June 26, 2012

Tutoring Obsessed

Four bullet-proof topics sure to get my blood boiling even while living in my Abyss of CrossFit Positivity: School Policy, Parenting, Religion & E-Readers.

Thanks to this article on a few “stressed schools” cutting out recess programs I am slowly climbing out of said Abyss.

“Stressed Schools Cutting Recess…”

The world is becoming a standardized test score. It’s becoming percentages. It’s becoming bar graphs and learning curves.

It’s becoming aggravating.

I’m not going to get into the illogical reasoning behind eliminating or decreasing recess in elementary schools. I’d be here all day. What I am going to do is harken back to a conversation about a similar issue I had with my mother about 10 years ago.

Around that time I had been working a lot with kids. I had begun to notice a pattern developing amongst, at least to me, an alarming number of families. It was a pattern that scared me.

Parents were obsessively taking their kids to get extra tutoring after school or after camp.

The tutor service, SCORE, became so damn commonplace to these kids it bordered on abuse...at least in my eyes. I couldn’t help but feel bad for them. They seemingly never got to be kids even though most thought it was normal.

However, their parents were creating robots. They were obsessed with their academic status and achievements in elementary school. They are probably the same parents who put the little green men in their front yard too.

Can you tell it bothered me?

Back to the conversation… I did something I rarely ever did back then and revealed a very real fear of mine. I told her I was afraid of raising a child in this ultra-competitive academic age because I simply do not agree with it. How was I supposed to raise my child without SCORE when all the other parents were?

Would it be unfair to my child? Would raising my future child to appreciate “being a child” and learn the “old fashioned way” be considered bad-parenting?

I’d rather pay $200 a month and take my kid out of school to a baseball game or go camping or do something interesting then pay for extra tutoring. And I got news for ya’, our kids are going to be applying to the same damn colleges in 10 years. And this just in, the college you go to means very little to the job you get.

My mother agreed with my fear. She agreed it would be difficult to maintain your standards and said it was indeed pretty scary. It was a question without a real answer and it still is.

Kids are growing up in front of computers at home, in school, in the car and in the grocery store because, as I’ve been told, “you just wait ‘til you have kids. You’ll see!” As if that’s an answer.

You know the saying, too much of a good thing?

Kids are growing up lazy and uncreative. They’re growing up with no imagination. Parents and school systems are robbing their children of childhood.

Now who’s being unfair?

June 20, 2012

An Outlet Became a Passion

Here's me thinking out loud and getting emotional in the process...

A little over a year ago I joined a CrossFit gym, Brazen Athletics. I was at a point in my life when working out got boring. Scratch that, working out was always boring. (Not to mention unproductive and an altogether waste of time when compared to CrossFit). I was also at a place in my life when I needed an outlet. I was looking for something to change. I wanted something to change. I needed something to change.

I found change through CrossFit.

What people who don’t CrossFit fail to understand is that it truly is more than a workout. It really is about life. If you’ve never experienced it than I fully understand not grasping that being possible. Trust me. It’s possible. I’m living it.

CrossFit prepares you for life. Dramatic - Maybe. True - Yes.

Getting back to the need for change. I was stressed out. I had a lot on my mind. I was 4 years in to a malaise of having lost my mother and mother-in-law immediately after getting married. I had moved on as much as one can but I will never “accept” the fact it happened. I’ll get back to this point later.

People handle death in all different manners. In my case, those that know me may have thought I was doing ok. They were wrong. I was headed downhill fast. I was sick of the seemingly constant negativity in my life. I was becoming emotionally dry with no water in sight. Aside from the mental and physical toll it was taking on me, it was affecting my wife, my career, my family and friends.

Then I walked into Brazen and things started to change.

Whether you want to call it a “cult” or a “community” or just a bunch of friendly people who like to work hard and push one another is up for you to decide. Like minded people from all walks of life. CEO’s, school teachers, accountants, financial analysts, high schoolers, middle schoolers, college kids, former athletes, housewives, retirees. You name it, you’ll find it.

It’s an environment where positivity runs rampant. It’s no longer about what you can’t do in life. It was about what you CAN do. No longer was it,“life sucks and that’s just how it is”. It became, “let’s show life what’s up and live it as best and as long as you can!”

All this is learned one WOD (Workout Of the Day) at a time. People find it crazy to think that your progressions in a gym can translate to your progressions in life. They’re mistaken. There’s nothing crazy about it. If you find it hard to believe than try it and see for yourself.

You learn things about yourself in a CrossFit gym. You find you’re not as weak as you once thought. You find the unthinkable and the impossible have been lies all along. You find out you’re mentally, not just physically, stronger than you once believed. These are all attributes that correlate to daily life outside the gym. You see your body changing in the mirror but beneath that lies an improving mind as well.

There’s a euphoria you get when you push yourself past a breaking point. When you push past your typical level of comfort and come out alive you find yourself mentally stronger…and wanting more. You find yourself yearning for it.

The euphoria is addicting. Not crazy. Addicting.

For me, I found something that refused to allow my downward spiral of emotional submission to continue. I found something that taught me to look at life in a new way. Instead of looking up at life and thinking, “Is this really happening?”, I started to look down at life and think, “What can I accomplish next?”

As I mentioned before, I will never “accept” the loss. Death is not something that should be “accepted”. I don’t believe you should ever “move on”. Death is something to fear and fear is something to attack. Is it inevitable, yes, but you can “accept” you’re going to die or you can do something about it. You can work hard and live healthy and push death to its breaking point. Stand up to it. Go down swinging. Fight like hell.

Don’t let society make you think negativity and submission is the norm. It’s not.

I slowly began to come out of my malaise and am still working on it. It will always be a work in progress. However, a few months into finding CrossFit and Brazen Athletics my wife said something to me that resonated…

“I haven’t seen you smile like that and be this passionate over something in years and I love that.”

…and just like that my outlet had become my passion.

June 11, 2012

What If Life Was That Simple

A few months back while having dinner at a friend’s house the conversation turned deep. My buddy Sean and I began to talk about the seemingly endless laid back mentality of a west coast person. We were envying it. We spoke of it like it’s a way of life only attainable to the few lucky surfers and flip-flop wearers born on the left coast.

We took a moment to look around and actually question why the hell we’re drinking our coronas in Northern Jersey as opposed to Northern California. Nah, it’s just not realistic, so we thought, if only life were that simple.

And then Sean said this,

“I mean, maybe they’re onto something after all. Maybe it IS all good?”

Simple yet brilliant. It floored me. I had agreed but I had never heard someone phrase it so perfectly. I mean what if life was that simple?

I think more people need to consider that statement.

Sure, life sucks sometimes. I’ll be the first to admit that. However, if we started to look at life as a time to live and not a series of devastating breaking balls we’d realize stringing together a hitting streak is very doable and, quite frankly, much more attainable than we realize.

So here’s a tip: Get off the fucking bench, pick up a bat, and step up to the plate. Have a passion. Go down swinging if that’s what it takes. Nothing is more annoying than someone with no passion. Whatever the hell it may be - do it. Take a risk. Live your life.

Contrary to some beliefs we only get one shot at this, people. One shot.

Remember, maybe it is all good. Go out and follow your dreams and stop worrying about the rat race. The rat race is boring and by the book. Instead of wishing you could live some unimaginable life how about actually trying for it?

If you never try you’ll never fail…or win.