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.

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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.

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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My Guest Post: Can You Be Addicted to Your Martial Art?

I’m pleased to share my article in Martial Journal for the month of December: Can You Be Addicted to Your Martial Art?

There can be too much of a good thing, and that includes martial arts. In this article I explore the feeling of being overly dependent on a martial art while my emotional health suffered elsewhere. I seek to answer the two-part question: can, indeed, you be addicted to your martial art, and what do you do about it?

Check out Martial Journal’s  wide variety of quality reading on all things martial arts: commentary, training tips, media, and more.

Guest Writer: Diary of a White Belt

Hello, Little Black Belt readers! Some people start martial arts training as children, and others begin their journey as adults. As someone who started martial arts training, stopped, and re-started in my thirties, I’m always interested to hear from people who come to martial arts a little later in life. This story is from Jen Struzziero. Jen shares how she began training in martial arts and how amazing it has been in her life. Jen’s experience beautifully demonstrates the life-changing power of martial arts.

If you would like to submit a martial arts-related article for Little Black Belt, please review the guest writer guidelines and send me an email.

Enjoy Jen’s story!

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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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