Giving Back

Every aspect of life is a journey and I suppose that’s the fun of it – nothing remains static and we always have the opportunity to grown and learn.  As we get older we are often bombarded with the idea that we have to be young, have to portray that image, or that it is simply too late.  None of that is true – there is so much beauty in getting older, and it is absolutely never – ever – too late to try, learn, do something new…especially when that “something” makes your soul glow or your heart beat.

I spent a long time in industries that I was, perhaps, “meant”…but not “destined”…for.  While life ebbs and flows, and is indeed rife with ah-ha moments along the way, I’ve realized that I just had a monumental epiphany. And that’s not only okay, but amazing…

I didn’t question my work in fashion – I’d loved so many aspects of the industry from early childhood that it made sense that I was heading that direction.  No matter we all thought I was primarily left-brained, I was incredibly drawn to the arts, performing sports, to fashion, to photography, makeup artistry – they were worlds so colorful and captivating that I sort of just “knew” that’s the broad arena in which I’d eventually land.  That said, my pedigree was – finally – to the contrary.  I did a double major in International Business and Marketing, not exactly the design and creative background required for a position in Product Development.  But, what I lacked in typical education, I made up for with enthusiasm and a no-bullshit work ethic.

I suppose throughout it all, I always had a feeling that something was missing – I didn’t have a name for the sensation, nor did I know exactly what, specifically, was absent.  I’ve always wanted to do more, be more, achieve more, so I believe I attributed the growing hollowness to that.  

But, it wasn’t.

The truth is, life for me is vastly more magical than it isn’t – I will always strive to be better each day, in every aspect of my life, and I will always have goals and aspirations.  So that sense of still seeking fulfillment might be there…but after having had more recent revelations, I’m willing to bet it will die down a bit.

I began working with children on a whim many years ago as an instructor in Karate – I wanted to get out of my home town (not to escape an increasingly prosaic routine, but to evade one person, of all things) and this amazing gift, so aptly timed, just fell into my lap.  I initially contacted the Sensei in effort to learn new Arts – my background was in the Korean Arts of Hapkido and Taekwondo.  Despite my lack of knowledge (or experience) in his Japanese styles, he welcomed me warmly, and with sincere enthusiasm.  In seeing my passion for Martial Arts in general, and, I imagine, my personality, he encouraged me to stick around and teach. Game changer.

I realized at that moment both the responsibility I was given, and that I was in the unbelievably fortunate position to offer inspiration to these children. You never know when such moments of motivation and revelation may occur. Knowing that I could provide a strong role model, not only by means of a physically active body, but emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually, was a gift to be valued.

I was, and still am, more of the disciplinarian – it is incredibly important to me that the children enjoy their time at the Dojo (why bother otherwise?!) But it is also a place in which we discuss and learn core values – how to treat one another, the meaning of respect, responsibility, healthy living, honesty, courage, integrity… It isn’t just about how we control our own bodies and space, but how we affect others around us in a physical way, and beyond.  Our attitude matters. In some cases, we are reinforcing what is taught at home.  In others, however, we are providing a framework and structure that they child is not exposed to elsewhere – a framework that hopefully will help them blossom and embrace life fully, challenges notwithstanding.

I’ve continued working with children in Martial Arts simply because I love to do it – I appreciate the opportunity to instill positive values, to encourage and nudge potential, to lead by example, and to help the children develop important life skills.  Along the way, however – and frankly I don’t even recall the impetus – I began to look into working with Special Needs children.  The opportunities for children with disabilities is far less, and as a huge proponent of physical fitness, I realized I needed to be out there helping kids who are often denied the chance.

Having a BLAST and high-fiving!

By some great fortune there is a volunteer organization in my state that offers the kinds of hands-on activities I was looking for – they serve children with varying disabilities such as cerebral palsy, autism, down syndrome, ADHD, apraxia, and others.  None is so severe on the spectrum that they must reside in full-time facilities, but depending on the child, there might be some aggression, or major athleticism (as in, the “runners” who are hard to keep at one’s side!)  For me, though, that’s the fun of it – each child is different, and with my background in Martial Arts training and instructing, I feel very comfortable taking on the toughies.

My time with these children has been relegated to my 39th year of life (and some of my 38th) – my path managed to diverge rather drastically in some way, but I feel suddenly so much more aligned.  While it is not currently my profession to work with children with disabilities, I have made it my mission to find ways to help.  I have purchased several books to begin self-educating myself, and have reached out to others in the field whom I know are both honest and passionate.  It is in so many ways the beginning of a new journey for me, but life has a way of doing that…

Life presents us with opportunities along the way if only we remain open to them. When we listen to what our hearts are truly saying in between the beats, we allow a magic we may not have known existed the opportunity to unfold.  The gifts you will receive will be priceless…

Life Humor – Born To Be Wild

I once was nocturnal.  And frankly, I loved it… Nothing is better than the wee hours of the night – humans are sleeping, magic is unfolding. . . Ahhh. My unconventional, witchy self always leaned a bit renegade…so the space and time to manage mischief was perfection.

But…after college, those days came quickly to a halt – thank you, grown-up-hood.  

I need my sleep.  I need LOTS of it.  And I’m so restless that if I DON’T get to bed early, I’m going to be a zombie.  Likely a belligerent or over-trained one, which is woe-to-the-planent territory.  

It isn’t because I’m “old” either – I joke about that but age really IS just a number.  I feel healthy and happy…but sleep is a big part of that. Not partying, drinking, and smoking is another. (I can add in “not being in crowds engaging is such activities,” also, as that would very much result in my NOT feeling healthy.  Or happy!)

So this gave me a solid laugh…

Empaths, INFJ types, you will probably laugh silly.  Moms and dads might also, or really any regular working stiff. 😉

 

Health – The Freedom Of Having A Choice

This came my way this week and though it sounds a little harsh, it’s a very in-your-face truism that shouldn’t be ignored (hence, I’m sure, why it was phrased this way.)  

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Everyone is different – nutritional requirements, for example, vary depending on a TON of factors, some of which are not in our control (age is a fine example.)  But at the end of the day, we all have a responsibility to take care of ourselves – we have one “vessel” this go around, and while it can take some beating…it isn’t impervious.

Not everyone can fit in a long-winded routine during the day – I’ve been there.  At one time it was 12 to 14 hour days, sometimes with only three hours of sleep (with a three-hour commute split in half on each side.)  At another, there were weeks of frequent overseas travel with 12 to 14 hour days, and a nonexistent gym (not that I would have had the energy anyway!)  And yet another, I was balancing a competitive sport with long days and total exhaustion – work, train, sleep…with a little bit of food in between. 

BUT…despite the timeline being against me most of the time, there were things I could do – whether walking to work, taking the stairs at the hotel, doing a quick routine in my room…something…ANYthing…to get a little movement in.  It matters.  The body is designed to move – not just take in fuel and do nothing with it..

On that latter point, clean eating – a component equally as vital – doesn’t mean you need follow the same diet as a body builder (you’d be amazed how much a body builder’s diet can vary from a figure competitor, or bikini competitor…forget about just a healthy, fit adult!) What it does mean, though, is caring about the fuel you put into your body so you feel – and function – your best.  You wouldn’t put low quality fuel into a Ferrari and expect it to hit it’s potential, right?  You’re the Ferrari!!!

Keeping in mind that everyone’s needs are unique, sticking to whole, real foods (ones nature produces) and less processed items is your best bet.  Your body needs calories, by the way – it needs protein, carbohydrates AND fats to function…not only optimally, but at all!  

I see two things happen a lot in society – in the USA, at least, it’s become about convenience, and size.  If it’s easy to get, and / or the portions are enormous for the money, people flock to it without internalizing the longer-term effect.

(C) Randy Glassbergen

(C) Randy Glassbergen

I feel like if more time was spent either making food…or sitting down to savor it…and / or people ate smaller portions and let themselves digest a moment, that health would be less of a national concern.  Yes, it can be that simple. (Think I’m crazy?  The awareness is out there – example 1, example 2, example 3, example 4…yikes!  There are also, obviously, have been a ton of articles on the topic over the last few years.)

Given the time of year, as an aside, it’s helpful to remember that just because the calendar says it’s a holiday, doesn’t mean we have to go overboard – it doesn’t feel good to be overstuffed (I don’t know anyone who thinks so, honestly.) There is truly no need – most supermarkets carry holiday food items for a while before and after…so you don’t have to worry about getting it all in at once.  Smaller portions also allow you to enjoy everything, without that horrible, ruined-my-night-feeling-sick aftermath.  

There are a lot of factors going into determining our overall health – some, again, are ones we aren’t in charge of (wouldn’t it be nice if we were?!)  But there are A LOT of things we *CAN* do to take care of ourselves, to stay healthy, and in shape.  Neglecting ourselves is a quick route to sickness (and for you active people, that goes for us too – doing too much might be our trouble spot, landing us in overtraining drudgery.)  

One of many thoughts on the issue, this from Mike Adams

One of many thoughts on the issue, this from Mike Adams

We really DON’T get that many chances.  And honestly, no one wants to have to be in a precarious situation first to get the message that loving and taking care of our health is up to us, and a huge priority.

Shutter stock image

Shutter stock image

If you are new to it, DON’T WORRY!  Baby steps are a-okay. 🙂 There are a ton of resources out there to help you (like the snappy food portion visuals below.)  One day at a time always seems to be the best advice – for, ohhh, EVERYTHING!  Remember that you are in control – YOU get to choose – and that you deserve to feel your best every day. ❤

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Hungry Girl also has a few HOLIDAY TIPS…

More on the food front

Overtraining

Overtraining is a very real – and alarmingly common – habit that can cause serious setbacks if you aren’t careful.  It can happen to someone new to fitness or sports simply because they aren’t as well versed with what their body can handle yet – totally understandable.  Trainers working with new clients need to be sure the work loads are gradually increased, allowing the client to work up to higher volume / frequency.  Without some guidance, a newbie may do a little too much too soon, landing them in a frustrated, overly exhausted, and often discouraged state.

But the truth of it is, it can happen to ALL of us.  As a trained athlete I can safely say that we (those of us used to physically demanding routines) still fall victim to overtraining as much as the next person.  Possibly even MORE!  

Despite that we *should* know better, we tend to push to the point of failure a far too frequent basis sometimes.  Sure, we know we need rest days.  We also know a week off can sometimes be exactly what our body needs…much to the chagrin of the mind.  But we don’t always apply that sound advice to ourselves.

I do a lot of Martial Arts classes during the week – it used to only be three or four.  Now I’m doing four in one Art (Ninjutsu) AND four in another (Gracie Jiu-Jitsu) every week.  I haven’t totally tapered off with my three-times-a-week cardio and several days of weightlifting, mind you…so it’s catching up.

The last two weeks have been EXHAUSTING.  On top of it, I turned 38.  For me “age is a number”…generally speaking.  It always HAS been “just a number.”  This morning, though, after a few weeks of feeling off my game, and physically sore and exhausted?  38 felt ancient…and distressing!

Healingfeet.com

Healingfeet.com

Up front, it’s an overwhelming sensation of feeling like I’m slowing down – like my body can’t keep up, and that my mind doesn’t even want to.  For a person who can usually push through and stay positive, that’s a tough mental place to find myself in – no motivation AND physical exhaustion. Ugh.

When I take a step back it’s so much easier to weed things out.  Is it really allergies?  I mean, there’s pollen in the air more so now but. . .body soreness?  Nice excuse.  It’s NOT allergies.  

Could it be a virus?  Sure, they’re going around…I may have caught a little something.  But WHY?  That’s the question.  

I don’t get sick often, or even much at all. . .the only conditions under which I do are – BINGO! – when I’m physically sub-par.  Too much at one time will absolutely wear you thin, not only causing fatigue, soreness and depressed emotions, but also a weakened immune system.  Running yourself into the ground is like posting a sign “viruses and colds, welcome.”  

No good.

The topic is an easy one to get into…and to write at length about.  I appreciate that there are so many articles out there, because sometimes we all need a little bit of a reminder to reevaluate.  Your exhaustion and “not feeling like it” certainly might be chalked up to “one of those days.”  But it’s important to know when it’s something MORE than that.  Learn the difference, and check back if you feel like you might be crossing the line. 

Articles:

Marksdailyapple

JiuJitsu Brotherhood

Men’s Fitness

Bodybuilding.com 

Muscle For Life

For more of my own Fitness Photos and Posts…

We Can’t Always Choose The Music But…

Life isn’t always easy – it just goes without saying that there will be ups and downs, diagonals and roundabouts…  And, yes, maybe even some tornado-twirls thrown in for good measure.  

But. . .we always have a choice in how we manage events, and how we handle ourselves and our emotions.  I DEFINITELY could do a better job of being “in the moment” myself – it’s something I work on every day, particularly as my Empathetic self feels so profoundly.

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While it is something I try to stay ever mindful of, though, reminders never hurt.  This morning I woke up feeling down – I felt “old,” and that’s a feeling I’ve not yet experienced.  And yet here I am…happy, healthy, ALIVE. . .and so incredibly blessed. . .that “feeling down” is the part that doesn’t fit!  

We ARE allowed to feel – so I’m not angry with myself for being human.  I know it’s more than okay – and frankly most healthy – to acknowledge and be aware of the feelings.  But I also don’t want them to ruin my day and keep me from the activities I need to be doing!

So…I reread this wonderful quotation, took a deep breath, and said my thanks with a smile.  I may not always be able to choose the tune – or the onset of a feeling – but I can choose how I dance to it.  

And…how about this…I CAN dance in the first place, and that’s one more blessing to add to the heap! 😉

 

Ageism in Fashion

I was really excited to see this post because…Ohhhh, how true this is!  

I grew up during the reign of ladies like Christy Burlington, Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, Cindy Crawford, Amber Valetta, Naomi Campbell, Paulina Porizkova, and Shalom Harlow – most of whom are in their mid to later 40s now.  At the time..they were all young and spritely, nary a wrinkle to be found (naturally no editor would have entertained THAT idea!)

moviepilot.com

moviepilot.com

These days, those Fashion icons still look stunning…but they are no longer gracing covers, and haven’t for a long time.  Those who are anything older than teens, for crying out loud, seem to be airbrushed to oblivion – scarcely a realistic picture for the younger generations.  (I say younger because sometimes it isn’t as obvious to them just how much goes INTO creating a flawless image – no, your favorite celebrity did NOT show up to the shoot that way.  Once you have had any stretch of time in Fashion, you know just how MUCH is poured into the final images presented in your glossy.  *It’s A LOT.)

smashcave.com

smashcave.com

As the above article mentions, “It isn’t uncommon for models in their 20s to serve as spokeswomen for anti-aging creams…”  Having taken Marketing as one of my college double majors, I fully recognize the angle cosmetic companies are aiming to take in order to make their products enticing.  But at the end of the day, no topical will have the more dramatic effect a filler or other injectable might.  They might help, absolutely, but the immense fine-tuning that’s often presented (once again, thank you, airbrush) is not likely the outcome of dutiful application twice daily.  

Kristen McMenamy Photographed by David Sims, Vogue, 2010, vogue.com

Kristen McMenamy
Photographed by David Sims, Vogue, 2010, vogue.com

So in my own my…a 20 year-old posing for a wrinkle serum?  Doesn’t make sense.  Should we start our skincare early?  YES!  But is it entirely fair to have these ultra-smooth faces sell us our anti-aging products?  Not so sure…  We are certainly intelligent enough to make educated, adult decisions, but how about being presented with something a bit more REAL?

I’m happy to see that the conversation includes Runway as much as it does other aspects of Fashion as a whole.  Back in the day, touting youthfulness was the thing – I get it.  But it IS 2016.  I feel like society should have – yes, I said “should have” – matured beyond these parameters.  I don’t really proselytize – I don’t feel pushing my opinions onto others is the right thing to do.  I’m not shouting from rooftops that this is “an outrage!”  

But. . .what I AM saying is…it is important to represent the wider array of beauty that exists in the World.  It’s helpful, particularly in a time overrun by social media, enhancement apps (that double as Adobe!), and the “flawless,” Insta-presentation of our “best selves” at all times…that we SEE, and learn to APPRECIATE, aging.  If…let me say…for no other reason than we aren’t broadsided one morning looking in the mirror in our 30’s thinking “wait!  What are these!? This doesn’t happen!  All those ads for these products…those ladies are so young and fresh and line-free!”

I’d kind of like to know I’m not alone, and have beautiful ladies decades other than myself to look up to.  Comparing our older selves to teens – even if subconsciously as we pass the magazine stand – simply isn’t healthy.  Hallelujah that some aren’t afraid to out the topic!

Ageless

I saw this image the other day and just LOVED it.  I have a birthday coming up, and I think whenever that day rolls around we contemplate where we are, where we have been…and what’s up and coming.

BEING AWESOME HAS NO AGE!

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The truth of it is, I feel blessed EVERY DAY.  You never really know how things will turn out, and I can’t help but be incredibly thankful for the beautiful people in my Life, our health, our love, our laughter, our breath…for those are the most precious gifts we are given.

I don’t really care to celebrate my birthday, and a lot of folks don’t understand that.  For the very reason that I embrace gratitude each day…I don’t have to relegate “celebration” to one day.  Why isn’t it every day?  For all of us?

I think it’s WONDERFUL if people want to have a fête of some kind.  I’ve been accused of being a killjoy, or boring, or whatever else, but each day is a gift in my eyes.  I certainly have days where I am frustrated, or bothered by something minuscule – I’m human, after all!  But as an Empath, my nature is to reflect…on my behavior, my actions, and my thoughts. 

When it comes right down to it, I almost feel like one’s birthday could be designated as a personal “Mother’s Day” for the birthee’s mother – SHE did all the work, anyway, let’s just call a spade a spade!  And when you think about it…how awesome is SHE?!  She’s older, and she’s pretty badass

I always loved the way my mum’s culture (Italian), or that of the Martial Arts I have studied (Korean, Japanese)…as well as others…take age to be A GOOD THING.  The older you are, the more respect you are given – with “age” comes wisdom, so it goes.  And that wisdom came from a Lifetime of experiences, problem solving, ups, downs, love and disappointment – it didn’t just appear!  Those things enrich a person and add more ticks in the box of awesomeness, the way I see it.

So while I WON’T say I am in love with the deeper wrinkles, and solitary grey hair threats…I feel GOOD to be my age.  I feel like I have weathered many storms, and it has forged me into a strong, more awesome person as a result.  

I LOVE this photo because this gorgeous lady is sassy as hell – she looks beautiful.  She looks in control.  And she looks like she is having a ball (jamming to some tunes, I might add – good taste!) 😀  

Life gets better…

Life gets MORE “awesome” all the time…

And so, frankly, DO WE.

X ❤