By the time you read this, I will have been on vacation for a week. Thank God. So desperately needed. Someone recently shared this on Facebook:
‘A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?”
Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.
She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”
She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.’
Remember to put the glass down.”
Bam. There it is. This little story sums up how I feel about a lot of things in my life lately. It’s a refreshing reminder that we have to watch our thought patterns so we don’t go too far down a dark and lonely path. It’s also frightening because I recognize how many stresses I have a death grip on. I am hoping that the week of beautiful unscheduled freedom I am about to experience (will have by the time you read this) will help hit the reset button. Or at very least, give me some new perspective.
Happy Labor Day!
What do you do when you fall off the horse? That’s right – you get back on.
In May I wrote 26 days out of 31. I haven’t written since June 3rd, but the time has come to start again. In May I focused on writing. I stayed the course, writing almost every day, and experimented with posting to this blog twice a week (every Monday and Wednesday). In May I published 9 blog posts. Writing and posting this frequently has allowed me to explore several other themes this month.
I began by asking “what’s wrong with these pants?” My way of exploring body issues and seeking to change my thought patterns in order to avoid further developing a self deprecating attitude. Especially while shopping because shopping is supposed to be fun and it sucks to be stuck crying in a dressing room somewhere, when we should all be striving to love ourselves more everyday.
Following my exploration of jeans and our psyche, I explored how one defines success. Maybe it’s by recognizing evil thoughts about your own body and reminding yourself you are WUNDERBAR! It’s an interesting thing to question your definitions of success because it is likely to uncover something either highly influenced by your parents or society and expose dreams that you may be discrediting. This can be an incredibly powerful process because you can reframe your ideas and start building an empowering definition of success that supports who are. You may begin to see areas of your life you have been successful in that you didn’t realize before. It’s a great way to prioritize projects in your life and start moving towards the things you really care about.
May is national Bike to Work Month. I wrote a Bike to Work Day post about how I think bicycles are the coolest form of transportation. Did you know that they are still the most efficient form of transport in the world?! That blows my mind every time I think about it. I love riding bicycles. Get out an set yourself free!
While listening to BlogcastFM, I found out about a book called What Superachievers Have in Common by Camille Swiney and Josh Gosfield. I was so intrigued by the interview that I immediately went to a book store and bought it. I could write a blog post about every chapter, so I chose a few that stuck with me and started writing. The book is full of inspirational stories that make you want to get off your ass and practice getting totally awesome at something. It is also a great reminder of all the unconventional paths there are available in the world. Ever thought about what it would be like to create crossword puzzles for a living? Or designing baseball stadiums? Yea, don’t sweep your dreams under the rug, because chances are we need your crazy idea.
One of my favorite chapters in Superachievers is: How to be the Most Fabulous You. I think about Simon Doonan pretty much every day now. I hate feeling average or boring and feel that style and dress have the ability to brighten the world through our clothing choices. So I really take it to heart when Doonan says “dress everyday as though you were going to a Lady Gaga concert, you’re guaranteed to have more fun”. This is it, folks, this is your life. It’s all about today, there may not be a tomorrow. Get out there and express yourself!
My favorite blog post of the month is Rejection Sucks. Not only does the title sum up exactly how I feel, but this post explores several topics that I am super passionate about (relationships, vulnerability, risk, and love/hardcore crushes). It feels good to reflect on an experience that was painful, process the story, and come out the other side feeling like I’ve done the work to move on. Leo Babauta of Zen Habits has a wonderful blog post called The Obstacle is the Path, that was wonderfully serendipitous to read at the time. It can be a hard pill to swallow; the anger, the hurt, the rejection – that is the path. Walk it.
Embracing my own path, I came out and declared myself a Dear Diary blogger. Ah! The weight off my chest! I love Dear Diary blogging! I love owning my own shit and getting straight on my motivations. I asked myself why am I writing? I explored who I write for and what the writing process does for me. I wrapped up the month with Feats of Strength, a post reviewing my work at the CrossFit NorCal Regionals. It is impactful to watch humans perform such intense activities. It was an inspiring event that made me question where I want to focus my energy in my own exercise practice.
Believe it or not, that was the month of May. It felt good to write regularly and digest the various parts of my life that can seem so disparate. These posts helped me weave the different corners of my life together, in true blanket fashion. Superachievers meet CrossFit games, Zen Habits meet CrossFit thighs, rejection meet writing practice, blogging meeting psychology and Bam! 9 blog posts later I fall off the horse. Here is me dusting myself off and getting back on.
My obsession with goals and developing new habits is transforming into a new phase. I have been working with Stevo, sports psychologist at San Francisco CrossFit (SFCF), for several weeks now. Along with other forms of counseling, this is helping me look at my personal struggles to reach certain outcomes. The sessions and goals that we have had are not what I expected, though I wasn’t sure what to expect anyway. I think everyone I talk to about having a sports psychologist says “What’s a sports psychologist? I didn’t even know that existed.” Ditto. But when Stevo showed up at SFCF, I thought “Yes! Of Course! THIS is IT!” and then I thought “No! Shit, that’s what I want to do!” He has the job and the clients that I want. Or that I think I want. A great “Aha” moment for me, but the initial sports psychology questions are relevant because I am still learning about the training psychologists receive and what someone like Stevo does on a day-to-day basis.
What is a sports psychologist? In my experience, it is someone who studies traditional psychology and then specializes in habit building and introduces a mind-body connection. This is what it looks like from the outside to me. The above link describes it a bit more succinctly. It appears to be an incredibly tricky job and working with Stevo has validated my thoughts about why this is so. During a session with a client, how do you tease out important core feelings and emotions, plus talk about overcoming barriers and creating new habits that will improve their performance and life experience? That’s a lot of ground to cover!
As I sit here, my mind feels like it is going into explosion mode. This is a feeling that I have been experiencing often lately. Mulling over how a sports psychologist tries to guide you in a particular direction and develop concrete action steps seems like a complex process. I am also experiencing this in Interchange, my counseling training program. I am becoming quite comfortable with the idea that the being is the doing and I know that it can be quite transformative. However, working with my “regular” psychologist, Tonja, and with Stevo, plus watching seasoned Interchange leaders, I know that a great counselor is a trusted guide. Someone who leads us deeper into our dark jungles, lifting tangled vines so that we can progress forward or perhaps just lighting a lantern so that we may find our own way. That’s powerful.
So how does it all come together? Stevo asks me how my day is going and then we discuss how the past week has been for me. Have I followed through on my mini goals? Am I being consistent? How did I feel on each day? What was I listening to when I performed my mobility exercises? If I missed a day, why? What were motivating factors for me to mobilize? What made it easier? What made it harder? As it turns out, guilt and accountability are great motivators for me. I am still figuring out how they function and how they manifest in my brain, but those are two themes for me to examine. Everyday I record how I have accomplished my goal, including some minor details about the context. This is the framework within which we dissect the habits that I am building.
Somehow we manage to get through all of the above and move on to larger issues. I have signed up for the CrossFit Open Games and my Level 1 Certification, I am overwhelmed by my hobbies and goal pursuits, I am feeling unfocused and self-conscious. How can I continue to work on these small steps while developing a stronger sense of self and building a career path!? Stevo tells me that if I feel like I am taking on too much, then it IS too much. Well, good, because that’s what I said. “Its too much.” Yet… (cue the Little Mermaid soundtrack) “I want MOOOOORE!” Stevo brings me back to reality with his awesome motto “Have the courage to start small.” Thanks Stevo. [Fist pound.]