Organized chaos

Masochism is a valuable job skill Chuck Palahniuk 

Masochism isn’t just a valuable job skill. It’s valuable for life. 

I’ve always considered myself a bit of a masochist when it comes to things I do for fun or things I am passionate about. I might even consider myself a masochist when it comes to matters of the heart which is why being single will always seem to be the best option for me. But enough of that.

This past weekend, I participated in my first CrossFit competition. It was held at the box I go to and it was a friendly competition between two boxes. Even though there were prizes up for grabs, the whole intent of the competition was to have fun. 

Let’s be honest, I had fun. The movements in the WODS were not unfamiliar. But man, when you put certain movements together, something is bound to happen and your body will, at some point, bitch at you for all its worth.

There were three WODs – four if you managed to score well enough to make it to the finals. Thank god, I didn’t make the finals. I might be a masochist but my body is only willing to put up with so much. 

Out of the three WODs, the second WOD was the most taxing. It was pretty much a cardio-centred WOD. For those who love cardio, easy peasey. Although, I didn’t hear anyone say they loved that one all that much. That WOD burned. Every major muscle group burned. You could call it a full-body burn. I don’t ever remember my thighs burning the way they did after I was done. Throw me into a tub of ice, why don’t ya.

The third WOD was easier to move through because it was about muscular endurance. I tolerate that quite well. As I frequently tell/joke with my fellow CrossFitters, I ‘turtle’ my way through WODs. I just tell myself to keep moving regardless of how slow I may be going.

I won’t bore you with the specific movements that are associated with the WODs. All you need to know is that I’m kind of sore. 

But there is one very positive takeaway from doing the competition. My right shoulder survived the workouts. And judging by the muscle soreness, I engaged the proper muscles that protected and prevented the shoulder from going sideways on me.

That is huge. But that doesn’t mean I can get sloppy. I can’t get sloppy because it’s too easy to injure myself again and undo the work I’ve been slowly and diligently putting in.

Participating as an athlete in a competition isn’t the only example of masochism I willingly inflict upon myself.

Writing can be like that too. Yeah, I guess it can be painful. But I think it’s a necessary kind of pain. It’s not the kind of pain you back away from. It’s kind of pain that can be managed and be pleasurable depending where you are in the writing process. But I think you could say that about anything you’re passionate about.

It’s becoming quite clear to me that any sort of down time between major writing projects has me crawling out of my skin. I had mentioned in the last blog that I discovered an online community where I could examine ideas and concepts that I hadn’t really explored in my fiction writing yet. I get to play in my sandbox free from judgement, free to experiment, free to be curious. I get to do this while reminding myself why writing/storytelling is one of the things I love to do and need to do. And it will also be a reminder to me how much fun writing can be and should be despite the moments things don’t want to come together harmoniously. 

One of the things I worry about is, intentionally or unintentionally, losing or tamping down the passion and the fun that comes with creating stories.

Built into the process of creating something is the joy of discovering something about your characters and learning what makes them tick. Within that same process, you discover a lot about yourself – what makes you tick, what are the kinds of risks you’re willing to creatively take into order to tell a story the way it should be told.

I love discovering things about the characters I work with. I love discovering things about myself that had always, for one reason or another, had been lying dormant waiting for the right moment to awaken and roar with ferocity.

The masochistic part of writing is not the act of creating. The masochistic part is trying to juggle two or more projects and spend time at any given moment with any of these projects and keep the momentum with each one moving forward.

For whatever reason, I’m bound and determined to master this particular form of organized chaos.

So, here I am, with a nice little pile of projects to play with. And I couldn’t be happier.

Now, if I could only get my writing life and my actual life to live together in harmony. 

Encouraging steps

Discipline is just choosing between what you want now and what you want mostAugusta F. Kantra

It’s a given that anything you want out of life requires discipline… along with persistence (aka stubbornness), drive and an absolute belief in yourself and what you know you can do.

Oh, I forgot to mention that patience is a must. If you don’t have that, you don’t have anything worth keeping.

When it comes to staying healthy and getting physically stronger, discipline, persistence and all that stuff comes into play. It doesn’t apply only to creative endeavours. I haven’t yapped about anything related to health or fitness in awhile and I think it’s time to yap about it now.

It’s been over five years since I started CrossFit and I haven’t thought about leaving it yet. The fact that I’ve stuck with it this long is a bit of surprise. Yeah, there’s no way I would go back to a traditional gym. It’s not the way for me.

I’ve come a long way from when I first started. I’m not RX’ing a ton of stuff but that’s not my personal goal. It’s not my endgame when it comes to my health and fitness goals. I simply want to be the fittest — mentally and physically — I can be. 

And I can honesty say that I don’t think that I have ever been at my physically strongest as I am now. As I said before, I’m not RX’ing a lot of stuff and I think that’s because of my hypermobility. Yeah, I’m more flexible than the average bear. And that creates a unique set of issues. I think it’s more common for folks to be strong but not flexible than vice versa. I’m vice versa. 

That means I have to approach movements a little more carefully. I’ve lost count on the number injuries and visits to physiotherapists over the years. Unfortunately, I’m used to it. I don’t care for it but I’m used to it. 

It’s a little bit of a double-edged sword, I think, when it comes to pushing yourself and trying not to cross the line of injuring yourself. Most of the time, you don’t realize what you’ve done until a few hours after the incident. Then your body starts rioting with barbwire-covered bats and pitchforks. Fun times.

The main reason I’ve been thinking about my fitness level and goals is that it’s been a year since I started adding physique work with my CrossFit workouts. Now, when I say physique work, I’m talking about working and strengthening the smaller muscle groups so they can better support the larger muscle groups inside and outside of the box/gym. I also believe strengthening the smaller muscle groups will help protect and support my occasionally loosie-goosie joints.

I think when most people hear the word ‘physique’, they think bodybuilding. You’re not wrong to think that. But that’s not why I’m combining it with my WODs. Any physical transformation that takes place is secondary to me getting stronger and encountering fewer injuries. That’s my endgame.

I will admit my arms never looked as toned as they do now. They will only be more defined as I slowly continue to increase the weight. To be honest, I really like the combination of WODs and physique work. The combination is helping me reach personal bests or PRs (personal records) more often. Whenever I’m not injured, that is. Yeah, that’s something I don’t think I’ll be able to avoid completely.

When I get injured, the important thing is how I manage the injury and the rehab that I need do in order to get back to where I left off. And that usually takes awhile. More specifically, anywhere from six months to a year if we’re talking about my shoulder. Fuck, I hate shoulder injuries.

Despite the injuries, I’m still stronger now than I’ve been at any point in my life. That says a lot. Some of the movements that were a tricky for me have gotten better. Sometimes to the point that maybe I can progress to the next level. That progress is because of the physique work I’ve been doing. Without it, my progress would still be moving at a snail’s pace. I’m okay with moving at a turtle’s pace quite frankly. Turtle speed is good. Better than snail.

As a result of recent progress with some CrossFit movements and the reinforcing of others, I may have a new technique goal I didn’t think I would be pursuing. Was it a surprise? In a way, yes. But I shouldn’t be surprised because of the work I’ve been putting into physique in the past year.

Recently, I had a short chat with one of the coaches at the box. She wanted to know if I was noticing results from adding physique work to the WODs since it had been a year. My answer was ‘yes.’ But I think I’ll always err on the side of caution when it comes to increasing weight for lifts. I simply want to stay away from injury for as long as possible. Who doesn’t? 

Our short chat resulted in a couple of slight alterations to my physique work. I’ve already started to notice that my mindset has changed from the adjustments. It should be interesting to see how it will go. 

Baby steps but definitely encouraging steps. 

Flowers not needed

Yeah, yesterday was Valentine’s Day. Whoop-dee-fucking-do.

The day for overpriced roses, wine and dinner. And if you play your cards right, you just might get a little nookie for your efforts. But I think today would be far cheaper for flowers and dinner for the same effort and results.

Can’t be bothered with that nonsense. I’m not saying that because I’m lacking in the romantic partner department. If I was in a romantic relationship, I’d make the poor bastard eschew the commercial trappings of Valentine’s Day because he knows the way to my heart has nothing to do with giving me flowers and all that sappy shit.

I must admit yesterday wasn’t spent cursing that fact it was Valentine’s Day. Refreshing considering the past few years were spent wondering why the hell everyone in the first world needed a special day to show their significant other that he/she is loved.

I spent the morning and part of the afternoon hanging with my CrossFit peeps at an in-house Valentine’s Day couples CrossFit competition. I wasn’t competing, I was cheering. A couple of my friends asked me why I hadn’t entered.

Well, because I wanted to see what it was all about.

More like I wasn’t sure if I could find someone who would do the competition with me. I was assured someone would have stepped up to the plate and joined in the fun. You won’t place in the top three with me as your partner. But I would guarantee camaraderie and shits and giggles of the highest order.

Also, my shoulder injury is almost healed. No point in putting myself in a situation where I could inadvertently re-injure the shoulder. That would also be the reason I won’t be participating in this year’s CrossFit Games Open. Kinda bummed about that. I really wanted to do it again after last year’s experience. I’ll still checkout the WODs and maybe give them a go with some modifications during one of my workouts. Next year, I’ll do the Open. I’ve got the year to get stronger and make some gains.

Anyway, it was fun to watch the teams compete and get a look-see at how a couples competition works. If they do a Valentine’s couples competition next year, I just might go searching for a partner. I know the folks at the gym/box would be more than willing to ‘match’ me up with someone.

After the competition had ended, I went home, watched some Netflix and finished watching the Star Wars prequel trilogy for the first time ever. Now, I know why Jar Jar Binks was so reviled.

I’m also re-acquainting myself with the original trilogy. I’ve watched Star Wars: A New Hope already. Interesting watching it again after 30-plus years. I had planned to watch The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi but they were put on hold for Secretary starring James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal. The movie is my one nod to Valentine’s Day. No point in acknowledging Valentine’s by watching some sappy rom-com.

Something a little more subversive (according to what Hollywood standards could bear in 2002) was in order. Secretary just happened to fit the bill although I wouldn’t have minded watching more subversive material because I have that kind of sensibility. Sure, the movie had what one would consider a happy ending but the journey getting there was interesting. The two main characters were damaged enough to make it engaging for me to watch. Let’s be honest, you can’t possibly go wrong watching Spader’s and Gyllenhaal’s performances. They’re such great actors.

Enough of Valentine’s crap. This week promises to be busy and I have the emails to prove it. Also, some of my characters for the next novel seem to be vying for my attention so I’ll need to set aside some time to play with them. Naturally, they want my undivided attention just as other parts of my life are gearing up to monopolize a fair chunk of my time.

Never fails. Been this way since I started writing. I shouldn’t be surprised anymore. And I’m not. Thankfully, this is the first time it doesn’t annoy the hell out of me that I have projects pulling me in different directions. I think it’s due to where I am in the creative process and my approach to it. It’s been easier to roll with it despite what life may throw at me. I’m pleased with this personal development.

There are other reasons for the change but I won’t get into it. A little too esoteric, I think. A handful of people know what the change is and they’re excited for me. Last Saturday, I told one friend that I felt like a 5-year-old on a perpetual sugar high. He laughed. He laughed even harder when he asked me after I did my morning workout, what else was on the docket for the rest of Saturday and I replied that I would be reading porn. Nothing fazes the man. He has learned not to be surprised by whatever comes out of my mouth. He figured I was doing research for a future writing project.

Well.. yes and no.

Anyway, I got a busy week ahead. Let the good times roll.