I Love It When You Screw Up

WTF ?!?
WTF Are You Talking About?!?
That’s what the look on her face said.
I could tell she was tired. So I repeated it again.
“You don’t have to go down that far.”
“But I’m doing overhead squats!”
I love her, but she wasn’t doing overhead squats.
To be honest I wasn’t sure what she was doing.

I love it when you screw up mindfitmove

The Woes of CrossFit
Let me back up. This all happened the other day at Crossfit. I finished my workout and went over to cheer my partner on.

When I got to where she was lifting she seemed to be doing a kind of mini thruster. She would dip half way into a squat and then come up and do a shoulder press. That day we had to do 50 overhead presses and 50 front squats.

I thought she was doing overhead presses, but she was squatting down really far. So I told her she didn’t need to dip that far. That’s when she said she was doing overhead squats. I tried to explain the mix up to her, but it didn’t seem to help.

After a short discussion she realized her error. She had been doing an extra shoulder press with each front squat. She looked defeated.

Almost everyone in class was done or close to it.  She still had several reps to go.

I stayed with her and encouraged her to keep going. She made it to the end. But I could tell she felt stupid making that mistake.

We were able to laugh about it later, but I realized there was a valuable lesson in the experience.

Aaaaawk –warrrrd.
Grace is something most of us value. As a kid being awkward is painful.

You can be a nerd, a band geek, even an outcast, but if you’re awkward it’s the worst. So we spend much of our time trying to be smooth and cool.

This all adds up to a strong desire to do things perfectly and to never let anyone see you make a mistake.

Mistakes Help
The problem is that mistakes help us. If we are not making some mistakes, we are not learning. When we go for it we’re bound to stumble and fall. We may even embarrass ourselves in front of other people. But that’s ok.

Making mistakes helps us see we have veered off the path. That way we can get back on track.

It also releases our fear of screwing up. We see that making a mistake isn’t that bad. We didn’t die and often no one even notices.


The Value Of Mistakes

But our mistakes can also be a great asset to us. For example in the world of photography mistakes have led to great works of creativity. Take for example Jill Greenberg’s Monkey portraits. The artists reports in several interviews that she took the pictures by mistake. She was doing some client work and just liked the attitude of the monkey. And it led to an amazing series of portraits admired by photographers all around the world.


Just look at this picture for example. It shows so much of personality of the monkey all while still holding Jill’s unique way of lighting and painting the subject. She makes the monkey seems both very human and at the same time very clinical. The background reminds one of any studio portraiture and yet the personality elevates the subject to the realm of the human and maybe even further to the divine.

And yet this picture never would have taken place. Had it not been for Jill’s mistake. She executes her technique with great skill and clearly by this picture and the others in the series has a plan, but she’s also open to something random and new.

Ms. Greenberg went on to try other bold projects like that of End Times a series of works that depicts children crying. This project went on to get her in trouble with many people because well she made kids cry.

But much of her success has been due to the fact that she is willing to take risks.

Whether or not you feel that these pictures depict art or cruelty her boldness has served her well.

Disclaimer: No girlfriends were harmed in the writing of this post.

You Can Read My Partners Blog Wordsavant by clicking here. 

Photo Credits


What Your Back Can Teach You

What Your Back Can Teach You.


Photo By RedKoala1

Recently my back went out. It was a result of over use and deciding to sleep on the floor.

It’s been a challenging experience that is still affecting me 2 days later. Even as I type this, I feel woozy as the results of the muscle relaxers I am taking.

My mother encouraged me to look for the lessons in this experience. So here are four things I learned about myself when my back went out.

1.The Human Body is Frail.
My body is mostly reliable. However, whenever it stops working I remember that it is also frail.

I am always amazed how the body can do so many things. But it’s very easy to take this for granted.

It’s important to find a balance between activity and rest; challenge and recuperation; pressure and ease.

If we don’t respect this balance trouble ensues.

2. No Part of the Body is Dispensable
We tend to preference some parts of our body over others. Nevertheless, every piece of your body is important.

Everything in our bodies is integrated. If one part gets hurt, the other parts do more.

Respect every part of your body. You may not realize what you use it for until you can’t use it anymore.

3. Partnership and community –
We all want to think we are self-sufficient. As soon as you become ill or injured, you realize how foolish this is. If it weren’t for my partner and my friends at yoga school, I would’ve been in big trouble.

Developing healthy relationships and community is one of the most important things we can do to support our body and mind.

4. Universal Health Care
Every time I get sick or injured, I am reminded that we need universal health care. No one should ever have to think about the cost of going to get a serious medical condition checked out.

When I broke my arm and hand in a bicycle accident I didn’t go to the hospital for 3 days because I didn’t have good insurance. If you are hurt, you shouldn’t have to think about how insurance effects you. You should just be able to go to the hospital.

We need universal health care in this country. No one should have to delay treatment because they don’t have enough money.

A Learning Moment
Being sick of injured is hard. We realize how helpless we are in the face of impermanence. I didn’t enjoy getting hurt, but I try to get the lesson out of every situation.

Be grateful for health everyday, because you never know when it will be taken away.

MindFitMove Practice
-Reflect on a time you were injured.
-What did it help you realize about yourself and the people you care about?
-What could you do to help someone you know is suffering?
-Don’t wait until you’re sick; offer help to others who need it.
Offer gratitude in advance to those who would care for you if you got sick.


What Are 3 Aspects of Being A Great Student?

So I haven’t posted in a few days 14 to be exact and I am working on a response to a great question asked of me, but it won’t be ready today so instead I give to you, one answer from my Yoga School application. I know it’s kind of cheating, but I think it was illuminating for me to read what I wrote here and I hope that it helps you as well. I think it applies to almost any situation we find ourselves in that asks us to be a student.

What are 3 aspects of being a student of yoga that are important, and why?

1. It’s important to watch the mind that grasps for achievement – The western mind can be, by virtue of the society in which it was raised, a bit competitive. I know that I have had the competition bug in me and that it can come out no matter what I do. This can happen in yoga just as much as anything else. I want to have perfect form, I want to be more flexible than others, etc. etc. There is nothing wrong with wanting to study and practice with skill, because without any determination I would drop any practice as soon as it got hard. What I have found is that I must expect to lose myself in the effort, rather than gain a new sense of self through it.  

2. It is important to let go of preferences – I think this is true in all aspects of life, but especially when being a student. Each of us can get a certain idea in their head, about how things should happen. The mind believes that if it can think about something enough and set up a model it will prevent suffering and death. In truth these ideas are what lead to suffering in the first place. I know that when I set my preferences and opinions aside and become open to what is happening, that I learn more about myself and any practice I engage in. Holding my preferences lightly and also respecting my own boundaries allows me to stay in the realm of learning with my whole heart. This is a practice I engage in at all times, but I think is essential to keep in mind when studying yoga.

3. Remembering to be present in the body – Meditation, zazen, yoga and many other similar practices are often thought to practices of the mind, but they are practices primarily of the body, or more correctly the mind body. I have a tendency, born of my study of western philosophy, to think of the mind and body as separate. I often tend towards the superiority of the mind over the body, a sort of mind over matter attitude. This way of thinking is not right view. The mind and the body are not two things. To hold the mind and the body upright are holding one thing together. I think I always have to remind myself to be present in the body rather than to try to think my way through something.