I am blessed to have a big group of friends who I refer to as “my biking friends” and they are the most active people that I know (and I know a lot of really active people). Aside from road and mountain biking surely there is one person in the group who does every single kind of sport or activity. They don’t just go to the gym (although as I discovered this morning, they do some pretty insane things there), they are outdoors a lot of the time throwing parties and creating their own triathalons (because they are kind of crazy).
They are also amongst the most generous, compassionate, fun loving and inclusive group of people that I have ever met. One of the families has a sign above their fireplace that says, “Enter as a stranger, leave as a friend,” and it astounds me to be able to tell you that that is exactly what happens every time a new person comes to one of their crazy, sporty, shenanigans. It doesn’t matter if you show up never having done what you are about to do or with flat tires and your bike helmet on backwards (hypothetically, of course); they will help you and always make you feel like they are thrilled that you are there. When I started biking with them they literally rode behind and next to me instructing me how and when to shift gears. They taught me about bike etiquette and reminded me tons of times to clip out before I put the brakes on (which honestly I thought was a little silly. I mean…who wouldn’t do that? and then proceeded to brake without clipping out and fell off).
This may seem like a blog about exercising, but it actually isn’t. At least, I don’t mean it to be. A few years ago I had what I call (when thinking to myself) a “fitness crisis.” This fitness crisis was brought on by starting to go to a CrossFit gym that a yoga teacher friend was opening. Until then I had only run and practiced yoga, and without realizing it, it had kind of became “who I was.” I had never “worked out.” In fact I don’t think I had ever even used those words before. I kind of identified with “only doing yoga” and was a little worried that people would think I had changed because I now I was doing something else. I was worried that it indicated to my students that somewhere underneath my yoga practice I might be signaling to them that I thought yoga wasn’t enough.
At the time, I had not a single idea of what CrossFit was, but I went (and dragged Alex too). I have blogged about it many times, but to sum it up, I would say that experience was one of the biggest life changes we have made as a couple. I loved doing CrossFit there right away. I had no idea what I was doing and had never lifted weights before, but no one made me feel stupid and in fact, the CrossFit community is known for being ultra encouraging. The way the people who finished last got the most cheers really did something to me. I got a lump in my throat every single time.
Many of you know that we left that gym a few months ago, and without saying too much (mainly because I’m really still not sure what to say), it has been another one of the biggest things we have gone through as a couple. Recently I have been thinking a lot about my past (and now present) fitness crisis, which really is kind of just a particular kind of identity crisis.
Thinking about the places where you stop recognizing yourself (or who you had thought yourself to be through past associations) is kind of a wild and scary place.
What I know beyond a doubt is that I am a liker. I am, at my deepest core, a gigantic dorky cheerleader for the awkward and beautiful places in people. I love being challenged and challenging others to be brave enough to overcome what they thought were impossibilities. I know that I would rather compliment someone than criticize them.
I often feel unsure about what direction to take in my “one wild and precious life,” to quote Mary Oliver. I do know that I want to surround myself with the kind of people who ride next to you and make you feel like you are an important part of something even if (and especially if) you are new and awkward (or have your helmet on backwards). I know that I want to be one of those lighthouses for others. I know that I want to have the love and courage to both hear and tell the truth, and I want to brave enough to put those truths into action.