August 2017


I have been struggling with CrossFit of late. Each and every WOD defeats me before I even walk into the box. I can’t do them. Ever.

It’s been five years since I began this nonsense. When I started, I was in really bad shape. I could do nothing at all. Well, I could walk around and I could cry a lot, but that’s pretty much a list of my accomplishments. It’s all scalable and I kept showing up and I worked through strains and bruises and aches and pains.

I don’t know what I expected exactly, but at some point within five years, I really thought I would be adequate. I really thought that by now, I would be doing things as written. I would be able to do the weights and manage the moves. I looked at all the things that tell me how to get a pull-up in just six weeks and I’ve done them for months at a time. I still can’t do a pull-up.

I can’t even really do a decent push-up. Or a handstand, which leaves a handstand push-up out of the question. I can’t do the weights as written. Hell, I can’t even run. I can’t do anything. And I’m defeated. Every single Olympic weightlifting move is minimal weights on the bar, laughable weights.

Maybe it’s just this one area that’s a mess. But wait, no, there’s more.

Although I’ve been doing yoga consistently for less than a year, I still can’t do any of that shit, either. I can’t manage to get my lead leg anywhere close to parallel to the front edge of the mat when in pigeon pose. My knees don’t work in child pose. Anything one legged has me being a wall sucker since I don’t have any balance at all. My warrior pose looks like a field of wheat blowing around in a tornado.

I’ve been trying to meditate. I can sit still for minutes on end. My mind, however, it around the globe and time travels to past and future rather than staying in the present moment. I focus on my breath and in the other part of my mind I wonder about anything else at all, both mundane and inconsequential. I drag my thoughts back to my breath only to have them running off into some other direction. I sit still while galloping across the universe unable to stay present in the here and now.

Maybe I should look to other areas of my life for success. I made four new shirts yesterday. It wasn’t entirely successful. I colored yesterday and no matter how fine the point on my pencils are, I can’t manage to stay inside the lines, a task we all learned in kindergarten. My culinary skills are such that we had a roasted chicken from Harris Teeter yesterday for dinner.

I’ve lived here for more than a decade and I do have some “successful” acquaintances, but even after all this time in this space, I don’t have a single friend. There is no one to go out for coffee or go shopping with. I don’t talk about those things because I don’t do those things. I’m isolated in a neighborhood of over 800 homes.

There is a chance today of a world renown event. Today is Solar Eclipse Day. There is rain in the forecast.

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There are a lot of things that scare me. Most of them don’t even exist. They are in my head, haunting and taunting and making me question my ability to be an effective adult. Anxiety is pervasive. I can turn even the best of days into a catastrophe without even batting an eyelash. It’s a skill. Not a very useful one, but honed to perfection.

I watched a TED talk recently where this guy said we hallucinate ourselves into existence. What our brains tell us becomes our version of reality. Our brains don’t see or smell or taste or do anything other than process electrical impulses into something the past has shown us is usually pretty much how reality works.

I’m unsure why my brain believes the world is out to get me, but it tells me often that I am not up to standard. I’m failing. I not only didn’t succeed, I outright lost. It is in a near constant state of panic, trying to control every eventually in a dynamic and ever-changing world.

My brain lies to me. And then my intellect tries to counter those lies with some simple truths. Things like pointing out that the world has never yet killed me. I live in a world of fear and doubt, projecting onto myself criticisms that never materialize.

I’ve been trying some daily guided meditations and the day I had to tell myself I was “enough” was terrifying. Enough of what? How is this measured? By whom? I’ve been disappointing people my entire life. I never once brought home a report card filled with nothing but A+. I didn’t go to med school. I never have been the prefect wife or mother. I’ve made mistakes here, there, and everywhere. How can any of this be enough?

And that’s where we fall apart. We want perfection. Intellectually, I know this is impossible. I don’t expect anyone else to be perfect. I would like it if it ever happened, but so far, we are all just humans with frailties and flaws and fear. We want to be accepted even being these things and we know how often we find dissatisfaction with the imperfections of life.

Learning to remain calm and thinking instead of reacting will help with this. I’m trying to get a better handle on this. The acceptance of imperfection is not an easy task for me, but if I could master it, things would likely go much more smoothly.

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My mother used to say how careful we should be when complaining about how much we had to do and how little time we had in which to get it all done. She pointed out that a time would come when we had nothing but time and we would miss the busyness. I thought her assertion was a bit crazy, but then … I retired.

I used to save lives and conquer disease. I worked critical care and then I worked in OR and we really did save lives and sometimes, we even conquered disease. It took the whole team working together to make it all happen. It wasn’t just the doctors and it certainly wasn’t just us nurses. It was also ancillary staff and friends and family of the patient and most importantly, the patient him or herself. We all had to work together to make it happen. And sometimes it did.

I also worked for a few years as a teacher. I helped many people get familiar with technology and concepts related to businesses. I taught children beginning aged five and worked through all the way to adult education. I taught both medical and technology things to adults.

I was an office worker. I helped keep a community theater running. I then moved to a different office and helped people help clients with financial decisions.

I had various other crappy jobs beginning when I was 16 and I worked and earned my way through the world. Some of my jobs were of much greater service than others. But it felt worthwhile. I was doing something with my time. I earned my carbon footprint.

I retired two and a half years ago. Since then, I’ve colored a lot of pictures. I have watched a lot of Netflix and wasted hours and hours on Facebook. I’ve played at least a bazillion levels of rather stupid computer games. Essentially, I’ve been wasting my time. All of it.

How do I justify my carbon footprint right now? Did all the good I did while working create some sort of banked goodwill which makes up for how I do essentially nothing now? I consume. A lot. How do I justify this?

I have two sons who are productive members of society. They have responsible jobs. One son has done more to save lives than I ever did and without him and his profession we couldn’t even begin to have cities of the enormous size we have today. Without plumbing, we would all be fighting dysentery and other diseases spread through waste. Water is essential to life and without it appearing at the top of an apartment building or office building, where would we be?

The other son encourages fulfilling lives via his gym and podcasts and creates a life of giving as a firefighter. Without public service people, we couldn’t live in community as we do. We need people who are willing to go where we are afraid to go and do what we are afraid to do.

Do I get to claim a portion of their service to Mother Earth? Or are they banking up goodwill for when they retire? How much goodwill do we need?

What in the world can I do that would make my life worthwhile? It is a conundrum.

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I expect to get things right. I was reading before I got to school so life in the classroom was always a bit of a cakewalk for me. I was ahead of the game most of the time. I’m a practiced and skilled reader and can learn many things from the pages of a book or the scrolling through a screen. Lucky me.

But some things can’t be learned from a book. You cannot learn the proper way to … well, there are many things here – drive a car, fly a plane, crochet or knit, clean and jerk a barbell … the list is long. These things must be learned experientially. Well, I’m assuming that is true for flying because I don’t actually know how to do that. I just threw it in for effect. We all want our pilots to really know how to fly the planes we are in, not just have read about it.

Intellectually, I know these things but I’m disappointed quite often because I don’t meet my own expectations. I can drive. But unlike most of the people out there on the roads, I don’t think I’m a very good driver. I’m nervous when driving, especially when I have no idea where I’m going. Even with my onboard computer/navigation system helping me, I’m nervous about the whole thing.

I crochet much better than I knit. Neither is done perfectly and I often am less than thrilled when something I’ve worked on for so long didn’t turn out the way I was hoping. Dashed expectations. Other people might think it looks fine, but it isn’t what I hoped for and so I’m disappointed.

Clean and jerks are not that hard to do. I have the form down fairly well, but as in all physical endeavors, there is always room for improvement. But I use a hook grip, I have my butt down and my chest up, I slowly pull and then explosively draw the bar up while I float under the bar, catching it in a five point rack with my elbows up and my knees not falling in. Then I stand, give a small dip, and drive the bar overhead while standing tall and elbows locked out. At least I can do all that with a light bar. I’m not quite as good as the bar gets heavier. My five point rack disappears. My elbows aren’t as high because my rack isn’t set correctly. My knees waver on the rise. The whole thing isn’t nearly as nice.

And I’m disappointed. Every time. Really, how many old farts can do even a crappy clean and jerk? Truthfully, how many young people know how to do a clean and jerk? Why can’t I be happy with the fact that I do this amazing stuff?

Because my expectations were always way off. They still are. I amazed at people who show up and work out and are happy with the results regardless of what “score” or “grade” or “time” or “reps” or measurement we are supposed to use to somehow make the white board happy. I’m pretty sure the white board has no feelings whatsoever and is never happy. Or sad.

The white board has been my nemesis since I began CrossFit. I loathe the white board. There is no compassion in the white board. It is a data point and doesn’t take into consideration anything other than a number. But I had such high hopes for better numbers. And to this day, I walk in with some number etched into my brain about how I should be able to manage this day’s WOD. It never works out the way I imagine. I always get a great workout and I manage so many things I never thought I would. And yet.

I expected more. I don’t even know why I expected more. I still expect more which is even dumber. But I go each day and am disappointed in myself. I really should stop that. I wish I knew how.

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I know it is up to me to live a healthier life. I need to do certain things to make the most of the time I have here on Earth. I need to first and foremost, eat a healthy diet. This is probably the hardest part for me and for everyone else on the planet. Our food sources are crap. The most chemical shitstorm foods are the ones that are routinely on sale. Sugar is being added to everything, even food that doesn’t need it. Our grocery stores are filled with “food products” instead of food and we are fighting a losing battle against people who trade our collective health for a profit.

I do the best I can and stay mostly out of the cereal and cookie aisles. I mostly stay away from boxes or bags of chemicals disguised as “convenience food” because while they are, in fact, convenient, they aren’t really food.

There is a maxim in the fitness world about drinking water. This is not based on any science at all. Neither the WHO nor the CDC have recommendations for how much anyone should drink because if you eat real food (fruits, vegetables, meats) they all contain varying amounts of water. So if you eat a bunch of watermelon, you really don’t need to drink as much water. Water is the second most necessary item (after air) keeping you alive. To believe that there isn’t a natural mechanism to help you maintain homeostasis on this front is ludicrous. If you are thirsty, drink. If you aren’t, it’s okay.

The next thing I need to do is get adequate sleep. This used to be no problem. And then menopause began and I haven’t slept right in over a decade. I can fall asleep easily but I can’t stay asleep. I’m unsure how to fix this. If you over hydrated and have a specific gravity for your urine of 0.0000001 you will be up all night peeing. This is not a good idea since sleeping undisturbed is important to overall health.

Another key aspect is exercise. I’ve got this covered adequately. I do CrossFit four to five times a week and back in February I began doing yoga. At first, it was once a week, then it was twice a week, and now it is six or seven times a week. And herein lies the problem.

When is the best time to do yoga? I have to CrossFit first thing in the morning because if I don’t I make up excuses and find myself not showing up. So, I’m there early before my brain kicks in. I also don’t want to take two showers in a day, and if I waited until early evening, then the whole when to shower thing becomes a problem. All in all, first thing in the morning really works for me.

But when to yoga? I have been doing yin yoga, which is pretty good just before bedtime as it leaves you relaxed and ready to fall asleep. But, and this is a big but, I have to remember to get started earlier than I have been because I don’t really have enough time to get in an hour yoga and get to bed and then wake up early enough to get to CrossFit. Another issue is that even a vinyasa class leaves me a bit too jazzed to fall asleep immediately.

Doing a flow class, at least for now, is not anything I’m interested in. I do CrossFit for exercise and I do yoga for my stretching/releasing tension and my soul. Flow is about exercise on a yoga mat. I prefer to exercise with a barbell.

I could do yoga in the afternoon and get in a vinyasa yoga time and it could be longer, but then I’m back to the whole shower thing again.

I can make as many excuses about exercising as I can about eating non-nutritional food. But my real question is, when is the best time to yoga? I know there are whole sun salutation things, greeting the day with a yoga practice. But I’m in the gym without a mat and squatting with a barbell at that time. I don’t think I ever salute the sun, but I’m already busy.

There are so many choices in life. I hope I’m making at least some that are beneficial.

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