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Friday, February 13, 2015

The Power of the Coach

I wonder sometimes if people truly understand the influence a coach has on someone. I am not just talking about a gold winning coach, I am talking about anyone that is in the position to teach and train someone to do a sport. Whether it is football, swimming, Olympic lifting, track, CrossFit ...ANYTHING!

In my opinion, a good coach is not someone who has the winning record or the best staff. A good coach is someone who has developed a relationship with his athletes. A good coach knows what makes his athlete nervous and what calms them down. A good coach knows where his athletes weaknesses are and what their strengths are.  A good coach knows what cues will work and which ones won't. A good coach knows who needs to be pushed harder and who needs the softer nudge to finish the task. Most importantly, a good coach cares about more than just winning, he cares about the athlete and not just the athlete but the HUMAN that makes the athlete.

This person has been given an incredible amount of power. No, I don't mean that they rule the roost, although some may think they do. What I'm talking about is the power these coaches have over the athlete they are training. The power to lift these athletes up, full of self-confidence is the same power than can crush them.

Let's talk briefly about the athlete for a minute. There are a handful of people that are genetically GIFTED at sports and will succeed at anything they attempt. In the CrossFit world, that person would obviously be Rich Froning, Jr. In basketball you might say it is Michael Jordan although he may argue that fact. In the football world, the Manning's are the first to come to mind. For the majority of us though, we must be taught and coached. Through that learning process, among a series of failures and successes, we begin to learn what things are difficult for us, what things we really want to learn and be better at and what comes naturally and easily to us.

For me, I am that athlete that wants to do but needs to be coached. TEACH me how to do it and I will do it! Leave me over here by myself to figure it out on my own and I may struggle. The struggle will just piss me off  though and I will eventually figure out how to do the task...especially if I feel I was ignored because you felt I wasn't "Good Enough".

I am a grown up though and I have some pretty tough skin. Kids? Not so much.

When you are coaching a child, and I am using the word child to define anyone that has not graduated high school, you have more power than you are aware of. A LOT OF POWER! That child is clay, sitting in your hands waiting to be molded. If you do nothing with him, if you ignore him, skim over him, create no relationship with him, then you have done nothing with that clay and nothing will be created. An opportunity missed. A possible masterpiece that never was developed. Then you watch as the love for the sport begins to die in their eyes and in their heart. I mean, why try if you are not going to be noticed for your efforts anyways, right?

If you are a coach and coaching has become just a job for you, just a place you go every week to get a paycheck, then this post is for you. Do our kids a favor and find something else to do because bad coaches are dream killers and that's a tragedy. Our kids deserve better.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Who Inspires You?

Who inspires you?

For me, it's not just one person because I have a list of things I want to accomplish. Maybe that is the reason I can get bogged down and feel like I'm not accomplishing ANYTHING.

My son, Brendan is a perfect example of someone who has a list of things. This year, he is on the track team and in the marching band. In his fifteen years on earth he has played t-ball, soccer, basketball, flag football, track and is a third degree black belt. He also plays the trombone and is learning to play the bass guitar. He just told me yesterday that next year he wants me to train him in CrossFit and the Olympic lifts so he can start doing CrossFit competitions. So, another item to add to his list.

Here is the remarkable thing. He doesn't do these things to make his list longer. He does them because, in his words "I want to do everything."

He means it. He really wants to do EVERYTHING! My husband and I had to sit down with him a few years ago and make some hard decisions because his plate was too full. He decided to let go of Cub Scouts. Oh! I forgot to mention that one, didn't I?

I have to admit, when I started this blog today, I was going to use Brendan as my example on how I want to do everything, and therefore can't achieve the goals I want because I have too many at once. Or how I have many people who inspire me because of the different areas in my life I want to get better at, but that's not how this is writing out. I see a very obvious difference between myself and Brendan.

I just WANT to do everything. Brendan has managed to do it and to make it even more impressive to this average "C" student, he has done it all while maintaining A's and B's in school, mostly A's.

WOW! You know what? It's Brendan. He inspires me. He decides he wants to do something and  he just does it.  You would think this kid would be full of confidence and maybe a little cocky.

Nope. He is shy, thoughtful, humble sometimes a little awkward and just adorable.

Today, Brendan is my inspiration.

I better get busy!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Bad Days Happen

Have you ever hit that place where you wonder if you will ever get better at something or if you are just destined to be mediocre forever?

Do you have that negative voice inside your head telling you just to hang up the lifting shoes? Maybe it's asking you "why bother getting up on those rings, you're just going to fail anyways?"

Maybe it has nothing to do with CrossFit or lifting. Maybe that voice is telling you that your mom-skills suck or that you have failed as a friend or it's telling you that you are terrible at making the bed. Whatever it is, big or small, that voice in your head can be mean.

That voice can be loud.

That voice can be defeating.

That voice can also be a huge liar.

One bad day in the gym, or an off day with the kids does not make  you suck at life. It makes you human. Everyone has those days. The danger comes when we let those voices take over, murdering our self confidence.


You are that voice and you have the power to make it shut the hell up. The best way to do that is to just keep on keeping on. If you are frustrated, step back take a deep breath and try again. Never stop giving it your best shot and know that some days your best is better than on other days.

There is no way you can be mediocre if you are trying.

Bad days happen.

Brush yourself off, put on a smile. If you don't feel like smiling, do it anyways! Before you know it, your smile becomes the real thing. Your happiness returns. Your joy floods back in.

Take your joy back. It's yours and you deserve it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

WODism For Autism, the Beginning

About five years ago I went to an event hosted by Sean Dickson (owner of  Riverchase CrossFit). This event was called Backpack for Buddies and was held at a local park on a Saturday afternoon.

Sean and a select few set up a tent and then did a day-long, grueling workout as people came by to watch and make donations for this charity. My three boys were caught up in it also, very proud of their donations as they handed each can of vegetables one at a time to the lady who was collecting them.  It was obvious to me that my youngest two wanted to jump in and start working out with them. They watched with respect as these strong guys worked through their grinding workout for a good cause and as I stood there next to them, I was inspired.

I spent the whole drive home in deep thought, my mind going a thousand miles an hour. The more I thought about it the more I realized that I could do something like this, too. I was energized! I had an idea and I couldn't wait to get home and tell my husband about it.

See, my oldest son, Taylor, has high functioning autism. He is now 17 years-old, and the resources available to him today are many, but when he was a toddler and I was a young mom, there were not many at all. No "internet highway" for me to find everything we needed for Taylor. There were many long days in the beginning that we felt like we were on our own, treading water. I am grateful to say that we found the perfect school for him with amazing teachers and therapist but I know that this is not the story for a lot of families. I wanted to help.

Taylor started CrossFit Kids not long after I began CrossFit in 2010 and he did really, really well at it. He really seemed to like it and I felt like I had finally found something for him that would keep him active, and more importantly to me, engaged with his peers.

On the drive home from Backpack for Buddies that day, I started to envision it. I could combine my love for CrossFit and my desire to help other families who are living with autism. I  decided that I wanted to create an event, similar to the one Sean had hosted with the big difference being that anyone could participate in it. An event that would introduce CrossFit to children and adults with autism or other special needs and as a result raise money for our local Autism charity.

I had no idea where to even begin but I took a step out in faith and just went with it.I thought maybe we would raise a couple of thousand dollars, I really didn't know what to expect.

Taylor's favorite movements in CrossFit are the gymnastic movements. The idea was to create a workout in his honor using movements that he likes to do. I knew the perfect person to program the perfect WOD (Workout of the Day). I asked my friend, Jeff Tucker with GSX CrossFit and he was happy to help!

The event would be called WODism for Autism and the format was simple. Do the WOD, "Taylor", which is a short AMRAP (As many rounds as possible) and pay a donation to participate. If you just wanted to buy a t-shirt, the proceeds from those also went to the charity.

I think we had around 60-70 people participate that first year and we raised a little over $7,000. I was elated!

Since that first year, we have had hundreds of people come out to support WODism for Autism. In 2013 we year raised over $17,000 for the Autism Society of Alabama.

This year will mark the fourth year for the WODism for Autism and I can't wait to see what we will achieve this year. Our charity this year is KultureCity and they are making a huge difference in so many lives! Taylor looks forward to WODism for Autism every year now. He marks it down on the calendar as soon as we hang up the new yearly calendar for him.

WODism for Autism is close to my heart. Every year, my cup runneth over but I know that there is no way any of this could be pulled off without all the amazing people that put in their time to help and support it. I am surrounded by so many incredible people with enormous hearts!

I learned some very important things through this little journey.

The CrossFit Community is AMAZING!

People WANT to make a difference.

Autism touches the lives of just about every person you and I know.

Watching a child with special needs, ANY special needs, participate in a group event like this and seeing the smiles on their faces makes it all worth it.

Monday, January 19, 2015

It's Time

Four years ago I began this blog for many reasons. The first and most obvious of reasons was to document my journey that I was just beginning with CrossFit. I have always been very clear about that, but there were other my private and personal reasons. I have found that as time has gone by, they are still valid, but life has a way of just happening, doesn't it?

Here is a secret I will share with you. It is time to confess. The real, true, deep down reason I decided to start this blog those years ago was because I have always wanted to write a book. More specifically I wanted to write a book about raising a child with Autism.

That sounds like a great goal, right? Shoot for the stars is how the saying goes, My only problem was confidence. I wasn't sure how well I could convey my message through the written word. I have so much to tell, where would I even start. The thought of writing a book was, and still is, completely overwhelming. I wasn't sure if anyone would even read it and certainly did not think that anyone would care. My solution was simple. Write a blog and just put it out there. If no one reads it, no harm done. Make it about something that means a lot to me but isn't too personal. Stay safe. Stay in my box.

That is how "Just Another CrossFit Mom" was started. To my surprise, some amazing things happened. People began to read it. People began to share it. People began to comment on it and I felt my confidence rise, even if just a little.

Then, an even more amazing thing happened. I opened a CrossFit gym and that same year was asked to be a writer and write about, you guessed it, CrossFit. I couldn't believe it! I was constantly pinching myself and enjoying every moment. I was busy all the time and as a result, my blogging slowed to a minimal. You would have thought that being an "official writer" would have helped propel me towards my goal of writing my book but I was always finding an excuse not to begin. Too busy, too tired, not motivated, not inspired, ect.

I talked to my husband about it not too long ago and he brought up this blog. He suggested I begin using it as a starting point for my book. I thought his idea was great but I seem to always find reasons not to do that as well. After really thinking this through I know what my problem really is. Here is the truth of it. There is only one thing that has kept me from writing that book. Just one.


There! I finally admit it. Deep down I still have all those negative thoughts that I have tried so hard to fight. The very same ones I had four years ago.
Will anyone read it?
Does anyone even care?
Can I even do it?

Last week, my friend Lisbeth shared this "Your Turn Challenge" and I knew it was time. It's time to start writing again and the best way to get the juices flowing again is to blog everyday for the next week.

 It's time to address my fears. It is time to get back in the saddle, reset my sights and conquer this quest.

Who cares if anyone reads it? I NEED to write it. As for the other fears, I realize they don't matter. Sometimes the words just need to be written.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Sometimes We Need To Take the Scenic Route

Even the best laid plans don't always go as expected.

Since beginning my CrossFit journey almost 5 years ago, I knew almost immediately that I wanted to be a coach and one day have my own gym, but not for the reasons you would expect...or maybe so.

When I found CrossFit, I was needing something positive in my life. I was empty and lost and on a terrible spiral down into a dark depression. I had prayed for God to lift me up and what He did was lead me to a place where I would learn to lift myself up...and I did.

How could I not share this? How could I possibly keep this to myself? I had found the best therapy for me.

Yes. Therapy.

When I started CrossFit, I was 15 pounds underweight, living off minimal sleep and just trying to make it from day to day. I can promise you, "getting fit" was NOT on my mind. The only reason I joined my first CrossFit class was because my boys karate instructor had been pretty excited about the "new class" he was offering and he thought I would like it. If you don't know any karate instructors, they are quite persistent.

So, I tried it out, partly because he asked me to, but mostly because I needed to do something other than sit around feeling sorry for myself.

That first class we did a little chipper. It didn't look bad at all, but I ended up in a puddle on the floor. As I was pulling out of the parking lot that night, it occurred to me that in that hour long class, I had not thought ONE TIME of anything else that was going on in my life. My focus had just been on the moment I was in and I was hooked!

As time went on, I really began loving getting stronger. I fell in love with the barbell and I had finally found an outlet for my secret competitive side by competing in local CrossFit competitions. My husband soon began CrossFitting and my boys started CrossFit Kids. To say CrossFit had changed my life would be a complete understatement. It changed my whole family.

Fast forward two and half years and I was blessed with the opportunity to open my own CrossFit gym which I would co-own for the next 2 years. What an amazing experience! (That is a whole separate blog.)

My love continued for coaching. I fell in love with Olympic Lifting. I wanted to be better, to be stronger and faster and my goals continued to evolve. I felt more comfortable in my 40-something year old body than I ever had my entire life! I made life long friendships in the community and I was happy.

I imagined how the gym would grow over the next years, all the awesome things that we could do, but sometimes my plan and His plan are different.

In June 2014, I finally had to admit to myself that it was time for me to change course and I sold my part of the gym to my business partner. Once again, I felt like a failure and very defeated for those first few weeks, but God always has a plan and I had to remember that. I can absolutely testify that sometimes the right decisions are often the most difficult to make.

Almost immediately, my husband and I began working on our garage and made it into a garage gym. It was around our 3rd workout together that I realized how rare it was that we ever workout together. In all the years I have been coaching, I can literally count the number of times we have worked out together.

It was fun! FUN! and I was given another reason to love CrossFit. My boys joined us for the next one and I was given yet ANOTHER reason to love it.

Did I imagine 5 years ago that I would be coaching people out of my garage? No, but I did imagine that I would still be in love with CrossFit and I am. It continues to be the best therapy ever. It's my "Happy Dose" each day!

CrossFit has been given a bad rap over the years, but I can tell you that it saved me and it saves me everyday. I LOVE getting stronger. I love sweating and knowing I gave a workout everything I have but mostly I LOVE coaching. I love the look on someone's face when they do their first double under, or kick up to their first handstand or get their first pull-up..when I see the joy on their face, there's nothing like it. THAT's what it is all about to me and I don't see that getting old for me anytime soon.

I'm still on my journey and what I have learned is that God's detours are blessings and I believe sometimes He wants us to take the scenic route instead. I am thankful for the detours because it causes me to slow down and enjoy the scenery.

Everyone has a different reason for beginning CrossFit and my story is just one in a million. Whatever your reason is, the goal is to be happy with who you are and what you are doing.

So go be happy! Life is just too short to be anything else.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Blessings of Having a Child with Autism.

Something amazing happened this weekend that I would love to share with you. I also think it is neat that this happened this month because April is Autism Awareness month and my 17 year old son, Taylor, has autism. He is the one I want to tell you about.

I wanted to share this because I want to give parents who may have just had their world rocked by that word Autism and give them something else. Hope.

I will admit it. I love to talk about my children (I have 3 boys). They are my world! Yes, I am about to brag, but this post is mostly about a prayer that was answered. One that I have been praying relentlessly for 15 years.

I will go ahead and warn you that this may be a long post and has absolutely nothing to do with CrossFit. I also understand that you may not have a lot of time, we are all so busy, but I hope you stick around to read this. Pardon the history, but I do feel it is necessary to go back a few years to really explain this in the best possible way.

As a baby, Taylor was perfect. Absolutely PERFECT. He had the biggest, bluest eyes and was so pretty that most people thought he was a girl, in spite of the brown tractor shirt I would always put him in. He learned to walk at 10 months. He loved to give hugs and kisses and he was soooo curious, constantly into everything. ALL. THE. TIME.

It was around 18 months that it became apparent that he was no longer hitting those milestones. The biggest thing I noticed was that he wasn't talking like his peers. I was mildly concerned but I also realized that toddlers develop at different stages. He was walking earlier than my other friends' babies, so it stood to reason that they were just talking early.

I mentioned it to his pediatrician and he said “wait until he is two years old.” He didn’t seem concerned, so my mind was eased.

I started writing down every word Taylor said and kept it on the refrigerator. By the age of two, he had a total of 20 words, some of which he had said once and never again.

I knew this wasn't right.

Again I asked the pediatrician and he said “wait until he is 2 ½ years old”. I did, although my mind was not eased. I KNEW something wasn't right.

At 2 ½, he had a total of 24 words. Most of which only my husband and I could understand. NOW the pediatrician was concerned and he recommended speech therapy.

We immediately started speech therapy with Taylor twice a week. (FYI: the state provides these services for free and they will come to you!)

It was about 1 month into speech therapy that I asked his speech therapist a question that had been eating at me.

“Why can he repeat full sentences from his videos, but not put his own words together and make his own sentences?”

The result of this seemingly innocent question, turned our world upside down.
That day, all she did was tell us she wanted someone else to come see Taylor. A child psychologist. Yes. I was fairly alarmed.

A week later we were visited by this doctor. I remember specifically Taylor trying to get her attention the whole time he was there. He wanted to see what was in her bag and was using his words “can I have?” and she wasn’t listening to him. She was telling us about Autism.

I wasn’t concerned at all. Really!  I knew what Autism was. It was that guy in Rain Man. YEAH. Taylor was NOTHING like that!

But a week later we got the report…Autism.

The floor fell away from my feet and I couldn’t breath and then I cried. And I cried. And I cried some more.

But after a few days a switch turned on in me. I actually felt a little relieved. I wasn’t crazy! After being ignored by his pediatrician for year it turned out I was right about Taylor being a little different. (We got a new pediatrician) I still knew nothing about Autism but now I had something I could research. I could fix this, right? I made a plan and I went into action.

Remember, this was 15 years ago. There was no Google. No support groups to speak of. All I had was a few magazines and a brand new “information highway”. It took time but it gave me a purpose. It gave me a goal.

I was going to help my son.

My husband and I continued him in speech therapy and added Occupational therapy to his day. When he was three years old, we placed him in early intervention in the local school system.

Every year he made progress but every year I kept waiting for someone to tell me that there was cure.

I will be honest, those first years were an emotional roller coaster for me. Every 6 months or so, I would dive into a huge depression.

Why him? He did nothing to anyone. This beautiful, innocent child.
I would get angry at God. Why would God allow this to happen to this child? Look at all Taylor was missing out on.

While my friends were taking their children to t-ball, we were going to speech therapy.
While my friends were telling me all the funny stuff their children would say, I was telling them how he finally called me “Mommy”.
While my friends children were have sleep overs, we were sitting in hyperbaric chambers.

I didn’t have many things in common with my friends anymore. My circle became extremely small. I felt that no one could relate to me. No one knew what it was like. I felt very alone.

It was during one these really low days that my best friend, Cindy, set me straight.

We had just left a bible study that we were attending together. It was about how God wants what is best for us. If we live for him, he will always take care of us.

It made me angry. I remember her looking at me very carefully as we left the church. She knew what was going through my head. She took me to lunch so we could talk and once again, my life was changed.

Without even asking me what I thought, she told exactly what I was thinking.

“God is not punishing Taylor and He is most certainly NOT punishing you for anything in your past. He is not!”

She said, “I know you feel like Taylor is missing out, but he is one of the happiest children I know! Taylor is fine! YOU are the one that is missing out. (Ouch!)

Then she said, “BUT look at what you have that we other parents don’t!”

“Taylor is my angel,” she said. “He makes me laugh every single day. He has taught me to appreciate all the things we come to take for granted.”

Then she said, “Look at all the lives he has touched. How can God not be in that?!”

To this day I don’t think I can ever express how much I loved my friend as I did at that moment.

My whole perspective changed. I admit, I still mourn for those milestones that we as parents just expect to happen.

I still go through my mourning every now and then but it’s much more rare. The most recent I can remember is when he turned 16. He didn’t get that driver’s license and I didn’t get to post a photo on Facebook warning everyone that “Taylor is on the road! Look out!” But I got over it because I know I will have that moment one day.

But there was one milestone that I wished and prayed for him since I first took him to social therapy in the 3rd grade.

His first day at the Montevallo Speech and Hearing Center, Professor Murdock asked me what my goals were for him.

“My goals?” I kind of laughed. “They may not be what you are expecting Professor Murdock but here they are. I want to have a back and forth conversation with him one day. I want him to have a best friend. I want him to have a first kiss. I want him to go to prom. I want him to get married one day. I want him to have a job. I would rather him work at a gas station and have a family than be a surgeon unable to have to friends. THOSE are my goals for him”

Let me tell you that at 17 years old, I have a back and forth conversation with him regularly, albeit something that he wants to talk about.  He is mainstreamed into his classes and has been from the beginning.
From what one of his teachers told me, he had his first kiss in 9th grade under the bleachers during P.E. (He still can’t figure out how I found out about that one!)

And the biggest so far…PROM.

This Friday night, Taylor went to his Jr. Prom with his friend Allibeth, one of the most beautiful girls I know. They have been friends since they were toddlers and Taylor told me that she is his “best friend”.  (another goal I had for him.)

Allibeth gets him. It seems that she always has. When they were little, she could play with him when other kids didn’t know how to. She has never been embarrassed by him. She never ignores him. She loves to talk with him on the phone and now text with him. (He loves to talk about movies)

My child going to the prom had at one time in my life been something that I just expected to happen, but it became something so much more significant to me.

I still don’t feel like I have been able to express my feelings about that night as well as I wanted to. It is hard sometimes to put a feeling into a word or words, but what I saw Friday night was a prayer answered, a mom and dad that were moved to tears, a 17 year old that had the best time and young lady who has the most beautiful spirit about her.

My final word is for those parents who have children with special needs. I know there are hard days (or even weeks) but even on those days look for the blessing and know that you are not all alone.

These children are our angels. I truly believe that.