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.

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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.

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.

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Finding a Happy Medium After a Two-Year Emotional Roller Coaster

My life since March 2020.

Some time in late November, my publisher advertised a webinar focused on preparing authors to give a TED Talk or TED Talk-like speech. 

want to give a TED Talk!” I thought. Why not? My book is interesting; talking about mental health is very timely; and I have ten years of public speaking experience. 

The problem was…I wasn’t really living my imaginary TED Talk. With my memoir and various articles and podcasts I’ve told a compelling beginning and middle of a story, but I find myself further from the end (or a picturesque “happy ending”) than I thought I’d be. 

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Bonus Book Chapter: I Am Enough

Dear Reader: For the remainder of 2021, to continue celebrating the release of my first book Kicking and Screaming: a Memoir of Madness and Martial Arts, I will be posting a monthly bonus chapter. While these stories didn’t make the final cut, they were still important moments in my life and in my black belt journey. Enjoy!

[Note: This event would have occurred between chapters 29 “Sucker Punched” and 30 “Aftermath,” late April 2015.]

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My Guest Post: The Loneliness of Martial Arts and Eating Disorders

I’m pleased to share my article in Martial Journal for the month of November: The Loneliness of Martial Arts and Eating Disorders.

Part of my journey to authenticity has been to share my mental health struggles in the hope of lightening my burden and lifting up others who feel lonely and lost. Eating disorders are taboo in both the athletic world and elsewhere. I often wonder if there are other people like me who have had an active eating disorder while practicing martial arts or if, like me now, are in active recovery. Does the expectation of a strong martial arts spirit hurt those who are struggling mentally?

This article shares my exploration into this topic and some tips on what to do if you are a martial artist and athlete dealing with this terrible mental illness.

To read, click here.

How to Feel Unstuck When There’s No End In Sight

July 24, 2021, was the one year anniversary (or “ann-knee-versary” if you will allow me one pun) of my ACL reconstruction surgery. I had a fun day lined up to celebrate my progress and mobility: a morning yoga class, an afternoon swim, and dinner at my favorite neighborhood Italian bistro. I thought the day would run as smoothly as my repurposed quadriceps tendon.

My knee had other plans. 

When I rolled out my yoga mat and set up my trusty blocks (now a staple of my yoga practice) I knew my knee was not in a good mood. It ached and felt more tight than it had in days. God help me if I had to do a child’s pose. I inwardly rolled my eyes at my ornery joint and clumsily followed along with the instructor’s commands.

As I winced at the pain and tried to breathe more flexion into my leg I thought about my year long journey. I have lived with some kind of pain and discomfort every day for a year. Sometimes I feel frustrated and exhausted. Sometimes I long for a light at the end of the tunnel, a deus ex machina, a sudden whirlwind change that grants me perfect, pain-free full extension and flexion. Sometimes I feel stuck and don’t see an end in sight.

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Therapy Every Damn Day

The other day I was chatting with my dad about the new house he’s renovating. He suggested I go to a mattress store and pick out a brand I like that he can buy for “my” room that I stay in when I visit.

“Dad, that’s low on my priority list,” I told him. “I do some kind of therapy five days a week either for my knee or my head, I’m still working, and I’m still doing book stuff [podcasts, articles, interviews, etc.]. I don’t have time to look for a mattress. I’ll just trust your judgement.”

Up until very recently, I was rehabbing either my body or mind five days a week. It sounded like a lot when I said it out loud.

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