Saturday, April 13, 2024

"End of an Era"...

 …read the email subject line. A couple days later, I heard myself naming an ancient human superstition to a woman with whom I’d had little contact before: “Difficult things come in threes, so here is my third for this season.” I don’t know quite where that superstition came from in me, nor why it seems to be a folk-lore cliche named in uncomfortable, polite chit-chat. But my originating CrossFit gym–CrossFit Dedication–is closing by the end of the month, signifying the “end of an era” in their lives, as well as my own. We all know nothing is permanent, everything changes, and yet…within a month, three “events” in my life have drenched me in grief, grieving, and the companionable lessons of presence in praise, gratitude, Grace. If tended well, grief can land you in overwhelming gratitude. It’s the tending that we culturally resist, so I’m hoping to tend this one well here.

I am saddened that this era of my/our life is ending and I feel relief too, in some strange way. As a more empathetic-bodied-participant in all things communal, I could feel the weight of holding the gym spaces for others. I could feel the tensions between life-that-beckons and life-that-felt-past, finished. So I am hopeful and happy for both Matt and Melissa Mitchell as their sure-to-be-full life after the affiliate experience beckons. I am relieved for both of them, though I feel the sadness that this hugely significant space and community in my own life is truly ending. There will be folks I may not see again, simply because there is no reason for us to gather as we once did. Surprising smile and gratitude for Facebook and Instagram, in this respect. I’ll catch glimpses of the amazing, beautiful, sarcastic and hysterical folks I’ve so enjoyed. And with my own impish smile, the one or two that drove me crazy? No need to bump into them at all. Gratitude. Wry smile.

It was good to let some tears come on the drive home from our morning WOD, a fun partner-style one called The Lou: 4 WB, 4 pull-ups, 4 burpees, 4 alt db snatches; 44 rounds. As a partner WOD, it took Christina and me 36:31 minutes. I had needed that kind of movement this morning, having spent the last six days with several hours at a time in a bus or the car. At the conclusion of the hour, I realized: it was really important for me to come home with the Rx wall-ball and plyo-box, in addition to a barbel and heavier dumbbells (to be picked up at the end of the month). Emotional significance for me, from the spaces that held space for me to deepen in my own strength and fitness enough to be able to use them. The blue box. The grey WB. The yellow-taped barbel. Grief retail therapy, perhaps, but good for the pull-up project I’ve planned for the summer. 

I’ve also landed unexpectedly in some older grief I wasn’t aware of still carrying: the journey toward closing my own social-purpose business I had “held” and administered for about ten years. It was an affiliate writing-circle “school” or “business” or “community” for (mostly) women/women-identified human beings to gather weekly for “writing circle.” We/I ran “semesters” and “permanent small groups,” enough for the group cohesion to deepen and the intimacy at the center to hold the practices of writing. It was a conscious feminine community that I had expected to work within for decades, so convinced was I of its methodology, its web of belonging. 

Yet I outgrew the holding-container. The weight of administration, community development, holding-spaces for others grew increasingly heavy. I enjoyed it less and less, but I couldn’t see that at first. In the end, unaware of just how heavy it had become, I lost my own center as a writer for me, for my own practice. I didn’t leave the motherline community entirely, but leaving the affiliate business meant that some relationship-ruptures (particularly with the founder) were permanent. I grieve that still, from time to time, like this morning. Feeling the sense of loss of that community of belonging after I had devoted so much to it, so much of my own life, love, sweat and tears for the sake of others. And yet I had less and less passion for a methodology that I still believed in, but also wearied me. Just this spring, I signed up for a WWfaC writing circle held by another affiliate in the motherline. While I remain thankful for the methodology, I can no longer be nourished in it as I once was. I don’t expect to sign up for another one.

Part of that is my own relational-center, which always guides me more than any institutional or communal affiliation. I value friendship over business, period. Communities that emerge around a shared practice like writing–or like CrossFit–become confusing intersections of friendship and business, relationship and function. Rarely do others experience this unless they move into leadership roles in such a “community/business,” which then alters one’s relationship to the practices and the community. [This dynamic emerges on steroids in church/congregational communities, so I’m well versed in it as a “professional.” Because most congregational churches have become led by “professionals” now.] At the start of my leadership journeying as an affiliate-owner with Women Writing for (a) Change, I was ALL IN for how this methodology would change the world, one heart at a time. And I still believe it does invite deepening awareness, personal transformation. But the communal-business requirements meant that the weight I had to carry “on behalf of” grew increasingly difficult, complicated, heavy. No longer was the practicing community nourishing me, in other words. I was holding space for them. Which changed my own capacity to receive from them, to be friends first. My lifeline to loving-the-practice atrophied, as my relationships became charged with "function" and "business" first. All of which is why I’ve never wanted to become a coach in any CrossFit setting. I know what happens when you cross that rubicon, and I want to be doing CrossFit when I’m 80, if I’m blessed to live that long.

So probably some of my relief for Matt and Melissa is that they can return to friendships that nourish them too. No longer need they hold space for others, be care-takers of others’ fitness-journeys as they have done so very well for eleven years and some. I know enough of my own needs now to let the tears come when they need to, losing my original CrossFit home, and they both have made this journey possible for me. Had I begun at the box I’ve time-shared with CFD, I doubt I would have remained. Mel and I joke that she gave me “three months” because of how I had to define the space for myself for a while! Having five years of weekly/daily “cups of courage” within the capable coaching of the Mitchells, particularly Melissa, I know enough to steward my own experience amongst CrossFitters who have a bit more testosterone than I need. I know how to hold my own Center in whatever CrossFit box I may visit, like this past week in Alabama. Even a year ago, I could have been triggered into some shame things by how the other CrossFitters there practiced around me. But not today. Deep bow to the Mitchells for that, as well as my own tenacity, courage, skill. People are people, it's always gonna happen, yet I'm much more versed now in letting inhospitable or unhelpful behaviors of others roll off my back.

I am unspeakably grateful for the journey that never remains the same. Life is impermanent, and it’s only a matter of time before something we love has run its course, pushes us out to grow in new ways, requires us to grieve what we’re losing and make space for the new life that always beckons in the beyond. I’m thankful for the box in which I’ve landed during the week, as it had classes in times that allowed me to honor my book-writing first, as it was much closer to my home. I am thankful for how my own CrossFit practice has continued to deepen, broaden, strengthen in the variety of coaching I have been blessed to receive there. My own need of the anchor that CFD was for me is no longer necessary to me. The sadness will come in waves as I bump into memories and persons so crucial for my own CrossFit journey. And perhaps I will be more open to deepening relationships there, as I've not been very open, given my own sense of loyalty to my home box. Which will no longer be home.

The relationships that are meant to continue because they nourish us both will continue. Some will require folks unaccustomed to receiving to practice receiving with me. That’s a good journey I’m on myself–practicing receiving what I need. The relationships that don’t nourish us both, will not continue. None of which can deny how deeply our lives are intertwined because of the years we’ve shared. 

So words of praise for coaches who held spaces at CFD. Deep gratitude for all of it, the gifts and the challenges that grow us. Grace continuing as circles can broaden once again, creating and breathing into whatever will be New. My own 'new era' will continue with all I've learned, all I've been given. Once my April travels conclude, April 22, I can turn toward some of the pull-up project. I can see what and who I will enjoy in my daily practice, allowing what has ended to be celebrated, what is beginning to be welcomed.

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

CrossFit and Cruising...?

Can cruises and CrossFit mix? This is the question and challenge for me in these new days of my life with Brian.


I say “new days” because it does feel like we are cherishing one another with renewed attention, taking each other less for granted, more cognizant of our mortality, perhaps with briefer time together than we desire. We went on a 10-day Caribbean cruise in April, learning how significant it was for Brian’s pastoral sensibilities to be unreachable on the deep blue seas. On land, he’s reachable, no matter his intentions to be “away.” Cruising it is then…and taking advantage of any and all the time we may have. Decades, we hope…which lands us in much higher intention for being together, for being “away” together, for enjoying and exploring pleasure that comes with being older, having more plentiful resources, pampering ourselves in things we enjoy: napping, good food, good drink, good views, and as I say, “the option for solitude and fresh air at the same time.” A room with a balcony, in other words.

 The ten-day cruise left me with an unexpected—though should have been expected—result: a slew of extra weight I had not imagined would accrue, so much, so quickly! The summer became about returning to my manageable preferred health and fitness levels, aims.


I’m not overtly focused on weight things for myself anymore, though I tend it as one measure of my health routine. I took the baseline scan for this season, a day before we left for Miami, a five-day cruise to the Bahamas and Cozumel, Mexico. I was closest to my “normal” as I’d been in months, which pleased me. And I realized my basic challenge now is how to enjoy and indulge a bit more in moderation. If we are doing this 2-3 times a year, arranging our finances so to make that possible, I need to find a better way than “fuck all limits,” which was my spring approach. That approach will land me in at least 20 extra pounds to carry!


What I’m learning, therefore… It’s easy and familiar to remain “on plan” with high proteins, veggie, and fat for breakfast. You really can do just about anything you want in these restaurants—you’ve already paid as “a package deal.” I realized I could order two omelets each morning, with asides as veggies and/or more proteins. I get rid of my “bread plate” when they bring the coffee, which means I have a no-extra-carb-at-all breakfast.


I have also decided against any of the room-service carbs Brian loves each morning, that I acquiesced to last time. They aren’t “splurge-worthy,” to be sure. I can enjoy a cup of black coffee before I head to the fitness center “simply to move.” I’ve found the rower open each morning, and this morning, I checked into the WOD for possibilities. It was a DB workout, so that worked well! I’ve stayed with my Whoop band, figuring out the technology to get it to track here on board. It helps me stay fitness-focused somehow. It’s also given me some “audible-book” listening time, which has been fun.


Lunch is often at the Spa CafĂ©, which has prepared salads—chicken, tuna, salmon—with multigrain breadsticks that are tempting, but avoidable. It’s good to have a little protein midday, particularly as cocktail hour begins earlier than at home. It’s good to have protein/fats in my system. So remaining basically on plan for the bulk of the day works. At least so far.


Which means the evenings are for indulgence and the slow, lazy 2.5 hour dinner with Brian. The portions are bite-size, as fancy restaurants do, which means it is all about taste combinations with good wine. It’s nice to not bother with decisions and discernments, simply enjoying whatever we decide to try from the menu. Without portion, content, or buffet challenges. And enjoying a dessert every other night puts a little pacing in the sugar onslaught these trips can be. It’s easy to order an espresso for “dessert,” enjoying the event in a sugar-less way.


The alcohol consumption simply is what it is. The Captain of the ship was introduced before the theatre show last night, offering a good line for us. “Hello, my name is Captain Dimitri. I am your designated driver for the duration of the cruise.” We all laughed, well aware. I will say that the cocktails served on board are smaller than Brian and I tend to pour at home, so that’s a good pacing for me. And my Whoop band shows a workable ‘recovery’ the next day if I switch to club-soda by about 7:30 or 8.


So…this seems to be indulgence with moderation for the impending cruising years… I’ll be curious what my body feels like by Saturday, our trip home. I already feel better than I did this past spring, which gives me a smile for honoring my own body’s needs while enjoying the pleasures that are offered me too!

Friday, September 29, 2023

Adult Recess...Why Not?

When folks ask me about my CrossFit habit, I often say “It’s adult recess,” which usually gets a smile or a laugh. Adults don’t get recess, after all. 

During my sabbatical this past spring, I landed regularly at a CrossFit WOD at 10:30 a.m. I was drawn there because my best writing time each day is from the time I awake–usually 5:30/6 p.m.--until mid-morning, when I need to get up and move in some way.

Adult recess.

Then I’d return home, shower, get a bit to eat, before returning to the writing desk or any email I needed to tend. Refreshed. Reinvigorated. Arguably more productive and creative as well. (Unless it was a hero-Wod day with innumerable burpees, of course. Then I'd lie down for an hour or so. :)).

So I’ve gotten to thinking, wondering…When did we as a society decide that adults don’t need recess?

I think the most obvious answer is that we’ve not actually decided it as a society, at least directly. Recess is an elementary school practice (though waning today) with junior high and high school curricula pushing it out of the schedule. The curriculum grows more rigorous, so the rationale goes, and things that must be covered for standardized testing leave no room for “unstructured, purposeless time.”

But why not?

I can already hear the arguments from "billable hours" professions--lawyers, small businesses, with the competitive practices capitalism seems to require. Adult recess in these professions is not only implausible, it would be counter to the competitive pace of corporate business.

But what would it take to instigate a move for the benefits of adult recess, given our society’s increased health challenges and obsessions with busy-ness and overwork?

Active food for thought, for now.

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Recovering from the Fire Hydrant

Nothing quite like getting a drink of water at a fire hydrant.

I’m back from my pilgrimage to The CrossFit Games and Holy Wisdom Monastery, each dancing with one another in my experience of the week. I am so glad I went and I urge anyone who's considering it to do it. It was epic, surprising, predictable, nourishing, overwhelming, and bemusing too. My life is such that some friends will want to hear all about The Games, while others are more attuned to the Holy Wisdom Monastery bits. I can’t separate them myself, as each played off of the other, to clear purpose. Annie Thorisdottir at The Games is what pulled me to Madison, but ultimately, I now know I went to be surprised, to breathe in some new ways at Holy Wisdom, to which I expect to return. 

That said, it was awesome to see Annie do her thing. I love seeing what she gets to do, how she does it. The divine spark in her is HUGE. I got to celebrate how she shines, even as she alluded on Facebook to some disappointment with how she placed. And I did get to see her up close two different times, watching others get signatures or selfies. I missed my own selfie with her by literally seconds when someone else inserted herself in front of me. I simply didn’t elbow back or push the button in time. There was a stillness within me by then, a not-pushy-ness, which was more precious to me (apparently). I did feel sad to miss out, but even more a visceral sadness to see Annie so very weary. (It was Sunday, after all). I drove home musing on how social media creates a false sense of connection when it’s mostly projection…the divine spark in her that reminds me of my own, the need and opportunity to shine as I do. It was great to see her and it’s great her feet are on the ground next to mine, off of any media-driven pedestal.

Come to think of it, there were a lot of tears–in a good way–that final day of The Games. Folks outside of CrossFit can’t really feel the epic Roman Khrenniikov moments in Event 11 the way that CrossFitters might. Why continue when you’ve broken your foot? [This was confirmed when I tried to explain it to my beloved Brian, who has no interest or willingness to consider fitness in CrossFit terms.] I was dumbfounded myself, at first. The cynic in me nods to “yes, yes, the money…” Roman’s moved to the States from Russia, and this is his day job, supporting his family. But the perseverance, the courage, the utter tenacity of the whole thing is what moved me. A whole coliseum crowd on its feet chanting “Roman! Roman! Roman!” while he completed half of the event before the time-cap. Heavy double-unders on one leg. And he’s Russian. Epic beauty, is all I can say. I was thrilled to be there for it, to experience it viscerally, in my own skin. I felt hope-full that a roomful of thousands of people could unify in encouragement.

One last observation before I let the experience continue to percolate these next weeks, months.

Being in Madison to work and going to The Games as a spectator with no immediate webs of relationship/affiliation shaped my experience at ‘some remove.’ The opportunities for those already affiliated looked fantastic, with great options for leadership and yearly connections with professional-friends in the Sport of CrossFit. But for me, this was the last week of my work-sabbatical, writing-work that requires hermitage-like quiet and intensity of focus. I spent two full days immersed in the writing work, only catching up on the video-stream like all of my other box-friends. It felt good to text-in with them. Homey and normal. I also found a box local to the monastery, so to ground the days in my body like I do at home. That was fabulous, familiar, necessary. But I did feel the tension of "missing out on The Games" for the two days I was absent.

I’m so glad I got to experience the Games in Madison before they leave to who-knows-where. But I also have no need to go to The Games again, unless it were within a more present web of belonging or affiliation. I've never wanted to move into any leadership roles, though, as CrossFit is my own play-space, adult recess, body work not community responsibilities. I have a much deeper appreciation of how the web of affiliation connects, and how the boxes I’ve gotten to experience here tend that so well. But Crossfit for me has never been about the elite-athletes or the Games. I remember distinctly disliking the Open when I first started, for how it torqued the weeks of workouts at the box.

No...CrossFit as a circle-community around fitness, around clean eating, around weekly cups-of-courage to live life most fully is what keeps me showing up, with gratitude, irreverence and curiosity.

I like drinks of water in small portions, it would seem.

Preferably with electrolytes.

Preferably with friends.

Monday, July 31, 2023

Pre-Games Progress Report -- MidSummer Musings

One day and counting before I jump into the car for my drive to Madison, Wisconsin, one last Grand Adventure before my sabbatical ends. Holy Wisdom Monastery, for prayer with the sisters, a bit of spiritual direction, walks in the woods, editing-revising the manuscript that is forming; then the Coliseum and Vendor Alley of the CrossFit Games, on the other side of “the lake” from the monastery, so to be in the festival atmosphere of it all, perhaps meet Annie Thorisdottir for a selfie, if I get lucky. Lots to be thankful for…feels a good day to rest, recover and jot some progress notes for myself.

Show up. Don’t Know Why. Do Your Best. I shared my year’s mantra-of-sorts with a friend yesterday, after a good open-gym workout and then a jaunt into Barbie-land with her family. These phrases have been in my circle-way life, my writing-awareness, and a sense of sacred work in the world, but this mantra also informs my entire CrossFit experience. What I often say to newcomers into the gym/box: just show up. I was amused I hadn’t made the connection between my “method of sacred bewilderment,” as I’m writing about it and my CrossFit life. 

The “don’t know why” phrase doesn’t work as well in the CrossFit context, at least how I normally intend it for seminary students to adopt curiosity instead of defensive certainties. For myself in CrossFit, I show up for fun, for fitness, for community, for how it makes me feel, for how it grounds my mind into my body, and more. Though the “let go of all expectations” intent of this phrase still holds true. I signed up for CrossFit with some intentions/expectations in mind, but then discovered a whole slew of others I hadn’t known would emerge. And in a real sense, I’m showing up at the Games this week without a sense of what to expect. Show up. Don’t know why. So be it.

I have grown a little reflective about age amidst these last weeks of my own CF practice, though with a bemused smile. I had a young coach give me kudos for “running a mile for the first time in a long while,” which is what he understood me to say when what I actually said was “running a sub-10 minute mile.” [In a recent running WOD, I ran a mile in 9:43, which was my fastest time in years. But I’ve loved running in addition to the daily WOD, often putting in over 4-5 miles at the track in the winter, after the morning’s WOD.] I doubt I would have given it much thought re: age, butin this box, there is a group of athletes I’ll call ‘young Turks’ as they train together, constantly try to outdo each others’ times, and persist in improving their technique for speed. It’s fun to watch them excel, which I celebrate wholeheartedly. I smile at their youthfulness too, recognizing my own seasoned wisdom is for me alone. I find myself wondering if they’ll still be at CrossFit when
they are in their 50’s. I hope so.

There was a discomforting encounter in this same box, these youthful more masculine energies. We had a morning with some time slated for gymnastic-skill-development, followed by a couplet WOD, ‘pirate-style.’ This meant there were just enough cardio machines for a large class, and when it came time for the 15/12 calories’ work, you had to find an open machine, perhaps wait for one. It also meant your space on the rig could be taken too, which mine was, every round, by a young guy intent on using his preferred bar. So taking down my bands without replacing them. Normally this kind of space-sharing doesn’t bother me, but this time, it got under my skin. Finally, I became aware of a familiar feeling, a common experience for me in the worlds I travel in: an inability to be secure in my own skin in a masculinized space; the intrusion of white male preference that disregards my own space, my own needs, my own work. To be clear, it wasn’t malicious or even conscious for this young guy, but it was ignorant and predictable, particularly for the white male Evangelical he is. Which is why it got under my skin. I’m constantly around this energy in my work, which is wearying. Worth saying something to the fellow, at some point? We’ll see. I go for “adult recess,” not for consciousness-raising, to be honest. I do enough of that in my day job. But I’m also practicing not minimizing this tenderness in me, as a woman in highly masculinized spaces. It’s worth it to note it here for that reason, at the very least.

On a more positive note, the push-up practice continues, both because of accountability with a good friend AND because I can already see tangible results in other areas of my practice. One box started this as a monthly-challenge, prior to the Murph WOD of Memorial Day, and I’ve simply appreciated keeping it going since then. I miss a day or two each week, but I’m consistently strengthening it nonetheless. Have graduated to slow-descent-plank push-ups, and when I get to 100 of those, I’ll buck up and work on held-form-plank-pushups. I’ve done hand-release-push-ups, full plank, but there’s always a sense of midline kip in them for me. It’s been good to work on midline stabilization, better body awareness of it. It’s helped me PR my squat-snatch as well as my overhead squat in the last two-three weeks! So…steady wins ‘the race,’ if the race is understood as better technique and stronger midline.

And I think I’ve re-navigated my own internal conversation regarding weight, fitness and nutrition. It’s good to be back on plan, 100% most days (except the predictable cocktail hours on the porch, seltzer&vodka from time to time), consistent activity etc. And while I remain heavier than I was a couple years ago, it’s consistent. I’ve therefore gotten curious about what some folks call “the menopausal middle,” the slowdown in metabolism due to less estrogen in the system, or a changing gut, which alters weight patterns for older women. My metabolic rate has not changed that much, however, which led me to focus on gut-biome things. 

When I had some digestive-issues that were most likely stress-related, amidst Brian’s departure days for Israel last month, I succumbed to some social-media advertising for some prebiotic/probiotic/postbiotic supplements, aimed at helping menopausal women lose weight by improving their gut biome. By the time the supplements arrived, the overt concerns I had were much less, and the supplements had some immediate side effects I didn’t trust. The reviews that said “these were good for folks with IBS and could do more harm than good for healthy guts” ultimately urged me to abstain. So…I’m settling into being just as I am, getting to do all that I do. I’m increasingly content that while I’m heavier than I was in 2019, my lightest-while-on-CrossFit patterns, I’m consciously making good choices for my own health, increasing fitness. I’ve returned to a little bit of moringa-powder each day, usually hidden within coconut-milk unsweetened yogurt or a no-oats hot cereal I enjoy. And I feel really good, inside and out.

So tomorrow, I get to head into some “retreat-like” space for myself, seeing some friends, being immersed in crowds that love CrossFit as much and more than I do. I’ve done the bulk of food-prep I do for travels like this–granola, coconut-flour muffins, homemade mayo for easy-pick-up grocery meats like rotisserie chicken. I don’t know what the kitchen situation will be at the retreat house, but I’ll sort it out once I arrive. I love the familiar mental-pull of the Book, my writing that will be accompanying me, balanced by the physical pull of the Games, the workouts I can participate in if I want, the Adventure about to unfold, however it will!

Saturday, July 1, 2023

Laughing Off Demons' Poo -- Episode 37 Million

It’s time once again to celebrate all that I love about fitness & fun, two words I can place in the same sentence because of my CrossFit journey, coming into five years in mid-August. 

Why “time again,” you ask? 

I am awash in internalized-demons’ poo because I have not lost the pounds of fat that I had hoped I would in this last month. Seriously. [In my defense, I’m also fearful about a writing-work project and my beloved companion is away on business for several days… A bit off balance, me am, which gives deep feeling nowhere to go but IN...] But still… How is it these inherited body-demons can shit all over my insides when I love my life? When I am at a weight healthy enough for me to...?

  • Feel strong and energetic
  • Eat my favorite foods (in moderation)
  • Wear clothes that make me feel great
  • Make memories with my people
  • Carry myself with confidence
  • Maintain my body composition over months, even years
  • Enjoy my life

This listing came through an Instagram-meme a couple weeks ago, a “story” I actually watched enough times to catch all the phrases, writing them down. Your healthiest weight is that which is whatever allows you to…(see above list).

I do get to live that entire list. I’ve maintained this health-committed lifestyle for nearly five years. I do carry myself with confidence, at least when I’m not covered in demons’ poo. 

Perhaps it’s time for me to simply print out the listing, pin it to my bathroom wall, and set my sights on other factors I can control. 

Showing up. 

Number of WODs a week at 5 or 6. 

Still enjoying a light-version of cocktail hour with B–flavored seltzers with pear vodka, so really weak vodka drinker am I–but never two days in a row. 

Clean eating, but “quality of life” splurges from time to time (every other week?).

I love how much I get to move every day. I smile when I do push-ups on the floor while waiting for my lavender-salts bath at night. I revel in the new things I get to learn about my body that I’m always learning as I go. A new “shoulder stability” routine, for instance. This stuff makes me happy inside.

It’s not about the weight I lift OR any weight-loss. It’s how I feel in my body because I love to move, I love to share workouts with fun people, and the rest of my life (not to mention those I love) knows a more peaceable Lisa because of it.

Writing does seem to be a good mental-deodorant, or perhaps even a poo-vacuum. Hot damn.

I wonder if Fresh Thyme has their beef carnitas at the meat counter? One of my favorite foods…

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Games Bound!!!

A most unlikely proposition, but I am bound for the CrossFit Games come August 1st! In a fashion so completely aligned with who I am, I can hardly stop smiling.

Nearly twenty years ago, I learned of an ecumenical Benedictine community in Madison, Wisconsin. One of the sisters who had been a Presbyterian clergywoman (like myself) was touring various seminaries, inviting women to consider joining her at Holy Wisdom Monastery. Lynne Smith, OSB stayed at my home and we planned the worship service on campus together. Ever since, I’ve wanted to find a time to retreat there, or visit for Sunday morning mass, or walk in their arboretum…but way has never really opened. Even with long-drives to Minnesota and back again, to visit family. When Covid arrived, I could join in via YouTube, but it did not scratch the itch.

Fast forward about fifteen years: I joined a CrossFit gym–CrossFit Dedication–close to the United Seminary campus where I teach spirituality, pastoral care, interreligious learning. For years, I never really got into all the hubbub about The Open, nor did I follow any of the social-media silliness of influencers, elite athletes, and the like. But CrossFit changed my life, the relationship I needed with my own body, my relationship with food. This blog became a place for me to integrate all I was learning and celebrate, share, with those interested in reading it.

When my work became more and more online, then Covid changed office/campus cultures even more, I shifted to the gym closer to my home, Bombers. I am blessed to still be able to stretch between both communities, taking advantage of weekend hours with one, and daily early/mid-morning WODs with the other. Anyone close to me today knows CrossFit is my primary community of practice, arguably the largest force for Good in my life right now.

More than church, btw, which for a seminary professor is sayin' somethin'.

My social-media habits changed prior to (then during, after) the 2021 CrossFit Games. Annie Thorisdottir blew back onto the scene, surprisingly (for her) qualifying for the Games after a postpartum year, the birth of their (Annie’s and Frederik Aegidius’s) first child.

She podiumed at third place, living a fierce voice for women becoming mothers, women's unique fitness challenges, responsible health care for women (often beyond the current medical establishment). She represented and aligned with so many of the precise strands liberating me in my own life–“conscious feminine awakening,” advocacy for women’s voices, utter commitment to fitness. I was fascinated, so much so that I kind of “imprinted” like a duckling onto a plane. (Which
is the more appropriate image, after all…me, duckling, her, airborne with an incredible engine).

Which brings us to this season, and the CrossFit Semi-Finals occurring all over the world. It dawned on me that if/when Annie punched her ticket to The Games, it could be one of the last times (if not the last time) she’d compete as an Individual. Or not, but who knows what will happen? The night of the North America West finals' WODS, I said absent-mindedly to my husband, “If/when AnnieT punches her ticket to The Games next weekend, I may just try to get myself there for some of it.” He smiled, nodded, saying, “Sounds perfect.” Quite sweet of him, particularly given his aversion to things Crossfit for himself. His own pastoral work on Sundays already meant it would be just me going, for a whirlwind visit.

This past Sunday night, it became official. Annie Thorisdottir placed second in the European Semi-Final, clearly punching her ticket for The Games in August. I began my quest for any tickets left, understanding that they are often completely sold out by now. I learned you can’t just pay for a day’s ticket either…it’s an August 1-6 ‘event’ or none. I hesitated. Was it worth the hundreds I would pay? Mostly on impulse, I decided to insure I got the ticket, purchased it on the spot. 

It wasn’t until the next day that it dawned on me that The Games are in Madison, Wisconsin


Where Holy Wisdom Monastery is, the place at which I have wanted to retreat for years

I checked the map, and Holy Wisdom is 22 minutes north of the Veteran’s Coliseum (and surrounding areas) where the Games (mostly) take place. I submitted a ‘retreat request’ form and within 4 hours, I landed an economical retreat-room for myself, August 1-7.

Holy Wisdom, Bat-man! I’m goin to the Games!!!!

Not only do I get to do my contemplative-hermit/monk’s heart things for several days (keeping abreast of the Games via YouTube and better camera-angles), but I get to dip into as much of The Games as I want on the weekend! I get to find out when Annie will be where, simply to meet her, take a selfie, be a little fangirl stupid and enjoy the CrossFit community-global crowd. I'll get to bump into people who love this crazy community/sport/practice as much as I do...or actually even MORE.

I can imagine many in my various non-CrossFit and CrossFit circles finding it a little odd, going to the CrossFit Games alone. But it’s actually perfect for someone like me–a bit of a hermit, a writer, an ecumenical Christian, avid Crossfitter, and global-encounter kind of gal.

I love how it all fell into place, beginning with my simply committing to something that I wanted for myself, regardless of how little I’d know how to make it all happen. 

Living into surrender, I’m learning…