Thursday, March 31, 2016

Here’s your sign.


Comedian Bill Engvall has often said that stupid people should have to wear a sign that says “I’m stupid” as a warning to others of their idiocy. He tells anecdotes in his stand-up routines of people asking him asinine questions, to which he responds sarcastically and finishes with the comment “Here’s your sign.” 

Back in February, I wrote a late-night Sunday post declaring that I was quitting my Krav Maga instructor training. I told myself that I would still continue to train in Krav Maga, but just as a practitioner. Already, I had some misgivings about quitting instructor training, but the relief from the stress I had put myself under trying to keep up with an impossible training schedule (that I had created myself...) was immense. I went to lunch with my husband on Monday and told him how I felt and that I would sit with the decision for a week and then re-evaluate. I fully expected I would be perfectly okay with quitting. I was not looking for anything to change my mind. I just wanted some time to come to terms with the heart-wrenching (but relief inducing) decision.

Almost immediately after that lunch, and for the rest of the week, every song I heard on the radio was a message of overcoming struggle, doing hard things, reaching for dreams, and defying the odds. There were also songs that spoke to my desire for comfort and reassurance. I am a chronic station hopper, because I don't like listening to ads, but very pop, country, and classical station I tuned into seemed to be telling me not to give up. It was so bizarre. I thought maybe I was just picking up on all these messages because I was more ambivalent about quitting than I wanted to believe. “I’m not looking for a sign to continue,” I told myself more than once. “I have made my decision and I’m okay with it.”

The next day, I went to my Krav Maga class. I told myself I was just going to go and enjoy class as a regular student.  I hadn’t told my instructor about quitting---frankly, I didn’t yet have the guts, but figured I’d let him know for sure at the end of the week, after I’d processed my feelings of failure and disappointment (and braced myself for his.) 

When I walked into class, I was surprised to see a former Krav student who hadn't been to class in over a year. This guy and I had frequently partnered in class and become friends. I adored him and learned a lot from him—once upon a time, after a particularly strenuous class, this buddy made the comment, "I can always think of a million reasons not to workout, but I never regret doing it." I was heartbroken when he had to quit due to health issues, so seeing his ugly mug that day was the best thing ever!

His reappearance reminded me of his comment, which has always stayed with me, and I couldn't help thinking about it as we bantered in class that day. Involuntarily, I thought, "I can always think of a million reasons not to do this instructor training, but I'll never regret doing it." I shook off the thought, feeling firm about wearing the "quit" decision, but I had a great time in class and headed home feeling on top of the world after a good workout and catching up with my old buddy.

Later that day, another former Krav friend texted me an encouraging meme. Though she no longer does Krav anymore, we hang out together fairly regularly. The last time I saw her, we got talking about my training and my frustrations with it (I hadn't yet decided to quit, but was beginning to lean that way) and she had encouraged me to keep going and not let my fears and setbacks get me down. Anyway, it had been a couple of weeks since that conversation when she texted me. I assumed she had read my blog post, and said as much when I texted her back. Turns out she hadn't, she had just been thinking about our conversation and felt impressed to remind me why I had started instructor training in the first place and to stay focused and positive.

Throughout the rest of the week (and the next, and the next) I ran into people who wanted to talk to me about my experience with Krav Maga, stumbled across articles, scriptures, and even billboards that seemed positioned to encourage me to stay the course and not quit instructor training. I had a couple of friends who read my blog tell me their stories of their journeys in pursuing their dreams and the lessons they learned along the way.

I sought none of it--everyone and everything came to me.

Before a week had passed since my “I quit” post, I had a change of heart. OF COURSE I would continue instructor training. With so much encouragement and so many SIGNS all but hitting me over the head, I realized that I had never really wanted to give up—I was just overwhelmed and living in a vacuum. I needed to tap into the support that was so freely manifesting itself.

I felt a bit foolish about having publicly declared "I quit!" only to to flip-flop back. How wishy-washy is that? I thought about removing the post. I thought about immediately writing an addendum post (ta-da! Here it is!) but I took the next couple of weeks to do some soul-analysis. I’ve decided to leave the post up—my instructor told me when I started that it would be life changing and that I was guaranteed to learn a TON about myself in the training process. All my feelings of inadequacy, the overwhelm, the fear, the failures—they are as much a part of the process as the victories. So—the post stays—if for nothing but a chronicle of where I was mentally and spiritually at the time.

I realized that I had been trying for months to shoehorn myself into a training schedule and mindset that goes against everything important and necessary in my life. I had misplaced my priorities and was working against them all. My expectations and the demands I was putting on myself and my family were unreasonable and unsustainable. Collapse was inevitable! (I can see that NOW.)

In the last few weeks, I have felt very tender and raw, as I've rearranged my life to focus on God first, family second, and Krav after that. I'm amazed at how putting these things in their proper places in my life has made all the difference. I didn't realize how isolated I had made myself, and I reached out for help. I started with prayer for clarity of my purpose and responsibilities. I talked to my husband about what he needs and wants and what our family needs and wants from me and am actively working to be the wife and mother my family deserves. Finally, I contacted my instructor and asked for help with training. I had been going it alone, but failing miserably (“I am a rock! I am an island! I am a moron!”) He said he'd only been waiting for me to ask for help--and then threw me in the deep end by asking me to teach some classes while he was out of town.

Well, over the past two weeks, I've taught four classes. I was terrified nervous, but, I prepared lesson plans and executed them. I worked the classes hard and got honest feedback. My classmates--my students!--were so enthusiastic and kind. It's been a great learning experience and I am eager and excited for more. (Still a little terrified nervous.)

And here's an interesting finale to this post---Facebook reminded me that a year ago, to the day, I was at Krav Maga Worldwide HQ in Los Angeles training in a Level 1 class taught Michael Margolin, a fourth degree black belt and co-founder of Krav Maga Worldwide. I remember feeling totally out of my league...wondering if I’d ever be strong enough, fast enough, or smart enough to become a Krav Maga instructor—and too embarrassed to voice my goal to Michael (which my instructor back home told me to do!) I was definitely terrified and nervous, but eager and excited for more. Coincidence? I think not.

Marissa, here’s your sign.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Slice of Life

This afternoon, while I was clearing out a box of random stuff, I came across an old scrapbooking magazine, full of quizzes and questions to spark the journaling portion of a modern scrapbook page. Yes, I used to be an avid scrapbooker, complete with pinking shears and floral doodads to add to my acid free pages.  Nowadays, I blog, which is a lot easier, put provides far less of a tactile experience.  Whatever. Anyway, in the back of the magazine I found, there are 18 sets of questions to ask yourself (or whoever you’re wanting to know more about.) Here are my answers to the first set of questions:

1. The last person I sent a card to: I haven’t sent cards to anyone in a long time---I can’t even remember! Christmas cards to friends and family back in 2007???

2. What I ate for lunch today: Coconut Curry Pork—a new recipe I tried this month and loved. Served over mashed potatoes. Yummy!

3. Something I just learned: Well, I’ve known this for awhile, but I was reminded of it again today---I don’t like working on committees. I do not play well with others. Please just leave me alone and let me do my thing.

4. My favorite song this year: Renegades by X Ambassadors—it just speaks to me—and I love it even more after watching the official music video.


5. The last book I read: The Abolition of Man by C. S. Lewis. I started it for a book club I just joined and it kind of lost me, but I found that these videos helped, and then I was all over it!

6. What I’m wearing right now: black track pants and a turquoise microfleece sweatshirt

7. The last phone call I made: To my friend Monica, to tell her she ought to look into selling her organic grape leaves to the local Mediterranean markets.

8. Inside, I don’t feel very different from when I was (how old?): I feel 18 in my head, but my body and life experience (and how others see and interact with me) indicates that I am in early middle age.

9. The last restaurant I ate at was: IHOP, for National Pancake Day. We took the kids and donated to the Make a Wish Foundation.

10. My favorite TV show is: King of the Hill, but I am also really enjoying Person of Interest and House.