Tag Archives: religion

Thoughts on Camping, Crossfit and Culture: A Post in Which I Alienate Everyone

 

Camping

The kids and I have been in a tent in the Swiss Alps for five days, and this is the first day we’ve seen rain.

I feel thankful.

Last year was warmer, but we had the kind of dampness that crept into your soul, making you regret you put the words ‘Camping’ and ‘Switzerland’ in the same sentence, to the point where you contemplate trading months of marathon training for your own cozy bed.

This year is better.

While my nose freezes solid when the sun goes down, I learned that if I wrap my down jacket around my feet inside my sleeping bag, I will actually sleep the whole night through.

Crossfit

I am nervous about the race because I haven’t done as much long distance running as usual. I have been in the Crossfit Kettlebell program, training 5 days a week, so I’m interested (and anxious) to see how the kettelbell training translates into running 42.2 kilometers up 2320 meters.

I have more muscle this year, which while good, means I’m bulkier than the Nike-clad willow-trees jogging around camp. I’m hoping that my muscle and endurance will give me the edge once we hit the switchbacks.

Culture

Our first night in camp coincided with the American holiday weekend, which meant I could understand everything our neighbors were saying. It was strange, and honestly, kind of annoying. Sometimes it’s better when you don’t know what people are saying.

Little kids were running around screaming. Not simply using outdoor voices, which I totally support. Not simply calling to each other in play. But rather, the type of shrieking that should only be reserved for wounds requiring stitches, broken bones or abduction.

The shrieking lasted 3 hours.

Yes, I timed it.

But I couldn’t be too upset with them, because earlier in the day, I heard the father declare: “I don’t know why I had fucking kids anyway!”

He was serious.

In front of his wife.

In front of their friends.

In front of the entire camp.

In front of the kids.

*cringe

It gave me a little empathy for the shriekers.

On Monday, the Americans cleared out, and another family moved in. One man, two women draped in black, only their eyes showing, two little girls and three boys, who, when they weren’t playing soccer, were dutifully saying their prayers at the appropriate times.

I was curious about their family.

I automatically feel sorry for anyone involved in a strict religion–it doesn’t matter whether you’re covered head to toe in cloth or you’re a county clerk in Kentucky. I have come to feel that most religions damage more people than they help.

But I had the feeling as these women watched me camping alone with my kids in the mountains, they were sorry for me, with no man to look out for me.

Maybe I’m alienating every culture with this post–I don’t mean to. I respect the right of people to choose how they want to live, and sometimes I bruise myself trying to figure out my own way through life.

I just wonder how many people, whether they’re from the east or the west, are trapped in their lives, simply because they were born in a particular locale.

How hard is it to break from your culture, if you want to? How much of a choice does a person have? And how are we–any of us–brainwashed, rather than taught to view facts, experience life and think for ourselves.

How is the woman in the veil different from (or the same as) the cheerleader who marries the quarterback and brings Snickerdoodles to the church bake sale? Maybe she’s happy doing it, but maybe she’s simply playing a role that was written for her by someone else.

I know I have the typical Western mindset, but I think everyone should have the right to adopt a certain lifestyle/religion/culture or step away and question it.

I have the right to be myself.

And so many others don’t.

Or they don’t want to see that they can, because it seems impossible.

Because change, when you want it, is a lot of hard work, and sadly for many, it is dangerous.

For me, change means (among other things):

  • filling out paperwork in triplicate, three separate times, because you didn’t understand a phrase
  • thinking someone is angry at you, when they’re making a joke
  • telling people you’re warm and comfortable in your backpack, when you meant to say sleeping bag

Mostly, change means being uncomfortable at times, and yet feeling more at home than I ever have before.

The Marathon

Sometimes my life feels like a marathon. And maybe that’s why I run them. To free myself from negativity. To become attentive to the nature around me. To meet my real self along the trail.

The Ziel of the marathon is a high: someone puts a medal around your neck, a beer in your hand and everyone cheers; but it is not a finish.

It is a start.

The accomplishment is simply a mile-marker along the path of your life.

The life you want.

A happy life.

I wish that for every person.

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Strong Enough to Move a Deep Freezer

moving day

CrossfitterMama working hard

I used to think phrases like “find your inner strength” were kind of…well…cheesy. Like something that should be written on a gym bag. However, over the past four days I’ve discovered something about myself: I am strong enough to move a deep freezer.

Sure I had help from my teenage son. Okay, he did most of the lifting on that one. But I did manage to scrape it against the stairwell in such a way that left a nice gash in it, which we will fondly remember whenever we reach for the pineapple-coconut Haagen Dazs.

Moving an entire household is a pain in the ass (and the legs, and the arms, and the hands); and when it is just you and your teenage son, it can be outright comical. And tragic.

Alas poor washing machine, I knew him well Horatio. 

(The washing machine was left behind due to…((ahem)) technical difficulties removing it from the water supply).

When I first realized that as the adult in charge, I was responsible for the entire move (and I wasn’t willing or able to part with the 1,800 euro quoted by the movers, who may or may not have criminal records) I was a little intimidated. My facebook messages that day to certain friends would probably be rated R for foul language and adult emotional themes (if there is such a thing).

Basically, I wanted to pack our bags (the children, dogs and I) and run away. But after a few words of wisdom and re-direction from friends, I knew that I HAD to do this move. I also knew that if I could run 6 marathons and NEVER, EVER willingly set my kettle bells down during a WOD, I had the inner strength (stubbornness, as my mom says) to do this move.

We did it, my son and I, with support from friends. But the heavy lifting was all us. And I am damned proud of my son. In fact, I’m proud of all my kids, and the way they rose to the challenge, pulled together to make this happen. It truly bonded the kids and I and marks a shift in the family dynamic.

This whole ordeal has shown me one, single, important, life-changing thing.

I am strong.

This might not be a revelation to some of you. But for me, this is something that has shaken me to the core. For years I have imbibed the message that we are weak. And when we are weak, God can make us strong.

I still believe this is true to a certain extent.

But I also believe that sometimes you just need to suck it up. God doesn’t want to hear you crying anymore about how weak you are. Maybe God just wants you to pick your ass off the floor and go move something heavy.

If I had to label myself a year ago, I would have called myself a “Conservative Christian Homeschool Mom.”

These days, I am peeling back those labels to find the real person underneath.

Labels have so much wrapped up with them–mostly the ideas of other people. And if you don’t measure up to their ideals, then something is wrong with you. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of people wanting what I can’t give. I don’t want to hurt anyone, but I also want to be myself, even if it means showing my ugly side once in a while.

I would love to live a life where I felt comfortable being myself. Where I could say what I wanted without fear. For years I have played a role that wasn’t true to that person I am on the inside. I AM a people-pleaser. And the problem is that as a people-pleaser, you often find yourself miserable.

And the (erroneous) theology that has blanketed me for so long told me that if God wants me to be miserable, then I had to accept it and BE miserable my whole miserable life and trust that He would reward me later.

I don’t believe that anymore.

Not that I will just run out and do every selfish thing that pleases me, but I have learned that my happiness IS important. It IS a treasure that needs to be guarded, because people will try to take it from you.

Sometimes we cannot control circumstances, but things like misery and happiness are choices we make.

And now I know, at heart-level, that if I am strong enough to move a deep freeze, refrigerator, couches, a dryer (sans washer), untold numbers of books (I AM a lit major), and five bedrooms worth of furniture, I am strong enough seek, guard and protect happiness in my life.

It will be a fight.

But I will win.

And I hope the same for you.

YOUR happiness matters.

Grab it tightly, and never, ever let it go.