Day 14: Warrior II

My back pain flared up recently. I have sciatica and a few herniated disks in my lower back, and arthritis in my mid back. I decided to confront it instead of just being in pain or medicating.

I’ve found some stretches that work, and Muay Thai. I’ve done a few classes here and there over the years, but I haven’t been able to really pursue it due to scheduling. I was worried the rotational nature of the kicks would aggravate my back. It hasn’t, but it has had the benefit of loosening up my exterior and frontal hip muscles, which contribute to pain and immobility. I’ve been really drained in jiu jitsu, especially working takedowns. My hips have been weak, and MT has helped my athletic stamina for BJJ.

In addition to minding my posture and stretching every hour, I’ve been trying to do yoga several times a week. The other day, I was able to bend forward from the waist more than I could in years, and was feeling great. I cam almost do a perfect downward-facing dog now. I went into Warrior 2, and the instructor said “say something positive and affirming about yourself”. Without thinking, I calmly said “I AM a fucking warrior”. I was stunned for a second, then I smiled, because even though it’s kind of corny, I know it’s true.

The past few months have been a period of transition, and I haven’t had much of a routine to speak of. Taking the time to ground myself and be intentional with my time has been hugely beneficial, physically and mentally.

I was talking to a friend who had started seeking mental health services. He was worried he was making a big deal out of nothing, or too sensitive. He’s also in the military, and there’s still a stigma about seeking help. He asked a few coworkers about it, and a few thought he was just being whiny. I pointed out that the people he asked are 1) men and 2) military members. We are cultured to ignore feelings and get the job done. When my mom was dying 10 years ago, I feel I shouldered a lot of the administrative burden of managing the details. I had to. I promised myself I would process it later, so I could take care of business. I thought I was acting out of strength, or being tough, but it was a reaction of fear. I was unwilling to process my emotions and thoughts head on, and packed them away. In not dealing with it, I was being a coward. It blew up years later.

That’s not what warriors do. Sometimes you do have to keep moving forward, but you also need to make sure all your gear and faculties are battle-ready. This includes mental health, diet, sleep. Everything.

Being a warrior doesn’t mean being perfect. Namaste, fuckers.

 

 

The Ghost Athiest (Fiction)

ghost

 

This originally appeared on my Medium.com page, where I post fiction pieces.

The Ghost Athiest

“Dude, wake up.”

Paul rubbed his eyes with the heels of his palms. “You’re not talking to me. I already told you ghosts aren’t real. Rather, they could be real, but there’s no evidence for or against. My non-belief is pragmatic and based on the scientific method”, he said.

“Paul, this is going to get ugly if you don’t get your stupid meatbag ass outta that bed. I have to right wrongs on Earth so I can move on, and you’ll learn something through the quest.”

Paul sighed. “This is just a side effect of my medication. I’m going back to sleep.”

“Goddamnit Paul! Even prescription-strength dandruff shampoo doesn’t cause claw-like lacerations, auditory and visual hallucinations, and fuckin’ ECTOPLASM!”

“The scratches are from inexpensive towels, the hallucinations are from being tired, and the alleged ectoplasm is sebaceous fluid from my inflamed scalp. Goodnight, to no one and nothing, because I am alone.” Paul said, glad for having stood up for himself.

The ghost shook the bed. “A common earthquake, and a pitiful one, at that.”

The ghost opened Paul’s laptop and typed “SAMSAMSAMSAMSAMSAMSAMSAM.”

“Screensaver,” Paul declared.

“Listen, jackass, I have to settle accounts” the ghost said.

“Misplaced workplace anxiety,” answered Paul.

The ghost jumped in through Paul’s solar plexus and made his head turn around three times.

“Yoga must be paying off”, a smug Paul said. “Namaste.”

“I have business with the realm of the living, and I’ve chosen you as my corporeal assistant”, the Ghost said from within Paul’s thorax.

“I have big things to do. I’m going to change the World! I believe in me, I’m a winner, and nothing can get in my way!” affirmed Paul.

The ghost swam out through the main exit, dragging a fart with him. Paul giggled.

“You screwed up big time, buddy! You could have been rich, and imbued with the power of the spirit world. You could even have been reunited with your dead dog, Sparky. I’m outta here.” The ghost said, before flying through the dreamcatcher over Paul’s window and teleporting to Arizona.

“Is he gone?” asked a voice from under the bed.

“Yeah, it’s cool. Come on out, babe”, Paul said

“Whew, that was close” said Lady Sasquatch, as she slipped under the comforter. “Tell me about Sparky” she said, spooning Paul.

Changes and Challenges

Last night I read at an open mic. The others there were just starting to remember my name. It was fun, I thought I’d found my tribe. I told everyone I was moving, and the open mic was one of my favorite things about Utah. It felt like good closure, a sweet “see you later.”

I have a great deal of change on the horizon. This is a good thing, and mostly of my own design. I know change can produce stress and anxiety for me. My main challenges are:

1) Leaving the military after 15 years

2)Moving to another state/city (Albuquerque) where I don’t really know anyone

3) Entering the civilian workforce

4) Leaving the small but powerful support system taking root after living in Ogden for a year and a half

 

This is what a Do-Over looks like. I am changing costumes. I am abandoning nearly everything which is familiar.

I’m excited about the individual elements, but looking at it aggregated, it’s a bit much. There are some things I’ll need to be intentional about in order to have some semblance of stability during this tumultuous season:

1) Not neglecting myself- sleep, eat better, exercise

2) Stay connected with God

3) Find peer groups immediately (Especially Jiu Jitsu)

4) Don’t entertain negative thoughts

5) Most importantly, check in with myself so I don’t take my crap out on my family.

 

The next few months, especially the next few weeks are daunting, but I can do it, as long as I remain mindful to remain mindful. I’m a little scared, but my anticipation of my adventure is much stronger than my fear and anxiety. I can do this, and wether I could or not, it’s happening, and I’m grateful.

Fierce Medicine

wp-1455761665595.jpeg

 

I picked up a book from the library-the same mountain trip I chronicled 2 posts ago. The book has been a partial impetus of my previous post, as well. This thing is eddying and rippling across me, and doing more than disturbing the surface. I’m not very far in to the book, but I’ve already purchased it from Amazon. I’ve never done that, but I know Ana T. Forrest‘s Fierce Medicine will be a book I revisit and consult all the time.

Continue reading

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.”

ok

 

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.

man-in-the-mirror-michael-jackson-23812715-412-542

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.