Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Gratitude Post

So, it's Thanksgiving Weekend and I've let my NaBloPoMo goal of writing every day slip, but I would be remiss if I didn't at least include a Gratitude Post to honor the season.

So here we go.

First is, of course, my home and family.  Never boring, especially now that our Eldest (I can't call him the Teen since he's 20 now) has decided college wasn't for him and has (sort of) moved back home.  But he's employed and generally happy and in the process of figuring out who he is and what he'd like to do with his life, so I'm grateful for progress in this direction.  Middle is as driven as ever, in his Junior year, taking the Smart Kid classes and kicking butt at them while also juggling Rugby, lifting, the martial arts demo team, and busing tables at a restaurant.  He's not kidding around with the schools and majors he's investigating, and I'm hoping there will be scholarship money so we can afford whatever he chooses.  Grateful for his work ethic and the good example he's setting for Little.  Little, not so little anymore, is as tall as I am, but still easygoing and sweet and starting to get his act together at school.  He plays the trumpet (reluctantly) and spends 3-4 nights per week training in judo / jiu-jitsu.  Grateful for the special bond we've had this last year traveling to and from classes and tournaments together, and for the BJJ friends we now share.  My parents are happy and healthy and enjoying their retirement years.  We still have dinner every Sunday night with them, and they continue to help with anything we need.

And of course, there's Savageman, who is currently massaging my feet and sore calves on the couch while I write and we binge Jessica Jones on Netflix.  Grateful for peace and unity in our marriage, for enjoyable time getting ready for work together in the morning and decompressing together at the end of the day, and of course for his friendship and his support of my athletic endeavors, even when they inconvenience him. While he draws the line at allowing me to use his body for jiu-jitsu practice, he is good about listening to my stories of triumph and frustration, and tending to my aches and injuries. In the last year or two, we've come together on the larger parenting issues and have renegotiated our own expectations and boundaries with each other.  We are warm and funny and affectionate together, fiercely protective of each other, and vocal about how grateful we are for each other. This last year of marriage has reminded me of why I chose him, and continue to choose him, every day.  So, so grateful to be married to my best friend in the world.

Grateful also for meaningful work - while he's doing his development job, I'm either doing neuropsych evaluations, teaching and learning karate, or managing the household.  In the last few years, my work hours have been more regular, my position at the neuropsych practice more secure.  I enjoy my days meeting with patients, doing their evaluations, and I feel valued and appreciated there.  On my days off, as a sabumnim at the dojang, I'm grateful to be teaching and mentoring both children and adults.  I am finally enjoying the opportunity to really pay forward some of the amazing instruction I was privileged enough to have.

In the evenings, I am grateful this year to have not just one, but two places to train.  Some nights, I'm at the dojang for cardio kickboxing and bonding time with my close friend and cardio partner, other nights, I'm at BJJ / Judo, helping with kids' class, or taking a combination of BJJ / Judo adult classes or open mats.  So, so grateful for this new challenge in my life that stretches me mentally and kicks my butt physically.  Grateful as well for the mentors, coaches and training partners who have invested their time in helping me improve, and who have cheered on my progress.  Grateful for opportunities to learn outside of class from books, seminars, videos, and of course, the Guru, who once again just gave me a day of his weekend home from school.  Grateful for his friendship and all he has taught me in both JSD and BJJ over the past 3+ years. He has shown me the difference that one person can make, and his investment of time and attention in mentoring me over the years has transformed me in too many ways to count.

Grateful for my other friends as well, both new and old.  Quality over quantity has been key this year, as I've needed to be more selective with regard to where I direct my limited time and energy. Knowing when to simply walk away from the ones who thrive on drama and negativity and focus on the ones who cheer and encourage and celebrate each others' progress is a lesson that continues to present itself, but each time I make a decision to step back from a person or situation that distracts me from my own goals and emotional well-being, it is easier to do. Very grateful for the amazing and diverse assortment of friends with whom I connect on a daily or weekly basis who are upbeat and determined in the face of challenges and who inspire the same in me.  The competitive nature of BJJ breeds this attitude, it seems.  Getting your butt kicked day in and day out as a white belt for 1-2 years is extraordinarily humbling, and those who persevere through this and respond by learning more and training harder survive, while the others wash out early.  What you're left with is a culture of people who thrive on patiently working to overcome challenges and who encourage those around them to do the same.  BJJ is as honest a sport as you can ever find.  There's no faking it, no relying on your teammates, it's just you and your opponent fighting to the point of tap, snap or nap.  You win, or you learn.  It's that simple. Grateful for the opportunity to train in such brutal honesty, for the genuinely positive people it has brought into my life, and for that same spirit in the other friends with whom I have surrounded myself.  Understanding the difference and refusing to stress myself over pleasing people who can't be pleased has made such a change in the quality of my life.

I am also grateful for a healthy body and quality food to eat.  It has been almost 3 years since I have gone gluten-free / Paleo and the change in my body, my mind, and my emotional health is astounding.  There is concern that the Eldest has celiac and will need to do the same. It explains a lot, about both of us. I hope he is able to make this simple, but life-altering change to his diet, if this does turn out to be the case for him.  Now that I know how good it feels, I never want to go back. Feasting on meat, poultry, fish, eggs, fruits, veggies, nuts, healthy fats (and of course dark chocolate and red wine) has given me so much pleasure, and has taught me to love my body and take its needs seriously.  I feel strong and beautiful, slim and muscular.  I enjoy seeing myself in the mirror and am insanely proud of the work I have done to build such an attractive weapon.  I love when my husband admires the results, which he does regularly. It's not about being vain or superficial; I didn't do this to impress anyone else or to look better than anyone else.  But I love what I've created, pure and simple, and the things it took to get here - martial arts and Paleo eating - are two of the most pleasurable activities in my life.  Grateful, grateful, grateful for all they have done for me.

There's more of course, but these are the main ones that came to mind today.  Grateful to have had several hours to sit and meditate on all that is good in my world in November of 2015, and for this blog where I could record it all.

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