix it” for them.  You don’t need to be their life coach or psychologist.  You don’t need to be their savior.

You just need to be a friend that shows up!

Helping vs Pitying

helping-handWhen I was in college getting my B.A. in Psychology, I did an internship at a brain injury clinic for about 6 months.  By far, one of the most difficult and life-changing experiences ever!

I was only about 20 years old at the time, so still very young in many ways.

I remember my first day like it was yesterday.

The head counselor at the facility showed me around, introduced me to all of the patients that I would be working with, and then brought me into her office and shared each of their stories.  She showed me pictures of their past, and it was very surreal listening to her.

One girl, who was my age, went to Cal Berkeley on a Softball scholarship and had a serious boyfriend.  She was, by every definition, an amazing athlete and student with everything going for her.  Unfortunately, she was also Bulimic, and had a horrible stroke that left her brain damaged.  To this day, she still wears her softball clothes, and talks about her boyfriend, wondering if he’s coming tomorrow (He never came, ever).

A young man in his late 20’s was your classic daredevil and adrenaline-junky.  He loved extreme sports and breaking the rules!  One day, he was speeding on his motorcycle, which he was notorious for, and a cop tried to pull him over.  Rather than stopping, though, he tried to out-race the cop, because if he got one more speeding ticket, he’d lose his license.  Instead, he almost lost his life when he lost control and crashed.  He was left brain damaged, paralyzed on the left side, and with very limited communication.  Now, he tells everyone that he can to take the speeding ticket!

An older woman was in a bad car accident when she was only 15 years old, and it left her brain damaged.  However, she is extremely aware of her situation, and lives her life “trapped in her body.”  You can imagine her frustration and anger.  She knows exactly what she wants to do and say, and how to do it, but her body does not cooperate with her demands very well.  She wants to paint a red circle, her fingers won’t grip the paint brush, so she has to use her fingers like chopsticks, and then as she’s going in for the red paint, her arm will twitch and go into the green.  She starts to paint a circle, and it turns into zig zags.  She battles with resentment.

A middle-aged man who was a Heroin-addict had a stroke and was left brain-damaged, and it gave his wife a way out of the dysfunctional relationship.  She took the kids and ran far, far away.  I will say, though, he had an incredible sense of humor, and was always laughing and telling himself jokes.  Sometimes, though, he didn’t make any sense and would just jibber-jabber.  Many of his behaviors were similar to Tourettes.  He also thought that his wife and kids were still at home waiting for him, and he was just hanging out with his friends here.

Another older woman was going about her day like any other day at home.  Then, someone knocked on her door, and when she opened it, they shot her in the face and ran.  They still have no idea who it was and why.  She obviously survived, but was left brain-damaged, and had no idea she was brain-damaged.  She is highly functioning, and very happy and positive, but she also has a lot of delusions.

It was A LOT to take in, and I felt so overwhelmed and depressed.  The head counselor could see my emotions on my face, and then she very quickly said, “Kara – You can’t feel sorry for them!!!  They don’t need your pity.  They need your help.  They need to know that there’s still a life to live, and that you’ll be there to help and share in that life.  If you start to feel sorry for them, they’ll know it, and you will be useless to them, and I can’t have you here like that.  Got it?!”

It jolted me a bit when she said this.  But, it needed to be said, and as I spent more time at that clinic, I realized more and more what she meant by that.

My first week, admittedly, I felt sorry for them, and I pitied all of them and their situations.  I looked at them as sorry souls, and I treated them as such.  I treated them almost like babies, I was overly sweet and overly helpful, and the head counselor finally pulled me aside.  Very sternly, but from a good place, she said, “Kara, remember what we talked about?  You aren’t helping them right now.  You are patronizing them.  They don’t need your pity.  If you can’t be with them as human beings, then we don’t need you here.”

It was the slap in the face I needed.

After that, I slowly but surely started to see them as the people they were.  Over time, they were no longer “victims” or “sorry souls,” but actual people with their own personalities and qualities.

The motorcycle guy was very loving and outgoing, and he always like to flirt with me.  Every time we sang the Beatles song, “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” he made sure to sit next to me in the circle so he could hold my hand.  A moment in the day that I always looked forward to.  He also loved doing art activities, and enjoyed the Heroin-addicts jokes.  He had a great sense of humor, but he was also very passionate about talking to teenagers and college students about speeding, and the consequences of poor actions.

The woman who was shot in the face, although she had delusions, they were thankfully happy ones.  She thought the sun followed her, and was especially bright when she was especially happy.  She believed that every man who talked to her was trying to flirt with her.  She always wanted to make sure we were happy and well taken care of.  She often asked me if I was okay, and that if I ever needed anything, she could get it for me.  She was just a happy person, and you couldn’t help but be in a good mood around her.

The older woman who was in the car accident when she was a teenager, she was my hardest one.  She hated me initially, but only because I was what she wanted to be…What she missed out on.  I was a reminder to her of what she was taken away from.

My first week, when I was feeling sorry for all of them, she knew it, and that made her hate me even more.  Because she fully understands her situation, and knows she’ll always be trapped inside her own body, having me feel sorry for her only added salt to the wound.  She never wanted me to help her, and I don’t blame her.

Over time, once she saw how I changed, and how I interacted with the others, not out of pity, but out of love, she slowly started to warm up to me.  It took a good 3 months, but finally, one day, she let me sit with her and paint.  She accidentally knocked over one of the paint cups, and as I got up to get a paper towel, she watched me with hesitation.

The old me who pitied them would have cleaned it all up for her and got her a new cup, but instead, I handed her the paper towel and told her, “No big deal.  Just wipe it up and then get a new cup. The paint is right over there.  If you need any help, just let me know.  I’ll finish painting this heart while you do that.”

It was as if I “passed the test” with her.

All she ever wanted was to be treated like a normal human being who is capable of simple tasks, like cleaning up a little spill.  From that moment on, her and I had an awesome relationship, and it was by far one of the most rewarding experiences for me.

So…Why am I sharing all of this with you?

Well…I think a lot of times we pity each other, rather than help each other, and most of the time we don’t even realize it.  Most of us are very empathetic and compassionate people, and when we see someone in a difficult situation, especially someone we care about, it’s only natural to want to feel sorry for them and help out.

BUT… As I have learned from my internship in college, there is a HUUUUGE difference between helping and pitying.

Nobody needs pity.

Everyone can use a little more love, though.

And, don’t we all appreciate it when we are treated like an adult, and not a helpless, poor little soul?!

Whenever someone comes to me with a problem, I constantly remind myself of the brain injury clinic.

Sometimes, I still falter, and will pity someone’s situation, but then I quickly remember what the head counselor told me so many years ago, and I switch gears.

No doubt, when someone initially comes to me and says that their mother just died from breast cancer, and their brother just went back to prison, and they are on the verge of an ugly divorce, I will give sympathy and prayers.  I’ll be a shoulder, if need be, and a listening ear.  But, then when all is said and done, I’ll help them to MOVE ON, because no matter what life throws at us, time continues to tick.

So, don’t ever take my lack of “Aw, poor baby” as a sign of a cold-heart or a lack of sympathy.  When I push you, it’s not because I’m being mean or insensitive.  When I hold you accountable, and not let you use your situation as an excuse, it’s not because I don’t understand or don’t care.

It’s because I DO understand, and I DO care.  It’s because I want you to succeed and believe in yourself.  It’s because I want to help you to remember that you are worth it, and you are capable of it.

It’s because if I enable you and pity you, I am only adding to the poison.

“The only limitations are the ones that you give yourself.”

When we pity each other, we give each other limitations.  We allow the situation to define the person, rather than grow the person.

When I treated the brain injury patients like brain injury patients, they fulfilled the label with me, and there was no growth between us.  That’s what the head counselor meant when she said I was useless to them if I couldn’t stop pitying them.  When I finally realized there was so much more to them than just the brain injury, suddenly, they had so much more to give with me.

Pity, although coming from a good place, is actually a crippling device.

Look past the situation, and into the heart and soul of the person.  If you really want to help someone, you have to be the one who sees past the wheelchair or the Down Syndrome.  Your decisions to help have to be made based on what will grow them, and not based on the fact that their husband just cheated on them, or that they were just diagnosed with cancer.

As I said earlier, our intentions are obviously sweet and coming from a good heart.  But, there really is a big difference between actually helping someone, and pitying them.

So, the next time you find yourself running to the rescue, make sure it’s the right kind of help!

Broken & Beautiful

10669988_744421535628289_2293628100547385112_nWell, as you can tell, I haven’t posted in a long time.

For many reasons.

There’s been a lot going on both personally and professionally, and sometimes I really just don’t have the right words yet to articulate what’s going on.  Or, I’m just not yet ready to share.  Hence, why I haven’t posted in a while.

Sometimes, it’s better to remain silent, than to just post to post, but have it be forced or rushed through.

My biggest blessing and curse is self-reflection.

Each day, I try to be better than the last.  Sometimes I succeed.  Sometimes I fail.  Sometimes I even take 10 steps back.  Other times, though, I get 50 steps ahead.

It’s an exhausting board game of life.

I was a Psychology major in college.

Okay, okay, let the jokes and sarcastic comments commence now…

I will say, though, that I do thoroughly enjoy the study of people and why we do and say what we do.

People are such beautiful, broken beings!

I am constantly trying to figure people out, including myself.

Really, no two human beings are alike.  I always find it amusing how we try to categorize and label each other.  People really are so complex and individualized, and yet, we are constantly trying to shove each in to containers so that we can better understand each other.

I have been just as guilty of this.  It’s much easier to put people into categories and then write them off as such.  It makes them more predictable, or, so we’d like to think, anyway.

If you’re too quick to label someone, though, you might be missing out on something pretty amazing.

399614_10200983385369849_920439209_nBeing a CrossFit box co-owner, I have seen tons of relationships form in my gym that, honestly, would have never been given the time of day anywhere else!  Relationships that don’t seem to make sense outside of the box, but because we are all athletes here, we have no real dividing lines visible.  We all come in workout clothes.  We all do the same workout together.  We all struggle and survive, and cheer each other on.

Here, we’re just people.  We’re not rich or poor, fat or skinny, cool or nerdy, left-wing or right-wing, religious or atheist, smart or dumb.

Here, we are human beings wanting the same thing as everyone else here ~ To get stronger, healthier, and happier.  To belong to something good.  

The CrossFit gym is one of the few places in this world that brings all walks of life together, and keeps it harmonious, and opens our hearts and minds to others that we otherwise would never give ourselves the opportunity to know.

We are ALL broken.  We are ALL beautiful.

Next time you want to label or judge someone, first imagine them in workout clothes, walking into your CrossFit box for the first time to workout with y’all, and then think about how you would approach them…

When Did…

When did a student’s poor grades become his teacher’s fault?

When did being a parent become being their best friend?

When did being a trained, licensed, experienced professional become now everyone is an expert, even if they’re not?  Just Google or YouTube it…Instant expert!

When did holding people accountable for their actions become being an a**hole/b**ch?  Holding someone to high standards these days makes us the “bad guys.”

When did mediocrity become exceptional???

When did avoidance and enabling become the strategy for difficult people?

When did being honest and straightforward become unacceptable and rude?

When did having integrity and good character become a rare condition?

When did instant gratification replace hard work and long term?

When did a kid’s birthday party require Pinterest and a small loan?

When did 1st place become everyone’s a winner?

When did personal responsibility become society’s responsibility?

When did talking about it replace actually doing it?

When did reading a book, watching a movie, sitting on the porch with a friend, and doing “nothing” become lazy and unproductive?

When did we start priding ourselves on being over-worked, over-stressed, and over-booked?  “OMG! I have to work a double shift, and then go to six birthday parties and a wedding, and then Johnny’s baseball tournament, and then Carrie’s dance recital, and then file my taxes, finish remodeling the kitchen, plan my sister’s bridal shower, solve world hunger, and I just never see my kids anymore!”

When did reality stars replace actual talent?

When did Facebook replace face-to-face?

When did being a stay-at-home mom become a disgrace and disservice to womanhood?

When did our excuses become our reality?

When did this sense of entitlement begin?

When did we start allowing one person, one incident dictate the majority for the rest of eternity?  If one kid breaks his arm on the monkey bars, the school is sued, and the monkey bars are taken down forever…Now the kids get to play in the wood chips…

When did welfare become a better choice, rather than a necessity?

When did incentives start going out to everyone, regardless of actual earnings?

When did it become acceptable to be late to practice, meetings, and events?

When did we lose sight?

Have any of you seen the movie, “Idiocracy” with Luke Wilson?  Here’s the plot summary:

“Officer Collins has been spearheading one of the US Army’s most secretive experiments to date: the Human Hibernation Project. If successful, the project would store its’ subjects indefinitely until they are needed most. Their first test subject – Joe Bowers – was not chosen for his superiority. Instead, he’s chosen because he’s the most average guy in the armed services. But scandal erupts after the experiment takes place, the base is closed, and the president disavows any knowledge of the project. Unfortunately Joe doesn’t wake up in a year, he wakes up in 500 years! But during that time human evolution has taken a dramatic down turn. After waking up, Joe takes a prison-assigned IQ test and finds that he’s the smartest guy alive! Awaiting a full presidential pardon if he can solve one of the country”s biggest problems – the dwindling plant population, Joe races against time to solve this problem. But in doing so he alienates half the country in the process! Can he make things right?” ~IMDb.com

(Source from IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0387808/)

As silly the movie itself is, the premise is actually a haunting reality, and I secretly fear of a huge breakdown in society…A sudden explosion!  It’s not a zombie apocalypse that I’m afraid of…

I am also a fan of Tim McGraw’s song, “Back When.”

“Don’t you remember
The fizz in a pepper
Peanuts in a bottle
At ten, two and four
A fried bologna sandwich
With mayo and tomato
Sittin’ round the table
Don’t happen much anymore

We got too complicated
It’s all way over-rated
I like the old and out-dated
Way of life

Back when a hoe was a hoe
Coke was a coke
And crack’s what you were doing
When you were cracking jokes
Back when a screw was a screw
The wind was all that blew
And when you said I’m down with that
Well it meant you had the flu
I miss back when
I miss back when
I miss back when

I love my records
Black, shiny vinyl
Clicks and pops
And white noise
Man they sounded fine
I had my favorite stations
The ones that played them all
Country, soul and rock-and-roll
What happened to those times?…”

(Source: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/timmcgraw/backwhen.html)

Call me old, call me cynical, call me old-fashion, call me a b**ch, call me whatever you would like, but I just can’t help but feel like I am growing further and further apart from today’s world, and when I finally reach my side of the room, I just hope and pray that I am not alone!!!

While I can’t control society and other people, I can control myself and continue to live and act the way I feel is best.  And, I CAN do my best to raise my daughter with richer morals and values, help her build a backbone, show her what acting with integrity looks like, and hope that when she is grown up, she will then contribute positively to society to move it back in the right direction.