Happy New Year friends! I always like to write a blog this time of year, as it helps me reflect on the year that has just passed, and think about my hopes and goals for the one that lies ahead. Since I have quite a bit of free time lately and honestly am pretty bored waiting for baby boy Schuil to be born, I figure I may as well write something!
2014 was definitely a different year for me. Finding out that I was pregnant in May almost immediately shifted my focus from CrossFit… and pretty much everything else… to protecting the new little life inside. It has been amazing of course… kind of surreal, but also very challenging. Women who love pregnancy are weird. I thought I would be one of them, but instead, I am just in awe of the miracle of it and very ready to be on the other side. I was much more cautious than I would have expected myself to be, and sometimes I fear maybe I wasn’t a very good example as a pregnant CrossFit athlete and coach, but at the same time I am proud that I listened to my body and did what I felt was right for me. That being said, I am itching to get back to working out at a bit higher intensity than a walk around the block!
As I think about the year ahead, it’s difficult to plan and make specific goals, like I’m used to doing. I have no idea what to expect as a new mom, except what others tell me… and it sounds like it’s going to be harder than it seems. Instead, I have a few general goals in mind.
One of them is to practice slowing down and being present in the moment I find myself in. I hear kids force you to slow down anyway… that everything takes longer, and for me the challenge will be to embrace this as a good thing. All too often I find myself skipping ahead to the future and I often miss the good stuff right in front of me. Even now, I am finding it hard to enjoy my final days of peace and quiet with just Jeff to take care of… though it’s no secret he’s been taking care of me!
Another goal is to practice grace with myself… as a new mom, and as a competitive person getting back into CrossFit right as the Open is starting (Ha!). I can say to you that my expectations of myself coming back are fairly low, but still, I secretly hope for a miracle that I will be right back where I left off… which I won’t be. The trick will be remembering to have grace with myself as my body and life will have gone through some major changes. (Feel free to remind me of this one if you see me getting frustrated). Also, grace as a new parent trying to figure out how to take care of a tiny person who is completely dependent on me.
The last one I’ll write about and probably the biggest and hardest goal for me is to practice letting go of fear and trusting God and myself. The past 9 months have been filled with worry about my baby’s life, as if my worry will accomplish anything! My relationship with God has been challenged in new ways as I have become increasingly aware of my desire for control, even in situations where I have none. I hope to be able to breathe a little easier as I remind myself to let go, and trust.
So, that’s what I have for the year ahead. I am both nervous and excited… but mostly excited. It always amazes me to stop and think that everything I have done, all the choices I have made (both the good and not so good), all of the things that have happened outside of my control have brought me to this moment. And I am beyond grateful to be where I am. I hope that no matter what 2014 brought or what 2015 has for us, that we remember it’s all a part of a much bigger, more beautiful picture.
I started my first blog ‘Oh Sweet Life’ back in 2008, shortly before moving to Costa Mesa. That feels so long ago now, and when I read my old posts I can’t help but think of all that has happened between then and now. I started working out at CrossFit Costa Mesa immediately after we moved here, and my blog soon became ‘Oh Sweaty Life’. I thought this was very clever! I eventually went from “worker outer” to Coach and my little blogger blog was upgraded in style when it moved to the CFCM website. Here I still am.
Regardless of where my writing has been, it has always been my intention to be vulnerable and to an extent, honest about what I’m thinking and feeling. Some things have been obvious and clear, while others hold a meaning that only I can really know. I am thankful to have this journal of sorts of the past 6 years.
Today I’m feeling a longing to write in this space. It has been inconsistent, mostly because I haven’t felt like I’ve had anything “blog worthy” to share. Today is no different, but I’m writing none the less. It’s selfish really. I feel change coming… and it is. I can’t think of many things more life-changing than having a baby. Daily feelings of immense gratitude and excitement, mixed with fears of something terrible happening to this little life, mixed with hormones are exhausting, to say the least.
Let’s be honest, my life has already changed. I’m just thinking what my next blog title will be if not ‘Oh Sweaty Life’ because the only sweating I am doing these days is due to this ridiculously hot never-ending Southern California Summer! (That’s only kind of a joke). I am still working out, but it looks a lot different. At my earlier doctors appointments, the nurse would ask me if I was exercising? How many days? and for how long? My response was “Yes. 2 maybe 3 days for 30-60 minutes.” She would reply “Great!” It was so strange to me though, after 4 plus years of 5 days a week, 2x a day for at least 3 hours total.
After a couple months of hardly any exercise, I am back to CrossFit workouts 2-3 days a week… going light and moving pretty slow. I did a couple workouts early on that I felt guilty about after for potentially going too hard and decided I really didn’t like that feeling. This is not at all how I thought I’d be… overly cautious, I mean. I envisioned myself being like Valorie Voboril… who I remember still being a total badass while pregnant. Some days I wish that I could be more like that… perhaps it’s how I think a CrossFit Coach should be, but like I said, things have changed and there are seasons for everything, and I’m perfectly ok with this.
I also swim 3-4 days a week for an hour at the YMCA on Back Bay where I used to work before CrossFit stole my heart. I count all my laps (down and back = 1) and when I lose count, I do an extra until I get to 40 (most days). I really love swimming… something I never thought I’d say. (I was never much of a swimmer until making an effort to learn a few years ago). I was thinking today how it feels so natural now, even my breath. Sometimes I just focus on listening to my breathing. With one ear under water, the sound of it is enhanced. It’s so peaceful and will always be a reminder for me to be in that moment.
Other than my hour or so a day of physical activity and my time coaching and doing other work stuff, I have a few other beloved activities. These include laying on my couch, pinning baby-ish things, waiting for Jeff to come home for lunch so I make us delicious sandwiches on sourdough, watching ‘What Not to Wear’ and ‘White Collar’ on Netflix, and laying on my couch some more… usually napping. It’s all very exciting really.
I can’t help but feel like I am just waiting for the next big thing. It’s hard not to, especially because there is evidence of it (the babe, I mean) coming. However, I find I am a much happier and kinder person if I enjoy where I’m at. When I take the time to sit down and really think about it, I am flooded with overwhelming feelings of gratitude. I feel so underserving… but that’s grace I suppose.
So that is where I’m at for now. I figure if I want to write more, then I at least need to start there.
Thanks for reading,
Week 4: “Good enough” isn’t good enough for me.
I got my first muscle-up on December 21st, 2011. This is approximately 2 years and 4 months ago. (I tattooed the date to my arm… No I didn’t! But I did write it down). As most of you are aware, it’s kind of a big deal to get your first muscle-up… especially if you are a girl (sorry boys). When I was newer at CrossFit, this movement was one of those things that I never thought was possible for me. I thought it was reserved for only the most elite girls. However, after lots of time, work, failed attempts, more time and more work, it happened! It wasn’t graceful or easy looking, but it was still beautiful. It was a good moment and I remember it well.
Fast forward to now… 2 years and 4 months later. Muscle-ups are still one of my biggest weaknesses. I can do them, yes… and that was good enough for a time, but it’s not good enough for me now. 14.4 served as a big reminder of this. In the 14 minute workout comprised of several different movements, I got to the muscle-ups with 4 minutes remaining. I ended up getting only 4 muscle-ups, and I had 2 misses. It was disappointing, especially because everything else in the workout seemed so easy.
Honestly though, I wasn’t surprised with the outcome. I knew going in that this would likely happen, but still hoped that I would have a miraculously good day where all of a sudden I could string my muscle-ups together… something that rarely ever happens. Maybe I could do 4 a minute… again, something that happens only when I’m fresh. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who hopes for CrossFit miracles!) This being said, I couldn’t be too disappointed, but it still sucked. I knew that I should be better at them by now.
Looking back, I realize that I have allowed my ability to do muscle-ups keep me from actually getting good at them. I practice them only when I’m told and even then I don’t work at them with urgency because it’s hard and uncomfortable and just plain frustrating. Somewhere along the way, I decided to settle with “good enough”. Isn’t it funny how “good enough” is rarely ever good enough? We say it is, but I think we know deep down that it isn’t, at least not for me. It’s something I say to make myself feel better about where I’m at. It’s an excuse to stop trying.
With 14.4, I got lucky. My score was “good enough” to keep me from dropping too far in the rankings, but I was still left with the reality that my muscle-ups (among other things) needed a lot of work. I don’t want to be someone who settles with simply being able to do things. I want to be able to do them well! This doesn’t mean always being dissatisfied with myself… that’s no good either. For me, it means an honest evaluation of where I’m at, and making an effort to work on my weaknesses… to improve myself.
There is nothing glamorous or fun about practicing the things we aren’t good at, but eventually we will see the results of our efforts. It may take a long long time, but we will. We will do the thing we thought we’d never be able to do and then, with more time and more work, we will do it better. When this happens, I believe it will all be worth it.
“If you always put limit on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” -Bruce Lee
Scott likes to say this too…
“Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.”
I have come to really love this line. I often forget about it until it’s too late, but when I remember, oh how it has the ability to change me in the moment!
The saying is used often in the military… moving too fast or rushing things can be life threatening to soldiers, but moving carefully and deliberately is really moving as fast as you can without increasing the risk on your own life.
Though I am not nearly in the same place as those who serve in our military, I can certainly apply this saying. I’m sure that each of us have been in so much of a hurry, that in our rushing we become more clumsy than ever. I always forget something, drop my keys multiple times, burn myself with my hair straightener or spill my coffee. It never fails! When we are trying to go faster, slowing down seems counter intuitive doesn’t it?
The same goes for my workouts. I love the competitiveness of CrossFit and the fast pace… it’s part of what makes it so exciting. However sometimes I get so accustomed to moving quickly that I forget how to slow down when I need to. I find this happens most often in a competition setting, where I am typically more nervous, distracted and outside of my comfort zone. I end up forgetting where I’m at in the workout, fumbling around with the weights, or missing lifts because I’m rushing.
In workouts where double-unders or changing the weight on the barbell is involved, I especially have to remind myself “slow is smooth and smooth is fast.” If I keep these words in mind, my transition time becomes one of breathing, slowing my heart rate down and focusing on what is to come, rather than getting more flustered, getting tangled up in my jump rope or dropping weights.
I really don’t consider myself that amazing of an athlete. I have come a long way and I can be competitive, but what I feel like I have most to rely on is not my physical capabilities, but my mindset. Sayings and mantras that remind me to stay calm, to breathe, to focus, to not give up, and to think about what I’m doing and my pace rather than worrying about those around me… these are the things that I feel make me most successful.
Even with my mind right in a workout, it still may not be enough to finish on top, but it is more than enough to be able to say that I didn’t give up. This to me is success. If my body fails me, so be it. I need to keep training and working on my weaknesses, or maybe it just wasn’t my day. If my mind fails me, well… to me that’s quitting and is the worst kind of loss.
Slow is smooth and smooth is fast… there’s hardly anything physical about it. It is a conscious decision to slow down just enough to be able to move well so as not to get too frazzled or stressed. Feel free to steal it… practice saying it when you are rushing… in your workouts or just in your day. I think it might help
Week 3: God sees me.
After several years of letting my CrossFit training be the priority in my life, I finally decided to loosen my grip a little bit and make room again for people and other things that are important to me. I have always wanted to have kids, but when I began seriously training, this desire got pushed further and further into the future. I was becoming a better athlete and I didn’t want to lose what I had worked so hard for. In my mind, being pregnant and having a baby would knock me back to square one. This scared me… and still does to some extent. Who would I be?
Last summer, something switched in me… perhaps it was turning 30, but whatever it was, I was ready. I’ll tell you honestly, trying to get pregnant is exciting at first, but then after a few months have passed and nothing has happened, it gets kind of stressful. One can turn into a bit of a crazy person who pees on ovulation sticks and takes their temperature and suddenly wants to have sex every day for 2 weeks straight… no, I’m not talking about Jeff (though I’m sure he didn’t mind the last one). Anyway, to my surprise, it eventually happened. I was filled with excitement, and then almost immediately with fear of losing it. A few weeks later, conveniently just before Christmas, my fear was reality. I lost it. I am not saying this for sympathy… really I’m not. I know we all have hard stuff that we have gone through, or are going through. In fact, I’m not really sure why I’m saying it other than not many people talk about miscarrying, I’m realizing, even though I know it’s rather common. However, it is truly heartbreaking and awful, even when you are only 6 weeks in. So what does this have to do with 14.3? Geez, Lindsay, get to the point!
The point is, my thoughts pre-Open were elsewhere. This year, I would have rather been pregnant than go to Regionals. I felt as though I should have been pregnant and that this was taken from me, and I was struggling with what to do with where I was at. What I came to somewhat understand and be ok with was that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I didn’t want to go through the Open all bitter and mopey, because really, that would be no fun at all (for me or anyone around me). I decided I wanted to do as well as I could, so I was going to try hard, enjoy myself and the Open, and not let the pressure of making Regionals consume me as it had in years past.
After the first two workouts, I was sitting pretty good… among the top 60 women in SoCal, and I was having fun. Then came the announcement of 14.3. Deadlifts and box jumps! Have I mentioned how much I love deadlifts (lots and lots of heavy ones) and box jumps (but maybe not as many)?! Seriously guys, I could not have asked for a better workout. I loved it and I did well on it… and for the record, I got really sore.
So I did 14.3 on Thursday night and that following weekend, I went on a women’s retreat with my church. I remember it was that weekend because I was having trouble walking around the camp where it was held. The retreat was amazing and refreshing for lots of reasons, but something I realized I had been feeling for a long time was that even though I believe God can do amazing things, I thought maybe my life wasn’t spectacular enough… or on the other hand, that maybe it wasn’t messed up enough for him to take much notice of me. I was still struggling with miscarrying and not being pregnant and I didn’t really feel much from God at all. Was he trying to teach me a lesson? Did he care? What’s the deal here? I felt like I needed something, but I was afraid to ask… I was afraid of feeling rejected. At the end of the weekend, one of the women there, who I didn’t really know, sat down next to me and proceeded to tell me that I had been on her heart and that she felt like she needed to tell me that God sees me, and that he had been with me, and is with me. “God sees you.” She said it many times, so I would be sure to get the message. Until that moment, I didn’t know how much I needed to hear these words, and I felt peace and gratitude and hope.
It wasn’t until after the Open, that I thought back on this third week, and realized that 14.3 coincided with my women’s retreat. To me, this workout was God’s sneaky (and also awesome) way of affirming, “I do see you, and I have been, and am with you.” I’m not saying God got into Dave Castro’s mind and manipulated him to write the perfect workout for me that would play a significant part in me making it to Regionals… but I’m not denying it either! In the end, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that something in me was restored during week 3 of the Open, and that was hope.
“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope.” -Psalm 130:5
Week 2: Stay focused and stick to your plan. (I apologize that this is mostly a workout recap)
14.2 was a hard workout for me… overhead squats and chest to bar pull-ups are not my strongest movements, but at least the weight (65 pounds) was manageable and my butterfly chest to bars were coming along. I actually thought this one sounded fun. Ha! Looking back, I realize I may have been a tad too relaxed in my efforts to not stress and be easy going.
My plan of attack for 14.2 was to do all of my overhead squats unbroken… until I got to my round of 18′s… then I could break them up For my pull-ups, I was going to do sets of 5, and then when those fell off, sets of 3. No problem. So, what do I do? Squats unbroken… check. However, my first set of pull-ups felt amazing (I mean, of course they did 30 seconds into the workout), and I decide just to bust out all 10. Second round, squats unbroken, but all of a sudden the pull-ups felt kind of hard and went something like 4-3-2-1. Wow… good thing I made a plan.
So my first attempt at 14.2 continued to go pretty much like that. I just tried to hold on… literally. The squats were ok, but the pull-ups turned into sad sets of two and then singles. I finished two reps shy of making it to the round of 16′s. Two reps! This haunted me for three days until I would attempt the workout again. All I could chalk it up to was that I immediately abandoned my plan and I lost focus when the workout was harder than I expected.
When Monday morning finally rolls around, I am nervous this time. I know my goal is just to make it to the round of 16′s and then who cares… anything after that point is bonus. My plan this time is basically sets of 3 on my pull-ups… 2′s when I get tired… no singles if I can help it. It’s still hard. I make it through my 10′s and 12′s a bit slower than my first attempt so as not to get too burned out and to save myself for the round of 14′s. I know I’m really going to have to want this if I’m going to make it out. Half way through my 14′s, I am just under half way through the time I have to complete them. This is going to be tough, but I trust my plan. I do sets of 3 and 2 on my second set of pull-ups with Aaron telling me when to get on the bar. I finish my 14th pull-up, turn to look at the clock and I’ve made it with one measly second to spare!
I felt relief mixed with “Oh god… now I have to do more work”. A blessing and a curse. The next 3 minutes were slow going. The pull-ups were singles, but I made it! It wasn’t the best score, but it was better and I felt proud.
It’s a weird concept (that I seem to have to re-learn often), but sometimes if we want to make it farther, we may actually have to slow down. And though I’m all for being adventurous, sticking to your plan (especially the first time around) can be very helpful. Lastly, while not stressing is good, taking that to the point of being unfocused is not so good, especially when things start to get real.
Post 14.2… take 1. I’m smiling, but all I’m thinking is 2 freakin’ reps!!!!
I decided I wanted to write about what I learned over these past 5 weeks of the CrossFit Open, but trying to condense it all into one post was a bit daunting, so I’m separating my lessons out week by week.
Week 1: “Yes, Lindsay… you can be high maintenance.” A lesson on letting go of control.
Maybe a couple months ago, Coach Max made a comment to me about being high maintenance. I can laugh now at how defensive I got, but at the time I didn’t think this was very funny. I don’t even remember the exact circumstance, but you see… I like to try to create the perfect conditions for my workouts… especially when it’s an important one. I like to be on my own time, have my own space, do my own warm-up and I will sometimes avoid working out with others who could potentially make me look not as good. I fear what others will think of me if I’m not the best at something. So, Max called me out on it. I thought about it all day, and later that night, as I was venting and defending myself to my husband Jeff, he said (as if it was so obvious), “Well, you are kind of high maintenance Linds.” Thanks for being on my side babe!
The thing is, I knew they were both right, and I didn’t want this title. I wanted to be flexible and easy going! Who doesn’t right? So, I decided to practice working on it. Sometimes in the weeks following, I’d even say to Max… “Look how easy going I am am!… “I’m SO low maintenance!”
Enter 14.1. I faintly remember hearing that competitors would be doing the Open workout Thursday nights after the announcement, and then again on Sunday or Monday, but in my mind I assumed this would be a “run through”… like maybe we’d just practice the movements and call it a night. Let me tell you, I have never been so calm before an important workout as I was on the day of the 14.1 announcement, because I really didn’t think I would be doing it that night.
When I learned otherwise, about an hour before “go time”, I immediately went into what I’ll call “Lindsay mode”. I thought to myself… not me! I’m not doing the workout tonight. I tried to think of a good excuse but had none, and quickly realized what I was doing. So instead, I took a deep breath and started putting on my workout shoes. This was my first real test. I had to let go of all the things I wanted to control and trust that I was ready for anything at any moment. “Prepared for the unknown and the unknowable”… this is one of the great claims we make in CrossFit, after all.
In letting go of control, I actually felt a great freedom. I hadn’t stressed all day. I was relaxed and actually kind of excited to give 14.1 a go. If I didn’t do well, I had four more days to try it again, so the pressure was off a little. To my surprise, I did do well, and I owe this in part to my efforts to be more flexible. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to a long five weeks… and each Thursday following, I tried to carry this mentality with me.
“You’ve got to make a conscious choice every day to shed the old – whatever ‘the old’ means for you.” – Sarah Ban Breathnach
When CFCM was at it’s former location on Placentia street, we had some CrossFit posters laminated and hung on a couple of the walls. My favorite one was of a girl overhead squatting, the word “strength” was tattooed on her back, and next to the photo were the words, “The pain passes, but the beauty remains.” I have loved this quote ever since I read it and I think of it often.
I looked up the meaning behind Renoir’s words, because I’m pretty sure he wasn’t referring to CrossFit workouts Here is what I found…
“When French impressionist painter Auguste Renoir was confined to his home during the last decade of his life, Henri Matisse was nearly 28 years younger than him. The two great artists were dear friends and frequent companions. Matisse visited him daily. Renoir, almost paralyzed by arthritis, continued to paint in spite of his infirmities. One day as Matisse watched the elder painter work in his studio, fighting torturous pain with each brush stroke, he blurted out: “Auguste, why do you continue to paint when you are in such agony?”
Renoir replied: “The pain passes but the beauty remains.”
I just love this. He is still living his life… doing what he loves, knowing that his pain is only temporary. It will pass and the beauty of his paintings will remain, and with it the peace that comes from knowing that he didn’t give up.
Sometimes when I am in the midst of a difficult workout, I say to myself “The pain passes…” It is helpful for me to remember that the physical discomfort of CrossFit is temporary. In most cases, 15 minutes or less! If I can remind myself of this, then I can usually continue to push, and when I choose not to let the pain stop me, the result is something beautiful. I am stronger. I am more confident. I am satisfied that I didn’t give in to the negative voices and doubt. It doesn’t happen every time (I’m human after all)… but when it does, it is a beautiful feeling indeed.
Similarly in my life outside the gym, when I am going through a difficult time, I like to think of these words, trusting that the pain I feel will eventually pass… or at least lessen. As have learned in the gym, pain has the ability to teach and grow me, so long as I am open to it doing so. It’s my choice to either keep going or to stop. In the moment, the discomfort may seem unbearable (like heavy snatch days!), but somewhere I hold on to hope that something beautiful can come even from the ugliest of situations or seasons (or bad training days). I believe this because I have experienced it.
I read once an analogy that each of our lives are like a giant work of art… where when it is finished, all of the good and bad, joy and sadness, successes and failures together create a beautiful picture. The dark parts accentuate the light. The pain passes, but the beauty remains.
Don’t give up or lose heart because it hurts now… a glorious work of art is in progress.
I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
This is the primary thought on my mind today and one that gives me a great deal of peace, especially going into the CrossFit Open. This time of year is typically one of stress and high emotion for me. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well in the Open… which often makes me cranky and “high maintenance” according to some. I can’t deny this is probably true, but I’m hoping to be a bit less high strung this time around!
Last week was tough. A particular workout made me especially upset because I didn’t do as well as I thought or hoped I would and then, almost out of nowhere I was hit by this overwhelming awful feeling. In my mind, I was supposed to be pregnant by now. I wasn’t supposed to be training hard for the Open. I wasn’t planning to try to make it to Regionals. No. I was just going to do the workouts at a nice easy pace with my cute little prego belly and cheer for my friends. Well, I’m not pregnant and my belly is just… well, the same. And it’s hard because reality looks different than my expectations… as is often the case.
And here I am. The thing is, I still want to do well in the Open. I still want to make Regionals. I never stopped wanting this. I am competitive and I love being able to compete in CrossFit, but I am also afraid. I’m afraid of not doing as well as I want or as well as the other girls I train with. I’m afraid that I’m going to really suck on a workout. I’m afraid of not meeting the expectations of others. To be completely honest, I was hoping for a reason… an excuse… to take a step back this year, because of my fear. And though I feel more ready than I ever have to “start a family”, it’s not my time yet. All I can do is be in the present and the present is the 2014 Open.
Yes, I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
I have trained hard and well this year. Though my gains are smaller and slower coming these days, I feel calmer and have a better understanding of myself… of my body and what I am capable of. I got my first wave of butterflies this morning thinking about what the Open workouts might be this year, but along with them came confidence and excitement… not just for me but for my gym and my training partners. We have all worked hard and have come a long way in the last year. I also realized that I don’t need an excuse in order to not feel pressure or fear. All I need is to let these things go and do what I love doing (which is competitive exercising, I know…).
I am exactly where I am supposed to be and I am planning to seize this moment.
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.”
-Oliver Wendell Holmes
So it turns out that the things we really want most in life usually take a lot of hard work. This is shocking, I know. Honestly, I think many of us (me included) still live with the delusion that things like relationships, successful careers, skills, and strong, able (or perhaps good looking) bodies will just happen for us… that if we wish for something enough, we will get it.
I got to thinking about this the other day and I will use a rather basic example that I’ll most likely apply to CrossFit and to life, per usual.
I recently decided to learn how to play my guitar. I’ve had my sweet Ibanez since high school when I had a crush on a boy who played guitar. (Yes, it’s true.) I’ve picked it up dozens of times over the years, playing the few chords that I knew, but I’d always get frustrated and quit fairly quickly. I knew if I really wanted to learn to play this time, I would actually need to stick with it for more than a couple weeks. I would need to practice. I would need lessons and accountability. Perhaps most importantly, I would need to go into it with the expectation that its going to be hard and frustrating work, and that I won’t be good overnight… or more realistically, ever… but that I still wanted it regardless.
Then I started to think about CrossFit (here we go!) and how I was when I started. I have written about my beginnings before, but for those of you just joining my sporadic blog, I was not good at it. Despite my fairly new personal training career, I knew next to nothing about lifting, didn’t have the strength to do a pull-up and was afraid to jump on a 20 inch box or kick up to a handstand. For a long time, CrossFit was very frustrating, scary and hard, but I wanted it and I was willing to put in the hard work to get better at it. Five years later, it is still frustrating, scary and hard at times, but I can clearly see the ways in which I have improved and the ways I have changed because I have stuck with it. I couldn’t have even imagined when I started that I might actually be competitive… do a muscle-up, Snatch over 100 pounds, or go to Regionals as an individual. If I could experience so much growth though commitment to CrossFit, surely I could get better at guitar (or most things really) by putting the time in.
I also thought about my 30 years of life (see, I told ya I’d do it!). I am learning very slowly that the life I want to live takes a lot more hard work than I imagined it would. While quitting guitar each time I didn’t get what I wanted out of it is no big deal, it’s a whole other thing to quit on school or a job, on being healthy, on God (or who/whatever you believe in), on an important relationship or a marriage when things get hard or maybe just aren’t as easy and exciting as we thought they would be. I say this because I have quit or been tempted to quit on more significant things in life than guitar and honestly, I don’t love this about myself. Please don’t hear me wrong… there are certainly times when we do need to leave something or someone behind, but giving up on what we want just because we’re uncomfortable is not a great reason. It may seem easier at the time, but (at least in my experience) solves very little… “wherever you go, there you are” right?
I’m sure it’s no secret, but I think some of the best things in life come when we see them through not just the easy, exciting times, but when we stick with them through the really challenging, messy, scary ones as well… the times when we most want to throw in the towel. Though things may not turn out like we expected, we might be surprised that they turn out better, or that we have become a stronger person simply by seeing them through. I have no doubt experienced this in CrossFit, as well as in other areas of life.
Who knows? Maybe I will surprise myself with this whole guitar thing, but for now it’s simply serving as a reminder for me to not give up on what I want and that the things worth having take work (and patience and grace). The songs I play may be unrecognizable now, but I’m hopeful that eventually you’ll be singin’ along with me.