“Sometimes You’ve Just Got To Let Go Of The Rope.”

4 06 2011

Ok – so I know this is a Christian Rock song, and my spiritual beliefs are my own, but I really liked the words, so be it!

I finally completed a full semester in my new major of Human Performance Sport – Adult Fitness & Exercise Science at Metropolitan State College of Denver. My first full semester was marred by my dealing with a lot of medical issues many of which were exacerbated by stress, my being stuck in a holding pattern, lifelong stress, unresolved crapola, and, did I mention, lifelong unresolved stress?

When I was looking at my required courses, I noticed that I had the opportunity to take a stress management class. Since I had already decided that a lot of my issues were made worse by my not being able to handle my life, I signed up for an on-line version of the stress management course for Summer 2010.  I was already taking an introduction to nutrition class on-line and thought it would be a great way to whack out two classes while trying to sort out the mounting health issues.

Before the semester began, I got a gut feeling that I wasn’t going to be able to handle more than one on-line class because I was spending more and more time finding the various Kaiser Medical Offices around Denver and surrounding counties. I dropped it, but I still had the documentation. It was kind of light and I wondered how much help it would be.

The Fall Semester was, shall we way, a bit of a cluster! It was more than a disaster in a lot of ways, so when I started my Spring Semester, I knew I was behind the proverbial 8-Ball.  Taking a Stress Management course, by many, is considered a massively soft option. I wasn’t sure, but I had a full load. Soft option or not, I could only hope that it wouldn’t stress me out more because I was dealing with the after effects of the previous months. The very least I could hope for was that it wasn’t going to be some irritating, sit in a semi-circle and bitch and moan about our lives sort of class taught by some mamby-pamby whiny person who had no sense of humor. In other words, be a complete waste of time and tuition.

I had to rush from one side of the campus to the campus to the other to make a class that I wasn’t sure about.  At least I would get a little sprint in twice a week.  I noticed there were several folks who were in my other classes and we were in a regular classroom. I had looked at the textbook while I was stuck in the airport coming back from South Carolina.  It was interesting, but whatever. A class like this depends on the professor and class.  Who is this “Tetro?” No clue. I’m new to the program.

Focus hasn’t always been a strong suit for me, unless I am truly engaged, but some professors have gotten me to really use my brain cells. In my first Communications Studies course at Santa Rosa Junior College, my professor stated that you got out of the class what you put in to it.  My first mentor there, Mr. Ed LaFrance, continued the theme. Economics professor Mr. Ron Schulke really got me to enjoy economics to the point where I was initially an Econ major! Sadly, after I left SRJC, I got distracted. I wondered if “Tetro” was going to bring me back, or that this course was going to be a waste of my time.

As we were talking with one another, in walked, as it is put in my favorite book The Phantom Tollbooth “the Tallest Short Man In The World” clad in Adidas. I could tell he took a lot of students by surprise.  After the first 20 minutes, I couldn’t put my finger on this quick talking guy who was easy to smile and had a quick “East Coast” (read: Smart) sense of humor.  He had the same vibe as professors I had in the past who have influenced me.  I also know, with a Mom who is 5’7″ who refers to herself as “Tiny But Mighty,” never judge anything by size and build – even with a professor who looks like he could be blown over by a Colorado wind! Just – don’t – go – there! 

Who is Coach Chris Tetro? Does it matter? He wants to be referred to as Coach. Ok – to me, that term is earned. Sorry. Just how I am. The word connotes actually giving a crap about the people they’re working with, not seeing them as a paycheck. I can go on and on about this, but maybe for another blog entry.

Now, before you get the impression that Coach Tetro was some doughy Italian guy who is well past his prime and still thinks he knows everything or is someone who believes he has  all the answers and teaching a “soft option” course is beneath him. You’d definitely have the wrong guy. He is the owner of Tetro Performance (www.tetroperformance.com) where the tag line is: Be Defined By Your Effort. What kind of effort am I going to be able to put in to what is supposed to be my frill class? I don’t know, but I do know that my life literally depends on it — or at least the quality of my life does.

Right off the bat, Coach Tetro said that this was an academic class and that he would be exposing us many different tools, but not everything would work for everyone equally. He also didn’t want to stress us out with boatloads of homework. As he said this, I took a gander around the class. Kids were looking at one another thinking this class was going to be a fluffy cake-walk. Um – I don’t think so. What was implied was that the work was going to be done internally and although tests are important, application was moreso. Most of the room wasn’t going to take advantage of the opportunity to explore themselves in a really safe environment. Well, their loss! They can do whatever bare minimum and get whatever grade.  I have dealt with many of the effects of stress and I was going to sap this man of every ounce of knowledge.

You know, I have to say that the course that changed my life, attitude, and gave me the opening to walk away from things I can’t change. The book was OK, but Coach created a thing called The Chair of Truth where he and a handful of us opened up sharing stressful recent situations and how we handled them. It wasn’t some God-Awful touchy-feely-sit-in-a-circle-and-create-a-pity-pot situation.  I think his head would explode if that was what he was supposed to teach. Not his style. He is a work-in-progress. He is discovering about himself, learning from mistakes, and, most importantly, talking-his-talk and walking-his-walk in the real world not in some esoteric way. His enthusiasm was infectious to those of us who actually mined the class for everything we could get.

People are catalysts for what we need to learn. I have a belief that when interacting with each other, people who are truly on a growth path don’t try to control one another by blindly following the advice of others so when it doesn’t operate perfectly, they have someone else to blame. I believe that people share tools with one another and it is up to the person trying out the tool to take responsibility for the good and the bad.

I learned from my classmates. I learned from my instructor. Most of all, I learned from myself. The textbook had self-evaluative quizzes at the end of every chapter. Like any course, you get out of it what you put in to it, so I made it a point to use the exercises for what they are intended: Self-Awareness and Growth.

This stress management class opened the eyes of a handful of us. I think how it happened was more the professor over the material. Sure, he was using a textbook as a guide, but he took what could be dry concepts that younger people didn’t truly have the life experience to grasp and brought them to life. I had my beliefs supported and, more importantly, felt the fog lift in so many areas of my life.  I found myself a little jealous of the kids in the class who were getting at least parts of “it” because they would be armed better at a younger age.

Color me shocked that Stress Management became my favorite class. My brain operated in five different directions every time I was in there. One day, I realized that I was comfortable to actually create a t-shirt for the Abused Woman’s Awareness Month – the Clothesline Project. The first person I told was Coach Tetro, who noticed I was really focused on something I was drawing. What was even sweeter, was when they put the shirts up in the Tivoli Student Union, my classmate Ashley went searching for my shirt – I had it sent to California to be put up there. Next year, I’ll have make one for here and Ash and crew will be right there with me.

One of the concepts that started to turn me around was when Coach said “sometimes you’ve got to just let go of the rope.” I’d handled some sticky problems to this point, but I can spot a fellow fighter when I see one. Coach is a fighter, but his point is well taken. Sometimes you’ve just got to stop pulling/fighting and just walk away. It’s not worth the stress and you can’t change anyone’s mind but your own.

When I had a relapse of illness, I was upset that I was missing classes. I was afraid it was going to turn into a repeat of Fall. Coach has his rules about missed classes, but he knows I’m participating when I’m there. What shocked me was when Miguel, Ash, and others saw me on campus and said “Lizzy – Are you ok?” and meant it! I was hoping I wasn’t an irritant in the class because I realized that half the time I tried to say anything my brain was at least a paragraph ahead of my mouth because so many things were clearing up. My eyes were being pealed open and I was able to dump piles of mis-matched pieces of emotional luggage. “Nah – your stories get us to think because you’re older than us, but have the same thing going on.”

The final project for Stress Management really kicked my head open. The pages were on Death and things. What 10 things would I will to people? Could I give them these things before I die so they can enjoy them? I was finishing up all my other projects and this stopped me dead in my tracks. I looked around at the piles in the house, and I knew the minute I got back from California (where I would be practising other stress management techniques), I would probably clean. What I didn’t realize was that the techniques learned, and space given by this class allowed me to forgive so many things within myself.  When I got back, I was confused and all it took was another catalyst to take me to task to get the ball rolling.

I’ve always had it within me to do everything I need to. I just had to focus. Sometimes it takes people you can trust to help focus you, but you have to be the one to actually do the hard work, because, honestly, they have their own focusing to do. 

For as long as I can, I will take activity courses from Coach Tetro. I know this man incorporates everything that I have respect for and I hope he will be willing to mentor me as I embark on my personal training career.

So, I know I speak for a lot of us when I say Thanks Coach Tetro.

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7 responses

10 06 2011
kerri

“Focus hasn’t always been a strong suit for me, unless I am truly engaged” — Lizzy, sometimes I swear we are the same person :].

This sounds a really cool course. I’m in the Kinesiology and Applied Health program at my school [another reason I swear we’re the same person] and took a required course called Issues in Health this year, which totally sounded [and WAS] fluffy, but I learned a ton of cool stuff. We did a unit on stress management, and actually spent an entire class doing relaxation exercises. Super cool.

Sometimes the classes ya think are gonna be sucky and fluffy turn out to be the most applicable ones. We had to do personal action plans for all of the wellness domains in Issues in Health, which are huge at making you realize that “YES, I CAN change!”, which you’ll probably agree is an awesome feeling. :]

10 06 2011
teamshep

I have had many classes along the way that I had high hopes for but turned out to be a bust.

The truly funny thing was the final for this class stressed me out more than the rest of them because it was the first one!!

I had interesting classes this term, but this one was truly for all areas of my life. I know I need some aspects reinforced, but I got a lot done.

Cancer & chronic disease gives you the opportunity to go one of two ways – crabby & complaining or clearing the Crap & living. I did the crabby and depressing and it got me nowhere, so might as well live, hu?

At 46, I feel more alive and curious than I was in my 20’s & 30’s. As the movie tag line for Strictly Ballroom goes – “A Life Lived in Fear is a Life Half Lived.” Time for the second half, eh Kiddo?

10 06 2011
kerri

Right on! Shove the crap outta the way ’cause it’s not worth freaking out over, and get on with the awesome, right? :]

I feel the same way — you can only bitch about being sick so much, then it’s time to show the world what you can do WITH IT . . . in spite of it.

10 06 2011
teamshep

I write stream of consciousness and will hopefully remember to edit in that I was truly shocked when Coach saw me in the hall between classes and asked how I was. I was muzzy on meds but it registered that he wanted to know.

It is little things like that which make the world a bit brighter because people have forgotten to look up and see the good. They are too fixated on their own problemmatic little world.

10 06 2011
kerri

so true. 🙂

“the world is a drought when out of love . . . ” [sick sad little world, incubus]
and sometimes a little love is all it takes :).

have i told you you’re awesome lately? ’cause you are :).

10 06 2011
teamshep

You are a good kid, Ms. CANADA!

10 06 2011
kerri

Only ’cause I got good people around me :-).
Love ya, Miss Lizzy!

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