I have “met” some wonderful people via my blog postings. They comment and then I read their stuff and after a while, it seems like I know them.

When I began, I was crushed by my ineptitude. Not that I’m ept now, but I’m not crushed by my lacks. But in the beginning, I wavered. And Warrior Girl, Lifting was my savior. I don’t know how she found me, but she did. And her encouragement made a world of difference.

The seeds we sow with a kind word or gesture yield amazing crops. It is now years later, and Elizabeth is still my hero, still urging on those around her, still making the world a better place. And I still get to be a small part of her adoring fan base.

I’ve recently found another CrossFit blogger who is struggling with the whole CrossFit conundrum. Fish Eye Farm posted today. “The Internal Dialogue” was not what I was expecting. I know what my internal dialogue is like and I was rather expecting to see something like that. It wasn’t. It was a post about how helpful it is to have those you are with cheer you on, give you the praise you have earned, and encouragement to continue.

“Good job” while you are considering all the options associated with just dying right then and there makes a world of difference. Hearing your name called out while you are decided if you have enough power to lift the bar one more time actually gives you the power to lift the damn bar.

The encouragement, the camaraderie, the reaching out of your WODmates and coaches to offer the one thing they can give you – their support – allows you to move past the wall, get in more reps, not die in the process, and succeed.

That is so much better than the internal dialogue I have with myself. Inside my head, there is clamoring and shouting of “you are too old for this shit” and “just give up” and “why are you doing this” and most damningly “you can’t”. And then one small “Go, Patti” from the outside and I’m back in the game.

I know CrossFit is difficult for everyone. It is certainly difficult for me. And yet, I’m there. Over and over again. Even as I mutter about how I’m too old for this shit, I’m thrilled with the idea that too old or not, I just did it. I did the snatches, I jumped the rope, I lifted the kettlebell, I did modified where I had to, but once given my scaling options, I followed them with good form and integrity.

And after more than five years of CrossFit and over a year of  yoga, I have the flexibility to pat myself on the back. So I think I will.

27540530_1705631106166333_3660106704794405342_n

Advertisements

I am a creature of habit. I believe we all tend toward the habitual since it is easier when we don’t have to think or decide and we can just keep doing what we’ve been doing. But this is not the way to have one’s best life.

Most of my life I did not have a dog. Then we got one, then we had two, then back down to one and many years later, after a long and seemingly happy life, LC went to doggie heaven and we were down to no dogs again. It has been six years since LC died.

We lived in Ohio when first Trip and then LC joined our family. The house we lived in there was totally different and the dogs came to live with us as puppies which is totally different than old dogs. In Ohio, the kitchen wastebasket had a lid and it kept the dogs out.

Trip moved out when Joe did since he was Joe’s dog. LC stayed with us because she was my dog. She was cute as could be with very short little legs but somehow, even without her big friend, garbage not properly locked away was too tempting. So when we moved to South Carolina and into a different house design, we opted to put the lidless wastebasket inside the pantry behind a closed door.

And there it has stayed for the last thirteen years even though LC moved out six years ago. For years we have had messy or sticky hands and had to open the door to throw something away. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve washed off the doorknob, but it is at least 4.7 million – I’m sure.

Last week, there was something stinky in the trash and when I opened the door in the morning, it hit me. And what I was throwing out was a bag that had contained shrimp so more stinky stuff. I really didn’t want that in with the food so I took the wastebasket out of the pantry. And then I tripped over it so I stashed it between two pieces of furniture right there and it fit perfectly.

Why hadn’t I done this a long time ago? Well, mostly, habit. We put it there when we first moved in to keep the dog out of the trash and to keep her from making messes. But there hasn’t been a dog here for years and still, sticky hands struggling to get to the trash and messes to clean up was “the way”.

Last week, we opted to leave the wastebasket right there between the pieces of furniture and then there was another habit rearing its ugly head. We kept opening the pantry door even though we didn’t have to. It has taken days to break this habit.

Not to brag or anything, but I have been successfully throwing out the trash without opening the pantry door first for nearly 24 hours now. I’m sure the next time I’m really tired or on autopilot I will again open the door only to see no trash in there. I’m not sure how long it will take to completely get over this habit, but the grip has started to lessen.

Doing things the same way as you have always done them is so easy in the short term. But as your circumstances change, the old way may in fact not be easier at all.

We are getting used to this little upset in our routine and it’s really rather nice.

29510885_931091960401502_8481722978351764685_n

Today I was volunteering my time and energy to help clean up the gym where I’ve been working out. I like to help when I can. So I was on the road heading towards the place when I saw humanity working just like it usually does.

I was heading west and had to stop for a red light. I would like to point out that no one ever likes to stop for these things but we all do because it is the only way we can safely share the road. We follow the conventions along the way allowing us to travel quickly without dying.

The light has a rather long cycle and if you miss your turn, you wait for minutes before it is your turn again.

Approaching toward the still red light, but unseen by us drivers, was a siren. It was getting closer and closer, still unable to be seen but the Doppler effect in play. We all knew it was coming. Then, there was the fire engine coming towards us.

The traffic heading east gets a green light first so the many cars wanting to turn left can go on their arrow. Their light turned green as the fire engine neared the intersection.

Not one single car even inched forward. Not even one horn was blasted. Every single car in all three lanes stayed still allowing the fire engine to make the turn onto the road and rush off to whatever emergency it was heading towards. Only after the fire engine cleared the intersection did any other cars move.

This is how it is supposed to work. Everyone is supposed to realize that when there is an emergency, we all give a little bit of leeway to the first responders and hope like hell if we are ever the person waiting impatiently for help to arrive that others will also follow the rules and allow help to get there sooner.

Most people are good most of the time. We see so much horror and harm and hate on the news that we tend to think we are living in a world of abject terror. In fact, we are living in a world filled with people who stop at red lights and people who wait for emergency vehicles to hurry on to their emergencies. We live in a world where the news panders to our fears and we have to remember that what we see daily around us is far more accurate than any news, fake or real, portrayed for our viewing pleasure.

The reason these horror stories make it to print and/or airwaves is because they are out of the norm.

Stay strong out there. And remember to always be nice. Someone is probably watching and smiling.

29597517_10155422845413581_6455109549631106508_n

I have been doing CrossFit for over five years and I’m tremendously proud of my advancement in that time. I’ve come a very long way. And yet … I’m no Thorisdottir. I’m slow and when I work by myself, I mostly just try to stay out of the way of the people who move faster.

I have a heart rate that races ahead to the finish line in a matter of seconds. Spiking higher than my cardiologist wants means I have to stop and box breathe and get my heart rate back to a life sustaining rate. It sucks. I’m rarely too tired to go on, I just have a heart rate incompatible with life. So I stop. And rest. And box breathe. And wait for my heart rate to come back down so I can work again.

When I’m working alone, this works out wonderfully. I just get crap scores on the board and I have made great efforts in that area to never care about it again. They are crap. They are low reps and high times and that’s what I get. Too bad.

But then, there are partner WODs. I have always struggled with them. We used to play Pass the Patti and they had to take turn with who got stuck with me. I never volunteered for the damn things, but they were part of the regular week and I was stuck. Then they stopped being that and Scott and Betsy would open the gym on some Saturday mornings for a partner WOD. I was encouraged to show up even though I suck. But I had been at the same place for five years and they all knew I sucked as a partner. Not because I didn’t try or not because I quit, but because my heart rate would go too high and I would have to stop or have a heart attack. I always choose to stop.

Today, I braved it. I went to the Saturday morning partner WOD regularly scheduled every Saturday. I have studiously avoided this up until now. I’ve tried to make myself go several times. It’s all scalable. They always say that, but really it isn’t. Two weeks ago there was a partner carry for God alone knows how many meters. I’m glad I didn’t show up that week. Last week there was all movement without breaks for over 30 minutes of counting reps performed. I would have been a terrible partner there.

Not like I was any great partner today. But I showed up and Coach Laura assigned us partners and poor Temple got stuck with me but at least she knows me. So I didn’t have to demonstrate to some stranger how horrible it is to be partnered with me. I apologized before we started and Temple remained sanguine.

We were first divided into two teams of about ten people each and did a serial 800 meter tire flip. The big guys liked showing off and willingly competed with each other doing lots of the flips. The tire was bigger than I could flip solo, so Cindy and I worked together to flip it and it was awkward and not really as easy as it should have been. But we took our turns. This part took 20 some minutes.

Then we had a 20 minute AMRAP of one partner working at a time with 100 wall balls, 80 DB snatches, 60 box jumps, 400 m farmer’s carry, and 20 burpees. Those wall balls just kill me and spike my heart rate. I didn’t even do full squats and just did a dip and couldn’t do my half. Temple had to cover for me and I felt miserable. The DB snatches were split evenly and then I asked Temple to get an extra 4 on the step ups we were doing because my heart rate was still too high, but then I did the last 6. We each did two 100 meter farmer’s carry and we alternated the burpees. So those weren’t lopsided. But then we had the damn wall balls again and I could do even fewer this late in the game. Temple picked up the slack and then we began doing ten each on the DB snatches and I was working when time was called. Our score was 1+136.

I believe that was a reasonable score and I’m happy for us. But Temple was not given a partner who could manage to keep up with her and for that I feel bad and discouraged. I hate when I have to be old and deal with my shortcomings, especially in a public place.

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 6.41.49 PM

We are acutely aware of bullying in this country. We are appalled when we hear stories of people mistreating others and taking advantage of some real or perceived status. We cringe at the thought of the poor, bullied underdog.

And yet … how often do we speak to ourselves in this very manner?

I’m pretty well known for underestimating my abilities in CrossFit. I often mumble things like “I suck” or “I’m too old for this” or even the most damning “I can’t”. In point of fact, I can and I do. I do many things people half my age cannot do let alone people of my own rare vintage.

When I tell myself things like “I’m a freaking badass” or “I can’t believe I managed that” or even the rare whoop of hard-earned prideful success, I manage to do better.

Our self-talk has power over us. The things we repeat to ourselves over and over have a way of proving themselves true. This self-fulfilling prophesy can work in either direction. So why are we so often full of self-condemnation?

Is that we are afraid if we self-praise instead someone will come along and pop our over-inflated balloon? I know that’s one of my fears and yet no one has ever said anything like this to me (after I stopped getting report cards from school and my father’s insistence that I could have earned an A+ instead of the horrid and lowly simple A).

Certainly no one in the CrossFit world has ever spoken to me as evilly or as cruelly as I speak to myself. And yet I know in my heart of hearts, I get up and go and try my hardest. My weights are low but my form is good. And so far, I keep signing up for CrossFit when I’m the oldest person in the room. At this location, I’m not the oldest person in the building anymore. But the other old farts have enough sense to not come back to our area.

And there I just did it again. A more positive way to acknowledge my accomplishments would be to say that other old farts are not brave enough to come back to our area.

I really have no way of knowing if they are brilliant or fearful. I know that CrossFit scares the crap out of me. I know this place’s policy of not posting the WOD the night before and having to walk in blind each day is even more frightening. And I know that regardless of fright or stupidity or any other possible excuse, I show up anyway.

Life at the box has a way of smacking you in the face with cold hard facts. The iron doesn’t lie. It doesn’t care if you are cute or smart or talented or can sing an opera aria. If you can’t pick up the weight, it just stays on the floor – inert. You only get what you earn. Caveat: you can cheat at the full ROM or the count or something, but you still only get what you earn. What makes its way to the white board is immaterial.

Facing this honesty has made me both more brave and more timid. I’m less likely to stand back and let the world railroad me. But I’m also exceedingly aware of my limits.

Once you know yourself, you are free. Free to risk. Free to stay safe. Free to fail. Free to succeed.

Be as kind to yourself as you are to others. Speak to yourself with the same gentle understanding you afford others. You know you aren’t really either as good or as bad as you sometimes think. Offer yourself the benefit of the doubt, learn from your mistakes, and move forward in a stately manner.

For the love of all the gods, stop bullying yourself. You have done nothing to deserve that.26229932_1632476263457913_9182457454532323938_n

I know a lot of world class worriers. I am, possibly, a gold medalist in the arena myself. Worry is one of my strong suits. I excel at it. Unfortunately, it does me no good at all. It just is part of the whole “I want to control everything” aspect of my life.

You see, I want to control everything and I don’t. I am often unable to even control myself, the one thing I actually do have some control over. So all the stuff that is beyond my control is really beyond me. And yet, I worry about it.

I worry that the past should have gone differently. I said something wrong or did something wrong or think I might have said or done something wrong. Especially at three AM. That is the very best time to worry because there is literally nothing else to do. It’s free range worry time.

I worry that the future will hold unwanted events. I actually know that the future will hold unwanted events and I don’t want them. So I worry about that.

I also can worry about a scheduled event and play out in my head exactly how it will go. It never goes exactly how I think it might and all my brilliant repartee of the night before is lost to the world. I had it so planned out and then reality came along and ruined it.

I worry about important things, of course. And if there aren’t enough of those, I worry about unimportant things. I worry about how much I worry.

Worry has never done a single thing for me. Well, a single positive thing. It has kept me awake half the night and made me tired and cranky and less able to deal with reality the next day. That is something worry is really good at.

Worry is the fear that life will not turn out perfectly. Spoiler alert: life doesn’t turn out perfectly because there is no “perfectly” to life. Life is a mess. It is chaotic and random and no matter how good the plans, they go to shit as soon as reality starts. Because our plans don’t include just us and the other people in the events had their own stories all set up. They did not, do not, cannot match our stories.

The best way to counteract an attack of the worries is to clear one’s mind. The practice of meditation can help. It helps more if you practice not at three AM, but in a meditation session during the day. Learning to release the thoughts, to just observe them and not interact with them, is a key part to learning the process of meditation.

And then you have to practice it. Not just at three AM, but routinely. Set a time to meditate, even if only for a few minutes a day. The practice of practicing to empty your mind and let the thoughts drift away will help with the panic of three AM worries.

It probably won’t make them completely go away. We love to worry. It feels like we are doing something to solve our problems. We aren’t; but it feels like we might be.

The best way to face a new day is rested and with a clear mind. This is not the result of endless worry loops in the middle of the night. Learning to calm yourself, follow your breath, disengage from the worry, and let it all go is the best recourse to an attack.

But if you can’t manage it right away, don’t worry. With practice, it gets easier. I promise.

26804655_1736294153057913_1044482810446736255_n

Day 1: This is a trial. I’m just experimenting to see if the possibility even exists. I fail. Miserably. I cry. I’m not going to be a CrossFitter. I can’t do the things. I ask Ryan if there is any hope at all. He says that if I’m willing to work, he’s willing to help.

Day 2: I’m in a weeklong personal training session with Attila the Hun who expects me to be able to do the things. I can’t do the things. Not even with a PVC pipe. This should be obvious. I can’t squat with a PVC pipe if I can’t squat. I dip with the damn PVC pipe; it’s the best I can do. I cry. Again.

Day 3: I’m sore as hell and I did nothing at all. I mean, really, I can’t even squat. I need to use the PVC pipe as a cane to “lunge down the mat” which is such an offhand comment, no one even blinks an eye. Me? I fall over trying to balance. I’m not a CrossFitter.

Day 30: I continue to show up and can do some of the things. I’m still wobbly and my squats aren’t really low enough, but I’m getting better. I cry less often. Maybe I will someday be a CrossFitter.

Four months in: I had weights on my weights for a back squat. This means I did a 27# back squat to a box so not really breaking parallel, but I did it. I managed to meet my goal of doing this wonderful feat of magic before I turned 60. I might make it to CrossFitter.

One year in: I do the things. I can do a full squat. I lunge down the mat without a cane. I have mastered the form of all the Olympic lifts. I know what a hook grip is and when to use it. All my weights are low, but I have PRs for all the lifts. I cannot do a pull-up or climb a rope or a HSPU, but perhaps I can call myself a CrossFitter.

Five years in: I’ve competed in the Masters Garage Games and sucked at it. I’ve competed in the CrossFit Open and sucked less at it. My weights have increased incredibly over the years. I’ve mastered the lifts but still struggle with even basic moves. Still no pull-up or HSPU. I’ve determined that I never want to do a rope climb and will resist them.

Today: I am a CrossFitter and I have been since Day 1. Not because I can do the things. It has no bearing on whether or not the things are done. It is the persistence, the perseverance, the continual showing up. I’m a CrossFitter because I do CrossFit and do it to the best of my ability. My form is more important to me than any score on the white board. I’m thrilled each time I master a new technique. There are still more things I want from myself.

I have faced my fears and beat them. I was petrified. I sucked at this over and over and over again. And yet, I continued to show up and do my version of the things until I could do a better version of the things. My cleans yesterday were smooth. A side video would have shown the bar coming straight up, the little curl at the top and me “floating” under the bar, catching it in a five point grip, then standing back up leading with my elbows. This is not a natural state of affairs for anyone let alone a 65 year old woman. But I did it.

And that is what makes me a CrossFitter. No matter how scared, no matter how weak or sucky or incapable I have been, I have tried to improve by small increments day after day.

I am determined to give it my best shot and not die in the process. Someday, I might get that pull-up or I might have to acknowledge that it is beyond me. But for now, I will work on the process. Hell, if I can string some double unders together, there is really no stopping me. And there never was.

Ryan was right. If I was willing to work for it, I could be a CrossFitter. It is the only requirement. No matter how frightened I’ve been, I kept showing up. It is amazing to realize how fucking brave I really am. I’m brave not because I can do the things. Anyone can be brave when they are in control. I’m brave because I can’t do the things (or do them at low weight or low volume) and I get into the arena and go after it anyway.

I am a CrossFitter. I am scared four times a week. Unless it is five. And I show up anyway. They say the first day is the hardest, but I truly believe it is the second. That was the point at which I committed to being a new version of myself. I turned out pretty awesome.

27857842_2175224759367814_1057739109895200737_n