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

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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…

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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.

Crossed the Line

I have been mulling over The Box Magazine December issue since it came out over a week ago.

This is the cover page…

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Yes, this is our “Fittest Woman on Earth,” Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, and she’s worked really, really, REALLY hard to earn that title!!  She’s been fighting for that title for the past 5 years!  The countless hours upon hours upon hours of training she’s put in, the nutrition and discipline, and overall dedication are just sheer displays of awesome! Camille has earned that title in every way, and I am among the rest of the thousands of fans who are extremely proud of her!

This cover, and the article inside, though, really disappointed me…Right to the core.  The article itself is great – It’s the pictures that piss me off, though.

Photoshopped pictures.

Here’s what she really looks like in all her glory and awesome fitness…

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I’d like to think that Camille had absolutely nothing to do with that decision, and even had no idea that they were going to do that to her body.

However, The Box Magazine, a magazine for CrossFitters, and created by CrossFitters, should know better.

Now, before you try to tell me that that’s just the way it is in the beauty industry, all magazines do it, it’s just the nature of the beast, blah blah blah, I’m just going to start by saying that CrossFit is NOT the beauty industry, nor do we ever advocate for superficiality.

We are the HEALTH & FITNESS industry, and our whole movement is about focusing on performance, not appearance, and telling young girls that “Strong is the New Skinny,” and that it’s about how you feel, not how you look, and being FIT is what is beautiful/handsome.  We embrace our shapes and sizes.  We value ourselves by good character and self-improvement.

Aren’t we the ones who constantly defend each other when haters bad-mouth our “huge thighs” or “bulky arms?!”

Aren’t we the ones who are trying to redefine beauty?!

So, why the f*** would a CrossFit magazine Photoshop THE FITTEST WOMAN ON EARTH?!

It’s like taking 10 steps back…

I’ve been debating on whether or not to post about this, and trying to convince myself that I’m just over-reacting, but I think I am not alone on this one.

If we have to Photoshop the Fittest Woman on Earth, then what are we really saying to all of the girls and women out there who bought into our whole “Strong is the New Skinny” movement?!

The Box Magazine has just re-affirmed every girl’s fear – You’re not good enough.  Because, even Camille Leblanc-Bazinet isn’t good enough for a magazine cover, and she’s #1 in the CrossFit world!

I can accept Photoshopped pictures in Cosmopolitan and Vogue, and yes, even in Teen Vogue (Even though that still makes me a little sick inside).  Majority of that stuff IS artificial, superficial, and complete marketing gimmicks, sooo…It is what it is.  I just choose to not buy and read any of those magazines.

I do draw the line in our CrossFit Community, though.  CrossFit has made huge strides in the fitness world, and the impact it’s made in so many lives is incredible!

I’ve seen so many women and girls find their self-esteem here.  Women and girls who once valued themselves based on pant size and hair color, are now based on their front squat PR and “Fran” time, and finishing their first half marathon.

Women secure in their own skin.

The CrossFit Games athletes have been amazing role models for so many, as well.  But, especially the women!  The CF women have completely broken through the stereotypes and myths, and have made muscles beautiful and acceptable.  What was once avoided at all costs and feared, is now actively and eagerly sought out for in the gym.  Women WANT to lift heavy weights and get stronger.  Women WANT to have muscles.  Women want to be strong, and are finding that they CAN do a lot more than they ever imagined before.

Women are actually PROUD of their bodies and what they can do with them!

Girls are actually being empowered!

And, then…The cover of The Box Magazine comes out, with our fearless leader and champion, an icon and role model, and her awesome abs that show all of her hard work are f***ing airbrushed and trimmed to a smaller size!!!

As a coach, I feel like this is telling all of my clients that even thousands of hours of training just isn’t good enough, and in the end, appearance really does matter more than everything else, even in CrossFit.

Everything I tell my clients, especially the women, has been completely obliterated by these damn pictures – All Photoshopped in a CrossFit magazine…A magazine that’s supposed to promote health and fitness…Not a cookie-cutter, fake imitation…They’ve turned her into a “Buff Barbie.”

ARGHHHHHHHHH!!!

Do you see why this frustrates me?!  I know it’s “just a picture,” but really and truly, this is so much more than that.

There is something twisted and disturbing about it to me.  How would I explain this to my daughter if she was a teenager?  I imagine the conversation going something like this…

BAILEY: Mom, how come her stomach looks weird?

ME: Because they Photoshopped it to look like that, honey.

BAILEY: Why?  Doesn’t she already have a six-pack because she works out so much?

ME: Yes…I guess they just wanted to trim her waist down to make her look curvier in a bikini.

BAILEY:  But, isn’t she like the CrossFit winner?  Doesn’t she work out like alllllllll the time?  I thought she was already hella fit.

ME: Yes…I don’t know what to tell you, honey.  She is extremely fit and strong, and she’s perfectly fine just the way she really is.  I don’t know why they changed her stomach to look like that.

BAILEY: Ummm…So, having muscles really isn’t a good thing, then?

ME: No, having muscles is great, and being fit and strong is great.  Camille works really hard, and she did a lot to win the CF Games.

BAILEY: But, they narrowed her waist down and made her look skinnier.  So, obviously, having a six-pack isn’t sexy on a woman, then.

ME: No, that’s not it at all.  There is no one “right” way to look, honey.  We all come in different shapes and sizes.  Being healthy and fit is what is important!

BAILEY: Well, clearly, it’s not, because they just corrected her shape into what they think it should be!  Sooo, if they have to correct the Fittest Woman on Earth, then obviously there’s something wrong!

ME: *Sigh* Yes, I understand, and I wish I could explain why they Photoshopped her body, but all I can tell you is that Camille is an amazing athlete, she’s healthy and strong, she works really hard, and her body, regardless of it’s shape and size, can do amazing things!  Ignore the picture, and focus on her accomplishments.

BAILEY: Okay…Whatever, Mom.

It’s a sobering reminder of how easy it is to fall prey to the distorted and messed up beauty industry, and even CrossFit celebrities can be victims of it.

Strong IS the new skinny.  Even if a stupid magazine cover tries to tell us otherwise by slimming down our Fittest girl.

She didn’t need it.  She is amazing just the way she is, and that body got her to the very top of that podium amongst many other equally amazing women of all shapes and sizes!

We ARE good enough.  And, if a magazine can’t see that, even if it’s one of our own, well then let’s remind of them who we are and why we’re here, and maybe they just need a little re-direction.

We all lose footing at one time or another.  Let’s hope that this was just a little mishap, and they’ll snap out of the superficial beauty trap, and back into kick ass beast-mode!

Onward and upward.

You Really Don’t Know Until…

10721247_10204806766311983_856712680_nThis past weekend, my partner, Alan, and I competed together at a local CrossFit competition.  It was an awesome day, with really awesome workouts that challenged not only our physical capacities, but our ability to work well together, too!  There were even Regionals athletes at the competition, which added to the intensity and nerves that day.

Alan and I were like two peas in a pod – We were seamless and smooth in every workout, and made our way into the Finals!!!  A moment that almost didn’t happen…

After WOD #1, we were sitting pretty in 5th place.  After WOD #2, we remained in 5th, and knew we had to do something great in WOD #3 to make it to the Finals, because only the top 4 teams made it.

Well…We did it! 🙂

Honestly, it was a surprise to us both, and I suddenly felt a feeling that I have never felt before.

Before I continue, let me rewind a bit…

I’ve always “wanted” to qualify for Regionals, and I’ve even toyed with the idea of maybe one day making it to the Games.  But, the farther I get in my journey, the more I realize that in the past, I really loved the IDEA of it more than actually doing it.

I said I “wanted” it, but I don’t think I really knew what that meant until now.

I thought that I wanted it.  I really did.  And, at the time, it seemed like I was giving 100%.  In hindsight, though, I was giving what I felt like I was good enough for.  Meaning – I always had “low expectations” at competitions and shot for the top half of the bunch…I was too afraid to go for top 5, or even top 10.  So, I performed that way – I competed at “top half” effort with “top half” desire and determination.  At the time, I thought that was “wanting” it.

And then…I felt it, for real, this weekend, when Alan and I made it to the Finals.  We were 4th overall, and we were up against Regionals athletes.  But, we also beat other Regionals athletes to get there!

In that moment, I FINALLY felt what it truly feels like to REALLY WANT IT!!!  And, it’s a feeling you really can’t understand or explain until you’ve felt it for yourself.

The Finals WOD was an Every Minute On The Minute Death By: 7 Thrusters (75/55), 7 Pull ups, and 7 Burpees.  Each teammate had to complete their own reps.  If one partner “died” than it was over for both.

During that workout, I experienced a burning desire that I haven’t felt before in a WOD.

I wanted to win more than I wanted to breath.  

So many times, I have pushed so hard, and then suddenly in the end I would wave the white flag.  The pain outweighed the want. That is what separates the champions from everyone else.  Champions are able to push through that pain.  They can go in to that deep, dark, horrible place, and charge through it like bulldozer without a second thought.  There’s no hesitation.  No doubt.

I’ve always written about it, and have always known about it, and have sort of felt it…But, this time I was truly in it.

I literally had no doubts, no hesitations, and no fear.

10645160_10204838109535544_6079600414418778716_nI often see the quote, “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breath, then you’ll be successful.”  During the Final WOD, I finally experienced that for myself.

I wanted it SO bad, that the pain and lack of air honestly didn’t even register in my brain.

It was awesome.  I actually felt unstoppable.  I felt like a champion.

It was a huge turning point for me.  All this time, I thought I knew how badly I wanted it.  I really did.  Until I was finally put into a position to PROVE how badly I wanted it.

It was very much like the saying, “You never know how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice you have.”  

I’ve been on a competitive-high this week, and I even find myself pushing harder in the workouts at my box.  Suddenly, I’ve realized that I really do have more to give, and I really am capable of making that podium! 😉

As I coach, I have been thinking about this whole experience a lot.  One of the most difficult things as a coach is letting my athletes experience things for themselves, learning from their own mistakes, and taking their own path. But, I also know that it will be much more valuable and life-changing that way.

I can talk and write until I am blue in the face, but until they experience it for themselves, it really isn’t going to have the same impact, nor will anything change until it is their OWN journey.

It’s just not the same talking about.  EXPERIENCE is the teacher.  Words are great, and can be very powerful, but until you have actually FELT it for yourself, you really don’t know.

I have been comparing it to my husband, Spencer.  I always thought I knew what being in love was.  I thought I loved before, and maybe I did, sort of, but then when Spencer came into my life, I suddenly realized what love was actually supposed to be.  I settled a lot, and thought I was only good enough for a certain level of men.  So, the crappy men in my life is what I thought love was.

Thanks goodness for Spencer!  Now, in hindsight, I am horrified at the thought of who I could have married instead.  But, I also needed to experience all of those sh***y relationships in order to appreciate Spencer.  I wouldn’t have been ready for him any other time in my life.  Those past relationships prepared me for him, and the timing was just right!  🙂

I think all of my competitions are very similar to my love life.  I wouldn’t have been ready earlier in my CrossFit career for that Final WOD.  I don’t think I would have pushed as hard.  I think just making it would have been good enough for me, and I would have thrown in the towel after 2 rounds.  And, while I wish I had given more in my past competitions and had different outcomes, they have still helped build me to this moment.  I think I finally snapped and got fed up with always being in the middle.

You see, just as I needed to experience crappy relationships in order to appreciate Spencer, so too did I need to experience my average performances in competitions in order to finally appreciate being at the top, and almost getting a taste at victory.

Experience.  Life’s teacher.

Bottom line – Don’t be afraid of experiences, and don’t regret any of them, good and bad, because even the bad ones serve a greater purpose in life! 🙂

Just Keep Smiling

It seems almost inevitable…

The moment you are finally happy and successful, someone, somewhere, has to try to rain on your parade.  And, the happier and more successful you are, the more people seem to try to pop your balloons and smash your cake.

Haters gonna hate.

I’ve watched a lot of CrossFitters deal with family and/or friends who try to knock them down.  The truth of the matter is that their family/friends are having a hard time watching him or her get in shape, get healthy and fit, and be happy.  They hate watching my members work so hard and do things they are not willing to do in order to get the results they dream about and wish for.

Misery loves company.

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The deeper issue, though, is that anyone who tries to bring you down, they really don’t hate you; they hate themselves, and you are simply a reflection of what they want to be.  You are above them.

The battle they are fighting is within themselves…It’s not really with you.  So, don’t ever take it personally.  You are just their scapegoat.  Their distraction.  Their reason to not have to look in the mirror each day.

Negative people need drama like they need oxygen.  It becomes their livelihood.  And, if you get sucked in to it, you are only feeding their bad blood, and poisoning your own soul.  Don’t let them grab hold of you and take a bite…That venom can be deadly.

Kill them with kindness!  Take their breath away!

As much as difficult people are a pain to deal with, they are also a blessing in disguise.  They teach us what we DON’T want to be.  And, they remind us why we are changing and working so hard for our goals.  They remind us why we started on this journey – Because, we don’t want to sit stagnant and miserable like them.

I’ve reached a point in my life where I don’t even waste a single word with difficult people anymore.

Difficult and negative people are committed to misunderstanding you.  They want to paint an ugly picture of you.  They need you to be their reason for failure and unhappiness.

Give them roses and butterflies, and they will turn it into thorns and hornets.

Smile, and they will say you’re rubbing it in their face.

Show compassion, and they’ll twist it into a conspiracy theory.

Succeed, and they’ll claim it was all luck.

Whatever they can do, they will do it in order to make their delusions and misery justified and true.

I try to have empathy for difficult people, as nearly impossible as this is to do.  But, their life must really be hard for them to behave like that.  Or, something really horrible must have happened to them in the past.  Now, granted, some people are just bonafide a**holes, and that’s all there is to it.

But, many difficult people are just huge cries for help.  In fact, I don’t think they even want to be that person, and it must be pretty exhausting to for them to live that way.  I have to imagine that they really are trying to ask for help from us…As dysfunctional and unhealthy their approaches are!

I used to fight and confront difficult people.  It’s literally like fighting fire with gasoline hoses, hairspray bottles, dried twigs, and matches!!!

So, either walk away from the fire…Or, grab a bucket of water instead.

And, when all else fails, the best way to deal with difficult people is with a smile!  

Be happy, it really annoys them! 😉  It’s like their kryptonite!

Enjoy the success of all of your hard work, you’ve earned it, and don’t ever let anyone rain on your parade.

Hold up that big umbrella, and keep dancing in the rain, if you have to! 😉

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