I like to win. I don’t know if that makes me a bad sport or not, but it is the truth. Winning is better than losing. I like to win.

So how does one define winning? I belong to a writers’ forum and we have a thread entitled “the last person to post here wins” and I have won it probably at least a thousand times. And then I lose the win and someone else holds the title and we banter back and forth and each takes our turn on the podium, waving the blue/red ribbon and holding our trophy. Until the next person strips it all away.

That’s a fun place to win and I love the wit and abilities of many of those who play the game with me. But in reality, I’m talking about something a bit more substantial. How do we win life?

There is a saying, “He who dies with the most toys, wins” and that seems to be how the Western or First World looks at success and/or winning. But I believe it is in error.

Kim Jong-un seems like an entirely unhappy and paranoid idiot. He seems to not only own a country and their military machine, but had taken to nuking the Pacific Ocean with pent up rage for years now. He doesn’t seem to be a winner to me, just a sad little man who would like to be praised, loved, accepted. He is not any of those things, even under pain of death.

Maybe winning isn’t in possessions but in moments. And we each have access to so many moments. They are zipping past us all the time and all we need do is pluck one and win.

Maybe it is the moment you open your eyes in the morning and realize you are alive in an amazing world. Or maybe it is when the coffee is done brewing and includes the first sip.

Maybe winning is noticing a butterfly, perfect rose, or sunset. These moments are often cited as something special not because they are rare, but because we so often fail to notice them. Life is full of abundance. The wonder of nature, the mystery of the universe, the creativity of mankind.

We live in such a world, filled with so many precious things, we forget to take notice. When was the last time you were thankful for cool, refreshing water? We walk into the kitchen and grab a clean glass, go to the sink, turn the tap, and voila – fresh water. This isn’t true everywhere. This basic need is a problem in many parts of the world. Some people are literally dying for clean water.

Maybe winning is meeting life head on. Taking chances and either getting a hit or a miss, but learning in the process and going forward to either try again or having learned it isn’t something you need to experience ever again. This would be like meeting an alligator. I am willing to never do that again, but since I did and survived, there is a frission of thrill involved in the thought.

Maybe winning isn’t getting the scholarship, the award, coming in first. Maybe it is stopping along the way to help those less fortunate. Maybe it is being rich enough to be able to give of your time or talents to help others. Maybe, just maybe, winning is simply making the world a better place and leaving behind a trail of kindness.

As my mother used to say, over and over again, “Be nice” and that may have been the best advice I’ve ever been given. I believe that is truly how to win.

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I posted a picture of me doing a head stand on Facebook. I got some comments from people who simply “couldn’t” do that. These are accomplished people who do many amazing things. One of them has recently taken up deep sea diving. That would freak me out. Literally. I would panic.

I used to be an OR nurse. Before that I was an ICU/CCU nurse and I began my career as a Med/Surg nurse, the normal floor of hospitals. I’ve had many people, including other nurses, tell me they couldn’t work where I worked. ICU was too chaotic. CCU was too many codes. OR was just too much on many levels. That was my favorite job which is why I stayed with it the longest.

No matter the arena, each of us has a preference and an area where we are willing to work for mastery. Something within that niche speaks to us. For Michelle it is diving; for me it is CrossFit. My friend worked ER all her life and I couldn’t have stood that. I don’t mind crisis nursing, but I need a few minutes to prepare for my crisis, so critical care gave me a chance to get ready and OR meant not only me, but the entire team had time to prepare. Mim loved ER.

Over the years I have come to appreciate that we each can shine in our own place. Don’t throw me into the place meant for someone else and expect me to radiate. I will succeed best when I’m in the spot that speaks to my talents and my tastes. Sometimes, maybe most of the time, it is my tastes that dictate my talents. I got really good at running codes because I practiced them way too often. But I had to have the inner strength and belief in my ability to get through the first one.

And so, in my long life I’ve had many successes. And as is my usual routine, I whiz past that shit without more than a passing nod and set up a new goal which is out of reach – at least in the moment.

That’s a problem. I’ve refused to sit still and savor my successes. Sure I saved lives and conquered disease, but there were still sick and injured people galore and so there was more to do.

I’ve successfully written and published things and even gotten paid for it. I have stories in anthologies. I have contributed to many different venues. I first wrote publicly many years ago when my stuff was placed in the Landen Living Magazine because I was the contributing editor for Montgomery Hills. I’ve done a lot of writing since.

I know how to sew and made many of my own clothes as well as clothes for the kids. I know how to crochet and my knitting isn’t as good, but it is passable. I am able to create things out of raw materials.

And I lift weights. Today’s WOD was a bazillion cleans in ten minutes with increasing load. Ready, set, go … how many can you get?

I did it. I began with my original deadlift weight and did 30 cleans with that weight. I added more to the bar and got 30 more cleans at that weight. I added more to the bar as the clock ran down and got a few more.

I was cleaning more than I could originally deadlift. Yesterday was a bunch of deadlifts. I remember when I started thinking that someday I might be able to lift 100#. I zoomed past that long ago. I don’t remember taking time to celebrate my success. All I remember is wanting more. Yesterday, my lighter and more rep count weight was 133# which would have seemed impossibly ludicrous when I started. Today, my goal for a deadlift is 175# and I would really like to get past 200#.

But will I remember to celebrate when I hit that mark? My 80% strict press today was 42# (my original deadlift weight). I should savor that sweet success. I earned it. Instead, I mostly tell myself I “should” have more on the bar.

I’ve succeeded my way through a fabulous life. And with each success, I’ve zoomed right past the moment and only looked towards the next obstacle to clear. I need to savor the moment of sweet, sweet success. I’ve earned it.

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I am competitive. My baby sister just read that and said in a very sarcastic tone, “Ya think?”

Yes, I think so. I enjoy winning. Always. Set up a contest and I want to win it. There doesn’t have to be a prize, I just want to win. I want to be the best, not just the best me I can be, but the actual best. It is disheartening how often I fail at that, but it does keep me striving.

My biggest obstacle for CrossFit is how pitiful I am. Putting thing on the white board is often embarrassing. I’m supposed to feel good about the fact that I at least showed up. And I am. It is really hard to show up so many times a week – especially when the numbers on the white board are so crappy. Day after day, week after week, month after month. They are crappy numbers. They are much better numbers than they were before which is the only thing anyone can hope for and why I keep going back.

When I saw the invitation to a dinner party in the midst of this WLC, my first reaction was to just decline. I didn’t have to do this. But I enjoy spending an evening with our friends. This is the Whole LIFE Challenge, not a death sentence. It is supposed to show me how to have a better, more balanced, life. I am not supposed to hide. Health shouldn’t be something you tack on to the remainder of your day, but the foundation for the rest of your longer, healthier, stronger, fitter, more able life.

So after a few moments of stark terror and perhaps even getting misty eyed, I took a deep breath and opted to go. I knew I would be losing a point or two, but what the hell. Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed and this was going to be enjoyable.

I brought along fruit with homemade complaint (at beginner level) dips and figured it was a way to avoid what I knew would be tempting, tasty treats. It worked. We were served chicken Marsala with a pasta side and a salad. So I took a hit on the pasta. It was the first pasta I have had in six weeks and it was fabulous. So was the chicken. The salad was safe. I stayed away from the bread.

Steve brought some stuffed tomatoes that looked great and everyone said were wonderful. They had three different kinds of cheese and bread crumbs for the stuffing along with I don’t remember what else. But they would have been another point. Maybe next time.

Chris made something called potato candy which was mashed potatoes with confectioners sugar and other stuff in there squished between two graham crackers and topped with chocolate. I’m not sure about them no matter what. I don’t like mashed potatoes at all, ever. But I would probably have tried a bite.

The hardest thing to stay away from was Dianne’s tiramisu. It looked like it wanted me to take a slice and enjoy the moment. I could have. I have extra bonus points. It wouldn’t have killed me. But the deal I made with myself was fruit for dessert because I could. The only person I would have cheated was myself – the only person who really matters.

I made a promise to myself to not talk about either CrossFit or the Whole Life Challenge and this stupid diet and its dumb restrictions. But I couldn’t manage to keep my mouth shut. Everyone was kind and didn’t try to encourage me to eat outside my dietary restrictions and I was truly grateful. I got asked some quite lucid questions and I did my best to answer them.

I believe strongly in this health stuff I’m doing. I want to continue with some – but certainly not all – of the dietary stuff when this is over. I am totally astounded every time I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror. I’ve only lost between 15 and 20 pounds over the course of an entire year with just five in the last few weeks. But the packaging is so totally different.

All the hard work shows in what I look like now. But that is only the superficial part. I am stronger. I am more flexible. I am more balanced. I have more stamina. I am faster. Even my heart rate is better. I’m even more confident, which is probably something I didn’t need.

In fact, I’m winning at my life. This is the best me I can be at this age. I’m not the same as I was when I was playing racquetball as obsessively as I am now doing CrossFit. I was much younger back then. But I don’t shy away from stuff like I did a year ago. I’m still old and I don’t ever have a chance to forget that. But I am one strong, powerful, bitchin’ ass old broad. I’m totally rocking this old fart thing.

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