Stronger…Whatever It Takes!

Nothing will make you realize how out of shape you are like a KMS Bag class.  It’s hard.  It’s so hard.  It pushes you physically, but more than that, it pushes you mentally.  I’ve got three classes under my belt now, and one thing has remained the same through each class for me:  I’m stronger than I think I am…and I’ll do whatever it takes to finish!

kmshiit

And it’s funny, you know, the thoughts that go through my mind when I hit those moments during class where my muscles are burning, my breath is shallow, and I feel like I’m going to puke.  With that level of exhaustion you’d think I’d be thinking, “Stop!  Quit!  Enough!”  But I don’t.  Those thoughts don’t even enter my mind.  Instead, what I think is, “One more!  Don’t Quit!  No Pain!”

I actually hear Rocky’s trainer from Rocky IV, when Rocky is training in Russia, and he’s doing that insane exercise where he’s holding on to a table, with only his shoulders resting on the table, and he’s slowly and with epic control lowering his feet to the table in slow, methodical reps, and the trainer just says calmly, “No pain.”  He says over and over with intense control, “No pain.”  And that’s what I hear in my head when I’m struggling to do one more rep, to punch one more time, to throw one more kick!  All I can think is, “No pain!  Finish!”  How fitting that the soundtrack under that scene is called Hearts on Fire.  And that’s how I feel during class.  It’s hard!  Really hard!  And yet it’s the most amazing thing, because I’ll do whatever it takes to finish!

And you know why I think that?  Well, it’s twofold.  The first is because, and I can’t believe how much I truly had forgotten this fact, but I’m a tough bitch!  When I set my mind to something, I truly can do anything.  No matter how much it hurts, no matter how long it takes, no matter how much I sacrifice, I will achieve my goal!  But the second, and the most powerful piece for me is that it’s the culture at KMS.  They make me want to push harder, hit harder, finish as hard as I possibly can.  They make me want to make them proud as much as make myself proud.  It’s a place of positivity, of encouragement and of community.  And to finish a class and have everyone congratulating each other for killing it out there, well, that’s just something amazing to be a part of, and I’m so grateful for every class.

kms200The last two days I haven’t taken a class, because my work schedule doesn’t line up for me to take a class.  And I find myself missing it.  I’m looking forward to noon tomorrow when I get to go hit stuff again!  I find my self getting into fighting stance while waiting for the elevator, or standing in line at the grocery store.  It’s pretty awesome.  It’s only been a week, but I already feel like I’m a part of KMS.  And when I signed up, I’m the 200th member, which was such a cool thing for both me and the owners!  It’s a big milestone for them, and a huge moment for me.   Every experience I have in this place just shows me that I found the right place at the right time, because I feel so good when I get there and even better when I leave!  If you like to hit stuff, and want a good workout, and you live in Seattle, you really should come join me!  I dare ya!

Ciao for now,

M sm

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Krav Maga…aka, Awesome Workout aaaaaaaand I Got to Hit Stuff!!!!!!

Ikms-logon following through with my plan to check out Krav Maga Seattle, aka KMS, I got up early, ate a healthy breakfast in plenty of time to let it digest before I headed down to the gym.  It was really easy to find, and there was plenty of free street parking.  I walked in, was instantly greeted by Ally, who helped me get set up for my free week trial (this is usually $20, but there’s a special going on right now where the trial week of unlimited classes is free!  Can ya say kismet??) and I took a seat and watched the final few minutes of Krav Maga 2 class, and holy friggin wow!  That class was no joke!  The amount of self defense, combat training, and technique going on amongst these amazing athletes blew my mind!  I decided to just watch the Krav Maga level 1 class today, but was planning on taking the KMS Bag class, which I’ll get to soon.

So, Krav Maga Level 1….yeah, not for the faint of heart!  The pre-workout, good gawd, I got sore just watching the class.  And after about 10 minutes or so, they all partnered up and started working on punches.  There was every kind of body type, fitness level, skill level, and intensity out there.  The first timers to the class were well instructed and people were so willing to help them do things correctly.  The veterans were friggin inspiring.  One chick in particular, she had dreads and a black bandana and she was a beast!  Her technique was impeccable, her focus was formidable and her intensity was inspirational!  They moved on from punches, to working on knee strikes.  They then worked on getting out of a hold if someone grabs you around the neck from the back and tries to choke you.  I just loved everything I saw, and can’t wait to take my first level 1 class.  Ally taught the class with help from a few other instructors, with the owners keeping watch and shouting out words of encouragement and inspiration throughout.  Everyone gave 110% in that class, and it was a powerful thing to watch!

An hour after that I checked in, grabbed a pair of boxing gloves from the loaner bin, and headed to the mat for my first KMS Bag class.  And Chau, one of the owners started us off.  We all grabbed a jump rope and jumped for 5 minutes.  That doesn’t seem like that long, but when you haven’t jumped rope since the 80s, yeah, it was so long!!  I instantly realized how out of shape I am, but I fought through the pain.  Fought through the burn.  And lasted the full 5 mins.  After that, we did some across the floor work, engaging our core, warming up the entire body.  I felt slow, and weak, but I pushed through.  Then, Ally took over the class and we strapped into our gloves and all grabbed a heavy bag.  And that’s when the magic happened for me!  Not only was my body already sweaty and exhausted, but it was invigorated and craving more!  And this is what I was craving!  I got to hit on the heavy bag!

Working in 2-3minute intervals on different punches, it felt so good to get back to working on a heavy bag.  My body instantly remembered the form I need for accurate, effective punches.  I heard my grandfather’s voice in my head telling me to center, engage my abs, use my hips, keep the punches at shoulder level, and exhale.  And I did.  And it felt great!  All was well until we had to drop down and do sit-ups, and that quick change of level send the first wave of nausea and dizziness.  Coming off of 65 days without sugar made it tough because my body was low on fuel!  My pace may have been a lot slower than the rest of the class, but ya know what, I didn’t quit!  I went at my pace, but I didn’t quit!

I got back up and pushed through.  More dizziness came.  More nausea.  The coaches checked on me, I slowed my pace, but I didn’t quit.  And somehow, at the end of class, I was able to complete a pyramid series of punches, roundhouse kicks, and splays and did so without puking all over the gym!  It hurt.  It burned.  My brain and muscles were screaming for me to stop.  But my heart was too far into it.  My soul was too hell bent on finishing.  I remembered that I have the word Forza, which means Strength in Italian, on my arm for a reason!  I am stronger than I’ve been lately.  I am one tough bitch when I want to be, and I was NOT going to give up!  And when I finished, not only was I so proud of myself, but all the coaches gave me high fives and congratulations!

For the first time, in a long time, I felt so welcome somewhere new.  It felt like I finally found a place I belong!  And even though my heart was pounding out of my chest, I was breathing harder than I have in a long time, and my entire body was shaking, I felt such elation, I can’t even tell you!

I am going to finish out the free week, cuz why not, but I can tell you right now, I’m already a member of KMS.  I am so stoked to workout at this place 5 days a week.  And the best part, it’s friggin walking distance from my office!  No excuses!  This was meant to be on so many levels.

I got to my car, checked in with my best friend so he would know I survived.  And then, I cried.  I cried a release of tears I didn’t know I needed to cry.  The release I got today from all the tension I have been carrying around for the past 6 years finally felt like it was letting go of me.  The weight I’ve been carrying felt lighter.  Yes, I’ve tried yoga.  Yes, I’ve tried diets.  But none of that gave me the endorphin rush, the fulfillment, and the sense of personal accomplishment that this KMS Bag class gave me today.  Some people run. Some people yoga.  Some people crossfit.  Me?  I like to hit stuff.  I like to spend an hour with a heavy bag. I like to learn to defend myself while getting fit.  I’ve found the place that is going to help me reach all my goals, both fitness wise and nutrition wise.  How’s that, you might ask?  Well, because they have a nutritionist there that I am going to work with to ensure I’m fueling and recovering properly for this level of pushing my body.

I more than found a breadcrumb today.  I found a lost piece of myself that I’d forgotten about, and was so ecstatic to find.

Ciao for now,

M sm

Changes

So, I’ve been focusing on what I want, as per my last post, but just last week came up with a plan to finally put into action!  My health is a major concern.  Combine a 50 hour work week with diabetes and sprinkle on unhealthy snacking cuz there’s a Bartell’s five feet from my office and you get a very unhealthy M.  My latest labs scared me to death, and when I got home from the appointment, I looked at myself in the mirror and said to myself, “Self…you’re looking an awful lot like your mother.  Do you want your kidneys to fail, too?  Do you want to have to inject insulin into your body for the rest of your life?  Because last I checked, you did not have a daughter to give up her life to care for you when your immune system dissolves into a bag of dialysis fluid.  Wake the fuck up!”

And I did.  I spent a few weeks trying to get hard workouts in after work, and I did.  I also meal planned and ate well.  And yet, very few pounds dropped.  And I started the self-critical path towards bowls of pasta and bags of chips, and thank god for that image of turning into my mother, because I sat down to try to figure out why the hell my plan wasn’t working.  And it hit me.

Cuz I’m trying to fight against years of neglect of my health, while I was focused on my mother’s health, and I work in a demanding, exhausting job, and by the time I get home, the last thing I want to do is work out.  It’s a chore, and I hate it, so I had to find another way.

A few years ago I did a high protein diet that worked for me.  I didn’t stick to it, because I didn’t have the best support system at home.  But it worked.  It worked wonders!  It balanced by blood sugar, gave me energy, and the food wasn’t bad.  So in doing research, I decided to go back to it, because on this diet, exercise isn’t a key factor until you shed the pounds.  And if I time it all out right, by the time the pounds are gone, I will have moved closer to work, and the energy suck that is my current commute will be gone, and I can use that time to tone myself up.

It’s going to work.  I can feel it.  I started a separate blog to track that journey, and feel free to check out Ideal Michele if you are so inclined.  This is the first time in my adult life where, rather than just giving up on the problem of my health, or ignoring it, I took stock and realized what my current lifestyle is like, and found a solution that works with it.  I’m pretty damn proud of me.

Crumb so unbelievably earned and found!

Ciao for now,

M

And I Know Things Now, Many Valuable Things That I Hadn’t Known Before

Little Red Riding Hood, in Stephen Sondheim’s musical Into the Woods is the sweet innocent girl who gets who world turned upside down by the Big Bad Wolf, and after coming through the other side of that experience sings a song explaining how she’s smarter now than she was before she encountered the wolf.  And as 2014 comes to a close, and 2015 is waiting in the wings to make its entrance, I’m looking back on the journey I took this year, on the breadcrumbs I discovered, on the ones that still elude me, and I think to myself, I know things now, many valuable things, that I hadn’t know before.  So, let’s count them down shall we?

10) Real Estate is not something that is fun.  Especially if you are the seller.  I’ve never felt so violated as I did during the experience of selling my family home.  The bank of the buyer literally has you bent over and will rape you as they see fit, for as long as they see fit, and as the seller you can’t do anything about it.  It was such a horrendous experience, I don’t know that I’ll ever buy a piece of real estate again.

9) As strong as I knew I was, I’m actually a hell of a lot stronger than that, as this year kicked me around a lot and I managed to get up every single time.  I used to blame my mother for the hard things in my life, and she’s been gone a year and a half now, so none of this is her fault.  The house sell was her fault.  The dealing with probate without any financial help because her selfish ass didn’t bother to have life insurance.  But between cleaning out that house, packing and moving and unpacking twice, starting two new jobs, and starting my life over, and doing it all by myself is no small feat.  And I did it.  And I’m still standing.

8) Meeting new people is a wonderful thing, and sometimes those people bring level of clarity to a demon you’ve had your whole life and help you start to heal in a way you never expected.

7) Choices need to be made slower and more thoughtfully.  I have been so used to living my life in a reactionary way, because I could never truly plan for things.  I made that mistake with the last two apartments I’ve rented.  Next time, I will not rush, I will be proactive and plan to make sure I end up somewhere I actually want to live.

6) Seattle is definitely not the place I’m meant to be.  It is not home.  I know this mostly because I thought there was a community waiting for me here that I didn’t have in the Tri-Cities.  Not true.  I was very wrong about that.  The abundance of people who gave me shit the entire time I was home caring for my mother about ‘when are you coming back?’ and ‘i miss you so much, move back!’ have made very little effort towards hanging out with me.  So, if I’m going to be mostly alone, I might as well be somewhere I actually want to live…and it’s not here.

5) Finally working for a huge company making a huge salary and feeling like I have a career now feels really good.

4) No matter where go, your demons and issues will follow you until you deal with them.  I actively avoided therapy…might need to change that in 2015.

3) Even finding Sheldon the best home in the world doesn’t erase all the pain I feel from letting him go.  I hate not having him here with me.  Doing the right thing is rarely easy, and this was the right decision, and it almost killed me.

2) Holidays, like birthdays and Christmas, are really lame when you’r an orphan with no family.  These times of year are meant to have presents and people celebrating with you, and that didn’t happen at all this year.  So, the lesson I learned is that I will no longer celebrate them.  Instead, there will just be another day in October, and a day in December that I don’t have to work.  And in 2015, I will make sure to take myself on a fabulous spa day in October, and on an international vacation the last week of December.  No reason to wallow in my solitude.  Instead, I’ll just find a way to make them fun and less sad for this party of 1.

1) I didn’t focus on my goals I set out for myself in 2014, not by a long shot.  I will reevaluate for 2015 and focus on the things I really want to change and not dwell on the things I didn’t do last year.

2014 didn’t bring the happiness I had hoped it would.  I think that is because I was placing my happiness on external things/people/places/etc.  I will not make that mistake in 2015.

I learned a lot in 2014, and will apply it to 2015.  And hopefully, I’ll find that elusive last breadcrumb this next year.

Ciao for now,

M

Is My Mirror Broken?

Anyone who suffers from self esteem issues, or who is going through some sort of self-improvement physically has those days where you look in the mirror and thing, “Ugh.  I’m hideous.”  And I’m no exception.

However, lately, I’m having the opposite experience, and it’s kind of tripping me out.  For example, I HATE to have my picture taken.  I’m not photogenic.  Never have been.  It always takes hundreds of shots from random angles to get just one shot where I don’t look like quasimoto who has been on a drunken/drug induced bender for 18 days.  And godless digital photography and all filters and tweaks one can make to photos.  It’s helped me a ton.  Anyway, I digress.

Whenever anyone wants to photograph me, I always say, “Oh no, I’m much better in person,” and I say that because that’s truly what I think.  The live show is much better than anything anyone could catch on film.  But it got me thinking, why is that?  Why does the image of me captured through a lens not look at all like what I see when I look in the mirror, because in the mirror, I think I look pretty damn good.  Is, somehow, my mirror broken?

broken_mirror_by_E_NigmaDesignMirror Mirror on the wall, who’s not looking too bad today?  This chick!  Or at least that’s what I will think when looking at my reflection and if it’s good enough I think, “I should snap a pic of me, I look great today!”  Take a pic and look at it on my phone, and poof!  Happy moment shattered as I look at the not so cute reflection staring back at me, and I’m baffled.  I look back in the mirror, and things still look good.  Is my mirror broken?  Is my perception of myself so unbelievably off?

I’m not sure why this keeps happening to me, but it does.  Often.  Makes me think something is wonky in my brain.  My friends compliment me a lot, my best friend especially.  And I trust his opinion on all things, yet have a hard time trusting his assessment of my physicality because a photo doesn’t lie.  But, neither does my bestie.  Yet the two images don’t add up, so one of them must be lying.  Or maybe it’s my self-loathing flawed moments that are lying.

Perhaps it boils down to photogenic vs. non-photogenic, and nothing more than that.  But wow, would it be nice to just have a quick photo snapped and love how it looked.  Perhaps when I get a better hold on my insecurities and remove them from my life, perhaps how harshly I judge myself in photos will lessen.  I know I have a lot of work to do on myself still, and am happy with my progress so far.  And maybe, just maybe, the way I’ll know when all my breadcrumbs have been found is when I can take a pic of myself and simply like the image I see staring back at me.  Maybe.

The search continues….

Ciao for now,

M

Release

I’ve started seriously practicing yoga.  Joined a studio.  Bought a matt and a grippy, aka yogi toes, towel. And have spent three days a week the past two weeks trying my hand at candlelight beginner yoga.  And last night, in my sixth practice session, I struggled.  I couldn’t focus.  Couldn’t keep my mind clear and open.  It constantly filled with minutia and stress and fear, causing my poses to be less than stellar.  I strained through the twist sequence.  I struggled through the balance section.  And the core work threatened to kill me!

And then we got to the end.  To the Shavasana pose, also called corpse pose.  And in laying my hands out at my sides, and stretching my legs long, and centering back into even breathing as sweat dripped down my face, I heard my teacher, Gus, say the words “When you’re ready, release…”

And there may have been words after that, I don’t know, because I took a deep breath, exhaled, and released.  And something in me, deep inside me, released, and I truly let go.  I felt tears well up in my eyes under my closed lids, I felt my breath fully even out and happen with ease.  I released a release I didn’t even know I needed.  And it felt amazing.

I have been through so much over the past year or so, and I thought I’d let most of it go.  But last night, I let go of something I didn’t know I was holding on to, and it made me wonder.  What else am I holding on to?  When will I sense it so that I can release it?  What am I hiding from myself, or more honestly, what am I hiding from?

Now is my time to shine.  Now is my time to explore.  Now is my time to be anything I want to be, and yet I still feel so stuck most of the time.  But not last night.  Last night I felt free.  Last night I felt release.  And as I said, it felt good.  And I want more of that.  Line a glass of good wine, or an amazing orgasm…..I want more of that.  I. Want. More. Of. That.

And damnit, I’m going to get it.

Ciao for now,

M

From the Tower to the Sanctuary

I know it’s been quite a while since I posted anything.  There’s a good reason for that.  It’s because I was stepping out of my last chapter and into my new one.  And there wasn’t time to sit and write until today.  And I’m so excited to share this with you guys.

I’ve finally moved forward!  I have finally stepped out of the tower that imprisoned my past and am heading, face first, into the glorious future that is mine!  100% mine!  And that level of accountability is no joke!

When I started my 2014 goals, I didn’t expect to be so far along in five short months.  There have been hiccups, and obstacles, and roadblocks, and frustrations, but I’ve come through them all.  A little battered…a little more scarred…a little more exhausted.  But you know what?  I also came out a little stronger.  Hell, a lot stronger!

The house I grew up in sold.  Someone else wants it, allowing me to finally move back to the last city I was truly happy in, where I made the last decision just for myself, before my daughterly duty took over.  And fittingly, my new apartment complex is called The Sanctuary.  And that is what this place will be for me.  It will be the place I start over.  The place I recharge.  The place I regroup.  And the place I truly focus on what I want out of this life; this ever precious life.  And of all the things I want, happiness is at the top of the list.

I grew up frustrated with my surroundings.  Hating that house from the time I was old enough to know better, walking from it at 18 felt good on a level I can’t put words to, but freedom often is tough to explain.  I had five solid years of freedom, and then, just as I was on the precipice of really spreading my wings to fly, my mother, in the expert way only she could, clipped my wings with one sentence.  “I’m in end stage kidney failure.”  Being the dutiful daughter I was, my dreams were instantly squashed; my drive instantly haulted; my light instantly extinguished.  

I stayed in my city for another eight years, but when she got worse, my chains got shorter.  I moved back to the town I loathed, and gave my mother everything she ever wanted: me at home with a ‘good job’.  She could see me whenever she wanted, and I, unknowingly, was like Rapunzel who, even though she finally got out to see a bit of the world, was being pulled back, strand by painful strand, into the tower, whether she wanted to go or not.  

Looking back now, and doing the work I’ve been doing with literature from amazingly inspirational people like Lisa Nichols and Jack Canfield, I realize that, I wasn’t being pulled back by a manipulative mother.  I chose to go back.  I need to write that again so that I fully embrace it.  I CHOSE to go back.  I chose duty over freedom.  I chose my mother’s needs over my own.  And I need to embrace that and stop blaming her for my choices.  There’s an amazing breadcrumb to find, if ever there was one!

So, back in the tower I chose to stay until the tower sold.  And as my best friend pointed out, I could have just put my clothes, and my dog in the car and left, but i chose to stay.  So, choosing to stay came with so many challenges.  Cleaning out 61 years of Solano history out of the house and garage all by myself…packing up my entire life to move somewhere new….deciding where to move to…working with a realtor and dealing with all the stress that comes with keeping a house show ready…being worked over by the buyer’s bank over and over again during the selling process…closing delay after delay….realizing how little of the money you actually get to keep….moving before the closure of the sale and living off credit cards…adjusting a dog to apartment living and jerking him out of the only home he’s ever known.  Yeah, these all sucked.  But I chose it.  I attracted all of this to me.  I had to go through all of that to get here.

To get the call at 4pm, that the buyer arrived to sign the paperwork.  That the sale would close today!  That the money would be to me tomorrow.  That I’m finally done!  I’m finally out of the tower!  The tower is no longer mine to be trapped in, no longer mine to deal with, no longer mine.   Period.  And it feels so unbelievably good.

This freedom, this unbelievably delicious, beautiful freedom that I have been craving for years, yet wouldn’t choose to take for myself, I can finally take.  And I can take it with the knowledge that I was the best daughter ever!  That I didn’t desert family when it got hard, or when she got mean, or when I was so miserable, that they only way out seemed to die right along with her.  That I’m a good person, whose shadow days are behind her.  

All the choices were always mine.  I just didn’t see it.  I see it now.  And now, for the first time in 15 years, I choose me.  I choose happiness.  I choose life!  And I plan to live it hard and wild.  I plan to take the chances I never thought I could take before.  I will no longer have ‘have-tos’ in my life.  Only ‘want-tos’ will be in my reality.

As angry as I’ve been at her, I need to thank her, and the insane, awful ancestors who came before her, because they helped shape the woman I am today.  A strong woman who didn’t break under all the pressure of the last 15 years.  A woman who will celebrate her scars with pride.  Who will transform the negative into something positive and make a mesmerizing life from here on out.  I thank them for my strength.  I carry it with me every day.  Literally, on my arm is a chaotic circle with Forza in the middle.  Forza!  Italian for strength, that is me.  I had strength in the chaos.  

The tower is sold.  I’m out.  I’m free.  And now, it’s time to spread those wings I’ve spent the past 15 years re-growing.  No one will clip me this time.  

It’s my time to fly!

Ciao for now,

M