I Took A Break From My Blog To Make Room For These Young Voices

Image by Caleigh, 2Me@12 contributor and Graphic Design student

My husband’s buddy called me out during cocktail hour at a Bar Mitzvah party last week. “How come Red stopped saying what?” I took a swig of my cider, stuttered, stammered, then made an excuse. “Um, life got in the way?”

The “life” explanation is only half the truth. For several months, anytime I felt fired up or had something to say, I never bothered to write the words. With so much noise and so many voices, good, bad and ugly crowding the field, with so many articles, podcasts and videos more relevant and credible than my privileged, princess point of view, I decided it might be best if I listened more and put out less.

I mean, who am I to post a blurb on parenting when children separated from parents are suffering? Why read my take on education when our kids and teachers go to school wondering if a crazed shooter will show up in their classroom next? And why type up notes about my experience with MeToo, when it’s more impactful to hear from Olympic gymnasts and countless other men and women survivors who continue to step forward?

So I put my blog on mute. Red went ghost.

But I haven’t completely disappeared. Bit by bit, I’ve been working on a project. One that lifts up the voices of those who inspire me, who give me hope and who I think young people may want to hear more from: teenagers. Teen girls specifically. Ones who have found their power. Girls who have the confidence, wisdom and perspective I didn’t have the guts to go after until I was middle-aged.

For two years, I’ve been gathering experiences from teen girls who found power through sport, namely CrossFit with some tennis and swim sprinkled in. These teens have stories they wanted to share and advice they wanted to give to their younger peers about how empowerment has changed their lives and views about health, beauty, community, attitude, and ups and downs.

Who better to offer guidance to young girls than their older selves? With that, I named the project 2Me@12.

2Me@12 began with four teenagers who started working out at my gym when they were 14 years old and has grown to include dozens of young ladies between the ages of 14-18 from around the United States and on either coast of Canada.

There’s Sophia from Washington who chose health over looks.

Bridget, from New York who learned to laugh more and worry less about other’s perceptions and what she thought she saw in the mirror.

Julia, also from New York who the gained courage to step out of her small town bubble and Jocelyn from Arizona who, thanks to a supportive community, found her voice to encourage others.

There’s Shelby, a Reebok CrossFit Games finalist from North Carolina whose change in attitude allowed her to go farther in life than she ever thought possible and Kelly from California who figured out how to tackle the curse of her bad attitude.

And Chloe, the “Fittest 14-15 Year Old on Earth” from Louisiana who learned success is not an end game but instead, finding something you love and enjoying the process as you grow.

Having the awesome responsibility and honor of lifting up the voices of young people, working with these girls and replaying their words in my head has helped me to be a more empathetic mom, appreciate those who show me love and support, run a little faster, push a little harder, get uncomfortable, not be so tough on myself and get to work so young girls and boys can also hear what they have to say.

Since sport and fitness aren’t the only paths to finding one’s power, this summer I hope to connect with teens who found their power through theater. And, at the request of my two sons, I intend to work with young men with lessons to share.

Once I determine the best way to get these teens’ full thoughts into the world, I hope you’ll let their experiences into your lives and into the lives of your children. And if you have a teen who has found power with advice to share, I’d love to help build that bridge.

Please visit 2Me@12 on Instagram.

“You always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.” – Glinda the Good Witch

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Why CrossFit Is The Right Fit (Right Now) For My Tween

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Not every child takes to traditional team sports. Our son, Bubbe is one of them.

Despite growing to have a strong arm, solid shot and height, our now 11 year old prefers to play a tennis match over a baseball or basketball game.

My husband, Mac and I have mixed feelings. While we’re happy to see him connect with a game, the man to man style of tennis doesn’t encourage the socialization, camaraderie and team work to the extent we feel young people need.

Since Bubbe was a little guy, we insisted he dabble in a variety of sports, fantasizing that by the time he got to middle school, he would’ve embraced one which fosters self esteem, teaches assertiveness, tests limits and encourages community.

Well, Bubbe made it to middle school. He’s concluded the sports tweens are supposed to love are “not his thing.” And Mac and I are coming to conclusion during this temperamental time when boyhood and adolescence cross, our parental push has done more damage than good.

As the children in our town age, their sports are shifting from recreational to competitive play. More is expected: time, skill and understanding of the game. Our son has been fortunate to have kind and balanced coaches who’ve helped him to improve over the years. Nonetheless, he’s had a tough time keeping up with the pack.

Bubbe is the child who steered clear of rebounds because he didn’t want to get or hurt others, became overwhelmed by the pace of play and felt slighted when teammates didn’t pass the ball. He’s the boy who struggled to stay baseball ready for lengths of time and who, despite finding a glimmer of glory when the coach gave him the chance to pitch, felt defeated when he wasn’t put on the mound more than a few innings. Game after tournament after season our son was the one who came home repeating, “I’m not good enough.”

What’s a parent to do? Sign him up for between season clinics? Tell him to suck it up, practice and pay attention? Make him play?

Mac and I confess we tried a tough love approach. But our son’s tween ego is fragile; the current cracks are deep and require more than a little filler. In an effort to support him, we turned to the material we know from experience can restore structural integrity from the inside out: CrossFit.

Our CrossFit box is not a new environment. Bubbe’s taken plenty of kids’ classes. CrossFit Teens however, is a different animal. The sessions are structured like adult classes. The coach works these young people hard.

Three weeks in, the CrossFit compound is already starting to stick.

Week 1

Bubbe knows what Olympic weightlifting looks like but never touched a barbell; until his first class when the power clean was the movement of the day. Picking up a weighted bar from the floor, flipping it onto one’s shoulder blades and returning it down in a fluid motion requires focus, coordination and guts.

When I came for pick up, I found Bubbe with crimson cheeks and in the zone, cycling through a series of power cleans, burpees and push-ups. At the buzzer, I heard the teacher say to him, “You’re very coachable. Great job.”

On our way out I asked, “What was the best part?”

With his breath caught, the post WOD endorphin inspired chatter commenced. “The barbell. I liked learning the power clean. How much can you lift? What about Dad? What about the coach with all the tattoos?”

That afternoon, Bubbe wasn’t worried about getting hurt, willingly went out of his comfort zone, followed complex directions and after only 45 minutes, felt empowered, strong and connected to a community.

Week 2  

The air was moist and still; the gym hotter inside then out. Bubbe and I read the white board where the coach had outlined the day’s program: medicine ball clean, burpee box jump, slam ball, farmers’ walk and plank holds. I kissed his forehead and left, excited for him and thrilled it wasn’t me.

This time around, Bubbe was in a full blown brow to toe sweat when I showed up. His clothes were drenched, skin caked in chalk and rubber.

“It was really hard, Mom,” he threw his glasses my way and grabbed a water bottle. “So hard I wanted to cry.”

“Did you?” I asked.

“A little.”

“Did you stop?”

He looked up from his drink. “No, I kept going.”

A boy with a sensitive soul who can harness mental strength is one who holds a big heart.

Week 3

I heard Justin Timberlake blaring on the radio before I could see Bubbe. When I made my way to the workout space, he was on the rowing machine pulling like a mad man.

After class, his coach approached me. “I told him to row 350 meters in 2 minutes. This kid went and rowed 400 meters,” he boasted.

Bubbe beamed.

“When Coach said row 350, did you try to beat it on purpose?” I later asked.

“Yeah, Mom. I always try to get to a number and then do more.”

Sometimes, digging deep, beating personal goals and competing against yourself is just as rewarding as getting the rebound or throwing a strike.

Right now, the team sport route isn’t working for our son. Mac and I are grateful CrossFit Teens is there to help mold Bubbe’s character and fuel his confidence.

In time, we hope he‘ll apply the work at the box to the tennis court, classroom, friendships and maybe even the ball field. But more than anything, we hope Bubbe comes to realize he is without a doubt, more than good enough.