Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Beginning Anew...

I feel a curiosity rising in me in this new season: what am I drawn to in my CrossFit rhythms? Are there particular goals I have in mind for the next couple of months? The end of a school semester always brings this arising in me, of course. It feels good to let go of this batch of students–the ones I’ll miss and the ones I really won’t. To let go of the texts and topics that focused my energies for months. Put the books back on the shelf. Take a deep breath before the next semester begins (in six days). Consider what I love as a whole and discern a bit–am I living my wild and precious life as I desire, as I can?

The biggest shift for me here is my training rhythms, no longer stretched between two CF boxes/communities. While I am sad for that change in many ways, I DO recognize that it makes my training a bit simpler. Instead of two communities, two training plans, and my embodied dance between them for connection and fitness, I listen and decide between one stream of programming and my own felt-sense, Whoop-confirmed choices for deepening my body’s capacities, play, strengthening.

I’m back into clean-eating habits, for the most part, if enjoying no-carb cocktails from time to time. I’ve grown curious about the amount of protein would help me thrive in the strength-training/CF practice I love. One recommendation was 1g/1lb of bodyweight. Really? I’ve begun to increase my intake, which does balance the fats/carbs, but it takes concerted effort to get that much protein into my system. I do love the lack of cravings when I fuel clean and well. Even when on a cruise-ship, I know to front-load protein and enjoy the splurges only with dinner. I’ve maintained my weight etc. for nearly 2-3 years now, even as the inside-voices continue to bother me about losing weight. Letting those go… 

One conversation with a coach yesterday confirmed some of my unexpected focus on running for me this summer. I’ve dipped into the 10K app with its interval runs, knowing that my pace could improve a lot. I’ve tended to focus on slow-and-steady distance, but what might aiming for a timed-mile goal offer me? Satisfaction or just more anxiety? I wonder… I may actually show-up for the running WOD, even as I’ll certainly be last on the leaderboard.

I continue to gently increase my upper-body mobility things, before and after each workout, sometimes just during the day while I’m computer-surfing. The pull-up program still irritates my left deltoid muscle, so I’ve just contented myself with mobility and doing what feels good.

The push-up challenge has begun again, toward the Murph event at the end of the month. For the first time in 4-5 years, I won’t be doing that in any collective fashion. I’ll be on an Alaskan cruise for Memorial Day itself. Pity. :) Perhaps midsummer, I’ll do my own rendition of it from home. I enjoy the extra nudge for upper-body and core-strengthening.

So, for now:

Increased protein intake, perhaps signing onto an online nutrition community for the web-of-support I find so helpful

Increasing my running pace by 1 minute

Upper-body mobility, with possible professional PT help later this summer, to see if I learn anything new

Thursday, April 25, 2024

State(s) of Intention...a Progress Report

One of the things I had found most tender-difficult-challenging as I began my CrossFit journey is also one of the gifts: intention toward progress

When I started CrossFit over five years ago at CrossFit Dedication (close to my campus work place), it was the gym-practice for the coach to write each athlete’s name on the white-board. At the conclusion of the WOD, the coach would yell out each name for the athlete to then name his/her/their time or rounds/reps or whatever. It was horribly public and for my experience of things, quite shaming. Nothing to do with CrossFit, of course. More to do with how my parents had (admirably) attempted to get us girls to do our chores, become responsible little human beings. They’d used a whiteboard, with “chips” awarded for each task accomplished. It was a great system for my task-oriented sister; it was horrible for my own dreamy-wondering-exploratory self. They eventually realized it was traumatizing me, so stopped it altogether. But I walked into that CrossFit box and almost burst into tears at the whiteboard. 

Surprising the affiliate-owners, I wrote a long email defining the space for myself, what I could and could NOT do. I did NOT want my name on the whiteboard. I would NOT yell out my score/time. I insured for myself that the space would be a safe one for me, honoring what I needed in contrast to communal practice/norms. 

And it worked. 

For a period of months, I simply ignored the progress-report bit in CrossFit methodology. Which allowed me to realize how mental it had been for me, and how little power those around me actually had over what my body was enjoying in the space. The main coach for me at the time, Melissa, had assured me that no one was paying attention or judging my score. I didn’t believe her, because that had not been my earliest experience. Just get better as the athlete’s motto began to take root, however. Just get better (for me), not better than… 

I eventually lifted the “ban” and began to track my own WODS, have my name on the whiteboard, yell out my score/time. I realized it wasn’t a comparative thing with others. It was a statement of intention and a tracking of my own progress–which I began to see, celebrate, even marvel at. I simply had to find my way there. Five years and some later, I’m more often moving into Rx weights and WODs than I ever would have thought. I am stronger and healthier (fitter, if not fit in the CF training sense) than I have ever been, which I celebrate.

I love the intentionality of CrossFit, in the end, even as I recognize the complications that vary with each person. Some people come to just work out, without any sense of why we track WODs. Others thrive on the competitive energy, actually striving for better than in a collegial sense. We do help each other push into challenges in that way. I need that in order to stay accountable to my own fitness too.

Some of my intentions for this season, then:1) I’ve found myself moving into the spring-season with the urge to run more. (Strange! :)). So I dipped into the 10K app I have, wondering if I’ll train for a 10K this summer. 2) I treated myself to the PRVN Pull-Up Program for my birthday, mid-March. It’s taken me some time amidst work-family travel, but I started it this past week, continuing to get curious about how my lats and deltoids collaborate. (Things I never would have known to name five years ago).

And this week brings a specific sense of intention, in a different way. [As noted in the previous posting] Crossfit Dedication, the box that held such good space for my own deepening, decided to close by the end of April. Different phase of life, kids going into college, wanting a different era of life to unfold, the owners decided that eleven years was enough. I applaud their decision and celebrate the New with them. I am also needing to be intentional about honoring these early years for me…learning to grieve well, attentively...

1) Grief retail therapy: It was important to purchase the Rx wall-ball and plyo box, the 35# barbel and some basic plates, a heavier set of dumbbells as they sold off the gym equipment. They’ve become symbols of my own progress, my own tenacity to stay with discomfort zones as I train. That they come from my home-box matters to me.

2) It’s been important to touch in with friends from this original box, many of whom I haven’t been able to see very often as my work and life commitments pushed me to a CrossFit community closer to my home, Bomber’s CrossFit. I was fortunate to ease into this new space during the week, while staying in WOD-touch with my original box on the weekends. I grieve that I probably won’t see many of these folks, as we’ll have no reason to gather like we did.

3) And this final week, I’ve needed to be intentional in honoring “last times.” I went to a 5:30 a.m. WOD, aware it would be the last one there at CFD. This Sunday, I’ll enjoy the Open Gym as a “last time” there.

These intentions are no less important in my training than the physically-active or oriented ones, I’m realizing. Not everyone sets emotional goals, of course, as love and loss just happen as we grow. But such intentions aren’t the same as goals. Ritual intentions, being intentional about times/spaces, help my body move through the change. They allow me to honor and celebrate. They give me space and time to feel the changes. And yes, move forward more free to get curious, receive, explore what will be possible because of this ending...

So it was only natural for me to invite my now-friend, ex-coach, to become intentional on her own journey to "after" and the new. What actions or practices help us release the old so to receive the new? An elder in my life talks about the ritual actions we can take to make our departures conscious. It doesn't matter if we believe in such actions. They can be as simple as cutting a piece of yarn as we depart for the last time. Or enjoying a celebratory meal/event, to remember and imagine anew. The action itself is the significant gesture. I wonder what she will imagine for herself to honor and truly let go as a really great endeavor of her life comes to its conclusion...and new horizons open because of it?

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.