Promises Promises

When I was pregnant with my oldest son, I was on bed rest. Due to not being able to move much, small trips to the bathroom or the bedroom were welcomed, even longed for. Occasionally, on the way back from the bathroom I would wander into his nursery and sit in the rocking chair we would eventually spend many a night in. I would talk to him and smile and take in the sights of the bright green room that seemed to glow with anticipation and excitement. I would stare at the empty picture frames and wonder what the face looked like that would fill those blank expanses. I would breathe, and pray, and make promises to him about the kind of mother I would be. They were special moments in my life that I remember fondly. Just he and I, no one able to know what we were saying to each other.  More than ten years have passed since this time, and many of the promises I made lay broken in our wake.

My oldest son tries my patience. Maybe it’s because we are so similar. Maybe it’s because he’s a ten-year old boy. Maybe it’s because I don’t actually have patience. I am not completely sure. What I do know is that I don’t seem to handle him well.  He is impulsive and competitive, especially with his little brother. He is also kind and loving, especially with his little brother. Lately, I have felt like I have been constantly on him. I start the day saying I am going to cut him some slack; I am going to give him some grace, but by the time we are loading in the car to go to school I am yelling at him for taking out his little brother in the hallway just so he could be first to the door. More broken promises lay in our wake.

Yesterday I was home alone for a short amount of time while their amazing father  took the boys to the batting cages. As I was in the midst of picking up the house and making sure we had clean uniforms for the next school day, I wandered into his room. The room has changed. The rocking chair is no longer in the corner, the crib has been replaced by a full size bed, and posters of football players and baseball players are stretched across the walls. Nonetheless, I took a deep breath and sat on his bed. I stared at the now full picture frames showing quite the life. I stared at the one of his father and I right after his birth. I was exhausted and greasy, but beaming with pride, clutching the cutest newborn I had ever seen. The one next to it shows us in front of Thomas the Train. I was swollen with the pregnancy of his little brother, his father holds him by the hips and a brown-haired two-year old is shown clutching to his chest as many trains as his chubby little hands could hold, his body turned to the side unable to decided if he should face the camera or stare at his beloved Thomas. I also studied the picture of a sweaty, dirty ten-year old in a football uniform. He is also exhausted, but beaming with pride at his new role of a football player.

As I sat on the bed, studying these pictures and these changes, a lump formed in my throat. I fail this boy far more than I help this boy. He is on the cusp of middle school and the teenage years. There are so many things I wanted him to know and be before these adventures. I have been so focused on what I thought he would be in those waning hours of the morning when he was a baby. I have forgotten who he wants to be. I have lost focus on what he wants and put my ideas and ambitions on him. A load he was never meant to carry. He has far exceeded my expectations in ability. He can make friends with anyone; he is extremely intelligent; he loves sports with more passion than I have seen in anyone. He lives his life on fire. He exudes zeal and enthusiasm in everything. And some days I am so tired. I am too tired to allow that passion to sit next to me and tell me every sports history fact known to man. I’m too tired to hear his brother and him laugh at the top of their lungs at God knows what. I’m just tired.

So I sat in his room last night, and I breathed, and I prayed, and I made promises to him. This time he couldn’t hear me, but I know what I said. I promised to let him be him. I promised to not make him fit into what I wanted for him. I promised to not be so tired all the time. I promised to spend some time only focused on him. One of the promises I made all those years ago was to always apologize when I made a mistake. I admit when I make mistakes, when I lose my cool, when I stand in his way, and he, in turn, apologizes to me and others. I know I do some good in there. That is one promise I have not broken.

As I left his room last night, I turned at the doorway and smiled. I am sure it won’t be the only time I sit in his room and think about him. I know life changes all the time, and our relationship will change with us, but I also know that one thing will always remain. I will love him every moment of my life. I promise.

This is Hard

writing.JPGSo, it’s been two months since I officially quit my job and began a writing career. That being said, I have not been writing much in the last two months. Sad, I know. Not really the way you want to start off your career. But, here’s the thing, this following your dreams thing is a LOT harder than it seems.

I mean, I guess we all know this, or everyone would be doing their “dream job” and no one would be working at call centers (sorry if a call center is actually your dream job). I quit my job July 1st, directly in the middle of summer, with two loud, crazy, attention requiring boys in my home. Do you know how much you can accomplish when WWE is occurring directly above your office? Not much. I would write an email to the sounds of screaming, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. It’s not really a creative utopia. I probably sent emails to editors full of “stop” and “don’t hit your brother” mixed into my pitch. I honestly have no idea.

However, this really isn’t the difficult part. I truly had a moment in July where I thought, now what? I have been dreaming and planning and talking this through for months, but now what? What does this dream really look like for me? Is it regurgitating material for other people, or is it putting pen to paper? It’s actually fingers to keyboard, but that doesn’t sound as poetic. Is it creating my own work from my own thoughts? So, I am a freelance writer, to make some money (very little) but I am writing my novel. This is not truly what I intended this to be when I turned in my letter of resignation on July 1st. But here I am.

The other side of this is it is really really difficult to not listen to the voices that tell me it’s never going to work. They are in my head, and they are out in the world, but they say it nonetheless. Do you know how hard it is to be a published author? Do you know it takes YEEEARS (that’s actually how they say it) to get a book published? Very few actually make it. Listen, I know this.  I’m not trying to be famous. I am not trying to get a movie deal. I am not trying to write the next Great American Novel; however I have read a lot of them, and we need some new ones.  I am trying to write a book. I want to publish a book with a big publisher and have people actually read it. And with the grace of God, I may actually get to write another one. But, it’s not easy to tune out the noise. It’s not easy to not give in and agree with the voices. “Who do I think I am to write a book?” A lot of times I do not have the answer to that question.

You know though, I am me, and I know I can do this. So, I’m doing it. It’s terrifying. It’s difficult. It may take years, but it will be accomplished. Because I believe in myself and I believe this is what I am meant to do. What are you thinking you could never do? What voices are you listening to? We only get one shot at this, you might as well enjoy it, right?

Move

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I had already decided I wasn’t going to the gym today. I just really didn’t want to. I didn’t like the workout that was posted and I simply wasn’t feeling it. I certainly don’t cherry pick my workouts, but Saturdays are usually rest days. I will go on Saturdays if my schedule was wonky during the week or I am feeling exceptionally gluttonous, but a lot of times it is our day to chill. Our children are older, so my husband and I get to sleep in a bit, there is always a trip to the donut shop (most of the time I refrain), and the kids play all morning while we mill about the house. I enjoy these Saturday mornings. So I had already decided I was not going to the gym. However, I wanted to do something active. I did have a little motivation, and wanted to capitalize on it.

Here is what I did: I got up, put on my running shoes, and ran my neighborhood. Now, those of you who know me have your jaw on the floor right now. Those of you who don’t, and have not read the previous 485 times I have said I hate running, let me tell you something: I HATE RUNNING. Really I am not a big fan of cardio, but I really hate running. It may be the fact that the only think I think about while I am running is that I a hate running. But, it’s true.

So, why did I put on my running shoes this morning? Because I needed to move. My body needed to be active for a small space in time. I wasn’t out to set records, or win races. I wasn’t out to make this my new Saturday morning thing. I just needed to get my heart rate up, breathe (or hyperventilate) some air, and move my body. I feel so much better when I do that. It’s not about how fast I move, because Lord Almighty, this was sloooow. I do not move fast, but it’s who I am. Also, let me tell you a little secret; I walked a little bit too. I completed 2 miles, and walked half of a mile. I work out 5 days a week, and have for five years, and I did not run a complete 2 miles. I probably could if I had to. I have done it before, but I didn’t, and that’s ok.

You see, you don’t have to be the best when you start something. You don’t have to be able to run a mile, or even 400 meters when you start. Just move your body. No one starts out great. Hell, no one starts out good. You wake up, you put on your shoes, and you move. So, today I did. Am I going to do it every Saturday? Probably not. Am I going to try to incorporate it more to my routine? Yes. More for the fact that I need to because I am dying in the gym, and I want to. But, if you are sitting at home right now, and feel like you need to do something. Do it. You will feel so much better afterward.

For now, I am finally done sweating from the run, and I need to convince my children to change out of their pajamas, as it is almost noon. I’ll leave you with this: not to be all cliché or anything, but it just takes one step. To quote Nike: “Just Do It.”

The Next Step

Well, it’s been a while. Sorry to my followers. My last post was nine months ago. No, I didn’t have a baby (praise Jesus!) I have just been extremely uninspired, and not the purpose of life. I started this page as a way to take life to the next level, and in the last year, that was not accomplished. So, I’m back, and making changes and steps to the life I want to lead.

Last September, I took a full time job as a virtual teacher. I have been an English teacher for 14 years. Most of this time was spent in a brick and mortar classroom, and then I was a virtual teacher for 4 years and got really burned out. I took a step away from full time teacher, and worked as an adjunct for two years, and attempted to step back in to full time teaching, thinking a break was all I needed. I was wrong. Last Friday, I tendered my resignation with the intentions of never being a classroom teacher again.

I’m sad. It’s what I have done all of my professional life. I am also tremendously relieved. I left college fourteen years ago with hope and passion. I entered into my first classroom very green, but eager nonetheless. As time went on I evolved as a teacher and really enjoyed what I did. I like to think I was a good teacher, even though I am sure I have some students who would disagree.

As I am stepping away from this noble career, I would hope that somewhere someone says something about losing another good teacher. I would hope that in fourteen years I left an impact on some of the kids I came in contact with. I do know there are many that left an impact on me, both good and bad. I cannot say I have loved every minute of teaching, but I can say that the job was very rewarding. I can say that I was happy to be a part of the world of education for many years. I can also say that I am tired.

Educating children takes a village. You have administrators and legislators, and teachers and staff. But you also have parents and families and students. All of these people make an impact on every single child at every single school. Whether the parents are involved or not, they have an impact on the students.

What made my job hard was not pedagogy or methodology. It was not administration or staff meetings, or PLCs or conferences. It wasn’t even the students. What made my job hard, what extinguished my fire for teaching, were parents. The majority of the parents I encountered were kind, and loving, and genuinely concerned for their students. The majority of the parents I encountered simply wanted their kids to learn in school. We traded emails and phone calls; we sat face to face and talked about the best options for their child, individually. We worked on a way to make sure their child succeeded through hard work and perseverance. Then there were others. There were parents who threatened over the phone, or cursed me through emails, or belittled me in person. I was the reason their child wasn’t successful. I have been called a bully, a tyrant, and a bitch. I am not saying I haven’t been these things. Again, ask any of my students on a given day. However, the day I was called a bully it was from a parent who was mad I was giving vocabulary tests. His argument being that his son, “didn’t know these words.” You know, the entire point of vocabulary. Anyway, we live in a world where the schools have adopted the mentality of “the customer is always right,” with the parents being the customer and the report cards simply a product we were marketing. I read about a story today where a student tweeted a hateful comment to the school’s superintendent using profanity. Because of the school’s policy with social media, the school suspended the student, but the parents weren’t upset. They thought it was funny. They argued for their child. At what point do we teach our students that they are at the hands of authority figures in a school? They have to show respect and not expect their parents to bail them out or back them up anytime they are in trouble at school. Whether it is an assignment they forgot to turn in and ended up with a zero, or a hateful remark that lands them in detention, students are no longer held accountable at school, as long as they have parents who will come up and argue with the administration. These are the people who grow up to be employees who expect the same things at professional jobs. We are not teaching life skills. In my classroom, I taught through ownership and responsibility. I always told my students that it was up to them how they did in the class. Every grade was earned and not given. I told them I would always help them, but they had to meet me halfway. They had to put in the work. I repeatedly reminded them throughout the year that I had, in fact, passed Junior English a long time ago, and now they had to. Grades were earned and not given. But somewhere along the way, parents believed that grades could be given, and administration started telling them they were right.

Now, please understand, I KNOW there are bad teachers out there. I have worked next to them, heard them, and been in their class. I am not saying that teachers are always right! Parents have got to be an advocate for their children. I have two school aged children, I believe that whole heartedly. Situations need to be handeled, and not swept under a rug. I agree with that completely. I am talking about the teachers who are good teachers, but are tough. The ones who don’t give the kids slack, but expect them to do the work to succeed. Who hasn’t had a bad boss or terrible work environments? Unfortunately, we have to teach the kids coping skills, and constantly bailing them out is not one of them. We have to think, what is the motive? Is it for an appearance or is it for learning? Do we want them to learn? Do we want them to succeed? Or do we want them to pass?

It is time to hold our children responsible for every aspect of their lives. We have to teach them how to function in a world that is not fair, that does not go our way, and that expects us to pull our own weight. I tried to do my part in 14 years of education. I held students accountable, I expected a lot out of them, but I also helped those who were willing to help themselves. But, I’m done. I can no longer carry this burden on my back. I am pulling for the teachers who are still in the classroom and behind computers all over the world. I pray they can keep fighting for our students.

So, I’m venturing on. I am making steps to be a full time writer. I am scared and excited and nervous and thrilled. Following your dreams and taking the leap is a lot scarier than I thought. But, I’m writing, exploring, and dreaming. I’m holding my own children accountable and working on taking life to the next level. Join me. It’s going to be awesome.My Family

A Lesson About Diet

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Some of you may know I am a teacher, by trade. I have taught secondary level English for most of my adult life. I love everything that goes along with English. I love reading, curled up in a blanket escaping this crazy life of mine. I love grammar and quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) correct your speech in a conversation. And, clearly, I love writing. There is something about the written word that can stir our soul, change our way of thinking, or educate us on simple topics. Today, I strive to do just that.

No, this is not an article on how to eat. I am in no position to tell anyone at any time how to eat. One day I eat only “real” foods, perfectly blocked into macros, and other days I drink three protein drinks and eat Wendy’s for dinner. True story. That was last Tuesday. I am not a dietician or have any backing to tell you how to eat at all. As mentioned early, I am an English teacher, so I’ll stick to what I know. Somewhere along the way, our culture got ridiculously confused on the meaning of words. We have invented new ones, some of which should not be words, but I digress. The one I want to talk about today is the word diet. UGH! That is a nasty word in our culture. Everybody has a new diet to try, or a trendy diet, or “The Only Diet You Will Ever Need.” Let’s be clear about something, the word diet, by definition means “the way one takes in food.” That’s it! Nothing is mentioned in there about types of food, amounts of food, styles of food, or time in which food is eaten. Why has this word become such a detriment to our society? Why is it a bad word?

Now, before you get all Paleo on me, there are ways of eating that improve performance as an athlete. I get it. I (sometimes) watch my macros like the rest of our community. I do it for me. Not so I’ll look good in a bathing suit, or so I will be skinny. I do it to perform in the gym. To be able to do what I love to do every day without hurting myself. So, yes, some particular styles of eating are better  than others depending on what you do with your body. And, yes, we need to eat healthier as a society. I’m not saying down with all nutrition rules. What I am saying is we have a very screwed up relationship with food, and it all stems from this one word!

We live in a society where we heave guilt on people who eat cheeseburgers and also heave guilt on people who eat salads. I have watched friends of mine, as well as myself, be terrified to eat a French fry. A single freaking French fry! Seriously? We have lost our minds people. Food is food. Now, some of it these days is a lot less food and a lot more chemical. Every person, regardless of their activity level, should eat real food every day. However, we have to quit shaming ourselves about food. Whether you are overweight or -5% body fat have a normal relationship with food. I recently read an Instagram post about a girl who cried for an hour because she drank two drinks of a regular coke before she realized it wasn’t diet. Come on, people. Yes, we have to be smart about how we are eating, but we don’t get to cover ourselves or others in shame because of what we eat.

Food is not a treat, or a reward, or a punishment. Food is simply a way for us to take in nourishment. So, take in nourishment. Eat your cheeseburger and drink your beer, and then go get a handful of grapes next time you are hungry. Get up and work out, eat real food, and don’t cry in the bathroom when you don’t. A diet is a form of eating, not a punishment. Live your life, move your body, and be happy.

Author’s note: this turned in to a bit of a rant. Sorry about that.

Why Am I Doing This?

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In the wise words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Truer words were never spoken. Seriously. It’s really easy in life to get caught up in the daily craziness. CrossFit is the same way. We get focused on progress and on PRs. We watch the weights and the times and get caught up on food. We get frustrated at lack of progress or bad days. We get caught up in it all. It usually takes something big to snap us out of our insanity.

A few weeks ago it happened to me. While warming up, I made a mistake of epic proportions. I walked over to the rig, and set my water bottle down to claim my spot. Our coach asked us to warm up with pull ups, so I jumped up there and started kipping away. I kicked the top of my water bottle as I adjusted my hands, and didn’t think much about it. I did my 5 pull ups and released the bar, jumping down off the rig. Little did I know, my water bottle had rolled underneath me, and when I jumped down I landed on the bottle. My ankle turned and I instantly tore every ligament in my ankle, and dislocated a bone in my foot. First, let me say, this was NOT a “CrossFit” injury. This was not from overtraining, or doing something I wasn’t meant to do. This was from a water bottle… So before you haters get all “see I told you this was dangerous.” It’s not. Water bottles and not paying attention to your surroundings is dangerous. If I teach you anything in my writing career, let it be this: do not leave your water bottles too close to your work area.

So, here I sit. In a boot with crutches for 4 days, a walking cast for two weeks, and now a brace, waiting on the swelling to go down, the pain to go away, and for the range of motion to come back. It’s miserable. I am so frustrated. I still show up to the gym and do work, but it’s not the work I want to do. I row with one leg, and can do the air assult, but I cannot run. I cannot lift weights because my ankle cannot bear the weight. I do seated  strict presses, and seated wall balls, and a LOT of bench press. My coaches are wonderful at helping me modify my workouts, and to be able to accomplish something, but it’s not near what I want to be doing. I am definitely not the only athlete to sit by during an injury. I am not the first and I will not be the last. I feel lost and frustrated a lot of the time. However, one great thing about this injury has been it gave me a chance for some deep introspection. Why did I start doing this in the first place? What pulled me in to this world and why did I stay?

I remember when I casually sauntered into the gym. I was in need of something new. I was out of shape, I had an eighteen month baby boy, and I wanted to “tone up.” I have been a member at all sorts of gyms. I have had a personal trainer. I have done yoga. I have done all of the at home videos. I cannot workout in the comfort of my own living room, because you know what else is in the comfort of my own living room? My couch. It may work for 4-6 weeks, but sooner or later the gravitational pull of couch wins. I have done CrossFit for 4 years, and I have never once thought of quitting. I found my passion in the walls of my box. I found more than a workout. I found determination and motivation and friendship and life.

We have heard all of this before. These are not new words, but as I have sat, literally, in the middle of the gym over the last four weeks and watched my friends lift weights, and run, and PR, I have been smacked over the head with the reality of this sport. It’s not to PR every time I walk in. It’s not to be in constant search of more weight or faster times. While we want to improve, it’s about improving ourselves. It’s about the commitment to becoming better. It’s the relationship with our fitness. In relationships there are good days and bad days. There is closeness and there is frustration. This relationship is no different. I show up to the gym everyday not to beat everyone in the class, or be the one to lift the heaviest weights that day. I show up to gym every day to be strong and enjoy life. To be able to chase my kids through the park, and to wrestle them in the living room. I do this to be able to try surfing lessons in Hawaii, and to hike when I can. It’s not about perfection, it’s about life. While I am ready to be healthy again, I’m thankful for the opportunity to step outside of craziness and focus on the why.

Don’t Be So Serious

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CrossFit is all about the competition, right?! We set a clock every day, whether it’s counting up or counting down, we are trying to beat the clock. We compete against other athletes in the world, in our town, in our own gym, and most importantly, we compete against ourselves. There is always something or someone to beat. Most CrossFitters love it. We crave that competition. We check the whiteboard before and after each class. We talk to our friends about their performance. We see how we compare. It’s all in good fun. Usually there is not a lot of pressure, but this CrossFit stuff is all about measurable progress. We have to see how we measure up. But, does it always have to be like this? Is it always about progress and personal records? Absolutely not. Sometimes you have to come in to the gym, and get back to the basics of why you began this journey in the first place.

The other day our gym had a Non-Functional Friday. I hear this is not a new idea, but it was something different for us. It was an opportunity for us to get rid of all the “stress” of performing. This day wasn’t about CrossFit. We were going to do a workout, but we were going to have fun, while being safe, of course. We did typical “globo gym” movements like tricep kick backs, and barbell curls. We never set a clock and made sure we spent lots of time chatting, getting water, and checking the mirror for muscle tone. It was hilarious. We had a great time. Were we back at the clock on Saturday? You betcha. Metcon for time. The way we like it. However, for that one day it was so nice to break it up, act silly (ab selfies and all), and have fun with your gym friends.

It is so easy in this world of CrossFit to get caught up in the progress and progression that we forget what this journey is all about. What we know, or should know, is there is not a stopping point. There will never be a moment in this sport that we are “there.” We will always be working on something else. This sport is constantly evolving, so it is so important to break it up every once in a while. I cannot tell you how many conversations I have had with people lately about how they feel “stuck” or like they are getting worse at CrossFit. We can start to break down mentally. That is why we have to take steps back sometimes. We have to let go of the clock, let go of the PR, let go of the whiteboard and just have fun.

This journey of fitness is all about you anyway. It’s your personal progress and times. It’s your body composition and lifting records. It’s not about anyone else, so let it go. Sure, there are times to focus. There are times to hit it hard. But, there are plenty of times we need to step back and laugh. We definitely need to take rest days. We have to allow our body to recover, but we also just need to have fun, even if it’s not programmed that way. Grab a buddy, scale back the weight, and have fun with that WOD. In the words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

The Three Words That Get You in Trouble at My House

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unfair

I’ve got to switch subject gears. I’m focusing on my most important job today, Mom. This week I have encountered a few articles on the Internet. Some I agreed with, others I did not, but all of which reminded me that we world is in turmoil. There are some really serious things going on right now in Nepal and in Baltimore, but today I wanted to focus a little more minutely. Today I wanted to talk about my house specifically. Apply it as you wish.

In the last few months, and thanks to a suggestion from a friend of the family, three words have become taboo in our home: “That’s Not Fair.” Oh, we have all heard those words, especially if you are a parent to a speaking child. We have probably even muttered them a time or two. They can be used when someone got more milk than someone else. They can be used when someone struck out in the baseball game. They can be used when someone got the iPad first. They can be used all of the time. We LOVE these words. We use them all of the time.

We’ve all heard the adage, “Life’s not fair,” and it’s true. It’s not. Bad things happen to good people. Things happen that shouldn’t. Extenuating circumstances can alter one’s life for seemingly no reason at all. It sucks. But, what can we do about it? Really? Not much. I can spend my time pouring milk evenly, and counting minutes to make sure everything is shared evenly, but what’s the point? Is the rest of the boys’ lives going to be like this. Nope. Will their bosses make sure they have the same amount of work as everyone else? Will their teachers make sure that if they have homework everyone else does too? Will restaurants count out the perfect amount of fries on everyone’s plates to make sure they all get ten. Absolutely not. So, why should I?

In a conversation with my sister not too long ago she relayed this idea to me, and I latched on to it immediately. My kids LOVE the phrase “That’s not fair.” Love IT! So, I outlawed it. Anyone who uses the phrase faces a punishment. I spoke with my kids about why this was outlawed in our home. We discussed the reasons we had for not allowing this phrase to fill up their vocabulary. They may not get it now, but one day they will.

Life is not fair

Yeah, I have mentioned this before, but it’s worth mentioning again. It’s not. Things are going to happen that don’t make any sense. Nothing in this world is perfectly even. Some people face hardship after hardship, for apparently no reason at all. Athletic ability comes naturally to some, while others have the ability to make an A on a test without ever opening a book. Accidents will happen and illnesses will come whether you do your best to prevent them or not. My youngest son has food allergies. He can’t have ice cream or cheese, for crying out loud! That’s certainly not fair. Is it the hand he was dealt? Yep. We deal with it, and try to find coconut ice cream whenever we can!  I try to explain to my children that in this life some people have more than others. Maybe they worked hard for it, and maybe they didn’t, but it is what it is. Some children were born into horrible situations in life, but they still have the same abilities and choices as everyone else. I explain that no matter what, they have the ability to make anything they want to out of their lives. It’s not about fairness. It’s about choices.

No One is Entitled

No one in this world is entitled to anything. Just because someone else has something, doesn’t mean you get to have it too. Material possessions or jobs, you have the right to nothing in this world. I try to teach my children that if you want something, you have to work for it. My oldest son struggles with coordination and athletic prowess. He watches boys on his baseball team hit home runs and catch pop flies with ease, and he gets frustrated. We discuss with him that he has the ability to do those things, he’s just going to have to work harder than the other boys. My husband and I do our best  to provide a good life for the boys, but we also explain that we work hard to be able to provide them with the opportunities they have been given. Do we give them treats and rewards and presents? Sure. But we discuss that these things are just that, not something we are required to give them.  They have to do their part to be a productive member of this family and this world. If there is something they want out of this life, they have to buckle down and figure out a way to make it happen.

Life is not as bad as you would think

On the other side of this fairness coin is the fact that life is what you make it. The boys have a pretty good life. There is not much they are in need of. It’s easy for us, as parents, to indulge them. So, at our house we try to take some time to talk to the boys about how lucky they are, and what we can do to help those who do not have to luxuries in life that we do. No, you are not going to have an iPhone at 8 years old or an iPad at 6 years old, but you will have the ability to earn those things when the time is right. What about the children who cant even afford books to read before bed, or food to eat, or shoes so they can go to school? You, my boys, are entitled to nothing, but to help these people.

I know that when my kids take a step back from the life they want, they will see the life that is around them. They will see they are not the center of the world, but merely a person who has a responsibility in this world. So, my children are not allowed to say “That’s not fair,” in my house. I want them to know that while they are the center of MY world, they are not the center of THE world. I want them to know that everything is possible with a little hard work. I want them to know that they have a duty in this world. And I want them to know that while life is not fair, it can be anything they want it to be with a little determination and perseverance.

Why I Won’t Be a Baby About the Open

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Photo Credit 918 CrossFit

Photo Credit 918 CrossFit

As most of you know, The CrossFit Games Open finished last week (can I get an Amen?). This year brought about some changes, to say the least. We had the scaled division, which allowed for the WODs to be tougher, heavier, and a lot more mentally challenging. There in lies the rub… I suck at mentally challenging! I am an average athlete, as I have mentioned before. It’s my thing, the title of my blog, so on and so forth. I’m not the strongest. I’m not the fastest. I’m somewhere comfortably in the middle. Well, this year’s open was not kind to those of us comfortably in the middle. The scaled division was too light, too easy, and not challenging enough. I’ve done The Open before, and I wanted something that would force me out of my comfort zone. So, I signed up for RX and went on my merry way.

The first week brought a workout I could do. Toes to Bar, sure. They were not fast, but I was never “no repped”. 75 pound deadlift, you betcha! 75 pound snatch… eh. Do-able, but more of that mental stuff I’m not so good at. I finished the WOD with a decent amount of reps, did my clean and jerk and reveled in the fact that week 1 was done! The second week brought about chest to bar pull ups. I’m not great at those, but haven’t really worked on them either, so I can’t complain. I managed to bang out a few, beat my score from last year, and considered it a win. Week three brought muscle ups… WHAT?!?! How dare  you Dave Castro! You can’t START a WOD with muscle ups. What about the rest of us… those “non-elite” athletes? We regular folks? You suck and this whole thing sucks. So, I stood under the rings for 14 minutes, made a few feeble attempts at swinging from the rings, and called it a loss. Sure, I could have done the scaled workout, but if I wanted a regular workout, I would have just gone to a regular class that day (read: I’m stubborn). I recorded a zero and dropped off the scoreboard… SUPER! Week 4 I faced down a heavy (for me) clean. Physically, I could probably do a 125lbs clean, but mentally that’s a no. I knocked out three handstand push ups and made numerous attempts at the clean. One was very close, but apparently that only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Whatever. Week 5 was all do-able. Not fun, but do-able. I completed the workout, not quickly, even though my score did not matter, as I fell out of ranking week 3. It’s over. I finished.

Somewhere around week 3, when the muscle ups came out, I was pissed!! I feel like I am not alone in this sentiment. We cried and lamented and complained. We wrote nasty messages on the HQ Facebook page and we cursed Dave. However, here’s the thing. The Open is not necessarily for the average athletes. Yes, yes, it is billed to be all inclusive, but the purpose is the find the world’s best athletes. Is that me? No way, Jose! You found me out! You uncovered my weaknesses. I’m not going to pick up my ball, and storm off the playground shouting, “We’re not best friends anymore!” I’m going to shrug my shoulders, work on the things I can work on, and try to get better for myself. Do I think I will ever make it to The Games? Not in a million years. Do I do CrossFit to go to The Games? Nope. I do it because I found an inner strength I didn’t know was there. I do it to have the life I want to have. So, you got me Dave Castro. You win. I’m not the fittest in the world. Nor am I the fittest in my gym. I may be the fittest in my house, but my 8 year old is giving me a run for my money. So, to The Open, until next year.

Change Your Mind

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pull ups

For the last three years I have been working hard at changing my body and my mind. I CrossFit at least four times a week, I eat well (for the most part), and work daily at getting stronger. I have made huge changes in my physical and mental abilities in the last several years. I have written here, and other places, about how women should view their bodies. I have talked endlessly about embracing strength and reminded women countlessly to stop worrying about the scale. I know these things. However, it turns out that practicing it is a lot more difficult that just saying it.

Recently our box completed a nutrition challenge. I love these! It gives me a chance to refocus, and correct any bad habits that have crept in. Well, it turns out this time around I had created a lot of bad habits. I completed my “before” DEXA scan and learned that weight I had gained was not muscle as I had thought, but actually body fat. I had a lot to loose. So, I took my numbers, calculated my zone blocks and started my plan. Here was where I failed, despite speaking with our gym owners and listening to their advice of 11 blocks a day, I went for 10. What was one right? When I did the calculations my total ended up at 10.4. I rounded down. I remember good mathematics (kind of). This was my first mistake. I went through my first two weeks feeling great! I was loosing weight, which was exciting, and really feeling good. However, by the third week I was feeling really weak. I didn’t seem to have a lot of energy during strenuous workouts, but cardio is a weak spot for me anyway, so I trudged along. By the fourth week I felt like I was run over by a bus during each trip to the box. I couldn’t complete 20 wall ball shots without needing to sit down. I was not in good condition. I knew something needed to be switched around with my nutrition. I just wasn’t ready to admit that I had messed up. So, I went for my “after” DEXA scan and was shocked by the numbers. I walked in feeling like I was going to rock this scan. I had lost 8 pounds. Everyone was complimenting how great I looked. I was on top of the world, certain I was about to knock out some serious fat loss! False. While my scan showed a 1% fat loss, I had lost 6 pounds of muscle. Crap.

So, I left my scan feeling deflated, literally. I knew I hadn’t eaten enough. I talked with our owners, and knew what I needed to do, but it wasn’t until I spoke with a fellow athlete, who is also a nutritionist, that I really understood. He explained what physiologically happened. My body was in starvation mode. I have worked for the last three years to build muscle and be strong. I had not weighed myself, other than doctors appointments, in a year. (I used to weigh myself daily).I have preached endlessly about embracing strength, no matter your size, and I was starving myself.

Here’s where this turns in to true confessions. It has been two weeks since I have learned this, and I am struggling. I am trying to free myself from the mindset of the world. My 20 year old self keeps screaming in my head, “But you lost weight!!! Isn’t that the point!!! People think you are skinny!!” I am fighting all of my womanly instincts on this. I am eating more, and I feel tremendously better during my workouts. But, my inner society-conforming voice is terrified. What if I gain weight? What if I stop getting compliments? It’s ridiculous and my rational side understands that; nonetheless, I have spent 35 years listening to the magazines. I’ve been told, “don’t get too bulky.” So, here I sit. I’ve just completed dinner. It was healthy, zone portioned correctly, and satisfying, but I’m still concerned.

Women, we have to change our minds. We have to stop worrying about numbers and images. We have to focus on strength and progress. We have to worry about how we feel. Health is most important. Performance is most important. The rest will come. At what point do we stop caring about the Victoria Secrets models? When will we stop saying women with muscles are too “manly”? It’s not about size. It’s about health. So, help me. Join me in changing how we view women. Strength is beautiful, and athleticism is beautiful. When we all change our minds, the world changes with us.