A Happy New Year Free Of Fear

I’ve largely lived my life by these words, in spite of sometimes vacillating when I’m on the precipice of going through with whatever it is that’s frightening me…

Generally – after tears have dried, and doubts have reached their peak – I dive in. Why? Because ANY day could be my last. Not going through with something is a disservice to every part of me – heart, soul, mind, body, spirit.

For years, though, I shied away from figure skating, a sport I grew up doing. I learned at so young an age that the slick, icy surface of the rink was like walking on solid ground is to a toddler… The rink was my second home. But after a massive setback in 2012 with a leg torn in three places, severe contusions, a 2-in-1 reconstruction surgery, and a complicated…very long-winded…recovery, I always seemed to find a reason not to lace up again.

With the goal to become a Black Belt (and getting sidelined while at Brown) I went back to the Martial Arts that claimed my left knee. A year and a half later another round of ballistic kicks tore the right ACL and meniscus, though this time I flat-out refused to fix it. As my right leg is my “landing leg” in skating, the fact that I’m missing the tendon responsible for holding the patella in place (in the forward direction) has been the key driver of my anxiety.

Enter needing to move my belongings from my home of 33 years, five years after the first knee injury… There I find my beautiful custom ice skates, hand-crafted by a legend, in desperate need of TLC – I actually shook my head in disgust that I’d have let them sit there so long unloved. After brining them back home and finding a pro sharpener, my husband hopped in the car and drove me a distance to get them tended to.

Once at the rink I began to share my experiences with the sharpener and his wife, both of whom remember what figure skating was in its heyday (honestly, a lot different from what it is now.) We gushed about compulsory figures and the impeccable edge manipulation of the pros back when…and of the strength, power, and infinite grace of the skaters who were on the world stage at the time I was training. I mentioned some of the places I trained, and the coaches I worked with – to my joy, they knew exactly who I was talking about – it felt like I was chatting with old friends. ❤

I’m certain I was brimming over with happiness – feeling as though I was back in my world – and as such, my husband decided to give me a nudge. And then a few more… He could tell I needed (and deeply wanted) to be encouraged…but that anxiety was doing it’s best to keep me derailed.

No such luck!

I remembered the phrase above (uttered brilliantly in a favorite Bar Luhrman film, Strictly Ballroom) and I thought…“damnit, I’m here. I am putting these on and I’m just going to try…” I was sure I’d face plant but the encouragement of my husband (and knowing my parents would have been at my side too) helped me brave the moment.

I went around two times, came off…and burst into tears. I feel the tears overtaking me even now, and can’t begin to enumerate the breadth of feeling within me. I posted a photo on social media as some of my friends (who endured the brutal winter winds at 5:30am alongside me!) would understand the accomplishment. The comments – wholly unexpected – not only warmed my heart, but brought (thankful) tears to my eyes. To know that I was remembered is like receiving a gift I never dreamed of receiving… The joy of my parents and in-laws too…it’s overwhelming and incredible. Figure skating was my “language” – it gave me words when I could not speak, and courage when I was in the throes of fear. I felt as if I was the wind itself…  

Feeling “home.” And…once a performer, always one! 😉

I have struggled over the last two decades feeling that I shouldn’t have given up the potential, the dreams, and the hopes… I remind myself that going to college was the “right” decision, and an important one. . .but I would be lying if the “what-if”s don’t’ plague me at times (never a good thing – to read my post on “Letting Go Of SHOULD”…click here.)

Part of my emotion is sadness – I know I can never go back, and that my landing leg isn’t stable enough to sustain the jumps I so loved doing…

That hurts

But I also know that no other sport has been as “right” for me as figure skating. I was meant to be on the ice and if getting my sea legs back means I can at least help others (Special Olympics and adapted sports are on my mind!) in future, then I know it was worth doing.  

2018 arrived in the same silent fashion as the sun each day – there were no fireworks beyond what we (as human beings) artificially set off. It is, therefore, up to US to “just do it”  – carpe diem, carpe noctem, carpe VITAM. We can easily sit on the sidelines and watch life go by, but we deserve so much more than that. . .

It’s okay to cry.

It’s okay to need an extra nudge or two…

It’s even okay to say “I don’t know if I can do this. . .”

But once that’s out of your system (and I’ve been there too), dust yourself off and take the plunge.

You deserve the richest and most wonderfully happy experiences in life – without trying, you’ll never know what you are missing. . .or. . .what you HAVE missed all along.

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Let Go Of *Should

“Should” is dangerous.  It looks perfectly benign, and wasn’t exactly something I grew up thinking deeply about – it’s just a word after all.  Right?

“Should,” however, can quickly turn into trouble when we apply it to our situation, for example.  “I should have more money by now,” “I should have reacted differently,” I shouldn’t have studied ____ in school…now it’s too late,” or “I should have listened to so-and-so.”

Life is a journey – we are all presented with circumstances, joys, challenges, and opportunities as they are meant for us. . . I sincerely believe we are precisely where we need to be.

If we had more money, maybe it would be at the expense of our own self-worth, or our family’s happiness.  If we reacted differently to a stimulus, perhaps that resultant, and positive opportunity, would not have been made available. If we didn’t study what we had, perhaps we’d not have come to the realization that we are best suited for another area.  If we listened to so-and-so, maybe we wouldn’t have made the mistake that finally put us on a path to recovery…

There are so many “what-if”s and if we play too much with them in our minds, we neglect all the blessings we have in front of us.  To say should” imposes on reality the idea that we are not where we should be… And yet there are so many circumstances where we find our lives falling right into place, rather miraculously.

When we use “should” with respect to ourselves, it can become much more than a word – when we say things like “I should have known better,” or “I shouldn’t be ________” we are adding a layer of self-judgement to the mix.  It becomes less about a word, and more about an attitude – and when we use words with respect to ourselves, we begin to believe them….

None of us are perfect. . .and that’s okay. There is no “right way” to be, neither a flawless mold to which to adhere.

Each of us is on a unique path, and we are – even when it seems otherwise – right we are meant to be.  When we view our world from this lens, we bring the present back into focus, diminishing the anxieties, worries, self-imposed judgments and falsities that the brain likes to dwell on when we revisit our past…or project into the future.

Including “should” in our conversations with ourselves begins to erode our self-confidence – it can do so not only unbeknownst to us, but at a frighteningly rapid pace.  To let go of the notion allows our inner dialogues to remain healthy, and as we are a reflection of the divine around us (whatever that means to you) those words we speak about ourselves matter.

Our lives are like flowers whose petals must unfold as they – and Nature – are ready. To rush them is to destroy the life itself, whether directly or on a more, shall we say, spiritual level.  

Allow yourself the room to BE without the confines of “should” – even when life feels askew, remember that the last time it felt that way, the cycle came whirling back around to everything-is-okay.  

And…it will be. ❤

Fitness Humor – The Magic Pill

There’s definitely some humor in this at first glance, but the quote also suggests that nutrition is vital to our health – what we take in to fuel our bodies matters, and it’s almost amazing that it isn’t one of the first things many doctors look into for chronic illness.  

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I think a lot of folks assume “clean eating” is bland, boring, and flat-out awful…but it ISN’T.  I’ve never heard someone say that they tried eating healthier foods and found themselves to be more lethargic, or that they suddenly were getting sick all the time, or that they gained weight… It has always been the TOTAL opposite – people have more energy, they feel refreshed and stronger physically, they sleep better, get sick less, have more mental clarity…and they often lose some stubborn pounds while they’re at it.

Sautéing your spinach in a cup of olive oil isn’t going to help…but let’s say you added a dash of oil (healthy fats) and some salt and pepper.  You’d be amazed how great that can taste!  Veggies, fruits, lean proteins…they’re absolutely DELICIOUS and they certainly don’t have to be devoid of flavor.  Spices can make a marked difference, and what’s really great is that no sauce = you can actually taste THE FOOD.  

If, however, we just reach for sugar, products with more ingredients that you can’t pronounce than you can, fried foods (the list goes on), it may taste and feel good in the short term…but it will kick your butt later.  You might find that you are dragging a lot, or that your skin has become dull or temperamental.  It may be that you are even feeling more depressed than normal, heading to the doctor more frequently, or that your clothes have started to feel too snug.  The side effects of a poor diet are doing as much damage to your internal organs too – they heart, brain, blood, ALL of you, needs clean sources of fuel to keep it functioning optimally.  Imagine putting the lowest-end fuel in the Ferrari – it’s not going to do what it is capable of, period.

Challenge yourself – even if in small doses, or for a short, manageable time frame – to try more whole foods, and start to lessen the processed ones.  Being creative with cooking isn’t hard these days with all of the apps and recipes you can find online.  There are also tons of recommendations out there about spices to use, or lower-calorie condiments if necessary, to keep your meals tasting as delicious as you deserve them to be.  

Cutting out the junky stuff might be tricky at first – withdrawal is a real phenomenon.  But stick it through and give your body a chance to adjust – you will find that you had the “magic pill” all along.  Caring about what you put in your fuel tank can make ALL the difference.

Commit Your Mind

Until a person invests themselves fully – with a commitment not only in heart and spirit, but also in the mind – his goal will remain just beyond reach. If the mindset isn’t on board, it will be a long, and generally endless road. One cannot expect change when the mind is in opposition.

Along those lines, understand that no one ELSE is going to change unless they want it for themselves.  

That’s the secret.  That‘s the magic. When the mind believes and is committed, the change will occur. . .but never before that. The Universe knows when you are half-assing your beliefs and / or effort. 

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The great news?  If you DO want it…whatever it is…you can have it.  You can create and choose how your story will end. 

Hard Work

Nothing in Life worth having is free, or easy.  Period.

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We all have a different path, different goals, different failures and struggles… But the one thing we can have in common – if we choose it – is opportunity.

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If you want it, you have to be willing to work.

Blood.  

Sweat.  

Tears.

Some days the journey feels insurmountable, but the results are always within reach if you keep at it.  There would be no meaning, nor joy, in any of it were it not the case – to be handed what we have not earned will never give the satisfaction.

 

Long Term, And One Day At A Time

Sometimes we get so focused on the long-term, overall picture that we – inadvertently – land ourselves in a state of overwhelming, nigh-perpetual, high anxiety.

A long-term goal is GREAT to have – without our sights set on the future, how can we ensure that we can create a solid plan of attack to successfully achieve that goal?  Not easily! (no goal = a lot of shots in the dark, sometimes without any progress at all.)

Generally, though, the path to what we want isn’t going to be a smooth, straight, upward-driving line – it’s probably “all over the map.” And you know what? That’s OKAY. 

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The stresses of daily life can add up quickly, and dominate every action and aspect of our lives. . .but it doesn’t have to be that way, even when we are feverishly striving for that end result.

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Sometimes the best thing for our sanity is to focus on a day at a time.  A MOMENT at a time if you have to – and I’ve definitely been there!

When we slow it down, and remove the mountainous task in front of us, we can put out attention to what’s more attainable (and manageable) in that moment.  Maybe its crossing off one or two more things on the “to-do” list that day (instead of forcefully trying to accomplish seven or eight that will, no doubt, only end up rushed or riddled with mistakes.) Or it could be that just making one call will put you closer to fanning out the connections you ultimately need – one call might still be moving in the right direction versus none…or ten poorly executed ones.

Some days we can go full-bore – we feel able to tackle any challenge, and prepared to take on the larger projects.  But when serious stress hits, and we are simply too overwhelmed, it’s okay to take a deep breath and focus on only what you CAN change – if anything – at that moment alone.

Progress is progress – it doesn’t have to be leaps and bounds to qualify as a step in the right direction.  

 

More random positivity here

Above hyperlink (“tackle any challenge”) is for the article “Overcoming These Challenges Will Make You More Successful by Dr. Travis Bradberry.”

Martial Arts Humor – Never Give Up

I feel like the frog when I’m at Jiu-Jitsu.  Not as much with my other Arts (Ninpo / Ninjutsu, Taekwondo, Hapkido)…but definitely with the ground work…I feel just like this frog. . .

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Challenges are good, they say!