Paying with Pennies

Two days ago, I competed in the third workout of the Crossfit Open.  For those who don’t know, the Open is a worldwide competition where crossfitters gather together to perform five workouts over five weeks.  The best get to go on to Regionals for a shot at the Crossfit Games, but for the rest of us, it’s a chance to test all the training we’ve been doing all year long, reach personal bests, or just have fun with our community.

This is my first Open, and I’ve been pushing myself.  It’s been a lot of fun.  Every Thursday, the workout is released to the public, and on Saturdays, my gym hosts all of us as we do the workout together.  Last Thursday, Dave Castro, director of the Crossfit Games released the following workout:

Workout 18.3

2 rounds for time of:
100 double-unders
20 overhead squats
100 double-unders
12 ring muscle-ups
100 double-unders
20 dumbbell snatches
100 double-unders
12 bar muscle-ups

Women perform 80-lb. OHS, 35-lb. DB snatches

Time cap: 14 minutes

Well, obviously I wasn’t doing that.  I couldn’t string double unders together yet, and I didn’t have muscle-ups by a long shot.  Luckily for me, they also release a scaled option.  Unfortunately, this was it:

Workout 18.3 (Scaled)

2 rounds for time of:
100 single-unders
20 overhead squats
100 single-unders
12 chin-over-bar pull-ups
100 single-unders
20 dumbbell snatches
100 single-unders
12 chin-over-bar pull-ups

Women perform 35-lb. OHS, 20-lb. DB snatches

Time cap: 14 minutes

Well, fuck me.  I don’t have pull-ups yet.  The thought of getting to that bar and hopelessly dangling around in front of people while I tried a pull-up I wasn’t even close to getting made me cringe.  I texted my friend Jordan bitching and moaning about how I wasn’t going on Saturday and how Dave Castro owed me $4 because I’d paid 20 bucks to participate in this Open and I couldn’t even do the fucking workout.

I know.  That’s not a great attitude.  I’m a real brat when I want to be.  I’m working on it.

The next day, I went in the gym, feeling extra ornery, still pissed about 18.3, feeling like shit because I was PMSing and going on Day 5 of a Whole30 (If you haven’t done a Whole30, your first week and a half is miserable).

Guys, I can’t say enough good things about having a tribe of people around you who inspire you to be better and who lift you up.  They are the only thing that could break me out of my negativity spiral, and trust me, I don’t make it easy.

After a pep talk from Caleigh and a lot of encouragement from Jordan, I decided to go Rx and spend all my time doing double unders…one at a time.  Turns out, if you tell me something enough, I’ll eventually listen.  Everyone was saying to see this as an opportunity to attack your weaknesses, so that’s exactly what I’d planned to do, once I got over my temper tantrum.  I spent all of Friday afternoon in my driveway with my jump rope, teaching myself to go straight into a double under without doing three singles first, successfully.

On Saturday morning, I stood in front of a group of people and chipped away at that workout, one rep at a time.  In 9:03, I finished 100 double unders.  Before the time cap ran out, I had time to do 20 overhead squats and get back to the jump rope.  Personally, I think me not getting frustrated and losing my shit was the real victory that day.  I bought what Dave Castro was selling, and I paid him in all pennies.

I even won Rookie of the Day on Saturday.  See?


Pretty sweet, huh?

I jokingly referred to my double under debacle as “paying the man in all pennies.”  It reminded me of when I worked at Starbucks and people would look me dead in the face, smile, and say, “Sorry, I need to clean out my wallet,” while they dumped pennies all over the goddamn counter and the line was out the door.  And while I counted, they’d keep saying, “Sorry there’s so much change,” like I was too stupid to count.  But you know, you can’t get mad because pennies are still money.

When I was in college, I distinctly remember this one night where we all wanted to drink, but none of us had any money and a group of us started emptying our pockets, couch cushions, you-name-it to pool our money together for a case of Natty Light.  As my future husband, Chris and my friend walked out the door with a Ziploc full of pennies, I remember someone saying, “We should snap a picture of all of us right now and put it on a TEAMWORK poster.”

Why didn’t my customers care?  Why did my friends and I so shamelessly march to the register with our bag full of pennies and case of beer? (FULL DISCLOSURE:  That was NOT the only time I ever bought alcohol with coins)

Because pennies are only annoying to the people who have to count them.

Pennies are the most annoying way to pay someone, but that doesn’t make them any less valuable.  Whether it takes forever to count your money or not, your shit’s still getting paid for.  Whether or not I did 100 double unders all at once or one at a time doesn’t matter.  I can also assure you that not one person watching me on Saturday gave a shit that my dubs were one at a time.  100 pennies and a dollar bill are the same damn thing.

The point here is patience.

It’s like anything we do, isn’t it?  Isn’t my sobriety one moment, one hour, one day at a time?  Didn’t I learn to do a lot of my Crossfit shit one rep, one pound, one day at a time?  Aren’t I building my business one sentence, one page, one blog, one hour at a time? Isn’t progress, no matter how big or small, still progress?

There’s a reason that “one day at a time” is a cliché; it’s because it’s goddamn true.  How often do we look at any big goal and get overwhelmed before we even get started? (Yes, I’m looking at you and your messy garage, dear Husband!)  It’s like if we can’t make the money we want, have the body we want, get fill-in-the-blank right away, that we don’t even want to try.

Raise your hand if you’ve eaten healthy for two days and were appalled when you didn’t magically have a six pack.

:::raises hand:::

Raise your hand if you ever tried something new and gave it up or wanted to give it up because you weren’t good at it right away.

:::raises hand:::

I could go on.  Right now, I’m feeling seriously overwhelmed trying to build my business.  I want my blog up.  I want my podcast up.  I want my ebook launched.  I want my book published, but it needs to be edited.  I want all this to be done and have the dough rolling in so I can make it rain.  And just thinking about it makes my head explode, not because I can’t do it, but because I can’t do it all in a day.

But what I can do is take baby steps.  I can set aside a few hours a day to write blog content.  I can designate a few hours at least one day a week to start recording podcasts.  I can edit my ebook.  I can set aside some time, even if it’s just an hour or two a week to edit my memoir and get it one step closer to publication.

My sobriety has happened one day, one meeting at a time.  My business was built one sentence, one day, one client at a time, and though I’m not exactly rolling in the dough, I’ve far surpassed my earnings in the last two years.  My fitness happened one workout, one movement, one moment at a time.  I hit my first toes to bar today, and I can tell you that shit took me over a year and more misses than I can count.  And it all brought me a little bit closer to where I needed to be.

Have you ever taken your spare change to a CoinStar machine?  You know that joy you feel when you see how much money you actually have?  Yeah, I’m living that shit right now.

Baby steps.  Pennies.  It all adds up.

So, the next time you feel defeated before you begin, or you’re staring at a long road ahead, instead of thinking of all the reasons why you can’t, start thinking of just one thing you can do in service to your goal.  Start putting pennies in the piggy bank.  Devote just one hour to decluttering your house instead of trying to clean it all in one shot.  Make it through today without a drink (and maybe catch a meeting), go to the gym today, devote an hour or two to yourself and your passion.  Do something.  You might just be surprised at how quickly all of your efforts add up.

When life gets hard and you gotta pay the man, pay that bitch in all pennies.  Counting them is annoying, but that’s not really your problem, now is it?  You got this.


One thought on “Paying with Pennies

  1. Henrietta Rozier says:

    Another great post, I don’t know how you do it but you manage to keep my attention every time (and I’m not a person who likes to read) I guess it’s because you make it feel like your talking directly to me…Keep up the good work, “one penny at the time” Looking forward to your first publication.


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