From Therapy Every Damn Day to Making It On My Own

Two weeks ago I saw my orthopedic surgeon for a six-month check up. We wanted to see my progress after I’d returned to taekwondo training, took up strength training (not the first time in my life, but the first time since my injury), and continued deep tissue massage treatment from a chiropractor. The possibility of a third surgery to remove additional scar tissue still hung in the balance.

He was so happy with my progress he shook my hand and all but released me from care unless I just wanted to visit the office again.

The following week the counselor I’d been seeing shared she was leaving the practice and wondered if I needed to continue sessions with another counselor. We’d gotten down from sessions once a week to once a month, and I admitted to feeling much better overall about my personal and professional woes. I still have lingering depression sometimes, but I am much better at recognizing and addressing it.

We decided to end my therapy knowing I could always come back if I needed help again.

Today I saw my chiropractor for more torment–I mean treatment, and he reduced our visit cadence from every two weeks to once a month.

Meanwhile, I’ve noticed some recent reader traction on last year’s post Therapy Every Damn Day. 

In that post I wondered if the “down for maintenance time” was necessary for rest and renewal. I spent so much money on healthcare last year that I was able to get a tax break. Was it worth it?

Short answer–yes.

Nearly a year after I wrote that post I have to appreciate how far I’ve come: I DON’T need another scar tissue surgery and am finally seeing more movement with knee extension and flexion–scar tissue build up has been the bane of my existence since ACL reconstruction in July 2020. I don’t hate my job or my life any more, and when I do feel down I have better ways of coping. I’m NOT starving myself any more and pretty much kicked the habits of a thirty-year-old eating disorder.

Life is good. I’m doing well and am able to fully enjoy being back in taekwondo. Third dan test, here I come.

 

Frustrated, Disappointed, Burned Out — So I Changed My Outlook (and Went to Taekwondo Class)

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Last Wednesday I found out that I did not place in a book contest I’d entered my memoir in. This came on the heels of a disappointing (and expensive) marketing campaign and seeing a smarmy swath of authors from my publishing cohort bragging (rightfully so, to be fair) on social media about sales, interviews, awards, or other book-selling wins. Their books are good…but g-ddamnit, so is mine. It’s really good.

Continue reading “Frustrated, Disappointed, Burned Out — So I Changed My Outlook (and Went to Taekwondo Class)”

Little Black Belt is Eight!

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You guys…for the first time in eight years I forgot to do my anniversary post!

My blog turned eight on April 15, 2022. Since I began my blog I have made new martial arts friends, shared both my triumphs and struggles, and have been able to promote my first book and many media appearances!

I also started writing for the online magazine Martial Journal–you can find links to all my featured articles here.

Thank you all for your support.

As is tradition, here are my ten favorite posts from the past year:

  1. First Post-Surgery Jump Kicks–scary AND exciting!
  2. What’s More Motivating: a Trigger or a Goal?–in the midst of a stressful year, I was beginning to figure out what drove me.
  3. How to Talk to Your Boss About Your Mental Health–this was a big step for me personally, professionally, and in my role as a mental health advocate.
  4. My Post-Pandemic Body is Different. And That’s Okay–it’s still okay.
  5. Letting Go of What No Longer Serves You: Marie Kondo, My Knee, and Me–some wise words from my sister-in-law help me make a choice to move forward.
  6. How to Feel Unstuck When There’s No End in Sight–burnout, depression, boredom were all the bane of my existence. In the midst of the frustration, I learned a lesson.
  7. My Top Ten Pieces of Advice for New Authors–boy, is there a lot to learn when you publish a book.
  8. The Way Forward is Through: a Meditation on Depression–did I mention that 2021 was a stressful year? I had a long-lasting mental health crisis, but unlike my earlier struggles, I had lessons and tools to get me through it. I got through it.
  9. Finding a Happy Medium After a Two-Year Emotional Roller Coaster–2020 was the ignition for collective and individual crises, challenges, and trauma. After two years of struggle (and a lot of therapy), I’m coming out on the other side feeling better.
  10. Developing Mental Agility as a Martial Artist–you can’t keep an old black belt down. I’m still learning, growing, and succeeding.

Developing Mental Agility as a Martial Artist

An orange sticky note has been sitting on my desk for the past few weeks. It reads: “Agility is best learned through challenging experiences.”

This quote was said in passing by a vendor with whom my day job team has been working on a leadership program for up-and-coming executives.

I wrote it down to share with the people I was coaching, but I also wrote it down for myself.
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Reducing Martial Arts-Related Stress

Stress in martial arts? No way! Relieving stress is why we started training!

…and yes, sometimes even the thing we love can bring some unexpected and unwanted stress. It happens to the best of us, and the best of the best of us, ha ha.

Check out my article in this month’s Martial Journal for ways to reduce martial arts-related stress: https://www.martialjournal.com/reducing-martial-arts-related-stress/

 

In Recovery, Focus on Gain Over Loss

My V is gone.

The lower ab muscle definition I’d longed for and gained nearly overnight in taekwondo (what with the kicks and all), has finally disappeared. While my ACL injury happened in an instant, it took about a year since my last taekwondo class for the muscle definition to fade away.

It’s hard to chamber my kicks because I still don’t have full flexion, and my second knee surgery slowed down my ability to snap a kick into (almost) extension.

My left leg kicks are limited. Pivoting and turning on my right leg is still a little precarious, at least at faster speeds. 

My right quadriceps muscle still doesn’t match the left.

It seems I’ve lost a lot over the past year and a half due to my ACL injury. Not only did I lose muscle tone and physical capability to execute taekwondo moves, I lost my built-in community (at least in person) and activity to look forward to each week.

But…of course there’s a but.

But…what I’ve gained in recovery for both my injury and my mental health has been invaluable. 

I learned that I am more than the martial art I practice. I learned how to respect and honor my body. I learned that I need to put my mental and physical health above my ego or aspirations. 

Now that I’m back at the dojang, at least part-time, I’m rebuilding my technique and getting back in touch with my community. I’m retaining the whole and more balanced sense of self: body, mind, and spirit. 

I’m thankful for what I have gained rather than dwelling on what I have lost. (Who needs an ab V when you have a healthy mental state?)

This is a short post, and that’s okay. That’s all I needed to say to my dear readers this time around: when you have gone through something difficult, focusing on what you’ve gained rather than ruminating on what you’ve lost helps you stay strong in your journey.

My Guest Post: The Weirdness and Joy of Returning to Training After an Injury

I may have mentioned a time or two that I’ve had a devastating knee injury and two surgeries (and am still not counting out a third). 🙂

An injury like that changed not only my physical focus, but my mental one as well. I realized how much I had both lost and gained when I started taekwondo training again in January of this year. A dormant part of my brain re-awakened, and it was both strange and wonderful. Whether you’re a martial artist or not, the takeaway is that if you’re in a rut, you may benefit from going back to something you enjoyed earlier in your life or learning something new that stimulates and challenges you.

My story of the weirdness and joy of re-awakening my black belt brain is in this month’s Martial Journal. Click here to read.

A Search for Authenticity Drove Me Into a Mid-Life Crisis

Like everyone else in the world for the last two years, I’ve been reflecting a lot…like, a LOT, a lot. In my quest to break free from misery-inducing perfectionism and find my authentic voice, I’ve discovered who I am NOT just as much or even more so than who I AM. 

I think I’m having an identity crisis that may be coinciding with a midlife crisis.

Continue reading “A Search for Authenticity Drove Me Into a Mid-Life Crisis”

My Guest Post: Being a Good Partner in Life and in Martial Arts

Being a martial artist can often feel like a solo endeavor, but for many of us, working with partners is crucial to our development. There are some parallels between being a good martial arts partner and being a good partner in life. In honor of Valentine’s Day (no matter your relationship status), let’s show some appreciation to the other martial arts students who make our learning productive and fun.

Check out my article at Martial Journal: Being a Good Partner in Life and in Martial Arts.

My Guest Post: How to Train Leaders Before They Become Black Belts

I’ve worked in leadership development for ten years, but I’ve learned just as much or even more about leadership “on the mat” in my martial arts training. In martial arts, we don’t wait until someone is in the job of a leader (i.e., a black belt) to help them build their leadership skills.

In this month’s Martial Journal article, “How to Train Leaders Before They Become Black Belts,” my former taekwondo master (Sabumnim) and I share tips on developing leaders before they even get close to testing for black belt.

This post is a nice story about one of my last training sessions with my Sabumnim.