Super Aunt’s Observations on How Kids Get it Right

 After a week with my family over Thanksgiving week and being a self proclaimed Super Aunt, I feel so much love and gratitude for the innocence and wisdom of kids. Seriously. I found myself marveling at rather basic thing they do that are in actuality rather symbolic of wisdom that adults should take note of. Here are just a few.

  1. Kids have no problem saying when they don’t want something or don’t like something. My 4 year old niece did not want me to tickle her (or take selfies with her, the audacity!) I respect that she set her boundaries. Adults should do more of this (when appropriate) as opposed to being polite on the surface and seething on the inside.
  2. Kids show remarkable sportsmanship. I was playing checkers with my 7 year old nephew when his 8 year old sister (my niece) wanted to get in on the action. My nephew was gracious enough to let us explain strategy to her as she was new to the game. We would have her move one of her checkers so that we could visually show her what the outcome would be. We had so much fun playing, interacting, bantering and coming up with strategies. My niece and nephew understand the simple concept that it is not always about winning (which makes for a proud auntie).  I always maintain that we should surround ourselves by solid people who challenge us. Besides, easy wins are not nearly as fun or fulfilling than ones you have to work for.
  3. Kids read actual books. Not social media feeds or text messages. Old fashioned books that have characters, plots, beginnings and endings. It expands their minds, thinking and creativity. The last few months I have made it a point to get lost in my kindle before bed as opposed to seeing what everyone else in the world is doing. It is nice to escape reality, well if you consider social media to be reality (and have Jamie Fraser be the last thing on my mind instead of some god awful Trump update before I drift off to la la land).
  4. Kids take quiet time. They go in their rooms and read or play quietly on their own. They get down time. Granted, I have no clue what kids are thinking during this time. Are they pondering recent recess drama? Or perhaps fantasizing about an ice cream treat? Maybe they just get lost in their own imaginations. Whatever it may be, they take some time each day to themselves and check out from the rest of the world. As adults, we tend to feel like we always have somewhere to be or something to do or someone else to do something for. Take a few minutes to clear your head in whatever form works for you. Revel in your own thoughts and see where they take you.

  With the fun filled yet hectic holiday season upon us, it is so important to slow down when we can and take stock of all the important and fulfilling things around us. I vote to get lost in our families, friends and relationships and ourselves. Dare I say take a break from the political madness around us and recruit a child to play checkers with instead.

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8 Lessons the Election Teaches Us that Have Nothing To Do With Politics

Like so many Americans, this election had me in tears. Tears of sadness. Tears of frustration. Tears of bitterness. Tears of what could have been. My brain literally has been unable to comprehend how I live in a country where the majority of my fellow citizens are standing behind someone who is the antithesis of goodness and logic. I have stopped trying to understand it (at least for the time being), and instead am using it as a time of reflection on the themes and lessons of this election that apply to other areas of life beyond politics.

 

  1. We are far too passive. We talk about needing change and wanting to change, but what do we actually do to make that happen? We want new jobs. We want new career opportunities. We want more social opportunities. We want to get healthy. We want to lose weight. We want to save money. If you want it, go get it. Stop waiting for someone else to do it for you.
  2. The universe has a way of giving us things at the right time. Sometimes things are meant to happen despite what we really, really REALLY want, for reasons that we are not supposed to understand at that moment in time. If we got everything we wanted when we wanted, we would never evolve. I strongly believe life is about timing and being patient for what is meant to be. (For the record, I am not a particularly patient person and it has taken me a long time to understand that great things can happen with patience). There is more to learn from events and relationships that do not always come easily. Challenges and failures are what make us better, more evolved.
  3. Speaking of evolving, we never stop. As much progress as we make, there is always more to be done. There is no cap nor timeline on being open-minded, caring, kind and selfless. No matter how great or ideal anything may seem, it is naive to ever think it is perfected or ends there. Whether it is acing an exam or running your first mile or spending a day feeding the homeless, it does not end there.
  4. We need to adapt our communication styles to appeal to the other side or the messages, no matter how dire or important, will be lost. Hear what they are saying and find ways to address them on their terms. Let them feel like you are speaking to them, not at them. Let them know you are taking the time to understand them. (Spewing hate or calling someone ignorant is probably not going to motivate them to ever be open to a different perspective).
  5. Always strive to understand the other perspective whether you agree with it or not.It is impossible to get past differences and step outside of yourself if there is blatant reluctance or refusal to even understand the other side.
  6. Know when to walk away and know when to fight. I know that I have walked away from people, places and situations sooner than I should have. I also know there were times I did not walk away soon enough. Sometimes we walk away because it just seems easier or that staying means we have to face some possible ugly things, which could be in others and could be in ourselves. Sometimes walking away is the right thing to do (we would never encourage a friend to stay with an abusive partner). Yet, lets never lose sight of what is worth fighting for. Choosing to fight or not fight should not be based on the challenge of it.There are things worth fighting for in this world and chances are, they will knock us down before we get back up. Fight for your loved ones. Fight for your beliefs. Fight for those who can’t do it themselves.  (And for heaven’s sake, fight for your country! #shamelessplug)
  7. We should not allow one event to define us. My life, my character, my beliefs are not based on any one thing. I am who I am for an ongoing lifelong compilation of events, feelings, choices and people. Bad and good, they make me who I am. I refuse to be considered any less American today than I was one week ago.
  8. Sometimes you have to take a few steps back (ok and in some cases, hundreds) to take one step forward.

 

Think of these lessons and reminders not just in terms of this election or our country. Think of yourself. Think of your interactions with others. Think of your wants, your ambitions, your goals. Think of your family, friends, colleagues, neighbors and even strangers. Think of how you fit into the grand scheme of things.  Think of each of us as having our own individual obligations to live up to while still being part of a bigger, more powerful collective responsibility. We are part of one universe, one space. Let us all learn to respect what it does for us, even if we cannot always see what we want to see.

7 Quirky Habits of a CrossFitter

When you work out regularly with the same people, you will inevitably notice their quirky habits, like the guy who always picks the same spot on the rig for squats. Or the woman who makes sure the weights on both side of the barbell are matching in color and facing the same way (sound familiar Ashley Heiselt of CrossFit SouthBay?). I have even seen someone sweep his platform every time before he lifts.

I admit I have my own set of quirky CrossFit habits, and I dare you to confess that you share some of these!

 

  1. Frequent refusal to be an adult and decide how much to lift in a workout. It’s like I don’t trust my own judgment as to whether I should RX or go lighter. I occasionally (by occasionally, I mean every day) ask my coach how much I should lift. I don’t want to sandbag but I also don’t want to die. Maybe it is because of a lack of confidence or not wanting to be that ahole lifting more than she should? Is it as a simple as I am just a nervous nelly?
  2. I really hardly ever wear pink, except when I work out (ok and on my nails but that is perfectly acceptable). Growing up in an obnoxiously pink room, I have developed an aversion to it. I typically do not allow it in my life yet when I survey my workout clothes, I see pink socks, pink pants, pink shirts, pink shoes, pink headbands. I even have pink barbell clips. It’s like a bad Dr. Seuss story.
  3. Because I work out at 6 am, I am asleep before 10 pm. I have been known to count my expected hours of sleep every night to ensure that I am adequately rested before lifting a heavy barbell over my head. I have always been sleep obsessed and CrossFit has given me good reason to keep it in check. Also, after once dropping a barbell from overhead on less than desired sleep, it skimmed my entire calf knocking me on my behind in pain. So yeah, sleep matters.
  4. CrossFit requires recovery and being that I am no spring chicken, I need extra help in that department. I recently started having a teaspoon of fish oil a day. Flavor it something fruity all you want but at the end of the day, it’s still herring and sardines that I am sucking down. For anyone who knows my weird issues with food, this is a big deal.
  5. I have been known to plan out the night before how much weight to the pound I will be lifting the next day in the strength portion. Every pound matters and I am not going to cheat myself nor am I going to make it any harder than it needs to be. Back when I did the Hatch cycle for back and front squats, I used to map out the plates I would need for each set. It’s one of the few things I have ever been OCD about.
  6. I own my battle wounds. I constantly find bruises and scratches that other people may found horrifying. I own them as they are a reminder of how much I pushed myself and challenged myself. Whip marks on my calves from triple under attempts, bruises on my chest from cleans. Even my tiny knee surgery scars I am proud of in a weird way. They remind me of where I have been and how far I have come.
  7. I compare everyday things to CrossFit movements. I estimate the weight of my grocery bags and the distance in which I must lug them to a farmer’s carry. I ask my nieces and nephews how much they weigh before I pick them as if I am about to do a kettle bell swing. I also find it funny when I throw visitors’ luggage into the trunk of my car and they in alarm say, “Oh no, let me help you!” Trust me friends, I have lifted more than that bag weighs.

 

Ok so those are (some) of my quirks. What are yours?

Boundaries: We All Have Them

I recently attended a Lit Walk in North Hollywood and absolutely loved it. I was so exhilarated hearing writers tell their stories so openly, candidly and without filters. There was something really relatable about how raw it was. They were sharing their most intimate feelings and personal details without apologies that I was genuinely impressed, moved… and a tad bit jealous.

They wrote and spoke without apology. Their stories ranged from abuse to rape to racism to politics to love to heartbreak. They were extremely personal, full of truth and extremely passionate.  I loved that they had the courage to tell stories that were not all about sunshine and rainbows. I loved that they spoke sometimes less than diplomatically yet still respectfully. I loved that they did not apologize for their words. Their words are their feelings, their frustrations, their passions. They are theirs to say and for us to listen or to not listen to. (Ok, I digress before I get all freedom-of-speech on you).

Since this eye-opening night, I have been thinking a lot about the breadth of writers’ boundaries.  Some writers are more bold than others.  Some are more crass than others. Some are more delicate than others. Perhaps the more unfiltered someone is, the more risk there is for backlash. The thing is though, whether they intentionally or unintentionally ruffle some feathers, I am realizing that is what is so unique to having a creative outlet. People can pick their voice and others can choose to pay it any mind or not.

When I think about life (outside of writing), there are some similarities around boundaries yet some very stark differences. Boundaries. ­­We all have them. They are different from one person to the next. They may baffle us. We may not agree with them. We may be intrigued by them. We may try to change them. I ask though, regardless of what we think about someone else’s boundaries, is it for us to do anything else beyond accepting them?

I truly believe boundaries are what keep us thriving. They are almost like rules of engagement which are quite different from creative expression. I have nothing but respect for people who establish and make their boundaries known, whether I agree with them or not.  I realize that acceptance means that I may have to tailor what I say or suppress certain sides of me in certain situations. I also recognize that anyone can argue “But you should be who you are at all times.” I think I am who I am at all times, but I pick and choose sides of me at the appropriate times. If I were to be the same person at all times, I would inevitably cross someone else’s boundaries, and personally, I do not want to go through life feeling like I am stepping on people along the way.

There plainly is an element of censorship when it comes to boundaries.  It is not to say it is a bad thing, it is to say it’s a juggling act. Being aware of people’s boundaries is a game of sorts that we all play. We learn to understand them and abide by them, not because we are complacent passive people, but because we are taught to treat others with respect and acceptance.

We have emotional, spatial, physical and mental boundaries.  Sometimes we may find it uncomfortable to be around someone who has more lax boundaries, or the opposite, much more rigid boundaries. Sometimes we like being around people with such drastically different boundaries as it may even push us out of our comfort zones.  When it comes to someone else’s boundaries, ultimately it is for us to accept or walk away.

When it comes to my writing mantra, I try to be as cognizant as I can of the tone.  I strive to be creditable without being self-­­­ righteous. I strive to be open without being offensive. ­­ Being at the Lit Walk did challenge my mantra and thinking, both when it comes to my approach in life and my style of writing. There was something freeing not just in hearing what others were reading, but in the choice I had to go from venue to venue as I pleased. It reminds me of the constant ebbs and flows of friendships and relationships. Often they fade and flourish depending on boundaries. Sometimes I have to analyze my boundaries or those of others. Do they mesh? Do they clash? Do they even matter? Do I need to reevaluate my own from time to time? Absolutely.

I still stand by that boundaries are extremely important to set, but I also recognize that what may work one day may not work the next. Perhaps there is something to be said for being more open, vulnerable and even less filtered. I tend to write “safely”. I have set my own writing boundaries and I do balance that with those boundaries of other people.

I leave you with this… yes, boundaries are important. Actually they are necessary.  When though do boundaries get in the way of what could be?

 

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