Excuses only happen because we let them

This was definitely the quote of the week. Off-hand comment but so completely true. How often does that happen, that we miss the most profound things because we’re not paying attention? The beautiful flower growing through a crack in the pavement, or the sideways rainbow, or the way someone looks at someone else. Sam was saying how she likes how my eyes twinkle at people I like. That’s the sort of detail that I love that she notices.

It’s been busy since I last wrote. I did manage to take some chill time after acupuncture Tuesday (I should really learn that that sh*t knocks me out for the evening!!), and then Wednesday after team training. But it was good to get some rest in advance because the weekend was another FutureFit block, on which we concentrated on leadership, so I have a whole post to write on THAT subject. When I make some time.

I did manage to accomplish some good stuff at work last week but I also procrastinated some other things. But I’m sick of making excuses and talking the talk. There are only so many hours left between now and when I leave for L.A. for what is going to be a very intense experience across a broad range of domains (pun intended… if you’re not in the cult … it’s not that interesting to explain), so I’m taking this for what it is: an all-out sprint, during which I need to get 7-9 hours of sleep a night. I’m not planning on leaving anything on the table.

This week was Jaco’s birthday, on which he and I had a good long conversation about America and Americans. And yes, we generalized a lot of things but it’s actually kind of impossible not to. One thing he said that struck me was that Americans are quite diverse (obvious, yes), but there are some patterns he noticed like the fact that we all do tend to be somewhat loud and individualistic and competitive. It’s our culture, and I am most definitely a product of that culture. At least I am “less obnoxious” than some.

A subject that came up quite a few times between that conversation and the party at his place that evening (my paleo eating came to a crashing halt when the chocolate cake with caramel icing came out….) was that he was saying that what social enterprise needs is less advice and more people taking up shovels. Point taken, but actually it needs capital so that entrepreneurs don’t need to suffer in the startup phase, or even quit because they can’t pay the bills while trying to get a company off the ground, and it needs applied advice. Not theoretical advice. We know all this. Now we just need to do what we keep talking about, which, of course requires money. Well, it (along with that Greenpop trailer, and a few other things!) will come. Fun party though, even though like Schrodinger’s cat, I was all the time recognizing how different it would have been had I not been there: the consummate outsider in a way, American and English-speaking. But that degree of outsider-ness is something that you get used to.

Friday morning Misha from Greenpop came through to do a presentation for the Hub and the Harvard students who are here, and then show us how to plant trees. Then he and I talked about the next steps out of their jumpstart, in preparation for a meeting this coming week. Takes one to know one but that man has the weight of the world on his shoulders, no matter how amazing and tough he is. But he’ll find a way; he and his team are not going to let anything drag them from what they want. That is inspiring, and those are the sorts of people you want to surround yourself with. The sort who believe anything is possible but aren’t idle dreamers, either, and are willing to pick up the shovels Jaco was talking about (quite literally in this case).

I also had lunch with my new friend Ingi who is another amazing, strong, beautiful, humble, and insightful woman. I am lucky to know so many. Actually, that’s not true. I didn’t have lunch because Jason didn’t have anything on his menu that I could eat, but he did get his liquor license, and I’ll be stopping by for a croissant on my way back from the airport on August 17th.

Friday night was dinner with Mona at Cattle Baron in Constantia. Somehow a restaurant that was full in the middle of winter! We are so close now that we know pretty much everything about the other, and the most amazing thing here is how fast this happened and how far apart in age we are. But we do share one thing, and that thing defines a large portion of us. Plus, we need each other for support and because we’re more powerful together. I am pretty sure that there is a multiplier effect to visualization. That’s why group prayer can be effective.

Saturday night my friend Babett painted me up for an 80s party. That was quite interesting, fun, and very Cape Town. But I have no idea how some women can wear so much makeup every day! It was almost more hectic to take it off than to put it on!

Makeup has reminded me of my nickname, and one of my focuses for this week has been healing my hand. Because of the rip from Fran, I didn’t want to do pullups on Thursday so Chris had me do ring dips instead, only to have ring dips come up in Friday’s workout (so he made me do burpees instead). That Friday workout was something else. As I got tired I was literally too tired to squat clean with the weight I had, and had to power clean, rest a bit, and then squat it. Well, time was I couldn’t even consistently clean 43kgs, so being able to squat clean it 45 times is something of an accomplishment. So much room for improvement though, in everything!

One insight I had recently was this fear of publicly admitting when I really want something because then if I don’t get it the public failure is something that I fear. For some reason since I came to this conclusion and started talking about it, I’ve been really going for it more at the gym. Trying that 45kg press after the 43 was so hard, and actually I’m at the point now where if I don’t get to the point of knowing for sure I hit my max or actually failing, I don’t feel like I’ve tried hard enough. I improved my 5 rep max back squat by 5kgs to 73, and actually ran out of time. I feel like I could have done 5kgs more. Then Chris really helped me with my overhead squat technique and now I cannot WAIT to get my butt back under that bar (no pun intended in this case) and practice what I suck at. Whatever is going on there, though, it’s awesome, and I’m happy that I’m reacting in this way. Not sure if it’s bleeding over to the rest of my life yet but if I’m facing down my fears that’s how you get stronger, the same way as you get physically stronger by pushing yourself to the limit, being sore, and then recovering.

On a related topic, as discussed before it’s difficult to impossible to turn an absolute weakness into an absolute strength, especially if the weakness isn’t something that you love. But with work and life, as with CrossFit, as you emerge from the beginner level there reaches a time when working your weaknesses becomes critical because one weakness can knock you out of competition (literally, even, if you can’t do something as Rx’d, or figuratively by knocking you super far down in the standings). What is very cool is when you reach the point of maturity or development when you WANT to work your weaknesses (partly maybe because those are the areas where you can still get quick gains??). 9 months ago I would have loved every workout to have box jumps and handstand pushups and burpees. Now I hate when those things come up in workouts, and I can’t wait to get back to the gym in a few short hours and practice muscle-ups.

On a related note, and I know it’s an ad hominem, but one of the girls who trains at our gym, Rika (the ex-Olympic rower), has been doing this thing called BodyTalk with a practitioner in Hout Bay. It’s hard to explain other than a holistic mind-body connection technique. I had my first session on Saturday not out of any real research but because I trust Rika’s assessment (and hey, Janie got her first pullup, which makes me SOOOO proud, since she started BodyTalk, and made it look easy to boot!). I’m a sceptic but the woman knew her stuff both physiologically and the way she talks about a number of things. Not only that, but when she was working on me I could feel the impact on my central nervous system (I know this feeling from such things as yoga and CrossFit). Anyway I haven’t yet trained since the session but I felt some bleed-through positive effects even on Sunday.

Maybe the best way to describe this is like a school of fish or an organisation, things work better when everyone is marching to the beat of the same drummer. When the body and mind, or even different parts of the body are out of sync with each other, things break. This is why I keep having problems with my right knee, for example. Now I really wish I had taken blood and physical tests before starting this, because it wouldn’t much surprise me if some imbalances come “magically” back into alignment.

Or maybe it’s just one big example of the placebo effect. But what the heck, the placebo effect is a real effect so ultimately it doesn’t actually matter. What is reality? What we make it. I met a guy this week who practically recruited himself for CrossFit. That was an interesting experience. I am intrigued; this guy certainly appears to be quite ambitious and fearless, which would potentially make him a good CrossFitter. At a minimum, it makes him fascinating as the easiest potential recruit so far.

So we leave for the CrossFit Games in a little bit less than a week. Along those lines, I will leave this post with an insight that I had at my BodyTalk session which is that I was doing exactly what I got on Roland’s case for doing ahead of Regionals. He was saying ahead of time that he was going to surprise everyone and himself by doing well. I told him if he was going into it thinking he was going to surprise himself, then he was never going to be very successful because he was playing to lose.

People asked me what I wanted to accomplish and I would say something like “Oh I want to go and have a good time, and get some good experience for next year. But I don’t expect to do very well because we’re not going to be very competitive.” But with this attitude, I’ve already lost. So my new goal is to do as Keith suggested two weeks ago and take this opportunity and the competition that will be there to push me to do things I’ve never done before, and not leave anything on the table. The result in terms of place is almost secondary: that will sort itself out. If I and we are true to ourselves and go as hard as we possibly can, then we’ve already won.

But you heard it here first: watch out for us next year.

• “Your only responsibility in life is to be true to yourself.” – Peter (your true self, not your ego)
• “Fuck it, I’m gonna do it.” – Jaco
• “If you move into a condom-” – Herby (he meant commune but it was right up there with Peter’s ‘Jerick’ Freudian slip last week, and this is in a country where no one even knows Derek Jeter!)
• “Every time that I think they’re being crafty, they’re just incompetent.” – Anonymous
• “That’s what I do, princess… ;)” – Chris
• “What I meant to say was, wait, I think you just called me princess and meant it!” – Ellie
• “I’ve been told that for a long time. But I just like drinking.” – Jacques
• “You speak English. But then you get those people who speak American.” – Jané
• “It’s one thing to chat to someone for an hour and play nice. It’s another thing actually to be nice.” – Jané
• “I don’t know if it will work. I believe it will.” – Misha
• “I saw and I was like aaaah cute man.” – Mona
• “My favourite animal is a steak.” – Jason
• “What is reality, anyway?” “It’s what you make it.” “Exactly.” – Ellie & Joh
• “Pain is addictive hey ;)” – Mona
• “The difference is, I suck it up.” – Chris
• “Excuses only happen because we let them.” – Chris
• “Your intuition is very strong. You need to trust it more.” – Debbie
• “You can’t play drums when you’re drunk. But you can when you’re on drugs!” – overheard at a party
• “I told you about my dreams.” – Mona


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