On Eating Disorders And Being An Athlete In The Midst…

I appreciated receiving this article, written by Karen Crouse, which speaks to a very real problem in sports. It is also – I should point out – scarcely relegated to figure skating (the topic of the article) and related performing or aesthetic sports such as dancing, bodybuilding, and the like.  Rather, it has a much broader (and frankly insidious) grip on athletes around the globe. 

Eating disorders were something I grew up knowing plenty about – I was classically trained in ballet for over ten years, competitively figure skated for about sixteen years, and danced competitively in International Latin and American Smooth ballroom for seven years. In those arenas, thin is ALWAYS in.

Yikes.

Can weight make a difference in performance? Yes, absolutely. When it comes to one’s joints, or one’s ability to do the particularly acrobatic and athletic jumps and spins, it’s important we are at a weight healthy for our frame. Figure skating, for one, is a high impact sport and that takes a toll even on a healthy body. When we are unhealthy, those negative side effects can be multiplied many fold. However, a lot of it – a sometimes far heftier percentage – is about the “look.” And, when it becomes about our appearance, things can go downhill very quickly…

It isn’t only that I, like many athletes, was “young and impressionable” at the time – top athletes generally ARE on the younger side (remember that part about impact on the body?) Athletes begin training early, so there is certainly danger in implanting these injurious notions early on.

What is also a real issue, however, is that a focus on a person’s “weight” can suddenly have bearing on whether or not you are even “considered” for a winning position – that will change your tune pretty quick if you have goals of any kind. (Deny politics play a role in results? You’re kidding yourself!)

In ballroom, for example, if you aren’t groomed properly, you simply aren’t taken seriously. Period. It’s as easy as that. I’m not putting it down, I was in it…and LOVED it. But it was a horrible hassle, and I knew I didn’t really have a choice. Before a competition I needed to be:

  • Spray tanned…TWICE (because my pale skin wasn’t in)
  • Have my nails done (as in, they needed to be long and noticeable)
  • Have my hair professionally done every time I competed (multiple days, means days of hair-doing)
  • Professional makeup (fortunately I did this myself, but then half my suitcase was makeup I had to lug)
  • Make sure I was as fit as could be (wearing next to nothing / very revealing costumes…yes, people would notice if you gained a little extra. And they wouldn’t be shy about mentioning it)

Those things were prerequisites.  Then you added to that judge preferences like wearing tan fishnets or stockings (okay, no big deal, that helped “pull me in” a little so I stayed slim in that tiny costume…) But it was rough because if you didn’t take those “suggestions” you often were out of the running…before you even took the floor. No, I’m not kidding. Figure skating was a little less harsh on that front, but the pressure to “lose a little” was definitely an undercurrent.

I remember going to skating camp at Simsbury’s International Skating Center of Connecticut. I was in my mid to later teens (definitely the mesomorph of the group!) and I recall – very clearly – the younger skaters being worried about gaining weight. They wouldn’t eat ice cream, they would ask for coffee (at that age?!) with skim milk… They wouldn’t have chips…. Even back at our dorms, some would skip breakfast because they didn’t want to have too much (more Lucky Charms and Golden Grahams for me?)

Let me be clear, I am ALL about healthy, clean eating – it’s not about how I look so much as how it makes my body feel. My body is a “finely-tuned machine,” according to my doc, and it tells me what it needs. But when you are FIGURE SKATING…for HOURS A DAY…you burn more than a Clydesdale! I mean, it was craziness!!! These kids were WAY too young to worry about weight, not a single one had any inkling of a problem (which could impact joints, as athletic as skating can be), and they couldn’t enjoy themselves as a result – it was heartbreaking!

Now a days, the pressures are – apparently – still there. It was eye-opening to read that Brian Boitano (an idol I watched win his gold when I was ten years-old) was very much subjected to this, and wasn’t actually at peak performance (very likely) at that time. Hard to believe if you saw those jumps! It’s also saddening to hear that Adam Rippon has struggled with this as well. I love that they are open about it because eating disorders carry a lot of shame with them – speaking up and making it known that we are not alone can be enough to save someone afflicted from a life of suffering.

My disorders – Anorexia and Exercise Bulimia / Anorexia Athetica – were a result of something very different, but they nearly devoured me whole too. I thankfully managed to cruise through my sports both unscathed and unapologetically…but I was acutely aware of the oft-unspoken-about illnesses in the background. Having suffered through it later, knowing full well how damaging and dangerous such sickness can be, was testament to how powerful these diseases are… 

For many of athletes, body image is tightly wound around performance. . .which is tightly bound to our identities. Sometimes – to add fuel to the fire – that can be perpetuated by the people we look up to or rely on in the sport, as well as tied to our future success.

It’s a struggle to see the “good” sometimes – to see how strong we are, how well we are doing… It’s even harder to recognize…and then ADMIT…when we aren’t fueling ourselves the way we need to. I recently took back to the ice (on a VERY minor scale) but I’ll tell you…my legs are different. I can see it, I can feel it, and my body is asking for more carbohydrates and food. And…that’s what I give it if I need to. But like Adam Rippon, the mind will make a point to call out that we are doing something different – It’s like an internal guilt trip from the Ghost of Athletics Past!

Eating disorders are terrifying – like other addictive illnesses, they have the power to completely derail us, if not end our lives completely. While I refrain from “talking politics,” and don’t much care for celebrities shouting out their messages at the top of their lungs…there is some benefit in this particular arena. It is important to be honest and open because eating disorders are often highly isolating – we begin to decay on our own, and keep everyone at a distance while we whither away. The knowledge that we aren’t alone in our struggles it might help others find the strength and courage to seek treatment – one life saved is one life saved!

Truth be told, having had no one to look to during my own…? I would have LOVED to have this kind of hope to grab onto… 

 

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Holiday 2016 – MAC Nutcracker Sweet

I’m a little bit partial to the Nutcracker because I grew up being classically trained – 10 years of ballet, and you’ll see ten years of the Nutcracker around the holidays…if not more (once a dancer, always a dancer.)  I desperately wanted to be in it, actually, and a friend and fellow dancer was – spectacular!

MAC is embracing the fun and festivities with a Holiday Nutcracker-inspired Collection – Sweet as can be.  For details, check out Chicprofile, who shares the full list of goodies, and a few more images. A little tricky to see all of the items clearly, given the bold pink patterning of dots and stripes but…anyway!  Personally, I love the Pro Longwear Paint Pot in Stormy Pink, a muted grey-purple hue.  I feel like it would add a barely-there depth (not a new shade, so much, but sometimes they aren’t!)

Chicprofile.com

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Martial Arts – Beyond Than Being An Athlete

Being a Martial Artist isn’t completely akin to being just an athlete – while both designations require a high physical demand in combination with mental focus, there is – in my own mind – a level of spiritual attunement that takes Martial Arts a step further.

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I’ve been an athlete my whole life – for better or worse I have always identified myself with my athletic endeavors.  Extracurricular activities were equally as committed to as my studies growing up – I didn’t train here or there, I was “on” five to seven days a week, multiple hours a day, interspersing my training with homework and school time.  To many, I didn’t “have a life.”  I still managed to get to sleepovers and do “kid” things, but I was up well before the group and off to the ice rink while they still caught their Zs.  

I guess there were a few days I minded – in the dead of winter, 5 am looks a lot like midnight…and it feels that way too!  But MOST of the time, I loved it.  I had my own routine, and my own sense of uniqueness.  I felt empowered, strong, and enjoyed having the physical outlet for my ridiculous Geminian energy, and my sometimes awkward way with expression (that is to say, movement was as much a language to me as English!  Ask a dancer, and he or she will understand what I mean.)  Other kids maybe slept later, or hung out until the wee hours when I had to be back in bed…but at the end of the day, being an “athlete” meant more to me than being like everyone else.  

My circle of friends was relatively small, no question – there were days when I wondered what it was like being the most popular kid in class but. . . It was short-lived.  The prospect of worrying more about what I wore to school every day didn’t really have room on my list of things to do, nor did who asked who out – I simply wasn’t on that wavelength. My best friends very much included my coach, a skating buddy or two, my parents, and a gymnast. Oh!  And I had a horse riding friend also.  Shocking, I know – another athlete!  Life wasn’t exactly the same for us as it was our peers – the time commitment, for one, was massive.  The friends I had were those who suffered the same constraints I did so we had an understanding by default (no, I really DID have to miss that birthday party because of a competition!)

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Being an athlete also required an enormous physical demand – maintaining that level of training and impact at 38? Not going to happen.  Eight Marital Arts classes a week, two days of HIIT cardio, and three to five lifting is MORE than enough. It was something to behold, for sure, and I am extremely proud of my body for getting me through it.

Add to those two hefty components (the commitment of body and time) the ability to focus the mind – not only for competition, but for training in general.  There were plenty of days of pushing through feeling under the weather, bleeding feet, strains, sprains…even a collapsed lung.  It was absolutely vital that we spent time visualizing, and keeping our mind sharp – on ice in particular, being “out of it” could be incredibly dangerous.

There was something else, though… An entirely other layer that seduced me from the get go – one that I dare say was evident when I performed.  When I watched top athletes I could always see the difference in “spiritual” commitment.  ALWAYS.  It wasn’t that the skater did, or didn’t, love the sport – most all of us were infected with intense ardor from an early age.  It was more so that some were devoted on another level...  Not just mind, not just body…but soul.  It wasn’t “spiritual” in an ecclesiastical way, but rather the presence of a transcendent passion. They weren’t skating to music, they were the music.  That, for me, was what made all the difference.  I didn’t want to just hit my elements…I wanted to string together each movement into a story that those with loss of their senses could still feel and understand.  

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In Martial Arts, such a level of dedication is – I’d argue – required.  Being a Martial Artist isn’t just about attendance, accomplishing the moves, passing tests, or breaking boards.  It isn’t just about being able to focus the mind on a task at hand, pushing through, and staying on point.  And it isn’t about getting a rank and calling it quits.

You can DO Martial Arts, absolutely.  To be a true “Martial Artist,” though, I (again, personally) feel as though the soul connection has to be there.  So yes, in my mind, I am eliminating the guys who get in a ring a kick ass but don’t do it for any reason beyond beating someone else (at their game, or literally.)  

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There are plenty of sports where you can sneak by without that soul connection – even in the most aesthetically-based, such as dancing and figure skating.  You can still complete the technical components, and maybe do okay with the artistic portion.  The average spectator very likely won’t notice the difference.  I guess in Martial Arts that can happen too…but then it isn’t really Martial Arts, it’s strictly striking, grappling, whatever…

Being an athlete is something to be proud of – it takes WORK.  It’s blood, sweat, and tears…peppered with (hopefully) some laughs.  Depending on the level (and the nature of the specific Art), Martial Arts requires that practitioners are athletes – the conditioning dictates it by default.  

But. . .to BE a Martial Artist really means devotion beyond the physical and mental – it’s a layer (or several) beyond just saying “this is my sport.”

Being a Martial Artist is something that will permeate your Life, and remain “true” for all your years – it is a lifestyle.  It is a way of being, thinking, acting, existing.  The lessons we learn, and strive to perfect, belong to a pursuit that extends well beyond our age and body – one of the reasons I say to people that Martial Arts is “timeless.”  

My sports and activities – figure skating, dance, weight lifting etc – those things take a toll eventually.  We get to a point where we can’t continue nearly at the same level.  But in Martial Arts, we somehow get better with age, regardless of having to potentially tone it down – there are so many layers beyond the “seen” that movement, ability, learning, philosophy etc…continues undeterred.  We become wiser and more balanced, not just stronger, more agile, more fluid with our movement.  I feel like those who have become impossibly proficient are not just skilled, they are IN it – they are tied to the activity with heart and soul, not just the desire to get better. They become the Art. 

That undercurrent is very much the one that finally got me to start – I wanted to do Martial Arts forEVER but was so inundated with demands from extracurricular sports, school, and then work that it was put on the burner.  For a long time.

In my early 30’s I revisited the “if I get injured and can’t dance, what ‘sport’ will I be able to continue with..?”  It was a very real issue when deciding between figure skating and college – I took the later path knowing that one derailment could cause a massive ripple effect later, leaving me in the dust of my peers.  After sitting with the thought a while, I manned up and marched into a Dojang – a decision that changed my Life forever.

I incidentally did get injured – through Martial Arts.  It incidentally DID take me out of ballroom competition for good.  But somehow I have been able to continue – no matter the modifications, I am still growing, learning, AND contributing (the most amazing part.)  I will for as long as I take it and I hope – though the capacity might change – that I will forever. 

The injuries I sustained would have (very likely) completely ended my career in figure skating, possibly ballet…definitely ballroom (because it did!)  But Martial Arts – with its countless facets – offers me the promise of maintaining my athleticism along with mental growth, emotional intelligence, and spiritual attainment.  It takes being an athlete to a whole other level and I LOVE that.  I know  that even when I have to do a little bit less physically, I can still reap the rewards of the sport – as a sport – without having to throw in the towel before I am ready (which will be NEVER!) 🙂 

My Martial Arts and Dance album…

 

 

Martial Arts Humor – For The Ladies

I don’t consider myself to be a tomboy really.  Growing up, maybe so – I’d rather be throwing mud, building forts, and doing sports.  But I still lean quite feminine, thankyouverymuch, and I embrace being a woman wholly.  Dancing and ice skating were my first loves, and the kind of movement my body both understands and craves…

But…I loooove to kick.  And I love to punch things. (Let’s be honest, chokes are kind of fun too!)  

It kind of is what it is, and it keeps everyone guessing… “Is she in a graceful and loving mood…or should I go get some pads and a helmut?”

I think diverse hobbies keep it real.  Or, if nothing else, they keep your reflexes up when I’m in the room. 😉

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This Is Me…Minus The Gi!

A friend posted this and basically it sums up, well…MOI…minus the Martial Arts gi, of course.  And when I say gi, I alternate – Takekwondo, Hapkido, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Japanese Ninjutsu –  A girl can never have too many gis!  

Or quality figure skating blades…

Or pointe shoes…

I blame my Geminian temperament for the contradictory multi-facetedness.  One never knows with a Gemini, but then…it does keep it interesting, no?

It’s kind of fun being on your toes…in SO many senses of the term.  Triple flip or pirouette, anyone?

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I think ce sont très chic!* (these are very chic! 😉 ) 

Alessandra Ferri for Boots

Boots has recruited the beautiful Alessandra Ferri to promote their newest serum, No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Serum.  As a long time dancer, I LOVE seeing this beautiful athlete back in the limelight (not only on stage!) well beyond what the traditional path (as a professional athlete, ballerina etc…) allows.  Refreshing and inspiring!

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roma.repubblica.it

Ferri was the youngest dancer at the Royal Ballet back when she was just 19 years-old.  Now, at 52, with the rank of Prima Ballerina Absolute, she is still performing…and showing us that we actually can age gracefully.  ❤

I love that the Company chose her to represent a product designed for our aging skin – nothing frustrates me more than seeing a 20 year-old as the face of an age-defying cream!  I mean really?  

Boots UK

Boots UK

The Company claims, thanks to Matrixyl 3000 Plus (TM), that this is the most effective of their anti wrinkle technologies. From the sound of it, this newbie is getting awesome reviews already, living up to claims of reducing wrinkles, firming skin, and evening out skin tone. 

Figure Skating and Childhood Sports

The other evening the US Championships came on…and I just lit up.  My hunnie watched with me, which I really enjoyed also.  🙂  

I was blessed to have started on the ice around two or three years of age…and I continued with my training and competitions into my very late teens. Skating is, I believe, the sport I was meant to do – I took to it immediately, and so did my body, my heart, and my soul.  I remember being utterly captivated, watching the stars of the 80s and 90s  on television with baited breath – the sport had competitors who would change the sport forever at that time.  Oh, it was SO exciting!!!  (The Olympics in Calgary 1988 was a favorite!)

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Me in my teens doing what I loved… Rather like being an athletic swan! 🙂

One of the most substantial aspects of my Figure Skating was that it offered me a “language” with which to speak, when words failed me.  I remember dedicating a show program to a friend of mine who was killed in a car accident – we were only 16 and the news of his passing was not only a shock, but horribly devastating.  I took the ice with him in my heart, and skated that program the best I ever had – I didn’t know his mother had come to watch.  When I came off the ice, she was waiting for me, with an angel he used to keep on his dresser – she embraced me and gave it to me as a gift, and I will never forget it.  I “spoke” without a word, tracing the ice in complex patterns, to tell a story that pained my heart.  

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I participated in countless other activities growing up – Ballet was a big part of my training for a decade, but also including school sports and additional extracurriculars.  I wasn’t terribly GOOD at many of the other sports, but I certainly gave them a whirl! (Admittedly, some under duress – BUT, I am thankful to have tried as I now know what I prefer, and what works for my physiology!  I sincerely believe it is important for children to try all manner of activities – in this way, they can discover what they love (or don’t love!) most.  Personal passion is different for everyone and the exposure afforded me the opportunity to learn more about myself, and what made me “tick!”)

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Watching, missing, and loving!

There is something about the freedom of a clean sheet of ice, the cold winter air in your lungs (I trained outdoors six months of the year, during Autumn and Winter!)…  The sounds of the blades cutting the ice, the wind in your face, the roses that bloom in your cheeks – there’s nothing quite like it for me!  I miss it enormously and watching just made me want to float on air and dance about!

I transitioned into Ballroom Dancing and Martial Arts in my adulthood, though – it was Figure Skating or college at that juncture in my Life, and the prospect of staying behind my peers wasn’t something I was keen on.  It is also much more challenging with age so after later 20’s the field narrows substantially – I had that in mind, heaven forbid I put all my stock in it and get injured!

After tearing my knees in Martial Arts, I had to bow out of the dancing, sadly.  I often miss it, and I miss the ice!  But the blessing of having done so much of it in my earlier years, and growing up as an athlete, is that I have countless BEAUTIFUL memories.  I know what it is like to train that hard.  I know what it feels like to lose, to win, to perform, and to move an audience.  In fact, the latter was one of the things I loved most – telling a story and touching souls.  ❤

Our activities may change over our lives, and that’s okay.  It doesn’t mean we won’t miss the level at which we participated in the past…or that we won’t year for it still, but we do have other channels to explore…and so many memories to cherish. 

 

Thankful In The 2nd Degree

I recently had the good fortune to complete my 2nd Dan promotion in Taekwondo, Hapkido and Kumdo – Our curriculum includes all three Arts, though we focus primarily on the Taekwondo, and Hapkido (both of which I adore!)  I hadn’t actually stepped foot in a dojang until my early 30’s – but despite zero background in Martial Arts as a whole, I maintained the belief that anything was achievable.   

My personal athletic history includes classical training in ballet for a decade, competitive figure skating for about sixteen years, and competitive ballroom dancing for about seven.  I supplemented my training with weightlifting and some cardio from the age of 13 on, and certainly gave other sports a try over the years (many of which, I confess, were under duress.  Still, it was to my benefit, as I learned what did…and didn’t...work for me!) 

The school I attend is run by the phenomenally accomplished Grandmaster Ik Jo Kang of Korea – not only an 8th Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo, but also a 9th Degree in Hapkido, as well as highly skilled in knife throwing, short stick, long stick, and nunchucks (among other things.)  He’s most definitely a force to be reckoned with, and someone I looked up to from day 1.  

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Kwan Jang Nim (the appropriate term for Grandmaster) welcomed me warmly, encouraging me in spite of my very dancelike habits and lack of experience.  He generously took me under his wing, and I spent countless private lessons trying to learn as much as I possibly could retain.  Most Grandmasters at his level are no longer teaching, not to mention teaching lower belts – we, his students, are very blessed.

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During one of my more intense lessons, in which we practiced nearly and hour of jump kicks and combinations (yung seuk chagi), my foot rolled into a divot in the mat, changing my athletic career in less than a second.  As I took off for a spinning, jumping back kick, my knee jolted left to right, severing my ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament), tearing the meniscus, tearing the hamstring (at the gastrocnemius tie-in), and severely contusing the bones.  

I literally saw stars (I describe it as the Cinderella, Fairy-Godmother-effect from my skating days – spin super fast, and that is precisely what when down!)

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Kwan Jang Nim, seeing that I couldn’t move, helped me put pressure to assist with the pain (the hamstring tear was likely the most intense part – popped ACLs cause swelling, but not the dramatic wave of pain I was experiencing.  In a fit of cold sweats I tried not to be sick, and to get myself to my feet.  I was able to do so within a minute or two but there was something clearly amiss – athletes (of whatever kind!) get used to the bumps, bruises, and muscular pain – this was something different.

Sad to say…I was diagnosed with a torn hamstring only.  The trauma within the patellar region was severe enough that the swelling prevented the Lachman’s test from divulging what was really going on (typically, it’s a failsafe – the knee pops forward and it’s pretty darn clear that the ACL is damaged, or no longer intact!)  We didn’t think the MRI was required – though it was painful, stiff, and swollen, I could still bear my weight.  I could still LIFT weights at the gym.  I could do everything pretty much as normal except that I “felt” like something wasn’t right.  There was a hair of instability that I didn’t believe I’d had prior and, four months later, without signs of abating, an MRI confirmed I wasn’t crazy.  (Bottom line: YOU KNOW YOUR BODY!  If it doesn’t feel right, check it out immediately!)

I read the MRI report and burst into tears…  Two months prior I had won two titles at the World Championships in ballroom – I was right at a peak age, and ready to revamp my routines and push myself as far as I could go… But in the fell swoop of one, poorly-supported moment…my competitive dreams were taken away.

I was in surgery days after receiving the news. The recovery itself was the most painful physical situation I’ve been in, not to mention one of the more trying (though not the worst) on an emotional level as well.  My parents are saints for having put up with me – the prospect of not dancing was already devastating, and to know that physical activity was off limits for months did NOT sit well.  I lost three inches around my thigh – my quad was actually concave when the swelling subsided – and about eight pounds on that side.  Let’s just say it was eye-opening.  

Perspective…

I remember meeting my friend Roger for the first time.  Roger was a Sergeant, SWAT Team member, pilot and badass Harley-rider who had been diagnosed with ALS some years earlier – he has since passed, but will ever be remembered as a hero…and an inspiration.  When we were introduced, my best friend mentioned that I was a dancer.  Roger’s face lit up like a sun and he smiled larger than the room (I have goosebumps recalling it.)  He typed (with his eyes) into his computer, “do you watch Dancing With the Stars?” “My old teacher is on the show!” I replied.  The warmth, excitement, and genuine care Roger’s face expressed nearly moved me to tears – in that moment I remembered my first day at physical therapy after my knee reconstruction…

I remember that I was asked to “fire my quad” and I couldn’t do it.  Confused, I looked at my thigh, sending the message to it to contract.  Nothing.  It was like a dead limb…and it was terrifying.  When I spoke to Roger I thought “my God…he wakes up every day knowing it won’t get better…  He wakes up and something else doesn’t work, and it won’t come back.”  There I was acting like a big baby…and my leg WAS going to heal.

That moment stayed with me, and it’s something I think about when I’m feeling down – I am SO blessed.  He would smile and tell me to be careful, despite his own circumstance – I will never forget the bravery, nor his ever-present selflessness.  He affected me so much that I agreed to do the Tri-State Trek in his honor – we knew his time was limited and I wanted to repay him for the gift of sight and perspective he gave me while he was still with us.

I didn’t have my first Black Belt at the time, but Roger and I, and one of my best friends Rick, would always share smiles and laughs about my Martial Arts training – I was determined to become a badass one day!  I would say the training (road bike) ride was exhausting and I was going to kick Rick’s butt for it…adding a “KIYAH!” along with my kicking motions.  Roger would always giggle and say that Rick would have to “watch out! She’s dangerous.”

The knee recovery derailed my competitive ballroom dancing…but I was as set on getting my black belt no matter how hard it would be, or how long it took to get there.  When I was able to finally get up one stair – ten months after surgery – my Grandmaster allowed me to come back to the school to start training again.  He was incredibly patient, and always mindful of my injury.  I took baby steps and modified where necessary – while I couldn’t do everything, I still could do SOMEthing.  I wasn’t giving up…

The only aspect of the Black Belt promotion I had some trouble with was snapping a side kick and breaking boards – the emotional paralysis you can sustain from traumatic injury can really stick with you, and it was quite prevalent at that moment!  Fortunately, I was permitted to do breaks with my hands.  PHEW!  The new rank meant the WORLD to me…because it represented my persistence, my perseverance, my dedication…  It represented that I could achieve anything I set my heart to – just like the 300 mile bike ride for Roger.  

I continued my training with Kwan Jang Nim, eager to perfect what I knew…and to learn even more – in Martial Arts, the learning NEVER stops!  I managed to tear my right knee along the way – again with a kick – but I refused to reconstruct it and kept forging ahead (despite the chagrin of my orthopedic surgeon!)  

After maintaining the rank a while, students were getting excited for the next big promotion.  But, while they usually occur at quarterly intervals (maybe more), the schedule shifted dramatically.  Kwan Jang Nim was given an opportunity to finally shoot his Screenplay– a long-time dream of his.  While we were sad we couldn’t do our promotion, we were incredibly excited for him that his dream was coming to fruition.

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Within that time, though, I met the Love of my Life…who had apparently lived just yards away from my Dojang all that time… He was moving away from our town two weeks after we met and…fast forward six months, I was following him out of state too. The promotion loomed over me – I was ready to test, but I was no longer at the school to participate in classes, to practice, to learn, to perfect… 

I stayed in touch with Kwan Jang Nim, eager to hear about any set dates for the testing.  I practiced on my own, as I always did back home…but it was so much more important without others to work with me.  My hunnie kindly “stole my wallet” many nights as he grilled dinner so I could practice my Hapkido defenses.  And I never gave up the hope of getting back home to take my 2nd Degree test.

In January I got a call that the promotion was set for early February – I wasn’t sure I could get back for the actual date, so Kwan Jang Nim…very generously…agreed to meet me privately and do my test earlier.  FINALLY, the day came, and I was overjoyed.

Seeing Kwan Jang Nim again was amazing – I realized how much I missed my classes, and the Dojang, and was thrilled to have the opportunity to “do my thing.”  The test went amazingly – I feel like I’m still glowing from the experience.  I feel so blessed, and so thankful to officially be a Kyo Sa Nim. ❤ 

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It’s funny because sometimes people assume that getting a belt is something that you just “pay for.”  There is a business aspect to many schools that allows for that to occur…but there are a lot of us who work HARD to get where we are.  We get their early, do chores we aren’t asked to do, practice on our own.  We go to class, ask for feedback, and repeat until we can’t move.  

Some of us – MOST of us – have had debilitating injuries over the years, and we push through them with determination to reach our goals.  It is EARNED, NOT GIVEN for many of us, and there is a lot of sacrifice, blood, sweat and tears along the way.  

My friends have achieved incredible things – feats I look up to with deep reverence.  Overcoming personal setbacks, in particular, is something I have profound respect for – whether emotional, physical or spiritual.  For me, this was one of those things… I refused to give up my Arts because I destroyed on knee – it had already taken so much away.  I refused to give them up when I tore the second one – my passion never diminished.  

I have modified, and persisted, and kept my eye on my goal – those two stripes will forever remind me that I have what it takes, no matter what.  Having the heart is more than half the battle – never give up on you, or what brings you joy.  

Change of Pace…

The point of this post…

My main passions (beyond the Love of my Life and my family!) are Martial Arts, and living a happy, healthy Life (with animals around! 🙂 )  I care about taking good care of myself as I get older – internally and externally.  

Fashion was my career for over a decade, and I LOVED it.  By the age of 23 I was managing over 200 people in Cosmetics and Fragrances in a massive NYC department store – serious fun, and serious education!  By 24 I had forayed into ladies footwear, where I’d stay and grow for many more years – here and overseas.

But while I know those worlds intimately, and cherished that time, I feel like those topics are wildly saturated these days.  When you do Fashion Trend Analysis, the concept of “fast fashion” and obsolescence isn’t novel…  But I have so much “new” to share on here that I can’t seem to disseminate it quickly enough!  

So I’m shifting my focus a bit, and hope that’s okay – I know that “newness” will be covered in spades by some AMAZING bloggers out there.  I’m so grateful to all of you who read and enjoy – I love connecting with the larger Universe, and appreciate the kind support. ❤

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I feel like in many ways I am a dichotomy – a proverbial oxymoron, as it were.  I blame my zodiac most of the time…  Scarcely a disservice to other Gemini – we all know just how multi-faceted we can be!  

Because of my, er, celestial classification I have a habit of taking on seemingly highly opposing activities (boredom is a kiss of doom for us!):

  • Figure Skating —> Takekwondo
  • Classical Ballet —> Hapkido
  • Ballroom Dancing —> Ninjutsu 
  • Hip Hop —> JiuJitsu
  • Aerial Yoga —> Kumdo

In my own mind, of course, EVERYTHING is a dance.

EVERYTHING.

Still…not all of my sports are focused on grooming the way many of my childhood ones entailed – Martial Arts?  Looking pretty is the last thing on my mind!  I didn’t grow up to be a glamorous girl – I admire those who are, absolutely – but glam won’t work for me on a daily basis.

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I am far too active to maintain a quotidian routine of lipstick and updos.  I strive for “natural.”  I want to enhance, not hide.  I want to look the same when I wash my face at Night (lest my other half wonder what happened!) 😉 

Having been trained to perform most of my Life, I was bombarded with notions of grace, beauty, polish, and sophistication very early on.  There are worlds revolving around skincare, makeup artistry, hair design – if you haven’t been exposed to it, you’d be wowed! Those things mattered enormously in the sports in which I was predominantly trained in growing up.  You wouldn’t dare take the ice without your “war paint,” or the stage without the proper bun and shimmer!

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As a result, I know a TON about those arenas – makeup artistry was essentially required for my sports.  I was drawn to it as a child because it was openly creative and there really wasn’t a “wrong way” to do it.  It also took a lot of skill to pull oneself together and, most importantly…

Grooming boiled down to taking your performing sport and competition seriously (not to mention the judges taking YOU seriously at the same time.)  

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At the root of all that, skincare was therefore a big deal – my mother always told me that the canvas matters the most (painting over a blemished surface is much more of a challenge, and means you forego “natural” in pursuit of a hard-to-obtain perfection.)  So, I also know TONS about skincare too, and am often asked about my own regimen.  Having good habits starting early will make a big difference down the road and I’m incredibly thankful I don’t appear to be 37.

As an athlete, taking care of our skin is vital – we are often covered in sweat, rolling on mats, or using communal equipment at a gym / school / dojo etc… So unless cleanliness doesn’t matter, we have to be a bit more mindful. 

I also L ❤ VE being a woman, and I care about aging as gracefully as I am able (I probably own every product known to man! 😉 )  I will never run about in complete shambles, and when I am going out somewhere, I will pull it together! I love Fashion and I loved working in the field – I can’t say I don’t miss it!  And I love womanly things – gowns, pencil dresses, lace, stockings, glitter…  So while “badass” and “edgy” work…so do sexy and beautiful.

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When I’m training, though, I’m probably going to be a ruffled mess…so I always felt like “If you can’t handle me like [this], then I’m not for you!”  I mean… I used to live in a town where people would say, “you should wear your hair down when you workout!  You look so different!  It’s much prettier!”  

“Uh…Excuse me?!”

For me personally, the gym is for working out, staying fit, pushing my limits – not impressing anyone with looks…or anything else!  Superficial doesn’t fit in my scheme of things – I’m there to work, and to do something kind for myself.  There is always room to get dolled up later.  

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The great news? Most of my friends are furiously hardworking – whether in their career, Martial Arts, extreme sports (rock climbing, for one, blows me away!), lifting, or seriously skill-perfecting  sports like shooting, I am always in awe, and ever-encouraged to learn more.   

I’m blessed and thankful to be surrounded by supportive people who could care LESS if my hair is a mess, and I’m purple-cheeked and sweating.  Even if we are doing different activities, there is always respect and support.

I need to make a point to also say that the support of my other half is huge. He inspires me every day with his work ethic, talents, eagerness to learn, and his phenomenal heart, among many other things. ❤  

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The point is…going forward, my posts will reflect more of this aspect of my Life (a huge part of it!) than they have in the past.  As much as I am asked about my skin, and the “outward”…I am also asked on a regular basis about what I do for sports, what my routine looks like, what my nutrition consists of etc…  I feel like I can be most helpful in this way.

I love to inspire, I LOOOOVE to encourage, and I find that there is strong community in sharing… So that’s my plan for now. 🙂

As always, many thanks – I love the wonderful comments, and I appreciate the time all of you take out of your day to spend a moment with me. 

XX ❤ X

*Pascal*

 

 

Carson Dean Treadmill Jam

Ellen DeGeneres is ADORABLE.  As a dancer of at least 17 years, I absolutely fell in love with Carson Dean’s treadmill jam when someone posted it on FB.  I never loved the song (I think Uptown Funk has been crazy overplayed!), but he did a great job rockin’ out to it – the moves are spot on, and he is absolutely precious.  (That said, I’d not recommend anyone without a dance background attempt any such endeavor in place of a typically more mundane cardio experience!)

Love Ellen going on about how she was trying to replicate various segments of the choreography.  I can totally picture her trying! 😀

http://www.thefashionisto.com photo (on Ellen Tube)

http://www.thefashionisto.com photo (on Ellen Tube)

It’s hard not to feel happy when you watch this…and even harder not to move!  He’s been asked to do it for countless shows, and I’m sure he is having a blast.  As much as FB can annoy me, it’s nice to see people getting exposure that they’d have never had the opportunity to get, regardless of background, sport, art etc…

Carson’s bio is on la.blocagency.com – ballet inevitably shows up, unsurprisingly (I feel like Classical training helps so many other genres.)

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