Rest Days

Some days, we just need a little extra self-love and rest. As an active person, sitting around makes me nuts (and ugly!) but if I don’t listen to my body, things will get worse...fast.

We all need to tune in to what our bodies are saying, and to give ourselves the rest we might need from time to time. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve needed more of it…and that’s okay!

It’s important not to beat ourselves up for wanting or needing the respite – as a dear friend once said to me “once I’ve made the choice to rest on a given day, I embrace it and let go of the guilt.” It’s easy to feel like we are doing something wrong but as she – and ancient wisdom (or Gandalf if you’re a Tolkien fan!) points out – we only have the time given to us. To accept and appreciate our decision means we are free to enjoy the present, allowing our body and mind to get what it so richly deserves.

SUNday

Being outside is incredibly important for our well-being, and I feel like with the fast-paced Life many people have nowadays, it happens less and less.  When I worked in Fashion, that was my fate also – I LIVED in my office, airplanes, and other people’s’ offices, basically.  I rarely had the opportunity to get outside and I definitely felt the effects of the lack of Vitamin D – lethargy, moodiness, less patience…it was just bad news.

Growing up, I watched my father do the same thing…except his days were even LONGER.  So what do you do..?  

If you can manage even five minutes – which may well be walking to and from the food place downstairs for lunch – it’s worth it.  

Or maybe it is a step-outside-to-have-a-quick-sip-of-coffee kind of breather.  I’m not saying it lightly either – I literally ate at my desk as if chained to it!  My only breaks were to run to the ladies room, or to the kitchen to get a second coffee.  The way that I worked was straight through, head down, nose to the grindstone – the concept of “hour lunches”…even “HALF hour lunches” didn’t register on my radar.

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But even just a few minutes of blue skies is a help – it’s a quick reset – and with the stress of jobs these days, it’s vital.  Some deep breaths of fresh air can make a world of difference when everything else is 24/7 realtime.  

And, since you probably fall short during the week…it is important to make time on the weekend!  Sitting indoors on a beautiful day is (for me personally) a crime!  Even if I’m exhausted, the air has a rejuvenating effect, and the sun beams have a lifting one.

My hunnie has an incredibly busy schedule and definitely doesn’t have two seconds to breathe during the work week… So two weekends ago we went to the park and just people watched – it was wonderfully relaxing (not to mention entertaining!), and absolutely uplifting.  He then had the awesome idea to buy a frisbee so the next time we could be out there playing too…

IT’S ON!!!!

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Sundays are my REST day.  I’m not great about taking time out for R&R – I train six days a week – so Sundays are the one day I force myself to relax.  Still, zero movement is hard for me – my body needs something, and being cooped up is a surefire way to make me nuts.  An hour or two in the park throwing a frisbee is THE perfect active rest I need…and it gave us that time to get some sunny, full breaths of fresh air.

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To add to the fun and healthy activity, we went to a now-favorite local haunt for a healthy lunch.  I’ve already decided I love their tuna, and so I got my “usual” – plain grilled fish on top of baby spinach (TONS of it!)  It was a massive boost of calcium, vitamin k, vitamin A, folate, B vitamins, potassium and protein.

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Palmer’s Eventone Suncare

I can’t express how important sun protection is – whether you are training outdoors regularly, or someone who just has exposure on a regular basis.  It isn’t just about aging – pesky lines and spots – either!  It is about being preventative with you skincare so as to avoid dangerous conditions as much as possible.

I used to train (figure skating) on an outdoor rink all winter as a child – for YEARS.  I was also a rollerblader who would frequent the beach trails or 10-mile outdoor paths in one go.  We didn’t know as much at the time, and I’d not be surprised if I had forgone my sunscreen back then.  These days, I still need to be better about arms, neck, shoulders, ears (the generally exposed areas when it’s warmer), but I ALWAYS have at least 30 SPF on my face.  Even then, I could reapply more frequently, but I definitely do make an effort.  

IT MATTERS.

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I recently saw this new Sincere products from Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula at Target.  I love their regular Cocoa Butter (the scent reminds me of cookie batter!), so I was excited to see that SPF has been added to these.

I also love sprays because they are much easier to maneuver for the tough-to-reach spots like the back, back of neck, back of shoulders etc.

Whether or not you like THIS brand, or others, it’s worth checking out the sunscreen aisle – yes, ALL times of the year.  Your epidermis will thank you, as will your body down the line.

Sportsmanship Starts Day 1

I had the fortune to attend a Jiu-Jitsu tournament the other day which spanned a wide age group, from young children to adults. Having been a competitive athlete for at least half of my Life, I was taken by the alarming amount of tears I was seeing!  Certainly Jiu-Jitsu is a rough and tumble sport – we aim for submissions, which involve putting our opponents in less-than-comfortable positions.  The goal isn’t to break arms, but you walk such a line by default much of the time.  

I didn’t feel like the majority of the tears were from pain (THANKFULLY!)  With the little kids I was worried about that – I know my Italian mother would never have permitted Martial Arts competition for me early on, lest she hop on the mat and defend her child!  (It’s one of those “she doesn’t know Jiu-Jitsu, but she doesn’t need it” kind of things…) 😉

There were some “I’m-ehausted-is-this-over-yet” tears… There were overwhelmed tears from children trying to hear the impassioned shouts and directions from the sidelines while grappling. But it felt to me that much of the emotion centered around NOT winning.  It wasn’t even losing so much as NOT winning. 

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There is always a level of disappointment when we don’t come out on top.  We train hard and we hope we have the edge…but there is always someone out there to give us a challenge.  I feel like the longer fights were at least more satisfying, where a competitor can internalize how long they lasted.  But the tears came all the same.

What impressed me the most was that amidst an emotionally-charged atmosphere, the kids would respectfully shake hands, trade fist bumps, or hug.

AWESOME.

Seeing young children respect one another and offer support despite the personal disappointments rocked.  It wasn’t about just doing the right thing – neither was it feigned nor forced. I saw some go up to the other afterwards and congratulate them.  They’d fight back those tears and smile and acknowledge the second place.  I was so impressed (and hoped all the adults took notice, as it reminds us how we need to be!)

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Sportsmanship is something that should be instilled early – we aren’t always going to win.  We take it hard because we want to do the best every singe time, we want to dominate, we want to prove to ourselves and everyone else that we are unbeatable…but it won’t happen that way.  Respecting our opponents, appreciating the experience, and taking away the positives and learning is HUGE – when we learn those things at a young age, they stay with us.

The other side of the coin was that the winners weren’t making a fuss at ALL – each one was humble and reserved.  There may have been smiles, but what I saw more of was making sure the other competitor was acknowledged and that there was no display of victory – equally as impressive in my mind. ❤

I like to remind competitors that they are THERE – they are putting themselves out there for the challenge, and working hard.  That alone deserves respect and I, for one, think everyone out there should feel proud whether they are wearing a gold, a silver, or nothing at all – it’s winning or learning and BOTH are positive.

To Be A Lion…

I love this quotation because it stresses the importance of giving your all – not just in a competition, but every day in practice.  To be a lion, we must train with lions – we have to get right in the middle of it.  Doubt, ego, embarrassment, and insecurity have to take a back seat.  We all start somewhere.

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Today I had the fortune to participate in a wrestling class along with some of my fellow Ninjutsu classmates.  Wrestling is a completely foreign language to my body, and I LOVE that.  I love that it doesn’t matter how much weight I can press in the gym, how many weighted walking lunges I can do…  It doesn’t matter that I have trained my whole Life in other sports… Something as simple as shuffling, dropping into a sprawl, and jumping up to take a shot is E X H A U S T I N G.  

And…

It is and AMAZING feeling.  

Why?  Because it reminds us there is always more to learn, and always ways in which we can grow positively.

Some of the students knew more than I did – I respect and appreciate learning from them as much as the Sensei (wrestling, but also Ninjutsu) who was instructing us.  I sincerely believe that all of us can learn, and all of us can teach – not only at the dojo, but in all areas of Life.

The irony also holds true – there is a true sense of empowerment born of stepping outside our comfort zone.  It’s important to challenge ourselves – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  By so doing we learn, we grow, we enhance the richness of the experience we call Life.  Trying something completely new and different is a perfect way to change the pace and avoid plateaus.  

After a number of years in three Korean Arts I began to feel that I had some real holes in my training.  I believe most all Arts have MORE than enough material – beyond Lifetimes of learning, without question! A person could do only one Art and still have areas to grown and improve – even the Grand Masters.  There is no limit, nor perfection, but rather the endless pursuit of learning and movement.

That said, however, each Art has a different focus, leaving other areas exposed.  For me, I was lacking in ground skills.  I also felt that I had less time for the self defense than I did for offensive techniques.  So it was very much a matter of putting my training and rank to the side, donning a white belt, and walking into a new environment all together.  

It can absolutely be intimidating – not just for those new to a given sport (Martial Arts, in this case), but also to those with a background!  There is anxiety, a huge learning curve, and some discomfort – when an activity is new, it is just par for the course – frankly, I don’t think there is any way to avoid it!  But that discomfort is HEALTHY.  It is important for our own overall growth!  Stepping outside that comfortable zone is vastly more rewarding the security of staying “safe.”

So when it comes to our training…if we are SERIOUS about what we want to achieve, and serious about our learning and growth, we MUST jump in the ring.  

It isn’t enough to watch the lions at a distance – we have to get right out there with them, make mistakes, be corrected, and humbled by being at the end of the line.  These things keep us grounded, they build a solid foundation, they remind us that there is ALWAYS room to grow.