Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Connection, CrossFit & Self-Supported Learning

 Connection facilitates and encourages self-directed or self-supported learning, which is the pathway through challenge—even failure--into delight, even abundance...ultimately more connection… with self, and with others.

This is an aphorism I’ve just made up as I deepen my CrossFit learnings in the soup of two differently-cultured CrossFit affiliates. Yes, it comes as I find myself listening to Brene Brown’s Atlas of the Heart, a summary of sorts of her decades of research on human connection, spelled out across the alphabet of varying emotions and/or cognitive-oriented sensations-states. Yes, it comes as I’ve given myself the gift of reconnection in my home CF gym for the season of the Open (at least) amidst a solitary sabbatical time. And yes, it comes with the recent awareness that my lifelong pattern of learning is now playing out in CrossFit like it has in my family, in the church, in the academy, in Women Writing for (a) Change.


The pattern, I now see: I land in a community of practice as a beginner. I progress in the practices (often despite myself), moving into leadership possibilities (I did take the L1, but I don’t want to coach; CF is my recess, playground). Then something moves me outward and I learn at the periphery of several of “these kinds of communities,” be they extended family members/families, or churches, or traditions, or circle-communities… The something is often a discomfort or dissonance of some kind that grows to be unbearable, distracting. So I now belong to a CF gym that is not my home, but that is contributing greatly to my learning. I am intentional about maintaining contact and connection with my home-gym-folks—my homies, we might say—and enjoy working out when I can with that community. I’ve reconnected ‘formally’ again, which feels generative and for now, is financially feasible. This pattern has freed something in me to continue to stay connected and lean into self-directed, self-supporting learning.


It’s my over-arching learning pattern, apparently. And I know it can be difficult for folks who are rooted in primarily one community—or I experience their emotions/sensations/feelings as difficult, given I want to be connected, even to please. Yet the drive to learn, to deepen, always pushes me through the discomfort in the end. [I wonder where I learned it first, and why? But that’s another blog and a different post… It’s probably my family of origin and the extended family-uncles pattern, now rooted in cousin-connectionalism. Hmmm…]


So what am I learning, and/or what am I receiving/offering?


My capacities are expanding, but it’s due to the strength&metcon combination in one location and the movement-progressions coaching in the other. I wouldn’t want either one to change, as I benefit from the distinctiveness of both. For instance, I jumped a 26’ box+plate this week! I couldn’t have done the 24” box for the WOD, as knew it would take me much longer than I felt comfortable with. But I was not remotely afraid of trying it, as I knew I could do it. Long legs. Good hip extension. Today, I did cross-over singles in a workout for the first time! 10/round! I’d never done them until today! The movement progression coaching pretty much insists that everyone try the easiest scale, moving into the next level, then the next. It forces me to try things I wouldn’t otherwise try on my own. It’s also a methodology that would have ultimately pushed me away, early on in my CF journey. So curious.


I’m getting healthier, both inside and out. ‘We’ in my home-gym caught me in the familiar but outdated “calorie counting” mode with my eating-exercising-resting rhythms. Stepping onto the InBody machine, it became apparent that my metabolism rate was declining, as it always does with calorie-reduction. I relinquished the old habits of mind and returned to the macros counting that tracks lower-but-higher-quality carbs, higher (good) fats, and protein. I’ve not confirmed through InBody, but my appetite-in-balance suggests my metabolism rate is returning to its higher levels. I’ve remembered the food-freedom and delight in crafting on-plan meals, trying new foods with proteins and greens. And my sensitivities are honed to know that attending the Nutrition Seminar at the new gym is not for me. I love the coach who’s leading it, but his language wedded counting macros with calorie counting. Not where I need to be.


And a bit of distance has given me perspective on the emotional dissonance that ultimately pushed me out of my 8am rhythm in my home gym. My pattern always seems to require a discomfort or a dissonance for me to open to my own deepening-learning curve. The woman who is a regular now at that class, that just got under my skin? OMG. She’s my mother, whom I love but also with whom I’ve had a difficult relationship since awakening to the feminine. I never saw it before. Red-haired. Sour-expression and negative energies. Unresponsive to conversation. Competitive. Not celebrative of others’ successes. My mother-baggage gets triggered every time. Almost made me laugh aloud when I realized it. Consciousness of it now will lessen the trigger, but the 8 am doesn’t work well with my writing/working-sabbatical schedule needs. So be it. It all unfolds as it should…needs to…right? I won’t be writing this 8am woman a thank-you note, but I am glad her presence pushed me into my next learning curves.

The impending hooh-hah about the Open is what ultimately goaded me into more-formally reconnecting with my home-gym. The new gym doesn’t have the relational-consistency and connection I need to stay in my own learning through the challenges of The Open. I couldn’t imagine signing up for it in the new gym (to me) culture, expectations. But I know the challenge tests me in ways I value. So…plan is to register for The Open within my home gym, see what happens this year. I still don’t have pull-ups as I had hoped. Deltoid muscle pain seemed too high a cost to pay. So…the month of January invites 4 minutes of shoulder-mobility a day. I’ll see if it’s truly a muscle/tendon injury, or simply working at my computer all day, lack of mobility and flexibility. Connection with my homies paves a pathway to be consistent with it, to enter in and try without shame or fear.

So I return to where I began: Connection facilitates and encourages self-directed or self-supporting learning, which is the pathway through challenge—even failure—into delight, even abundance…ultimately more connection…to myself and to a community of practice. Reconnection with my home community of practice is solidifying a lot of my new learning while grounding me in a sense of belonging I've needed to stay at my sabbatical-solitary work. The additional spiritual-direction work that I do–one directee/week or so–covers the added expense of my intensifying CrossFit ‘habit.’ (Though not my shoes. Nor my clothes ). But apparently, I learn best when I’m on the periphery of differing spaces-community. I just never thought it would apply to CrossFit.

Gratitude for the journey… Such a blessing to be precisely where and as I am. May this blessing also be for the sacred work that is to come…