Category Archives: Girl Power

5th Dimension…extending my comfort zone


Today I had the opportunity to visit a new gym, 5th Dimension Academy.   It is my first time venturing outside of my own school, so my anxiety was pretty high.  But I can d15740770_10210014992185918_7412693430275727502_no this.

Again with the stairwells…why do these trigger me so badly? As I stood at the reception desk speaking with owner JJ, we discussed how he has taught self defense classes for women in sheltered homes, so although he personally doesn’t understand the anxiety that these stairwells can cause a gal, he pointed out how he learned that anything can be a trigger for anyone regardless of their circumstances.

I met Danni – 9 year old Jiu Jitsu girl – who showed me how to tie her belt.  I told her I am a brand new white belt and that I just can’t get the hang of doing it.  She instantly obliged with a grin from ear to ear.  I loved how she wanted to roll with JJ but he and I were speaking.  She was told to wait 5 minutes, which she respectfully did, but boy did I absolutely get a kick out of watching the spunk in her when she very openly told him that the 5 minutes were up and he had to hold his promise to roll with her.  I graciously stepped aside of this mini-female warrior in training.

As I stood there, I realized yet again, I was the only woman (apart from the young girls).  I was prepared to put on my Gi and practice my frontward rolls but got to enjoying watching the others grapple.  I find the more I watch, the more I am able to catch the different techniques.  Where at one time it was just all arms and legs flailing, now I see Americanas and Kimuras.

I also met Esther.  She is one of the academy’s poster ladies.  She showed up as I was standing borderline in the doorway.  Instantly I felt drawn to her friendliness.  We chatted about what she does here – Mauy Thai – definitely not for me, but I will for sure go watch her in a match or two.

All in all, I felt the inclusivity that the Jiu Jitsu online community talks about.  5th Dimension Academy, like Pura Atos, also harbours a family environment.  So if you have a significant other, Jiu Jitsu is definitely a place where you can both hang out and share a common interest.

It’s also a place that welcomes you individually.  I love that I can find places like these that allow me to grow as a person.

Thank you Coach JJ for making me feel so welcome at your academy.  I’ll definitely take you up on your offer and return one day soon.

PREV: Taking Jiu Jitsu shopping with me…on Boxing Day              NEXT: Mani, Pedi and Ponytail Injuries


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Taking Jiu Jitsu shopping with me…on Boxing Day

I couldn’t believe it.  I mean I knew what I was in for but I am guessing that being much much older than the last time I ventured out into the malls on Boxing Day, the memory was simply not as fresh.

You see, I am not your typical girl in the sense that I absolutely without a doubt in my mind, hate shopping and ‘going to the mall’.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love a good sale when there is something I need.  But to just go and linger or shop just for the sake of spending money?  Nah.  Not for me. (Besides, I have yet to find my sugar daddy – it hurts to spend my hard earned money.)

Now I am not sure if having experienced bankruptcy is the originating cause of the anxiety that builds inside me when I go into a mall or what.  All I know is that normally, even if I have something I need to buy, the tops amount of time I can last inside a mall is 30 minutes – 45 if I get lost gazing in a shoe store.  Not even lipstick can hold me inside for long.

This Boxing Day, my mini-me being old enough (and I’m guessing it’s a teenager thing)  – loves hanging out at the mall with her girlfriends.  This year she has been driving me crazy with the whole ‘wanting to experience Boxing Day sales in person and why do I never take her’.  **cue in me rolling eyes – she isn’t lacking in anything, I assure you of that**


Me being one who attempts at all costs to make as many memories with my daughter and make each and every outing some form of an adventure – I don on my big girl boots and off we go.

To Vaughan Mills.  An hour away. On Boxing Day.

Three hours in and barely a quarter a way through the mall, I find myself sitting in a corner on the floor of Victoria Secret rocking back and forth trying to find a way to calm my anxiety.  There is a circular table in the middle and about 40 wild-eyed crazy-haired teenagers all grabbing at the pretty undies.  7 pairs for $29!!  It was a mad frenzy.  Quick!!  Someone please help me!!!

**cue in Facebook posts – because you know someone has to be online**


I must have had the look of a caged animal, fear in my eyes, huddling deeper into the drawers with piles of bra straps falling out of them.  Can no one put things back where they found them?!?

My beautiful mini-me finds me on the floor and sits with me.  Asks me if I am having fun?  How do I tell her I just want to run out screaming?  You know I can’t, she needs to experience this on her terms, not mine.  So I say ‘yes, of course I am’.

‘Mama, you can get some too!  Do you want me to pick some out for you?’

I look at the line up and think….no thank you, I’ll go commando.

I do however spot from a distance, yes, you guessed it….a sports bra!!  Jiu Jitsu to the rescue!!

I get up, go check it out.  Perfect.  I’ll get it – if anything, I need a decent one to hold in my lady mounds that keep popping out during training plus right now, more than anything, I need to get a control of my anxiety in this craziness.

As the hours crawl and the smile on my baby’s face gets bigger….the stress in mine is


Thank you Irene for the picture.

starting to cause wrinkles.   Person after person bouncing themselves against me.  Line up after lineup and I am ready to throw water and soap at neighbouring humans.  People!!  For the love of that is good and kind!!  Deodorant!!  Please wear it!!  Lots and lots of it!!  Ugh!!

We are now finished making one full circle of the mall.  5 hours later. We pass a sports store where my mini-minion is still looking out for me, says ‘Mom, do you want to go in there to find anything you need for Jiu Jitsu?’

God bless her.  I had been walking through these hallways wanting to just lose my shite everytime someone rammed me with their buggies using their young children as a means to clear a path.  Each time I felt the urge to scream, I would focus on the definition of Jiu Jitsu.  It starts to change your attitude and outlook in life.

I see people differently now.  Like they are all from the walking dead show – aimlessly wandering through life.  So I focused on keeping my cool, relaxing and remembering that above all else, I am a classy woman who is now a white belt and have certain expectations of me.

Home now – the exit strategy out of the mall was successfully executed.  No small fuzzy cute plush anima15727118_10210030715298986_7159839914163876574_nls were hurt in the process.

Seems I always have Jiu Jitsu on my mind these days.  Whether it’s what is the next drill I
should study, is there a cool female-oriented blog or just plain watching through my Facebook feed at groups that I have joined and what they have got to say.

I found an awesome blog, BJJGrrrl, she is based out of Virginia.

This video of these two little boys was super cute to watch.  I even felt my excitement rise for them and actually recognized an open guard, an arm lock and one other move with his leg but I don’t know what it is called.

Search Emily Kwok on YouTube – great learning videos on different techniques when grappling larger opponents.

5th Dimension Academy is having an open mat from 5-7pm today – open to all schools.

It’s time to venture out and see how other schools do their thing.  I read that as a woman, I need to find more BJJ women…that this is a sisterhood like no other.  Can’t wait to meet them!

PREV: Blogging: Why? Good question…                 NEXT: 5th Dimension…extending my comfort zone


Mi casa es su casa.
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Blogging: Why am I doing it?

Over the past 2-3 days I have been sending off the link to my blog to some of my close friends and a couple of other people that will inevitably end up in my blog probably quite regularly.  I value their opinions and knowing my friends, they would outright tell me if it sucked.

downloadThe question I got from each of them was “What ever possessed you to want to write a blog?!” or some were more like…“what the heck? Now you’re a blogger?!”.  

The most resounding comments however were the words of encouragement.  I expected them from my girlfriends but I did not expect them to come so loudly from my past students.  I literally teared up from emotion when I read them.

Here are some of their reviews:

“It’s absolutely beautiful.  I am very proud of you and have a surprise for you in February.  You being who you are, has inspired me in many ways. You inspired a lot of us.” – Frances D.

“Your blog is amazing! I just finished reading it.  I read it start to finish.  It was like one of those really good books you couldn’t put down.  It made me laugh and brought me back to thinking about when I was in your class and what I learned from you.  Then when talking about your mom I started thinking about my grandpa that passed away and how much I missed him on Christmas Day.  And your Jiu Jitsu experience is described so well it’s like I was the one who put the pants on backwards.” – Jennifer H.

Exposing your inner thoughts to others is very scary.  We are taught to not let anyone know our next move or anything about ourselves – the number one reason is because of the haters out there.  They will go out of their way to crush you due to their own incapacitation to be happy for others.  Telling people about your own successes is viewed as narcissistic but what if all you wish to do is use this as a tool to inspire yourself or others.  Isn’t writing in a diary as old as cavemen time?  Weren’t there drawings on the wall? What about Instagram, Facebook, Twitter??  We all share our stories because we seek validation from others. It is what we need as a human race unfortunately modern society also puts us in huge states of anxiety.  And yet, we share our successes hesitantly because we are all afraid of rejection.  What if it isn’t any good?  What if I can’t stick to blogging or worse yet, I give up on Jiu Jitsu?  Will I be letting anyone down, namely myself?
I started writing this blog for myself.  To keep ME inspired to continue.  To hdownloadave a central place to jot my thoughts and my findings on the internet.  My repeated Google search is always “female Jiu Jitsu” or “inspirational quotes”  (I’m a sucker for the quotes).  Then I started sharing my journey at school with my students.  At first, it was just the female students, then the male students got very involved and wanted to hear my stories.  It got to the point that for the first 5-10 minutes of each class after Jiu Jitsu the previous night, they would want to hear about my mishaps or musings laughing at how excited I was to show them my latest bruise on my arm or cut to my finger from a fellow grappler’s toenail.

Fast forward to this blog – now I am having fun writing.  I used to write stories years ago but never shared them with anyone.  Threw them in a fire pit one very emotionally downward slope of a weekend and maybe one glass of wine too many.  Writing helps with preventing Alzheimer’s, the brain is a muscle afterall – with menopause around the corner, I now need all the help I can get.

Past and current students seem to look towards me for inspiration – for whatever crazy reason, they like hearing my stories.  In turn, I oblige.  Truth is, they inspire me just as much.  They remind me what it was like before adulting; divorce, bankruptcy, layoffs, difficult child birth, depression, loss of home – being ever so grateful of having such amazing parents as I have that when I didn’t have two nickels to rub together, they took my baby and I into their home until I got back on to my feet.  My students (which ultimately end up being my kids too) are the number one reason I get up and go to work.  They make my day. They remind me to be happy with life in general.

How does this all relate to Jiu Jitsu?

It’s hard to fight depression or a warm cozy living room with the fireplace crackling while you hear the freezing rain come down in buckets outside. The thought of having to put on that Gi, trying to fit my rolls into the dreaded pants that I can’t seem to keep from falling – will I look like a turtle on my back because I can’t hop on to my elbow while in open guard – will I yelp at my backpain when doing bear crawls  or forward rolls – will I look like an overall overweight out-of-shape idiot?

Maybe.  Maybe not.

Today when I am not feeling very inspired, I go back to the internet; search Inspirational Women, Women in Jiu Jitsu or just plain remember that someone somewhere is watching my every move.

Lead by example. Don’t give up…tomorrow is a new day.


PREV: Old Traditions. New Traditions.                 NEXT: Taking Jiu Jitsu shopping with me…on Boxing Day


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

Old Traditions. New Traditions.

In the wake of what was the best evening we have shared as a family since mom’s passing, I sit here with coffee in hand reflecting.

I look around my living room seeing the tree so beautifully decorated. My daughter opted for a simple design this year – it’s perfect.  There is no wrapping paper strewn all over the floor as money is tight this year, we decided that the best gift of all was having our family together and actually being able to laugh without all that excess weight of sadness we have all been carrying around.

15698263_10209994282868198_2754127667092387482_nOld traditions. Our dinners have always included lobster, shrimp, wine, turron, rice pudding and ice cream cake – this is a tradition that cannot be changed no matter what.  The savages would go bizonkers if this disappeared.  I was warned two months in advance that the desserts HAD to be at the table last night.  Everyone had seconds of the desserts so they must have been good.

I added a new tradition of including turkey, sweet potatoes and cranberries.  Apparently my brother loves cranberries….who knew!!

We used to always play Monopoly but it always ended with my brother winning – I guess his business degree comes in handy every so often.  Time for a new tradition game.  We tried Dominos but that didn’t pan out well when dad smashed them on my glass dining table.  Then we tried Scrabble.  This posed a problem when it dawned on us that dad can’t spell in English.  What the heck, rules are meant to be broken so English-Spani15697810_10209994298188581_5510516808452021867_nsh scrabble it is!!  After a couple of rounds of that and my niece getting competitive over having to follow rules, we ditched that game too and onward we went to Jenga.  Immediately I ran
to grab a towel to protect my dining table – did I mention it’s glass??  And brand new???!!!  Please, let me enjoy my table for a few months at least.  Ends up that my brother and I are the only ones with steady enough hands to keep the structure from falling – yay for sibling DNA!

I know my daughter has been reading my blog since she threw in the word Gi on the board which spawned off conversation as to where did she learn that word and how I am now venturing into the world of Jiu Jitsu.  Until last night, my family didn’t even know I was doing this.  Ends up my niece is looking to also join so next time I go to Florida, I will have to pack my Gi.

I’d like to say that I want to go train this afternoon but I absolutely stuffed myself with food last night.  Instead I went back to my online training and found a new gym that is offering open mat sessions to all schools.  I inquired what that meant and low a behold, I learned something new.  I do not belong to a gym but to a ‘school’ – a Jiu Jitsu school!

The human on the other side of 5th Dimension Academy facebook page was super nice and invited me to go, even if all I do is watch.  I’ll keep it mind, doubt it will be today, not because I am going to be a couch potato but because my baby and I are going to pull out the blades and go skating!

Dress warm and we will see you on the ice!!15727062_10209996821371659_7837177226694583345_n

Post Skating Update: My baby said I had to pose for picture to post to my blog.  So I did!  It was super cold out there. 




PREV: Old Traditions. New Traditions.            NEXTBlogging: Why? Good question…


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

Christmas Eve Celebrations – A Spanish Tradition

Last night, while I was prepping the turkey for tonight’s dinner, my daughter asked me why do Spaniards celebrate Christmas on the 24th?

Good question.  My answer of course was….because that is the way it’s always done!

Truth is, I am not quite sure.  ***cue in Google search here***

Yikes!!  I am Roman Catholic!! – I really should have known the answer to this…

Truth is it doesn’t matter when you celebrate; the 24th, 25th, 19th or 28th.  The point is to be able to enjoy your loved ones, both far and near.  To raise a glass to those who have passed on into heaven (Te quiero mucho mama – miss you)

Yesterday I received a card from one of my students that made an impact on me.  It reminded me why I do what I do.  Teaching is my 3rd career and definitely one that I never planned on being in but each time that I see that I have made a difference in a child’s life solidifies that I made the right decision.



She wanted me to read the card in front of her.  I did.  My heart swelled when I read that she learned from me on how to be strong and be her own person.  I looked up at her with tears in my eyes and she was smiling.  Not a smartalek smirky smile, but one that genuinely went from ear to ear and she jumped to hug me.  I know I don’t teach in the traditional manner that we were taught at Teacher’s College, does that make me less of a teacher? Very few of my students will ever go on to be hairstylists, computer engineers, photographers or project managers because of what I have taught them but I do know this….I’ve empowered each one of them to be their own person.

This is what Christmas is about.  An extra special moment to remind us how special we are to each other.  Yes, we should do it on a regular basis but life gets busy unfortunately.  We should not judge others just because they sin differently than us but making people feel good about themselves is the greatest gift we can give each other.  Let them know they make a difference in your life.

Those words: “how to be strong and be her own person” – that is the message I keep getting from Jiu Jitsu.  Learning a drill, getting a stripe or even just figuring out how to keep your pants on or your belt looking fly – at Pura Atos Hamilton, they teach you how to be strong and be your own person – it doesn’t happen in a day or a week, but it’s happening every moment that I show up.

On that note….

Open Mat Schedule: 

December 26th at 12 – 2pm
December 28th at 12- 2pm and 5 -7pm
December 29th at 12 – 2pm and 5 – 7pm
December 30th at 12-2pm
January 3rd at 12 -2pm

From my home to yours, Feliz Navidad everyone!  God bless you all!!


PREV: Hot flashes and this girl’s Gi                            NEXT: Old Traditions. New Traditions.


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

Mom! You look like a Jiu Jitsu girl!! 😃

I’m standing in the middle of my hallway stressing because my house looks like Trump vomited in it, the cat has peed outside the litter box – again [*rolling eyes*], I haven’t started my baking and I have a house full of guests coming for Christmas Eve. I’m feeling guilty because instead of doing all these things that a good mom and host is supposed to do…. I went to a Jiu Jitsu class.

I’m sweaty, hair is in total disarray, my mascara is smudged down my face and my baby girl says to me within seconds of me entering my crazy home…’Mom! You look like an actual Jiu Jitsu girl!!’

All of a sudden I feel super beautiful (best compliment I’ve ever received) and at that moment, I know I’m on the right track.


You see, almost four months ago, I made an impromptu decision.  I  was having a very difficult time after burying my mom this summer when through my Facebook feed comes a post.

I know what you’re thinking…hells no!!  Lol. What do I have that would require me to know self-defence?? I’m a crazy out-of-shape old lady!! No one would want to attack me!

I ignored the post…and a second time, third, fourth…OK! OK!!!! I’ll go check it out.

First off I need to go to the studio to see what on earth this is even about. What the heck is even Jiu Jitsu?  Is it some form of Karate? Ha-yaw!  Hmmm…

As I go up the stairs and into the hallway, my sense of smell is hit with this very strange scent – its almost sweet smelling, can’t pin my finger on it. More on this topic later!

I open the door…OMG!!!! There are 3 sets of very sweaty, very fit men rolling around on the floor. Super intense!!! What the heck is this!!! I am NOT NOT NOT doing this!!

Then a young man with kind eyes stops rolling around, comes to me all sweaty smiles and says ‘Hi! My name is Matt, don’t worry; the self-defence class isn’t this intense.’

I can’t even speak! I’m wide-eyed just staring. I want to run out of there but I’m glued to the bench. Something is telling me that no matter how scared I am, this is the beginning of a new and very unexpected adventure…

…& so it begins…