Category Archives: Girl Power

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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David & Goliath

As I look around my classroom, I am not unsympathetic to the anxiety that teens nowadays experience.  What I do have is an issue with how many expect things handed to them on a silver platter.  Few are willing to work for success anymore.

In a time where instant gratification is the norm, it is also difficult as an adult to learn patience, let alone perseverance and determination to not give up simply because something is difficult.  It is so much easier to walk away when we don’t obtain what we want in the time frame that we want.

We find excuses.

We say we are smaller, bigger, missing limbs, not missing limbs, older in age, younger in age, out of shape, too much in shape – whatever our reason is –  we consider ourselves defeated.

We give up…

But we shouldn’t because when that one moment…the ‘aha’ moment, where all of a sudden all that hard work, the anxiety, the sore muscles (and joints for this old gal) when you know it was all worth it.

Last night we learned different mount techniques.  It is referred to as the King of all positions but what I learned the most was how to modify the positioning davidbased on my size.

Time to begin practicing the technique, I scan the room and see the men quickly scrambling to find their partners.  I wasn’t quite sure why they were scrambling so quickly until my eyes laid upon my partner (6’2″ – 230lbs – all muscle) ….–> –> –> Gulp!!

I got this….I tighten my belt (which is starting to actually look half decent these days), pray that my pants don’t fall off – and an extra little prayer that I don’t end up being squashed..

Getting into position and I can’t stop laughing.  The main objective is to get my knees both on the mat, while straddling his chest….both of them…at the same time….ya, that’s not happening.

harbour_sealStraightening my jacket, taking a deep breath, I try.  Nope. Impossible.

Let me think.   Jiu Jitsu is about learning techniques to defend yourself in real life situations.  I need to learn how to position myself so that one knee is on the mat and my other foot is helping me find balance (thank you Coach Matt for the extra lesson).  Feeling secure with my stance, I place my knee under his arm…ok, maybe it was a little more emphatic than that, I accidently kneed his ribs (he is really really tall).. poor guy, I’m pretty sure I was about to see that cheesecake he was boasting about eating just prior to class – cherry cheesecake for those who really need to know.  (My brand new Gi was potentially going to be the victim of a full on projectile if I wasn’t careful with my knee placement)

After a few very awkward moments, I’m starting to get the hang of this.  Grab his arm, pull down (long arms resulted in my head getting smacked – keep going Yolanda, you can flip him), lock my leg around his ankle (where the heck is his ankle???!! Seriously?  How am I supposed to flip if I can’t even reach?)



My head is spinning, I’m not sure where my hands are supposed to be that don’t cause my embarassment to the max…when this giant of a man now on his back says, “That was all you.”


I request clarification….fullhouse-thumb-290x238-255433

Did I actually flip him without his help?

YESSSSS!!!!!  Success..

With every part of my body spasming due to my flipping this Goliath, I smile…because now I feel like Superwoman.

And now…again…keep practicing.  Flip. Flip. Roll. Spasm. Ignore. Flip…can’t breath….need water.

The class continues, he keeps picking me as a partner- drilling and sparing.  Change partners, do it all over, again and again….it’s all about developing muscle memory….

Until I can no longer feel my muscles.  (I am pretty sure I just learned what gassing out feels like.)

superwoman_234_by_rogelioroman_by_the_darcsyde-d5wq80fOne thing I experienced for sure, these gentlemen warriors made me feel like I was on top of the world.  That I can do this…the first stripe on my belt might actually be obtainable before I turn 80 years old.

Thank you so much Eric, Chris and Sebastian along with the rest of the male folk this evening at Pura Atos Hamilton for making me work for it, teaching me perseverance and that yes, there are good men out there who are willing to teach a woman how to fight back in a real life survival situation while not being egotistical about it.

You guys rock!

PREV:  Yoga and Jiu Jitsu – oh dear..                   NEXT: Sharing is Caring


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Yoga and Jiu Jitsu – oh dear..

buddha-faceBefore I started Jiu Jitsu, I tried my hand at Yoga.

Big mistake.

I know that there are many people out there that swear by Yoga and I did hope that it might be able to help me deal with losing mom. (#cancerblows)

My fellow dance moms being the amazing supporters that they are….laughed when they heard I was going to give it a go.  Many a smirky comment flew around the room (not that I would expect anything less from a Spaniard’s sense of humor 🙂 ).  Truth is, I simply do not have the personality required to be serious at yoga and they know it.

Still, one of them joined me on my little test case.  We purchase a 5-session intro pack, grab our mats (dad had already purchased one for me years back when he attemdownloadpted to get me into Yoga) – water bottle in hand, hair tied back and off we go! (Did you know pedicures
are must in Yoga too?!! There was no way I was taking my socks off today!!

It begins as Monste is driving us to the Yoga studio near Jane and Dundas in Toronto.  Have you ever driven in Toronto on a Saturday?!  It’s crazy!!  She calmly tells me to keep an eye out for a parking spot.  Car after car whizzing by me.  I get dizzy and my eyes begin to tear from extreme lack of blinking caused by being on the lookout.  dear-urban-diplomat_street-parking-spot-hogging-neighbours

Finally!!  A Spot!

“Monste!  Quick!!  There is one!!”

She frantically spins the steering wheel and masterfully swings the car into a beautiful spot just beside the building.

All smiles, we enter the building.  Walk up 5 flights of stairs….i couldn’t catch a breath by the time we were upstairs – and I am still expected to follow through with yoga?  Seriously?!

Onwards march…we pay for our intro pack…get the mini-tour…and now we are on the mat.  Apparently what we signed up for was Vinyasa – where there is no down time between poses, they make your heart beat at a steady pace and something about breathing in beat of the …..

That I didn’t understand.  Each time the instructor told me to hold a pose for 8, I could not for the life of me figure out what that meant.

So there I am, butt in the air, hoping to the good lord that the man in front of me did not have kidney beans for dinner last night – and I am holding for 8.  But exactly what 8?

8 minutes?styles-and-types-of-yoga

8 songs?

8 weeks?

Someone in the room should really stop smoking.  Their breathing is very, very heavy…

Wait a minute….the whole room is taking deep breaths!  The music has a voice over of breaths!  I got it! I got it!!  Hold for 8 BREATHS!!

I am obviously doing waaaay too much thinking throughout this whole session.  Did I mention it was 90 minutes long??  I really should read the fine print when I get myself into these situations.  Geez…

Now I am watching the clock because a) my body is really starting to ache; b) the hot flashes have started and I am pretty sure based on all the condensation on the windows, it’s about 200C in the room and c) we have to go pick up the girls from dance.

I am panicking.  Monste is also watching the clock now.bus-chronicles-part-6

Time’s up! We run out of the studio to grab the girls, only to find out there is a parking ticket on the window!!  Now we are late for pick up, the girls are frantically texting us – their instructors want to go home too!!

Long story, short….needless to say signing up long term was not in the cards – the stress of going to Yoga was too much.

And what is with the ‘OoooooooHhhhhhMmmmmmm’ at the end of the sessions?!?!  I simply could not keep it together any longer, my snickering got louder each time I heard it.

Fast forward into Jiu Jitsu…

As I begin to advance, I am learning you need to supplement other forms of exercise or stretching with Jiu Jitsu.  You need it to improve upon your game.

Maybe that specific yoga class was not for me, as long as I know some of the stretches that I can incorporate it into my warm-up routine at Jiu Jitsu, I’ll be ok.  Plus the days in between my training, it feelsimages good to pull the kinks out of my body in the privacy of my own home.
Don’t get me wrong.  I am not dissing yoga and its benefits.  As with everything else I do, I have to go through a trial and error process.  My first exposure to it wasn’t the greatest, but it wasn’t the worst either.  My personality requires a little more tumbling than zenning.

Here are a few websites that show how to incorporate Yoga into Jiu Jitsu and you can do them at home.

Top 13 Yoga Poses for Jiu Jitsu

5 Yoga Poses that will improve your Jiu Jitsu

Yoga workout for Jiu Jitsu with Prof. Flavio Almeida With Fightmaster Yoga

PREV:  Try not to vomit on the mat                     NEXT: David & Goliath


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Girls just wanna have fun!

I love how Cyndi Lauper twists her dad’s arm behind him because whether it is a girl going out dancing or rolling around on the mat, truth is…Girls just wanna have fun!

Last night was an amazing class learning sweeps but most of all, it was the first time that as I lost control of my leg, I immediately realized that I made a mistake and instantly knew I was about to lose the spar.  Just as quickly, I felt my opponent’s arm swipe right under my chin putting me in a rear naked choke hold.

How awesome was that?!  I was so proud of both of us – me for recognizing my mistake and knowing I was going down…her because she caught it and knew how to take me down. (Now I have to learn how to escape this hold) Way to go Shari!!  We got this!!

Best of all, my baby girl caught it all on film….

Watch how in a few brief moments, all these fears, frustrations, anxiety and learning since we started 4 months ago….all come to me tapping out fast all the while us smiling.

Enjoy!!  We definitely did…


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A day of firsts..

First class32698-just-take-the-first-step-506x300 of 2017.

First time going to a day class.

First time going to a beginner/adult combination class.

First time meeting yet another whole group of grapplers.

First time I felt no intimidation walking onto the mat!!  (Yay me!)

Best of all, first time I actually felt the challenge to want to earn my first stripe.

All thanks to the lovely ladies I met today. They made me feel so much a part of the family but so do all the other members of Atos.  What set these ladies apart was how in one swift second they made me feel like I could actually master this thing called Jiu Jitsu.

As a white belt, I am not allowed to go to any other classes except the beginner classes until I have earned my first stripe.  There is this tremendous calmness in my mind after spending an hour on the mat,  I am in no rush for anything more.

Walking into the studio today, I was immediately welcomed as if they knew me from before. Instantly any trepidation that I might have felt, disappeared.  I didn’t even have time to think about my fear.

Now it’s time for me to get my Gi on..I run into the change room and throw it all on.  Can you believe it only took me a minute to get ready?  And….I remembered to tie the knot of my pants on the side instead of the front.

Uhhmmm….wait a minute….

…am I actually dressed, belt looped properly, pants staying on, hair in a proper knot, no jewelry …on the mat ready to learn – and my heart is not palpitating at a bajillion beats per second?????  Is it possible that this is another first?!  Yep….I am good.  In control.  I can do this…

Time to find partners to practice drilling – I think I will go find one of the ladies….


Professor Riccardo partners me up with a black belt.  Yes, you read correctly.  A black belt.


How close am I to the door? Can I make a run for it?

This gentleman turns, smiles at me and says….are you ready?

What is going on with me today??!!  My response to him was….yes!   (Here I am – practicing today’s new drill – learning how to grip.)

Professor P***l (I’ve learned that Black belts are referred to as Professor) was great.  We both practiced what we learned today.  I noticed that even though he is a black belt and I a white – he too was (re-)learning new things.  Then we talked about the sport of Jiu Jitsu and how it is a gentle sport.  As we were practicing these moves and I was spending more time on just trying to remember all the techniques, he commented on that he felt that chess_30759people who took Jiu Jitsu are really smart because of the constant thinking required with every move (he wasn’t saying that others who do different things are not but that Jiu Jitsu is like a game of strategy, you have to try and figure out your opponent’s next move so as not to get caught in his or her hold.)

I am in his closed guard and trying to…. (truth is I don’t even know what I was doing) …

Woah!!! Did he just say that people who are drawn to Jiu Jitsu are smart?  Does that include me??? Does that make me smart too – am I not in a Gi practicing drills?!?

With a smile across my face, I focused even harder.

Class is over, I am elated just by watching the higher belts roll and master their moves.  They are laughing and smiling, their energy is contagious.  I am sitting on the sidelines when it dawns on me that for the first time, I actually want to get in on that action.

I feel like that awkward teenage girl sitting on the sidelines of the dance floor and no one is asking me to dance.  I giggle to myself.  Realizing that I have just broken a level of my fears – I am no longer content with simply watching – now I want to be one of them.

What a great class today.

Off to change and without a missed beat, the ladies whom I have now known for a total of 20 seconds, make me feel like a million bucks.  They want me to join them in the adult classes but I quickly remind them I can only go to the beginners one.

They didn’t even flinch.  With all confidence, they told me it won’t take me long – 15871223_10210083757104998_1985816496_n

Now…they have given me an injection of empowerment and I no longer ‘think’ I can do this but ‘know’ I can.

This is how you ladies made me feel today.  Thank you for being such a tremendous support…see you on the mat tomorrow!


PREV:  Women empowering women…                                        NEXT: Girls just wanna have fun!


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Women empowering women…

The one thing I am finding it difficult to locate are Jiu Jitsu technique resources that include women who are in their 40s and up.  I did however find this very inspiring page of women who changed the look of Jiu Jitsu – thank you for posting this.

63593256011014856976459976_cover-photoIt is true, Jiu Jitsu is a male dominated arena but weren’t so many other arenas also solely male dominated at one point?

As I enter the year 2017, I did a little historical background on women who broke the mold.

The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C., Chief Justice of Canada
 – is the first woman to hold the position of Chief Justice of Canada and the longest serving Chief  Justice of Canada in history.

Viola Desmond – the first woman to be gracing the face of our Canadian bill, thriving entrepreneur and defender of human rights and social justice

Ronda Rousey – first woman to break the glass ceiling in MMA,  earned olympic medal status in Judo and is currently the former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion – all under the age of 30.  A survivor of domestic violence, you should read her massive list of accomplishments, instead of allowing the media to focus on her last UFC fight loss.

Madame C.J. Walker – first black american female self-made millionaire as a hairdresser. (She is definitely my idol!)  As an entrepreneur,  she has led the way for what the hair industry looks like today.

Valentina Tereshkova – first woman in space;  Manon Rhéaume – first woman in NHL; Hedy Lamarr – invented the original hopping technology theory now known as bluetooth; Stephanie Louise Kwolek – discovered  liquid crystalline polymers, which resulted in the product Kevlar; Mary Anderson – invented the windshield wiper

There are also some very empowered women that are not listed in Wikipedia and they rzwould be my amazingly strong girlfriends.  Amongst them a medical technologist who runs 15-20kms almost everyday, a vice principal who earned brown belt in Judo, a nurse whose leg has been amputated and is waiting for it to heal so she can go back to Jiu Jitsu,  a stay-at-home mom who has a tumor in her brain but doesn’t give up,  a high school hospitality teacher who trains in Circus Aerobics, my mom who fought cancer for 17 years lived life to the fullest until the end and so many more, a very long list to name individually but definitely not forgotten.

These are the women who give me the most strength.  Women who don’t judge me for my sins.  Will put me in my place if my bullsh*t gets out of hand. Who raise my spirits in a glass with ice & lemon slices, will hold my hair when too many spirits have been ingested.

But never once will these amazing women ever crush my will to strive to advance myself.

These are the types of women I look up to….especially in those moments that I feel defeated.

My way of making it through life is all fire and spit – not always by choice and most often exhausting but how else can I move ahead especially when I have a set of young eyes that watches my every move.  If I stop striving to be better each day, then don’t I teach my daughter that it is ok to just give up?

So ladies, it matters not what your walk of life is or what your choice of training shoes are….always strive to be better than you were yesterday.  Never let anyone tell you that just because you are a woman that you can not do something.

I was not raised that way – remember wanting to go to university so badly because I wanted to be an interpreter50s-housewife – i was 16 and able to easily speak 5 different languages without formal study but being told that girls don’t go to university.  That it is a man’s priority to become educated so that he can care for his family.  Women get married, stay home and learn to cook, clean, iron, sew, raise babies….I learned it and I am proud that I know how – it is simply not what defines who I am.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t blame my parents for this way of thinking.  I blame society.

Now I speak out.  I tell my daughter, my students and any adult that listens….go out there and conquer what scares you most.  Achieve everything you have been told you could never achieve – female or male, young or old,  never let anyone make you feel less than what you are…ever.

On that note, I am going to keep searching for videos that include women rolling in Jiu Jitsu and if I cannot find them, I’ll bet I can find women that will help me record them so we can post them. Pura Atos Hamilton is very inclusive of women, men and children in their programs.  I am sure they would love to help women empower women.

Thank you Pura for introducing Jiu Jitsu to me and providing an arena where I can succeed.

PREV:  What exactly is a Gi?                                        NEXT: A day of firsts..


Mi casa es su casa.
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The little engine that could…
My Photography
Mom’s Recipes – Recreated with Love