Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Living, for time

If you've been a long time reader (truth I'm not sure those exist anymore after my long hiatus) you've probably noticed a little bit more of a serious tone on my blog for awhile. I'm not sure what happened exactly, but somewhere along the line, I think I may have grown up a bit. Is this what happens when you hit 30? Don't get me wrong, I still love glitter (ooh! Shiny things!), loud music, heavy weights over my head, and inventing my own words. But my desire to blog about shiny things every day has diminished, if that makes sense.  

As I've gotten older, I've changed. Most recently, I've changed careers. And if you ask me point blank why I've changed careers, the answer is not as cut and dry as you might think. Yes, it was ultimately because I wasn't happy, but it was a lot more than that. It's a complex tirade (which for now I'll spare you from) that would include the phrase "living, for time". As CrossFitters, everything is about AMRAP and FT! We're competitive little buggers, and sometimes that competitive tendency spills out into the rest of our lives. One of the reasons that I quit my job, and my career, is because I was tired of living life, for time. 

Everyday I had to have conversations with myself. "At what time do I need to be up if I'm going to get to the gym? I need 15 minutes drive time, and is my bag already packed? Ok, no, then I need 15 minutes to get mobile and pack. Ok, oh shit wait. Today I go to Dogfish after school. Ok, I need to pack that bag too. Let's back up the alarm another 15 minutes. " Later in the day, "Ok, at what time do I need to be out of school to make it to Dogfish on time? I need to be there by 5, so I need to leave no later than 4:15." "Oh, I have to work this weekend, where can I cram in running to the store and getting over to the dry cleaners to get my choir dress done." "Oh and crap, I said I would meet ____ (insert name here) for coffee this week. Where can I do that?"  

That was my life. It was for time. How much time do I need? What's my work load? I have to complete these tasks under my time cap because I've got to move onto the next task, and if there's not enough time in the time cap, we just need to move faster. I was constantly moving through my life at a break neck pace. Constantly doing everything quickly. Now, I know I live in DC and it seems that everyone is always moving fast, but life isn't meant to be lived "for time". I shouldn't be rushing through things on a daily basis. I should be able to take some time to slow down and smell the roses so to speak. And with my old job, I couldn't. I simply couldn't. I was tired, and I didn't want to live my life "for time" anymore.  

Yesterday's wod hit me pretty hard today (HELLO walking lunges with 130 on the bar.... ooops) and I thought, today would be a great day to not fall asleep on the couch after work and get in a recovery wod of sorts on the bike. So I put TT on the back off my car and away we went. Oh, how rude, I'm sorry. I don't think you've met TT. Here she is!

While I was on the bike tonight doing my "recovery" wod, I caught myself trying to pedal faster, and hurry up. Why? I have no flipping idea. The purpose was to ride slow, let my legs loosen up, get the lactic out. But no, next thing I knew, here we were. Going for a "for time" kind of bike ride. So you know what I did? I stopped. I stopped because I need to remind myself that this isn't how life is supposed to be. Life isn't a "for time" type of wod. I pulled off the trail, and looked around. And you know what I saw? Beauty. The sun was setting and filtering through the trees, which by the way did I mention that they were next to the Potomac? Rowers were out on the water, and a huge flock of Canadian Geese were busy eating and pooping on everything! (Ok, the pooping part isn't beautiful, but they totally were.) And of course, in the background were the monuments. With a small turn to my left or right, I was within plain sight of the Kennedy Center, the Lincoln Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, and also the Washington Monument. How can you not just stop and take pause when you realize the enormity of that? People travel thousands of miles to come see these historic landmarks, and here I am so worried about getting my bike ride in for time, that I miss it. I ignore it. Life is not a sprint. It's not a wod where you get a chance to hit it again another day. If you're like me, maybe you should join me in NOT living life "for time" and actively taking a moment to try to slow things down. In my opinion, which is of course ever so humble, there are many things in life that shouldn't be for time. I've made a small list, just in case you were curious ( :) ) about what I think is worth slowing down for. You may disagree, you may agree, or you may want to add on, so feel free to comment. The purpose of my blog, well there are many, but the main purpose is to share my experiences with others, in hopes that someone may learn from the path I've already taken. Take this list, and maybe revisit it from time to time, and try to find some time for you to slow down. Life is never "for time".  

Katie's List of Things that are Totally and Eternally NOT for Time
1. Good cups of coffee
2. Good hugs
3. Breakamafast/Lunch/Dinner with good friends/company
4. Hikes
5. Bike rides (unless it's a race, then totally different)
6. Ice cream (in addition to getting a head rush, it's gone too fast!)
7. Slow dances whether in public, or your kitchen
8. Saturdays/Sundays/any day of the week where you don't have to work. Put the to-do list down. Target and Wal-Mart will still be there tomorrow!
9. Cuddling
10. S'mores (see #6)
11. Good books
12. A 1RM deadlift (DEFINITELY not for time)
13. Decorating for the holidays
14. A good date
15. A good kiss
16. Phone calls/Face Time with friends/loved ones
17. Puzzles
18. Good glasses of wine/whiskey/bourbon or your other beverage of choice
19. The day (once it's gone, it won't come back)
20. Baths (the door is locked, there is a book on the floor, and I lit the candles for a reason. Come back later.)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Making Amends

For a long time after I first found CrossFit, it was a focus of my world. I thought about it all the time, talked about it all the time, wrote about it all the time, and when I wasn't talking about it or blogging about it, I was reading other CrossFit blogs, reading things on the main site, and essentially saturating myself in CrossFit. In essence, CrossFit wasn't a part of my life, it was my life. I didn't skip days. I was in the box five days a week. I didn't cherry pick wods. I did them whether I liked them or not. Work wasn't an excuse, and I scoffed at people who talked about how tired they were and how they just needed a break.  

But somehow, as time wore on, things changed for me. I loved competing, and I loved CrossFit, but it somehow got to be too much. I couldn't spend hours blogging anymore. I couldn't spend endless hours reading about CrossFit or watching videos. Something shifted. I was feeling run down more often. I was sore all the time, and while I was making strength gains across the board, I wasn't happy with my progress. Somewhere along the line, CrossFit began feeling like a job. And since I already had two, adding one more on top of that felt like a heavy burden to bear. I was having my doubts last summer about whether or not to continue with CrossFit. I had discovered the beauty that was Shenandoah, the joy that was riding a bicycle, and the peace that comes with making decisions that just feel right. Despite my nagging feeling that maybe CrossFit and I needed to take a break, I made the decision to compete at the Superfit in Richmond. A week of unloading my classroom had left my back tight, and a lot of loading in the wods from snatches, cleans, burpees, toes to bar, and rowing left me nearly immobile. After that I had to face the reality. CrossFit for me just wasn't fun anymore. It wasn't what it used to be. And like it was a lover, I had a hard time letting it go. I wanted it to work. I wanted to have this sit down where somehow miraculously things work out. But it just couldn't happen. I already felt like I didn't belong at my box any longer, and the nagging injuries and exhaustion made the answer even more clear. It was time to go.  

It wasn't an easy decision to make. I was the girl who swore that she would always CrossFit, and yes, even for a time considered a CrossFit vanity plate. (What up VAXFTGL?) But the writing was on the wall so to speak. So, I left. I had a very open and honest dialogue with my coach, and let him know that I just felt it wasn't right for me any longer. And so after some time, I decided to go back to swimming. I got back into a rhythm of things and felt like some of my achy soreness was going away, when all of a sudden the hammer fell. The dreaded 'S' word. Surgery. One of those nagging injuries and sore spots, wasn't just nagging. A protruding bone spur in my foot was aggravating the tendons, causing pain when I jumped, ran, and even walked too much. To make me comfortable the only possible answer was to have it taken out. This of course meant no walking, no driving, and of course no swimming. I was completely off my foot for nearly two months. When I was finally cleared, I learned that doing things, like flip turns, was complicated. My tendons couldn't support all the pressure and the surrounding area was still so swollen that even kicking, especially in my specialty of breaststroke was impossible. If ever the term "sagging heart" were to be used, I think that would aptly describe the months of February and March. I was finally given the go ahead in April, but despite the clearance, I couldn't. I just couldn't get off the couch. I was afraid to run. I was afraid to get on the bike. I just could not move forward.  

To further complicate things, was the fact that during this time my stress levels and overall unhappiness were becoming more and more evident. I was waking up in cold sweats at night, stressing to the point where I would cry, and was genuinely not a happy person. It felt like the whole entire world was crashing at once. You know that feeling. That feeling of why can't just ONE thing go right? As luck would have it, I was offered a job with a new company. One completely unrelated to education. And you know what? I took it. I was tired of being tired, and I was tired of being stressed, and I was TIRED of being unable to move forward. And so, I did it. I took the leap of faith that we all talk about taking when our chips are down, and we feel like we're in the hole. I told my principal that I would be resigning at the end of the year, and from there, things, while still challenging, seemed to get a whole lot better. 

But even though things were getting better, I still hadn't quite made peace with it all. I felt like a failure. I was leaving teaching, I had left CrossFit, I had left swimming again. My Paleo diet, ha, that was non-existent and my weight was going up again. Even though I was making changes, I still had to come to grips with it. I still needed to find peace with it. I needed to forgive myself. I'm sure that sounds strange. Forgive yourself? For taking a better paying job with less stress and walking away from something that wasn't making you happy? You had to forgive yourself for THAT? I know. It sounds (to steal my sister's words) cray cray, but you see, I'm not a quitter. I see things through, and I don't give up. I am a stubborn freakin' mule. I finish the things I start. Even really bad books and movies.  

But, this, this was hard. I felt like I was giving up on CrossFit, and my job. I felt like I was quitting. And in a way, I was, but there is a greater lesson to be learned here. Sometimes, we have to do what is really best for us, and sometimes that may mean giving up on something we said we'd do, or we swore we'd never leave. I had to forgive myself for quitting, but remind myself that it's ok. I am on the only one who can make me happy. And if I don't do it, no one else can do it for me.  

After some time, I learned that one of my former trainers had made the decision to open her own box. After careful consideration, I decided to join. I'm not focusing on competitions right now, and honestly, I'm not sure I will again. I'm focused on losing the weight I've gained, getting back in shape, and learning to have fun again. Joining her gym was just as hard as leaving the old one. Not because I dislike her, God NO! She's a fantastic coach! But because I somehow felt bad about not rejoining my old box. But I remember those feelings. I remember how disconnected I felt, and how I didn't enjoy things anymore. And I keep telling myself that I am the only person who can make me happy. I think if I can somehow make that my new mantra, I will find the peace and happiness that I'm looking for.