I work really hard. That doesn’t mean I succeed. That really sucks. If I work really hard; if I work to my capacity; why can’t I succeed?

Perhaps it comes from my definition of what “success” is. Perhaps it is because I’m not really working as hard as I think I am. Perhaps it is because life isn’t fair and never has been. Whatever the reason, my successes are elusive.

Thursdays are Open practice. Each week we have done a workout from a previous Open. I’ve been forced into doing the workouts even when I didn’t participate in the Open itself, so I have data for comparison.

One year, I was in Europe on a river cruise, which quite frankly was far more fun and educational than doing the Open. It did mean I didn’t have anything to compare against.

But for today, I had a comparison number. Today, we did 15.3 and as an old fart in the scaled division my workout was a 14 minute AMRAP of 50 wall balls at 10# to a nine foot mark followed by 200 single unders. The last time I did this thing, I got 1+45.

So I figured today I should get at least 1+45. My heart rate is the only thing that has remained consistent throughout my entire CrossFit career. It is always too high. I got a stress test done years ago to appease my son and my coaches. No aberrant beats for the entire thing. The cardiologist suggested I was in good shape and should keep doing what I was doing. He also suggested I stop when my heart rate got to the mid-160s. Those were not the same suggestions as I was stopping when my heart rate was higher than that.

Today, I stopped when I got to the number of reps I was hoping for. That meant my heart rate was over 170 each and every time I finally stopped. It was taking a long time to just get back down to the high 150s and then it spiked again quickly after I began the next bout of reps.

I got the wall balls in 20-10-10-10 and then the single unders in 100-100. I was more than half way through the time after the first round. But I persisted and got back at it. My wall balls were 12-12-10 and then with just a few more seconds on the clock, I went back and got four more. For those of you without a calculator, that’s 38.

So I didn’t even hit my old number. To be sure, I’m older now and that is a detriment. I’m going to guess Rich Froning isn’t getting his same 2015 numbers either. It’s a lot harder when you are more than twice his age.

But I still felt defeated and unsuccessful. I came home close to tears yet again. And I got my papers out and went to put it in my book since I keep track of everything. And there it was. The part I didn’t look at before. The last time I did 15.3 I shot to an eight foot mark. Today, at this place, there is a green line at the nine foot mark (and a fancy F at the ten foot mark – F for Forge) and I hit that damn green line with every shot.

I didn’t get the same number of reps. But I didn’t do the same workout even though I thought I was. Perhaps I did succeed. I just wasn’t looking at the right measurement.

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Am I too old to start?

Today, I’m specifically talking about working out, but it is applicable to all areas of your life. For instance, I switched careers in my forties and again in my fifties. Totally different types of jobs, and totally different skill sets needed.

But the gym is different, right? Yes and no. I didn’t need medical clearance to switch careers and by a certain age, you might want to check with your doctor before doing some of the crazy amazing shit we do in CrossFit. Walking into the box was the same as walking into a job interview. I had no idea what I was asking for.

What I thought I wanted isn’t what I got – not because I didn’t meet my goals – but because now I want a lot more than I even dared dream of on that first day. I had no idea I would ever really be able to do the many things I do and so I didn’t even know how to frame the goals. Mostly, in those first few months, I just didn’t want to die on the floor.

Now, well, I still don’t want to die on the floor, but I’m far more aware of what that would take to happen. Today, I decided dying for an assault bike wasn’t the way I wanted to go. The snatches? Well, that was worth a risk.

None of it is easy. It’s not even easier because with each new accomplishment, I set my goal another notch up the mountain. I used to want to not fall over doing walking lunges. Now I want to get across the mat with ever increasing weight. I used to want to just have weights on my weights and now I want to increase those weights on each and every Olympic lift. Because I long ago achieved all I came into the box to learn, I’ve upped the ante in order to keep moving forward.

It’s taken me longer. I’m not as strong or fast as the people young enough to be my children – or grandchildren. But I’m continually improving by millimeters or barely discernible increments. Improving all the same. I’m not the hare, but the tortoise. But eventually, the tortoise actually wins the race.

There are many things out there. You might want to try some of them. You aren’t going to get any younger because so far, we can only make time run in one direction. Tomorrow you are going to be even older than you are today. So if you want to try something, now would be a good time.

It’s now or never. Go ahead. What have you got to lose? And know that the first time you try things, you pretty much suck and that’s okay, too. Because that gives you the chance to improve quickly, at least at the beginning. You will be able to fail your way to success. All you have to do is try.

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Life is hard. Things don’t happen the way we want. There are many unfulfilled “shoulds” getting in our way.

You don’t get what you want; you get what you work for. It doesn’t matter if you think you should just be able to pass the test without studying, you only get the grade you worked for. If it takes little effort to get the A, good for you. You are lucky to have been given the brain that understands the topic. If it takes more effort or monumental effort, then that’s what it takes. Lucky you, you get to learn the satisfaction of working toward a goal and successfully completing it.

If you want to deadlift twice your bodyweight, don’t start at twice your bodyweight. Start smaller and work incrementally toward your goal. You aren’t going to magically just get twice your weight off the floor. You have to earn it. You have to work hard enough to grow enough muscle to lift it.

And it won’t be easy. There will be fits and starts, plateaus and stalls. What you do in the troughs of that up and down line to success will be the determining factor is just how far you get. If you continually become demoralized and stop the effort for a while, you have to start over again. Your inconsistency and your lack of follow through are the problem. You miss all the shots you don’t take.

It doesn’t matter if it’s school, the gym, the career, or life in general – you get back what you put in. You can’t have a 4.0 GPA without putting in the work. You don’t get the heavy lift, the corner office, or a house with a picket fence unless you work for those things.

Your attitude during the hard times is the most important piece of the success puzzle. Anyone can be positive when life is all sunshine and rainbows with unicorns dropping marshmallows around the yard. But to remain committed, focused, practicing when it gets hard is where you gain the most. When the clouds come and it sleets all over your dried out marshmallows, you need to remember that this, too, shall pass. But how YOU come out the other side is up to you.

When life is easy, work hard. When life is hard, work harder. Don’t be your own worst enemy. Be clear in what your goals are, know what you have to do in small incremental steps to reach those goals, and then comes the hard part. Do that.

Life has never been fair. It is not always easy. But you have the chance to make it more of what you want. All you have to do is make it happen. Simple. Not easy; but simple. If you don’t stop yourself, no one else can.

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I’m not sure what today’s lesson was supposed to be. All I did was go to Walmart to get a small ladle because my plastic one is partially melted. And I needed a new crap placemat/drawer liner. I didn’t really need anything. But off I went.

I was looking for a small replacement ladle when some guy was in the kitchen crap looking for … God knows what he was really looking for. He “noticed” I wasn’t wearing a wedding ring and wondered if we could go out for coffee. I told him although I didn’t wear a ring, I’ve been married for over forty years and it was all working out really good. He mused that coffee would be nice, regardless.

I left the aisle and went in search of the placemat, thinking I was away from him and then, poof, there he was again. We didn’t speak, but I noticed he kept being in weird places. I was picking up a couple shirts because I thought it would be nice to make a Valentine’s Day shirt for each granddaughter. There he was, hanging out over there. Then I had a few grocery items to pick up and there he was over there. I decided I didn’t need any other groceries and went to check out.

I did a self checkout thing because I thought it would be faster. That was dumb. He just happened to need to check out at the next register to me and mentioned again how nice it would be to get coffee. I mentioned again that I was happily married. He asked me again about maybe just meeting occasionally. I gave him my “Fuck off” look and said no and then stopped talking.

He was done checking out, I wasn’t. But he didn’t leave the store. He was putting on his jacket as I looked around. There was another guy there almost done checking out and I was going to ask him to walk me to my car, but the creepy date guy finally turned away and walked back into the store. He wasn’t really creepy until he kept insisting that coffee would be a great idea. And while coffee is always a great idea, it wasn’t a great pick up line or anything I was interested in doing with this guy.

I got my stuff into the car. I got me into the car and as soon as the door closed, it was locked. I work out. A lot. I’m pretty fit. I might have been able to take this guy, but really, that’s not why I went to the store. I just wanted a small replacement ladle (which I didn’t even get cuz they didn’t have one).

I got the car started and just started to shake. I was creeped out. I was scared. I was shook up. I wanted to feel safe again. And so, I did what any sane person would do. I called my big sister. I also kept my eyes on my rearview mirror. If a car had followed me, I was going to go to Cindy’s house and if she wasn’t home, I was hitting the golf course – where the lovely man I’ve been married to for nearly 45 years was playing golf.

Instead, my sister was able to talk to me from thousands of miles away. She made sure I was safe. She suggested, strongly, that I might have been better off asking a sales associate for some help, but it all just seemed so, I don’t know, stupid. I work out. I’m strong. I didn’t want to need any help.

But I did need my big sister. She stayed on the phone with me until I pulled into my garage. There was not another car in sight. I shut the garage door before I got out of the locked car. I got home safely.

I think what I learned is that if you need help, for the love of God, ask for it.

Thanks, Pam.

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Who are you? Not your name. But you. Who are YOU? If you could be anything, what would it be?

I’ve heard about folks who want to be like someone important. Why would you want to be a copy of someone else instead of your best version? You can’t be the best somebody else. No one else can be a better you than you can.

We are each given a unique set of abilities, gifts, trials, obstacles, and choices. What we do with these is up to us. To waste them trying to be “like” someone else is wasting the chance to be whoever you can dream yourself to be.

The philosophers of old instructed students to “Know thyself”. Only when you know who you really are can you make the most of the talents you possess. Trying to be Plato when you are Pythagoras doesn’t give the world the best of anything. Nor does trying to be Pythagoras when you are Plato. We needed both and neither needed to be a poor imitation of the other.

Develop your own sense of style. Become your own person. Follow the beat of your own drummer. Grow into your dreams. Be the inspiration for other to follow, not by copying you, but by seeing what it means to be your own person.

And if you find out you are a bit odd, go with it and call it eccentricity. Or simply being the true one of a kind person you were meant to be. So, who are you?

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What did you do today? I did nothing. I liked doing nothing. I’ve been doing too many of the things lately and so, I decided to do nothing.

Of course, I couldn’t exactly do nothing all day. I had to get food on the table, make the bed because it drives me insane if I don’t, go for a walk because it was beautiful out there, watch some Netflix and color, and play a few games.

So it wasn’t absolutely nothing. I didn’t sleep for the entire day and then hope to sleep tonight.

The big thing I did today was watch a beginner tutorial video for Inkspace. I’ve got the program on my computer and tried to figure it out by the tried and true click everywhere method and I couldn’t make it do a damn thing. So I figured I could watch a video and see if that helped. It did, but I also learned the amazing program can do much more than I thought it could and I have lots to learn about it.

Today’s foray into the unknown was play and experimentation. But eventually, I would really like to understand how to work this program. So even on a day when I technically and purposefully did nothing, I did help myself go forward with a project.

Not every day has to be filled with major undertakings. But it is good to realize that having a day of rest is also helping you to prepare for the rest of your life. We need to rest. We need the space to relax and destress and take a moment to smell the roses. We need down time.

Reading a good book in your down time can be pure entertainment or it can be educational or inspiring or even illustrative.

Taking time to recharge your batteries with friends and family is also a time-honored way to spend a weekend. Not because it is doing nothing, but because it is a way to cleanse your soul, build a stronger foundation, prepare for the week ahead.

Doing big things is great. But we can’t do big things all the time. It wouldn’t even be fun to do only the big things. But we can do something today to prepare ourselves for tomorrow, even if it is only (and it isn’t really just an ONLY) to get enough sleep. That’s something we horrendously ignore.

Use your off time wisely. Use it for your avocation. Use if to prepare yourself for the coming weeks, months, and years. Use it up. But use it wisely.

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Remember when? Remember that time when we were kids? Remember going there?

How often are we faced with those questions and we rack our brains trying to remember the requested experience? Memories aren’t forever even when our memories are good. And they are definitely not forever when disease steals our minds.

How many times have you reminisced with another person? Remember when we did that thing? And yet you both remember it vividly and differently. They remember the things, but not the same things as you do.

We tell ourselves the stories of our past and with each retelling (to ourselves or to others) we add or delete a detail or two or fifteen. Not out of malice, but out of trying to fill in the bits that aren’t really stored in our memories. We have a vague picture and fill in the blanks with “the rest of the story”.

We don’t so much lie to ourselves as improve the clarity of the story and after each retelling, it becomes more permanent in our memories, but not exactly the way it happened, just the way we retold the tale.

This is why eyewitness testimony is so sketchy. The witnesses aren’t trying to subvert anything, it’s just that our memories aren’t really cut out for storing all the details.

The best way to remember something is to tell the story, permanently, as soon as possible after the event. Even then there are going to be small differences between what happened and what you remember happening. Writing your stories down is one way to remember them. Taking pictures at the time help to record the actual story, but they are two dimensional and we live in a far richer environment.

So while the included picture is a beautiful sentiment, I can’t find much truth in it. We remember lots of things that never happened and forget (thankfully) many of the things that did.

Cherish your stories. Write them down if they are important to you. While it is important to actually live your life and not just photograph it, it might help to snap a picture or two as you go along.

Now, let’s sing together, “Thanks for the memories.”

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