Nix guilt and pain; learn to cross-train

An assortment of colored pencils

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Athletes thrive on cross-training. It’s the method they use to ensure they maximize training for all their muscle groups; it keeps them from feeling burnout and boredom from concentrating on one activity and  it ultimately rewards them with a stronger body and mind.

So what’s stopping the rest of us from reaping those same benefits? Can cross-training even apply to those of us just trying to navigate a clear path through all the muck and debris that manages to invade our daily lives? Is it possible to concentrate our energy on various positive activities and somehow develop a stronger body and mind?

When I was raising my three daughters, I didn’t used to think so. I thought that as a good mother, my job was to be around; be hands-on; forego too much social activity; be a strict disciplinarian; work diligently to keep them from struggling through their lives like I’ve struggled through mine. At least those are the concepts that meandered through the cloud of aggravation in my brain; aggravation, I know now, that formed because I didn’t allow myself to enjoy being a free spirit, a creator, a person who loved to go out once in a while and dance and date and just live my life as a young adult.

For an athlete, cross-training means to employ various exercises and activities into workout routines and training sessions. When I started running a few years ago, I thought I was supposed to do only that, all the time, every time I went to the gym. I thought dedicating myself to only running would make me a better runner …. until I experienced how good my knees felt when I used the elliptical. Wow! A whole new concept for me … sweat just as hard, get a great workout and simultaneously give my knees a much-needed break.  This cross-training stuff is kinda cool I thought; let me try something else.

So, I decided to apply the cross-training concept to my writing. Instead of just starting and stopping short stories and reading only for enjoyment, I spread my writing around a bit and started “active” reading. Now I have a reading arsenal: a pen, some colored pencils and a highlighter that I use to make notes no matter what I’m reading. Instead of just stockpiling half-written short stories on my flash drive; I started writing for where I can publish stories on whatever topic I choose and get feedback – a GREAT tool for staying motivated. I’ve also started creating stories with a concrete intention to enter contests; and I now have two blogs: and 

So, now it’s time to apply this cross-training concept to my life. My daughters are all grown now but we still have our challenges as a family. Old habits have a way of dying hard if you don’t make a valliant effort to banish them. This, I believe is where cross-training can help the most. There are many areas as a parent that I wish I’d done better at the time but our present is what’s most important right now. For instance: my middle daughter has been going through some changes in her life, just trying to get it together. She and her two little ones live with me and it’s been difficult watching her because my old way would have been to offer too much assistance; have constant talks about how my way would work – you know: NAG, NAG, NAG.

Instead, I have chosen to train myself to be a different kind of person. So, when I feel the most frustrated and irritated, rather than go straight to her with that, I do something for me: I write or I go for a run and take out my frustrations on that pavement I’m pounding, or I create a blog post for whatever it is that I’m feeling at the moment with the idea that I’m probably not alone.

And you know what? IT WORKED!! I did that one night in particular and by the time I finished writing, I had completely calmed down.

Cross-training for life: who knew.

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