One Of Many Resolutions

I’ve got a bunch of things that I’m working on – the New Year isn’t necessarily the starting point, I feel like “working on” is a lifetime pursuit of sorts.  But one of the things that I’m particularly (read: habitually) bad about is taking care of myself.  It sounds a little ridiculous, I know, but I have struggled with it my whole life.

In the past, my parents not only implored, but essentially had to fight me to go to the physical therapist when I had an injury (second ACL tear, meanwhile.)  They had to fight to get me to go to the chiropractor (which I nearly didn’t do, save that I actually couldn’t lie down without severe pain.)  They’ve fought me to go to the ER when I thought I could glue my own finger. They’ve had to tell me to take it easy when I don’t feel as up to my routine because I somehow tell myself I *should* still proceed ahead despite that I have a collapsed lung.

DUMB.

Yes, I know that our conversation with the Universe has a massive impact on our lives (I’ve seen it time and time again – good, bad, and ugly.) But I also feel it’s important to admit mistakes when necessary, as well as shortcomings.  And frankly. . .

I’m not smart sometimes!  

I push too hard, and I refuse – never for a great reason – to do the right thing for myself.

Take Jiu-Jitsu for example… Master Cycle is not just one jump up from Combatives.  It’s SEVERAL.  You learn more techniques, and build on the knowledge that got you to Blue Belt, but you also roll a lot more – free sparring means the injury level goes up.  Generally Blue Belts have learned some control, but it takes YEARS to become proficient enough to be smooth.  Injuries are going to happen at a high level too, but less so from lack of body control… Either way, you have to protect yourself – the element of possibility is always present.

img_0196

In the last few months I’ve had my nose fractured twice.  I’m blessed (and thankful!) that it wasn’t worse than it was…but it definitely makes you pause.  I wasn’t wearing a mouth guard and it would have been only an inch difference to have possibly lost teeth.  My husband has urged me to wear my mouthguard from the get go. “It’s uncomfortable,” I said.  “It’s harder to breathe.” 

“Would you rather lose teeth?!”

Of course I thought “NooOoo!” But. . .I still didn’t wear it.

img_0197

So I’ve decided that my obstinacy and bullshit stops six days ago.  It’s a perfect time for me to pull it together, and do the right thing to take care of myself.  Loved ones shouldn’t have to fight me over my self-care, for crying out loud – and they aren’t pushing me for any reason beyond that they want me healthy, happy, and able to do what I love.

My parents put up with it for nearly 40 years.  At almost 40, it’s fair (though possibly unfortunate) to say I’m pretty set in my ways.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t learn, that I don’t care, or that I won’t make an effort to be a better person.  We all have room to grow, and I do not consider myself unusually immutable.

For me, being a better person is a top priority – I feel distressed when I fall short of being anything but a positive influence on anyone in any regard (especially my family!)  Of course I will fall short – I forgive myself in advance, knowing I’m human.  But I do try – even if a little later in the game.

Better late than never, so they say, right? 

Or, better before I lose some teeth.

Martial Arts Humor – I Have No Idea

It kind of makes me feel better to proclaim this – as emphatically as I’m able (thanks, large-scale font!) – because in Life, in general, I often feel like I have no clue.

It isn’t that I feel like it gets me off the hook, so much as it accounts for potential (let’s be honest, likely) foibles. Yes. . .I falter, fail, trip, tumble, aaand sometimes fall flat on my face.  (Ever see a dancer fall?  We aren’t always so graceful!)

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-7-29-23-pm

Oh, I know, it’s always important to act like we know what we are doing – don’t get me wrong, I think we need to make plenty of room for that:

Presenting to the President and VP of a Company?  OWN it.  

Competing for a title in your sport? Walk onto the floor like you have trained harder than everyone else (it beats talent, you know!)  even if you haven’t.

Testing in your sport, or in school?  Act like you have it ALL under control and that YES, you meant that move, and believe in that answer.

In other areas, though…it’s okay to admit you aren’t on top of your game.  There’s nothing wrong with being new – it’s whether you are willing to learn and make it happen.  It does make me feel better during Master Cycle class, for one, though, to say I’ve got no idea – You go through the Combatives curriculum and testing feeling – for once, FINALLY – like you aren’t drowning.  Then, WHAM!  It’s like swimming with sharks all over again – minus, mind you, having any fins.  In that case. . .I have n o   i d e a   what I’m doing.  And admitting it says “I’m here to learn.  I’m here to review.  I’m not here to get mauled, or *try* to disassemble you.”

I wonder if they make this saying on Gi patches. . . Fair forewarning?

 

Martial Arts Humor – JiuJitsu IS My Cardio

Um . . . 

YEP.

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 8.24.04 AM

Did I mention I cut my cardio by three fourths in order to NOT overtrain since I picked up JiuJitsu?  THREE FOURTHS.  

If you are skeptical, I urge you to take a class.  Or several. 

 

Humor – OMG. I’m Snowball!

Every once in a while in Life I’ve seen a cartoon character to whom I can – perhaps alarmingly – relate.  Yes, well…the other evening I went to Target to pick up some batteries and as I passed by the toy section I found myself audibly gasping out loud and saying “oh my god, its ME!”

There it was. . .a disgruntled, angry-looking bunny toy, ears slightly askew, who (despite his obvious displeasure) made me laugh.  Seems unfair to associate with something that sounds incredibly negative-leaning, no?  Nah.  I’m one of the happiest people I know – I love to laugh, and prefer to see the good int he World.  I’m aware of the not-so-stellar, but let’s say that I’d rather air on focusing on what’s right, lest I drive my Empathetic self into the doldrums! No rosy-colored glasses, just the deliberate aim to keep my spirits lifted. So why, then, Snowball?  It isn’t just the wedding planning, rest assured. . .!

I look all sweet an innocent when I think I might be able to go train, or get in extra credits for Marital Arts.  I make the same face when you say “I have steamed chicken and vegggiiiess…”  “YOU DO!?” *wide eyes and lashes batting*

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 7.47.16 AM

When I understand that you might have protein around, or I can get extra Martial Arts in. “Weapons week?!” 🙂

This is when you actually show me that you have protein. . .When you say we get to train weapons this week, OR I get to the gym and no one else is there. . . YOU know the feeling!

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 7.39.46 AM

When I someone gives me a plate of steamed chicken, vegetables and Himalayan pink salt!

But when I do go to lift, or to the Dojo, and there are a shit-ton of people, then I get a little ugly and try to figure out how to clear them out.  

There.

Must.

Be.

A.

Way!

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 7.59.41 AM

I prefer animals to people. Is that wrong?!

By the time I get through most of my morning, I’m pretty ravenous.  This really does sum it up. . .

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 7.48.15 AM

STARVING!

After nine Martial Art Classes a week – Gracie Combatives Jiu-Jitsu, Reflex Development, and Ninjutsu, plus lifting and cardio?  I’m BEAT!

After a long week of Jiu-Jitsu, Ninjutsu, lifting, cardio, living...

After a long week of Jiu-Jitsu, Ninjutsu, lifting, cardio, living…

PS…did I mention my mother calls me “Bunny”?  Yes, probably for 37 of my 38 years.  I guess you could say there’s a resemblance. 😉 

For more

Martial Arts Humor – Sleep

Yes.  Yes, I know this feeling well…

I come home from Ninjutsu too late at night and all I want to do is kiss my love, and go to bed.  To rest for my morning Jiu-Jitsu. One of – I have to say – the most exhausting activities I’ve ever done.

Screen Shot 2016-07-17 at 5.49.29 PM

It’s tough being a dork but SOMEONE’S got to do it!

(Martial Arts Jazz!)

 

Martial Arts Humor – In “Jiu-Jitsu” Shape

So this isn’t really even funny… I mean, not for someone who thinks they’re generally in decent shape.  It was kind of humiliating coming to the blanket realization, honestly!

Screen Shot 2016-07-17 at 6.14.07 PM

When I started Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, I committed to three classes a week – Combatives, specifically.  When I got my second stripe I was admitted into Reflex Development – just one more, one-hour class a week. 

Well…after about two weeks of that schedule, I had to cut my cardio by about half (maybe more) AND tone down my lifting.  I was, admittedly, in shock.  I could run 8 HIIT miles on a treadmill before class, do the hour, then lift, and I’d be fine…  I was tired, but I could do it.  So what the hell happened?!

I got broadsided with a horrible bout of overtraining – nasty, frustrating, prolonged.  I was doing way too much, and didn’t internalize just how much the extra rolling and working through techniques would add.  It wasn’t SO much more, but enough to tip my scales.  In a bad way!

There I thought I was in great shape – I can do intense cardio (much that I despise it), I can lift more than most my size, and I push myself like I’m on a mission.  But shrimping across the room ONCE?  I thought I needed a paramedic!  

If you are new to Jiu-Jitsu. . .

  • DON’T be surprised if you need to cut back on other activities.  
  • Also DON’T be surprised if you are going into it as a fit individual – it may show you up the first day!
  • DO keep in mind that you are using muscles you may not have fired as much previously, and in a different way.  

The idea is that you are smart with your movement and don’t pre-exhaust yourself unnecessarily.  But in the beginning you might well do too much – it’s okay, and you will get there.  

Definitely back off other physical endeavors if you are feeling poorly (mentally, physically, whatever!) It could be a sign of doing too much.  Jiu-Jitsu is known for its ass-kicking… You are going to be tired, no doubt about it!

Volunteering

This past weekend I had the wonderful fortune to work with children with disabilities doing an activity close to my heart – Taekwondo. ❤  My background is predominantly in dancing (classical ballet and ballroom), as well as in figure skating, but being a Martial Arts practitioner for many years, and an instructor, has proven to be not only incredibly fulfilling, but also life-changing. 

I moved to a new state some months ago, leaving behind a job teaching children Okinawan Karate.  I was eager to find an opportunity in which I could work with children again, specifically doing a physical activity.  I believe that movement of any kind is incredibly beneficial (for countless reasons!), especially for children, for whom creating this healthy, lifetime habit comes more easily. (If you are an adult who began fitness, for example, later in life, you know what I mean – if we start early on, embracing exercise as a positive, FUN activity, it is more likely that we keep up with it as we age.)  Learning spatial and body awareness, as well as how to interact interpersonally and physically with others are valuable life skills – Martial Arts definitely cater to both.  

I am blessed to be able to assist both at a Ninjutsu Dojo and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy, where I am also a student – working with children is always eye-opening, and I find that they teach me just as much!  That work aside, I was also eager to find a way to volunteer to guide those less able to participate in such activities – I don’t like to see ANYONE left out!  It is easy to take for granted that many of us CAN do sports…  When our routine takes over, we almost run on autopilot, dashing from one class to the next, sometimes even begrudgingly!  But. . .how blessed are we?!  For some individuals, the process of making a fist with which to punch a target may take many weeks of practice!

The disabilities this particular organization – KEEN of Greater DC – works with (for the Martial Arts Program) range from Autism, to Echolalia, to Cerebral Palsy – so the group is mixed, requiring different levels of guidance and instruction.  Though my background is not specific to disabilities, I find that working with these children comes very naturally – their genuine enthusiasm, eager curiosity, and love of playtime is absolutely contagious!

IMG_3716

(My own photo)

The activities we coached the kids through ranged from running about the room holding hands, to simple stretches, to punching and kicking targets.  We also hauled out an enormous, thick mat onto which they jumped from a mini trampoline – it was tremendously crowd-pleasing! 🙂

For a few of the children, these activities are “new” each week – they might need us to form the fists for them with our own hands, or have us demonstrate a couple of extra times.  For others, you can see exciting improvements over the course of the class (and over time.)  In both instances, though, you see a LOT of smiling, and hear a TON of giggling. ❤

The experience is so richly rewarding, I’d be hard-pressure to measure, or describe it! What we “get” from coaching is as much tangible as it is not – there is no recognition, nor compensation…but neither do I (nor any of the volunteers) want any such reimbursement.  There is, instead, a profound thankfulness that seems to fill each cell to the point of overflowing.  As an Empath, I cry as much for joy as I do sadness – I was moved to tears by the elated shrieks when contact was made with a target…or my extra “that-was-AWESOME” high-five! produced a flood of smiling.  How can you put a value on something like that?! 

The absolute jubilation that is felt all around makes every moment worth it.  These children face physical and mental challenges that most of their peers are unfamiliar with entirely  – the burden is a heavy one, and it prevents them from taking part in many school sports and extracurricular activities.  I was so delighted to find an organization that caters to allowing individuals with disabilities to experience the same fun and enjoyment with exercise and physical play.  Keen, incidentally, has only three main employees. . . and yet making a difference is SO important to them that they manage to offer twenty-seven programs!  

I will definitely be back for the next round – how precious a gift were the smiles and laughter.  Add to that the grateful nods of parents able to take comfort and joy in their child’s participation?  True blessing.  And then some.