Saturday, December 30, 2017

Saying good bye to 2017- How did we get here - thankful for all its ups, downs and most importantly, lessons

"Any  man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error"


Again, too much time has passed between posts, something I plan to fix in 2018. Understand, I'm not making it a resolution, rather, a commitment. A resolution is easily broken; ask anyone who has resolved to "lose weight", "work out more", "stop smoking", etc heading into any new year. Commitment means more to me. But enough of that. To the point of today's post. The last one of  2017. And when I finally put fingers to computer, I came to a very simple conclusion. Based on the words of a man far smarter than me, I am an idiot. According to Cicero, I am a gigantic idiot. One for the books. And recognizing it now, is actually very, very helpful. Let me explain.

2017 was not one of my finest years. I'm speaking more from a personal and professional point of view. For every bit of knowledge I gained, I had to stumble, face down in the mud, eat crow, look foolish, get my ass handed to me, you name it, that's the only way I learned anything this year. It was as if I was 16 again, determined I could make everything work my way, without ever giving an inch. Somehow believing that slamming my head against the wall over and over would yield a different result. Shockingly, it didn't. So what happened? I spent the majority of this year, sick. Recovering from what was supposed to be minor surgery. Playing from behind. But I'm the one who put myself there. I had every tool at my disposal to do things right, and I ignored them. In fact, I think I went so far as to claim they weren't even there. Foolish. Idiotic.

On the exterior, I kept up a good front. I learned from a young age to hide weakness. It was important for survival on the Southside of Chicago. That is not a unique skill to me. I share it with millions. But it served me well this year while racing, training, coaching. The one person who saw me at my weakest, and was too young to understand, was my son. I am able to let my guard down around him. And its very comforting to me. I'm thankful for it. But with everything and everyone else, I couldn't show that. But I have to now. Its too important.

I didn't listen to my coaches. Not 100% at least. Cody, Dana, Amanda, all willing to help in a moment's notice, and I didn't fully commit to the process. I got wrapped up in my "ideal race weight" so much that I stopped paying attention to the process. The process that had gotten me to the start line of a race in March of this year that I won. Somehow, after that race, after the success, I stopped listening. While I was sweating 2-3 lbs, I gained 7. Stress did me no favors. Pressing did me no favors. As I told athletes on a daily basis to "trust the process", "change takes time", I wasn't even close to doing the same. I was way off the reservation. The fact that the aforementioned stayed with me through all the nonsense is a miracle. Trust in those who coach you is so critical to success. It sounds simple, straightforward. But its easy to lose sight of it. I got in my own head so much, that I was cutting corners. Or trying to slam more work into small spaces. I was all over the board. I'm extremely lucky to have had the success I did. But I got so smoked at Powerman Michigan because I was running on fumes, that I was easily exposed. I had no pop, nothing in the tank to give it a legit fight. This was past. "fall down 7 times, get up 8." I was getting up. Only to fall right back down over the same damn rock. That's not failing forward. That's just dumb. But I'll own it. All of it.

From that race at the end of September, until now, its been a giant fucking mess. Save the last 2.5 weeks. I have seen more doctors, ran more tests in 2 months than I did in 5 years. Fortunately, the fix is simple. For most issues. The sinuses, which bother me as I write this, continue to be a mystery to every doctor I've seen. But I haven't let it deter me from getting my ass on track. I took the better part of this year making the same mistakes over and over and over. It was maddening. I learned nothing until I found myself unable to stay healthy for more than 1 week. As I think about that now, I find myself fuming. I allowed my depression to blind me. I saw nothing good in myself. I couldn't get out of my way. For those who suffer from anxiety or depression, you know what I'm talking about. What got me out? My son. His constant smile. His joy and sense of wonder. He is my constant reminder to be a better man.

This took months. 11 months. I'm not out of the woods yet. But its a little brighter today than yesterday. I have more answers regarding my health. Solid answers. I have been vigilant in my pursuit of staying true to the process. believing in my coaches the way they believe in me. Embracing the community at CrossFit Iron Flag, where I am both honored and humbled to coach. To be a part of something bigger. A place where I want my son to meet other kids his age, make friends. See the importance of taking care of himself. Laugh. Love. Play. Live.

The losses of friends this year, due to suicide, 2 more lives gone. It hurts. It makes me listen to my friends more. The loss of some friendships, unfortunate, but I know life is better without these people. It helps tighten the bonds of those who I am truly close with, and reminds me to tend to those friendships with care.And I've made new friendships that I know will last. That for me, a few close friends is all I need. My family. My coaches. I have new sponsors, thanks to someone who has been in my corner for a while, my dear friend Melissa. Even when it was dark, she stood fast. I can't thank her enough for that. Jared and Haley, busting balls since the beginning. Thank you guys. The members at Iron Flag, thank you. Mary T. and Manny, thank you for the cards. Words that remind me why I am so lucky to do what I do for a living.

Its important to note, I haven't ignored the world around me through all this. I see the tragedies of Houston, Puerto Rico, California, the political strife, the revelation of sexual harassment on every level, the continued racial tension, I refuse to stick my head in the sand. The sport is not everything. There are people around us who need help. Even a simple, "how are you doing" can change a person's day. That depression is actually a disease. I heard more stories this year from people who have had close friends try to minimize that, make them feel like its not a big deal. That everyone goes through it. Umm, no. Depression, clinical depression and anxiety is not the same as getting anxious before a test. Or a job interview. Its not the same kind of depression when you break up with a significant other. No one, no one, has the right to minimize or diminish what you are experiencing. And if someone you are close to is doing that, cut the cord. They aren't helping your situation. And , their inability to appreciate, or understand what you are going through is on them. Not you. If you suffer, and you've told people close to you, and they give you some flippant answer, then tell them to go screw. If they don't want to get it, and that's what it is, them not wanting to get it, is on them. You have to be your best advocate in those situations. As hard as it is, you have to.

With the new year approaching, I'm not going to suggest making commitments or promises to yourself. Everyone is an adult, at least by age. Own your shit, and fix it. Or don't. If you are determined to fix it, move the nonsense out of the way. The clutter. The bullshit. The stuff that means nothing but we make it overwhelming. You know what I mean. People want to get a better job, but not willing to take a lesser job to at least gain experience. Or when an athlete needs the "right kind of music" to work out. What matter more, the work that's done, or who's singing? A little humility goes a long way. The process isn't easy. Its not supposed to be. Anything worthwhile is hard. You don't get to graduate from school with zero experience and get a management position. You aren't a world beater because you did all your training this week. No gold star. Stop waiting for someone to pat you on the back for doing something you chose to do. Are you doing it for the selfie or for something bigger? Who cares how many followers you have on the Gram? On your tombstone, is that what you want written? "He/she died doing nothing really noteworthy except 1500 Instagram followers". Fuck that. Aim higher. Because your worth it.

Stay strong,