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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Many years ago, I had a dear friend who was nothing at all like me. She was a Jewish liberal working toward her PhD. I was a Catholic conservative and proud owner of an associate degree. But we were friends anyway. Mostly because although on the surface we were very different, at our core we were very similar. We both cared. A lot.

We discussed everything and we often were at polar ends of the issue. However, we were both able to listen to the other person and consider her point of view. We learned a great deal from each other, neither totally abandoning her perspective on the world, but both modifying her approach.

When you listen only to people who agree with your already preconceived notions, you don’t learn a damn thing. It’s like listening to yourself talk. When you listen, really listen, to those who don’t agree with you, you have a chance to learn something new.

I am far more liberal today for having known Nancy. I owe her a debt of gratitude. Without her perspective, I might be even more rigid than I am. This would not be a good thing. Even saying this, I did not abandon my hopes and dreams for myself or the world around me, but slightly modified the approach when her perspective made more sense.

With algorithms sorting the internet to offer you what you might already like, you could be missing out on your Nancy. By only listening to the news from the source you already agree with, you might be missing out on important non confirmation bias items. The world is conspiring to make us more polarized by hiding different perspectives.

Go out of your way to find your own Nancy. Someone who will thoughtfully and lovingly offer up a different way to see the problem and offer completely different solutions. Offer your own counterpoints as a way of clarification, because presenting a cogent argument means you have to really understand what you are proposing. Reach out to see all the different ways to view a problem and all the different possible solutions.

Abraham Maslow said, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” If all you have is your own narrow perspective, you might miss some of the best answers to whatever questions you have. It is a bit scary to challenge yourself and allow other ideas to enter into your sphere. But it is well worth getting more tools in your toolbox. Listen kindly and openly. Listen to understand rather than to respond. Listen with your heart. Learn something new.

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In my last post, I was in an existential crisis with the white board. Thursday is my rest day and I did nothing, unless you count moving lots of heavy furniture from upstairs to downstairs and then all around the downstairs and then moving the no longer needed piece out to the garage. If that counts, then that’s what I did. I believe that is where the new bruise came from.

I also did my yoga practice last night even though I considered not doing it. If I’m going to do yoga every single day, then I sorta have to do yoga each and every day. Otherwise, I didn’t meet my goal. It’s very easy to talk myself out of doing the things that are difficult or simply not as fun as sitting around and coloring or playing video games. It especially difficult if the only person keeping track of me is me.

Then it was back to the gym today and I was faced with more work than I had anticipated. There was a 10 minute EMOM (every minute on the minute) of 1 clean and 2 hang power cleans. I was ready for power cleans all over and instead, the first pull from the floor was a full clean. I’m on my fourth day this week on my first full week back after nearly four weeks off. This was daunting.

Before I went on vacation, I would have done this with 52#, so I spoke with Coach Kim and decided I would use that weight and see how things went. If necessary, I could cut back to one and one or else take the full clean out and do the first move as a power clean. But by keeping the weight, I would work more towards my own goals of moving more weight at some point.

So I did that and I managed to maintain the moves until round 7. My heart rate was getting too high and another one of my goals is to not die. So I managed a scaled version for rounds 7, 8 , and 9 and then did the full squat again because my goal is that I get better some time in the future.

The WOD was three RFT of pistols, pull-ups, and double unders. I used a green band to assist with the pistols and I believe I am the first person, at least at this gym, to fall off the band. Luckily I was ass to grass on my squat so I wasn’t far from the ground when I rolled backwards off the band. It was shocking but not at all hurtful. Stunning, in fact. The problem was my foot was back to far and I corrected for that and managed the rest of the pistols without harm.

This whole exercise just made my heart rate climb and stay up and I could barely get back down to 153 before starting anything again and then ending up in the 170 to 175 range within just ten moves. It was horrifically hot and humid and stifling and uncomfortable. I wanted to quit but that wouldn’t have been the way to achieve my goal of getting better at this. So, even though it took me for damn ever, I finished in 13.58. I was exhausted, dizzy, thirsty, hot enough to melt, and too tired to even be proud of myself for not quitting – but I am now.

I want to be a strong old lady. I want to open my own jars and walk with spine straight and pace quick. I want to be able to move the furniture from upstairs to downstairs or the other way. I want to have muscles. Since these are things I want, I have to put in the very hard work to get them. #NanaCan.

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I keep trying to let go, but the reality just keeps dragging me back. I hate the white board. I’m the dumb kid in this class and when we have to post our scores, it sucks all the joy out of my hard work because when reduced to nothing more than a score, it simply sucks.

I try to remind myself I get a great workout when I show up and work hard. I’ve been trying to tell myself this week that it’s my first full week back and one workout in four weeks doesn’t keep you in any kind of shape. My legs hurt. I’ve been saying this since Monday.

I said it Tuesday at CrossFit and again at Yoga. That’s because my legs hurt. I’ve been trying to mobilize here at home. I’ve done my own private You Tube Yoga practice crap, but despite all this, my legs hurt.

And today, I was again faced with my heart rate issues that hold me back no matter how hard I work or how often I work or how much I wish it didn’t. I can’t just keep moving no matter what CrossFit thinks I should be able to do. Short breaks or quick rests aren’t enough unless I pause after each and every movement and since I’ve never tried that, I’m not really sure even that would work.

All I know is that I’m stronger than I used to be. I’m even faster and have more stamina than before. I just ask more of myself and so I basically still suck.

Putting the score on the white board doesn’t do anything for those of us at the bottom of the heap. It might, if your workout buddy can’t show up at the same time as you, be fun for the two of you to compare your scores. But no one is comparing their scores to me and if they are they should stop. I’m not in their league. I’m the old fart.

And so, again today, after working hard, I’m defeated. I cut the reps back to a master’s level in order to get a score comparable to the ones already up on the board. I’m proud of what I could manage. I just hate the whole score thing.

This is unfair to me and to anyone who coaches me because I tend to get a bit less charitable when I’m angry. That may be a bit of an understatement. I just want to be a regular CrossFit person. Instead, I’m the old person. I do amazing crap, but I can’t do all the crap expected of me by some nameless, faceless somebody out there.

I worked hard today. I cut reps to make sure I didn’t look horrible on the white board and I feel like a cheat because of it. I have no idea what to do about this. I’ve been told for years now I shouldn’t worry about the scores, but that I HAVE to put it up there. I hope by Friday I have my equilibrium back because I really hate this feeling.

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The world of service is filled with many wonderful people. They live their lives in order to make the world a better place not only for themselves, but for others. This is true of first responders. It’s also true for many others but today, I want to address some of the issues an unseasoned first responder might encounter.

You can’t save them all. That’s the toughest lesson to learn. I know this because I was a nurse for over twenty years, most of them in intensive care settings. No matter how good you are, no matter how hard you work, you simply can’t save them all. Sometimes the boo-boo is too great. You never know who is going to have the reserves to fight the good fight and recover and who will succumb, so you treat everyone like they can win the battle. But they can’t.

It hurts when you can’t save them all. We live in a world that expects miracles at every turn. Television has taught us anything can be solved in under an hour. The crisis is met head on and the hero manages to pull it off. But it doesn’t happen that way in real life and when you lose some, it’s horrible. We aren’t supposed to lose some.

But we have to lose some. There is an ebb and flow to life and it would be great if everyone could live a healthy life right up until they died suddenly and pain free on their hundredth birthday. But that’s not the way it is, nor is it the way it ever has been. There are accidents and there is always stupidity and then there is just bad luck.

In order to survive all this stuff, it is important to remember the good stories that accumulate with the years. The bad ones are going to haunt you anyway, so take the time to remember and tell yourself the good ones over and over so you can remember the ones that worked. We pass those over because we seriously always expect it to work so no big deal when it does. Except it is a big deal and you should remember you had a hand in it.

You have to protect yourself from the bad stories. Not because you are callous or shallow, but because over time, if you don’t protect yourself, you shatter into a million pieces. So there is a trick you have to learn. You have to build a shell around your heart – but just hard enough to keep it from breaking. There is room to care and still protect yourself and it is a very fine line indeed, but worth finding. If your shell becomes too thick, you can’t be effective because this line of work demands you remember each and every “victim” wasn’t a victim a few minutes earlier. They were a person, a fully functional person with all the hopes and dreams we all carry. You must treat them as people and not just as victim or patient or some distancing name. But you still have to protect your own heart.

This is probably one of the toughest things you will have to learn as you forge your way through these early days. But it is not only worth the effort, it is essential to your continued ability to serve.

Some of the stories I carry can still ruin even the best of days if I let them. I can still cry over the ones that most touched my heart thirty to forty years ago. It’s okay. I also remember there are uncounted people who are alive and well because of my efforts, too. I don’t believe I ever got too hard-hearted to actually care about each and every person who came under my care. And I also believe that although I may be a bit cynical and have some “get over it” attitude at times, I managed the balancing act.

I wish you, too, might find the tightrope that can carry you across any chasm.

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