Saturday, January 19, 2013

On Respect

It is getting so that I cannot separate the experiences and lessons I have at CrossFit from our homeschooling life. The further I go I realize that it is all one thing, and I have to address it here. Below is a post from The Accidental CrossFitter that I wrote this morning, and I think it is equally important here. Consider how your attitude toward yourself and your body affects how you lead your children...
I gained a nugget of wisdom today from an old friend. We were talking about CF (because it's all I ever talk about right now!) and I told her that one of the reasons I decided I needed to get moving is because my kids had only ever seen me sedentary, and I needed to lead them into a more active lifestyle. In response she said something that really made me stop and think, and it is this: If we do not allow ourselves to change, or we set an example of something that is not good for us (such as a sedentary lifestyle), then eventually our children will lose respect for us. Even more, they will lose respect for "mother"--that identity, that role, that office. "Mother" becomes a static point in their past who can not speak authoritatively into their lives because she has ceased to learn, grow, change, or to keep pace with them. I am not saying that we have to do the same things that they do or be enmeshed in their lives in an unhealthy way. On the contrary, they need to see that we are individuals--that our lives do not spin solely on their axes, but that we have lives that we are cultivating by being active, dynamic learners of human existence! If it so happens that we are sharing a common interest, even better!

There was this one hurdle to cross, however. In the past I didn't want my children to see me being weak, or at my worst. I didn't have respect for myself or what I had allowed my body to become. I knew I needed to do better. I knew that I was full of excuses. I knew that I hated how I looked. I needed to to regain respect for myself. 

You know those moments in life when someone says the simplest thing to you, but it is the wisdom for the moment to cover just about everything? Well, I was grousing to my coach about ring dips at class. I am terrible, even at assisted ring dips, so I asked my coach for an alternative. He gave me a thicker band (more assistance), set me up and told me to suck it up. More specifically, he got in my space, towered over me (he's a Marine officer and about 6'5") and said with a twinkle in his eye, but in all seriousness, "I hear your excuses and I'm not buyin' 'em."

Matt counts for his sister...
Right. Thank you. Excuses are the front door to loss of respect. When I hear people whining about what they can't do, I want to walk away and say, "talk to the hand," but unfortunately I cannot walk away from myself. 

In the last three months, I have learned so much about what it means to be an example to my kids and demonstrate self-respect. We have all discovered the joy of exercising together. I am ashamed to admit that I used to be very private about exercise--I would not do it around the kids. I hated for them to see me sweat, I felt weak and out of shape and I did not want them to see at my "worst." However, I finally realized that they need to see me rise up and face my weakness, and that this in itself was leadership. I have allowed them to see me sweat, suffer, and be challenged. They share in my victories and miseries and I in theirs. I have done WODs with them that were tough for all of us. I am still usually last to finish, and there is no greater feeling than having my kids cheer for me saying "Come on, Mom! Just five more! You're almost there!" 

Matt is finding his niche with CF. He is already doing things that are pretty spectacular, and he throws himself completely into it. He enjoys the activity and the challenge. He is getting to know the  coach and the other kids at the box, and doesn't want to miss class. He is supporting his little sister who also thinks she is one tough cookie to be hanging and doin' with all the bigger dogs. She enjoys having his support.

I have raised my kids to have a deep faith and walk with God. Now I have to teach them to respect all of His creation including themselves. I guess that means I must start with me.

24" box jump
Cleared it--perfect form!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Week 14 - A Whole New Normal

Matty clears 24"
This week has been our first full week back from the holiday break combined with a full week of CrossFit (CF) schedule. In the past two months, CF has assumed a very big place in the life of our family--if you notice in the sidebar, the Accidental CrossFitter is alive and well, and I'm posting there quite often. I find myself trying to figure out exactly where and how it all fits together. How important is this? How much do I let it bump into our lesson schedule, and what are my expectations of the kids in the process?

For years it seemed that I could not find the "door" of my life that led to a way to be healthy and fit. I thought we ate well, but I continued to gain weight. I was allowing myself to be very sedentary and my overall sense of wellness and health was following suit. I felt fatigued, achy, cranky, and joyless a lot of the time. I'm sure that it was a mixture of both the chemical / hormonal result of being sedentary, and the very real misery of a lousy body image.

Then I found myself in a CrossFit class. When I say "found myself" there, I am literally still shaking my head saying, "I have no idea how I got here!" It is this that convinces me that it really is an answer to my prayer that God would help me find the discipline to exercise and take care of my health! LOL--He does nothing part way!! Funny thing is I have not lost a pound since starting CF, but I have lost three inches from my waist. I have not missed a WOD (workout of the day) if I was physically able to make it. I have been more cheerful, energetic, and active with my kids. I have been finding that I don't want to eat things that I know are going to make me feel lousy (read grains, sugar and even some dairy), because the next WOD will be more difficult if I do. The whole family is getting in on the action. My kids love going to the CF kids class and my husband is challenging himself in new ways in his own workouts. My son has broken his carb / chip addiction and is much more careful about his choices of snacks.

All of this has taken enormous amounts of time--figuring out a new school routine so that I can get to CF for my class, needing time to recover from my workouts due to no small amount of soreness, needing more time to cook and plan meals so that we are eating correctly...It is a huge shift. Couple that with still needing to get school done and it makes for a very busy schedule, I can't squeeze in all the book-time that I want to every day. CrossFit, Math and the three Rs are priority, as is read-aloud time. The other things have to fit around that, so there may be less time for lap-books and project-type things.

So this week we somehow managed to get our goals met in the 3 Rs and in science. History suffered a bit, but we were also doubling up on science. We'll tackle it all next week. In science we covered the lesson on blood and enjoyed the lab day with friends. My only regret is not getting pictures of the kids getting their fingers pricked and making the model blood out of candy. Everyone was delighted to find out their blood types and figure out who they could partner with in the giving and receiving of blood transfusions.

Overall, they felt that it was a good week of school. We will continue to make adjustments, I am sure, but for now what we are doing seems to be working.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Who Am I?

Happy New Year! Today is January 1, 2013, and while it is just another day on the calendar, we cannot help but appreciate new beginnings. We cannot help but reflect on what we would like to see change, stay the same or evolve in our lives in the coming year. Even so, I decided long ago that resolutions are not useful to me at all. Choosing an arbitrary date of my life to mean that something new and different needs to occur is simply an exercise in planned failure.

Rather than reflect on what I want to do this year, I have decided to reflect on who I AM and who I want to BE as a mom, and who my children are. 
  • I am first a follower of Jesus, a Christian, a believer in the truth of the gospel and its implications for life and death. I do not believe in Jesus in a religious sense--I know him personally. He has been savior, healer, friend, companion, and strength to me both through the scriptures and through his Spirit's presence in my life, closer and dearer than my next breath. I owe him the first and last moments of my day--to acknowledge him above all, in all and through all. I will continue in the reading of the Word and prayer. 
  • I am the wife of my wonderful husband. I owe it to him to take care of myself physically, spiritually, and emotionally so that he has a sanctuary to return home to every day. In this constant care our children and our relationships remain stable and secure.
  • I am the mother of two beautiful children. I owe it to them to care for myself physically, spiritually, and emotionally, so that our home is safe and secure and that they have a model of health and balance on which to build their lives. I owe it to future generations to be strong, healthy, spiritually centered, and emotionally balanced to provide a legacy of health. 
  • I am a leader in this household, alongside my husband. Lately it has been become ever clearer to me what common sense already understands: Leadership happens through action alone. Words, while necessary, are not deep--actions are. I must demonstrate commitment to reading the Word, exercising, eating well, keeping a schedule, and above all, loving my family with acts of service.
I am all of these things FIRST. Before I ever started teaching my kids to read and write and do math, I was cuddling them, nursing them, playing peek-a-boo, and making food for them. I was protecting them from falling and choosing people to be around that I hoped would be a good influence. I was first a nurturer--a mom.

It seems that so often the task of "homeschooling" becomes this overwhelming thing that causes everything else to fall by the wayside. I think that for years I have been focusing on the wrong thing--the "doing" of school and not the "being" of it. While I understand the importance of setting goals and the modeling of doing so, I do not want my home to become a school. I want learning to be part of our life. This year I want to weave the learning and the growing and the eating and the gardening and the exercising and the relating into one lovely tapestry, not have them all be separate components that look like little overwhelming boxes that must be checked off.

All around us in society we feel the pressure of statistics, rules, and outcome-based instruction. We are led to believe that output equals success. I am not immune from falling into this trap. I have to ask myself--who are these children that God has given me? Who do I want my children to be? Eventually what they do to earn a living will flow out from who they are, not the other way around, and if we look around, we will see lots of middle managers and hamburger flippers NOT living their dreams, NOT doing who they ARE (Does that make sense?) They probably don't even know who they are.

2012 was a wonderful year for us--We grew so much as a family. 2013 will be a year to deepen roots, I think. I am excited to see what comes...Happy New Year.