Saturday, January 31, 2015

How Do You Define Yourself

A while ago, some of my friends and I crossfit used to joke around about being defined by our performance in a workout.  One of my friends moved into the city and started to workout at Crossfit Defined and I begged her to get me a shirt.

I got the shirt this past weekend and decided to break it in today since we were doing a workout that previously I could not complete very well.  I did not want my past experiences to define my current ones.

I am not defined by my workout, I am defined by the hard work I put in.

I am not defined by a failure, I am defined by how quickly I get back on my feet.

I am not defined by my placement on the whiteboard, I am defined by the effort I personally put in.

I am not defined by how I measured up against the person next to me, I am defined by how I kept pushing on.

I am not defined by my time, I am defined by how I felt.

I am not defined by comparing myself to others, I am defined by comparing myself to me.

I am not defined by the plates on the end of my barbell, I am defined by many hours of practice.

I am not defined by a number of reps, I am defined by meeting standards and ranges of motion.

I am not defined by a medal, a trophy, or a first place, I am defined by my own personal success.

I am not defined by my fear, I am defined by committing to what I'm doing.

I am not defined by one rep, I am defined by doing it again and again.

I am not defined by something I can't do, I am defined by the determination that someday I will.

I am not defined by being first or last, I am defined by working as hard as I can each and every day.

You are the same!  You are defined by your hard work, you are not defined by a pull up, a muscle up, a perfect snatch, or a top score on the whiteboard.

Keep showing up, keep working hard, keep defining who, what, and where you want to be, and slowly and surely, you will get there- it may take a week, a month, or a year, who cares-- I will still be there working hard right by your side.  I will be there to celebrate your hard work with you.

Today, I walked into the box, hoping to get 1 rep at 100#, I had already decided that I would only be able to get 1, if that.  At the beginning, I warned everyone not to panic if they heard me scream because I was going to scream with joy, really loudly if I got the 100# snatch.  After I screamed, I proceeded to get 14 more reps.  I felt good and powerful and strong- I will no longer fear the 100# snatch.  Throughout the whole thing, I kept telling myself "you can!  Commit!  You can do this!  you work very hard! Keep going."  I would not let any negative thoughts get in my head and define how my workout was going to go.

Define yourself with positivity, hard work, and max effort and the possibilities are endless!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Letter to My Son on Technology

My oldest son and I have a journal that we write letters to each other in.  I started it a while back because I want a way for us to have open communication and I don't want him to ever be afraid to tell me something.

I've always struggled with his use and abuse of technology.  It started with the WII, then Xbox, Kindle, Nintendo DS- he gets obsessive about video games, and talks non-stop about them and wants to play ALL THE TIME.  I've had incidents where he has snuck them at midnight, took them to school against my permission, hidden them in his room, and I feel frustrated.  It doesn't help that at school, they allow kids to have them out at lunch and they also use technology frequently for classwork and presentations.  I get it, technology is a must at school because you will need it to advance in your careers, but where are the classes at school educating the kids on real and true dangers of internet scams and predators, let alone the effects it can have on your physical and mental state?

I have been struggling to set limits with him.  I hear other parents voicing the same concerns, but I oftentimes don't hear about how they handle it.  At any rate, I'm hoping I'm not alone with this, and thought I'd share a letter I recently wrote to him in our journal.  I'm not perfect and can't always find the right words, so please don't be judgmental.

Dear Nathaniel,
I have to tell you something- growing up is hard.  You want to be older and always wish to have privileges.  But what you don't realize is that with those privileges comes responsibility.

Sometimes our responsibilities get in the way of our fun.

I remember being a kid and wanting to be tall, wondering what my kids would look like, wishing I would have no homework, wanting to sleep past 5:50 AM, wanting to watch whatever movie I wanted, wishing I could stay up late, and many more things.

Let me tell you, now that I'm older, I take all those wishes back.  I have a job where I have to get up at 4:05 AM now, I don't like staying up late because I'm tired the next day and I can't afford to be tired, I have kids but I'm so busy that I barely even get to spend time with them, I don't like watching the forbidden movies because they leave gruesome thoughts in my mind, and boy would I love to have homework now because it means I get to learn.

Life is a gift, live for now, and don't wish to grow up too fast.  You will miss out on things you are truly meant to enjoy such as unending love and time with your family, a free place to stay, someone to do your laundry shopping and cooking, no financial responsibility, a free education, and so so much more.

I did not have to worry about technology when I was growing up.  I do not understand all the pressures you may or may not face.  As a kid, I used to wonder about technology and things that seemed like they would be cool- now these things exist and I find them to be nuisances at times.  Don't get me wrong, I love computers, iPads, i phones, etc, but not when they take the place of real people.  It is really cool the things that we can do with technology, I love being able to text and get an instant response, or have my phone with me in case of emergency (not having to look for a working pay phone), being able to FaceTime family from far away, and even being able to watch a show and skip the commercials.

But, call me old fashioned, nothing will take the place of the excitement you feel when you open the mailbox and see a colorful handwritten envelope addressed to you.  A computer generated game of scrabble is fun, but will never take the place of sitting down at the table playing the board game with another human being.

There are so many positive ways technology helps us- it's in hospitals, banks, and schools.  But, then comes the bad, people are having wrist problems, neck problems, eyes, and brains get affected from too much screen time.

I want you to use technology and enjoy it.  I want to see you benefit from it.  But, I need to make sure that it does not consume you- it is powerful and offers so much that sometimes it can be difficult to stop using it.

I grew up without it- and now I am living with it.  I have seen life in both ways.  I see all the good and the bad from it.  My job is to teach you how to live your life with it and without it.

You are 11- with or without technology, you would have restrictions--it's part of growing up and learning to be responsible.  I'm sure you will make mistakes, which is how you will learn - but my job is to keep you on track and help you make good choices, even when you don't understand.

I have seen and heard of too many people losing big things (their money, their identity, and even their life) because of being foolish with technology.  There are bad people in this world and many of them are on the internet lurking and waiting for innocent people.

My job is to teach you how to be cautious, leary, and have a good sense of judgement.  When you see a pop up, get an email from a stranger, or friend request from an unfamiliar person, I want you to know how to handle it.  When you start driving, and you get a text, I want you to pull over to read it or wait until you reach your destination to look at it.

You are my son and it is my job to teach you how to be able to limit yourself on technology.  I expect you to prioritize homework and real life demands over video games and surfing the internet.  I want you to grow up to be a successful, well rounded adult.

I am the parent and it is my job to set limits and keep you safe.  You many not understand now, but someday you will thank me.
Love, Mom

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Power of Your Name

The other day, I read a truly powerful post from one of my favorite blogs and she's also the author of one of my favorite books that has been so inspirational to me this last year.

Hands Free Mama is the book by Rachel Macy Stafford

The blog is

The post is about how we gravitate towards using our kids' names in a more negative manner than positive.  I sat for a moment and realized how perfectly timed the reading of this post was for me.

Just the day before, I was pretty upset with my daughter- I instantly wanted her attention and caught myself starting to say , "Nathaniel"- that is my oldest son and he is the one who I most often need to correct or stop from doing something.

This was a powerful moment for me because I realized it was so ingrained in me to get upset with him that even when I got upset with the others, his name just rolled off out of habit.

A few months ago, I committed to writing cards to my kids and placing them in their lunch boxes, as well as just randomly placing them at their chairs in the mornings.  I used to not give my kids' cards on their birthdays because I thought they were a waste of money since they gave them a quick glance and put them down.  But that quick glance, I realized, is enough to commit those words to memory.

I started writing them cards, because written word is meaningful.  Words carry with us.  I know how I feel about my kids and I realized that maybe they didn't always assume that I loved them all the time, no matter what.  I write them cards to let them know they arere special and that they mean something.  I want them to hear my words when they need them.  If they are having a bad day or feeling bad about themselves, I want them to be able to dig down and remember that I told them they were important and special.

Life is hard, especially for a kid, but it's a lot easier, when you have some positive words ringing in the back of your head.

One thing I used to love as a kid was stuff with my name on it.  I had a very favorite decoration for my room that I got in Boston as a little girl, and it was a pennant flag with my name on it.  I used to practice writing my name in cursive all over everything too.  Names are important and they do make us feel special.

After reading that article the other day, it reminded me of how excited my kids get when I give them something with their name on it- a lunch plate, a notebook with their name, personalized notecards, stockings, a card- it's all meaningful to them in their little confused hurried world.

Most recently, I've been making canvases for their bedrooms with their names on them and something special.  I've only completed two so far, but the look on my oldest son's face when he saw his and realized that I made it for him was priceless. I want him to read that everyday and know it's true.

For every bad reaction that causes you to use your child's name, find a good way to counter it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Have you heard about the unicorn that walked into the crossfit box?

It PR'd every lift every time.  It made the top score on the whiteboard, every.single.time!

And, yes, in case you were wondering, it's sweat was glittery and rainbow colored and smelled like perfume.

If only unicorns were real, or if only that were me.

Actually, I'm OK with not being a unicorn and I'm OK with not PR-ing every day or being on the top of the whiteboard every day.

Some days you can walk in and nail the lift- your form is legit and the Earth's gravitational pull is aligned with your movements- there is no stopping you.  Then, there are other days, you come in and you feel like you never heard of a snatch or a clean, let alone have been practicing them for TWO YEARS!

In all honesty, we are just going to have days, days where that bar feels exponentially heavier than the last time you picked it up.  Days when your butt feels so sore, the phrase "below parallel" makes you want to barf.

Some days your knee hurts or your shoulder or your wrist.  It's always on the days when you need to use them too- "oh my shoulder hurts, um yeah those 5 million clean and jerks are gonna go up like butter!"

These are the days your body is speaking to you.  Obviously it can't speak English, but it can speak pain or pleasure.  Learn to know that pain- is it soreness or something more- you should know.  If it's something more, your body is warning you.  Figure out what is causing that pain and work on fixing it.

Maybe you just started lifting heavier and your body isn't used to it, back off on the weight some times.  Maybe you have knots galore all over your body and you just don't make the time for mobility- make it!  Maybe you have been getting by with bad form and now it's taking a toll- take a video- we all have smart phones- watch it and even ask your coach to watch it- maybe there's something you need to fix.

You're not going to feel 100% all the time.  But you can use the feeling of not feeling 100% to figure out what you can do differently.  Just because you're sore or feeling pain or your numbers haven't been going up, doesn't mean you're a toad.  It means you need to sit down and evaluate what your body is trying to tell you.

Every rep, every second you're moving, every time you walk through the door, PR, top or bottom of the whiteboard, you are working- you ARE accomplishing something.  Stop getting mad that you're not a unicorn- go buy a costume if that will make you feel better.

You are not a unicorn, but you can train like one.

You are not a unicorn, but that is ok, because you are awesome NO MATTER WHAT!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

On Competitions

Yesterday I did my first individual crossfit competition.

Over the past year, I have done four team competitions and I decided it was time to see what it was like to do one on my own.  This particular competition had an intermediate division which was the perfect fit for me.

Let me begin by saying that just because someone is doing a crossfit competition, it does not mean they are rallying for a spot in the CrossFit Games that are shown on ESPN.  Like any other sport, that is the extremely best of the best.  In my 38 years of life, I have competed in many many things, played many sports games, completed three marathons, but have never received the same awed response from people as when I say "I signed up for a crossfit competition".  I am not really sure why that is.

When I signed up, I set a goal to finish in the top 6 so I could make it to finals.  I like to have goals.

It's always awkward when you walk into the room full of complete strangers, all getting ready to do the same competition as you.  I immediately start to eyeball the competition and size them up.  Hint:  This is a big mistake!

Looking around you see all sorts of people, but the one type that always stick out are the gear people.  You know what I'm talking about?  The people who own every piece of equipment and they have it on loud and proud.  I suppose it's some sort of scare tactic- show up with your knee bands, wrist wraps, lifters, weight belt, crossfit shirt with some witty saying, most often tight pants or a shorter than short pair of shorts to show off that muscle, don't forget the obligatory headband, the illustrious shaker bottle full of magical protein in hand to top it off, and the chest up strut with the butt slightly engaged, because they've got muscle!

Sorry I'm not judgy, but it's something that happens when you enter a room full of strangers you're about to compete against, you assess- most often this is a fear tactic.  This can be good or bad.  Bad if you let it sell you short before you even started, that based off looks and equipment ownership, these athletes are better than you.  Good if you just get a good chuckle and move on.

In workout situations, I work best, focusing on myself and no one else.  When I WOD, I do not look at the clock, I do not look at other athletes, I do not move when they move, I do my own thing.  I do not like to know anyone else's times or scores ahead of time because it adds pressure which usually ruins my performance- I do not perform well under pressure.  Through each of my WODs, I paced myself accordingly, fought through fatigue, and just kept moving.  The slight disadvantage for me, was I was in the first heat and the other girls were always aiming to score better than me.

Here is what I have to say- yes, I was competing against them per say, but in the end, as I've mentioned, this was a group of complete strangers who all walked into a room with me to do this competition.  I considered this a test more than anything else to see how I sized up in this level of competition, to see how my body handled multiple workouts in a day, to see how my training had helped me progress, to see how I let my mind take over.  Working with and against other people, and with other people watching,  pushes you harder- that's what I was there for, the push, the challenge, the intensity, and the thrill.

I made the day about me and my goals.  I worked as hard as I could possibly work and then some.  I set a goal to make it to finals and I made it.  I entered finals as the underdog, many many points behind the others and that is when I said to myself that my new goal was the crush the finals.  I never looked to the side the whole entire finals. I just kept moving and repeating to myself that "I have what it takes" and I ended up taking a second place finish in that WOD and not by a little, a LOT.

Let me tell you something, I did not get on the podium, but in my mind I accomplished what I had set out to do.  I showed myself that I can do multiple WODS in a day and feel great, I pushed as hard as I could, I did not give up, and I left knowing there was nothing I would have done differently.

I encourage anyone who is thinking of doing a competition or doing a race to do so.  Remember, it is a test, but it's not a test of this person beating you or that person being stronger than you.  It is a test to show you how your training is coming along, to help you get stronger with your mindset, to push you to work harder, to show you weaknesses, and most importantly for you to HAVE FUN.  At the end of the day if you walk away saying "I did all that I could"- you win!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

I Believe

I believe in God.

First of all, before I get started, I would just like to say that I am not writing this to stir up a discussion or argument or details of my belief.  I am writing this because it's true, it's how I feel, and I have recently been feeling compelled to share this story publicly.  If you do not agree with everything I say, or have a negative comment, please keep it to yourself.  Religion and politics are touchy subjects- I am not writing this to convince anyone of my beliefs.  I lead by example and I just want to share this in case someone else is in a similar situation and they need to hear it.

I also believe in Jesus Christ, for those of you who were thinking that.

When I was growing up, starting in fourth grade, I used to get migraines.  They were bad, I'd lose vision in one eye and have to go home from school.  When I was 19, I had my last migraine.  I remember because I used to keep track of how long it had been since I had one, it was one week, two weeks, one month, one year, etc.  To this day, when I see a camera flash or sunburst lingering in my vision, I panic a little that it's another migraine coming on.

In 2011, I got a migraine- 17 years after I stopped getting them!  I panicked.  Three months went by, so I thought it was a fluke, then I started getting them about once a week- they were worse than when I grew up, I had no energy, couldn't take care of my kids (I have 5 by the way).  The worst one was one day when I got in the shower and my daughter pointed to my shampoo and asked me what the fruit scent was- there was a picture of a carrot and an apple on the front- I could not remember the names of these items.  I called my husband at work to ask him and he thought I might be having a stroke.  I kept my oldest son home to watch me, and I ended up being ok.

I immediately decided to get an MRI, I was scared I might have a brain tumor.  I kept getting the migraines- one day after church, my kids and I were at Target buying gifts for needy families that we picked off the tree in the lobby.  I got a sudden onset migraine with quick vision loss- we headed back to church to wait for my husband to finish playing in the band.  I did not even feel safe driving my kids home.  That day, my friend, the pastor, approached me as I burst into tears, worried that if this kept happening that I would not be able to take care of my kids.  He put his hand on my head and prayed for me out loud.  He told me that he thought I was being called to do something great by God and that in retaliation, I was being attacked and stricken with these migraines.

Honestly, I was skeptical.  I believed in God, but I did not have a deep sense of it.  I had always been afraid to believe in God or go to church because I always heard stories of people's faith being tested and I felt safe when I didn't fully commit to believing because I wasn't a threat to be tested.  That week, I did some thinking- I never hear God calling me to do great things.  I never see a sign.  Then, it dawned on me- the first migraine was right after I started going to church.  The next ones, a few months later, came after I decided to join a group of friends who met weekly to read a chapter of the Bible (if you've never sat down to read it or interpret it, don't knock it).  I realized I was getting the migraines the day before the group, or right after I left church.  The last few were the worst, one on the way to buy gifts for the needy, and the ultimate worst was driving to take photos of hospice patients (all children) with Santa for their last Christmas.  In fact, I was being tested.

At this point, I had already had my MRI, I was just waiting for the results.  I broke down crying in my car when the migraine struck on the way to the photo shoot. I decided I really had nothing to lose by putting all my faith in God.  I prayed out loud and asked God to help me, to release me from the suffering of the migraines- for the devil to leave me alone- yes, this is hard for me to say out loud, but for the first time in my life, out loud, I said, "Devil leave me alone.".  Do you know that within five minutes of saying that prayer, my migraine was gone- if you recall earlier, I said they'd last all day.  I was able to go to the photo session, still weak and not 100% myself, but I was able to help.

I have NEVER had a migraine since that day- over two years ago!

MRI came back clean by the way.

My prayer was my recognition to myself and God that I do believe.  There are always doubts or questions, I cannot answer lots of things, and lots of things I do not understand- but I do know I asked for something that day and it was answered because I 100% fully believed in what I was asking and who I was asking it from.

Since then, I've realized, I'm not going to hear a voice calling out to me and telling me a specific direction for my purpose in life, it's happening right before my very eyes.  Things I do, circumstances I find myself in, paths I cross, people I know, people I come in contact with, these are not just coincidences, they were meant to be.

I am an example to my children, my friends, and my family- I have nothing to hide that I believe in God.  

Looking back, it was obvious the something great I was being called to do was be myself- to show that there is still lots of good in this world, to help people, to inspire people to be greater than they are.  If you need a healthy dose of feeling awesomeness, I'm your person.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

We can do hard things

We can do hard things!

I finished a book recently, and this one was of the big take away messages for me.

In fact, I took it away so much, I'm making a canvas of the phrase and hanging it for all to see in my house.

Life is hard, there's no denying it.  Sometimes, we try HARD to avoid the hard stuff, but there's no way around it- things are going to be hard occasionally (or always).

Everyone's hard is different, but we are all equipped to handle it, to do it, to survive, and come out on the other side, saying "I did it".

Sometimes we are faced with hard things we have no choice to do, a test at school, apologizing, saying goodbye to someone we love, having a baby, getting sick, moving.

Sometimes we are faced with hard things we have a choice not to do:  higher level classes, opportunity for growth with a new position in the company, moving for a promotion, change in eating habits, a workout, pull ups, showing up, admitting a wrong.

We can do hard things!

These things we have a choice NOT to do, we can do them.

There is no prerequisite for perfection in the handbook of doing hard things.  (fine, maybe there isn't a handbook for doing these hard things).

There is no requirement for doing hard stuff well, you just have to do it.  

Some of these hard things are going to take courage, they may be painful, because you have no choice.  Some of them are going to require practice and patience, lots and lots of both.

So, you want to try crossfit, but it's too hard?  No it's not!  The hardest part is walking through the door and meeting a bunch of strangers for your first day.

There are lots of hard things at crossfit, but everyone can do them-even you!  Some things are hard, who am I kidding?, most things are hard- you can even make them harder, BUT you show up- that is the hardest part.  You can work hard every time you show up-that is something you can say you did and do!  

"I work hard".   

When you work hard, eventually, maybe next week, maybe in two years, maybe longer, that hard thing isn't so hard anymore.  You can look back and say "I did something hard.  I can do hard things."

I had an amazing experience last night of photographing a birth.  In fact, it was the first birth I had ever seen, since all mine were c-sections.  My friend, a fellow cross fitter, had positive affirmations all around the room to keep herself going.  My only advice to her was "remember that workout that was so hard and you were crying but you made yourself finish.  You got this, you can do hard things."

A few weeks ago, I was nervous about doing a swim in a last minute crossfit competition I filled in for- the best advice I was given by one of my friends, "we can do hard things."

I struggle daily with parenting-the kids throw me curve balls all the time, I just keep muttering inside my head, "you can do hard things, you can do them, yes you can."

Whatever hard thing you are faced with, you don't turn your back on it, keep facing it, stare it in the eye and tell it "I can do hard things" until it's the one to turn its back first.

Life is hard- you can do hard things!

**The book I read was Carry On Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton if you are interested in a good read.