The Way Forward Is Through: a Meditation on Depression

I’ve spent most of 2021 wishing my circumstances were different in the hopes that I would feel different.

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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.

Bonus Book Chapter: Post-Plateau Yoga Surrender

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 would have occurred between chapters 27 “Vices” and 28 “Black Belt Candidate”]

“To surrender,” Scott the Yoga Teacher said as he looked around the dark room at our upturned faces during Saturday yoga class, “you sometimes first have to build heat.” It was my first yoga class in about a month thanks to my icy weather depression. When asked about my long absence I gave my typical answer of “I had things going on” with a Robert De Niro-esque shrug.

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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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Letting Go of What No Longer Serves You: Marie Kondo, My Knee, and Me

Once again, as I did nearly a year ago, I find myself with my right leg wrapped in a bandage from thigh to foot and repeating an alternating series of exercising and icing. On Friday, June 18th, my trusty orthopedic surgeon carefully scraped scar tissue away from my shiny new ACL (well, my repurposed quadriceps tendon, but new in its job as ACL). 

Although I’ve been able to get back to many normal activities since last July’s ACL surgery, this scar tissue has impeded my knee from reaching full extension or flexion. It feels stiff whenever I walk downstairs. I still can’t do a full child’s pose in yoga. 

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My Post-Pandemic Body Is Different. And That’s Okay.

The other day my coworkers and I were planning some lectures we are going to give as part of a leadership development series. For the first time in over a year, we will be presenting to a live audience in person, and we have to dress the part. My team, men in their fifties and sixties, joked about how they might need to get new clothes since the running gag is everyone has gained weight during the pandemic. I told them that was the advantage of wearing dresses–they’re a lot more forgiving.

My post-pandemic body is different than it was a year ago. It’s squishier and, according to some clothes that didn’t fit when I did a recent closet de-cluttering, a little larger.

I’m okay with that…for now anyway.

Hear me out…

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Interview with Wing Chun Practitioner Steve Grogan: Let’s Talk About Mental Health

Steve Grogan of Geek Wing Chun, Inc., and I get real.

Can we have a real, honest conversation about mental health? That’s what Steven Grogan and I do in this video. Steve is the founder of Geek Wing Chun, Inc., and has been a guest writer on Little Black Belt several times. 

In this video (click here to watch), we talk about my new book Kicking and Screaming: a Memoir of Madness and Martial Arts, how we handle mental illness, and how it intertwines with our martial arts practice. 

How to Talk to Your Boss About Your Mental Health

As the economy picks up, people get new jobs, or continue in their current roles, it seems like there’s the expectation to return to “business as usual.” Six months into 2021, and we’re not back to “business as usual.” We’re all still dealing with the fallout of the collective multiple traumas of 2020, and many people dealt with individual crises. Some people, like me, have been triggered back into active mental illness, while others are facing it for the first time.

This can affect the way we work, and we need to be able to have open, honest conversations about it with our bosses. Check out my article on Fast Company, How to Talk to Your Boss About Your Mental Health, for tips on what you can do to preserve your mental and emotional well-being.

Interview with Karate Practitioner and Writer Les Bubka

I’m pleased to share that fellow martial artist and author Les Bubka invited me as a guest on his podcast “Accidental Podcast…or Something Like That” which you can listen to by clicking here, or watch our interview on YouTube. We talk about martial arts, mental health, relationships, working with kids, and why he calls me a “Russian bride.” We had lots of fun recording, and I think you’ll have fun listening to and watching us.

Les has been practicing karate for over twenty years. He is the founder of the Karate for Mental Health Program and the author of a number of books about karate. For more information about Les’s work, click here.