Monday, March 26, 2018

Open Letter to Crossfit 696

Open Letter to Crossfit 696,

Thank you. Thank you for the most amazing year.

A little over a year ago, I walked into a well-established community, filled with so many new faces, personalities, abilities, friendships and walks of life… and not once did I feel out of place. Right away, I was welcomed, chatted up and made to feel like I belonged. I want each and every one of you to know that you inspire me, you make me a better person, you make me get out of bed at 4:30am (ok… 4:45am) every morning and haul my ass to the gym to train and be a better me.  I couldn’t do it without you.

I competed in the Opens 2017 as a member of 696, but over the last year, by sharing my life with many of you, I feel like I competed in the Opens 2018 as a part of the 696 family. Over the last year, I have laughed with many of you, smiled at all of you and shed tears with a “lucky” few as well. We sweat together, encourage each other, coach each other and stand by holding our breath while we watch each other succeed at things we never thought we would be “good enough” to do. Being part of this community has saved my love for a sport that saved my life. For that, I can not thank you enough.

When the opens ended in 2017, a light ignited within me, my desire to get better, work harder, be stronger was glowing brightly. My family began to thrive on the energy that was coming from our positive experiences within the gym. We were happier. We were stronger. Life was changing.

I made a promise to myself that I was going to work to be the best I could be through the year. I was going to train hard at the things I sucked at. Prove to my boy that when the going gets tough and you are presented with a challenge, you fight. There is nothing you can not do… there are just things you can not do yet. These things, you will need to work harder at. They will hurt and they will be challenging. They will maybe get worse before they get better… and there might be lots and lots of failed attempts… but one day, if you put in the work… it will happen. You will succeed. If you surround yourself with people that share these same goals, they will inspire you. They, without even knowing that they do, will make you try that one last attempt before you quit for the day… or get one more rep before the time runs out. They will give you strength.

With every “first” I witnessed, with every new face in a class, with every PR announced over the year… I got stronger. I wanted to push myself, just as hard. I wanted to give back to the community, my family, as you have done for me. I want to inspire you. I want you to feel what I feel when I see what I see and hear what I hear. I want you to know, that you are making a difference in my life, my workout, my family and my goals.

Our coaching staff is a special group of people… and I strongly feel there are so many “types” of coaches, in and out of the gym. We have that special moment that no other gym I have been to has, where we share something, almost personal, before each workout. Yes, it helps us get to know one another… but in a way, it’s a glimpse for our coaches to know how we function. They get a feel for us. They know what makes our blood pump and what our personality is like, so important for a coach. We are very lucky. The people who dedicate their time daily to encourage us, support us… and kick our asses… they also take the time to get to know us. They invest 100%. They care that we reach for the stars and support us when we miss. They know our goals and want to help us and be there when we reach them.  

I might be as transparent as they come. Im competitive, I don’t like to fail, Im sarcastic… and I will probably accept any challenge if you present it to me. Our coaches… they know that. The feed off of that… and they push me exactly how I need to be pushed to reach the goals I have set for myself. They are there for me when I need them. They let me be when I need to be let be… but they are there to encourage me to forge ahead and see the positive side of whatever it is I just failed at. Im pretty sure, that they coach each and every one of us differently. What works for me, wont work for you… and what is amazing… is they know that. The adapt and they learn from you, for you. That is a rare find.  

I logged my first CrossFit workout on August 6, 2011. Competed in my first Open in 2012. This year was my 6th Open (I didn’t compete the year Zach was born… he was born the day 15.1 was announced, Dr’s frown upon exercising that soon after birth…). My mindset going in to the Open this year was like no other. This year, was for me. For the first time in 7 years, I knew I put in the work, all year, into my weaknesses. I knew I was going to lay it all on the line. I knew I had the support from my husband, coaches and friends to be the best that I could be. I knew the 365 days leading up to this “test” were frustrating, challenging, exciting, painful and amazing. I was ready.

I may not have reached my goal, but hell, I could not be happier with this years performance. There is not one workout that I did not push to perform at the top of my game. There is not one score that I typed in wishing I had “worked on” whatever skill it was through the off season. There is not one regret. The best part of all, was witnessing all of the amazing work put in by everyone who competed and the crazy amount of support that filled the gym with energy and excitement each day the workouts were completed. I could not have performed how I did, been as satisfied as I was, without you. And, being there to help coach you, cheer you on, and celebrate with you… it made me work harder. It made me be the best I could be.

In closing, CrossFit 696, Thank you. Lets continue to work hard, sweat, cry, bleed, laugh and smile together. Lets continue to be the best people we can be, lets inspire each other, cheer each other on… and hell… lets lift some heavy shit!!


P.S. Chris, I know I dont have to tell you this, but you have a remarkable group of people as members of the 696 community. You do an amazing job and your passion shows with every single class you coach. Thank you for doing what you do. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Hello Beautiful

Today is September 1st.

There is something about September 1st that just makes me feel happy and invigorated. Lots of people feel this way at the beginning of the new year, a new beginning… but for me, when the air starts to change, the leaves start to fall and I can sit with my boys and a cup of coffee and a hooded sweatshirt on a Sunday morning. It just makes my heart warm.

Maybe it’s the new school year and the reminder of new sneakers, empty notebooks and the nervous butterfly in your stomach feeling of waiting for the bus on the first day of school. Maybe it’s the fact that the air feels so much lighter, the dampness is lifted and the smell of rain, warm apple pie and chili or pot roast in the crock pot fills it back up. Maybe it’s the fall tones, burnt oranges, deep burgundy and navy blue that resonate with me on a comfort level that I just cant explain. Whatever it is… its my favorite.

I know there are many people that feel the complete opposite. That everything is “dying,” the winter is coming and we have to brace ourselves for the snow. Before we know it there will be images and melodies of the jolly man “Santa” smeared across our television screens and retail stores. Before the turkey is even bought, people start planning their “Black Friday” shopping spree… and before I can even pick out my sons Halloween costume I have people asking me what he needs/wants for Christmas. SLOW IT DOWN PEOPLE. Take a minute to really live in the moment. Take a step back, turn down the “I have to get the best Christmas present at the best price, and the hottest toy” volume and breathe in the cool fall air. Take these moments to wrap up in a blanket and sit outside with a warm drink and your favorite people and listen to the trees. Share stories around the table with your friends and family with no pressure of where you have to take off to next to “make the rounds” and really listen to what they have to say, share stories and smiles of your own. Remember that tomorrow is not a promise, tomorrow is a gift. Jump in leaves, stomp in puddles with your shiny new rain boots, enjoy the laughter.

When I look at the leaves changing color, I don’t see them “dying.” To me, the leaves changing and falling, then dancing across the windows or through the lawn with the breeze signifies life. There is so much vibrancy in the colors, the peak of the life of the leaves, their finale so to speak. Suddenly we are looking at a painting that we are so lucky to see in person, witnessing Gods work right before our eyes. Yes, they fall, yes they are eventually scraped across the grass with rakes and bagged to be taken away… but really, the process isn’t much unlike any person trying to rid themselves of the heaviness of life. The process of “letting go” of the baggage collected through the year/years. It’s a time where we should be prepping our minds and our bodies for the next goal in our life, making room for the beautiful things that are about to take place. The shedding of leaves shows us that its ok to let go… that there will be beauty and good things to come again.  

The fall is a time to stop waiting… it’s the time to initiate change, it’s the time to push to assure that you are ridding yourself from the unneeded stresses of life. It’s the time when life starts all over again. I welcome September with open arms. I welcome the next cycle of my life. I accept the challenges I put forth for myself. I accept that there will be ups and downs, however I am confident that the choices I have made in my life, my experiences and my faith will allow me to get through any and all obstacles. I will slow down. I will sit and enjoy the moments that I will never get to experience again. I will love life.

Hello Beautiful.

Monday, August 21, 2017

No U-Turns

Question of the Day: If you had to describe yourself using a street sign, what street sign would that be?

Are you “under construction?! Do you feel as if you have “dangerous curves?!”

Take some time and think about it. Think about how the world around us can influence thoughts beyond what the “real” meaning of something on the outside could be interpreted as. Stuck in traffic, looking around, seeing a sign and thinking how the phrase “no passing zone” can be applied to other aspects of your life. Where can you use that as fuel? How can you make that push you beyond your limits to not let anyone pass you? You are in the front of the pack. You are the leader.

This was the question of the day today at the gym. Off the top of my head at the moment, I came up with “children at play,” because… lets face it. That is my life right now. I mean my last post was relative to a show my kid watches daily and can recite lines to. However, the more I thought of it (which is the whole point to these questions, to get you to think about them more than just the 3 minutes it takes to go around the circle)…  My sign changed.

There are no “do overs” in life. You get one shot. There are no “take backs” or “rewinds” there are certainly “NO U TURNS.” There is no reason to dwell on the past, it’s the past. It happened. Its gone. Whether it was 5 minutes ago or 2 years ago, thinking about it, why it happened, how it happened… wont change the fact that it did happen. Pull up your boot straps and move on to the next. If you fail… even if you attempt the exact same thing for a second time,  it is not a “do over,” as you are simply not the same person you were the first time. You learned a lesson, you have experience, you know what to/not to do… Maybe you found a coach, took a class, read a book, maybe you learned a better way to get somewhere, or a place to save some money… either way you look at it, every experience you have in life is a new one. It is how you apply the events of your past into the events in your future that makes difference.

I have been competing for a while now. I have competed as an individual and as a member of a team. I have been to some really great comps and some really bad comps. With every single one of these experience I have evolved as an athlete. I have a completely different way of preparing, attending and recovering now, than I did my first comp and with each one, I learn some more.  I know what my body needs for prep, how to pack a bag efficiently and to be prepared for things I might not expect. I know how to treat my body between workouts, how to warmup, how to assure proper recovery and fuel myself.  I know what the recovery process will be. I know what I need the next day and the days after that… It’s a process.

One of the most important things I have learned over the years is that there are no do-overs. You are out there to compete and you have to lay it all on the line every single workout. All the athletes competing, whether they are scaled, masters or Rx are all under the same conditions. You get one shot. “No U-Turns.” Maybe that is the reason I get so worked up over the first workout of the event… for me, its almost inevitable that the first workout is the one I feel most nervous and anxious for. However, when you have a good team behind you, a good support system, people to remind you of where you are and how you got there. People to tell you that you belong where you are and to tell you its time to turn the heat on and make it happen… that’s when the magic happens. The fire is lit, the timer starts and you pour yourself into this madness we call “CrossFit” and get it done. There are “No U-Turns.”

When you take a step back after a competition you start to analyze everything that happened, so many things go through your head. One thing is for sure. You can not change what happened. It is done. In a team competition, the fact that you worked together, played off each others strengths and weaknesses, communicated and respected one another is key. If you don’t have that, you don’t have a team. Knowing you were there to push one another, help one another and get under the skin of your team mates helps in so many ways, but really respecting them, communicating with them and sharing every piece of the workouts, the good, the bad and the ugly, is really what makes a team a team.

When you hold yourself to high standards you might find it hard to hard to do these things… unless of course, your team mates are the exact same way. Every single rep is done with power, thought and perfection. Each full depth squat, each chin over the bar pull up, each locked out muscle up and fully extended hip… are done with the mindset of “No U-Turns.” You can not do this again. You all finish with your heads high, fully understanding that no matter what the outcome is, your whole team, thrives on being the best they could possibly be not only for themselves… but for each other.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Things Are Looking Up

My kid has a mild (ok maybe more than mild) obsession with the TV show "Super Wings." Hes 2.5 and loves all things that drive and/or fly. We dont have cable, but found this show on  Amazon Prime and now Hubs and I often find ourselves singing the theme song while putting our dinner together or just driving home from work (wonderful isnt it?!). Its actually a pretty decent show for the little man... "Jet" who is the main character airplane is a package delivery plane. At the start of the show, "Jimbo" (the traffic controller man) calls Jet into the control tower and gives him a package that needs delivering. Whats cool is that Jet goes all over the world to deliver these packages to kids. Before he leaves, Jimbo explains the country he is going to go to, a fact about it and a phrase in the native language. So... at least little man is learning while he is watching.

Jet then delivers the package (on time, every time). He presents whatever it was that was ordered to the child and stays while they open it. Jet then takes part in whatever it is that the package was ordered for... he does everything from "Hot Dog Car" drag racing and dumpling making, to African safari rides and tap dancing on stage in the town square (hes a mastermind of all kinds). Of course, it wouldnt be a "learning" show if there wasnt a problem that needs solving... so eventually, Jet needs to call into base to get assistance to solve the problem from the Super Wings, who are his "awesome airplane friends who come to help when hes in need." When the friend arrives... Jet looks into the sky and says "things are looking up!" Finally, he, with the help of the friend... of course... save the day. He can always turn to his friends to help him out. No questions asked.

Sarah... what the hell is the point.

I realize, I am loosing my mind that so many of my thoughts stem from things my toddler does/says/watches... but I guess that is what my life is right now right?!

Anyway... what do I learn from Jet? When you are in need. When you feel like you need a little help. Give a call to a friend. When you see someone who looks like they are down on themselves, give them a little help. Even if you just say something to put a smile on their face, change their mindset, let them know you are there... anything helps.

There are days I get really pissed at myself, in and out of the gym. There are times where I internalize everything and cant take a step back and just say "today is just that kind of day... let it go." Days it feels like everything/anything keeps going wrong. I drop everything I touch, run late for a meeting, spill my coffee, miss a lift I know I can get, rip my hands on the rig... why do those types of things always happen on the same day?

Sometimes, you just need that little kick in the ass. A person, a friend... heck sometimes even just an acquaintance to say "shake it off" or "good job today" to straighten out, but sometimes its a little harder to do (for me). I am pretty hard on myself and reaching my goals, pushing my limits.  Its so common to just shake off words like that. I know I do it... heck, I JUST did it yesterday. I felt like the whole morning was crap. I didnt feel great with my lifts and failed where I knew I could succeed. I then went into the WOD with a chip on my shoulder. This worked out to benefit me, as I succeeded in hanging on to the rig longer than I ever have with consecutive toes to bar. So, whats the problem right?! I used it as fuel... Yeah thats great and all... but I didnt even let myself be proud of the accomplishment. I was so damn frustrated about the lift still that I even took my frustration home with me. I didnt allow myself  take my Coaches words, who was there to support and help me out and let them raise me up to face the day with my head high. Instead, I festered. The person who "flew" in to help me out... I let them hang. I am ashamed of that.

I took some time, took a step back... last night before bed and thought about my day, which I often do. While I was putting hand cream on my raw hands I thought about what I DID do at the gym and not what I didnt. I thought about where I was, where I am, and where I am going... and most of all, I thought about the support that my coaches and friends have given me over the last almost 6 months at 696. I dont even need to reach out for the help for one of them to fly in and encourage me and help push me through, give me a tip, tell me to shake it off, offer to lift with me... just talk to me and make me smile and laugh. They give a bright side to the perspective. They are so valuable to me and I can not take that for granted. They are my family. Thanks Guys!

Things are looking up...

Friday, August 11, 2017

Out with the old... In with the New.

There is something so satisfying about setting a goal and reaching it. I talk about it a lot… it applies to all walks of life, not just the gym…

I love my job. I have said it before, that I was lucky enough to learn at an early age what I liked to do and went for it. I have had lots of success, as well as lots of failures to get where I am… and the hits just keep on coming. There will always be ups and downs, but what is important, is the will to keep on going and the thrive for the next goal or to complete the goal that was set forth.

When I initially meet with a client/owner for a new project, we typically sit and discuss what it is they are expecting from the project, what the overall goal is. What they like, what they dislike and what their needs are. From there, we develop a schematic design… an image of the goal. Often we provide the client with renderings to see what we are working towards, as well as floor plans to give them a general idea of the space. Once agreed upon, we spend a few weeks developing drawings illustrating how we will achieve the goal. Through this process we have additions, as well as subtractions and we do our best to work out all the details to properly execute the design and make it a reality. Finally, construction begins and so do the potential issues. There are hurdles to jump (especially when working with an existing structure) and problems that need solving… very rarely do you have a job with no questions or hangups. However, when it is all said and done… the outcome… the look on the clients face when they see the finished product… the sound of their voice as they thank you for your work and dedication to their investment… the smell of the new carpet, paint and furniture as its being installed while doing the final walk through… and the phone call two weeks after they move in to tell you they couldn’t be happier… all of that, makes it all worth it in the end. Goal, achieved.

Yesterday, I was out at a building that I designed a new entry for… as I was driving back I started to think about how much the design and execution of a project at work, is very much like my lifestyle. With each project that I start and complete I learn something to bring forward to the next. I am forever learning. I am forever growing and it is so important to not become complacent with where I am in my career (or life). There are always new materials, new ways of doing things… There are always new clients, new relationships and new opportunities. Take with you all of your ways, materials, relationships and clients… and develop them further. Understand that with every failure there is a lesson. Failure is so important (unless of course it makes a building fall down…). Mistakes are made, problems arise and the proper methods are taken to mitigate them. The outcome and the determination and drive to succeed to reach that final goal, that is what separates "you" from the rest of the pack.

Recently (on the 6th of August) I was reminded that it was the start of my 7th year of CrossFit. Six years ago I set foot into the garage at a “box” with 4 members…  I took a chance. I couldn’t do a pullup, literally laughed when I was told “today we are going to do pullups.” The thought of pushups made me cringe and to be honest (even though I am still not a fan of running), I couldn’t get through a 400 without slowing to walking pace. I look back at my old posts and see the numbers for my lifts and while I kinda chuckle at them now, I think of all the work, all the goal setting and all the hours spent at the gym and I smile. I loved every minute of it. All of it. Every failure as much as every success. Growth. Strength. Courage. Confidence. All developing right before my eyes.  I can read it in my words, I can see it in the photos and I can feel it in my muscles. I have worked hard for it all, it was not easy. However, for me... its not about the numbers. Its not about how much I can put over my head, or squat… it setting a goal, developing a plan to achieve the goal, working through the “hurdles and failures” towards the goal, then taking a step back and being proud of my accomplishment.

Everyone starts somewhere. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Two Lives Intertwined

What is the best gift you have given to anyone?

Think about it. Think real hard. I’m not talking about the latest and greatest video game console… a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant… or even a fancy new car. I’m talking about something powerful, something that changes the recipients life. Something that once given, can not be taken back… something that has no actual “value” but more value than you can even imagine. Life.

Now, I’m a mom. I can honestly say that giving the gift of life to my son has been the most honorable and life changing gift I have ever given. I worked to keep him safe while I was pregnant, treated my body with respect and nurtured him for all 42 weeks on the inside. He was born healthy and strong and I consider that to be a pretty huge accomplishment.

I’m going to tell you a quick story and please don’t judge. Its not something I am very proud of, and maybe, if I had some more time to process or if the circumstances were different… I wouldn’t have made a different decision. I see now what a bad judgement call it was… Almost 17 years ago. My brother was killed in a car accident. You can read back through my older posts to read about the day. The morning, a complete blur. The feeling in my body, numb. I remember it like it was yesterday. Sitting… staring into the distance, not even for a second believing that this was really my life. Through all the people talking and shuffling through my parents house, the phone rings. It’s the hospital. They want to know if they can “have” Joshua’s retinas. He was not on the organ donor list. They needed our permission, my parents permission, to take them.

My parents discussed and came  to me. They gave me the choice. They asked me what I thought. If it was ok. How I felt about them taking a part of Joshua. They wanted me to be a part of the decision. They wanted me to be ok with it. In my heart of hearts, I wish I made a different choice. I would have given the person in need, his retinas. A gift. A gift that would have been life changing for someone else. A completely unselfish gift that my brother would have given in a second for someone if he had the choice on his own. I said no. The thought of his body not being “whole” when I got to see him was too much for me to take at that moment. I was just processing that I was never going to see his eyes again… and I took that gift away from someone…

I think about this often. I understand it is in the past. I can not change the choice that I made. I am not upset that my parents asked me to be a part of the decision making process. I am glad that they respect me and valued what I thought without just excluding me in the process. Yes, I was young… all of the decisions I have made in my life have made the person I am today. Every minute of my life and every decision influences the next. I am now an organ donor.

Today I am reminded of this unselfish act of kindness… giving the gift of life to someone. Someone you have never met….

I am member of an on line community. A group of women who chat about “everything.” Seriously, everything. If I have a question about a new place to go eat… what I should do if my kid wont sleep at night… what the heck this “rash” is or even just a funny thing to share or accomplishment or event in life… I go there. I have met a few of these women in person. The board has been in existence since we split off of The Nest after we all planned our weddings together. It has grown and we have all watched each other buy houses… have kids… have more kids… graduate from school… get new jobs… struggle with losses, divorces and family issues. New people join, some people leave… but there is a pretty solid core.

One of my friends found out that another’s sister needed a kidney. This brave woman, never meeting the other in person… felt a strong calling to help, to give the most amazing gift to her friends sister. The gift of life. The gift of a second chance at living a ”normal” life. She was tested and found to be a match… and today, the day she gave a piece of herself to her sister… was the first time they “met.” She put her life on the line to save her friends sisters life. A friend she met on line… in a forum…

She is one of the bravest people I know. It sent chills all over my body when I heard that the surgery was a success. She was in recovery and the sister also, a few hours later… her new kidney is already working hard in its new body. They both have recovery ahead… but I cant even imagine giving someone else this gift.

Take a minute and think about what it would be like to have a piece of you inside someone else. Working, as it was inside of you... its amazing. To think that people are walking around with hearts, lungs, kidneys, livers… retinas… that were once in another humans body is just remarkable. Imagine, your loved ones heart, still beating just in a different body. It’s a gift that once given, can not be taken back… something that has no actual “value” but more value than you can even imagine. Life.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Learn Something

June 19, 2017

Did you learn something today?

I challenge you. When you lay in bed at night… think about your day. When you wake up in the morning… think about what is about to happen. Are you ready to learn? Did you learn anything new?

I have a toddler. Every single day his little brain just goes and goes and goes. You can see him learning almost by the minute. One day… back in November. We had a day that it snowed really early in the season. Everyone was out of their mind because it was “too early to snow” as it wasn’t even Thanksgiving yet. Just like the whole rest of New England, when I got Z and I home from daycare I wanted to scramble to get into the house… it was cold, it was snowing… it was pretty much miserable. Well I got Z out of the car, stood him on the ground and his eyes seemed to glaze over. I took a step back and said “come on, lets go…” and started to walk. Then I realized something. This was the first time my little man experienced snow. He was born in February (albeit the snowiest February weve had in decades) but was just an infant the last time it had snowed. I then took at moment to watch. I didn’t care I was getting snowed on. I didn’t care that it was cold anymore, there was no rush. He was 100% amazed that this “stuff” was falling from the sky. Confused, amazed… whatever it was. The look on his face was priceless. He was learning. This is snow.

He tends to get ahead of himself now. He is a parrot. Repeating everything you ask him to say (usually). He is my cautious boy. He likes to take in all of his surroundings before he engages. He looks around to learn what everyone else is doing… he watches how Hubs and in interact with other people and kids before he knows its “ok” to talk to them and/or play with them. The “proud Mama” in me will tell you he can count to 20, say his alphabet, sing numerous songs and has the vocabulary of a 3 year old… but that’s just the tip of the iceburg with this kid. He watches… with hawk eye... how we do something… anything... and you bet he will try and try to do whatever it is we were doing as soon as he can. He wants to learn, he wants to grow and its so amazing to watch. The innocence. His persistence. He wants to figure out how it works and do it himself. 

We as a society have a tendency to just “do.” We wake up in the morning. Go do our thing… then come home at night, eat dinner and go to bed. Wash, rinse, repeat. Occasionally, there is a twist in there, but for the most part, we are pretty routine. Its so important to challenge the mind, to keep growing and learning, to keep evolving and changing… We have to learn to stop, look at the snowflakes as they fall, watch the water come out of the hose, listen to the wind chimes an wonder where the sound in coming from… We have to challenge our minds and look for new ways to do things, ways to do things better… ways to better ourselves. We have to take a que from the young developing mind and ask the questions "why?" and "how?"

Of course not every day has to be a “lesson.” This isn’t necessarily about learning a new skill or studying for a test (though it could be). This is about the little things… learning that my house stays cool when I keep the slider closed a little longer in the morning… learning that my son will eat a little better if I eat the same thing that he is eating… learning that if I leave work at 4:55 vs 5:00 it takes me less time to get to daycare, but more time to get home from daycare… learning that if I do one rep too close to my 1RM then my 1RM is more challenging than if I take a larger jump to get there… learning that my kid will be ok if he eats ice cream for dinner a few times this summer...  the list goes on.

Stop. Take a minute. Listen to the sounds around you. Take a deep breath.

What did you learn today?