Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Dig A Little Deeper!

"Get up from the floor! Get up off that floor! You stay-- you die!!! YOU STAY YOU DIE!!! Move, MOVE, MOOOVE!!"

I could hear my instructor yelling in my head in his husky, drill sergeant voice as I struggled to buck one of my Krav brothers off a full mount. The task seemed daunting. My hands were pinned overhead and glued to the floor; he was freakishly strong, bigger, heavier, and I couldn't stinkin' BUCK him off. Then he made it worse. He changed and used one hand to pin both my hands together as he simulated slaps to my face in a classic Three Stooges style with his other hand, and yelling, "FIGHT! Do something DAMMIT! Comon' MOOOVE! Buck me off!"

Exhaustion set in. Feeling winded, with not a single bit of strength in me left, I wanted to give up. He kept yelling, "FIGHT-- DON'T QUIT on me now, dig a little deeper and KEEP-GOING!!!

In Krav Maga, bucking is an explosive movement done by
exploding the hips in an upward and forward motion to throw
your attacker off a full mount as demonstrated here by Instructor
Bridget de la Rosa and Roger Lopez.
See blog on Rape Defenses by Pete Hardy.
I felt something from the pit of my stomach begin to churn. Anger rose to the surface; I suppose in a way it tapped into something deeper, similar to struggles in my current or past life that seemed to immobilize me. I thought about how those struggles tried to break me physically, psychologically, emotionally, or financially, and it flooded me with an emotion that helped me dig a little deeper and I managed to buck him off. I didn't always succeed on the first try, there were times that I was thrown around like a rag doll, pinned against a chain-linked fence, swept off the floor, choked, and at one point I couldn't even breathe from his full weight on my chest, but I wanted to keep going, keep moving, keep trying, evaluate what I was doing wrong, and get it right. Of course, I was badly bruised the following day.  This guy was big, probably could've broken me in half if he wanted, but I NEEDED to do this. I suppose this is the point in Krav Maga that they call pushing beyond exhaustion during a stressful situation, and if you manage to get past that point, it means survival on the other side.

I've written about the importance of getting up when you're down. It translated to both a literal and figurative sense. Any martial arts or self defense practitioner knows that getting up from the floor is essential for survival in a life and death situation. If you stay down there, you're stuck and you're dead meat. But getting up is not enough, you have to move and keep going. And since I draw my inspiration from Krav Maga, of course I'm going to philosophize ( that a word?) in a metaphorical sense, about how this self defense system translates well to how we handle the nasty stuff that life throws our way; and in mine, trust me when I say that I've had my share.

But as Bruce Lee once said, "Things live by moving and gain strength as they go.” I've had to do alot of digging, externally and internally, assessing and evaluating the things I needed to do to grow as a person to survive. I've had to eliminate things and habits that no longer worked in my life and learn new ways that did (see an Empowering System that Transforms Lives), and most importantly, I've had to keep moving forward. The journey is not always easy, but as Lao Tzu once said, "A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step." Today is the blocks with which we build (Longfellow) and the best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time, so there's no better time to start doing so than today (Lincoln).

If you're facing challenges in your life, dig a little deeper, don't fall back on old habits that are keeping you from improving and growing as a person to overcome them. GET UP off the floor, and keep moving forward, not backwards. The great thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving (Holmes). Don't allow fear of failure or rejection to keep you from being the person that God intended for you to be. Eleanor Roosevelt once said that the future belonged to those who believed in the beauty of their dreams and to quote from another one of my favorite inspiring ladies, Helen Keller believed that one could never consent to creep when they had a tendency to soar. So if you have it in you to do just that, SOAR, do the thing you fear the most, and then the death of fear is certain (Emerson). Sorry if I'm on quote overkill, but these are my favorite quotes that have inspired me through some challenging times and just HAD to share them.

Not too long ago I saw the movie Soul Surfer. It was based on a true story about a young girl who lost her arm to a shark bite when she was surfing. She rose above the odds and became a surfing champion. There was one thing that she said that really stuck to me:

"When you come back from a loss... when you beat the odds and never say never... you find a champion"~ Soul Surfer

Have you experienced loss? How did you handle that? I don't always succeed with everything I set out to do, in fact, one of my failures was that I didn't make the second cut for the self defense instructor program, but I'm not quitting. I'm doing another tortuous tryout very soon. At 40, I've come to understand that failure is a learning experience and success is a process, but of one thing that I am 100 percent certain is that I have to get up, dig a little deeper, and keep moving forward by overcoming whatever challenges come my way.

What obstacles are you facing today? Are you stuck on old habits that are not working, or are you willing to fight to dig a little deeper, eliminate those habits and keep moving forward?

(Special thanks to my Krav brothers Charles and Henry for pushing me beyond exhaustion and forcing me to dig a little deeper)

*Ralph Waldo Emerson
*Oliver Wendell Holmes
*Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
*Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Creating awareness regarding domestic abuse is something that is very dear and near to my heart. In honor of Domestic Abuse Awareness month, I wanted to include a piece I did at a reading for a community outreach venue recently.

It is dedicated to women who are in abusive relationships. We often find ourselves asking the question, "In spite of all the psychological and physical violence, why do they go back and choose to stay?" Regardless of the answer I think the real question should be, "How did they find the strength and the courage to leave?"

I wrote this piece in hopes of giving them that courage. My mother survived abusive relationships and having been the oldest in the family I witnessed some of the things she experienced. As a child, I remember feeling so helpless, because there was nothing I could do about her situation. In a way, when I write, I feel like I'm doing for others, what I was not able to do for her, and that brings me some sort of comfort and healing, which is one of the reasons I wrote Heart of the Jaguar (Kindle version here). Not only did I do it to create awareness about how cultural, religious and societal attitudes contribute to the abuse and mistreatment of women, but to empower them and make them aware that they can and must leave a situation that places them in harm's way. Enjoy!

Whenever he tells you you’re worthless,
Don’t claim it.

Whenever he tells you you’re too scared to make it on your own,
Deny it.

If he says you can’t live without him,
Catch your breath... check your pulse…

If he leaves you penniless,
Go to school, get a job.

You CAN live without him,
You WILL live without him,
You MUST live without him.

You’re a survivor,
not a victim...
You’re a survivor,
not a victim...
I said... you’re a SURVIVOR,

Stop waiting for Prince Charming to come along and rescue you.
Prince charming is the one who got you there in the first place.
You’re on your own.

So wipe your tears,
Lift your head up,
Square your shoulders,
And get up off that floor.
Get up...
I said GET up.
Get up DAMMIT!
Get up, GET up, GET UP!!!