on life, ambitions, and dreams


Posts Tagged ‘kicking ass’

My Valentine’s Day Wish for You

Happy Chinese Girl! by Beardman

Valentine’s Day reminds me of the four years I spent working at a flower shop while I was in high school. It reminds me of working late on school nights and peeling guard petals off of roses in a cold, damp, but enormously lively warehouse. It reminds me of a city cop doing parking lot control to keep the frantic lovers under control when they stopped to buy mementos of their love on the way home from work. It reminds me of endless buckets of endless buckets full of flowers that dwindled, slowly, to nothing as 9 o’clock rolled around and the shop and registers were finally quiet.

But most importantly, it reminds me of the first time that I tried a new job at work and kicked ass doing it.

Valentine’s Day reminds me of hard work and what it really mean’s to prove yourself to yourself.

So this Valentine’s Day, I wish you love and the ability to kick ass – for you. Because if there’s one thing that is for certain, it’s that you gotta love you.

Photo Credit: Beardnan

How do regular people look when they do CrossFit?

My relationship with CrossFit started over three years ago. It started before Reebok entered into a sponsorship deal with CrossFit, made it a sport, and brought it to the out of the garage and onto ESPN. It started back when there were only a few boxes in Seattle and I had no idea how to describe it to people, other than to say, “It’s CrossFit.”

It started because like most great things, a friend told me about it.

Since then I climbed a 20-foot rope for the first time in my life. Did handstands across America and Canada. Learned I have amazing mobility and one amazing overhead squat. Met some of my closest friends and tightest community through my gym. Recruited at least a dozen people into CrossFit through real-life conversations and conversations on Twitter (seriously). Injured my right shoulder. Got depressed, angry, and really frustrated about it. Finally figured out a treatment plan that worked.

Want to know the best part?

My friend, Dillan Monson, shot a video that night at the gym during the WOD, and yours truly made her first CrossFit video appearance, banded pull-ups, cleans, and jerks included.

As another CrossFit friend put it, this is how ‘regular’ people look when they do CrossFit. By that, she means people like you and specifically me, not the elite-elite athletes.

Watch it, and let me know if you spot me 🙂

Locals Gym – 2/2/12 from Dillan Monson on Vimeo.

Imbalance, Burnout & Change: 2011 Year in Review

head, shoulder, knees and toes, knees and toes - aye_shamus

There are two kinds of end of the year/New Year blog posts to write. The first is a reflection of the previous year – everything you did, everything you didn’t, what you’re proud of, and what you’re not. And the second is a laundry list of “do’s” and “don’ts” for how to make the next year rock much harder than the last.

And then there’s a third, which doesn’t reveal anything about the writer but gives you, the reader, a map of how you can stick to your resolutions for the first time ever.

Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work Out

New Year’s Resolutions are like plans – you write them for how you’re feeling (usually fat) at that time (post-holidays) for the future (that has yet to be written) – and they never work out. They look great on paper, but horrible in execution because they all lack one thing – foresight and the understanding that you have to sacrifice something to accomplish what you need (and the ability to adjust to continue the momentum).

Instead of resolutions or plans, I make goals. I did this unknowingly as I entered 2010 and consciously as I entered 2011. I met the three goals I set in 2010 but not all of the goals I set for myself in 2011. While all of this past year’s goals looked great in December 2010, by mid-2011, an imbalance between work and life happened and parts of those goals were prioritized while others were not. Plus I set too many goals.

I don’t feel like 2011 was a failure, but just plain weird. In the Christmas letter John and I sent to our family, I summarized the year as one of “change,” and by God, if that isn’t true.

2011 started with a lot of oomph, passion, and excitement as things were set in place that I had been working hard towards achieving in the previous year and a half. But I got burnt out early, outgrew that opportunity faster than I imagined, and a new opportunity revealed itself and I jumped on it. If 2011 was a shape it would look like a giant “U” with a big, deep dip in the middle.

A New Template for Plotting World Domination in 2012

Earlier this week, my husband and I spent the evening working through Benny Hsu of Get Busy Living’s 2011 Year in Review Worksheet. What I like about his template is it focuses on how the previous year ended so you can reflect on what you’re proud of, what you accomplished, what you learned, what didn’t work, and where you’d like to see yourself in the future.

Benny’s worksheet helps you see where you want to go by reviewing where you came. It’s similar to racing a car – they say that you should look at where you want the car to go, not at the wall that you don’t want to run into.

Goals, plans, and strategies are the same way – look at where you want to go, not where you don’t want to go. (more…)

When is it okay to quit?

quitter by jen collins (hellojenuine)

Two years ago in June, I walked into a CrossFit gym and started a workout with barely enough strength to lift the bar. This was embarrassing. I was not a newbie at all, but a nine-month veteran just home from three weeks away from the gym due to business travel. I was very familiar with the fact that I would not be as strong as when I left, but I wasn’t lifting any weight at all, I was just trying to lift the goddamn 35-pound bar.

Something was wrong. Something in my life beyond the gym was affecting my workout. And something needed to change.

That time I quit CrossFit

That summer my life was a mess – I was working for a manager who said I needed to do some “soul searching” to see if the job that I was doing was what I wanted to do, my husband and I were buying our first house, and I was discovering what it meant to be an “adult.”

They say that one of the main reasons why people work out is to relieve stress. But CrossFit is different; it requires concentration of your mind, body, and soul to push your body to do things that you never imagined it could. And as a friend put it, at CrossFit, you are very vulnerable. And those three things consumed all of my thoughts to the point that I could not put them aside so I could use my brain to focus on the work out at hand.

It was scary. And if you aren’t on solid ground mentally, emotionally, or physically, it makes it even worse.

And it can turn something you love into something that isn’t worth it anymore.

So I quit. I decided that I needed time away from this thing that I was growing to love. This activity that was the first and only form of working out that I ever “got.” This hobby that showed me I have damn good form and kick ass at lifting. This sport that was causing more stress that it was relieving.

The difference between quitting and failure

It’s okay to say enough is enough and put a stop to what’s not working. For me, quitting CrossFit allowed me to take one responsibility off the table so I could spend my energy on working through some really big milestones in my life. It allowed me to preserve the sanctity of CrossFit so that it would still be fresh when, or if, I decided to return.

The idea of quitting is romantic. It’s an action that many of us would like to do, but rarely act upon. And I’m not talking give-the-man-the-finger type of quitting; I’m talking about the “it’s not good for me anymore” type of quitting. The kind that slips out of your mouth over wine with a friend when you tell her about the job that you’re not into anymore or the man you’re seeing who doesn’t fulfill your life the way he used to; the kind that she’ll encourage you to get over and promise that that feeling will come back and that you’ll come out stronger than when you started.

Or, if she’s a good friend, she will tell you to listen to that feeling and just fucking do it.

I like how John Falchetto says it, quitting is a choice:

I chose to quit when there is no progress. When no matter the effort I am exerting, in whichever direction I am pushing no progress is made whatsoever. Sometimes it is easier to walk around the wall than try to push through it.

Quitting is not the same thing as failure. Failure is the act of something not working in the way that you intended it to work. Failure is an outcome, quitting is a choice. Failure is something that happens to you (or something you direct), quitting is you putting a screeching halt to something. And sometimes to prevent being run over by the train, you have to change the tracks and put up the stop sign.

And it’s okay.

Whether it’s a hobby, how you workout, your job, your lover, and even your best friend – quitting, when you know why you’re doing it, is okay.

Learning from the past

Technically this isn’t a story about quitting; it’s a story about hitting pause. Four months after I quit CrossFit, I found my way back. I resolved two of the three issues that got in my way during the summer and found a new gym. This new gym invited me to join their community and I fell back in love with CrossFit.

It wasn’t the same kind of love. This time, I know that I will have an “off” night and that things will happen at work and at home that will affect how I perform at the gym. There are nights when I will fight back tears because emotionally, I can’t find the strength to start or even finish a work out, but I will find the strength to show up. And that’s okay.

This time, the relationship is different because I am approaching it differently.

What have you quit? What did it teach you?

Photo credit: Jen Collins (hellojenuine)

Post-it Question

This post is part of the #Trust30 Challenge, a 30-day writing initiate inspired by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance” that encourages you to look within and trust yourself. To find out more about this challenge, read why I am participating or details about the pledge.

The Panorama of Patagonia, Stuck in Customs Trey Radcliff

Prompt: Post-it Question by Jenny Blake

That which each can do best, none but his Maker can teach him. Where is the master who could have taught Shakespeare? Where is the master who could have instructed Franklin, or Washington, or Bacon, or Newton? . . . Shakespeare will never be made by the study of Shakespeare. Do that which is assigned you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Identify one of your biggest challenges at the moment (ie I don’t feel passionate about my work) and turn it into a question (ie How can I do work I’m passionate about?) Write it on a post-it and put it up on your bathroom mirror or the back of your front door. After 48-hours, journal what answers came up for you and be sure to evaluate them.

Bonus: tweet or blog a photo of your post-it.

(Author: Jenny Blake)

I am interviewing interns right now and one of the questions that I like to ask them is, “How would you describe your standards for yourself?”

Interviewing interns is always an interesting process. In most cases, you are not really interviewing them for their skills and what they bring to the table, but what potential you have in bringing out their potential. Training interns is a lot like raising kids; their success is a direct reflection of who you are—as a manager or as a parent.

This is how I would describe my own standards for myself: way too [explicative] high.

I’m never satisfied with where I am. Whenever someone is impressed by the work I do or the output I have and how “much” I’ve done, it shocks me to the point of mass disbelief. Seriously. Every time I hear people get lost somewhere between an “awe” and a “whoa, you’re fucking insane” about how I wrangled over 200 authors, twice, I shrug because it was just something that I did. It was my job to do, so that’s what I did. I didn’t stop and wonder if what I was doing was too much, too little, or not enough, I just did it.

That’s how I describe my own performance standards: I either do it or I feel like I don’t do enough.

I have no idea if that sounds as positive as it should. What I mean is that my own standards are much, much higher for myself than others have of me. And therefore what makes me feel amazing is working hard towards something and then being able to see the fruits of my labor finished. Done. Complete. I like to see the results of my action.

And lately I haven’t been finishing things. I’ve felt trapped in the endless hamster wheel of—something. I’ve been at a crossroads or at the turning point of—something. But what that is I’m unsure of. Because every other moment, every other day, every other week I feel like I’m closer to finding it and then I feel like I’m not.

My biggest challenge

My biggest challenge is: I don’t feel like I’m being successful in my work (personal and professional).

My question is: How do I move mountains?

And this, of course, can be answered in the most basic and the most extravagant ways you could ever imagine.

The mountains are metaphors. The represent any decision, task, or action you want to make. They can be as small as deciding to go to the gym or as large as deciding to make a gamble with that new job. And they can change with each and every step that you take.

Moving mountains means the same thing as taming wild buffalo and slaying (or taming) dragons. It’s a turn of phrase to describe kicking ass and it’s a tune I try to sing every day.

And yet, I’m not moving mountains right now. I’m making my way towards the mountain but my wheels are stuck in the grass. The throttle is to the floor and only my wheels are spinning.

And I’m not satisfied.

My secret weapon

I move them. I remind myself of my goals and work towards them with laser-focus and no excuses. I stop talking and start do-ing. I am strong and listen to my voice. There’s a 12-step-plan somewhere and here but it starts with me taking the first breath and the first step.

This is my problem and I am the only one who has the solution.

What’s your question? And who can help you get to the answer?

Photo Credit: Stuck in Customs