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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On a more serious note…Domestic Violence

Movies that depict this: Safe Haven – Sleeping with the Enemy.  Hollywood-ized but I am sure it is closer to the truth than we want to admit.

Articles: Statistics in Ontario –  The Facts about Violence against Women – We are failing the victims of Domestic Violence  – just to mention a few.

Support groupshow sad that there are so many just in our small city.

Depending on the woman, her strength, her support system and her will to live; some survive.

Some do not….some still live with it every – single – day.

Women go to self defense classes but there we are taught how to defend against our attacker just enough so we can run away.  The assumption is we will be attacked outside of the home yet statistics show that the number of assaults is far greater inside our home.  Our attacker tends to be more often than not, someone we know and love.

battered_woman_mainThe violence normally doesn’t start happening overnight.  It takes time to wear down the victim. Time to lure her into a state of trust and slowly, a little a time, ‘the moments’ begin to occur.  Sometimes she isn’t even aware that it is happening…until it is too late.  She is either deep into the relationship…marriage, kids, 25 years invested; too embarrassed to tell anyone or has told people and no one believes her because she has been so good at keeping it a secret.  Worse yet, police are called and they just brush it off.  Swept it under the table.  It’s not easy to simply walk away.

Just try and find articles on domestic violence – I’ll bet they are just as popular as the Kardashians – NOT!

Every victim’s situation is different but all have similarities.  Missed red flags.

And then, when she does manage to get out of it, the real symptoms kick in, the aftermath.  The skittishness, fear of being in the presence of males, fear of intimacy, keeps everyone at arm’s length, afraid of even her own shadow – she wants to learn how to protect herself but the truth is, she is fighting the biggest battle of them all by this point – herself.

She learns to show a ‘happy mask’ to the outside world while keeping her demons inside of her.  The images and memories never go away. They are triggered over and over again until she learns how to calm her mind.

My dear survivors of domestic abuse, all I can say is find a way heal your soul & mind.  Your bruises may have disappeared but the inside damage needs more than just a bandage.  Don’t drown in drugs or alcohol.  They won’t make things better long term.

Try Kickboxing or Karate. Running or Baseball. Yoga or Tai Chi.  Whatever your pleasure, just find something to calm your mind so that you can heal.

I find that when I come out of Jiu Jitsu, my mind is at peace. I cannot tell you what to try, you need to find this out on your own terms.  Just don’t give up on yourself!

Please, do not ever risk your life for anyone….because…

You are beautiful.

You are worth it.

You are strong.

You can survive….you already have…

Love should not hurt

As for everyone else, be respectful. You probably do not even know that they are struggling….especially during the holidays when everyone is happy and giddy.

Do not judge others for they may be fighting a fight that you are not aware of.

To all my beloved beautiful ladies who still find yourselves caught in this diabolical web, may you find the strength to survive the winter months as they tend to be a very tense time of the year for many.

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Sharing is Caring

october-05-2012-02-15-41-ygI was very nervous about sharing my journey with you.  Although I am not looking for validation from anyone, I am doing this for me; I also did not want to be shamed into stopping everything either.  It has been a very interesting experience and a real test of my confidence levels since I started making my blog public to my friends, family and strangers.

The responses have ranged from ‘this is great!‘, ‘you’re an inspiration‘, ‘keep it up‘ to  ……’what a joke this is‘, ‘you must have way too much time on your hands‘, ‘don’t you think you are a little old for this‘, ‘seems like you are a little too into yourself to think you are better than the rest of us‘.

The first set of responses obviously made me feel fantastic….the rest, a real test in controlling my emotions.

I wasn’t offended by the latter comments, but I’ll admit, my confidence levels took a bit of hit.

In a previous post, I stated why I started blogging. I am doing it for me.

But why am I sharing it?

Several reasons…

First – Staying Positive.

positiveBased on media clips lately, there is so much negativity out there..Trump, Meryl Streep, Ronda Rousey, Trudeau, just to name a few.  I am so tired of the constant bashing from one group to another.  Whatever their reasons for doing or saying what they have, it takes courage for them to go against the general population’s beliefs.  Try to look at the positive in each negative situation, no matter what, there is always a silver lining to every situation (even if it’s a thin one)

Second – Talk the Talk, Walk the Talk.

Not everyone warms up to things as quickly as others.  By me sharing my fears and joys, maybe others will take a moment, see that they are not alone in their feelings and look inside themselves hopefully breaking through that barrier called fear.  I mention a lot about women empowering women, but please do not take this as I am all mighty feminist.  I am not.  These thoughts apply to all of us, regardless of gender, size, race or employment.

Third – It’s Important.

We announce weddings and funerals.  We announce wins and losses.

We scream from the mountain tops how proud we are of our kids, all those mommy and daddy proud moment Facebook posts.

We announce everything and anything that is important to us.

Jiu Jitsu has become very important to me.  It has rewarded me with self-confidence, empowerment, a new extended family, and a happy heart and soul.  I love how it has pushed so many of my triggers and Atos has provided a very safe environment for me to overcome them.

I read a post titled “What Are You Giving Back to Jiu Jitsu?

My contribution to Jiu Jitsu and the female community – by publishing my blog, I hope to reach as many women as possible out there to show them that although Jiu Jitsu may seem crazy intimidating at first, it is totally worth giving it a chance.  #GirlPower

My contribution to my fellow Jiujiteiros – to give you kudos for your patience and determination in helping me learn and practice my techniques to earn my stripes and not giving up on me just because I am a woman. #RealMenEmpo13000297_227613380933484_7811875103146990031_nwerWomen

My contribution to Pura Atos Hamilton – is to highlight the fantastically amazing
environment that Professor PJ, his training crew and all the practitioners who strive to better themselves everyday on and off the mat.  I cannot thank you enough for making me feel welcome at the same time, giving me the space I need to grow at my own pace. #TogetherWeAreStronger

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