The Church of CrossFit

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I am a card-carrying member of the Church of CrossFit. I belong to a gym, a specific branch of the Church, and I honestly couldn’t love it more. I am in. I am sold.

Let me tell you why.

Different gyms have different personalities, like neighborhoods. Some are competitive, some are snarky, some are kind. They might have different warm-ups, do different workouts, and have their gym set up differently, but the goal is the same for everyone, in every gym. In some gyms it’s even written on the wall:

“Be better than you were yesterday.”

It’s a simple goal, obviously. But it requires so much. In fact, when you start, you have no idea how much it will require of you.

It means pursuing your health. It means moving, one step, one day at a time, toward being the best you possible. And only you know what that means, how that looks. There are hundreds of people who have gone ahead of you, but not everything they did will work for you, because they are not you.

You have to learn about yourself, have to understand how you work, what food your body likes and doesn’t, how much rest you need, how much pain you can actually take.

Screen Shot 2018-07-20 at 12.28.58 PM.pngOh, the pain. That’s a big thing. It’s expected, that pain. Everyone at CrossFit knows there will be suffering – the goal is to be better than you were yesterday, and that means something is probably going to hurt. You learn to accept the pain of soreness, of breaking down your muscles and building them up again, and it becomes a bond between you and the people around you.

But actual injuries are totally different. If you get hurt or exhausted, maybe because you pushed too hard or maybe just because your body couldn’t keep up with what your spirit wanted to do, people tell you to rest and recover.  They suggest therapists and doctors, stretches and medications, all kinds of things to help you heal. There’s no shame in being injured, it means you were trying. Everyone just wants you to be healthy so you can get back to being better than you were yesterday.

Sometimes, despite every attempt to grow in health, you don’t achieve your goals. This can simply mean missing one lift you thought you could get, or sometimes even plateauing for months. When this happens, it’s frustrating, but not hopeless. If you fail, everyone encourages you, tells you, “You’ll get it next time.” “We all have off days.” “You’re here, you’re already doing a great job.”

And when a famous CrossFitter crashes and burns, it doesn’t destroy anyone’s faith in CrossFit. We know that sometimes your body just can’t do what you want it to, or that, as humans, we can’t control everything. We might shake our heads in empathy, because we all know what that feels like, or we might use it as a reality check. “That could be me. I’m not guaranteed anything. I need to remember that.” It’s not CrossFit that has failed, it’s a human being.

Screen Shot 2018-07-20 at 12.37.31 PM.pngAnd the human beings of CrossFit believe in each other. Because tomorrow that could be you dragging your lead-filled legs toward the finish line, and you are going to need the cheers of everyone around you just to take one more step without collapsing. Because we all know that if I’ve experienced something, probably someone else has too.

And when you spend so much time together, bonded together by suffering, you get to know each other. The different personalities can clash or blend, and loosely formed groups often surface, usually based purely on how much time you spend at the gym and how serious you are about being better than you were yesterday. We share recipe and date ideas, talk about work and home life freely. I’ve watched business mergers and real estate deals happen over a barbell, seen new friendships form and old friendships solidify while we lie on dirty black mats, sweating like it’s our job. Everyone does the same thing in the workout, so everyone has to come together, sweat together, sometimes cry together.

We only know what to do each day because of our coaches. Our coaches are leaders and guides, but never the end-all be-all to all things CrossFit. One coach might have one great suggestion, but it could be the third coach at a gym you dropped in at while on vacation that finally gives you the suggestion that gets you past a road-block in a skill you’ve been trying to master for months. And your home coaches aren’t mad, because their job isn’t to turn you into them, it’s to help you be better than you were yesterday. They will cheer as you show off your finally-mastered skill.

Screen Shot 2018-07-20 at 12.32.38 PM.pngNow, not everyone at CrossFit has pure motives and a heart of gold. There are people who are only there for the accolades, or who seem to miss the community aspect. Their insecurities or egos can sometimes ruin good moments or frustrate other CrossFitters. But they’re still welcome, as long as they work toward the goal.

Speaking of welcome, at CrossFit you have no idea who is gay or straight until you meet someone’s significant other or someone asks you out – because it’s completely irrelevant to you being better than you were yesterday.

What CrossFit does make relevant is the good of the community, because you cannot be better and healthier than you were yesterday and still ignore the community around you. CrossFit gyms and competitions raise hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for community centers, homeless programs, and individuals who need a helping hand. CrossFitters are often incredibly generous and thoughtful people.

IMG_3167And honestly, I’m very grateful for those people. I’ve been a part of four different gyms now, and each one has helped me be better than I was yesterday. I’ve made friends and grown stronger and healthier in each place. Because although on the bottom line, I am the one responsible for becoming better, they have encouraged, challenged, and supported me in that journey.

That’s why I’m a member of the Church of CrossFit. And sometimes I wish my Church of Jesus looked like that. I would just change the goal to this:

“Be more like Jesus than I was yesterday.”

Imagine with me for a moment. What if the Church of Jesus looked like the things I said above? We believed in each other, challenged each other to be healthy, suffered together, knowing that pain is part of growing more like Jesus than we were yesterday. Don’t get me wrong, I love my church. But what if the Church of CrossFit has gotten some things right that the Church of Jesus has missed?

This is a long post, so thanks for sticking with me. But now, I have to go the gym to be better than I was yesterday. And also to be more like Jesus than I was yesterday. Feel free to join me.

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Dear Maybe Someday Husband

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Dear Maybe Someday Husband,

I’m really mad at you.

Yes, I know that’s not fair, since you’re not here to defend yourself, and technically you didn’t do anything, but occasionally I’m going to be mad at you without good reason so you might as well get used to it now. I’ll calm down and we’ll sort it out later, but for now, I’m ready to throw a few punches. And you just have to deal with it.

I’m angry because you’re missing it. You’re missing my life.

No, this isn’t about going to weddings alone or not having someone to buy me roses. Those things would be perks of having you around, but for me they’re not anger-worthy. I have friends who kill the dreaded spiders for me and a roommate who will make us Moscow Mules and play MarioKart and watch playoff hockey with me until we agree we should be responsible and go to bed. Most of the time, I really don’t care that you’re not here. I’m doing just fine.

And I’m doing whatever I want, which I know is a luxury. A married woman was quick to remind me of that recently when my singleness came up, and I assured her that I am well aware that marriage comes with a set of restrictions like checking with someone’s schedule and your agreed-upon budget before you spontaneously go skydiving. I’m appropriately appreciative of my independence, thank you very much.

And the sex…well, let’s just say I don’t really know what I’m missing, so that’s just a passing annoyance. Every once in a while I do think, “Hmm. This would be a time to have sex if someone was here for that. Oh well,” and I move on. I will say that although I can’t speak as an authority, I’m pretty sure you are missing out on some really good times, so keep that in mind.

So what is the problem?

You’re missing all the things that are happening, and all the people around me. You’ll never meet my grandparents, or one of my best friends. You won’t be able to remember that time we all did something ridiculous and laughed until we cried. You won’t know to tell me I did the right thing when I’m feeling the tough consequences of a long-past decision. You won’t be able to help me remember the moments and feelings that depression is wiping from my memory. You can’t tell stories of me when I was young and foolish when we are old and boring. You won’t know about this plain, early-May evening, sitting out on the patio, looking up at the new leaves, drinking tea and thinking about life.

Sure, I’ll tell you about it. I’ll tell you all my stories until you can tell them better than I. But I won’t know what I’m leaving out, and you will never have experienced those moments. You won’t have lived them.

I’m really mad at you for missing my life. And I suppose for me missing yours.

I’ll get over it, obviously. But I thought you should know.

If you ever do show up, could you bring another bottle of vodka? We’re running out.

I’m sure I will love you if you ever read this,
Your Maybe Someday Wife

Three Decades of Life

Sometimes, as Friday grows near, I ask my friends what I should blog about next. A few times now, one friend has suggested that I write about my latest birthday.

You see, I turned 30 in March, and they say it’s a milestone. IMG_1801

I’ve hesititated to write about it because in most ways, it felt like any other birthday.

But I admit, in one way,  it felt like a milestone. I wasn’t feeling old or anxious about it in the slightest until the day before my birthday, when it suddenly felt like I was aging the entirety of my 20s in one day. From 20-29, I felt exactly the same. Then, the eve of my 30th birthday, I watched my young adulthood zoom past, and I caught up with myself.

It was rather disconcerting.

The good news for me is that I never pictured myself much past college, so I didn’t have many unrealistic ideals to grapple with as I crossed into a new decade. I have many friends who expected to be married by a certain age, and have had to come to terms with singleness in unexpected ways. As my dating history suggests, I would like to get married but I’m not entirely committed to making it happen. I would love to own a house someday, but it’s not tied to a particular life stage. I don’t make much money, but adulthood didn’t necessarily bring prosperity in my young dreams. I am mostly free from broken expectations of that kind.

The bad news is that I fully expected myself to have more things figured out by now. I did not expect that life would still be so challenging, so…unexpected.

I thought I would know what I was doing.

Don’t we all expect that, to a certain extent? Don’t we expect to somehow finally figure out how to deal with things, or finally learn a lesson that we don’t have to relearn? I know life is a process, enjoy the journey, yada yada, blah blah blah. I’m all for smelling the roses and embracing the process. But wouldn’t it be nice to, just once, in one area of life, actually arrive?

These thoughts brought me around to the serenity prayer, to words embraced by those who are willing to take that first step: admitting and accepting they are in process.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen.

Honestly, I had forgotten the second paragraph of that prayer even existed. I had grasped tighter and tighter in my 20s to what I could change, believing that my reach would widen, that eventually, somehow, I could control most things about my life.

I can’t.

Which, of course, makes me think of Dumbledore.

“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

IMG_1819I am, and always will be, in process. But I can choose destinations along the way. I think that’s what I didn’t realize as a kid, dreaming about having things figured out, having my life under control. I’m not going to arrive at adulthood. But I can celebrate ten years of paying my own bills. Why not? Get a cake, invite some friends. A decade of financial independence! So what if I don’t have my financial plan figured out? I’m doing it. I’m living it. I can create my own stops on this journey.

I don’t know what I’m doing. But I’ve been successfully living in a world of total uncertainty for 30 years now, and that is worth celebrating.

What about you? What stops have you reached on this journey that you can celebrate?

 

I Want Adventure in the Great Wide Somewhere

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Three weeks ago, at the height of my sleep deprivation, our AC died.

I grew up without this miracle of air conditioning, so I don’t consider it a necessity. Usually.

This particular week, though, the lack of American amenities felt rough. On Thursday night, in my confused, emotional state, I was already planning on sitting on my couch all day long, all weekend long, and doing a whole lot of nothing, trying to come back to normal.

“Okay,” I thought, “I’ll just be hot while I do nothing. It’s fine.” I was dripping while I thought this, by the way. And it was nearly 10pm.

I rounded the corner toward my room to get ready for bed, and there, in the hallway, poised to also enter my room, was a giant spider.

Now, in case you don’t know me well, you should know that spiders are really the only thing I am afraid of. And I am very afraid of them.

(Note: This is not your opportunity to start posting scary spider photos and articles and gifs on my wall or texting them to me. That will result in you very politely being unfriended and blocked. Just wanted to be honest. The situation is that serious.)

Well, I panicked, took a photo for verification purposes (“No, seriously, it really was huge!”) and went to get the vacuum. When I came back with the vacuum…

…it was gone.

The damn spider disappeared. Probably into my bed.

Nope. Not happening. The combination of overwhelming heat and a loose and completely disrespectful spider meant I was out of there.

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I discovered that I’d be really great at the “your house is burning down and you have two minutes to get out with everything you need” game. I grabbed my pillow, my toiletries bag, my work bag, clothes for the next day, then I took out the trash and I was out of that condo in 90 seconds flat.

For real.

I spent that night on the couch of some very comforting and understanding friends, but the next day, my fish and I moved to another friend’s house for the weekend.

ThinkstockPhotos-507271363She had AC, she had recently sprayed for spiders, and I needed a break. So I went and laid on her couch Friday night through Sunday, basically staring at the wall, and occasionally watching TV.

But about midway through Saturday, I realized I needed to do something. I couldn’t just sit around all weekend. Something needed to happen to redeem this hot mess of a week, which culminated in a literally hot and bug-infested weekend.

I ran through some options, including rock climbing and going to a shooting range, but I finally decided to go skydiving.

See, skydiving is on my list of 30 things to do before I turn 30, and since I turn 30 in March, I knew I would have to go soon before the weather got cold. So, what better way to redeem a terrible week and a worse weekend than to jump out of a plane?

I called the place and made a reservation, and three hours later I was harnessed to a nice young man, and both of us were staring down at cornfields approximately 12,000 feet below us.

It was awesome. And terrifying. But mostly awesome.

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Before

 

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After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now, when I think about that weekend, I think, “Hey – I went skydiving!” Not, “Ugh, I ran away from a spider.”

Well, maybe a little of both. But mostly skydiving.

What adventures have you gone on to redeem your bad days? It doesn’t have to be skydiving. It can be little adventures. All adventures are good adventures.

Isn’t It (Not) Ironic

 

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One of the worst sounds in domestic life is that of a single sock hitting the floor when you have a full armload of laundry.

You’ve got it all under control, you’re taking care of business, and then one damn piece of fabric gives up on fighting gravity and suddenly you’re cursing your entire existence, exasperated by how impotent and futile humanity really is.

No? Just me? Oh, come on, be honest. You’ve wanted to swear at a stray sock or your husband’s underwear at least once. Life is hard enough without having to chase after stray undergarments while a white-hot pants-button brands LEVIS on your forearm.

I’ve said it before: it’s the little things in life. Usually I say that in a positive way; the little things are worth noticing, enjoying, breathing in. But the opposite is also true; the little things are able to make you angry, frustrated, and hopeless. And it can seem completely arbitrary. Sometimes, a little thing is no big deal. Sometimes it’s the best part of your day. Sometimes it’s the worst part of your day.

I decided to do some baking recently, and while using a stand mixer, I accidentally turned it on high before all the flour had mixed in, and flour flew everywhere. On me, the counter, the fruit on the counter, the floor. And it was funny. A friend took a picture, I swept the flour up, I moved on.

Last week, I realized I couldn’t find my favorite shirt. I’ve had it for a couple years now, it has some paint on it, and it shouldn’t be a big deal. But yesterday, when I spent some time looking for said shirt to no avail, I started thinking feeling like the entire universe is out to get me.

ThinkstockPhotos-153017775It’s like having ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife. Which is not irony, by the way, it’s just the way of the world.

We are not in control.

 

In fact, there are really very few things within our control, and even our emotions are not always one of those things. How you feel is how you feel. You can develop ways to deal with and move beyond those feelings, but you still can’t control everything.

A sock falling onto the floor may always make you want to put your fist through the nearest wall. But it doesn’t have to ruin your day.

Just like enjoying the little things can be delightful, accepting the little things can be freeing. It’s just the way of the world. You are not in control.

Let’s pick up the socks and move on.

Flirting at Walmart

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One evening last week, I was planning to go to the gym and then go to KJ’s house for dinner and a movie. She very considerately offered to let me shower at her house in between, so that I wouldn’t have to go home and then out again.

Things you need to know:

  1. I have been blessed with a pale face that turns the color of tomato soup as soon as my heart rate rises above two or three beats per minute.
  2. This particular day was a high cardio day at the gym.
  3. It had been raining in Indiana for almost a week straight.
  4. I had just purchased new rain boots (specifically for our 100 Hole Golf Challenge at work, but that’s another story.)
  5. KJ lives two minutes from a Walmart Neighborhood Market.

So. I wore my new rain boots to the gym, changed into my CrossFit shoes there, worked out, put my rain boots back on, and then drove to Walmart to pick up a bottle of wine and a pint of ice cream to contribute to dinner, since KJ was cooking.

Once I arrived at Walmart, my face still brick red and sweating profusely, I headed past the checkout lines toward the frozen food.

When the first gentleman addressed me, I looked at him to see if I knew him. Why else would someone say, “Hey, girl,” when I was in that state?

I did not know him.

“Hey,” I said, and kept walking. I only went a few more steps before I heard a wolf whistle come from the chip aisle. Really? I looked and saw another gentleman, a man you would expect to see at Walmart, looking back at me. I kept walking. During the no-more-than ten minutes I was there, at least five (I wasn’t counting because I didn’t expect it to happen, let alone to continue) different men either made comments or gestures in my direction.

Now, I do consider myself to be a feminist. I get annoyed when people don’t respect me, and straight up angry when people don’t respect the amazing women I know. But this particular situation just baffled me. Really, guys? You want a piece of what’s happening here? If I was in a grocery store and saw a woman buying a pint of ice cream and a bottle of wine, I sure wouldn’t mess with her. Even if she wasn’t dressed like this:

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Not only that, but we had been practicing double-unders at the gym (jumping rope where the rope goes around twice for every jump) and I’m very bad at it, which means I had red welts all over my hands, arms, and legs. IMG_0142

Now don’t go getting worried about my self-image. After a lot of years of battling doubt and fears, I have reached a fairly healthy place, where if my body feels good, I feel good about however I look. Part of that has been a process of accepting that strong can be sexy. I’m not a magazine model and never will be, but I can deadlift 200 lbs on a Monday morning and then just go to work. I like being that kind of girl.

So it’s not that I don’t think I’m the kind of girl who could have 5-7 men notice her in one trip to Walmart. It’s that I was so clearly not asking for it, in any way, shape, or form.

In conclusion:

Can we all just eliminate the, “she must have been asking for it or dressing like she wanted attention or behaving in a way that invited that” argument from our defense bank?

And can we all acknowledge how AWESOME my new boots are?

 

Good Enough

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It seems that someone (who I suspect shares a large portion of my DNA) recently reminded my grandmother that I have a blog.

I say “reminded” because she definitely knew at one point, but apparently she forgot and stopped reading. I know someone reminded her because she’s been in the hospital, and when I called her to check on her earlier this week, she said, “I just heard that you are writing and when I get out of here I’m going to go home and read all about you on the internet!”

My first thought was, “Dammit, Jan!” which is a phrase we use in our house that basically means, “I can’t believe I got myself into this mess and now I have to deal with it,” and actually has nothing to do with a wonderful woman we all know in real life whose name is Jan. Just trust me when I tell you that’s the short explanation.

All that to say, I felt slightly uncertain of what to do, because my blog isn’t really grandmother appropriate. I mean, it certainly could be worse. I could be blogging about my side job on the stripper pole. I’m not. I’m writing about my life.

thinkstockphotos-606675604And although my expensive college education didn’t teach me helpful things like how to change my car oil, I did learn that you can write about anything, and get away with any language or uncomfortable topics, if you are good enough.

But, of course, that means you have to be good enough.

And so, since I am an anxiety-prone individual, my immediate concern of my grandma-appropriateness quickly spiraled outward to the worthiness of the whole enterprise of me blogging. Is this okay? Am I okay? Am I doing something worthwhile? Am I doing a good job?

This week I went to visit a friend I hadn’t seen in a while and her young daughter put on a comedy show for me. It was as awesome as it sounds. (Why do golfers wear two pairs of pants? … In case they get a hole in one!) After the show, my friend said to her daughter, “I think maybe I should send you to theater camp next summer.”

The little girl smiled quickly, but then in the space of a second her face changed to uncertainty. “Do you think I’d be good enough?” she asked her mother.

Oh man. We learn so young to question ourselves. To doubt that we can measure up. To say, “Should I even do this if I can’t do a good job?”

I know I’ve written about this before, but it’s worth coming back to.

You don’t have to be good enough. You just have to do it. You just have to start. To try. To step forward. No matter who is in the audience, and no matter what you think they may think.

Don’t let the people watching decide what you’re “good enough” to do. 

I will continue my grandma-inappropriate blog. Because “good enough” does not control me.