Things Are…And Aren’t…What They Appear To Be

I posted these photos on Instagram because, as an athlete, I’m often around other people exercising, aiming for fitness or sport goals, or in a sports class. Our goals, our aesthetics, our abilities, and our priorities are all different and I make a HUGE point to remind people that comparison is never a helpful tactic. But when I say that, I don’t just mean comparison to other people – what they have or don’t have, how they look or don’t look. . .  – I also mean that we need to be gentle with ourselves

Our own mirrors, cameras, eyeballs (!). . .can tell very different stories simply based on angle and lighting. Hell, time of DAY can make a difference too – did you just have a huge glass of water? Have you eaten three meals already? Are you a woman dealing with cyclical change?

Sometimes people say very kind things, but they say them in a way as if to put themselves down… That makes me crazy. We all have room for improvement, but we also all have a lot to be proud of. When we see images of people in “perfect” shape it’s easy to be hard on ourselves – because I’ve grown up in sports (which I consider a great thing!) I also have the side effect of always wanting to achieve. To – absolutely – my own detriment sometimes!

What we ourselves (a highly visual species) post on social media generally portrays the happy, the fun, the good, the ideal “stuff”…but not as much the rough patches, the blemishes, the mistakes. As with everything, we all have our own reasons for that…and tons OF them. For some of us, we look to one another for inspiration and motivation. We also like to share funny and personal tidbits along the way – we are connected to friends, after all. But it’s important not to forget the human element, and that there is more to what we see.

Lately, I’ve gone easier – I was down and out with a cold, I’ve been struggling with a back problem…it’s just been harder to push myself to the limit. BUT…I’m doing okay. I’m healthy and have a LOT to be thankful for (I’m serious, I could write a monster gratitude list off the cuff.)

Being off my game doesn’t mean I’m suddenly a horrible person or I’m not still doing a good job! I make little jabs at myself (NOT nice and NOT a good habit, ps – I work on that every day) but I’m never going back to depriving myself. Fortunately when I was doing that, I didn’t think I looked well at all, and it was not the result of wanting to change my figure. Still, that unhealthy propensity is there and it takes daily reminders sometimes that my own EYES can deceive me…just like yours and everyone else’s can. 

Social media definitely doesn’t help that case so I think showing that appearances are easy to alter is a positive thing. It’s okay to post the good and happy and pulled-together…but just don’t forget that everyone has imperfections. Lighting and angles also play a big part – both for good and for not-so-good. We aren’t getting professionally airbrushed like celebrities in Vogue (well, maybe some are!) but there’s still room for focal shifts!

 

 

Perspective and Focus

I believe this, and then some.  Where our focus goes is what we see most. . . 

It’s OKAY to have a bad day.  It’s OKAY to have goals and want more for yourself.  It’s flat-out OKAY to just be “human.”

But don’t forget the blessings right under your nose. Recognizing and appreciating what we do have isn’t a goodie-two-shoes approach – it’s one that will prevent difficulties from derailing you completely.  

Life is fleeting, and therefore so very precious.  Perspective keeps the focus on the good, and when we “vibrate” – in every way – on that level, more of it comes our way. Magic, indeed…

Train The Way You (Want To) Fight

Training the way you want to fight isn’t always so easy. . .but in a way, isn’t that supposed to be the point? That we train in order to potentially defend ourselves?

The tough reality is that what your muscles remember under duress – which is going to be what you have painstakingly programmed them to do in class, lessons, practice – is what matters.  If you train to hand the gun back to the perpetrator – even with mindfulness and the knowledge that you *shouldn’t* – it may happen in real life.  Terrifying it may be, I’ve actually heard of cases in which just that has occurred… Scary.

The other day in class, our Sensei decided to do a drill combining old school (as in centuries-old Ninpo) traditional movements with a modern-day scenario and vibe.  We had to disable our opponent with a distraction or strike, get away (using those traditional techniques), get to and behind cover, and then “draw” our weapon. The drill was one of the most fun I think I’ve ever done…but I was also so incredibly excited to have another opportunity to flesh out a possible, modern situation. No matter how old movements, or kata, or patterns may be, there are gems within them that can be adapted for, and applied to the times.

I don’t carry, for one thing…so I’m not likely to have a firearm at the ready.  But the idea was what was most important here, and learning to do all of those things – without the stress – was hugely valuable.  What makes it stick? Repetition!  Memory needs to be formed so that when we ARE stressed, we can still perform those functions. Just one day of that particular drill isn’t necessarily going to help me out if something really goes down.  But…the principles and techniques ARE ones we use every day…

We learn to strike, distract, disable…that’s number 1. 

We learn how to efficiently get away, and to not injure our bodies (or injure as little as possible!) as we attempt to do so.

We learn to asses for cover and get behind it if that’s what the situation requires (versus getting away.) 

In practicing those things, our muscles learn on such a level that we work on “autopilot” after a point.  And that’s what you want!

The difficulty in this particular environment is that we don’t have real firearms, and we aren’t truly hurting our “attacker.”  On a range, in a special type of training, an individual who DOES carry can certainly practice his or her ability to draw, aim, shoot, and make the weapon safe – frankly I think anyone in a job in which carrying a pistol is required SHOULD be doing that anyway! 

For us at the dojo, we are working on handling whatever is coming at us as quickly and smartly as possible – but again, there are some strikes we simply cannot do.  In Ninpo, strikes can be highly unorthodox and nasty – breaking fingers, ripping ears, gouging eyes…it goes on.  It’s tough knowing we aren’t going 100% in this case, but we can’t exactly…  So we have to keep in mind that in real life, were our safety on the line, we can’t play the but-he’s-a-nice-“uke” (opponent / attacker) game. It’s a challenge, honestly – how do we bridge the gap, then?  I’m not sure you really CAN because none of us are out to break another classmate’s limb!

This is – for me – where the repetition comes in.  Learning to master even basic movement can take a lifetime, forget years! But in the daily (or as many days as can be managed!) practice helps solidify as many of the effective ways in which to handle a particular threat.  There are – keep in mind – an infinite number of movements available to us, and if we could study every Art and master it in a lifetime, we’d be golden.  Not the reality, sad to say!  Learning to even do a handful of “go-to”s is great – learn to do them properly, to do them well, and to do them with all shapes and sizes (some techniques are really tough with a HUGE partner!)  If you want a real challenge, do them blindfolded.

It’s a very “wax on, wax off” concept – the drills help our bodies to do these things as involuntarily as possible so, should the need arise, we actually CAN do something about it. We don’t always have the luxury of training exactly how we fight – this isn’t the Colosseum, after all – but we *can* do everything in our power to focus, to drill, and to get our muscles so familiar with the movements that they will come to our aid when we need them most.

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Starve Your Distractions, Feed Your Focus

Doesn’t matter in which area of your Life. . .

(If there happens to be a black panther present, give a heartfelt “thanks.” I mean just look at it… I’ve not yet seen a single photo in which they don’t appear to be utterly, and wholly, laser-focused on what they want.  (Probably the bipedal meal with the camera but anyway…))

 

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.”

Fitness Humor – Please Go Away…

I think most people can relate to this regardless of the surroundings, though it did give me a good laugh thinking about recent workout interruptions…

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(c) Sarah Andersen

You’ve been there, right?  You’re clearly “in the zone,” totally plugged into your tunes, but someone still interrupts?  Or, even better, they start waving to get your attention?

I always try to figure out what about me looking in the opposite direction, simultaneously lifting, and possibly even singing along to my Rob Zombie didn’t give the (solid, I thought!) indication I wasn’t in chat mode. 

Maybe I should try a sign??

Awareness goes a looooong way!