Sunday, September 21, 2014

giggly in DC

The sign near the window in our hotel room reads:
Attention: Due to the Preponderance of Mosquitoes 
in the National Capital Area, 
we ask that you only open the windows
 in case of an emergency. 
This will eliminate any problems 
with insects entering the room. 
Thank you.

A quaint authentic Irish Pub 
served one of the best Bloody Mary's 
I've ever had!
The girls had Reisling 
and a refreshing melon cocktail.

We took a cruise on the Potomac 
to look at the monuments. 

We docked temporarily in Alexandria, Virginia.

No matter how old you are you can still have a giggly slumber party.

Queen Mentor, a lovely colleague, and I are down in Washington, D.C. for a conference at George Washington University to honor the participants in the White House's Interfaith and Community Service Challenge. Our university was nominated to be on the President's Honor Roll! Mentor and I will be presenting to a large auditorium of participants tomorrow on our work with the Council at our school. We're betting we made it to the Honor Roll and will be receiving an award! A gala is scheduled and good times will be had by all.

We arrived nice and early today and enjoyed the fountains and sights of the Georgetown marina on the Potomac River. We had a lovely dinner, took a river cruise, and had drinks and dessert at an authentic Irish Pub.

When we got back to our room we had the giggles. The sign on our windowsill about a "preponderance of mosquitoes" had us rolling in laughter. You know, there is a gaggle of geese, a flock of seagulls, a murder of crows, a pride of lions, so it must be that many mosquitoes makes a preponderance. It struck us so funny.

It felt good to laugh, let go, and just be silly.

My travel mates are sleeping now. Let me try to sleep as well.

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

mixed review from Dad

On behalf of every man 
Looking out for every girl 
You are the God 
and the weight of her world 
So fathers, be good to your daughters 
Daughters will love like you do...
- John Mayer in Daughters

- Friedrich Nietzsche 

No one can take the wind out of my sails faster than my father when he's saying the wrong thing to me.

I went to see my parents today to say goodbye before I leave for Washington DC to be honored with my university at the White House's Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge gathering. Yeah it's kind of a  big deal.  When I walked into the house I was feeling pretty good in the wake of my yellow belt and the upcoming White House gig.

My father asked how I was doing and I beamed proudly, "I'm a yellow belt in Tang Soo do, Daddy!" I said it like a 5 year old rather than a grown woman in that way only a little girl who's hungry for acknowledgment can say it.

"Oh, I don't like the sound of that," said my father, "Yellow is the color of cowards isn't it? Why would you want to be a yellow belt?"

You've never seen a smile fade so quickly. I tried to explain that it was a beginner color-belt and in the Korean belt system it is like the sun beginning to rise up over the horizon. He snickered a bit. I know he didn't  understand what I was talking about.
I figured it would be better to try to speak his language, so I talked about boxing instead.

I told my father that I sparred with Golden Gloves trainer Don Somerville and his crew (there I am in the lower left wearing bright red boxing gloves).

My father was a weight lifter and an amateur boxer in his younger days. He aspired to do body building professionally and to box competitively, but alas the family curse of discouragement held him back. I inherited that curse. I've been battling that demon all my life. I win battles. I will soon win the war against it.

In the living room with my parents, I got into boxing stance and did a few punches and jabs. That got a positive response. "Lookin' good," he said and laughed a little laugh of surprise mixed with encouragement. Then my mother asked me to show her something. "Show me a kick" she said as she clapped with emphasis. I showed her a roundhouse kick, a front kick, and a side kick with excuse of how I still need to get my heel even with my ankle for my side kick. Then I did a block set. Naturally I had my knees bent in a proper stance for my blocks and my set ups.

"It looks like you're getting ready for a farting contest!" joked my father.
I laughed it off. My dad will be 85 in November. He has a touch of dementia. I'm grateful he is as lucid as he is, but his making fun of my martial arts training still hurt my feelings. Horse stance ain't easy when you've got titanium knees. His joking made me feel utterly foolish.

I understand, though. That's what his mother did to him and my aunts and uncles. She made fun of everything. She was funny so humor was her go-to defense. She was a great storyteller with a natural wit, but that wit used at just the right time was a tool of the Sargese curse of discouragement. Make fun of someone at just the right time in just the wrong way and you can shatter a dream pretty badly, thus keeping them from taking risks, leaving the nest, and "abandoning" her.

She passed her weapon onto my father, thus the farting contest remark. It doesn't help that I battle the demon inside my head that tells me I look foolish to be a fat woman my age on the mats.

It's bad enough the dobak makes me look 20 pounds heavier.
Or maybe I really am that big,
I don't know...

It's bad enough I look at pictures of myself and think negative things about my appearance. It's bad enough I'm struggling to build a fitness level and I'm self conscious about it. Now I have my father's voice in my head making fun of my horse stance for looking like a farting position. Jeez.

I tell myself it's the demon, not my father. It's the regret my father has for not pursuing his own dreams. He goes on automatic and becomes his mother, making fun of everything that's not familiar. If he doesn't understand something or is uncomfortable with someone else's bravery,  he lapses into humor mode like she did.  It doesn't matter that it's his own kid on the receiving end.

I said to him that I'm 50 and I want to toughen up. I said I didn't toughen up when I was being bullied in school. I didn't do it when I was young so I'm doing it now. I'm making up for what I should have done years ago. He stared off past me while my mother changed the subject to something with her as the center of attention.

And people had the nerve to ask why I didn't want them at my belt test? I only wanted people there who truly believed in me, people who understood what this world is about, people who want me to succeed, and who know how hard this all is for me on many levels.

The motivational memes and mainstream self-esteem rhetoric tell us that we're supposed to have strength from within and not rely on others' opinions. That's only partially good advice.

We are social beings. We are frail and fragile humans who need each other for support. We need comrades.  We need friends who can re-parent us in the  broken places our parents left unmended. I was a sponge the night of my test drinking in every way-to-go, every pat on the back, every hug, every cheer, every "I'm proud of you", every approving look and word.  I don't care what the books say. If I need the mortar to hold my bricks in place I'll take it.  I'm tired of beating myself up for having needs. I have them and I don't care how neurotic they are, I'm getting them met.

When I was being bullied as a kid I'd come home and cry about it. My father promised to teach me how to box. He never did. If in the present day it takes a frikken chorus line of father substitutes to mend that unmended part of me then I'm on that line. I'll mend and I'll toughen up as I go.

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Friday, September 19, 2014

no plan b

I don't know if it's
or faith,
but I don't often have a Plan B.

Both times I applied to grad school I applied to the school I wanted to attend. I didn't even have a secondary school in mind.

When I applied for my last two teaching jobs, one in Jersey City and the other in Bergen County I didn't send my resume anywhere else. I was hired with ease at both places.

My Toyota Rav 4 was my first choice for a car. I thought about getting a Kia to save money but when it was time to get serious, we went to the Toyota dealer and came home with a Rav 4.

It could be a matter of wanting something so badly that nothing else will do. It could be incredible faith that something's meant to be. I'm not sure.

What I do know is that lately I'm getting much better at sensing when I'm supposed to be doing something or not. If I'm on the wrong path I get this weird depression that comes over me. I feel a physical aversion to projects I'm not supposed to be working on, teams I'm not supposed to be on, and issues I'm not supposed to be involved in. It's like turning 50 turned on some sort of effort-sensor that tells me where I should invest my energy.

On my birthday I set my priorities as teaching, training, and book writing. Everything else is either gravy or chaff.
Prioritizing has helped to give me this new clarity of purpose. I'm cleaning up the last of my obligations that I made prior to this and then, spit spot, I'm done. I'll be focusing on Plan A efforts only.

The author, video teacher, and motivational speaker gig has been my plan since 2006. I thought "getting skinny" would be the story, but other things happened instead. Big things. Miraculous things. I have stories within stories. I use them as teaching tools. I give them away in this blog. Now I need to turn this into a second career somehow.

I'll figure it out. I always do. When I have a Plan A I always find a way to make it happen.

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

feelings change

we all want to be happy,
that is the fundamental human wish. We want basic needs met and we want to feel happy.

A quote like this one reminds people that they're the ones in charge of their happiness, but worse yet, if they aren't feeling happy they're the ones who are blocking it. It's kinda self-blaming. I like accountability, but I don't like blame. Blame just makes things worse. Tell a depressed or unhappy person that their painful feelings are in their own control and they'll most likely feel worse. I've never told anyone to just "snap out of it". If we make someone feel blamed for how bad they feel we're compounding their unhappiness.

Not only do they feel unhappy but they're being told that they're just no good at being happy. They somehow lack the will or the talent for happiness. That's not very empowering.

I also have mixed feelings about sayings like this...

Tell that
to the young students in my college classes
who are still in the stage of their lives where they seek approval and are trying to find their way into an accepting peer group.

Looks matter to plenty of people. Certain types of appearances come with privilege. Privilege means plenty of things but mostly it means more opportunities, more easy acceptance in social situations, more easily given rights and advantages, and less or no stigma attached to one's appearance.

Young people trying to find their identity in the world know all too well how hard the world can be on someone who doesn't fit the socially accepted appearance mandate.

Loving one's own appearance is something that usually comes with time. Telling someone that it's on them to feel good about themselves while they're trying ot find acceptance in their peer group or trying to make friends while living away from home for the first time comes off as kinda insensitive. We're social beings. We do get judged on our appearance. We get accepted or rejected and all the subtle things in between based on our looks. It's understandable that we care about how other people perceive us.

Quotes like this make the person who's feeling insecure about their looks feel even worse. Not only are they made to feel shallow for wanting to be attractive they feel bad for not living a life that makes them feel so good they forget to care about their looks.

I think it's ok to want to be as attractive as possible. I think it's ok to be as sad as we authentically feel for as long as we authentically feel it. It's ok to feel, to be, and breathe into it. Let it be so it can be gone or be something else or just be what it is without catching a fight.

Pema Chodron teaches us to feel what we feel and not fight it. It's the fight that wears us out. If we let the unpleasant feelings just arise and be, they'll move on eventually. We need to feel the feelz till they're done and a new feeling arises. This takes us out of that constant war with ourselves.

It takes the pressure to be happy off of us and lets us just be.

I feel tremendous relief by letting myself feel what I feel and think what I think without fighting myself. It's allowing me to feel and think things with less stress. No feeling lasts forever. Everything changes.

We don't get to keep people or places or ideas. Even the air we breathe in has to be exhaled immediately. No person, place, or feeling stays with us forever. Everything moves its own way in its own time.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

caffeine withdrawal

"The "Morphine bomb" may be able to help 
and without side effects!
Gary Young created this recipe for pain
which he called the “Morphine Bomb,”
using therapeutic grade essential oils for pain.
...Morphine Bomb Recipe:
5 drops of  Frankincense
 5 drops of Balsam Fir
5 drops of Copaiba
in an empty gelatin or vegetable capsule
... Take capsules as often as necessary
 for pain and healing.
Apply topically in layers to the painful area,
as often as needed to minimize pain.
Note: When we use therapeutic-grade essential oils, 
the body selects whatever it needs from each oil 
and eliminates the remainder within 20 minutes. 
Therefore, it is fine to repeat the oils if necessary."
by Debbie Allen

I was having scary heart palpitations for a while now.  Scary as in I could feel my heart tripping over itself. It would skip beats, hammer and stop for a second or two. Sometimes my body would go on automatic and I'd sit up and cough to get my heart to "reset" itself without even thinking about doing it. My body went into pace-maker mode and restarted itself.

There were times when I'd feel a strange rushing feeling like tiny little beads were rushing through my heart. Why didn't I go to the doctor? My health insurance premiums were too expensive so I stopped paying them. I'm uninsured.

I was worried that my hard workouts (not hard for everyone, but hard for me) were too much for me, but I didn't want to quit. I was dropping Valor oil on my chest, huffing Lavender oil, and doing lots of resting after class (more like dejected moping).  Then I remembered that my mother had a-fib problems when she hit her 40s and 50s. I asked her what she did for them. She said she gave up chocolate.

So, I gave up caffeine, stimulants, and chocolate. I gave them all up cold turkey.  That was about a week ago.

Those vapes that I sometimes puff on? I'll be using the 0 nicotine ones from now on. Those Verve drinks I was sipping? No more.

You may well ask how much coffee I was drinking in a day. I was up to about 3/4 of a pot. I was dosing on stimulants, a habit I thought I was done with forever. This time I'm done forever.

I immediately felt 80% relief from the irregular heartbeats within 24 hours of stopping all stimulants. Problem 80% solved.

Then it occurred to me:
where are the withdrawal headaches?
When you're a heavy caffeine user and suddenly you give up all stimulants you can expect withdrawal headaches.

Not me. I had zero headaches.
Not even a little one.

I simply didn't experience any headaches whatsoever after giving up caffeine cold turkey.

This is uncanny.

My theory is that the oils I've been taking in a capsule every day for the past few months counteracted whatever would have caused the withdrawal headaches.

On June 6, 2014 someone I loved dearly ended our friendship. My heart hurt like a truck ran over it. That same day I decided I'd suffered enough pain in the area of my heart. I needed to take action. I'd been having terrible GERD symptoms and heartburn to go with my heartache, so I gave up aspirin. Giving up aspirin left me in fear of the aches and pains of having titanium knees, a plate and six screws in my leg, and general pains from my physical condition. I'd hard of the "morphine bomb" from my friend Lily so I made myself a capsule full. I took the morphine bombs every day since.

Do I still get aches and pains? Yes, but that's because I do things like hold the big target against my body whilst a teenage black belt punches it. I do punishing workouts, wrestle around with career martial artists, and push my body out of its comfort zone. Stuff  hurts, but it's not as bad as it used to be. I'm in much less pain than I've felt in years. And now this miracle of not having caffeine withdrawal headaches.

I'm going to credit the therapeutic grade essential oils  for my miraculous condition.

Over the past few months I've
quit smoking
quit caffeeine
quit aspriin
and gave up all "energy" drinks and stimulants.
That's a lot of giving up.

How do I feel?
My lungs are clearing out. My heart feels stronger. I'm getting my mojo back
and I'm running the p.

What oils do I use every day?

I rub OrthoSport on my knees and ankle twice a day,
rub Purification and/or Thieves on the bottoms of my feet and on my ears twice a day,
take the morphine bomb (see recipe above) once or twice a day,
take Lemongrass, Wintergreen and/or Peppermint in capsule form once or twice a day,
inhale Lavender and/or Valor and rub one or both on my heart once or twice a day.
and I diffuse various oils like Basil, RC, Orange, Lemon, Thieves, and/or Pine throughout the day.

I use other specific oils as needed.

I don't even remember the last time I had a headache
and I don't even crave coffee or cigarettes.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014


I'm loving the new Timehop app that shows your old statuses and pics from Facebook. It tells you what you were doing on one, two, three, four, and five years ago that day.

Three years ago today I wasn't able to stand on my own two feet for more than a minute. I was still riding the electric wheelchair on campus and taking pain killers as I healed from my second knee replacement surgery.

Three years ago today I could barely stand.

Guess who's standing now?

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Monday, September 15, 2014

first class as yellow belt

What happens when you push yourself?
You go farther.

What happens when you train at something in an exaggerated way?
The regular way gets easier.

What happened after a grueling belt test where my lung capacity was stretched so hard my lungs ached?
My kia was magically louder.

Well, not magically. I worked really hard and good stuff happened.
You know what? That IS magic!

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