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…

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

No Longer Starting OverAchiever Smiles

I found myself laughing last week, realizing that my propensity to overachieve has become a great way to name some of what I’ve been experiencing post-Caribbean-cruise, all 10-days of luxury of it. 

I’m writing because the fact that I am laughing is huge. The lightness in my spirit about all of what is to come is also huge. It’s like bringing together two things about yourself, both about which you’ve condemned yourself in years past, except this time, they add up to a huge bonus. Never before would I put overachiever and overweight as one big plus...but there is laughter in me instead of self-condemnation. Sometimes we really DO get better…with the right peeps and now longstanding habits, that is.

Overachiever: I went on a 10-day Caribbean cruise and I probably gained about 20 pounds. That’s like 2 pounds a day. You have to really be achievement oriented to make that kind of progress. Granted, it may have only been about 15 pounds, but when I stepped on the scale at home, I nearly fell over. Better to round up to 2/lbs a day for the overachiever affect of the story.

The gift in this turn of events is that I honestly had no idea. Which means the relationship I have to my body is fully independent of the self-condemnation and the overbearing critic who used to rule the roost when I would get out of the shower. Back then (not so long ago), I could hardly look at myself in the mirror. For decades. Today? I smile and welcome myself, just as I am. CrossFit and maintaining a healthy relationship with food now protect me inside...

Apparently with absolutely no idea what the extra 20 pounds looks like on my frame. I must just gain it all over? Research into body image points not only to women’s intense judgment of their own bodies, but also to their/our overestimation of size, weight. We tend to think we’re fatter than we actually are. I’ve fit into that category often enough. Except this time, I didn’t get caught in that trap. I literally had no idea I had gained that much weight. I love my body as she is. I'm so thankful these judgments.

Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, I no longer fear being trapped in a body or weight like I used to be. For most of my life, losing weight was an up-and-down affair. Gaining weight was a shame-fest, driven by cravings and fear of being shaky-hungry. I regularly felt trapped in my own unbreakable patterns and the imposed and ingested shames I carried because of them. Today, it’s a post-cruise overachieving ‘happening’ about which I now know what to do, how to redress it. Knowing I actually prefer my life within healthy norms, practices.

So all of this can just be funny…just a blip on the journey of fitness and pleasure, CrossFit and restored moderation. This week, I’m back into the on-plan eating that I know and love. I can feel the inflammation decreasing and my sleep deepening. I’m enjoying daily WODs again, taking it slowly as I’ve learned to do over the years of “away” and then ‘return.”

I will often say it feels like starting all over again, but it’s not. My body knows the feeling of good health, food as fuel for activity-fun, and a community of support that holds me more firmly in healthy, active patterns for greater longevity and enjoyment of life. Nearly five years of CrossFit, with nearly four years of re-learning my relationship with food as fuel, the weight will move back down to maintenance levels, and the weights/distances for WODs will begin to move back up again. It will probably take 2-3 months for my weight to be back into range of 'maintenance,' but the daily WODs are already coming back into line. Relative intensity. Additional runs in the afternoon, when I'm trying to think through a writing piece for work. That's not starting over. These longstanding patterns of greater health allow blips of cruise-pleasures. Which is good, because we're talking about our next one in May of 2024. This time, only 7-days, and I'll know...perhaps be newly motivated for slightly more moderate choices. Still pleasure-oriented, but a bit more moderate...

The timing now is less than ideal, of course. This weekend is Murph for many CrossFit gyms. I’ve done this Hero workout a couple times before, in full, always wanting to improve my score or the scale-version I'm doing "this time." The Rx version has the athlete wearing a ruck or a weight-vest–20# for men; 14# for women.

I think this is a year for me to cut the rep-scheme, or at least halve the runs. I’ve already got a “weight-vest” from the cruise, overachiever that I am.


Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Learning to Feel Good...?

Perhaps this phrase befuddles you, as it does me? Does it really require learning?

Freud has long convinced us–or aligned with generations of inherited religious presumption–that we move toward pleasure and away from pain. “The pleasure principle”... Habits, beliefs, histories suggest we avoid even momentary pain, consciously choosing pleasure, again and again, to the detriment of others. Except I think he’s wrong, or at least inaccurate in some fundamental ways. I think most folks I know fail at pleasure, living a really conflicted relationship with it. I think we are conditioned to believe virtue and purpose align with difficulty, even pain, not ease or pleasure. No pain, no gain, Nike marketed, selling shoes galore.

adrienne marie brown defines pleasure as the “measure of freedom” (Pleasure Activism). I’m just beginning her well-known work here, and I’m finding it hard going, to be honest. Then another volume found me from another direction, a coaching-friends’ circle this past Sunday: Call of the Wild: How We Heal Trauma, Awaken Our Own Power, and Use It for Good by Kimberly Ann Johnson (HarperWave, 2021). Chapter Four, “Learning How to Feel Good,” offers a somatic-experiencing, neurobiological primer on the body’s capacity for downregulation, experiencing ease, receiving (and remaining in) pleasure. Johnson observes the human tendency to prioritize awareness of pain or discomfort–a survival mechanism of old–and offers practices for expanding our capacity for pleasure (and awe, connection, wonder, etc.). She suggests that we must practice learning to feel good.  

Brian’s and my ten-day Caribbean cruise April 10-20 continues to percolate within me here. It was the first all-out vacation he and I have taken since autumn 2019, pre-Covid. No bookended family visits. No other functional purpose. Relaxation, reconnection, pleasure... 

Which completely befuddled, even threatened me, for a time. Only for a few days, thankfully, after which I simply practiced saying yes, curious how I would feel, what I might learn. Trusting my capacity to choose pleasure and relax my “practices” for the seven days that remained. What harm could seven days do? I reasoned. Observing now that my first presumption was harm.

Johnson places “the problem” she’s trying to solve in our culture, “addicted to intensity. … It’s our puritanical inheritance: we’re not supposed to feel good. We’re supposed to be humble and stoic and work hard.” (79) My whole body resonated there, pulling me in. I'm Pennsylvania-Deutsch, after all. But then she writes, “CrossFit, paleo, unassisted birth; we are always looking to increase the stakes and maximize our time. … we’ve bought into the idea that to find pleasure or to heal  we need to push beyond what we thought was humanly possible. We think in order to change we need to go harder instead of learning how to settle into what feels good.” (79) I resisted these words, noting it here to find out a bit more why. I am an intense woman, ‘tis true, but oddly, CrossFit has been the vehicle by which I can release intensity, live more peaceably, love my own body more fully...even more gently inside.

Which brought me full circle to consider who and what I’ve become as a CrossFitter, 54-year old woman, in love with feeling good in her body. For decades, I was plagued by constant internal criticism, shames, self-condemnations. CrossFit and a much more measured relationship with food brought me great pleasure, instead, in these middle-aged years. I love how I get to move, how peaceful I feel off of sugar. I love the absence of cravings and the heightened energies I get to experience when a WOD brings the group together, each in our own challenge(s). I love doing more, and I thrive in doing less sometimes too.

Those seven days when I finally just practiced saying yes, relaxing into the abundance that was all around me on the cruise, I also felt a freedom, the pleasures of new tastes and unexpected delights with entertainment and conversation, dancing and stunning vistas in sun- or moon-light. It was a manner of feeling good, and it was quite different than my “now normal” or “usual” at home. And it took me at least three days to learn how to feel good in that more predictable-vacationing way (with food, drink, etc). Was the freedom particularly tender because normally those "indulgences" ultimately treated my body poorly, over weeks/months/years? Was the freedom possible because my "usual" is now so disciplined?

Since being home, I’ve returned to my “usual” habits that bring me peace, ground my body, invite me to feel good again with clean eating and rhythms of movement in community. This way of feeling good is pleasurable, even with adrienne marie brown’s definition–measure of freedom. “Food freedom” I’ve often called it. No addictive behaviors, driven by carb-highs or sugar crashes. It feels good to move, to extend myself, to rest too.

And I am increasingly curious about my puritanical resistance to saying yes to pleasure, all the same. There is a numbness within me, somehow. Inherited, for sure, but also sustained by/in my own embodied history. 

What might it feel like to truly receive how safe I am in my own skin now, finally, knowing how to nourish myself well, and bound myself safely from attitudes, persons, assumptions that do not align with my own values, needs? How might I play with pleasures in simple ways, re-learning the delight I’ve written about for years…? How might I continue to learn how to feel good, in new and simple ways, healthy for me, inviting of others...truly free?