First you have to get rid of that uterus and be healthy…

“First you have to get rid of that uterus and be healthy. You can’t train if you’re not well and in pain.”   An actual text from my dearest friend. xox26754430_10213239753242929_1728523955_n

During this most emotionally trying time where I can’t train properly in Jiu Jitsu because this old body of mine is finally rejecting my uterus, my girlfriends help lift my spirits.

Gentlemen, you have NO idea how lucky you have it.  Us gals, we fight with our reproductive system from a very early age, some of us as early as 9 years old.  We get this thing called our period/time of the month/bleeds …whatever you call it, at that young of an age, it sucks and its embarrassing.  For some lucky gals, it’s painless, most feel something at some point in time or another.

Then we move on to our baby making years, some of our uterus’ can punt out 3-4 or more babies, sometimes they come out in duplicates and triplicates, some of us only one and some none which is really sad if your ‘clock’ is ticking and you really want that baby.  I waited until I was 35 to have my baby and all I can say is that I know exactly how loud the sound of that ticking can get.

Along comes child birth and all I can say is….wtf?!?  In case you’re wondering, watch this if you haven’t had children, it does a good job at explaining the definition of w-t-f?.

Seriously? What is it that woman-kind did to y’all?  There is absolutely nothing that compares to the pain of this function.  Let’s just jam a fertilized seed inside our tiny uterus, let it grow for 40+ weeks (what seems like a lifetime of wtf’s) – honestly, I love my baby girl but being 5′ 1″ and pregnant with swollen ankles carrying a child that came out the size of a two year old ….wasn’t fun as I waddled my way from room to room.  Walking wasn’t an option, neither was the c-section at the end.

Fast forward a decade or two, maybe even three, depending on when you closed your baby factory.  You pretty much forget about the uterus after this stage especially if you have had your tubes tied.  You thank your uterus for providing the incubation tank for your child to cook in and it shouldn’t be a bother anymore.  Right?

Wrong!!

uterus3Cue in menopause!! A woman’s ‘change in life’ which is supposedly natural but let me tell you, there is nothing natural with having your body begin to reject the very thing that provides life.

This time is a great big W-T-F?!?

There is simply no other way to define it. I think I have finally reached a point that I can coast through the hot flashes without wanting to vomit.  It is remotely possible that Jiu Jitsu helps me control the hair trigger effect (could just be me thinking that though) that makes me want to rip someone’s head off for the slightest of reasons.  What I can not seem to wrap my head around is fibroids.

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1 in 3 women develop Fibroids which are non-cancerous tumours (nobody really knows why either) and according to male gynecologists – not a big deal?  Seriously?

 

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All we have to do to fix this is wait until I’m fully in menopause?  SMH

 

 

For some ladies, this beautiful (<– sarcasm) fibroid grows into an object the size of a football, moving around her organs and putting so much pressure on her body she begins to question if this would be a good time to consider gender change surgery.

For other ladies, yes, there are the bleeders – tiny ones that like to break the uterine wall causing the kind of pain that makes child birth look like a walk in the park.  I have had the displeasure of undergoing 5 major abdominal surgeries – trust me when I say, please pass me the morphine, this fibroid hurts like hell.

What does any of this have to do with Jiu Jitsu?  Everything.

I am in constant pain, it never shuts off.  I read that exercise helps dull the pain.  I also read that the fibroid could rupture, so knee-on-belly, front rolls and break falls/sweeps….could end up in a scene from Carrie the horror movieespecially since we wear white Gis at my academy.

My fellow teammates who know about my condition are really good at helping me with practicing my drills and I don’t keep getting asked if I am ok while I sit on the sidelines – which for the most part I feel embarrassment that I train so poorly but I’m quite glad that no one asks anymore.  I hate having to say no to each person that asks me to roll – especially when I am honoured they want to – I simply don’t want them to be that one person that bumps me the wrong way.  I would feel terrible.

I am ok, I will survive this but truth is, as much as I want this hysterectomy done sooner than later, being forced into one on the mat is not something I look forward to.

26732711_10213241890816367_230226080_oJiu Jitsu is still my happy place and I have an empathetic professor that whether he understands what I am going through or not, he understands the healing properties of the mat.  He lets me be the judge of what I do in warm ups or not.  I sit on the sidelines, sometimes I am lucky enough to get through the drills and when it comes time to spar, if I am feeling strong enough, I will practice the technique of the day with one or two of the ladies…otherwise, I watch and learn.

A year later, (plus two stripes!) it still fascinates me to watch my team mates spar and see if I can identify the moves while they are doing it.  In the meantime, they let me photograph the odd seminar, I stay in touch with the female BJJ community best I can from a distance, take lots of ibuprofen and rest when it hurts too much.  Maybe write a blog post or two.

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I’m finally at a point in my life that I have my shyte together in my head…but my body….well, I guess it is time to gracefully enter my next stage in life.  I won’t take it laying down though, I plan to get stronger after my surgery and keep my eye on that purple belt.  I’d say black but I could be 90 years old by then.  Purple might be doable by my late 70s or early 80s.

 

Did I mention that the medication I am on to help shrink this wondrous fibroid has made me alcohol-intolerant…..AND has forced me to give up ice cream along with all dairy?

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Political correctness is the handicap of society

Standing in the middle of the streets of Detroit with my aunt (it’s her first crossing of the ocean, never having been outside her small village in Spain) says very loudly and wide-eyed…. “they are so black”.  She wasn’t being judgemental or offending, she had quite siwhat-one-learns-in-a-classroom-is-just-a-very-small-part-of-learning-process-the-real-learning-starts-when-one-crosses-borders-and-travels-miles-for-the-real-knowledgemply never seen a person of color in real life and for her that was very different.  (Did you know Spanish is the number 2 language in the States – very quickly I shush’d her).

The beauty of the last 80 years is that people now travel more, see more, experience more, question more…and hence, we learn more….or at least, I hope we do.

It still shocks me when I learn that people in my daughter’s generation have never even left the property lines of Hamilton, let alone outside the country.

I’d love to say that I came up with today’s blog title, alas, I did not….my friend Blair is a highly enlightened individual who is forever seeing the world in a positive light.

At last year’s Golden Globe awards, Meryl Streep was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille award and gave a very compelling speech.

And yet…..people got offended.  MMA lovers…offended.  Football spectators…offended.

Listen to this one woman who points out how political correctness is something that should be thrown in the garbage..

offending-people-is-a-necessary-and-healthy-act-every-time-you-say-something-that-is-offensive-to-quote-1I don’t know if I am simply been more aware of it lately or if my students don’t seem have any fear of caring what other people think and hence I am learning from them….but everyone seems concerned about offending someone else.  Including myself…I can be outspoken and I am quite sure I have offended more than person.

What I have learned is the more I try to not offend someone, the easier and and harsher I seem to offend them.

So I give up trying….I either stay quiet or am honest in my answer.  Either way, my main objective is to remain respectful to the other person.

It is something I love about Jiu Jitsu and being on the mat, it is actually quite difficult to worry about political correctness.  Kinda gets in the way actually.awkward1

Picture this, two men rolling around on the mat, sweaty and actually a little stinky – well, ok, for some more than a little and yet, they keep sparring.  Another example is when a man and woman are sparring, hands go everywhere.  Not on purpose or in any way perverted but the fact is if a man has to grab my Gi collar for a technique, invariably there will be many times that he grabs more than my collar.

At first it felt very awkward and I have tried many….many different types of sports bras (I can’t help that I am endowed) – it simply is what it is.  I cannot be offended or expect to World 2011 IBJJF Jiu Jitsu Championshipbe treated different.  The best part is that I can actually joke about it while I find myself in that moment and most of my team members can giggle along with it.  It is a brutal experience when you can feel yourself falling out of your t-shirt.  I only wish I could look as graceful as Mackenzie Dern while doing it.

For me, I still have my moments where I am very concerned about offending someone while on the mat, I am pretty sure it is because Jiu Jitsu has in fact become a very important component of my life.  Making my team mates uncomfortable is not something I want, I respect them too much.

If anything, I am always concerned that my awkwardness and continuous fear of breaking out of my comfort zone shines through in class and I probably do make others feel uncomfortable – then again, maybe not.

White or Black.  Latino or Irish. Tall or Short.  Skinny or Heavy.  Young or Old.  Rich or Poor. Man or Woman.

There is no room for political correctness on the mat because it is the one place that everything is real and everyone respects that.

We all have a common goal – the love of Jiu Jitsu.

Besides,  it’s difficult to get offended when I’m coming off the mat all red faced and disheveled – worse when I know I haven’t trained even a 1/4 as hard as everyone in the room.

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Thank you Marie-Laure On for your funny comics and take on Women in BJJ – they bring a smile to my face everytime.  Follow her at Art of BJJ – a feminin look at Jiu Jitsu.

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Life span of a worker bee

In the summer a worker bee only lives for about 40 days. (based on a Google search).  This is how long I thought I would last in the world of Jiu Jitsu and my writing, well, I wasn’t sure where that was headed at all.  Its been 6 months and I love Jiu Jitsu more and more every day.  The writing takes a little more effort and needs more free time than I have had lately.

I am still involved with the mat in one capacity or another although I haven’t trained much since my body decided to let me know that there is a foreexplosion-417894_960_720ign substance growing in my uterus with a Bang! Pow! Ka-pling!

It couldn’t let me know slowly.  Noooo…. it has to plow right through me causing me such tremendous pain that I could barely breathe, let alone grapple.  I thank my lucky stars though, the biopsy came back benign.  Phew!

I am very grateful to my fellow grapplers who knew about this and helped me distract my mind by letting me practice my photography skills at their tournament and in class (thank you Pura!).  Also the giggles I endured while I watched them practice the new moves taught in class gave me even just a few minutes of reprieve.

After 8 weeks of being off the mat and taking pills that are pretty much making a hole in my stomach in hopes of shrinking the tumor ( I can only take a 3-month supply in a lifetime…imagine), I have decided that I am going to brave going back into the sharktank this week.  Even if it just to do light stretching and resting when things hurt.

Don’t give up..just keep working through it all.  If it doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger.  I know my mates will be careful with me, they have been so far.

Where have I been in the meantime?

Learning about fibroids, for one, and how freaking painful they can be – now I understand why my belly keeps growing.  I had to get a new belt because I thought I had shrunk my first belt or was just plain getting fat!

As women, I simply cannot get over what we (collectively) go through.  To bear children, to move on to next stages in life – and still fight hard to be independent, hard working, want to compete but can’t because our reproductive system has such tremendous control of our bodies.

Gentlemen, I beg you, be kind to your ladies.  They go through a lot with their bodies.  Be patient with the hormone shifts, the monthly contractions are real and don’t just happen when we are delivering a child.  We simply ‘suck it up’ and ignore them until we can’t.  Then we need the warm compress, chocolate and ice cream to make us feel better.  A hug from you would be nice too…or like one of my Pura brothers offered, his cheek to punch in the face as he saw me breathe through a particularly nasty contraction..

That made me chuckle…

Where am I now?

Photography.  That is my current drug of choice.  I am an amateur photographer, I like capturing moments in time – people’s emotions, either on their faces or through seeing earth’s beauty.  I also run the school yearbook, so photography has become something that I strive to learn to perfect and in turn, teach my students to produce captivating images that make others gasp.

Taking a step out of my norm, I’ve decided to put into practice what I have learned in regards to sports photography and incorporate it with Jiu Jitsu.  Many of you have seen my work already.  As for others, I have since learned that I need to watermark my photos before publishing them publicly.  Plus, I currently do not have permission for public posting, so out of respect to my fellow grapplers…those images are currently private to a small group only.  Once I get that permission, I will show it off.  I promise.

Here is a small sampling of my photography. (Thank you Joel, owner of Sweet Sweat Canada for letting me post your image)

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Where do I wish to be?

I wish to be tumor-free for starters.  It has really put a kink in my lifestyle.

Competition ready.  I would like to prepare to compete next spring. It is a bit of a big deal for me – another stepping stone in my evolution.  My fellow grapplers have already said they would help prepare me.

But most of all, I wish to be where I was 8 weeks ago…full of fire and spice for wanting to be on the mat as opposed to be being scared to step back on it.

2 steps forward, 7 steps backwards – this is how I feel right now.

It is ok though, prognosis could have been A LOT worse, for that I am very thankful.

Yes, this scared the crap out of me….I can’t even imagine how scared my mom was when she found out her’s was malignant. #cancerblows

For now, I am happy to be part of my Pura family – together we are definitely stronger.  Thank you for letting me part of it.

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The student becomes the teacher.

As I keep blogging about my experiences with Jiu Jitsu, I began to realize the impact of writing my thoughts in specific.  I took this opportunity to extend this project into my Grade12 Yearbook class.

As I see in my own training on the mat, once we reflect and look back to where we started and what we have become….we obtain a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment.

These super intelligent students of mine and I have spent the last 4 months working tirelessly on the 2017 Yearbook – hoping it will be yet another award winningdwp-insert book (we have won 2 nation-wide achievement awards so far) – I asked them to
bare their souls, be brutally honest with their thoughts (according to them, I am a big meany 🙂 )  and in turn, they prepared these amazing blogs based on their experience of publishing a book in 5 main areas : Layout, Photography/Video, Journalism, People/Time Management – and a note to future yearbook staff.

(This year, I set up my classroom in a hierarchical structure.  We had one Editor-in-chief, one secretary, 5 leads (photography, creative, video, layouts and journalism), and everyone else received the title of minion.  None the less, they all had to help each other with all aspects of completing a yearbook.)

A very special blog written by the Editor-In-Chief – a message to the rest of the class

…..and the rest of the staff …..  fantastic work everyone!!yearbook

There is a lot of reading here but well worth it, so take your time..you may even see one of them in lights one day in the future…

So proud of my chickadees for not giving up, even when every fibre in your being is screaming to.

These students have taught me that no matter what is going on outside of the walls of our school, like on the mat, once we all focus on a common goal – nothing can stop us.

We have become family – albeit a dysfunctional one – then again, who’s family isn’t?

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Praying to the porcelain god.

Too much of anything is not good.

patron_silver_tequila_76309On my last birthday, I received a beautiful bottle of Patron Tequila (Thx Ang!!)

As it proudly sits on my shelf, every time I look at it, it reminds me of that one time in college when Lisa and I were actually awarded the title….The Tequila Shielas!  …oh boy……..  (sorry about your car George 😦 )

I’ve taken a short break from writing because well, I was over-saturating my brain with Jiu Jitsu.  Reading blogs and articles, watching video after video, the mats constantly on my mind, thoughts on what to write next – my mind was in such a state of overload – I was beginning to get bored with it all.  I swear if I was in today’s younger generation, I’d be diagnosed with ADHD.  As a matter of fact, I’m sure of it.toilet

Slow and steady might have ended that wretched night on a different note (then again, it was tequila;  at least we didn’t end up in jail).

I never touched tequila again….until now…..years later, and only sip it.

Jumping into Jiu Jitsu full on and letting it take over my every thought has made it very difficult to enjoy other things in my life.  One gentleman posted in one of the Facebook groups the question, ‘how many times a week do you train Jiu Jitsu?’  The responses left me speechless.  People are training 8-9 times a week, plus extra gym, yoga, weights, etc….one person actually commented on if you are ‘not’ training this much, then you must ‘not’ be serious. 😳

It made me wonder how much time do they dedicate to their loved ones, their jobs and other interests.  Does anyone vacuum their own floors, do their own laundry,  home cook meals or care for their offspring?!  I must be a terrible person at time management because I am pretty sure I could not put in those kinds of hours on the mat without it affecting some part or other of my life.

I don’t want Jiu Jitsu to absorb my life.

I want it to compliment it.

Quitting Jiu Jitsu all together is not an option for me as I too have noticed that I take deeper breaths when something or someone has set my emotions off.  For the first time, I actually miss the mat after not being on it for a few days.  When  I started back in September, once a week was more than plenty (my body didn’t allow for more)….now that I have been going twice a week for a couple of months, I think I might like to try going three times.  Maybe I am getting stronger?  My fellow Jiujitieros are telling me my sweeps are getting a little more flow to them, that must be a good thing.

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The point is that there are so many other beautiful things to enjoy too. (A short trip to Ripley’s Aquarium with my baby girl, resulted in these amazing photos.)

We need to find a balance in life.

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We need to rest our minds to reset and affirm our goals.

There is nothing wrong with solitude.

It helps build character.

Call a pal, hang out, go dancing.  The AGO has a wonderful exhibit of Monet, Van Gogh and other’s art.  Grab your mini-clones and take them to the movies – Moana is awesome for all ages…. Rogue One – Star Wars is still in the theatres.

img_2112Make paper air planes while waiting for that Babewatch Hamburger from The Works…..so delicious!!  Giggle non-stop with your loved ones…watch a tele-novela – Jane the Virgin (who was accidentally artificially inseminated!!!)

Then get back on the mat, read another article, respond to a fellow grappler’s post….watch yet one more video on how to successfully roll without separating your shoulder.

But try, try, try…..to keep a balance in your life…

 

So next time we grab the tequila, remember…

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…it’s all about balance..

..while having fun…

…but not too much fun….cause that could result in the calling of the gods.

 

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Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes..

Knees and Toes. Knees and Toes...bet you sang that didn’t you?

The one thing that happens as we get older is that it takes a lot longer for our bones, ligaments and tendons to heal but that should not deter us from doing physical activity of any sort.  What also happens is that any injuries that occurred in our younger years could be aggravated causing flare ups as I am currently experiencing.

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Way back when, it was a beautiful day with the thermostat topping in the 40s in sunny Spain.  The water sparkled in the pool and as cousins do, there was a partaking of horseplay which invariably lead to me being thrown in.

Laughing, tears of joy…..or were they of pain??

The day ended with me at the hospital with a raging swollen wrist, the doctor casting me up and my holiday ruined.

Jiu Jitsu has now flared up this old injury and between the pain in my wrist and the one in my shoulder, I have been forced to re-evaluate my training exercises.  Instead of allowing fear to overtake my progression, I am now trying to push through the fear of the pain and learn to work within my body limitations to succeed.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.  The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear”  – Nelson Mandela

It’s time to conquer the fear of getting hurt.

Recommended by Coach JJ (thank you so much!!) from 5th Dimension Academy, PhysioMed was like a light at the end of a dark tunnel.

I was looking for a physiotherapist that would specifically know how I might have hurt my shoulder.

Yep…they understood forward rolls.

The bonus was that Dr. Salameh quickly figured out about my previous wrist injury (taking the time to explain exactly where my injury lays) and not only focused on how to help me strengthen but also went above and beyond to teach me how to tape my wrist so that I can continue tdownload-3o train.  That in itself was an inspiration for me to continue my journey.

The moment the good doctor said that he was going to come up with a conditioning program to not only help me strengthen for day-to-day but for a fruitful lifelong relationship with Jiu Jitsu…well, it was like getting a birthday present when it isn’t even your birthday!!

I went back to training the following night with a renewed interest and zest for not just learning the techniques taught in class but to learn how those techniques work with any shortcomings of my body. (Did I mention that I am a smidgen above 5′ and have a body shape that resembles a turtle?)

download-4Experimenting now with different ways to tape my wrist, using my hips to raise myself more instead of using my shoulder to pull in a choke hold, I am a lot less afraid of getting hurt.

My new motto now…

Train smarter, not harder.

If you are in the world of martial arts or sports or are a clutz just like me….I happen to know a very skilled and knowledgeable physiotherapist and team in the Hamilton area now.  Give PhysioMed a shout…they are wonderful people of the same mindset in martial arts (and extremely patient with crazy old ladies – just sayin’ – they are an all-rounded facility filled with smiles and genuineness that makes you want to put your poor aching body in their capable hands).

On a side note, I’ve learned that a bra strap not only helps hold up this gal’s lady mounds but is also quite useful in securing a frozen gel pack to a tender shoulder while making dinner for the fam!

Gentlemen, if you feel at all envious, there is always Fraser’s “Manssiere” for your supporting needs.

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Am I a Masochist?!

f62006bd77eb6d98b47f79aed70efa86Over the years I have worn casts and splints, had my share of bumps and bruises, tears and bandaids.  Having mommy or daddy kiss my ouchies away – well, isn’t that the best medicine ever!!

Fast forward into adulthood and childbirth, a difficult one I might add, months in the hospitals.  Enough morphine coursing through my veins to keep a small army troupe smiling for a year. ( I miss the peacefulness of that morphine sometimes …)

Surgery after surgery…then rehabilitation to relearn how to walk and stand.. (My miracle baby was worth it all though)

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Years of personal trainers to teach me how to strengthen all the muscles that were cut into in order to keep me alive. (I am really hard to kill off!)

I am not new to pain.

Tough Mudder 2015 had me experiencing a level of muscle pain like I have never experienced! ( I trained for it, obviously not enough since I couldn’t walk for a week!)

The general rule is whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.  Right?

Usually it only takes a few days of muscle soreness and I am re-energized to work out again.  2693-700x0

Until Jiu Jitsu …..

What is it with this never ending body pain?!!

At first, being in the honeymoon phase, I embraced the sore muscles, the toenail cuts and loved my bruises.

Now, I ache all the time.  To the point I’m even embarrassed to say anything to my instructors because I don’t want to be viewed as a whiny baby.

Truth is….I am not 29 anymore.funold

Shoulder Impingement Treatment.

Wrist inflammation.

Knuckle and joint swelling.

These are all new terms for me.

All ….demoralizing…  Am I truly too old for this?!  I am near tears thinking that I didn’t even make it to my first stripe and I am scared sh**tless to get back on the mat.  I’ll even admit that I skipped my last class due to this fear.

Reaching out to the ‘40 Plus BJJ Engage‘ facebook group;  I asked them about their first injury and how did it affect them regarding continuing rolling on the mats.

Hearing about some of their injuries makes me want to run in the opposite direction.  (A friend of mine -also a white belt, recently had his ankle shattered practicing a drill with another white belt – in a cast for 8 weeks!!)

What I noticed was the trend that was occurring throughout the answers.

None of them give up!

All of them have experienced the same feelings of defeat I am currently experiencing.  I am not alone.  One lady provided additional female support.  One gentleman provided this image.

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The Gracie family has provided yet more inspiring videos

– Surviving the First 6 Months of Sparring (Gracie Breakdown)

Top 5 Jiu Jitsu Injuries (& how to roll with them)

Am I a masochist?

It’s very possible.physiotherapy

I’ve just agreed to a 10K run in May, in addition to committing to twice a week yoga sessions to help out a friend obtain his Yoga Instructor certification and heading back onto the Jiu Jitsu mat to learn ways to roll without further injuring myself.

In the meantime, I’m off to physio ….

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