A Study in Being

This weekend was a downer in many ways. For starters, I opened the CrossFit Open with a pretty sad score.

The CrossFit Open 14.1 WOD:
AMRAP10 – 30 double-unders; 15 power snatches (or ground-to-overhead) @ 55lbs.

The WOD began with double-unders, which if you recall, are one of three key elements that are holding me back. This is mostly my fault, as I spent about a year and a half not working on them; I have just started to really consistently work on double-unders in the last few weeks, so I was not expecting to do so well. Regardless, I wanted to do well. I can usually do a single-under followed by a double-under, so that was my method going in to the WOD. Naturally, I got tired mere moments into the WOD and started losing my rhythm. I just wanted to finish my first set of DUs and get to the bar because I’ve been able to snatch 55lbs. since last year’s Open; those were guaranteed reps for me.

I didn’t even complete three rounds in this WOD, and while I know this is a huge area of opportunity for me, it also just felt… well, bad. It wasn’t how I wanted to start the Open this year. Final rep count: 114. There are people throughout the world who have been doing CrossFit for a shorter amount of time, who had–before 14.1–never gotten a DU before, and then went on to string together sets in the double-digits. I wanted to scream and kick and punch my uncoordinated body when I saw those posts, and then I wanted to sulk in the corner while muttering to myself about how it’s just not. fair. However, that’s called being a poor sport, and it’s actually exciting for all those folks to have that kind of breakthrough in the Open! I happen to have a lot of coordination issues with these kinds of things; it’s not surprising that double-unders are taking me so much longer.

However, I am worried 14.2 will just be wall ball shots and chest-to-bar pull-ups–a sure-fire way to further crush me.

But, on the bright side, I spent Saturday and Sunday in open gym sessions, just working on my double-under timing. No huge breakthroughs, except for starting to fix the way I hold the jump rope and how slowly and high I need to jump. Of course, now I pretty much have shin splints again (huzzah), which is the result of being lazy and not taping my arches. Lesson learned.

Because I was so down on my double-unders, I let other things get to me. Even though I had a great time Friday and Saturday out with friends, I moped around during most of my free time, stressed about moving houses so soon. The new owners even came by on Sunday, and I was incredibly detached and depressing to talk to. How am I doing? I’ll tell you how I’m doing, which will go against everything considered culturally acceptable when conversing with strangers; the market is crap, you’re kicking us out six months early so I don’t know if I have the money saved up for another deposit, I just got the news that my student loan payments are about five times higher than I expected under my income-based plan, and I suck at the one thing I really care about right now, which is CrossFit. Also, I still can’t seem to meet guys that are interested in investing in me and vice versa. That, new owner who keeps remarking on how lovely and nice the interior of the house you are forcing me to vacate ahead of the mandatory sixty days, is how I am doing.

Bleh.

After that, I stayed in my sweats (which were actually just my workout clothes from that morning. Yes, I know, I’m gross, whatever, let’s move on), and sat on the couch and watched the Oscars. There are four things that can make me smile when I’m that bummed on life: Ellen, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Benedict Cumberbatch. (I don’t put Doctor Who on that list because that show usually makes me cry, as well.) See also: Benedict Cumberbatch at the Oscars.

My bad mood carried over into the morning, which started with me not even knowing what day of the week it was. Things slowly improved after a second cup of coffee, some venting to my co-workers, a slice of cake, and a really awesome workout tonight. (Strict pull-ups, unassisted? More than 2?? 16 total?! That’s a first.)

SEAtown CrossFit – 3/3/14 WOD
For time: 21-15-9
Kettlebell swings (44lbs.)Box jumps (20″)
Burpees

Time: 8 minutes, 18 seconds

I felt like I pushed myself harder than normal. Maybe it was to overcome the blerch, and maybe it was to prove to myself that there are still skills I am making significant improvements on (and to remind myself that it’s because I’ve worked on them).

We all have our weaknesses. As I grow up, I’m learning more about mine. Some weaknesses take lots of time to patch up, and it can be difficult to remember that when it seems everything else is falling apart. I don’t want to say that it will all be okay, though, because that seems so passive and dismissive. No, it will be okay because I’ve learned to face things head-on. That’s what CrossFit and these last few years really taught* me.

 

 

 

*Also, British television is awesome. That’s another very valuable lesson.

 

 

Regeneration*

My identity is ever-becoming.

I am acting strange because I am once again wrestling with who I am, what I want, what I love, where I’m going.

This move was necessary, a step to trigger the turbulence.

I’m sorry to my friends to whom I’ve sent a million messages, and I apologize that they’re so dramatic. But this is me. This is me processing. It seems, at times, dark and chaotic. And it is.

But the thing is…

this is me becoming better than I ever was before.

* And yes, of course this is a tip-of-the-hat to my favorite TV show.** Which also brings me to another point: I’m going to be on media black-out from Nov. 23rd through the 25th. I don’t have access to BBC America, so I’ll be catching The Day of the Doctor on the 25th, and I don’t want to hear any spoilers.

** EDIT: That should say “favourite,” I suppose.

In Which I Admit Weaknesses

“…It’s me,” I stated aloud.

Two of us were talking about the frustrations of dating as a twenty-something, and I finally admitted what others have probably long suspected. And as I continue to process why it is that I remain single, I have to take accountability for many things. Now, it’s not to say that several folks from the last three years are off the hook for treating me like a Swiffer mop (that is, as something to help clean the mess temporarily and then tossed aside and forgotten), but it’s to really lay out what’s going on–and what needs to be processed.

Here’s the thing that I haven’t–until very recently–realized about myself: I’m flighty. During another conversation, my friend looked at me and asked, in all seriousness, “Is the reason you’re into guys who live nowhere near you partially because you always need a way out?” It didn’t take long for me to answer, Yes.

And as I thought about every relationship I had that had an “official” title, I realized that I was always creating a contingency plan. I thought about all the recent situations in which I found myself drawn to multiple persons of interest, and they were all “safe” in that they lived far away, or they obviously couldn’t commit, and even though all the building blocks were in place for yet another disappointment, it always gave me a quick exit. So why is it that I never come clean in the first place and say, “I’m the one we should be worried about. I don’t know what I want, and I know you’re really awesome, but at this point in time, I’m problematic. What I need right now is a friend, and can you be that, even if it means I actively have to push aside my feelings?”

Even with Portland, I had to leave. I found myself falling in love with a city, and I had to prove to myself that I could leave. I had to leave to see if it was real. It’s “if you love something, let it go.” But when it comes to me, I’m not letting anyone or anything catch me in the first place.

So… why am I flighty? Am I afraid that commitment equates stagnation, whether that’s in love or work or just life in general?

In the meantime, as I work through this, I am committed to working on my own interests, doing things not to impress someone else, but to accomplish my goals and reach new heights. I am pushing myself to speak my mind, to put my intentions out there, to say something when it needs saying. I am striving to be better, to realize that searching for the perfect partner will do no good if I cannot be in a place where I am ready to be an amazing partner (which stems from continuing to grow as an individual).

Roots will have to wait, but I will at least cultivate the field.

I’m Not Giving Up

I’m just giving in.

Some people would say I feel too much. I say, “Too much? What is that?” No, but seriously. I am The Person Who Feels Everything, surely one of the most Sisyphean of all fates. It’s pushing an emotional boulder up the mountain of your past relationships, only to have it roll down on you. It’s being the person who feels enough for three relationships, who could hold a feelings summit, who could hand out feelings on the street like a flier for discounted sub sandwiches and still have some emotions left at the end of the day.

via Thought Catalog – “You’re Always Allowed to Have Feelings”

There are some days when I wish I didn’t have so many feelings. When I wish the emotional capabilities and the ebbs and the flows in how I see the world and my life and my current state would just disappear for a second.

I’m not the only person like this. I just happen to be one that has an outlet, that has this blog to type into, but who craves finding that one partner who can actually just be so comforting and awesome and completely unexpected that I don’t even feel the slightest bit strange telling him these same things. And because I have this penchant for analysis and processing and intensity and a tendency to fall for no one but tortured souls, I still have this blog and not the other thing I mentioned.

(I have to admit that I’ve been listening non-stop to Wrecking Ball because it’s pretty much the description of every “almost lover” I’ve had since 2010.)

When you have too many feelings, you feel those connections, you see everything that could be, you see how to help, and you pain yourself wanting to make things better even if it’s not your job. And even when you know this, even when you tell yourself to run far away from complicated potential, you still find yourself lying awake at night, staring at the ceiling, wondering when the pattern will stop. Because it always returns.

How impossible is it that someone will realize he needs to break his own patterns and destructive habits, and face his own demons, and realize I’m actually the best thing to happen to him, and that treating me like just an option isn’t actually an option?

It’s pretty far out there, and I want to divorce myself from the idea that it’s even a possibility, because so far, it hasn’t happened. Manic pixie dream girl syndrome, I suppose.

And what I’m feeling now, as autumn takes its hold, is just tired. But as usual, I never give up. Finally identifying the pattern that’s plagued me for several years is a step forward. Now, what to do about it?

Well. That’s a whole new journey.

Thanks for listening, blogosphere. I can’t hold onto those kinds of thoughts indefinitely. Someone needed to know.


All I wanted was to break your walls.

The Week In

I’m currently sitting at my dining table, drinking what might possibly be the best hot chocolate I’ve ever made. Coconut milk, raw honey, cocoa powder, and a dash of cinnamon all together in one warming concoction.

I’m also currently sitting at my dining table in my new rental in Seattle, WA. I am Ardith Laverne, the young woman who is from many cities in the Pacific Northwest, but most recently from Portland, Oregon, which I left to move back to Seattle.

I knew when I made the decision to move back to Seattle that it would be tough. There are many things in Portland that I love. However, I also know that Seattle is where I need to continue my professional development, as well as the place where I can round out the remaining years in my twenties.

Someone at the gym tonight asked me if I split my time between the two cities after I explained my situation. I thought about it only for a second or two, and realized that yes, I do. Portland and Seattle are both home to me. It’s kind of difficult logistically, although it really isn’t that difficult. After all, on a map, the two cities are only inches apart.

I think roots are going to have to wait. There are so many different factors that can come into play, and I’m feeling like a leaf in the wind instead of a tree. I think a big part of it will be how this whole partnering business goes, so I remain open-minded to lots of different scenarios. In the meantime, all I have to worry about is myself, and anything can happen. (Exhibit A: moving back to Seattle.)

What I’m getting at–just over a week into my new situation and routine–is that I’m staring down the barrel of uncertainty again, but this time, it feels good. When I started my job search in the Seattle area, I asked for friends to think good thoughts. One friend wrote her thoughts out and shared them with me; she sent a message to the universe and said, “Only let this move happen if it is for the highest good.” In other words, let any move be only because the right things have aligned.

As a storyteller, I’m curious to know how this all turns out so that I can look back and turn it into narration. I want to retell the lessons learned, and I want to see how I learn to navigate my relationships in Seattle, Portland, and even my hometown. I want to explore my new city because it’s changed and I’ve changed since the last time I lived here.

But most of all, I’m hoping that this new chapter defies convention in many ways. I don’t like “normal plans,” and I have high hopes for the next few years. I have high hopes of finding beauty in strength, and finding out nothing is impossible, and that second-guessing myself never did me any good.

And on a related note, I PR’d my front squat tonight. 125lbs. (for 3 reps!). That’s my own body weight. And I got there by listening to those three key themes I just listed in the above paragraph.

If believing in those mantras works for CrossFit, well, I think it’ll work out just fine in life.

 

Cheers to the unknown.

Unconquered

I am the master of my fate;

I am the captain of my soul.

– William Ernest Henley

It’s been hard to write lately. Things are changing very quickly. They are moving faster than I expected, and it’s all because of me.

For those that haven’t heard, I accepted a job at the University of Washington. I begin in mid-September, where I will be taking my advising skills to the public four-year realm as part of the School of Public Health. I am nervous and excited and happy and confused and all sorts of different nuances. What I do know is when I need to be at work on that first day, and for now, that will have to be enough.

I spent a lot of today talking about CrossFit and love. My one-year anniversary is coming up, and I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on this past year, as it really has much more to it than nutrition and fitness. That’s a story for another day, however.

Today, I talked at length about being a manic pixie dream girl and how I’m tired of my penchant for trying to help (“rescue”) the males in my life. As I have quoted many a time, “We are the hero of our own story.” (Thank you, Mary McCarthy.) That goes for all of us, regardless of biological sex or gender identity or sexual orientation. We are the hero of our own story.

I am looking for someone who understands that. He will understand that for himself and about me. He will be so incredibly fascinating by his own account that I can feel safe and comfortable in sharing my own stories. He’s going to be different. He’s going to be unexpected. We will find the space in our own stories where things don’t simply fit together like puzzle pieces–they instead create something new, something where the individual parts are still visible and still meaningful, yet the sum of the whole is more than those individual pieces.

I write about love a lot. But I write a lot about my journey there, because being alone is something I want to be good at. This summer has been such a good thing for me. And maybe, yes, I’m still unsure about the possibility of ending up lonely. As another friend and I discussed, it would be lovely to be with someone that looked at you not with lust, but with love and adoration and respect and the most genuine kindness. It would lovely to be with someone who would say, without prompting, without curating the perfect words, “That woman right there? I love her.” They would say it with feeling, with realness, not with the sugar-coated insincerity social media has blown up.

I fully expect the same of myself, too. I want to feel that spark and the simultaneous calm that comes from being with someone who’s a good match. There are a lot of opinions out there on “knowing” you’re with the right person; I am of the opinion that, if I allow myself to, I will be able to feel and know. I’m optimistic, because I haven’t quite gotten there yet–and it’s scary, not knowing what it feels like to know (see what I did there?). I have been wrong. I have been wrong a lot. I haven’t conquered nor mastered this.

And why should I have done so already? There has been so much change in my life, in who I am and who I am becoming. I think I like who I am becoming. (That’s a Drake quote?) I cannot (but I will) wait to see how things unfold.

I am a lot to handle. I bring a depth of thought and feeling to the table, and it is overwhelming to many. But… someone out there can handle it. Maybe we’ve already met, but does that matter when the nature of life is somewhat turbulent? I know he can make it through, and we can make it through to each other. I trust him.

Because he’s out there, too, hopefully searching for himself in this wild frontier we call life.

 

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Mulling it Over

Our individuality is all, all, that we have. There are those who barter it for security, those who repress it for what they believe is the betterment of the whole society, but blessed in the twinkle of the morning star is the one who nurtures it and rides it in, in grace and love and wit, from peculiar station to peculiar station along life’s bittersweet route.
Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

I am richly complex, and the story I am writing follows suit. I will not give this up to be the “safe choice.” I will not have my ambitions quashed by society’s institutions and individuals that gave up on themselves and their dreams long ago.

This is the story of how I lived, and my biggest hope is that it is far from ordinary.

Via Ashley

San Francisco, with its stars. For more, visit: http://thierrycohen.com/

(Thanks, Ashley, for reblogging all of those pictures. I had heard about them months ago and nearly forgotten.)

 

 

Three Little Words

I miss you.

I’d like to say those words to someone and mean it again. Not in an obsessed “I can’t live without you” kind of way, but in a way that means, “I care about you, and I wish you could be with me right now for this particular little adventure. It’s fun now, but it could be better with you around.” Not a lonely “I miss you,” but something richer.

What an odd concept. To miss missing someone.

Granted, I am still not quite sure if I can afford any more of my trust to any one single man. I would like to, but he should probably prove trustworthy first before we move into this “I miss you” business.

But, I hope I can give someone that trust. I hope I can soon. It’s been a long journey over the years through dysfunction and abuse of trust. I just want something good, something real, something mutually and wholly wonderful. And I believe I deserve that. (He deserves it, too.)

Because I’d like to know that all that missing eventually leads to a great big bear hug and that ever-present short girl dream of happily snuggling my face into that man’s chest. And hopefully it comes together with me finally saying, “I missed you,” in that muffled voice that only turns up when I refuse to move my face from that aforementioned chest.

I deserve to be with someone I miss. And the perfect partner deserves to be missed by me.

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You Don’t Know Anything, So Stop Listening to Yourself

You Don’t Know Anything, So Stop Listening to Yourself via HelloGiggles.com.

Listen to your gut. Fight your instinct.

I’ve been sitting on this post for months upon months upon months. It just sat there with a link to the article. It’s been in the back of my mind since making that scary leap from graduate school to the Real World v.2.0.

“Your instincts are trained habits that you created somewhere along the way. And they are usually just what you’re comfortable with. And some of us are comfortable being unhappy, being taken advantage of, being walked all over, ignored, overlooked, under respected, being made to settle. Your gut tells you the truth, it tells you when something is off. It tells you what no one else will.”

There was a lot of that, carried over from goodness knows how many years of the same old bad habits. I’m trying to break that now. I’ve been doing so much to challenge myself, to step out of this comfort zone, and to make a stand for the person I want to be and the life I want to have.

Being intentional in my goals towards a fitter, healthier self has helped a lot. CrossFit still makes me anxious day after day (or WOD after WOD, I should say), but I still go. Even if my gains aren’t phenomenal like a lot of my friends’, it’s still personal progress. It’s still my victory.

Stepping outside of the comfort zone in advising pushes me to be a better professional–and to have more of an impact on my students’ lives. It’s not easy for me to ask those follow-up questions of, “What could you have done to be more successful this quarter?” and “How will what’s happened this quarter affect your next quarter here?” and so forth. But when I do, I see the wheels turning. I see those reflective pieces start to come together for my students. And I see again why it is what I do matters, and why I simply do what I do.

Being new-ish to a city is tough. It has its own challenges, but I am still making that transition happen. Interestingly enough, my instinct is to move on to the next place quickly. But I think this time, I’m going to stay. Since college, I haven’t lived in one city for more than two years. In fact, I haven’t made it two full years in one place since leaving Bellingham. As I’ve said before, I think I’m ready to put down some roots in Portland.

And that scares me to no end.

I need to try this, though. I need to give myself this chance to stabilize. It will give me the chance to establish a real home again, to become a part of a community, and to keep on this pattern of growth. Growth doesn’t have to mean running from place to place. It doesn’t mean I have to give up that love of travel and exploration, either.

You bet these next few years will be full of mini-breakdowns and embarrassments. (Heck, I hit myself in the face multiple times on my exceedingly low-rep WOD today–however, I completed the workout at the prescribed weight, so I’m going to take that as a victory. [That’s part of the new philosophy moving forward–unless I know the prescribed weight is physically dangerous to me, I will attempt it, even if it means I’m slow and I’m dead-last each time.])

And that’s all okay. Instinct says it’s not, but I’ve got that gut feeling that things will be just fine.

Happy Friday, everyone.

I can see everything from here.

Ten Things That Happened to Me When I Began CrossFit

Alternate title: “That Time I Joined a Cult and Liked It.”

I was inspired by “Ten Things That Happen to You When You Begin CrossFit.”

1. I quickly stopped doubting the CrossFit philosophy. I had heard the hype, seen the photos of ice bathes and torn hands and bruises, and been annoyed with all the PR and WOD status updates. So, naturally, I figured it was another fad, and I viewed the whole community warily. Of course, I’m the type of person that tries to subscribe to a “don’t knock it until you try it” philosophy, so I finally went and tried it out.

After my first Workout Of the Day (WOD), I could barely walk for the next four days. It was absurd, but I hadn’t been pushed like that in ages. Something clicked, and I eventually went back for a second session. And a third. And…

2. I re-discovered the power of a team. I lamented a lot in grad school about how the lack of a team made working out incredibly difficult for me. I missed having my dance and cheer teammates around, and I missed the push and pull that comes with trying to better yourself while trying to keep up with others. At CrossFit HEL, I discovered teammates who were willing to get to know me and willing to cheer me on through the modifications and the scaling and the self-doubt. They keep me coming back each day.

3. I underestimated myself. I started at zero. Square one. Nothing. I was so incredibly out-of-shape and the images of CrossFit women who are cut and strong beyond belief didn’t help. Now, as I tackle each workout, I know that there will be challenges I run into. I know that I’ll still be scaling and modifying for a long time, but I am also realizing that I underestimate what I can already do.

In the past few weeks, I realized that my Grace benchmark time has dropped significantly and the weight I used had shot up significantly. I could be doing more in that case. I had a complex surrounding box jumps, and all of a sudden, last Saturday, I was hitting 20″ box jumps. I also hit my first double-unders (jump rope–two twirls, son) that same day–after whipping the jump rope into my shins multiple times the previous Tuesday.

Understanding that I’m balancing this underestimation with trying not to injure myself is going to be key. I’m already starting to push my limits a bit more, and the mental breakthroughs are already astounding.

4. I was scared. Period. Scared of being laughed at. Scared of hurting myself. Scared of not being accepted. But I found a team that supports me, and that made a world of difference. I tell people thinking about starting CrossFit, “You really need to find a team and a trainer that you mesh with.” Be intentional in seeking out the folks that will see you at your most defeated. Worked for me.

5. Then I wasn’t scared–but just nervous before hitting the floor. I did my first CrossFit Games WOD while I was in Las Vegas, and I was nervous. A judge would be watching me, I was going to an out-of-town box, my regular trainer wasn’t there, and I had just previously maxed my overhead snatch at 55lbs. the week prior. I had butterflies to the extent that I thought it was cheerleading try-outs all over again.

I’m usually anxious before any WOD because everything is different, and it’s constantly a competition with myself. From what I’ve heard, this anxious feeling doesn’t fade for some. I’ve always been anxious before my biggest and most important performances, and historically speaking, good things have come from those. I like the rush, even if it’s stressful beforehand.

6. I started thinking about fitness and wellness even more holistically. I am more conscious about what I eat because it helps me perform better, and when I perform better, I feel better. When I feel better, I am happier. When I’m happier, I’m more productive. I’m more dynamic. I’m not always going to “be on” every day, and CrossFit probably isn’t going to be a magic bullet for my love life, but I am incorporating much more of my individual wellness pieces into a cohesive structure.

7. Any ego I has been completely destroyed. If I thought I was the best or better than anyone at any point, that’s gone. I’m a fairly humble person to begin with, so CrossFit has been great for keeping me in check. There is always something to strive towards in this plan. That said…

8. I take ownership of my shortcomings–and my accomplishments. I know the things I cannot do yet, I know the things I can do better, and I know the things I have learned to do better. Maybe I can’t hit Rx’d WODs at this point in time, but I’m sure doing more than I did when a typical week was maybe two nights of yoga and lots of beers.

9. My arms came back! Enough said. (Although they are shot from last night’s WOD.)

10. I began to establish a home in Portland, OR. Does it sound funny to center my new universe around a gym? Not after reviewing the other nine reasons.

I love the area I’ve landed in. I’m almost one year in, and I can say that this transition out of grad school is going much better than my transition out of undergrad. I have many challenges to face and tackle yet, but in being intentional and continuing to reflect, I’m finding that things are taking on deeper and richer meaning–and that has made a world of difference.