Groundhog Day

For a long time, I’ve felt stuck in my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practice. I don’t have a sports background, and I’ve been out of shape for most of my life. Starting a tough combat sport at 30 is not for people looking for a fun way to spend $150 on pajamas you can’t sleep in. I’ve been training nearly 6 years, and I haven’t earned a stripe on my belt since September of 2014, and I like to say I spent 5 years on the bottom of side control. It was like Groundhog Day (the film), but with bruises and chipped teeth.

Last night, however, I think I broke through a long plateau. I’m trying to develop a more attack and pressure game, as opposed to just surviving and escaping. I was able to mount and take back control of 2 brown belts and a purple belt, and even work a little at setting up submissions. I wasn’t able to finish most of them-the buzzer rang right as I was finally transitioning to a finish with several training partners- but this is still a huge improvement for me, and I’ll take it. It’s only a step, but it’s progress.

I had a facebook conversation about bjj and depression. Bjj definitely helps, but depression makes everything more difficult, and bjj is no different. My mind often wanders during technique instruction, and when it’s time to drill, I’m in a fog. There are times in class where I’ve asked myself “why do I keep doing this to myself?”

I heard a quote on a podcast from a respected brown belt-“I’m not even sure if I like jiu jitsu, but it’s this or suicide.”

Find your “thing”, and a tribe with which to do it. Fiercely protect these things and the time you invest into them. Make sure it has a place in your goal setting.

In addition to bjj, writing is my thing. After I finish my short story collection and 2 nonfiction titles, I’m writing a graphic novel script. I’ve wanted to do it for YEARS, but have been intimidated to try. I have this momentum after getting my first book out, and I want to keep moving. Don’t let me forget. I have a loose idea what it will be about, but I’m trying the foolscap method, which uses minimal notes and pre-writing. I have a sneaking suspicion this will work better than the use-scrivener-like-a-serial-kiler-would method, which leads to overthinking and paralysis by analysis for me.

Life is too finite to stack up regrets. I’m going to keep moving, a step at a time.

 

Epiphany

Have you ever had a thought which you were afraid to share because it would make you feel vulnerable or silly? Fear not, dear reader, I will be your surrogate. Vulnerable is kinda my thing.

I had a thought when I was praying/meditating/lying on the floor-“I give myself permission to love myself to wellness.” Maybe you read that, see touchy-feely, new-agey buzzwords and think, “whatever dude.”

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But…this is radical for me. Love myself? I often don’t even like myself, and my attempts at self-improvement/growth were to shore up a surfeit, to overcome a shortcoming, to fix something I didn’t like. And most of those attempts have failed.

I don’t want to do that anymore.

I used to be a positive person. Genuinely, annoyingly optimistic. Cheerful, even. This is who I was. I oftentimes still didn’t like myself, but it wasn’t too hard for me to find the silver lining in everything. As stress built up, I was less and less able to find the good, and eventually stopped looking.

This isn’t going to be easy. It’s going to shake me up, force me to refocus, to examine my motivations, to guard my heart, to be a fierce bodhisattva, to be exceedingly honest with myself.

It will be really uncomfortable at first to get to know myself. It will probably hurt a little.

How will I do this journey? I don’t know yet. But I do know it will take sleep, yoga, jiu jitsu, journaling, service, prayer, quiet, eating differently, and again, yoga. And likely more I’ve not yet considered.

And the Earth will stop spinning as I, Zach Morris-like, pause time and hang out with the man in the mirror.

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Make that change

No, of course not. I’m still going to be married, and have 3 daughters,  a full time job, be a full-time student, be a busy church elder, have hobbies and friends, and somewhere in there have time to change careers and occasionally use the restroom.

I am choosing a challenging path, because it is drastic. It’s what I need. It’s Theodore Roosevelt’s strenuous life, but it’s my life.

I am taking responsibility for the life I want to live. I give myself permission to love myself to wellness.

 

 

 

Permission

I made a decision a few years ago that helped me reclaim a great deal of control in my personal life. It’s a simple one: “No one has my permission to make me have a bad day.”

People can do or say things to me which potentially could be upsetting, or scary, or make me angry, but I take ownership my emotions and reactions. Sometimes I lose my cool, but we all do. Emotions are sticky, odd-shaped things, heavier at one end, and oftentimes too tall to fit nicely into the overhead compartment.

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