Fun and Anxiety

Today at Crossfit was a lot of fun.  It was a WoD that mostly played to my strengths and I beat Will’s time by 3 minutes-ish, so I was pretty pleased with myself on that front.  I really like weights, so most of the WoDs involving weights are going to be ones I like, as was the case today.  After last week being difficult, it was nice to know I hadn’t lost my Crossfit mojo.

Mondays are my day off.  I have a pretty flexible schedule as a freelance writer and as a tarot reader (I have like 50 jobs currently).  I realized early on that I needed to set aside one day for myself where I didn’t deal with work.  I still sometimes end up conducting interviews, checking emails, making appointments and other things here and there on a Monday, but fundamentally it is my day off.  Downtime.

Sometimes I deal well with downtime, and sometimes my free floating anxiety attaches to whatever it can and makes for a miserable day.  Today has been when one of those days where my brain is spinning out on me, worried about things that either do not matter or are out of my control.  I’ve meditated, I’ve tried reading, and I’ve tried a few other tricks I know, but to no avail.  The worst thing for me is having to wait to move on things.  There are a lot of things I could do, but most of them have to be done tomorrow.  I need to have something to think about, something to do.  I finally decided to bug Will with it – his own fault, he asked me what I was up to and I was currently up to making myself anxious over trifles.  He suggested we go for a run.

Well, yeah.  Duh.  I think this is part of why I need him around (don’t tell him that, though, it will merely feed his rather large ego).  He thinks of things that are obvious and good solutions, but that I would not come up with myself as I am sitting in the throes of anxious-over-nothing.  Do I know that doing something physical will help me?  Yes.  Is it one of the things I try to do when I am dealing with a misbehaving brain?  No.  The exercise thing is still too new a concept for me to apply it to my daily life readily.

That is going to change.

We didn’t run far.  Basically we did a loop around the half block here, so not very far at all, however the anxiety is gone.  Will kept pace with me, walked when I walked (although I did run over half of it), and generally had me laughing by the time we got back home.   Running around the block has been his go-to exercise for a few weeks now for when he is sleepy, bored, annoyed, or whatever other unpleasant emotion is plaguing him.  I think that I am done talking about maybe joining sometime (I could make that vaguer, right?) and at the point where I am just going to go with him when he goes.  It does not take long to run (or run/walk) around the block.  Also, I will be able to chart my progress as I know our block very well.  If I do this often enough, maybe running won’t be such a huge ordeal.  Today it was kind of fun.  First the half block, then the whole block, and as I get one section down to running nonstop, I can add more.

Depression and anxiety are two things I am very familiar with dealing with as I have had both since high school, maybe longer.  I have a made the conscious effort to do Crossfit three times a week and yoga twice a week because that is a good pre-emptive strike at depression and anxiety.  On days where I do physical activity that is strenuous, I tend to be happy and less prone to anxiety.  Considering today was a Crossfit day, I should not technically even be having the anxiety issues, but there are always exceptions.  I have a whole bag of tricks that I use to nullify their influence in my life, but I just realized that most of those tricks are sedentary in nature.  Exercise is a new trick that works really well and almost instantaneously.  I just need to remember exercise and use it more often.

Goals and Nature

I have to set goals for myself.  I need something to work towards, something to accomplish.  I set both large and small goals, short term and long term goals.  Each week my small, short term goal is to go to Crossfit Simple to work out three times a week and do yoga twice a week.

Part of the whole exercise thing for me is that I need to be constantly accomplishing something.  Even if that just means that I showed up and did the best I was able to do that day.  While I want to lose weight, if I concentrate on weight loss being my goal, it is not going to work out well for me.  Been there, done that.

I was very successful with Weight Watchers several years ago, lost around 40 pounds, but by the end of my time doing Weight Watchers, I seriously had some self-hatred, body hatred issues.  I felt bad about how I looked, about the weight I still had, about the fact that it was so hard to get the weight off.  It became this whole narcissistic endeavor in achieving thinness – and even when I was in high school, I did not have a body that did thinness.  Too much hip and chest to be model thin.  I’ve talked with others who have done Weight Watchers – including several friends I consider to be pretty skinny – and all of them eventually felt the same way about it.  Towards the end you just end up feeling fat, even when you are succeeding.

So, while I want to lose weight, right now I want to lose weight because the more weight I lose, the more likely I will be successful in doing a strict pull-up.  I think if I was pulling up less weight, it might not be this impossible, horrifying task.  Really, that is what a lot of my weight loss is about right now.  I am sure if I was moving less weight around, I would run faster, squat easier, push-ups would be easier, and my performance would be overall much better.  I want to perform better and do much better at the things I am already doing at Crossfit.  I want to consistently beat Will at timed WoD’s (although, he keeps getting better, stronger, faster, too, so that may just be something I am always working on).

To keep on track with getting better, I have to set goals.  Will doesn’t like to plan tomorrow or next month, so me telling him that in a year and two months I want to do the Spartan Sprint in Indiana with the Crossfit Simple team is just too far off of a goal to think about much.  But I need the long-term goal.  Will and I both kind of thought that maybe I would do better if I mentally prepped for 2014, instead of next year, but the people at Crossfit seem to think that in another year I should be able to do it.  Our trainer, Scott, said if I really wanted to do it that we could work towards that goal, but that he’d be giving me homework for over the weekends.  I was cool with that, as I would really prefer to be active for some period of time every day of the week.  I have five days of the week planned out, so homework for the weekend filled things out nicely.

Will balked at homework.  Said he didn’t have time. (he lies)

The homework Scott gave me (since Will didn’t have time) for this weekend was great.  He wanted me to go walking in a creek.  Check out stones – how they fall, which way they tilt, that kind of deal.  This sounded like a lot of fun.  I figured that I would get wet and/or muddy, but that seemed like it would be fun, too.

Will made the time.  I think he is worried that if I go out in nature by myself I will somehow manage to get irrevocably injured.  Or have a really great time without him.  He told me once I could not go hiking in Giant City alone because there were bears (for those of you unaware, Southern Illinois is NOT a home to bears – it was hilariously ridiculous).  He then told me that in winter, I couldn’t go by myself because the animals were hungry and might eat me.  I could not go in spring by myself, because that was mating season and too dangerous with animals in rut.  I could not go by myself in summer because it was too hot and that made animals cranky and likely to attack.  With fall, he said, the problem was right there in the title – too many things fall in the fall and I could be easily injured if out by myself.

I apparently cannot walk a creek alone, either.

Scott said to go slow and be careful, and we did.  Well, I did.  Will is pretty at home anywhere outside, so he could have gone 5 times the distance without me.  We only managed to walk a mile in the creek, although that alone took around an hour and a half.  Although, a good amount of that time was Will instructing me on how and where to walk, what types of rocks are slippery (most of them), what poison ivy was and wasn’t (I already knew this one, I mean, come on I’ve known poison ivy since I was a kid in the woods), how to cook and eat pokeweed (don’t if it is purple, double boil) and other things of that nature.  We also saw a snake that was curled up in a fallen down tree.  It looked like a copperhead, but Will discerned it to be just a water snake.  Several skinks – I love lizards and skinks are super cool.  The highlight of this was seeing a scarlet tanager – had no idea what this bird was when we saw it , just finished looking it up in my bird book –  but it was beautiful.  This bird is brilliant shade of red, with black wings.  It looked almost like cardinal who was confused about its coloring.  Very vibrant in color, and the red head had eyes that looked like the bird had applied black eyeliner for a very dramatic look.  Simply stunning.

I waded in water up to my read end.  After being hot most of the day, the wading in water was really nice.  I almost wished that the creeks were fuller.  It would have been nice to swim today and I am short enough that wading can turn to swimming pretty easily.

The thing about hiking in a creek full of slippery rocks is that it really does tire you out pretty quickly.  Will could have gone on endlessly – the man has the footing of a goat.  It is rare to see him lose his balance.  I am getting better at balance with regular yoga and the various Crossfit exercises, but it still is not my strong spot.  I only fell once and managed to catch myself on my hands instead of my knees, but I slipped around a lot.  Wet rocks are very slippery.  I know, the sun is hot, too.  Captain Obvious over here.

Will and I decided that regardless of future homework assignments from Scott, we are going to hike that creek more.  Further next time.  We did not have a great deal of time today – Will and his dad were working on the front porch so time was an issue.  However, I am going to make time to do it again for many reasons.  First of all, it was super fun and super pretty.  I love nature and I love animals.  The more I am out and about the more I see.  I am even chipping away at my irrational fear of spiders.  There was a wolf spider today that I thought of as merely pretty instead of frightening.  Knowing which ones are poisonous actually helps.  Why be frightened of something that fundamentally cannot hurt you?

The second reason I am going to do it again is because it tired me out.  The more often I hike with Will the better and stronger my footing will be and I will have more stamina with it.  The third reason is that Will is just so happy when he is outside.  He smiles all the time.  He is chatty.  He is just happy to be outside.  It is miraculous how pleased he is when he is in nature.  We were doing a good job of hiking a minimum of once a week before the tornado hit Giant City.  We kind of lost our rhythm then, in part because the weather was surreal, but I think I am going to try to get back into the swing of it again.

My long term fitness goal at this point is the Spartan Sprint.  This means that I will need to just deal with running in order to get proficient at it.  This also means that I am motivated to deal with the running.  My goal for the end of the year is to climb the rope at Crossfit.  I figure that I should be able to tackle that easily by December.  I am also hoping to run the Turkey Trot – a 5K – with my sister in November.  I may only be able to run part of it, but I will consider it successful if I can run at least half of it while walking half.

If I focus on goals that celebrate what my body can do, instead of focusing on goals centered on what my body isn’t, I am happier overall.  Part of why Crossfit has stuck where other things have not is that I am constantly improving, beating old times, lifting heavier weights.  The improvement is proven and constant.  Being at war with my body is what caused me to be out of shape in the first place.  Celebrating and enjoying what my body can do, what I can do, is what has helped me enjoy getting into shape and what keeps me working at it even when I have a hard time.

Fajita Frittata from Mark’s Daily Apple

So, on day 6 of no carbs or sugar.  Basically, if it is not in an unprocessed form (with a few minor exceptions, like Braggs’ Liquid Aminos) then I am not eating it.  I am lucky in that I can make up a huge batch of food, and eat the same thing everyday and not be too upset about the lack of variety.  Last week I marinated some chicken breasts and then baked them in the oven with onions and green peppers and I have lived off of that for a week.  I have a new batch marinating right now – they go well with guacamole (avocados, cilantro, lime juice, tomatoes, onions – easy peasy), but I am thinking this week I will add the chicken to salads and see how that works.

I decided to try out a new recipe from Mark’s Daily Apple, a site I have been reading much of these past few weeks.  Whenever I decide to do something, I find it best to steep myself in as much information as possible, as Mark’s Daily Apple has tons of info.  It also has recipes.  I like recipes.  I do not always follow them to the letter – I will double or triple the garlic, leave out anise whenever suggested, and my new found love of cilantro has me adding twice as much of it as necessary to everything – but when it comes to something totally new, I do follow it as closely as possible until I get the idea behind it down.

Enter frittatas.  I have never before eaten nor cooked a frittata.  Therefore I followed this recipe pretty much to the letter (although I did double the garlic, can’t be helped).  I found it to be really good, although much better with the guacamole added to it.  I used my recipe for guacamole instead of his.  I am sure his is good, but I like tomatoes.

My personal preference notes on this recipes are as follows – cut things up smaller.  The structural integrity of the frittata kind of falls apart around the strip of meat and peppers.  I think that next time I will make bite sized pieces of these ingredients as I believe it will hold together a bit better.  Right now, cutting the frittata into pieces (this makes a HUGE amount of food, so I have breakfast for the next eleventy years) to store in the fridge is causing some trouble.  The pieces do not hold together very well, but that is the nature of strips in egg based foods.  The frittata is much prettier with the food in strips, but I am a function over form woman every time.  I am not trying to entice anyone into eating the frittata, I am merely wanting to eat it myself.

I would probably also triple the garlic, but again, I really enjoy garlic.  I would also add more cilantro, but I also really, really like cilantro.  How have I lived this long without eating it regularly?  I bet I could put the rest of it in a salad for dinner… It is so cheap ($.79 for a whole bunch that I have used in three things today) and it makes everything just zing.  Cilantro may be my new best food friend.

I am thinking that I may start doing some heavy experimentation with frittatas after I am through eating my huge supply.  I think that all kinds of cool things can be thrown into eggs (something with spinach I think will be next – what would go well with spinach in eggs?) and I love the ability to make a large amount of food at one time that can be consumed later when hungry.

So – thank you Mark’s Daily Apple for introducing me to the frittata!  Yum!

 

Additional:  Will tried the frittata this morning for breakfast and liked it but said that the meat and peppers were too big and needed to be cut down.  I told him he clearly did not read my blog.  It was nice that he agreed with me, but he is a function over form person, too.

There’s No Crying in Crossfit

One of the movies of my youth, “A League of Their Own”, has a very annoyed Tom Hanks telling one of the female baseball players, “There’s no crying in baseball!”  I would like to say that there is no crying in Crossfit – it has a nice ring to it, but for second time in a year, I had a difficult time not crying in a WoD.

The first time I cried during a Crossfit workout was on the first year anniversary of my father’s death.  I was determined to be fine that day, but after running laps (there seemed to be an endless number of them) I just started crying uncontrollably.  I am running and crying, probably looking ridiculous, feeling even more ridiculous.  My trainer was ready to just let me out of the WoD at this point, as I was crying and taking forever as running is not my strong suit, but luckily, Will – who knows my mental make up better than anyone – said that he should let me finish the WoD.  After all, the only thing worse than crying in front of people during a WoD would be if that meant I was unable to finish to a WoD.  Crying in front of people + not finishing = ruined day.

Yesterday’s crying had no reason to it, which is why it was weird.  We did two WoD’s, and the running laps as the exception, they were pretty fun ones. I kind of felt like I was slow and lethargic, but that has been the week of working out for me.  I can only hope that next week is better, as lethargy is not something I want to bring to my workouts.  The second WoD is one I should have rocked the socks off of – 200 jump ropes and 200 sit-ups – two things I am actually really good at.  The jump ropes were pretty easy, although I can normally do over a 100 before I trip myself up, and I tripped myself up a few more times than usual, but I figured I was tired from the previous WoD.  The sit-ups were just torturous.  By the time I hit 75, I was struggling to keep my composure the entire way.  I simply was not going to cry through one of my favorite exercises.

I tried to concentrate on not letting Will beat me in time on this WoD.  I am better at jump ropes and sit-ups and he had kicked my ass in the previous WoD.  This worked to get me through to 150.  After that, it was mainly me focusing on math to keep from crying.

I finished the WoD (ahead of Will, ha!), put my abmat away, and went outside and just cried.  It felt more like release crying rather than sad crying, but it was just weird and annoying.  The one saving grace was no one was in the parking lot, so I was able to feel the breeze on my face, watch the many birds that seem to live in the parking lot, and cry enough that whatever was needing to be released got the hell out, and regain my composure.  I was left kind of feeling hollow, but not in a bad way.  Just like something that needed to move on finally did so.   Hopefully, I cried out the feelings of lethargy of the week.

I was left feeling like the best thing in the world would be some booze (Will thought I said boobs, so obviously next time I am going to call it “hooch” just to see what happens), but opted out of that impulse as well.  I am on day 6 of no sugar or carbs not found in fruits or veggies (i.e. no bread, potatoes, rice, crackers, chips, etc.), and I do not want to mess that up with alcohol at this stage of the game.

Because I am a nerd, I then spent time researching crying after WoDs online.  I am not alone in this apparently, although most of the tears I read about seemed born more of frustration there were quite a number that were just releases like mine was.

But still.  Super weird.  This exercise thing is a whole new world of experiences I am unfamiliar with.  I am getting familiar with them, though, and I like new experiences.  I am just hoping most of them will be tear free, because man, I hate crying.

Meditation Variations

When I was a little kid, I had allergic asthma.  I couldn’t eat dairy without running the risk of not being able to breathe.  I was put on a medication to help my breathing – Theo-Dur – which was a central nervous system stimulant.  In my head I always called it Theodore, you know, like in Alvin and the Chipmunks.  As with most of my childhood memories, I do not know how long I was on this medication, but it feels like it was years.  I do know that I was on this medication when I was supposed to be at an age where I got lots of sleep, including naps.

I did not get lots of sleep while taking a central nervous system stimulant.  One of the side effects is even insomnia.  However, my parents did put me to bed with the hope that I would sleep.

Instead, I sang, read books with a flashlight, worried about the monsters in the closet or under the bed, and generally stayed awake.  At one point, either my father or my mother told me to clear my mind and think of nothing.

Sure.  While I do that, go sit in a corner and do not think about a white elephant.  Be sure to let me know how that works out for you.

I spent hours upon hours lying in bed, hopped up on this drug, thinking about nothing.  I would try to think about nothing.  Then I would think about how if I was thinking about nothing, I was still actually thinking about something, and I would try to blank my mind.  I would then spin out into infinity, thinking about thinking about nothing, while thinking about thinking about nothing, forever and ever.  Eventually, I got to the point where I was able to chase these thoughts of thinking about thinking about nothing to infinity away.  I was able to let them go.  Release them into the void.  I would be able to blank my mind and find that calm.  I wouldn’t be able to sleep, but I was able to find a bit of rest.  The nights I successfully let go of the thoughts of thinking about nothing, I did get to sleep easier, although not earlier, than the nights when I sang or read books or tried to discern what the monster in the closet wanted.

What I did not realize at the time was that I was meditating.  As an adult who does not wittingly consume caffeine, I am able to meditate quite easily, as I trained myself to meditate while basically on speed.  From the many books and articles I have read on the subject of meditation, the hardest part in learning to meditate is the clearing of your mind.  Thinking about nothing.  However, the process of learning to think about nothing, even including spinning out into infinity, is training your brain how to reach that place of meditation.  Many people try meditation for a while and give up on it after they do not think about nothing successfully.  “I could never clear my mind completely,” people have told me.  However, as with so many things, they are focused on the destination, when the journey is so much more the point.  It is the exercise, not the goal of the exercise, that really matters.

Beyond that, simply sitting and thinking about nothing, clearing your mind, breathing deeply, may work for some people, but it is not necessarily going to work for you.  Luckily there are many ways in which you can achieve a meditative state.  I am still a big proponent of taking five minutes out of your day, sitting quietly, taking cleansing breaths, and clearing your mind.  As thoughts rise up, acknowledge them and then let them go.  Just five minutes will give you great results after a month.  If you can up it to ten minutes, you are a rock star.  Lately, I have been shooting for a goal of 25-35 minutes.  I have a vitamin D deficiency so I have been going outside, sitting in the sun, and meditating.  I figure if I need to be in sunlight for 30-40 minutes a day, may as well kill two birds with one stone.  It is still a challenge on some days to clear my thoughts, but I always feel better afterwards even when I am not totally successful.

Focus on the path, not the destination.  The journey is the majority of your time anyway.  Might as well enjoy it.

That said, there are other really great ways to meditate.

Full Body Meditation

Lately, I’ve been going to yoga classes.  There is nothing better for living in the moment, feeling the now, and inhabiting your body fully than yoga – at least in my experience.  I am usually so focused on myself, how my body feels, and living in the moment that none of the other stresses in my life intrude upon me.  One of the first exercises our instructor had us perform was to stand on a yoga block.  Yoga blocks are rectangles of a sturdy foam-like material.  The whole point was to balance on the yoga block.  Once we had accomplished this, she had us close our eyes and balance on the yoga block.

This was much more difficult.  Eyes closed, balancing on this block was an exercise in living in the moment.  The meditation was simply one of keeping your balance.  No other thought was in my mind.  This was a great way of clearing my mind and an exercise I still do at home when I am feeling too stressed and want just a brief moment of not having to carry the worry of the day with me.

I have talked with people who do a variety of body meditations similar to yoga.  Finding an exercise that works for you is just a matter of finding the body movements you feel clear your mind best.  There are numerous exercises that can create that mind clearing, trance-like state of being that you seek through meditation.  Dance (whirling dervishes, anyone?), tai chi, running, walking, archery, swimming – the possibilities are as diverse as humans.

I have one friend that finds working a carpet shampooer to be very meditative.  This is a particularly cool one, because you can meditate and clean at the same time.

The point with full body movement is to not be self-conscious, be focused on the body, and to let go of thought as you move.

Sound Meditation

If sitting silently and clearing your mind is not your cup of tea, there are a wide variety of guided meditations out there.  These are usually spoken meditations that take you through the relaxation and meditation process.  I love guided meditations.  Not all of them are created equal, and I have found a few unpleasant or annoying enough that I have turned them off, but for the most part, guided meditations are lovely as they take most of the thinking out of your hands.  You listen, follow the instructions, and voila – you meditate.

For guided meditations, a good, free way to start is to search online for podcasts.  There are a lot of people out there who host guided meditations via podcast, blogtalk radio, and other online venues.  Try out a sampling of these free guided meditations before spending money on CD’s.  Also, keep in mind that just because you like an author’s books does not mean you will like an author’s voice.  While there are some great books out there with companion CD’s to listen to, their voice may not match their writing.  There is one prolific author who makes a click noise at the end of each sentence.  Drives me right out of the meditative state.  Listen to samples, if you can, before you buy something.

Chanting is another way to meditate via sound.  I am not saying sit at home, in lotus position, saying “Om…..” to yourself.  I personally cannot get into lotus position as it makes my knees angry.  However, for those who have done meditations using mantras, they are very helpful.  One of my favorite mantras/chants to meditate to is to Ganesh – “Om, Gam, Ganapatye, Namaha”.  Traditionally, you would repeat this mantra to Ganesh 108 times.  The sounds resonating through your body when you chant do help induce meditative states of various kinds, depending on the chant or mantra you are using.  I should point out that it is best to find someplace away from others to kill any feelings of self-consciousness.  Using a mantra in meditation is helpful, but not if you are wondering what people would think if they saw/heard you.

As with guided meditations, check out free sources online first.  YouTube has a wide variety of chants and mantras to choose from.  Everyone is different and what appeals to me is not going to necessarily appeal to you.  Check around for something that you can sing or say to yourself that resonates and helps get your mind into the meditative state.

In addition, if singing or chanting is not your style, there is classical music, singing bowls, chimes, and many other sounds that may help you in achieving a meditative state.  Experiment with sounds and see what you like best.  There is even a genre of music called Trance music.  It is not my particular style, but that does not mean it won’t be yours.

Visual

I don’t know about you, but if you sit me near a fire, it’s over.  I am gone.  Fire transfixes me.  I may get up and play with the fire to get it rolling more, but for the most part I am totally zoned out if there is a camp fire to look at.  Or a bonfire.  I have even created the same effect with a single candle although it is less intense.

Some people can meditate upon flowers, trees, a picture, or other visual aid.  For me, there are two pieces of artwork that can cause almost effortless meditation – Van Gogh’s Starry, Starry Night, cliché but true, and John Martin’s Sadak in Search of the Waters of Oblivion.  The latter picture is at the St. Louis Art Museum, and as a child and as an adult that has been the highlight of visiting the museum for me every time.  While I know what that painting is about, I do not care as my own stories for it are better.  Also, the tiny man in the vastness of nature always made me happy.

Some people have had much luck with meditating on various screen savers.

Basically, as with the other venues, find something that you like, that inspires you or quiets your mind.  The possibilities are endless.  It can be a moving visual such as screensaver or fire (although I recommend fire, but that is because it works for me).  It can be a still image such as a painting, or even an object you are drawn to.  Experiment and find something that works for you.

Sometimes we go through phases where we respond better to certain stimuli – visual, auditory, mental, physical.  Trying out each way of meditating might help you find a method that works well for you.

Because everything in life comes back to the zombie apocalypse, here is some food for thought.  People who meditate on a regular basis are able to handle crises much better than your average, non-meditating human.  While those who meditate will have the same shock and surprise and those who do not, they go back to their functional mental state much more quickly.  This is an advantage when it comes to defending yourself against zombies.  If your brain is still screaming “Aaaaah!  Zombies!” when it should be thinking “Those zombies are closer, I should run away now” your chances of survival are lower.

What types of meditation work best for you?  What methods of meditation have you loathed?  Feel free to share in the comments section!

Crossfit: Killer Week Thus Far

I go to Crossfit Simple about three times a week for Crossfit and twice a week for yoga.  This week has been totally kicking my butt.  First off, I gave up sugar so that has been a drag.  Then the first Crossfit Workout of the Day (WOD) this week was hugely fun, but kind of insane.  I really enjoy the insane workouts because I feel pretty accomplished after.  The insane workouts are the ones where just finishing feels like I have accomplished something great and wondrous.  In this workout, we ran a lap with a weight (I had 25# and Will had 45#), bear crawled the length of the field, ran back.  Then we did 21 alternating box jumps (super freaking fun!), 21 kettle bell swings, and 21 cleans.  Then we did this again lowering the number of box jumps, kettlebells, and cleans to 15, then again to 9.  The running and bear crawl in between each set were particularly killer for me as I am not a good runner.  (Yet.)

About midway through this, I am thinking to myself “I do not know if I am going to be able to finish this one.”  My vision kept graying out to that tunnel right before you pass out, which is annoying.  My lungs were furious with me.  However, once I got past that point, it became easier again.  It is like once my body knows I am not going to cave in to it, it figures that it might as well finish things up because then I am not torturing it anymore.

The next workout was a partner WOD.  The funny thing about partner WOD’s is they always seem to come on mornings when I am ready to kill Will.  He was complaining about my driving, asking if I had caffeine that morning (I haven’t had caffeine for two years now except in cases of emergencies), and then just generally gaslighting me.  By the time we walked into Crossfit Simple, I just wanted to choke him.  His version of these events center around me being terribly impatient as a driver and grumpy to boot, and some other valid complaints I tuned out.  At any rate, for some reason on days I want to kill Will we have partner WOD’s.  Partner WOD’s involve having to work together – something Will takes very seriously.  As far as he is concerned, we should work well together as a team and partner WOD’s are just practice for real life teamwork.  He wants to strategize with me.  Come up with a plan of attack.

I like partner WOD’s because they usually allow for some down time or a little bit of rest in between doing things.  For some reason, this particular one just kicked my butt.  It was three rounds for time of 15 pullups (my scaled version was jumping pullups), 25 knees to elbows (or in my scaled version, knees to as high as I can get them, Scott calls them frog kicks), 35 burpees (burpees are a tool of the devil) and then 4 laps.  Scott said normally the numbers were even but he wanted to add a little tension to the WOD – since I was annoyed with Will I was more than happy with this.  In partner WOD’s he tends to do more than I do.

For some reason, my brain thought this would be fairly easy.  I knew the running would be hard – it always is for me, but the rest seemed fairly straightforward and I got to split it up with Will.  In May, I will have been doing this for a year, but I still do not have a good idea of what is easy and what isn’t.  I think I need to just assume that everything is going to be harder than I anticipate that way I am pleasantly surprised. While the previous day was challenging, the partner WOD was even more so.  By the time I got home, I needed to curl up in a fetal position for a little while simply because my abs were so mad at me and most of the rest of my body was equally shaky and displeased.

This was the second WOD in a week where midway through I was afraid I was going to have to quit.  The graying out thing was happening, but it was weirdly worse and I had a harder time breathing (one night, ONE night where I didn’t take my allergy medication – what gives, lungs?).  I actually went outside at one point as I was afraid I was not going to be able to catch my breath or that I might pass out.  The graying out on this day became a bit narrower of a tunnel, so I knew I needed to get my breathing evened out and my head between my knees or I was going to hit the ground in an embarrassing thud.  However, I was able to get both back to normal and go back in and finish.  Again, the victory was in completing the WOD.

On the way home talking this over with Will, he was irritated I went outside where no one could help me.  What was there to help?  I know what I feel like and what I see before I pass out because I’ve passed out enough that I recognize it.  You breathe as evenly and deeply as possible, put your head between yours knees, and then you simply make yourself not pass out.   Mind over body.  Easy peasy.  As for breathing, no one can really help with that.  Someone standing by, hovering, would have just made things worse.  It is harder to get your body under control when you have someone nearby who is being worried at you.

Two workouts in a row where I wanted to quit midway through is not the norm for me.  I was a bit worried that we had somehow fallen through a weird vortex where we lost skill points or something.  Were we regressing?

I asked Scott if we were regressing or if the workouts were harder.  Thank God he replied that he was giving us more cardio since we tend to need work in that area as we are good on strength and form.  It was a relief to know that he was just helping us get better at something we are not particular great at (yet) and not that we fell behind somehow when I wasn’t looking.

One of the joys of Crossfit is that it is always hard.  By the time I get something down enough that it becomes easy, I then level up the scale to a harder version.  I feel like this means that regardless of anything else, I am always getting better, getting stronger, and getting more physically fit.  The first few WODs after leveling up are a bit demoralizing, but pretty satisfying as I feel like I am one step closer to being where I want to be.  And I want to be kickass.  As long as I finish the WOD’s, I think I can be.

 

Disbelief Is a Killer

I’ve decided that this spring/summer is going to have a Stephen King theme.  I have a ton of books I am reading right now, mostly camping info and field guides, and for entertainment while I am geeking out over bugs, trees, and flowers I am reading Stephen King as well.  The first book up is ‘Salem’s Lot, which I first read in middle school and have largely forgotten.  Vampires are classic horror, I don’t care what Anne Rice and the other angsty romance novels of the day have to say about it.  If they are a metaphor for rape, if they suck your blood, if crosses burn them, they are evil.  Vampires = evil.

‘Salem’s Lot is scary as hell, as most Stephen King novels happen to be.  Scary enough that I am reading it during daylight hours only.  Scary enough that when Will comes home and I am in bed, he freaks me out just by informing me that he is home.  While dead asleep, he says from the doorway to the bedroom, softly and friendly, “Hey, honey, I’m home.”  My very reasoned and practical reaction is to yelp in fear while waking up immediately due to adrenaline flood and look for a weapon while my brain THEN processes that this is not a threat.  Thanks, brain.   Maybe process the not-a-threat sooner and create a little less drama for me and less humor for Will.  Sheesh.

The body count in ‘Salem’s Lot is high.  Very high.  Most of these people do not listen to their instinctive fear reactions, try to be reasonable and rational and thus are killed.  Two characters in particular die simply due to complete disbelief.  There is evidence, there are people backing up the evidence, and yet they still refuse to believe the truth because their disbelief is so huge.  They do not believe in vampires therefore vampires do not exist.  So, these vampires that do not exist simply kill the heck out of them.  Easy pickings, too.

My dad was a big reader of Stephen King.  Prior to his death in 2010, he read every single book King wrote.  Will and I were fortunate enough to receive these books after he was finished, so we have quite a few Stephen King novels, many in hard cover, on our bookshelves.  This means that a Stephen King Summer (because the daylight lasts longer than the darkness of night, summer is perfect horror novel reading time) will be a largely inexpensive endeavor for me as I will not have to purchase any books.

One of the themes that King explores frequently is the notion of childhood belief and adult disbelief.  There are quite a few stories where parents simply do not believe their children about whatever the supernatural bad guy of the novel is – therefore the children are left alone to handle these monsters.  As a child, reading these books after my father had read them, we would talk about them.  He was big on applying what he’d read to real life.  He once told me that I could always come to him if I was being stalked by a monster (he phrased it differently, but this was the gist of a very long conversation).  He said that he may not believe me totally but he wouldn’t disbelieve me.  He said he would take it seriously and we would figure out what to do from there.

To a little girl with an active and treacherous imagination, this was hugely comforting.

This is also a philosophy I’ve applied to my life.  As the bard says, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”  Do I believe that vampires roam the earth?  Not particularly.  I do not disbelieve that they roam the earth, either.  I find it interesting that every culture has tales of vampires, in one form or another.  If someone were to come to me and tell me that they have seen vampires and are afraid, I would not necessarily believe them, but I’d sharpen some stakes, get holy water, and generally prepare for vampires.

As sci-fi and horror fans, Will and I watch a lot of movies and television shows where the main stumbling block is disbelief.

“You won’t believe me, but I am from the future,” says the hero of the story, sent from the future.

“No, you aren’t!  Shut up!” says another character who then proceeds to run away.

Good job there, idiot.  Way to shut down what could have been a really interesting conversation.

This is a scene that happens over and over and over again, much to my dismay.  Where are these characters’ intellectual curiosity?  I would have a lot of questions for someone who told me that they came from the future (or saw a ghost, or vampire, or zombie, or Whatever Else).  Beyond that, how can you deem someone to be crazy or a liar without gathering facts first?  I mean, at the very least, I need to know what kind of crazy they are.  Paranoid?  Delusional?  There are varieties and flavors that are interesting to explore in the realm of nutjobbers, so even if what they are saying is not true, it is not a waste of time to gather more information while they are in a confessional mood.  Also, always hedge your bets.  Chances are they are mistaken, but if they are not you need the intel to survive the story.  Furthermore, the gathering of information often provides great anecdotes.

I once had a friend who had a bit of difficulty in spending time with me and then going back to her “main stream” friends.  There was a bit of mental culture clash for her.  I never thought of myself as not being main stream, but apparently reading tarot for a living, not actively disbelieving things, and having a large amount of knowledge about various occult subjects makes you auxiliary stream.  However, if being main stream means that you shut down something simply due to it not fitting neatly into your worldview, then I am more than fine to be outside of the main.  I am always better at being support staff, anyway.  I can lead when necessary, but I never want to be king – I prefer to be the king’s adviser.  More fun, less responsibility and who likes the limelight?

As I am reading about vampires, I am also going through vampire attack scenarios in my mind.  What would I do if vampires attacked right now?  What weapons are nearby?  How would I survive it?  How would I convince Will that I wasn’t insane?  Although, I think he may have less disbelief than I do.  Or more paranoia – one of those.

Will does not simply answer the front door.  He always asks, “Who is it?”  When he and I first started dating (and really it was less dating and more him showing up at my door after work everyday – my running joke is that we are still on our first date, he just never went home), he would knock on the back door, I would open the door and he would proceed to lecture me about how I should not simply open the door to anyone.  I finally humored him by asking “Who is it?” even though no one other than him visited.  Will still asks “who is it” when anyone knocks on the door, even when we are expecting company.  He often follows this question up with “Are you a vampire?”  People laugh and say no, but he is at least partially serious.  If I happen to say “Come on in” he gets a little mad at me because what if they are vampires?  If they are, I just invited them in.

I asked him the other night what he would do if I told him that I saw a vampire.  He did that thing that many men of my acquaintance do, where they inspect you like you are an interesting but unidentifiable insect, arms crossed – it is this suspicious what-are-you-on-about look.   I used to take the look, plus the closed off posture, as an immediate shut down, but over time I have found that suspicion and interest are sometimes closely linked.  Will proceeded to ask me a bunch of questions that basically sum up as who, what, where, when.  He said that he would probably grab another person or two and go out hunting for the vampire.  He wouldn’t necessarily believe me, but he would not disbelieve me, either.  In Will’s mind, spending time hunting for a vampire that may not exist would not be time wasted.  It would be an interesting exercise in vampire preparedness, with the extra added bonus of the interesting possibility of being able to kill a vampire.

As an adult woman with an active and treacherous imagination, this was hugely comforting.  It is nice to know that Will would not be one of the people who died simply due to disbelief.

So, my advice to main streamers everywhere – suspend your disbelief.  Ask questions.  Gather information.  Do not simply disbelieve because information clashes with your view of the world.  This could kill you if the zombie apocalypse occurs and you spend the majority of your time saying “This is not possible.”  That is time wasted and time wasted could mean a zombie chewing on your arm.