Walking into 2017 Like…

 

It’s a new year.  Time to set resolutions? No thank you. Time to evaluate the past year and identify what I want to keep, what I want to chuck, and what I want to obtain? Yes please. I believe in setting intentions and goals for the year as opposed to resolving to never do something again or to always do something .(Those are absolutes which prove to be more detrimental than helpful. More on that point in a great post about warnings Amy Purdy gives in regards to resolutions here).  When you take the time to really reflect on what the last year meant for you, it is far more realistic to set the framework for what you want out of the coming year. For me, 2016 was a year of much personal growth and overcoming some big things, all of which I am extremely grateful for. For 2017, I still intend to keep improving. (I mean, we never really should ever stop) while reintroducing a few things that got away from me. I have personal goals for myself (maybe a bit too personal to share at the moment), and I recognize to get them, I am going to have to take 2017 by the horns (so to speak).

I am a total routine person to a fault. I stress about doing things during the week that will interfere with solid sleep. I literally count the hours of sleep I get at night (and I wonder why I am single!)  For 2017, I intend to not beat myself up if I do not stick to my day to day routine 100% of the time. Life is about the unexpected and allowing wiggle room for things that come our way. It is okay if I miss a workout in the morning (I can make it up later in the day).  I do feel like I have a balanced life, but I am open to shaking it up a bit. And by shaking it up, let’s be honest here. Realistically, it is not exactly likely I will be out raging on a Wednesday night, but it is more likely that I will be out at a hockey game or literary event. It is ok if I have a raging Saturday brunch that turns into an all-day event. The errands I have to do that day can wait till another day. I need to cut my routine and myself some slack if I want to have new experiences or just some old fashioned fun and shenanigans.

Speaking of shenanigans, I need to have more of them in 2017. To my point above, my routine has probably meant I have missed out on some fun opportunities. I am no spring chicken but I am also not ready to live the life of a 70 year old. (Actually as I wrote that, I was reminded that most 70 year olds I know are living life with far more zest than I am.) I am going to say “yes” to more invitations. If it sounds fun and appealing, no more silly excuses like, “I can’t hang out with them, I’ll be the oldest person there.” Or “But tomorrow is squat day, I need to be in bed by 9:30”. These are true stories. So get ready, friends. You will be seeing a lot more of me in 2017!

I know myself, and as much as I do I intend to break my routine this year, I recognize that I do still need boundaries in certain areas so that I do not undo the hard work  I put in. Specifically, I am referring to my old friend, Alcohol. Since I do not believe in setting a goal that has an absolute in it, I will not commit to never drinking. I will commit though to only drinking when I want to. I wrote a post a few months back about dieting and how social expectations play into it (that post here). One thing that I feel just as strongly about, if not more, is that I am accountable for what I put into my body which means I am entirely in the right to not give into societal or social pressures. I am accepting the fact, whether it is neurotic or not, that for the most part, drinking for the sake of drinking makes me feel badly about myself.  I put A LOT of tears and sweat in both in and out of the box. I strive to continuously improve, not reverse or counter all those hours by having too many glasses of wine. I am giving myself continued permission in 2017 to pick and choose when I want those extra alcoholic calories. I also quite frankly cannot bounce back the next day like I used to after drinking, and so for me, drinking becomes like a 24 hour investment. So if I decline to drink, please know it’s my own deal and internal struggle.  Having said that, as I am devoted to reintroducing fun into my life, when I am up for shenanigans, I will have no qualms if they do indeed involve drinking.

My last intention is more of a not-so-subtle ask for help. I absolutely love writing, and I intend to do more of it this year. It brings me a different kind of happiness and gratitude than anything else I do. While my intention is to do more of it, I am on the one hand trusting that the universe will give me opportunities while on the other, I have to proactively go find them as well as self-promote (which is totally awkward and even more so as I am also not-so-subtly incorporating it into this blog!). I am open for any advice or recommendations on the matter.

For me, I am whole- heartedly believing that 2017 is going to be the best year yet. 2015 and 2016 were dark years (not for me individually but on the whole for all of us in the spiritual sense.  I could spend more time on that but I will leave it there…for now). I want to reclaim a lot of things that have gotten away from me while embracing new experiences to come. I am setting my intentions as I know they will be answered.

What are your intentions for 2017?

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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The Quiet Leader


The Quiet Leader

Leadership is everywhere. I believe it is within all of us to varying degrees. Leadership is not always an in-your-face kind of a thing. It is not always something that you can be taught in formal class room settings. I would like to explore the idea of leaders who fly under the radar: quiet leaders.

I strongly believe that popularity is often mistaken for leadership. Just because someone has a lot of followers or a big squad does not mean they are a leader.  There are a lot of people who can say catchy things or post pictures on their Instagram accounts that people gravitate towards. I argue they are not always leaders. They may have thousands of likes. Does that make them leaders? In some cases yes depending on what message or positivity they are spreading.  For many though, they might be simply popular.

Leading is not defined quantitatively. Not every leader is a public figure. Not every leader has a big platform. Not every leader has the intention to lead.  Leading is not always so deliberate or obvious. There are many leaders out there who are inspiring, encouraging and motivating in much more subtle, quiet ways. Sometimes it is through example. Sometimes it is through one’s passion that becomes infectious to others. Sometimes it is simply by being a gracious, humble human being.

Sometimes leading is built over time. Sometimes it is one’s journey that ends up cultivating leadership. To be an authoritative, respected leader people demand trust, transparency, relevance, and a sense of connection.

I have been a reader through a great organization, Read to a Child, for 4 years. I have been lucky to read to the same child all 4 years despite moments of questioning whether I was really making any difference in the child, Michael’s, life. From the very beginning, it was clear that children were either part of this program as they are in need of improved reading skills or that they are in need of extra attention. Michael falls into the latter category. He is an extremely introverted, quiet child. It took months to get him to even laugh. There were days of reading where I felt like yes, we are bonding and he is into this. Then there were just as many, if not more, days where I had to ask him to peel his face off of the table.

When I had the choice to continue on this year, my initial thought was not to.  I felt perhaps Michael should be with a different reader to see if he has a more enjoyable, beneficial experience. Ultimately, I felt though like I would be quitting on him, and that was not something that I would ever want to do. I had my first 1:1 session with him a few weeks ago and it was one of our best ever. He was engaged, excited to read, and uncharacteristically very chatty.

One significant thing happened. Michael had been telling me since last year about how at a visit to the doctor he was told that he weighed too much and needed to lose weight. (I could write a whole blog about how much it breaks my heart to see a then 9 year old, now 10 year old worrying about his weight. Kids should be worrying about upcoming soccer games and math tests, not about how they are going to diet. Anyways, I digress.) Ever since then, he sprinkles out of the blue comments into our sessions about his weight. Anyways, I knew he had a doctor’s appointment since I last saw him as he had told me that he was scared to go because he thought it would hurt to get blood drawn and that he didn’t want the doctor to tell him that he needed to lose weight. When I asked if the doctor’s visit ended up being scary he said no. He did express he still feels like he weighs too much and so I did my best to give him encouragement. I asked how he likes playing sports and being active and to focus on that. I want him to be excited about exercise and fitness for more than the reason to lose weight. I told him how I love to work out and that I too lost weight. Look, I by no means want to undermine his parents or family. I just know in my heart that Michael keeps a lot to himself, and so if he is expressing his fears to me, it would be only natural to chat with him about it. He is not a kid who talks to talk or tells everyone everything. He feels comfortable enough with me to talk about it, and that is not something I take lightly.

I typically grapple with the idea that I, myself, am a leader, despite many people telling me I am. When I think about my recent reading session with Michael, I realized that I am starting to accept that yes, I am a leader.  It is not about being in front of a room of kids. It isn’t about having one enlightening conversation or interaction. It is not about preaching to even one kid as to what I think he should or should not be feeling. It is about building trust and being someone that even one child confides in. It is about being authentic and listening to someone. It is about delivering a message at the right time to the right person. It is about understanding. It is not always about broadcasting my mission to the world, or even to Michael. It is about organically being able to instill something in someone, no matter how big or small. It is about quietly leading.

I have had many unexpected people comment or tell me how posts I have written were so relatable or powerful. I have had people tell me at CrossFit how I have inspired them or pushed them. I have had people who have worked for me tell me how I made a difference in something they have done or how they improved in something through my guidance. I am not saying all of this to toot my own horn.  I say it because these are all things I do because I am passionate about them. They help me grow as a person, which indirectly is cultivating my own leadership. I did not start CrossFit to lead.  I did not start writing to lead. I did not even start managing to lead. I simply love working out and feeling healthy. Writing is therapeutic and fulfilling for me. Managing is well, an exercise in many forms. The point is I do not go through life with the intention of leading. Yet, leadership is in me. I strongly believe it is in many of us quiet people and we should nurture that. Bring it out.  Own it. The world needs more of it.

To steal the quote of Paul Shane Spear, I align with this school of thought: “As one person I cannot change the world, but I can change the world of one person.” It is not always about how many people you have an impact on.  It’s about how you impact someone.