I am not weak.

… despite what others may think.

I am an empath and it makes many people uncomfortable. I get it. It can be overwhelming. Try living with it every single day.

However, because I am sensitive and feel more deeply than others and express my emotions in ways that others are not used to or are incapable of, that does not mean I am weak. It does not mean I am unable to work or run a business. It means that I approach life in a way that may not work for others. It gives me a unique advantage to really see and feel what others need and want, and as such, I move forward in an unorthodox manner. This is what has made me successful in everything that I’ve ever set my mind to. The passion for life that I possess is deeper than most can handle. At times, it can be too much for me to handle.

Everything I do is for others. It’s in my nature. It is my mission, which I have known since I was a little girl. It wasn’t until I found CrossFit that I realized how to make it a reality.

This year has been one of challenges, successes, losses, and enlightenment. Some of it amazing and exhilarating, others devastating and disappointing. Such is life!

Last night, while sitting in a dimly lit room and after many cups of tea, the following stream-of-consciousness passage came out in a moment of vulnerability. It will make others uncomfortable because of its raw and personal nature. This is who I am and I will not apologize for being real. However, I have redacted a couple lines because, as a business owner, I have to somewhat censor myself so as not to cause any problems.

I feel broken,
but I’m not.
I feel depressed,
but it’s not dark.
Emotions have come about,
as the world begins to implode.
My world.
Your world.
Our world.
This year our country lost hope,
and gained fear.
This year I lost my husband,
but gained a friend.
[redacted]
[redacted]
She left me when I needed her most.
It’s funny, the only person that has my back,
is the very person I hated not too long ago.
It hurts;
I hurt.
My need for a partner in love
is overwhelmingly strong.
It hurts.
My body aches for the gentle touch of a caring hand.
My heart desires companionship
to share the joys and pain of life.
I hurt,
but I’m not broken.

I am writing and sharing all of this to show that highly emotional people are still functional. They are CEOs, they are talented artists, they are your mothers and fathers. We just function in a different way. We may hurt, we may feel deeply, but that does not make us weak. It takes a lot of courage to express raw emotions in a world filled with assholes. It won’t stop us from doing what needs to get done.

Everyday I’m Hustlin’?

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-Sylvia Plath

Hustlin’. This has been weighing on my mind lately because I often feel like I’m never doing enough or I’m never enough. I suppose it’s because of the American standard that you’re never doing enough unless you’re always busy. I’m tired of this mentality and am working towards changing it.

It’s been about 2 months or so since I really got Silent Strength Fitness off the ground. I left my cushy job at UCSB the day before Thanksgiving 2014 and from that time until the end of the year, my time was spent planning, strategizing, organizing, and most importantly relaxing, recuperating and taking care of myself.

My last year at UCSB was a crazy one, but definitely a great one. During this time, my superiors allowed me to run with my skills and abilities, and it was such a nice feeling to see how much respect and trust they had in me. I was part of a team of two that planned four retirement parties that were all happening in one month, I covered my supervisor’s program while she went on maternity leave for four months, which included planning a week-long annual review conference for 30 people, I covered my student assistant’s job after she left abruptly after the devastating massacre that happened in Isla Vista, and trained a co-worker on all things procurement for our department. A lot of this all at the same time, all while doing my own job. I’m not looking for sympathy, just providing an example. Oh, did I mention that I was coaching CrossFit for two hours after work four days a week? Again, I am not bragging.

I envied my friends that worked their cushy 9-5 jobs and were able to go home, cook dinner, and watch TV before getting into bed at 8:30 or 9pm. I don’t know what that is like. Ever since I was a child I’ve been on the go, either to gymnastics practice or piano lessons, or when I worked in the music industry, working 8-10 hours in the office then taking clients to dinner and drinks and then to a show getting home around 2am. I’ve always been busy and I hate it. I’ve been trying to break this cycle for as long as I can remember.

This is why I left my cushy and wonderful job. I’ve always felt that a happy life entails doing something you love, doing something that is fulfilling to your soul. Yes, my job at UCSB was wonderful, but it was not fulfilling to my soul. I know many people would disagree with me about what a job should be like, and to those, I will agree to disagree. My husband is an attorney and he says that hates it (although, I think he secretly loves it), but he is great at it.

As a child, I had a dream of becoming a teacher and was on the path to college to become an elementary school teacher. However, as I became an adult I saw myself less and less standing in front of a classroom. That thought didn’t feel quite right. I wanted to do more. I wanted to work with more people, not just children.

After finding CrossFit, I realized that it was not in a classroom that I wanted to teach, but in a gym. Through fitness, I am able to teach a variety of people the world has to offer, and it excites me so. The best part is that these people want to learn, and they are eager to learn. They aren’t forced to come to my classes or sessions (well, maybe sometimes their SO forces them, haha). They come to my classes to be better people, to better themselves. That is why I want to teach.

This brings me back to the topic at hand.

I often hear that so-and-so is a hustler (and good for them) or that you have to hustle to get where you want to be. I get it. I did it. Been there, done that. But, you know what? IT KILLED ME. I was so unhealthy both physically and mentally. I have learned over time what works for me, and what does not work for me. No one else can decide that. Constantly stressing myself out trying to get EVERYTHING done all by myself to prove that “I’m doing it” is not worth it to me. There are other ways to get things done without all that nonsensical stress.

I have been fully immersed into my business for just over two months. TWO MONTHS. In these two months, I have created a solid roster of personal training clients and a successful boot camp. The most important part to me about this is the wonderful and kind words that my clients have said to me. I am helping them change and improve their lives. That is why I do what I do. And in turn, it is changing and improving my life.

I guess the purpose of the post is this: Everyone has their own way of hustling. I may not be moving as fast or seem as busy as others, but I know what I want, and I know what needs to be done to get there. I make shit happen, and do it in my own way. I am not going to sacrifice my health and well being (again) by doing it the “American Way” (read: constantly stressed, unhealthy, always busy) because that is what is standard in our culture. No, thank you. I’m done with that.

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My new career is allowing me to spend more time with my senior puppy (she is currently sitting on my feet as I type this). It is allowing me to spend time with my husband during lunchtime. It is allowing me to have more time to myself, and allowing me to breathe. It is allowing me to reconnect with myself. I am still healing.

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We need to appreciate the work we’ve done and what we’re doing. It is smart to look and plan into the future, but we also need to appreciate where we are in the moment. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re doing it wrong if you truly believe it is right (that is, unless you’re doing something illegal. Ha!). Our internal voice knows what’s best for us, and that is what and to whom we need to listen.

I’ve already done a lot in two months, and I am excited to see where I’ll be in the next six.

I observe before I attack. I am not going into this blindly. I am doing this the right way. My way.

Be well, my friends.

Learning to Find Hope through Death

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Back in November of last year I wrote a post entitled “Learning to Give Thanks through Death“. There was a lot of death surrounding me at that time, however, it reminded me of the wonderful people in my life and to be grateful for that. Now that death is paying another visit, I am choosing to find hope where many default to sadness. Don’t get me wrong, I am feeling sadness, but I am trying to focus on the positive.

I recently became a mentor for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, and last Monday I met my “Little” for the first time. A couple hours after I met my Little, I found out that someone I care for was dying. It was such a strange evening. I went from being completely ecstatic to feeling sadness and worry. Strangely, I felt that these two events were connected.

I have been wanting to be a mentor for so long, but it never fit in with my crazy life. My life is still pretty busy, but I made a commitment to myself to do this. I have an inherent need to help others, especially those less fortunate – not only in a monetary sense, but with family, health, or all of the above. I have felt this way for as long as I can remember. I remember as a child wanting to help other kids who were getting picked on. I remember trying to understand why some people were more favored than others. I could not understand why people were homeless or why people were picked on and bullied just because they were different. I knew then as much as I do now that I want to help people; I want them to know that someone out there cares for them regardless if they know them or not. I have a strong sense of empathy and want, rather, need to do what I can to help.

My Little and I were matched because our number 1 interest was gymnastics. During our first meeting, we went for a short walk around the block to get to know each other and the whole time we talked about gymnastics while she did cartwheels. It was like watching myself when I was that age. It was neat! We also discovered that we love all things purple. My Little changed my life during that meeting. The quick peeks she kept taking and the little smiles of hope she kept giving – it changed my life. Her grandma even said that she hasn’t seen her smile that much before. Here I am hoping to change someone else’s life and I am the one being changed.

Grammy was someone I met through my husband. She wasn’t blood related to him, but a surrogate grandma of sorts. She was so wonderfully kind, sweet, and hilarious. Ooh, and was she competitive when we played a game of Aggravation or cards! Don’t let her sweetness fool you, she will get you. What I loved about her was that from the first time I met her she made me feel like I was part of the family. My grandparents died many years ago, so it was nice to have a grandma again. The type of relationship she had with her husband of many many years is the type of relationship I strive for. I learned so much from watching them interact. The level of care and love was outstanding. She also didn’t sweat the small stuff. I know that’s totally cliche to say, but it’s true. Whatever health issues that comes with being 90 years old didn’t bother her. She understood and just kept on truckin’. If people were being dumb, she accepted it and moved on. No use in stressing. Even though I only knew Grammy for about 3 years, she made a huge impact on my life.

Today I found out and understood why I felt that there was a connection between these two – my Little and I had our first outing alone and Grammy moved on to her next journey. As one life was ending, a new one was beginning. Everything good that Grammy was and everything that I learned from her, I am going to embrace and pass on to my Little. I made a promise to myself and to my Little that I would be there for her and do my best to guide her in the right direction. My Little asked me today if I was her only Big Sister and didn’t have any other Littles. I told her that I was all hers and she said, “You’re all mine? REALLY?!” I said “Yep!” and she replied with a big “YAY!” and smile. Gosh darnit is she adorable.

I am choosing to find hope in the situation. I did have my moments of sadness and tears; they come and go. Although in the literal sense of the word “death,” a life may have ended, but Grammy’s legacy lives on. My relationship with my Little and our lives together, started today.

Grammy on Moms Day

A Promise to My Mind and Body – My Whole Life Challenge

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Today marks my 2 month anniversary of being soda free. WOOT! This is a big deal as I had quite the addiction to soda; I just loved it so much. I don’t think I would have been able to survive my last two years of college without soda. Well, college is finally over and I no longer need soda in my life. I never thought I would be able to do away with this delicious beverage, but I have made a promise to myself that I would treat my body and mind better.

A few days ago, the Women of CrossFit = Strong page on Facebook posted a before and after picture of one of its followers, Claire. She has a blog called The Ascent Blog where she talks about CrossFit, food, and doing fun things in the great outdoors. The picture that inspired me can be viewed in her post Zone Progress Photos. Her before picture really hit home as this was the first time that I was actually able to relate to a “before” picture – my body looks like hers! Most of the time when I see weight loss pictures, the before picture is usually of a very heavy, overweight person. Now, before I continue, I would like to say that I am amazed at the progress that these people make. The fact that some people lose 50+ pounds is a huge and fantastic accomplishment. That takes some serious dedication and determination. However, I have always been a small person, so it is difficult for me to relate to being that size. So, when I saw Claire’s picture it really got to me. It sparked a light of determination inside of me that I have missed so much.

She commented that after one year she had been “feeling stronger and healthier, but [I too] wasn’t really SEEING any dramatic physical results.” That’s how I’ve been feeling and I’ve been doing CrossFit for 3 years! I knew exactly why I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted, but wasn’t quite mentally ready to make a commitment to my eating habits. Well, I decided in January that I would become a food-prepper and it has definitely changed how I feel and eat. It has also changed my attitude towards food. It has definitely made life easier! Although I was prepping my food every week and bringing my breakfast and lunch to work everyday, I would still sneak in a cookie (or two!), some fries or chips. I was also having a bagel every Wednesday for my office’s Bagel Day.

Well, NO MAS. At least for a month. I am going to step up my commitment and (try to) eliminate grains, dairy, sugar, legumes, and certain starches for one month. There are exceptions and I will write more about that in another post. No more sneaking in a bag of Cheetos or canister of Pringles (uggggghhhhhhh!!!) or those damn cookies that taunt me at every work event. I have to do this for myself. I have to do this for my body, for my health. I haven’t been the nicest to my body and it deserves better than what I’ve been giving it.

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In addition to improving my eating habits, I am working on improving the chatter that goes on in my head and how I view myself. I picked up a lot of crappy habits last year – negative, poopy, snarky types of attitudes and it grossed me out. It greatly upset me as I lost the positive little ninja that I was. I have been really working on finding my positive side again. A good friend of mine posted such a wonderful comment on my page the other day that showed me that I was finding my path to positivity again. She wrote: “Had a random thought about you today that made me smile: “I think if Nomers ever exploded with joy that there would be confetti, glitter and fireworks of the most amazing awesomeness ever.” Yup, you’re that girl and I love you for that! Miss you!” That comment meant A LOT to me and am so grateful to have such wonderful people in my life.

Now that I’ve been slowly getting back into the swing of things at the gym and adding more weight to the barbell, I am finding it difficult getting my mind and body at the same level it was before my injury, which has led to frustration and anger. Don’t get me wrong, I am STOKED to be lifting again and being able to hang from the bar to do pull-ups, but it is still frustrating. Prior to my injury I was feeling pretty strong and then in an instant that was all gone. So, when I start feeling frustrated during a WOD, I tell myself to snap out of it and try to think about something positive – something, anything to keep me going. I’ll say things like, “Think about where you were two months ago” or “Think about all of those people who have lost loved ones” or “Be grateful for what you have and get to work!” I am making progress and I need to remind myself of that.

I am also learning to stop comparing myself to my friends and other women at the gym. Most of them are 7-10 years younger than me and have led completely different lives and have completely different genetics. I will never look like them and need to really understand that. Easier said than done, but I’m working on it.

So, here we go. I’m on a mother freaking adventure! I can do this. I will do this. Two personal mottos are going to be a major focus of my adventure: “Lead by example” and “Commitment and focus”. I have to do this for myself and I have to do this for everyone in my life. Also, a big THANK YOU to Claire for giving me the big kick in the butt that I’ve been needing. Woot!

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Here we go… The CrossFit Open AND a Powerlifting Competition?

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(Me and the lovely CinDiesel at the 2012 CrossFit Games)

Yep. I’m doing it and I’m ready. Well, mentally ready – physically, almost.

I was bummed last year because I was still recovering from my Achilles injury and unable to compete in the Open and powerlifting competition. I know that I am again recovering from another softball injury (left shoulder labral tear), but I am almost fully recovered and determined to compete. Don’t worry, I’ve learned a lot from my Achilles injury and know my limits and not to overdo it.

I am nervous, but super excited. However, I am not so excited about having to wear one of these for the powerlifting competition…

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Well, if I looked like that in a singlet I would probably wear one all the time. Moving on…

The CrossFit Open begins March 6 and is a 5-week long competition. In order to qualify for The Games, you must compete in the Open, complete all 5 workouts, and finish in the top percentile. Even though I know I won’t make it to the Games, it will be a fun opportunity to compete with other CrossFitters from all over the world and to see where I stand.

You can keep up with my workout scores in the Open by going to the Games site and viewing my Athlete Profile.

Open-Athlete Profile

The 2013 Santa Barbara Powerlifting Championship will be held on Saturday, April 27 – and I can’t wait! I’ve always enjoyed weightlifting and had a blast in my lifting class my senior year of high school. I will most likely only be doing the deadlift portion as I’m horrible at back squats and am a little nervous about doing the bench press because of my shoulder. But we’ll see. I still have 2.5 months until then, so my shoulder should be ready by then. And because of my age, it looks like I’ll be in the “Sub-master” category. Dang, that makes me feel old. Sigh. Oh well, age ain’t nothin’ but a number, right?

220px-Aaliyah-age-aint-94Thanks, Aaliyah. (RIP)

Well, here we go!!! Time to get trainin’!

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Dear Universe…

I could use a little assistance. I could use a little positive news. Before I continue on, let me clarify a few things. I understand that I have my health, I have a job, I have a loving family, I have friends, and I have a dog that shows she loves me by growling at me and showing more affection towards my husband more than me even though I rescued her expensive ass, but whatever… that little bitch. I get it. I don’t have any major health issues and I’m not in prison. Yes, I am grateful for my life.

However, these past few months have definitely been trying and I was in a very dark place for a while. Thankfully, I am in the process of crawling out of that dark place, but it hasn’t been easy. I have determined that what I am experiencing is what I like to call my “35-cent-life crisis.” You have your “mid-life crisis” and your “quarter-life crisis,” hell, why not a “35-cent-life crisis?”

I will be turning 35 in approximately 36 days. I used to enjoy birthdays because it meant that I was getting older. I enjoyed getting older because it meant that I was possibly beginning to look a little older, which meant that more people would think that I’m actually over the age of 21, and take me a little more serious. As a reference, I was recently asked if I was 24. Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate that I look young and that I will look amazing by the time I turn 60, just like my mom. She’s so pretty. Anyway, I digress. It’s really annoying when people come up to me and put their hands on their knees to lean forward and talk down to me like I’m a child. F-you. I’m a grown-ass woman. Ooh, and don’t get me started on the race topic…

So, this birthday “milestone” has caused me to reflect on my life – where I’ve been, where I am, and where I hope to be. After high school I haven’t really followed the “traditional” path that many in our society take: graduate high school, go to college AND graduate, get a job, get married, have kids, etc. Well, I did go to college – many of them – and didn’t graduate until this year… 16 years later. I wanted to follow that traditional path, I really did. I only wanted to get married once. I was hoping to have two children by now. I guess it just wasn’t in the cards for me. But let me reiterate, I am grateful for what I have.

This upcoming birthday has me reevaluating my expectations. What I expected as a child, teen, or young adult may not apply to where I am at currently, and I realize that. But that doesn’t make it any easier. My darn biological clock also isn’t helping. Yes, I hear you loud and clear. Sheesh.

Our world has also dramatically changed since I created those expectations – jobs are scarce, rent is high, and home ownership difficult.

So, Universe, what I’m asking you for is a little assistance. Please help me get one of the many jobs I’ve recently applied for, one in particular that would be great for me. You know which one. My current job ends in December and would like to find something before then so I’m not scrambling (and freaking out) at the last minute. Please also help me find a nice, new apartment that accepts dogs in a nice area in Santa Barbara. From the homeless man doing inappropriate things in front of our house, to our bikes getting stolen, to Tall Guy’s truck window getting smashed in, to someone stealing the registration stickers off my car – all within four months – we are fed up with this neighborhood and do not feel safe here anymore.

I’m also hoping that my shoulder injury is just a bad muscle strain and that nothing is torn. We shall find out on Thursday.

I am doing my best to remain as positive as I can, but it’s not easy. I envy those who have the traditional life path that I wanted. I am learning to accept that I have created the life path that I am on and to appreciate it. I have to constantly remind myself of the Dalai Lama quote above. I have hit a rough patch and I will persevere! Patience, patience, patience…

Some people like to talk politics, others religion, food, and/or sports. I like to discuss my feelings. It helps me deal. So, I’m sending this out to my friends and family and others around me as you are a part of my Universe.

Choose Wisely

(Can’t you just hear the Grail Knight saying those crucial words to Indy?)

I often hear people, myself included, saying that life is hard. That it’s not easy. But really, is it that difficult?  I think we make it difficult. We want to be involved in every possible activity, have to watch every popular TV show so we have something to talk about with friends and co-workers, or want to have every stupid Apple gadget that comes out causing us to go broke. It appears that we, as a society, cannot sit still and just be. We always have to search for and move onto the next best thing, which will most likely be obsolete or uncool by the time you obtain it. In addition, nobody is willing to change their beliefs or ways because of stubbornness. I recently bought a beer koozie (yes, I looked up how to properly spell that) that says, “I’m not stubborn. My way is just better.” It made me laugh because it reminded me of my husband and I.

We choose the people in our lives and we also choose the words that come out of our mouths. I happened upon two blog posts this morning that relate to what I’ve had on my mind lately. The first blog entitled “Who Makes You Better?” discusses two types of people in your life: Allies of Glory and Thieves of Ambition. The author of the blog, Antonio Neves, defines these two types of people as follows:

“Your Allies of Glory are those people that support you, encourage you, challenge you, hold you accountable, and push you to give your all without excuses.

Your Thieves of Ambition are those people that question your motives, support mediocrity, are afraid of success, enable your excuses, and accept the status quo.”

I have a mixture of these people in my life, near and far (who doesn’t?), with some taking part in both roles. Thankfully my husband is an Ally of Glory. He pushes and supports me and holds me accountable for all the stupid stuff I do, and boy, does he challenge me! I guess that’s what I get for marrying an attorney. Ha! (MFMK, baby!)

However, lately, I feel that I’ve let some of the Thieves of Ambition take over, and unfortunately, that includes a part of me, too. I learned some bad habits from a former gymnastics coach, whom I have written about before here – bad thoughts, unhealthy words, self-deprecating type of stuff. That is the negative side of me that comes out every once in a while, which I absolutely hate. This is where the second blog comes in…

I enjoy reading blog posts from CrossFit Lisbeth (even though my husband teases me for reading inspirational stuff). They’re very inspiring to me. Yes, they can be cheesy, but whatever, they work for me. Today’s blog is entitled “What We Think.” Again, the words we choose have a huge effect on our being, as well as those around us. Continually spouting negativity towards yourself or others does no good for anyone. We also need to be aware of words that we use that may have no effect on us personally, but may have some other meaning to someone else. What doesn’t hurt you may hurt someone else. What may seem funny or a joke to you may be inappropriate to someone else. Be aware, be sensitive, be kind.

Choose your words wisely. Surround yourself with those who make you better. Get rid of the negative. Ultimately, it is up to you whether or not your life is difficult or easy.