WOD, write, repeat

In fitness, there are no short cuts. It involves immense discipline and hard work — Mahesh Babu

For the third time in the five-and-a-half years I’ve been doing CrossFit, I participated in the 2019 CrossFit Open Games.

This is a masochist’s version of having fun. And when you look at the number of people who participate in the Open. There are a lot of folks who could fall in the category of masochistic.

‘No pain, no gain’ as the saying goes.

I managed to survive the five weeks, although the 86 (out of a possible 105) thrusters I did in the last Open WOD (workout of the day) really did a number on my shoulders. I didn’t injure myself but I certainly pushed them. Nothing a chiropractor or an osteopath couldn’t help resolve. For now, the foam roller and Tylenol are my best friends.

For about the 90% (I’m guessing here) who participate, the Open is about seeing where you are fitness-wise. A gauge to measure yourself from when you started CrossFit or from the last time you participated in the Open.

Since I participated in two previous Opens, it was a great barometer to track how far I’ve come since I started doing CrossFit. I’m pretty proud of my progress. I will never be competitive enough to make a serious run at a title but that’s not the point.

It has always been about being as physically fit as possible to participate in life. It’s about doing the little things that everyday life asks of you. Carrying groceries. Climbing stairs. Vacuuming. Shovelling snow off the driveway. Mowing the lawn. Gardening. Playing with your kids. Participating in an impromptu road hockey game. Activities we naturally assume we can do until we can’t.

My goal has always been to grow older as gracefully as possible and if that requires throwing the occasional punch, then so be it. I’ve been throwing punches most of my life but now, my punches are stronger and quicker.

I have to admit it’s a real kick to know how much stronger I am now than I was five years. I could RX the odd workout but that’s never been the goal. Being able to RX a workout is a happy side effect from taking care yourself and becoming stronger.

I have small, manageable goals and I have dream goals. Do enough small goals, I might actually achieve some of those dream goals. I surprised myself with one dream goal that had never been on my radar. Toes to bar. Google it. You’ll see. It never registered as a goal for myself yet here we are. I’m not there yet but it’s not unreasonable to think that I could get my first toe-to-bar before the end of the year. It’ll require more core and upper body strength than I have right now. Quite honestly, I might be gunning for it. We’ll see how it goes. I still have to manage my expectations and avoid injuring myself. That’s always a bummer.

Before I continue, I have to apologize for the fact I missed last week’s expected new blogpost. I warned you that I was busy and that writing a weekly blog wasn’t a priority anymore because I’m ramping up my writing commitments and goals.

I thought going bi-weekly would be manageable. Apparently, it’s not. I’ll aim for every two-three weeks. I mean I should be able to yap about something after all that time in-between, right? Oh well, we’ll see. I really can’t let this blog go dormant like so many blogs like mine have done.

Speaking of writing, I’ve come up with four writing projects to tackle this year. And it doesn’t include that writing bingo I signed up for last week. I’m not going to talk about the bingo thing unless I feel like it. That one is about having fun and challenging myself.

I’m trying to dive into that writing life I need so much. There’s still separation pains from the other commitments I’m trying to extricate myself from. I’m not the one having the pain but I can see the other parties trying to make it my pain. If that happens, I’ll just make myself persona non-grata for awhile. To be honest, with four (let’s be real, it’s five) projects which I plan to complete this year, persona non-grata suits me just fine. The community of online writers I’ve found myself in have been great. There’s one writer I’ve been bouncing ideas with lately, and she’s been great. She cheerleads everyone but she’s also a really good writer and a lovely artist. She’s pretty chuffed about what I’ve got planned.

Again, I’m going by instinct with these projects but it nice to have a sounding board.

I’m really happy about my up-coming writing projects. It makes creative-me want to party all-night or something like that. Given how thrilled I am to try and juggle these projects, I’ll probably forego the partying in favour of getting down to the business of writing. Typical.

Brave, mad and happy

There’s a fine line between brave and mad. But whatever I do, I go for it — Viv Albertine

Everything that has given me nothing but joy came from the simple and seemingly harmless thought of ‘why not?’

That however, does not include romantic relationships. I attribute those to sheer stupidity stemming from a boat load of insecurities. If I had been saner, I would have never entered into any of those relationships. That’s just the god-honest truth. I don’t particularly give a fuck if any of my exes are offended by this statement. I’m sure they wished they had never met me either.

Anyway, I try to straddle the line between brave and mad with regards to my passions. Depending what it is, I think I fall into mad territory more often than not. I think I start out brave, then I just fall into utter madness.

Right now, I might be falling into utter madness with my writing. There are works-in-progress that I’m excited about tackling. None of them, however, are the long-term projects I had been thinking about. For now, the stories I plan to tackle have nothing to do with traditional publishing.

As a friend pointed out to me last night as we were messaging each other about her current work-in-progress, I’m re-prioritizing. She’s not wrong. I have been re-prioritizing for a long time. In baby steps. It’s only now, this year, that I’m kicking those changes into overdrive and making them as much as a reality as I can.

Throughout our lives, we’re always re-prioritizing what’s important to us. There’s a fluidity to life that we have to follow. Not following it will only lead to more grief than we care to handle. I can’t stay where I’m at. There’s no growth. I’m being challenged for all the wrong reasons and not the right ones. That’s what I’m re-prioritizing for. To be challenged for the right reasons. And to continue growing.

Me being stagnant is a very bad idea. Bad things happen.

Re-prioritizing, for me, also means redefining what it means to wear the mantle of ‘writer’ comfortably and without feeling apologetic that I am a writer. But I wear the mantle of ‘storyteller’ proudly. It might be semantics but I do differentiate the two words.

I’m more interested in honing the craft of storytelling than spinning my wheels trying to figure out my next book. Try too hard and the wheels keep spinning until you’re burning rubber for no good reason. I also believe some of the things that keep me from working on the next book will be found in working on other stories and being around other creative souls.

It might also be my brain engaging in self-preservation. When you devoted a good chunk of time to writing a novel, you sometimes don’t realize how much your brain wants to decompress and have fun. That’s what I’m doing now. Decompressing by having fun with the writing I’m currently working on.

There is still lots of bravery and madness to be found in what I’m doing now. It’s available by the boat loads. It’s something I gladly take on because nothing else makes me happier.

Disequilibrium

Disequilibrium can be a gift. Great art doesn’t come from comfort Delilah S. Dawson

For a writer or an artist, disequilibrium can definitely be gift.

I think about the ways I’ve challenged myself as a writer in regards to the some of the themes/subject matter in my next novel.

The challenge was not so much in dealing with the topics themselves. The challenge for me was not to allow anybody to negatively affect the story I wanted to tell. The minute I allow anyone to hold me back from being faithful to my characters’ stories, I have done a disservice to them. I would not have been faithful to them.

So far, I’ve been fortunate in not having to wrestle heavily with anybody’s concern about the language (i.e. swearing) that I use in my writing. When I started figuring out and exercising my literary voice, I had the odd person express their discomfort in how freely I used coarse language.

All that tells me is they have a limit to what they’ll tolerate in their reading material. I’m fine with that. But let’s be clear – I’m not changing a fucking thing just to make my writing more palatable for one person or anyone who has a ‘delicate constitution.’

So, either let your toleration levels limit you or gird yourself and see what else I have to offer as a storyteller aside from turning the book pages a beautiful jewel-toned shade of blue.

Reining in or dialling back my creativity means reining in or dialling back who I am. If you want milquetoast, you’re not getting it from me. You’re more likely to get nothing but murderous silence from me. And that’s not a good thing.

If my unbridled creative tendencies to have my characters swear like a mad motherfucker (among other things) turns your stomach, I would like to say thanks for trying to read my writing, and have a nice life.

Disequilibrium can be a good thing for the reader. As a reader, I like to be sucked in and challenged by the author. I’m saying “Bring it on. Do your best to wreck me.” I have mentioned I have masochistic tendencies in previous posts, right? Well, I bounce between masochist and sadist, to be honest.

So as a result of the kinds of stories I’d like to and want to tell, I can’t help but inevitably make life interesting for anyone who is willing to read my stories.

When I decided I wanted to try my hand at fiction writing, I didn’t set out with the intention to make people uncomfortable with my storytelling. I just wanted to figure out how to tell a good, if not great, story.

But it’s starting to look like I’m comfortable with the uncomfortable. I seem to have a tendency to want to explore things that some folks might have set specific boundaries regarding anything uncomfortable. My willingness to ‘go there’ with certain topics probably makes some folks nervous. But as an artist, the uncomfortable is interesting, exciting, probably unnerving and makes my imagination gleefully unruly and chaotic.

To be honest, an unruly, chaotic but focussed imagination is my happy place. That’s what it’s been like for me and my characters since I started writing the second novel. My happy place is untouchable. And yeah, life’s bumpy roads have tried to pry me away from my happy place in the past. That’s when disequilibrium had become too much, too heavy, and threatens my happy place. That’s when I get unruly and maybe a little too feisty to handle. At that point, I’m pretty much ready to fight anyone who gets between me and my happy place. Actually, I would do more than just fight.

I’ll just leave that thought right there.

Great art doesn’t exist solely to make the viewer or the reader feel good about themselves and about the world around them. Great art will also ask the tough questions. Great art will make the grotesque beautiful. Great art will make you think and ask questions. And great art will challenge you.

Through words or through images, those are some of the reasons I embrace disequilibrium and push myself to create.