Getting Ready to Go.

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” ― Ernest Hemingway


There have been a couple really good articles that have come across the radar on CrossFit and weight lifting. First this one on the Central Nervous System and being a Sponge, the importance of sleep and eating right.

One of the primary constants that have resulted in my time with CrossFit is the need for adequate healthy sleep and a healthy diet to match. You simply cannot fake it when it comes to a WOD and training, if you try, you will get crushed and it is brutal. A hard lesson worth learning.

This next read is from a Blogger who explores the KoolAid mythology of CrossFit. One of my favorite quotes as follows:

“Yes, CrossFit can be a bit “culty” at times. Just like owning a Harley Davidson, being a car guy, or having babies can be “culty.” It’s an activity that has its own vocabulary, encourages commitment from its members, and becomes a neighborly gathering place for those with like mind. CrossFit can be a very social activity… And while some members can take it a bit far by revolving everything they do around it, it’s up to you on how far you want to go down the rabbit hole.”

I have lots of friends who have kids, young kids, and I’ve learned over the years that as a single adult with no kids, going out to dinner with friends with kids can be, well, extra work. A majority of the conversation at the table will center around sleep away camp and teachers and school supplies and whether or not to buy a 6-year-old an iPhone. Rightly so. None of these topics apply to me and interest me only to the degree that I love my friends and want to be supportive. Are they all in a cult? You decide. After countless nights out where I’ve found myself sitting quietly at the table having little to contribute and passing on the bread basket and pizza because I want to hit an early WOD the next day while their shuffling off to soccer practice, I’ve learned to adjust my expectations and my schedule.

Different lives – different priorities. I just want people to be happy, with whatever it is they choose.

My Uncle Jerry just called, to follow-up on my upcoming visit as I get ready to drive South. He’s well into his 80’s. He sounded so excited that I was coming to stay for a couple of days. He is my mom’s older brother. My mom died in 2003. It has been a long time since I have spent time with a parental-like adult. I’ll admit I’m a bit nervous about this trip, but there’s no backing out now.

2 Aunts, 2 Uncles, 6 Days.

My brother Greg suggested I bring along my Strongman Trophy and take pictures along the way of family members posing with the trophy. Like the Stanley Cup. ‘You’d probably have to hold it for them,’ he added. ‘It’s heavy and you’re a badass.’

I think he’s proud of me and this makes me boundlessly happy.

I think a part of him wishes he was coming on this journey too. As he and I become the adults in the room and our deceased parents grow further and further away from us and the generations that follow, we reminisce about Thanksgivings and piling into a station wagon and Dad dipping his toast into his orange juice at the breakfast table. This visit with my Aunts and Uncles will be one of the last, if not the last, opportunities to get close to our parents again. At least for the remainder of my brother and my life times. It is good to go. It is okay to be  nervous. There is so much to learn.

The right thing to do.

“… faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth, Love to complete your life.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

I woke up this morning with a feeling of excitement. Unusual for a Monday. But the eventuality of my trip south is taking shape and coming to life. All dates of travel have been confirmed, each Aunt and Uncle has responded to my emails with enthusiasm – They look forward to seeing me, have offered a place to stay, food, comfort, hospitality, and would love to revisit old stories of my mom and dad. I feel so grateful for their generosity of home and spirit.

I’m wondering if bringing a camcorder is too much. As much as I would like to be able to go back and watch these videos perhaps years from now – the idea of asking my aunts and uncles who are well into their 80’s to take the time to sit down with me and go through old stories, and do so while I film the entire thing? Awkward. Too presumptuous. Feels rude. A quick check of the gut says, leave the camcorder at home.

A handheld audio recorder, a tape recorder, does not seem too intrusive and might be just the compromise.

The Journey South

“Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more important it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey.”

― John O’Donohue

There’s a trip I’ve been meaning to take for some time. Both of my parents are deceased. The youngest of seven children, my mom was 42 years old when she had me. I was living far away from them when they each passed away. Pursuing a life of independence and adventure in my early 30’s. While I do have lots of memories of my parents, they are beginning to fade from me. Their images moving farther and farther away as I get older. As much as I miss my parents and work to hold onto their memories I realize what I never knew is who they were as individuals. When they were young and growing up, and specifically when they first met.

There are a lot of old stories. Tidbits strewn here and there over the years told at weddings and funerals by older siblings and cousins. But when I reach for specifics, when I try to attach something solid, a specific date on the calendar, a faded photo, it all seems to blend into black. There’s simply no hard evidence from my parents’ past. As if they never existed before, save their children and our patchwork memories. I want specifics, the real story, something to hold onto, – the real story of who my parents were as young adults. Right up until the moment they met.

I know very little from when they first met, it was around 1950 and my mother was studying abroad in Florence, Italy. She met my father at a dance. He was studying as an engineer at a local school. Some say my mother was engaged to be married back in the states. My father introduced himself with a fake name, took her dance card from around her wrist, tossed it aside and said to her in broken English, ‘You will only be dancing with me for the rest of the night.’

If these tidbits are all true, wonderful. If there’s more, even better. My goal is to find out. My goal is to put together the fragments and solve the mystery that is their story.

My mother is one of 11, three of her siblings are still alive. Two brothers, and one younger sister. Two Uncles and One Aunt. They each live along the eastern seaboard, from CT to VA. Growing up I absolutely adored and respected my Aunts and Uncles, they were such a huge part of our family’s day to day. While my dad was an only child, my mother was one of 11. I myself am the 47th grandchild, and there are 10 or so after me. Thanksgiving was a house knee deep with cousins, Uncles smoking cigars and watching football, moms gathered in the kitchen and aprons stained with gravy. As a child you would not speak to an adult unless spoken to, and would never address one by their first name. There was an unspoken code of being polite, patient, yet feeling abundantly loved, warm, and well fed. An inherent joy in everyone being together.

On Friday, August 16, I’ll begin my journey south to visit my Aunts and Uncles. First, Aunt Hope, in CT. Then onto Aunt Lucy, the widow of one of my mom’s older brothers, Uncle Henry. Then Uncle John in VA, with my last stop to visit Uncle Jerry. I’ll be chronicling the visits and tape recording our conversations if they are comfortable with the idea. I’ve written to each and explained my goal – to sit and talk with them if they have the time, to better understand how it was they grew up, what life was like, what my mom was like, and how it was that she came to meet and marry a man from another country that did not speak English in a time before many, many things including the internet or even cell phones.

I’ll be chronicling the journey here.

Where does this fit in with CrossFit? It is through CrossFit that I’ve gained the confidence, the descipline, the gumption to focus and zero in on the work that needs to be done.

This journey is a job whose work is long overdue. It is directive from my soul.