Thursday, April 18, 2013

What Dreams Look Like

Now that I’ve left you wondering about what these dreams I’m chasing are... It is time for some details.

I started writing about them a few days ago and after I got through about four pages of words I thought, “I might need to break this up.”

So, this is the “what it looks like” edition. I hope to share more of the why in the future. 

But, exciting things are happening around my house that are fun to talk about and fun to  share. 

I am now officially a CrossFit coach! 


Yes, it is true. 

People show up to my house in black leggings and I ask them to do hard things, and then they do it!

A couple of months ago a friend of mine was lamenting a stuck place in her life, specifically in the area of fitness. 

I felt like an absolute fraud, but I offered to have her come to my house a few times a week to do push ups and squats and maybe lift some heavy things. 

I kept reminding her that I am just a regular girl who happens to like CrossFit and happens to have a few pieces of equipment in my garage, and that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, but I was willing to cheer her on.

Well, she showed up, despite my disclaimer. 

Then I opened up the invitation to a few more gals, since it is infinitely more fun to workout with people than alone (in my opinion). My open invitation received a much eager response than I expected. 

Suddenly, I had FIVE girls showing up three times a week to get sweaty.

Then, Andy and I got the wild idea to get enough equipment for all these brave ladies. 

So, in our house that is still without a couch, we installed a few pull up bars, collected some kettle bells, wall balls and weight sets and invited a few more people to join the fun.

Now, we have “classes.” We have a website. We have a GYM!

And I am a coach.

Who would have guessed?!

The more that people started showing up, the more responsible I felt to make sure they were being safe, and that the workouts we were doing would move them toward their goals. 

So, I chased another wild hare and registered to go through the official CrossFit coaching course. 

This in itself was an amazing experience to me. I mentioned to a friend that I thought I should get a little more instruction on how to coach and she suggested that I go through the course. I looked it up online and low and behold, there was a course in Washington, just three weeks away. Every other course, around the country, before and for months after was already sold out. Except the one I needed.

So this past weekend, I spent full days practicing squats and lifts and learning how to teach pull ups and why CrossFit is what it is. I almost cried twice, from appreciation and warm feelings toward this culture and community of people and sport.

I came home feeling slightly more informed, but still just a girl who likes CrossFit. More than anything, I was inspired to keep chasing excellence - stronger skills in coaching, in my own fitness, in my challenge and encouragement to others. 

The more I coach, the more I see people improve, the more I practice being an athlete and trainer, the more I love my days. 

I feel full of energy and enthusiasm. I am inspired by the women who come to my house and try hard and scary things. I feel a huge sense of possibility for what our family is moving toward. 

I feel a freedom to fail that is new and refreshing. And equally exciting, I feel a freedom to succeed! 

Our little gym might grow, it might stay just a hobby, but whatever it is, it is fun! And I will love it for what it is.

So, if you are in our area, and want a good workout, stop by The Compound! I promise I’ll be nice!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

What happens when you say yes?

More and more I am learning to appreciate the life I am living.

We have been back in Washington for a wee bit more than four months now, and just within the last few weeks, I feel like I have “woken up” from the fog and fatigue that come with big changes. 

I was trying to express to a friend the liberation I was feeling and she asked me if I could pinpoint a reason for the change in my mood and outlook.

Well, for one, the sun has been out for almost a whole week, which I realize goes a LONG way with me. I will have to be mindful of that on grey and drizzly days.

I also have had some kid-free time to wander and enjoy silence. Another piece of the puzzle of knowing myself better. For as much as I love hustle and bustle, I NEED silence. 

And to make the final crack in my shell of survival mode, I have put words to my dreams and set my feet on a path to make them happen.

That is no small matter, I assure you.

Dreaming is hard work. It is incredibly scary to say out loud what you wish for in your heart. What if people laugh? Or worse (for me) what if someone thinks you can’t, or shouldn’t do it...

Yes, very scary.

But as I have been mulling over what makes my heart come alive, what gets me excited and what I gravitate to over and over, I have come to the conclusion that it is much more dangerous to try and silence a dream that it is to chase it.

There are parts of my longing that will have to be patient. I give them space to grow and nod to me, but because of either time, or skill, or finances, they just can’t happen right now. For many months that was frustrating to me. I felt stifled. Like I was suffocating under the weight of the things I couldn’t do RIGHT NOW.

Until I started looking for all the things that I CAN do. 

Because every end goal has tiny steps that need to be taken to get there. Every skill worth developing is built with small blocks that add up to something big in the end.

So, I started looking for the tiny ways I could move forward. 

I started to say yes.

And when I started to say yes, instead of focusing on the no... The way opened up before me.

I am feeling a bit dramatic as I type this. 

But I am really, really excited.

I feel as if I have pushed my boat out into a strong current and its momentum is pulling me along. 

I try and steel myself for the day when I have to do the hard work of paddling my boat, but for this very moment, I am enjoying the swift and exhilarating ride down this river.

To say yes. To acknowledge the want and to DO SOMETHING about it is a wonderful feeling.

I hope, dear friends, that you find some space to let dreams spring up. 

Find the courage to say yes to the little things.

Look at what you CAN do, right now, and do it. 

Let hope and enthusiasm meet you as you celebrate each step in the right direction. 

And silence the voice that wonders if your dream is big enough and godly enough and good enough. If you listen to that voice you will do nothing. So quiet it and go do SOMETHING!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

What's Happened in Washington?

Exciting things are happening around here.

Since we have moved back to Washington, there are a few things (silly, vague word... moments, occasions, thoughts, experiences... nope, just "things" and now I've used it twice. Ugh.) worth noting.

Arizona was very hot. Washington feels very cold. 

I dress in about three full layers of clothing to make my way to the gym. I slowly create a heap of discarded clothing as I warm up, lift, and then get ready for the workout. I will try to remember to capture my pile of clothing in a photo so you ban know that I am not exaggerating (very much).

I have accomplished my mission of developing a "Washington Uniform." 

Prior to moving to Arizona, I loved getting dressed up and wearing "real clothes." After my stint in the desert and our life that was almost exclusively gym or home-based, I discovered my deep love of wearing only stretchy things. Coming back home I vowed that I would have an easy, go-to, mix-and-match way of dressing that would allow me to wear stretchy clothes, but still be almost-presentable for real life interactions. Enter my uniform. Leggings. Boots. Sweater/Cardigan. Done. I would like to give myself a gold star for this ingenious and executed (we all know I struggle in the follow through of great ideas) wardrobe plan.

I got a job.

I mean a real, clock in-clock out, job. It was just for the holiday season, but it was strange and momentous to "go back to work" after being an at home mom. I worked at my favorite gym-wear store. I scored some great employee deals and probably spent more than I should.

It was a bit of a shock to my system to go from working with the underprivileged to the over-privileged. I was reminded about lots of the things that I think are so lovely about the Seattle area as well as some of the unique traps that my city holds for me. I am one shift away from wrapping up that stint and then I will start looking for a "real" job. The time has come that our family needs me to be a wage-earner. I hope it won't be for long, but since it is what we need, I will do it. So look out "real" world, I'll be joining the fray soon!

And finally...

Our house is almost done!

Currently we are cozied up with my lovely parents. From way back when, the plan had be that Andy's parents wanted build a mother-in-law house on their property and we would borrow it while Andy finished school. The house wasn't done when Andy started school, so we took a break in Arizona. The house still isn't quite finished, and Andy is BACK in school... but ladies and gentleman... we are getting close!

I mean, paint colors in my purse close!

I mean, ordering lights and picking out a shower curtain close.

To me, this is almost an all-consuming event.

For the last two and a half years we have been a family plus. Our family PLUS whoever else we are living with. In-laws, foster children, parents... There have been great advantages to all of these arrangements, and I am certain that each new placement developed something in us as a family that will be crucial to our coming days... but let's just put it out on the table. I want my own space.

And it is almost here!!

So be prepared. I'll probably be talking about refrigerators and dishes and bare floors and doing a lot of celebrating and most likely a little whining. Just know, that to me, this concept of space, a place that is MINE, has seemed so illusive for a very long while. Now that it is within my reach, I can hardly stand the wait. But, I will.

Like I tell Jack, patience is being able to wait cheerfully.

I find that I don't much like that definition now that I have to practice it myself!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013



Today is January first.

The first day of a new year.

Fresh starts and resolutions and recaps.

You know the drill.

For many, many months I have craved to get words out, into sentences and paragraphs and stories... but every time I get an inkling to make a picture out of letters, I get distracted, or scared, or overwhelmed or... worst of all... "busy."

It seems like there is too much to tell.

Like the stories and thoughts that I want to express require too much back story. Too many bits and pieces are missing to convey what I want to say.

But I'm pretty sure that is just me being lazy and probably scared.

I keep meaning to catch this little blog-space up with the "where are they now" of our family life.

I keep meaning to catalogue the interesting observations I've made about life since transitioning out of foster parenting.

I keep meaning to...

But meaning to and executing are two very different things.

I don't feel quite brave enough to get my actual, real life, specific 2013 goals out in the midst of a blog that has been sorely neglected for the last year, but I do feel brave enough to start putting words together. Into sentences. Into paragraphs. Into stories.

I'm feeling a bit out of practice, but with a few more runs and lots more typing and deleting and starting over... we will get back into the swing of things!

So 2013, here's to many more words!

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Winds of Change

Dear Friends,

The winds of change have blown through our family yet again.

I tried to write about it earlier this morning, but all my words came out emotionally heavy, and that isn't really what I was aiming for.

Writing is so interesting. For myself, I find that when I start putting words to a screen, I see a little bit more what I really think and feel. I find enthusiasm, or sarcasm, or hurt... sometimes I see it first in the words I string together, before I've realized that they are in my heart.

Jesus was so accurate in his summation, "out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks." The words that come out of me, written or spoken, often reveal parts of my heart that I forget to attend to, or try to keep hidden.

So, in a season of change, I discovered: I am weary. I am a little bruised. I feel just a tiny bit fragile (even though I never cease to be amazed at God's ability to sustain me when I feel beyond my capacity). I also am excited. I feel the energy of a fresh start. I walk with the duality of thrill and loss, often referred to as bittersweet.

Many people already know of our coming changes.

Andy and I are not very good at pomp and circumstance. We tend to just tack things together as they come before us. A comment here, a plan there, and suddenly we have changed our course.

And this week, we are steering our ship toward the Northwest.

The Aichele's are moving home!

I have a lot to say about the move.

But I think it will come out over several attempts to get the words to actually communicate what I mean.

I am making the trek home with more experience, hopefully more perspective, an older face and no furniture.

I hope that from this last year and a half in the desert I have been shaped more into the woman God desires me to be. I see glimpses of more holiness in, but fully aware of hard parts that remain in my heart.

It remains to be seen what I have become. When I walk back into familiar rooms, established relationships and communities that have grown without me... when I have space to explore those words in my heart... then we will see what has happened over this desert season.

So, my Southwest friends, farewell. Thank you for the richness of this experience.

Northwest friends, I shall see you soon. Just in time for one trip to the pumpkin patch!

I have loved the tank tops, shorts, flip flops, swimsuits (lie, who loves swimsuits!?) and almost-tan of this toasty warm home. But we all know that my heart lies with the scarves and cinnamon of Western Washington.

Autumn, don't flutter away too soon! I'll be there in a week!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Good Clean Food

Andy and I have been participating in a six-week challenge at our gym.

Most CrossFitters have heard about the "paleo" diet. The two go hand in hand.

The first week Andy tried CrossFit he came home telling me he wanted to try a new way of eating. On the off-limit list would be: dairy, grains, sugar, legumes and soy.

My reaction was, anything that says you can't eat beans is not healthy.

So we tabled the idea.

Until I started working out too. And by that point we were pretty much goners to the culture of CrossFit.

Which just so happens to include this particular theory about food.

The bare bones of it is, you eat like a caveman. Anything that could have been killed or foraged way back in history is approved, anything that is a product of the agricultural revolution and forward, is not.

Perhaps, in another post I will talk about what is cool and what is weird and our travels into and out of and back again to the Caveman Diet, but for my story today all you need to know is that for the last three weeks Andy and I have been eating very "clean" food.

Single ingredients. Lots of grilled meats and raw or roasted veggies. Fruits. Seeds and Nuts. And that about sums it up.

Most CrossFit gyms host a quarterly "challenge" to encourage people to try out this food lifestyle. Usually you toss in a few dollars, take a crash course on the do and don't list and then flounder around for a few weeks, wondering what to eat. The winner (determined by weight/inches lost, performance improvement, and weekly food logs) takes home cash and has a sexy toned body to show for their hard work.

And I know I said I wouldn't buy into 
another "diet" scheme.
But this is pretty much our ideal in eating
anyway .
Prior to the challenge we had gotten pretty far from our goals
for what we consume.
Neither of us set out with the intention of losing weight or
even "winning" the challenge.
We just wanted some accountability for what we put on our plates.

There are varying degrees of extremeness within the diet and our gym takes the approach of being incredibly strict for six weeks and then introducing additional food items, like honey or bacon or sweet potatoes after the strict phase is over.

At the beginning of the challenge I decided to go ahead and give up coffee as well as everything else for the initial six weeks. Coffee, black, is allowed on the diet, but I don't really drink coffee for coffee's sake. I drink it to have a reason to consume vast quantities of cream and sugar. If people wouldn't look at me weird for drinking a cup of cream with several sugar packets dumped in, I probably would just skip to that.

So, since sugar and cream are both on the no-go list, I decided to just bite the bullet and go cold-turkey until the challenge concludes.

I confess, I have been grumpy.

And dream of the Starbuck's drive thru.


But it has been getting better. I definitely can make it through most days without the caffeine. A few times I have poured myself a cup and neglected it after the first sip or two.

Last night however, I went to sleep dreaming about how I could stay on track and still eventually go back to my sweet coffee indulgence.

Then a vision came to me.

This morning I assembled a few ingredients and ended up making a cold blended drink with coconut cream and date paste (just dates that I soaked overnight in water and then pureed) blended with ice and coffee. The result was heaven.

I mostly wanted to see if I COULD make something delicious. Once I had, I poured most of it for Andy and kept a precious few sips for myself.

It was with great delight and not a small bit of smugness that I carried my cup of morning dessert into the bathroom to enjoy while I got ready for church.

As I was pulling out the blow drier and my make-up bag I picked up my cup to move it to the edge of the counter and give me more space to work.

I set my mug down, and as I did, I gasped.

The universe was working on my behalf to remind me to wait three more weeks to drink my coffee.

Because when I moved it over, I un-thinkingly set it right next to our newly acquired automatic soap dispenser.

That is right.

Soap. Right in the coffee.

Somehow, I had set it down just perfectly to trigger the sensor and distribute a steady stream of orange antibacterial ooze right into my icy treasure.

The few sips I had got in before the catastrophe must have been enough for me. On another day (of my coffee-free challenge) I might have thrown a heroic fit. But today, I just laughed and laughed and laughed.

I think I truly am a more pleasant person to be around, with a little java in the morning (at least until my boys start sleeping past 5:30 in the morning). So, my sweet coffee discovery will remain a triumph, even if I didn't get enjoy it in it's fullness today.

In the interest of finishing what I've started, I most likely will continue to refrain from coffee on a daily basis. But... on those days that just need a little extra help in the morning, it's good to know I have options. As long as I keep it away from the soap!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Our family has become a road trip family, and I love it.

Every month we get away for five days or so with just our two boys. Some months we stay in town at a small house that is available to the house parents in our company. But more and more, we have been finding excuses to drive someplace new and get out of the familiar.

There is something about being far removed from what I do and see and hear every day, that helps me “check out.” My mind more easily turns off the business-chatter and switches into play and rest mode. In a small way, I feel released from our daily routine and free to let days fit our whims, rather than keep our routine ridged.

This month we decided to drive to Texas to visit Andy’s mom. She rented us a little bungalow with an adorable loft for the boys to sleep in and a perfect little club house with a pool and park for the boys to burn energy at. 

The trouble with vacations, is that so often they are a beautiful mix of “perfect” and “awful.” 

The freedom of being away from the familiar also translates to some inconveniences. 

It would be more than easy to construct a post about the sweet moments we have experienced, and there have been many (don’t worry, I will tell you about those too), but I’ve been suffering from a growing need to celebrate (catalogue? Share? Not sure of the right word here...) “real” life. 

The trouble with blogs, and don’t get me wrong, I am a blog junkie, is that it is so, so easy to make your life what you want it to be. Or at least give others the impression that your life is what they want theirs to be.

If my word diet is too full of happy-go-I’m-perfect posts and how-to’s about simplifying and beautifying and strongifying, I get out of balance. I start to think that everyone cleans their house with one perfect product and that every mom plays with her children endlessly and cheerfully all day long and that every crossfit woman’s goal is to make it to the games and it should be mine too.

I’ve gone back and forth in my mind for many months about blogging. When I first had Jack, blogging was an outlet for me. A chance to say what was on my mind, when it was sometimes hard to find faces to talk to. 

My enthusiasm for blogging has ebbed and flowed and sometimes I have had a lot to say, and sometimes not much. And sometimes I have had a lot to say and haven’t said it, because, well, some things just shouldn’t be available to everyone.

But in the last six months or so, as I have found beautiful blogs that distract me from my daily duties and that inspire me and make me feel like it is good to be alive, I have wondered if I would like to have a pretty blog. 

As I wrestle with wondering if I should or could or would ever have a “real” blog, I remember that whatever my answer. Real life has to be shared. Too much perfect makes everyone feel out of balance.

So, in the midst of our cheerful vacation, here are the places were I completely and utterly failed:

  • I scheduled events the entire day prior to and day of leaving, so that instead of getting out of town early we didn’t leave the city until 7:00pm.
  • I didn’t pack enough underwear for myself or enough pajamas for the boys.
  • I forgot to tell Jack’s teacher he wouldn’t be in class for a week (she probably hates me now and will take out her frustration on Jack, equating to an inferior preschool experience for him, leading to his dislike of school and more significant educational struggles down the road. This is ridiculous of course, but not to far from how I think sometimes.)
  • I was brutally grumpy to Andy the second day of driving, which happened to be his birthday, which I did nothing to celebrate, except to sit at a restaurant with our family (that Andy didn’t want to go to anyway) and storm out with both boys as the service took far too long to produce food and the boys, and I, melted down. (Probably the worst scene I have ever made)
  • I forgot the camera, which means that I won’t have pictures of Jack’s first big boy roller coaster ride, Joey’s adorable face painting at Sea World, the boys feeding ducks or riding a train, or playing in their loft beds, or any of the sweet moments that I want to remember the trip for. 

Sometimes I just plain mess up. Sometimes in spectacular fashion. Sometimes, in small annoying ways. Regardless of the magnitude of the mistakes, it happens. And that is my life. I will always have small disasters neighboring my triumphs. 

That’s the thing about blogging. Some people love to harp on their failures. Some share only their successes. I hope, that whether I blog a bunch, or keep this random pace, my life is always a celebration of... life... Wonderfully up and down life.