When “I” is replaced with “We” even “illness” becomes “wellness.”
(a source from the internet; accredited to a million different people)
“Check on your strong friends.” This meme has been circulating on social media. It struck a nerve with me because I have seen the strong ones suffer, and dare I say even been the strong friend hoping to be checked on. The strong ones who appear to always have it figured out tend to be overlooked. Their true selves are not seen behind the facade of togetherness. But then a famous designer and a witty travel journalist cut their lives short and we take note. Success and/or fame does not equate to mental wellness. Neither does a glowing online presence.
I would like to have a large scale conversation about mental illness. As a college writing instructor and health/wellness coach, I feel that we are really missing the boat on this one. There is writing on the wall. It’s time we read it.
I was struck this week by an article explaining mental illness as the ult...
“I'm not a body with a soul, I'm a soul that has a visible part called the body.”
― Paulo Coelho, "Eleven Minutes"
I spend a large part of my life helping people strengthen and improve their physical bodies. As a CrossFit affiliate owner, we want to see all of our athletes maintain optimal levels of health. We don’t do it because we want them to look the best or have top scores on the leaderboard. We do it because life happens. Cancer, illness, death, or heartbreak show up on our doorstep, and we want everyone to be ready for battle. But the fight is not actually for our body; it is for something much greater and sacred.
As Coelho states, the body is secondary. The soul is the star of the show. We must care for our bodies in order to best protect our inner selves. There is no better way to see this relationship at work than when suddenly life happens and our bodies fail us in some way. In the moments when we choose to turn arrows into flowers, we transform our obstacles and physical limit...
I have no desire to age gracefully. I plan to age wildly.
I wrote the "On Aging" post about year ago. The message is still the same today. I have one more year to dance on the tail end of my thirties, but I plan to take my forties by storm! Seane Corn, celebrated yoga teacher and social activist, described her process of "Aging Wildly" when she turned fifty.
I look at aging as a privilege, and as I get older I truly appreciate how short our time is in these bodies, and I don’t want to take a second of this journey for granted. I am very grateful. I’m grateful for my health, my resilience, my commitment to growth and change. Grateful for my family, my yoga practice, my community, my amazing body that can do so many interesting things, and all the love I’ve been given and have been able to give in return.
Yes, I am loving every second of getting older. I feel privileged to be stronger and more resilient than I have ever been. I need my physical strength to properly house...
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
I declared February to be Love Yourself month at our CrossFit gym. My goal was simple. I wanted to take back this short span of time that our culture has traditionally relinquished to processed sugar and Cupid’s trinkets in order to replace it with something we all need - self love. “You can be your own Valentine!” I highlighted posts and inspirational quotes to promote positive self talk and self care throughout the month.
The centerpiece of this campaign came from our athletes themselves. I asked them to write something that they loved about themselves on a board. I photographed them holding their words to post on our social media pages. It sounds like an inspiring, positive endeavor to spread light and self love, right?
For the entire month of February, men and women were ducking, hiding and sprinting to their cars after class to avoid having to tell me ONE THING...
Do you remember when Oprah used to do her free car giveaway? For one of her shows, every single unsuspecting audience member received a free car. Oprah would point to the audience shouting, “YOU get a car, and YOU get a car, and YOU get a car.”
I would like to do the same thing for people in my life, except I would give away therapists.
Finding a therapist is one of the greatest gifts I have given myself in the past few years. It was a huge step in practicing self care. Several of my friends share my enthusiasm for dates with a therapist. We literally skip into our bi-weekly appointments.
“I’m going to see my therapist today.”
“YES! Have fun and let me know what you learn.”
We cannot wait to chat about our breakthroughs and epiphanies. It probably sounds like a liberal cliche for women to sit around talking about their therapy sessions, like some cheesy scene from “Sex in the City,” but we are working on the most important project of our lives— ourselves.
“...you know that a good, long session of weeping can often make you feel better, even if your circumstances have not changed one bit.”
― Lemony Snicket, The Bad Beginning
I had a precious two hour block of free time in my day. Almost every second of my life for the past few weeks had been designated to major work projects, grading, CrossFit event planning or carpooling my kids through a very busy gymnastics season. I was determined to make the most of this rare downtime.
I ran upstairs, threw on comfy pajamas, set my alarm and climbed in bed under my giant down comforter. There was absolute silence. It was perfect. So, I cried.
This scenario might sound strange, or you might feel compelled to feel sorry for me. Don’t worry. I did it on purpose.
Crying is one of the ways I have learned to practice self-care in my life. Much like the release valve on the top of my Instant Pot (if you don’t have one, you need to get one), crying has become a way to let go and reset.
Tis the season...final grades are due. I had no time to formulate my thoughts this week, but I did listen, read and collect them from everyone around me. Below you will find some of the beauty, wisdom and encouragement I gathered in between reading research papers.
Beauty from Books
“Ask her what she craved and she’d get a little frantic about things like books, the woods, music. Plants and the seasons. Also freedom.” -Charles Frazier
“In this atmosphere of heat and truth, preambles fell away and you ended up just saying the thing.” -Jennifer Egan, Manhattan Beach
Things I Heard That STUCK
“Writing is more discovery than work.” -Beth Ann Fennelly
“You have come so far.” -my therapist
“Because it is only by empathy being aroused that we change. That is the power of writing.” -Alice Walker
“You have a paintbrush which can be used to transfer your insides onto the canvas of your life - where others can see it and be inspired and comforted by it.” -Glennon Mel...
A few weeks ago, I quit in the middle of a CrossFit workout. “So, you stopped exercising? What’s the big deal?” To outsiders, this does not seem alarming. But in the seven years I have been doing CrossFit, it was a first for me. CrossFit purists would argue that you always finish. “You are stronger than you think you are!” “It won’t get easier, you just get better!” We cheer everyone on to the finish. A community is forged. Those who suffer together stay together. Quitting would be taking the easy road, and there are no easy roads in the real world.
Still, I quit. I completed three of the five rounds before calling the coach, in this case my husband, over to break the news.
“I think I am done for today.”
“Are you okay?” he asked with genuine concern. His first thought was that I must be hurt.
“Yeah, I have a busy day and can’t completely exhaust myself here. I got what I needed.”
He squeezed my shoulder and whispered, “I’m proud of you.”
I sat on the floor and cheered on my fellow athletes....
"I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship."
-Louisa May Alcott
I went on a walk with a close family friend last week. We are incredibly grateful for the way she has acted like a grandmother to my kids, who are missing that presence in their lives. She is a financial planner by trade and also happens to be a straight shooter. We never wonder what she is thinking. While on our walk, we discussed my mom’s situation.
Friend: Did anyone else in your family have it [Alzheimer’s]?
Me: Yes. Mom’s parents had it.
Friend: BOTH of them!?!
Friend: Well, listen, when you turn 40, you need to invest in some good long-term care insurance.
I smiled. Her frank nature is endearing and comes from a place of concern and love. I respect and appreciate her honesty even if this news would sadden most people.
It happens quite frequently. The topic of Alzheimer’s pops up around every corner. Many people squirm and shift awkwardly trying to avoid the conversation around me. Others want...
Last week, we had a scale at our CrossFit gym. We were filling sandbags and needed exact weights. It did not take long for the scale to become the center of attention.
“Why is THAT here?”
“I’m NOT getting on that thing!!”
Almost every woman who entered the front door cringed when she saw it. One simple, metal square with a tiny flashing screen was terrorizing the entire community.
I had several conversations that week about perspective. We do not encourage our CrossFit athletes to use the scale to measure their success. Muscle mass outweighs body fat; oftentimes, our athletes might not show progress on the scales to match their actual physical transformation. Paying attention to performance, body measurements and BMI can be much more accurate reflections of physical progress. Most people start to feel better and lose puffiness and inflammation when they clean up their nutrition. Their bodies tone up and body proportions shift. The changes can be dramatic.