Monday, June 9, 2008

CrossFit makes me ponder life's big questions and consider a leap of faith...

I'm going to be honest. This post will be long, and it may be one of those things that you have to read in it's entirety before it makes much sense. So, if you feel a little sleepy, maybe grab a coffee, and settle in for a minute.

We all have our own perspectives, our own views on life. Until recently, with regards to the whole destiny/fate vs. making our own destiny debate I've always kind of been one for thinking that we make our own destiny. I've always thought that working hard would bring the results that you wanted. In most cases of course. Obviously there will be times when you work hard and will not get the desired results, but I was always a believer that hard work would see you through, and you could create whatever destiny you wanted to create. I never really believed that there was a series of wheels already set in motion that would create your life for you. I always thought that was a load of bull that people created when they didn't want to take responsibility for things.

I have to say that lately, CrossFit is making me question my own thoughts. I know it sounds a little wonky, but hear me out. I can't help but feel lately like there is a series of events in my life in motion that I cannot control, all sort of revolving around CrossFit. Had it not been for my interaction with Bobbby, I never would have found Jerry. Had I not found Jerry, I never would have made friends with some of the most awesome people in the world. Had I not met Jerry and these people, I never would have started this blog. Had I not started this blog, I never would have had reason to write any of these stories down. Had I not written this blog, I never would have gotten on a plane and flown to Chicago. Had I not written this blog, I never would have run a 5k. Had I not written this blog, I would not have had the opportunity to interact with all the people who have found me.

I feel right now that CrossFit is taking my life in a new direction. I feel as if I'm in a boat on a river, and CrossFit is the current, taking me somewhere downstream. I'm not really sure where it's taking me, but it's becoming a very exciting ride. Everyday I wake up jazzed for the workouts, and even though I usually feel really terrible during (and after) the workouts, I can't imagine CrossFit not being in my life at the moment. It feels as if through hard work I did create some of my own destiny, but at the same time, it feels as if things are just happening for a reason.

This reasoning, these happenings, have caused me to start to examine other things. This is where the whole leap of faith idea comes in. How do you describe a leap of faith? Well, I describe it as jumping into something and having faith that everything will work out well in the end. People take leaps of faith all the time. We trust in a relationship that if we take the leap of faith and tell someone we love them, they'll say it back. We take the leap of faith that the decisions we make in our jobs are the right ones and will be the best for our company, client, etc. We make the leap of faith with our workout programs. We jump and have faith that our work will produce results. We take leaps of faith when we gamble, hoping that the outcome will be better for us than the house. We have leaps of faith when we leave one job, and trust that the next will be better.

Last summer, I took a leap of faith. I left one school for another and had to trust that my decision was the right one for me. My leap was a good one. My new school has a lot to offer their students, and truly has been a great place for me, even if the year has been less than perfect. However, I'm wondering, if it is time to take another leap of faith. A wise man once said that when you cease to enjoy your work, it is time to stop doing it. I'm not 100% sure I enjoy teaching anymore. The feelings that I used to have about making a difference and getting kids to love reading and learning are gone. I feel more like an underpaid babysitter than someone who actually makes a difference in anyone's life. Amnongst tests, and grading, and IEP's, and lesson plans, and spending all my own money in the classroom, and spending 10 hours a day at school, those feelings have disappeared. The feeling of dread in the mornings that has replaced it is sometimes is like a lead weight vest. But, BUT, when I get up in the mornings to go to CrossFit, it's different. There is an excitement there, an energy. I feel like Jerry has given me some wicked cold that I just can't shake. Not that I want to, but I'm trying to make you understand that it's not something that goes away. I may not always LOOK like I have energy first thing at 0600 (cause let's face it, sometimes it's a miracle my eyes are actually open) but I do.

It just makes me wonder, why isn't teaching this way anymore? Shouldn't it be? I should love it, but since I don't, is it time to make a leap and figure out what I should do? The question was raised several times in Chicago about me doing a cert. The thought has crossed my mind, I've indicated interest several times. But I've had some ponderings about making CrossFit more than just a hobby. Sometimes (certainly not always) with this blog and with my words, I feel like I can and do make a difference to people. Not a huge one, but sometimes words can be your enemy, and sometimes they can be your friend. I feel like sometimes my words are people's friends. They help them to understand, or just to get over the hump of a bad day.

I wonder if I would be a good trainer should I make that leap. I would have MUCH to learn if I ever wanted to be 1/10 as good as Jerry, or even Andrea and Chris, and Adrienne, and the other CF'ers who have gone to certs. But part of me thinks I might be good at it. I've tried to answer the question as to why people find my blog interesting, and the conclusion that I've come to, is that I think I'm relatable. I'm not a firebreather. I'm not a wringer. I'm normal. I'm average, and people can relate to that. They can relate to my weight struggles... they can relate to my struggles with our workouts. It makes sense. I question whether or not that would then make them trust me as a trainer. It would be a long road... it would have to be a long term goal.... it's not something that I could change over night... but should I, dare I leap?

My grandfather used to be a teacher. When he discovered that both my middle sister and I were going to be teachers, he was tickled pink. Some of his most fond memories are of the FFA kids he used to teach back in the day. He taught agriculture because he loved to farm, and he loved plants. And he has told me hundreds of times that I'm preparing my students for a 75 year journey. But, even though those are some of his fondest memories, he didn't teach to retirement. He left and went to insurance, and eventually real estate. He realized that there were other things he loved doing. And plants, oh heavens. My grandfather is currently in not so hot of health, but until his recent issues, he could tell you anything you wanted to know. He's a stubborn man, but a smart one. He realized that it's not a failure to switch jobs and do something else. I think part of the reason I fear leaving teaching is because I've always been someone who felt that whatever you went to college for, that's what you needed to do for the rest of your life. But I don't want to run a rat race for the next 50 years. I want to be happy. But happiness sometimes involves risk right? So how do you know when you should take the risk? When do you know that a leap of faith is necessary? How do you know that the faith part won't fail you? Do you ever really know?

These are all of course just some more of my mindless ramblings... but any thoughts are always appreciated...

Real success is finding your lifework in the work that you love.~David McCullough


Tami said...

Ah, the leap of faith. It wasn't so long ago I took my own leap. I was working as a graphic designer for a printing company and I absolutely hated it. I had the same feeling every morning getting ready for work, like a huge weight on my shoulders, dread, anger... I don't want to be overly dramatic, but looking back I'm pretty sure I was close to a nervous breakdown. I was completely burned out.

Then my dad passed away suddenly and my life turned upside down. Suddenly things looked quite different. I quit my job and started my own freelance design company. Believe me, the last two weeks before I was finally on my own were the most terrifying of my life. I wondered if I was doing the right thing, if I was going to fail and end up sleeping on the street in a cardboard box somewhere.

That was over three years ago and now I can say for sure I made the right decision. I don't make as much money as I used to, but I've more than made up for it in happiness. Sometimes what the world defines as success is not success at all.

My dad was an eternal optimist. His famous saying was "Don't worry, it will be ok." He used to say that no matter how dire the situation. And it usually is ok. You might go through some bad stuff along the way, but in the end it usually works out.

Besides, who's to say you can't go back to teaching? Maybe you need to take a step back and get some perspective, or maybe try something else for a while. It's a big world, and it's full of possibilities.

Katie said...

Tami, thanks so much for your thoughts. I feel kind of like I'm at a crossroads these days. I have one more year for sure here, but after that... the future is wide open. Just not sure if I should take the leap.

georgia said...

"I've always been someone who felt that whatever you went to college for, that's what you needed to do for the rest of your life." WHAT??? Seriously. WHAT THE???

You absolutely cannot sentence yourself to one path in life based on a decision you made at 18 years old. Personally, I don't think most people (self, included) have/had any business going straight from HS to college. There's too much in the world to explore before spending buckets of moolah on an education that most of us won't actually "use". Hello, geography major? (not picking on geo majors, folks...just an example)

Anyway, you and I are incredibly different. I admire your ability to think through your moves and plot your course because I tend to quickly look for rocks below and then jump. So, I'm going to encourage you to take the leap. Sometimes it's like bungie jumping...things don't work out and ya bounce back up to square one. Sometimes it's skydiving and the first shoot doesn't open but the second one, phew, opens just in time. And still other times it's like a flying squirrel who makes it to the next branch. :) My real point is that there is no point to living this life if you don't take chances. You have an incredible skill set, teaching AND you have years of expereience in the restaurant/bar industry. You absolutely will not starve or be unable to pay your bills because you can always rely/fall back on these two things. So, TAKE THE LEAP!!! Wouldn't you rather say that you tried and failed than never tried at all? Don't be afraid of trying and failing...failure is the best adventure there is!

Also, remember what I told you in Chicago -- you've coached before so you have the eye for form, you have the drive/passion/dedication, you understand how to teach, and you are relatable which will be appealing to many.

Tami - I'm very sorry to hear about your father passing. Strangely enough, my father was similar to yours in his sayings. He used to tell me that no matter what, life will always bottom out on you but you are guaranteed to see the top of the mountain again, if you just hold on. It's a never give up mentality, just like Crossfit. Now, I bet you've got Wilson Phillips stuck in your head, don't you? "hold on for one more day...things are gonna change...hold on for one more day"

Katie said...

Georgia, as always you give me a fresh perspective on things. That's one thing I love about you! :) Just one... there are a whole bunch more!! :) But dagnabit you know have Wilson Philips stuck in my head... and yes I do know most of the words.... ;)

Splint Chesthair said...

I coach a Challenger Division Little League team (for kids with disabilities). A few games ago one of the girls caught a high fly ball while playing shortstop and I literally jumped up and cheered and so did everyone else. She had the biggest smile on her face.

I'd trade every single rewarding aspect from my job over the last 10 years for one more of those. If you get a chance to have a lot of those in your work, you're a lucky person.

Katie said...

Splint, I used to feel that way about teaching. I don't anymore. I don't know if it's just the classes I've had that have just sucked it out of me and the next year will be better, or if I really just need to walk away from this.... the problem is I don't know how to figure it out.

P.T. said...

If you believe that whatever decision you make is the right one then it will be.

To go along with the river analogy. Going with the current of the river doesn't mean you can't steer a little. Even when the current is strong you still have control over where your going.

Things happened in my life over the past year that have made me reexamine what is really important to me. I had been unhappy with my job so I looked for a new one. As a result my employer ended up addressing my issues and now I'm a lot happier. If I hadn't taken that step I would still be unhappy with my job.

Ask yourself which is worse failure or regret.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men
as a whole experience it.
Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.
Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.
To keep our faces toward change and
behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.

Helen Keller

Katie said...

PT, thanks for stopping by and sharing your story. You're right, being afraid is no better than trying and failing. In fact, I'd have to say it's worse. But when it comes to money matters, I'm always leary. Especially since I blew so much money on my college education. :( The river analogy is also spot on. I do have some control, but for now, I'm content to sit with the paddle in my lap and watch the scenery flow by. Right now, the pace is ok and I feel like I'm going in the right direction. At some point, I may hit a fork and have to steer. I feel that is probably coming in the near future, but for now, I'm enjoying the ride.

P.T. said...

I know where you're coming from on money spent on education. My degree is in kinesiology. I spent a few years working as a personal trainer, before I realized that it wasn't for me. I went back and got an associates degree and now I work in IT. Having the degree, regardless of what it's in is worth it.

Of course now, because of Crossfit and Kettlebells specifically, I'm thinking of getting back into training. I'm doing the Crossfit Kettlebell Cert in Gaithersburg later this month. I've had a positive experience and I want to share that with others.

You're right about enjoying the ride. I think most people spend too much time worrying about the future and miss what's going on right in front of them.

Thank you for sharing too. Keep up the great work.

Katie said...

PT, you're a local! Awesome! I always love to hear about people in this area who CrossFit. I understand wholeheartedly having a great experience with CrossFit and wanting to share it. That's what half of my blogs are about. If you love kettlebells and CrossFit, I'd encourage you to get back into it. It sounds like you have something worth sharing too!

PT, if you don't mind me asking, do you work out on your own, or do you affiliate?

Bryan in Cleburne said...

I think I'm getting old. My ramblings are probably at some point going to include the phrase "you're only 26." I'm 42(so I'm not exactly geriatric myself), and am a recovering lawyer. I practiced for about 2 1/2 years; a very unpleasant time for me. My life began when I let go of the label "I'm a lawyer" that came from my schooling, my degree and the culture of that profession. It was surprisingly hard to do, and was an action considered downright traiterous by some. My wife's grandfather couldn't understand why I would get the degree and all, and not spend the rest of my life doing that for a living. My wife, however is happy I finally started to listen to her nudgings.

You're only 26. You're way too young to feel like you're stuck by a prior direction (or college major). Like a prior poster, you may be able to fix your situation without a change in profession. Or, you may need to go ahead and take the leap of faith. You're young enough to adapt and grow (and learn) from the experience if it doesn't work out.

Have you considered that you may be uniquely qualified to become the world's greatest Crossfit Kids trainer? Just an aside thought. You might be able to pursue your Crossfit passion, and simultaneously rekindle part of what drew you to teaching/working with kids.

There's more to my story than I can put into a Comments post. I'll leave you with this: Never be resigned to feeling stuck. A crossfitter knows that that's no way to live.

Laura said...

Katie...we can make plans and prepare all we want but none of us know where life is going to lead. I thought I'd be out of the Air Force after four years. It's now over 20, I'm on my 8th assignment, I've travelled all over the world (some for fun, some for the opportunity to live in a tent in the desert) and I have friends scattered all over.
During this time I've had some outrageous highs, soul numbing lows and lots of fun and laughs. I still don't know where life is going to lead but I trust that hard work, a little planning and good friends will make it an adventure.
Trust yourself and you'll figure out what path to take next. Maybe it will be something to do with coaching. Lord knows I wouldn't have made it thru "Extreme Bullfit" on Sunday without your help.
Remember, it isn't the places you live or the jobs you do but rather the people you have the pleasure to know that makes life worthwhile.

P.T. said...

I'm located in Mechanicsburg,PA. No affiliates close by yet so I work out alone. When I started working out again back in November I wanted to find a place that would let me train how I wanted. I was into powerlifting so I wanted a place that wouldn't mind if I used chalk. Luckily I found a place that not only allowed it, but also had bumperplates and kettlebells.
I started Crossfiting in January and after a little while noticed some other folks at the gym doing the same workouts as me. I still train alone,mostly because of my schedule, but it's nice to chat with them about training now an then.

The Kettlebell Cert was the closest one I could find so if decided to give it a go. My sister is in Alexandria so I figured I could stay with her that weekend and just drive up to Gaithersburg for the cert.

And, Yes I am trying to get her into Crossfit.

Katie said...

Bryan, you are only as old as you feel. And if you're doing CrossFit, you can't feel nearly that old... ;) Thank you for taking the time to share your story with me. That's an amazing story. I know law school can be demanding and expensive, and to walk away... wow. That takes guts. I have to admit the idea of CrossFit kids did cross my mind... but again... logistics are all the problem at the moment... luckily I'll only be working one job this summer as opposed to my usual 2-3 and I will have lots of time for logistics. I def appreciate your thoughts and you stopping by to read. Thanks Bryan!

Laura, thanks for sharing your thoughts too. I'm still amazed at how awesome you are! Moving around the world and doing all these things... you certainly do rock. And you're right about the people. You're one of the ones I look forward to seeing when I get in the blue room. The people make it better.... I hope they stick with me while I get through some of this....

PT- AHA! I knew it! A PA boy! :) PT, I'm originally from Central Pa. I love the Steelers and Penn State. Would you know what I was talking about if I said I went to Elizabethtown? Just on the other side of the 'burg from you... ;) I mistakenly thought you were living in Gaithersburg... so you're not entirely local... but not really all that far away really... :) While you're in Gaithersburg, you should come visit us at CFOT... BTW PT... ever considered opening the first affiliate around there? Lord knows that area needs one... ;)

georgia said...

Katie - Sometimes "walking away" means "turning towards". Not a sermon, just a thought. ;)

Katie said...

Georgia... yet again another good point... :)

Robin said...

Katie, I'm here in the library, and when I saw your fish picture I burst out laughing! (shhh, quiet!) But as I read your blog I wondered 'Why can't she see what others see?'

I look up to you during the workouts. Your form, strength, and speed during the workouts are 'Above Average' in my book. You make 65 - 85 lb front squats look like childs play.

And not everyone can write words to inspire others with their truth, honesty, and vulnerability. All I can say is that I'm inspired. I think it takes guts and courage to put words to paper the way you do. In my book, that's a leap and a gift worth taking.

Katie said...

Robin, those were some wonderful words. You did a very nice job of putting them on paper. Thank you.

Tanya said...

I did my 1st career change at 25. Best thing I ever did. Left the healthcare industry and went into teaching.

Note I said 1st career change. Meaning that teaching isn't the end all be all for me either. Just what fits for now.

Take the plunge. Now is the time before you buy a house and get married and all that junk. Not that you can't do it at that time but...

and its also the end of the school year which is a uniquely trying time in our lives. And you teach 3rd grade which is kinda suicidal if you ask me. Lots of boogers and whining. YUKKY! That would make me quit for sure.
And...I miss u too! I've been busy and not doing much else besides work and packing. Moving rooms next year!

Katie said...

Tanya, I didn't know that you did something before teaching. I thought you had always been a teacher. Thanks for sharing that with me. It makes me feel not so alone in this...

I will wholeheartedly admit that the 3rd graders are driving me nuts... get me to Friday pleeeeeeease! I'm sorry to hear that you are insanely busy packing. I had to move classrooms before I decided to move schools last year so I definitely understand. At least you don't have to move schools and therefore move all your stuff. That's rough. Keep your chin up... the end is in sight! :) Hooray! :)

Kurt T. Fuller said...

Katie -

I agree whole-heartedly with this post. About 4 weeks ago I told my gym manager that I would quite my day job to work at his affiliate. CrossFit has done THAT much to me.

And you alluded to your grandad within your post. My grandad always told me to do what you find satisfying, and if you put your mind to anything, you can accomplish it.

That is, by far, the best advice I've ever heard.

And your post, by far, exemplifies the CrossFit mentality. If you give up on yourself, so will everyone else.

Jerry said...

dude, screw life's big questions...

since you were linked on cf affiliate blog and i'm on your blogroll, i had a record number of hits today.

THAT is what's important in life.

Katie said...

Kurt, thanks for adding in your thoughts. I think I've found a way to make me happy and get my feet wet with CrossFit. It's going to be a long term goal, but it seems possible. I'm trying very hard not to give up on myself, but taking those leaps of faith to find true happiness, sometimes mean letting go of things like financial security, which can be very frightening. I'm glad to know though that someone else has been so profoundly affected by CrossFit that they want to do a similar thing. Thank you for sharing. Keep Jerry in line out there and keep working hard! You WOD's are looking great!

Katie said...

Jerry, I'm glad that I was able to make your day.... you are now cool by association! ;)

Cara said...

Damnit - I need to keep up with your blog entries - so many people beat me to commenting and took the words out of my mouth!

I think you'd make a wonderful coach - you've coached before, plus you have training as a teacher - and isn't that what coaching is all about? Teaching people? And motivating them, of course, but you have that down pat :-) Just take it one step at a time - and then when you're ready, leap to a location that's begging for a Crossfit affiliate - there are plenty to choose from!

Katie said...

I don't know if I was necessarily thinking of starting my own affiliate Cara, but I'd definitely like to be certified and work for someone. I would really enjoy that....

Brad said...

Flip a coin. If you are happy with the results, then that's your choice. If you aren't happy with the results, then the losing option is your choice.

Devil's advocate: it's possible that crossfit training will feel like teaching once it's your job. I've read posts about this from people who have affiliated advising people who are curious about affiliating - the advice is that it might feel like work and not like working out.
End Devil's advocate.

I would not last for 5 seconds in today's public school system. Going from the University level to the Community College has been kinda rough for me. At the University level I could tell a student what they needed to hear without too much padding. I now have to do a lot of butt covering and documenting. This gets in the way of teaching. The "embrace the suck" philosophy of CF is alluring to me as a teacher. I have told students who say things like "I've done all of my homework and been to a tutor for help, but I still can't make an A" in a Calculus class that they might consider lowering their standards or changing majors (and have gotten in serious trouble for it.) This attitude I have works well with the fitness world and, in my opinion, with crossfit. "But Coach, crossfit won't work for me..." gets a "Well then do something else..."

My advice - check the depth of the water before you dive or you might break your neck. Do it part time. See how it feels. You'll know more by then. That's not fear - it's wisdom.

On a side note - p.t. I am in Tuscumbia, AL - 4 blocks from "Ivy Green." I like the Helen Keller quote.

Katie said...

Brad, I wasn't so much thinking of leaping without a chute. I would really like to get my cert and then do some training and continue teaching at least for another year or two, before I make any life altering decisions. I would really like to work under someone for awhile and learn as much as I can before I attempt anything where I am the sole proprietor of the venture. Does that make sense? I think I would really enjoy it if CrossFit were more than just a hobby for me.

Brad said...

We're in the same boat then. I am still training a client. I am going to affiliate, get a few more clients and see what happens. Definitely go for the cert Katie - it was an amazing experience. I want to do a barbell or oly cert next, then crossfit kids...