Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Our Web

We, the living and breathing on this earth, are all entangled in the same web of reality and must speak out against the injustices that our brothers and sisters all over the world face EVERYDAY.

This week, talk about Iran.
Tell your friends, family, and students about what is happening.
Read the newspaper.
Have a debate.
Form an opinion.
Get on Twitter (if it is your cup of tea) and change your location to Tehran and your time to GMT +3.30 to thwart the blocking and tracking down of citizen journalists.
Do something about what you see happening in the world.
Flex the freedom that you have been given in a productive way.

...And to all of the students and citizens that have flooded into the streets of Tehran to speak out against a seemingly obvious fraudulent Presidential election, you are supported. To those that are repressing and killing them, refer to the Qur'an, "whosoever killeth [an innocent] human shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind." Surah 5 (32)


Sunday, June 21, 2009


A Little Bit of Fun...

I know I am happy when I can go to the beach with giant leopard-spot bruises on my back without a care in the world, play a game of uncompetitive volleyball with exemplary friends and family, then kneel down in the sand and wait for a potato bug to crawl into my mouth.

How do you know when you are happy?


Monday, June 15, 2009

Through the Other Side

*In the middle of a power clean, nice face*

Through the Other Side

What is the worst thing that can happen?
I often ask myself this question before I attempt anything that is remotely off-putting or scary. Usually if the answer is short of death, I will attempt whatever challenge lies before me. However, on the rare occasion that partaking in an activity could push me six feet under, I will accept the challenge anyway. Yes, soy loca en la cabeza. But it makes for an interesting life.

This weekend, I attempted a feat that could have easily ended in death: three crossfit workouts in two days. For people who do crossfit, you know what I am talking about. For people who do not know crossfit, imagine this: first stretch your muscles beyond where you thought they would ever go, then go surfing and get pummeled into the rocky floor of the ocean, next run six miles, later have somebody jump on your biceps really hard, now take a sharp stick and plunge it into your eye...and do that all in a really hot room. Then do it all two more times. That's three crossfit workouts in two days.

I have to admit, it was fun.

This weekend I did just that. Not the "sharp stick into my eye bit," but I participated in Crossfit Ventura's affiliate cup qualifiers competition. Whoever did the best on these three workouts would represent Crossfit Ventura in the Crossfit Games in a month.

Beforehand I knew I had no chance of qualifying for our team due to an injury, but I did the workouts anyway.
You may be thinking:
"Why did you do that Jaala?"

I did it because it is a very rare occasion in our adult lives that we push our bodies to the limit just to see if we can come out the other side. The "other side" is whatever you choose to interpret it as. For me, it is going through those workouts and going so hard that I can't imagine giving one more ounce of my body, mind, or spirit if I had another chance. And then waking up the next day and wanting to do it again. That, to me, is fun.

I challenge you to experience my kind of fun for yourself and see how it feels when you come out on the other side.
Take your vitamins...and good luck.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Close is more than enough

Close is More than Enough

Yesterday at my sanctuary (also known as Crossfit Ventura) I was reminded of my days as a competitive swimmer. I was moved by the grittiness, agony, euphoria, and triumph of many people who were up against a formidable opponent, themselves.

Specifically, I was reminded of all of the times I missed a time cut for the next level of competition, and how terrible it felt. My event was 200 meter breaststroke and I was trying to make United States Swimming Junior Nationals. At the time, this was the meet that separated the average swimmers from those that would probably be offered college scholarships. If you didn't have Juniors, you wouldn't get money to swim in college. Each season, swimmers rested for, at most, two meets at which they would try to qualify for nationals. In other words, swimmers only had about two times a year to try to qualify for nationals.

I started getting close to nationals when I was 14. Subsequently, I missed the time cut by less than a second almost four times (over the course of two years). The third time that I missed the cut, it was by .29 seconds. I felt like dying. I vowed that I wouldn't miss that time again.

Come spring of 1996, my club team planned to participate in the Husky Invite, a college invitational put on by the University of Washington. The previous year my training had been vigorous. I never missed a workout. I raced as hard as I could at every in-season meet. I trained at race pace whenever I was offered the chance. I lifted weights, ran, stretched, and focused. I had rested for this meet and was hoping to make my Junior cut at night in finals (prelims for each event were held in the morning). Just before my heat, my coach Jerry told me to relax.

"Just make the finals." He told me.
"I will." I said, with jittery determination.

Standing on the blocks, I was shaking. The timing system beeped. I hit the water and was swimming.
I could see two girls out in front, but I knew that they were seated (placed) ahead of me and I didn't have to beat them to make finals. I focused and stretched my stroke out.
With each breath I could hear people cheering.
At the turn for the last 50 yards, except for the water hitting my ears as I ducked underwater, everything went silent. I stayed in my head and kept my strokes long and strong. I only saw the water in front of me.

Then I turned for the last 25 yards.

My head exploded with sound.
I could hear whistling, yelling, water splashing, and pain.
I could see 10 or 15 friends standing at the end of the lane cheering as the timers made their way through the crowd to stop the clock.
I couldn't see anyone ahead of me.
I plunged both hands towards the wall and finished hard.

I turned around to see the scoreboard, but it was blurry due to my fatigue...It didn't matter. Judging by the sound in the auditorium, I knew I had already made the cut.

Everyone around me was cheering and laughing and crying.
Jerry had walked around behind my starting block and was smiling.
When I got out of the pool I hugged everyone and my usually sarcastic coach walked me to the to the warm-down area. As we walked, all he said was, "You did it."

When I sat on the side of the warm-down tank, only then did I turn around and look at my time. It was 2:24. Almost a second and a half faster than the time cut. I had made nationals. In prelims.

Although I remember making the time cut clearly, what I remember more clearly is missing it so many times. Each time that I missed that cut pushed me to train harder to make it someday. And I did. And that moment still is clear in my mind because it was a true moment of perseverance and triumph for me.

The moral of the story is that missing your mark, not achieving your goals, and failing a little is what pushes us all to do greater things. Being close to your goals is more than enough to push you to achieve them later.

So keep on pushing. Turn those small failures into big triumphs. You can do it.
Good luck.


Sunday, June 07, 2009

Crossfit Looks Like This

What is Crossfit?

a community of friends
dedicated athletes of all ages doing handstands
dumb bell-bruised shoulders
ripped hands
eating in the zone
chalk dust in a musty gym
foam roller torture devices
grunts and screams
kipping pull-ups
cheering and encouragement
workouts for time
skid marks on the walls
midline stability
cleans, jerks, and snatches
doing more and better than was once possible
breaking through barriers
a way of life


Friday, June 05, 2009

Strength in Rhetoric

As a fledgling linguist and political optimist, I can say that I admired President Barack Obama's speech in Cairo on June 4, 2009, for the strength of its rhetoric. Many people who oppose Obama may chuckle, point to this statement and say, "Exactly. The strength of Obama is in his rhetoric. This is a false strength because words mean nothing." However I would like to argue the contrary.
If words mean nothing, then let me ask, how was an entire movement and organization created from a speech that President Kennedy gave at the University of Michigan in 1961? Building on those words and during his inaugural speech when Kennedy said, "And so my fellow Americans--ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country," the spark of public service was ignited in a young generation and the United States Peace Corps was born. If words are a mere trifle, how did Mohandas Gandhi urge not only the whole of India to act, but also the rest of the world to take a step towards equality among humans when he said, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world?" On the heels of these words the non-violent movement of resistance spread like wildfire and a spark landed on the back of Martin Luther King Jr. who lead America out of the darkness of racial discrimination. And if words are a drop in the vast ocean of despair, then how has the timeless words of Margaret Mead inspired generations of activists to pursue peace in the face of overwhelming opposition? Ever since she said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has," people have used this statement as a rallying point for change.
So let us not discount the importance of language. Rhetoric is one of the three ancient forms of discourse and is defined as, "the art of using language as a means to persuade." Words themselves may mean nothing, but rhetoric is more than words. It is a strategy to incite action and words are its fundamental building block. If this is true then we ALL agree that Obama's strength in rhetoric may persuade the world to take action. A foundation built with words has proven to endure time, pessimism, and opposition. I am willing to wager a bet that Obama's words will incite action and when they do, we will be thankful that his strength was in his rhetoric.


Monday, June 01, 2009

A Palm full of Mole

As I licked the luscious cream cheese frosting off of the knife for the seventeenth time while baking chocolate cupcakes from scratch and watching Sex and the City (the movie), I decided that this glutinous week must come to an end. A believer in Newton's Third Law, that every action has an opposite and equal reaction, I thought up a nice reaction to my action of sugar indulgence...Zone indulgence.
Contrary to popular belief, the Zone is not a diet but a lifestyle choice. It is a way to fuel the body for optimal performance all of the time. Portions are controlled and prescribed to fit each individual's specific body type and activity level.
Decidedly so, I returned to a proper Zone diet today. It turns out that I have eaten in the Zone most of my adult life, but does it count if I've eaten about 5 blocks (a block is a portion measurement) too many? Have I been living on one continuous "cheat day?" Yes. And it has felt so good.
But moving on...
Today's prognosis: okay.
I went to a baby shower for my Mexican friend Abigail and couldn't resist the mole and chorizo. All the girls glanced sideways at me when I asked how many ounces of mole per palm full.
Needless to say, I have met my 13 block requirement for the day and it is 6:38pm.
I'll have to pace myself tomorrow.
Until next time...good night and happy zoning.