Category Archives: Real Men Empower Women

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 ūüôā )¬† 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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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 Рby 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 Рto 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 Рwhatever our reason is Р 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?)

And….

Flip!!

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.”

Huh?

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!

…

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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…

girlsjustwannahavefun

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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….

Ah….nope…15823468_10210089816656483_6166463195236787440_n

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

Gulp!!

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 Рam 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 РI am no longer content with simply watching Рnow 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!

 

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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 Рthank 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
 Рis the first woman to hold the position of Chief Justice of Canada and the longest serving Chief  Justice of Canada in history.

‚ÄĘ

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

‚ÄĘ

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.

‚ÄĘ

Madame C.J. Walker Рfirst 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.

‚ÄĘ

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

‚ÄĘ

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.

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What exactly is a Gi?

My friends are such sweethearts. ¬†They have been reading along through my posts and when they come over, they see my Gi (pronounced Gee ) on the drying rack, the list of techniques on my fridge door and they smile. ¬†“You have really taken to Jiu Jitsu, haven’t you Yolanda?”
15672693_10209958688138352_3068036641739030588_n

My soul brightens up a little more….responding with a very calm and serene…Yes.

My students, my friends Рthey have noticed a change in me.  Some have gone so far as to say that they have noticed a small weight loss (my scale says otherwise unfortunately) but most have told me the same thing.  How much calmer I am these days.

So now my friends are curious showing additional support in my journey and they want to learn more. ¬†Hence the current question and one that inspired me to write an entire post on…what exactly is a Gi?

I know I had no idea the first time I heard that I had to wear one if I wanted to get into Jiu Jitsu more seriously.

My first thought was whether or not they had a size big enough for me – would it even fit in all the right places?!?

I remember how nervous with excitement I was when I purchased it.  I was actually shaking.  There were some men in the room, all wearing theirs, they looked like they had just finished a training session.

Professor PJ handed mine from the back room, I didn’t even get to choose my own. ¬†Coach Joel told me to quickly try it on, you can read about that whole experience if you wish.

Not having had a chance to wash it prior to training, I put it on right out of the bag. ¬†BIG MISTAKE! ¬†I couldn’t stand the smell of it. ¬†I felt sooooo uncomfortable, it was stiff, the belt would not keep looped….all in all, I hated it.

But I had to wear it…3 weeks later, I love it. ¬†It has become a garment that makes me feel empowered.

Strong.

Protected.

Safe.

But what is it about this garment that we have to wear them? Let’s see what my research brings up:

According to Wikipedia: Brazilian jiu-jitsu gi I can wear a patch so long as it is in the designated areas Рjust not sure if it can be a cancer ribbon or if it must be something directly related to BJJ.

Why is it called a Gi and not a Kimono?¬† – “The word ‚Äúgi‚ÄĚ derives from ‚Äúkeikogi‚ÄĚ which means training gear.”

The JiuJitsuBrotherhood web site offers this article to help you choose your next Gi.

A Gi is not cheap Рthey range anywhere from $100 -$200 depending on the fabric type and the quality of the material.  So be sure to take care of your Gi.

A beginners guide is offered by BJJSports. ¬†I learned by experience why you need to wear a Gi and/or rash gear – when I ended up with about a 3-inch bruise on my arm. ¬†I didn’t even get hit, it simply happened because I was sweating and my opponent’s finger slide off my arm. ¬†Gotta say though, I was pretty proud of my very first bruise. ¬†I think I showed every one of my friends thereby¬†solidifying their¬†thoughts that I may be entering senility. ¬†

I have learned that there is a training etiquette – which I see in play on the mat but I didn’t quite understand.

The holy grail!!!  I think I have just come across one extremely informative website for White Belts!!

Hands with teacupOk…I see I have a lot of reading ahead of me now….

Hopefully I have provided at least one thing that you can learn from, if I did, then it was worth waking up this morning. ¬†If not, read on – I’m sure you will find something.

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I am a Bad Mom!

 

Its 6am and I wake up with a terrible fright…….the “tooth fairy” fell asleep!!! ¬†OMG!! ¬†Run! Run! ……NNOOOOOOOO!!!! Tip toe quietly….damned the squeaky hardwood floor!!zahnfee-muenze-tooth-fairy-coin-8-1-1

The ‘tooth fairy’ has just placed the money on the night table and as she grabs the tooth, hears a sleepy voice….”Mama, are you the tooth fairy?”

I’m sooooo busted! ¬†My response, you ask?

“Shhhhhh, mi ni√Īa (my baby girl), you’re dreaming..go back to sleep.”

And I RUN out the door, heart pounding!  I am such a bad mom, I  just ruined the tooth fairy for her plus I LIED TO MY BABY GIRL!!

Then there was the time where we had Princess Goldie.  A blue fighter fish.  Who lived for 6 months. Want to know how I kept her alive for so long?  $$$ Рyes, money.
Every time Princess Goldie would swan dive out of the bowl, or her belly swell up from too much of my 6 year old over feeding her or whatever crazy reason she would float to the top, I would fly to the pet store (aka drive, I only use my broomstick when it is warm outside)

One time, Princess Goldie turned red overnight. ¬†“Mama, why is she red?” ¬†Me: “Because mi ni√Īa, the fish doctor gave me medicine to feed her and it turned her red”

This in turn caused my baby to be maybe just a little afraid to take medicine that was the color red Рgrape flavour it was! 

Unbeknownst to my baby, the final Princess Goldie was the 6th generation of Goldies (even t5916043393_277e05267f_bho they were all blue, except the one that was red)…and yes, I did tell her that the medicine was temporary, and that is why she turned blue again.

Last week, she and I are sitting at the dinner table. ¬†Eating dinner that she had prepared and she was reminiscing about her fish. ¬†I started giggling and said, “my goodness, I can’t believe how many times I ran out to replace that fish!”

The look of shock on her face!!  Her jaw dropped!!  Speechless she was!!

…and it caused me to jump into a fit of laughter, tear jerking belly laughter….

I am a bad mom.  All these years, and she still believed my stories!

I am a really, really bad mom….

Parenting is really hard. ¬†For years, I kept hoping that maybe my doctor just simply forgot to pull out the instruction manual out of me while delivering my baby….or maybe I misplaced it because I am no Martha Stewart. ¬†My house always seems to be in disarray – except for about 5 minutes after I clean. ¬†Why is my cat is the only one who always misses the litter to pee?? ¬†It always seems the other mom’s prepare healthy lunches for their kids, have time to go to PTA meetings and for pete’s sake, what is it with the mom’s that always have perfect hair, makeup and nails??!! ¬†Can I ever be early for anything???Why am I always rushing from place to place, only to always be 15 minutes late???!!!!

My baby makes her own lunches and does her own laundry. She knows how to sew and cook. We argue … a lot.

But isn’t that what we are supposed to do? ¬†Have I not provided an environment where she feels safe to test her limits and boundaries.

She tells me that she loves hanging out with me because I make every outing15781662_10210059676342994_4474866693942926763_n a memorable one. ¬†We laugh…all…the ….time….

Last night, for the first time ever, we went to Nathan Philip Square to skate. ¬†What better time than on New Year’s Eve for Canada’s 150th birthday party. ¬†As we skated around the rink, she held¬†my hand and¬†didn’t let go. ¬†My heart swelled.

Yes. ¬†I am a bad mom….and damned proud of it!!

What does any of this have to do with Jiu Jitsu?  737307_4676440863544_831045141_oNo clue.

But I do know that I must be doing something right, when my teenager loves hanging out with me and what better way to bring in the new year, except with my baby girl by my side.  She is my cheerleader.

I love you to the moon and back¬†mi ni√Īa!!

(Thank you Emilia for planning this fantastically fun NYE 2017-another Bad Mom and proud of it!)

15825794_10210059677063012_4858176110040419484_n

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2017 Resolutions? or Goals?

I am going to go out there and say, I don’t truly have any resolutions.

The reason for this is because it puts too much pressure on me. ¬†I don’t just say ‘this year I am going to do xyz’ because you know it won’t happen.

What I have learned I need to say is, today.  Today I will accomplish 1 goal even if that goal is simply to get out of bed.

I have set a goal for myself that each day I write something inspiring or empowering in this blog. ¬†I find it helps quiet the 14 voices in my head once I’ve jotted down my thoughts. ¬†There is a lot less competition for space inside my head since I’ve started.

My next goal, which I actually set almost 4 months ago, is Jiu Jitsu.

Not because I have any crazy idea of earning belt levels but because it helped m15726225_10210042531554385_1664723086574090121_ne achieve the first goal I set for myself the first day in self-defense class.  That day my goal was to make it through the front door.  Mission accomplished!

My goals for every new trigger I hit are always….just make it through the door, then get my Gi on, then make it to the mat. ¬†Most of these goals are not always obtainable. ¬†My anxieties at times win but I can proudly say that making it through the door has had a 99% rate of return. ¬†The people at Pura Atos provide that environment for me. ¬†They have created a safe haven for women like myself to return time and time again.

First time attending Open Mat especially did that for me this week. ¬†15589994_10209975092348447_2708350135045625439_nIf it isn’t intimidating enough to walk into a room full of men, try doing that as a white belt (male or female) when the rest of them are all blue belt and above. ¬†You know they could crush you in an instant.

Instead, they smiled at me as I hovered low in my safe corner while I watched them roll.  I was proud of myself that I could actually see moves I recognized Рeven though I can never remember what they are called.

Griffin was awesome teaching me a new arm bar and a triangle lock Рthough it was kind of amusing that the length of my leg was the length of his arm and I was supposed to grab him in a leg lock.  Talk about my flailing arms and legs everywhere, at least my pedicure looked good Рand yes, I remembered to shave this time, now if I can only remember to stop pointing my toes and keeping my feet flat!  (Thank you Griffin, I wish you and your wife all the best during the delivery of your new baby soon)

Poor Brad – I turned him down twice – sorry about that, don’t take it personal. ¬†I’ve just been watching you all and I know I am not capable of giving you a challenging roll – yet. ¬†You’d have to stop and teach me and that’s not right either, nor do I expect it.

Anthony taught me about taping and why guys do it.

As for the rest of the guys that offered to roll with me, thank you for making me feel like I belong and respecting my fear of even just being in the room.

As I sat in the corner of the room, using the walls as a safety net, I noticed 15747733_10210039450237354_3165903851564473238_nthat I felt a sense of calm and oneness with my Gi. ¬†Like a comforting blankie..that was a new feeling. (I wonder if I can put a small cancer ribbon patch on my Gi -in memory of my mom? ¬†I’ll have to ask if that is allowed)

Thank you kind gentlemen of Atos, for allowing me the freedom to push outside my personal limits at my own pace.  I truly appreciate that.

Oh! ¬†I forgot to mention sweet Melina, who at 15 years old green belt, is a true inspiration for young females. ¬†I dare anyone to try something on her that she doesn’t like – they won’t ever do it again. ¬†She let me practice my Pull Guard and let me throw her around a bit.

Plus Coach Joel, thank you for teaching me how to escape that wretched closed guard I hate so much and making me work for it.  That was a lot of fun.

So I guess I do have a resolution after all….

I am going to continue pushing my comfort zone limits, one baby step at a time.

 

Article:  10 Jiu-Jitsu Resolutions You Should Be Making For The New Year (And Every Day)

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On a more serious note…Domestic ViolenceÔĽŅ

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 groups: how 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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Mi casa es su casa.
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The little engine that could…
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Mom‚Äôs Recipes ‚Äď Recreated with Love