How obsessed? Yes. We’re a how obsessed society. So often we quit The Thing or get frustrated af because we can’t see how it’s going to work. Over and over, we ask ourselves “How?” How can I possibly do this seemingly impossible thing? How can I make this work? How will I ever have enough time? And then, if you’re anything like me, you get that panicked feeling in your chest and quit. But what if there was a way or even ways past the Dreaded Wall of How?
When we ask ourselves how something can be done, we are asking someone with limited experience, conditioning and viewpoints. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s important to be aware of our human limitations. It’s also important to be aware of the words we use with ourselves. We all know the 5 W’s (who/what/where/when/why) and guess what? They are going to lead us past How.
How. It’s singular, often (but not always) without a great deal of hope behind it. But the 5 W’s? Packed with options. A little more gentle and less demanding. For example, if you write How Can I Do The Thing? on a piece of paper and then write out all your answers, it’ll probably be a somewhat short list. But if you were to write out questions like “Who can help me?” “What haven’t I tried yet?” “Where can I look for information?” or “Why is this important to me?” You are not only going to have more answers but better answers. Maybe even a good hit of inspiration!
Community. Comunidade. Geimenschaft. However you say it, community is essential to us humans. It’s defined as “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.” Though there are other variants of the definition, it’s a coming together and enjoying a commonality. Even the most introverted among us typically like to venture out every so often to enjoy their people. Their pack. No one gets through this life on their own and like Donne said, no man is an island.
My latest post for Girls in Gis talks about just that, community. You can read it here. Definitely the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to write because it’s so hard to quantify and put in words exactly what my tribe, on the mats and off, means to me. When you’re up, it’s lovely to be able to contribute wisdom and and a helping hand where you can. When you’re in the dark times that inevitably touch us all, being held up by like-minded souls who want the best for you is one of the best feelings I know. It changes lives.
Don’t feel you have a community or tribe of kindred spirits? Find one. Make one. Give yourself to a cause, however big or small or normal or weird it might seem. There’s no rules and people will judge no matter what. It really can make all the difference and I’m pretty sure science has proven a whole bunch of times how beneficial strong social bonds are, especially as we age. Still not sure? Start Googling things that interest you and the name of where you live. Even in the Covid era, there are communities out there waiting for you. Join jiu jitsu! (wink wink, nudge nudge).
Humans have always sought to create groups for themselves, and always will. I’ve had the privilege to be a part of some great ones and wish that for you as well. It can be the difference between mediocrity and greatness, as we become who we choose to surround ourselves with. Are you part of an amazing community? I want to hear from you! Tell me what makes it so damn good, you never know who you might inspire xo.
If you’re anything like me, some days you just can’t motivate yourself. Discipline has got up and left. You need something massively inspiring to get going. My favourite form of inspiration is humans doing impossible shit. Ordinary people like us who one day, just up and decide that they can. They climb their version of the mountain because it’s there, like Hillary (sort of ) said. The ones who dare to smash impossible to pieces. Here are my top three giant slayers:
Number one: James “The Iron Cowboy” Lawrence. James is the world record holder for most half-Iron and full-Iron distances completed in a year. Before 2008, he had never really ran any sort of race. In 2015, he created and completed the 50/50/50 Challenge: 50 Ironman triathlons, done over 50 consecutive days, one in each of the 50 states. That’s a 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride and a marathon (42.2km), every day for 50 days, while traveling. Physically, I can’t think of anything that would be tougher but mentally? Holy shit. Imagine being 25 races in and knowing you have 25 to go? Damn. It wasn’t all smooth sailing either. Crashes, injuries, inclement weather and other unfortunate events plagued the event. I highly recommend his book about the whole experience, along with the documentary.
In second place, but not by much: Diana Nyad. In 2013, at age 64 (!), she became the first person to swim from Florida to Cuba without a shark cage. That’s a shark-filled distance of 110 miles over 53 hours. Impressive in it’s own right, but even more inspiring is Diana’s tenacity: It was her fifth attempt. Not many of us would actually try five times to let sharks eat us in the name of achieving a goal. In the ’70’s, she set records for swimming around the island of Manhattan, for swimming from the Bahamas to Florida without a wetsuit (that record still stands today) and more. She’s brave af and what makes her even more courageous is her willingness to discuss what drives her in these pursuits: anger stemming from childhood abuse and her desire to overcome her pain. I highly recommend her TED talk.
Lastly, but by no means least: Alex Honnold, who is sort of like Spiderman. He’s a free climber, meaning he scales places like El Capitan in California’s Yosemite National Park, with no equipment (no ropes, no nuthin’). That’s an ascent of 2900ft, and he did it in less than 4 hours. He’s also scaled places like the Moonlight Butress in Utah’s Zion National Park and the Fitz Roy Traverse in Patagonia. Alex describes his free solo climbs “Like trying to win an Olympic gold medal, but if you don’t win, you die.” There’s a really great documentary on Alex’s attempt at El Capitan called Free Solo. Watch it! He’s known to live in a camper van so he can live near climb sites and set up his own foundation when he was 27 to fund small small social and environmental organizations that demonstrate concrete and sustainable project goals. Did I mention he gives about 30% of his salary to the initiative? Gotta love a guy who takes on the seemingly impossible and does good for the world.
So the next time you feel like you need some inspiration, read up on one of these three amazing humans. it’s people like these who personify true grit. Every time I catch myself using bullshit limiting beliefs or wondering if I can Do The Thing, I look outside to get myself hyped up. I say things like “If James Lawrence can do 50 Ironman races in a row, surely I can get my ass on the mats tonight.” We all need a little kick sometimes. Who inspires you?
Hey how’s it goin’? For the past couple of weeks, I’ve written about training the quit out of yourself/myself, something in which I believe whole-heartedly. Take action always, no matter how small. But a few weeks ago a funny thing happened: I had a full on crash and burn. A bad case of the blahs. Burnout. Has that ever happened to you? Where you just really don’t feel like doing much of anything and the idea of taking any sort of action step, even a tiny one, is completely overwhelming?
Could it have been the weather? Sure-late September in Vancouver is a funny beast. Our beautiful (but short) summer does a tumultuous and graceless flip into the gray and gloom of fall. Maybe it was the wildfire smoke that blanketed our little corner of the world, making it hard to breathe and looking more than a little dystopian? Could have been. Work stress? I work an extremely fast-paced job that has been woefully understaffed five years running. It’s enough to get even the toughest of us feeling blue. Or maybe it was my chosen lifestyle where I think I can do all the things, and forget I’m human and not a robot. Who knows? Here’s the thing: Yes, I crashed for a good couple of weeks, but I am most proud of how I treated myself through it.
Proud? You bet. Previous versions of myself would have judged this episode as “bad”, “lazy”, “not trying hard enough”. But this time was different. I gave myself grace. I told myself (repeatedly) that it would pass soon enough and that I had full permission to do whatever I needed in any passing moment. More than ever, I let myself off the hook. That meant missing jiu jitsu classes I would typically not miss, not keeping up with my self-imposed writing schedule, not reading my book, and letting myself be as quiet and still as I wanted to be in any given moment and not feeling bad about it or “should”ing all over myself for doing so little.
But that’s not all. After a few days of nothing at all, I started to bounce back. Just a little. Slowly. Turns out treating myself with compassion put me back on to the path to little action steps a lot faster than teaming up with my previous pal, Self-Loathing, ever could have. I started looking for things that would catapult me out of this funk. Things like more vegetables, gentle exercise, reading just one page of my book and admitting how I was feeling to some of the really wonderful humans in my life made all the difference. It made all the difference between a few weeks of blahs and an all systems outage.
So, what am I trying to say here? I’m hoping that next time you feel down and out, blah, blue, sad or just plain old burnt out that you will be extra nice to yourself. That your go-to will be compassion instead of frustration and resistance. Maybe I’m the last person to discover this little trick, but I don’t think so. As the dreary season settles in around us, be gentle with your wonderful self. I was more than pleasantly surprised at the difference it made for me and am willing to bet it will for you too. Thoughts?
How often do you notice the mean voice in your head over the nice voice? We all have both but the mean voice can be loud and cruel. So I wrote about it, click here to read on the Girls in Gis blog. The best description of this voice I’ve ever heard was in Darren Groth’s book, Munro vs. The Coyote, where the main character refers to this inner presence as The Coyote.
Just like coyotes, our inner critic can be wily and vicious. However, just because it can be so good at grabbing our attention, it doesn’t mean it’s accurate or truthful. Important, but difficult to remember. Hope you like the article and look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Okay, so you tried. You tried doing The Thing, whatever your thing is, just once. Like we talked about last week. You and I were going to pick that one, most important thing, and do it no matter what. No exceptions. Anyone can do anything once, right? Do it once, celebrate and use that good feeling to build momentum. So you did your thing, you celebrated, but it just didn’t feel right. Or maybe no matter how much you promised yourself, and with the best of intentions, you just couldn’t bring yourself to get started. Have you considered that maybe you just don’t want to?
It is so easy to get caught up in our society’s idea that we must be everything, all the things. Top-shelf employees who have side hustles. Working towards entrepreneurship (because of course we all want to work for ourselves. Forbes list, here we come). We must be always available for our friends and families. Maybe you have kids who have a busy calendar full of activities. The school always needs something from you. You must have a rigorous fitness routine. I think we’re all supposed to be meditating now, too. And don’t forget hobbies and self-care. Make sure you’re enjoying nutritious, home-cooked meals every night. That house better be spotless. Can’t forget to document it all across multiple social media channels.
Say it with me now: Fuck that noise. That’s all it is. Noise. It’s overwhelming and assumes a one-size fits all mentality. But you, wonderful soul, are unique. What about what YOU want? It’s your life after all. Maybe you are happy with your 9-5 and have no desire to climb the ladder. Your kids don’t do multiple activities and won’t eat vegetables? I think that’s awesome. I don’t particularly care for a rigorous fitness routine (aside from jiu jitsu) and my family doesn’t always eat nutritious meals. The laundry is generally behind. No one does it all, no matter what they or their social media channel(s) tell you. With so many to do items on the should-do list, how do we decide what is worthy of our most precious resource, our time?
Decide between what you’re interested in, and that to which you are committed. It does not make anyone a failure or lazy if they decide not to fill up all 24 hours with doing all the things. If you’re committed to something, it means you will get it done. It’s really important to you and you’d be sad not to do it. When something you’re committed to doesn’t get done, you know you had a good reason and you’re motivated to do better next time. If you’re interested, it might get done, might not. When the thing you’re interested in doesn’t get done, you wonder why you can’t do All The Things. Our friends Shame and Guilt start piping up in your head. I’m here to tell you to drop interested for committed.
For me, I am committed to a minimum of 4 jiu jitsu classes per week. If that means the kids eat fast food once a week to make it happen, so be it. It’s important to me. Maybe you skip one family dinner a week to make sure your favourite Tuesday night run gets done. Playing guitar every day and starting a new running program? Much as I want it, I admit I’m solely interested, not really committed. If those things don’t get done, well that’s okay, maybe another time. It can be hard to accept, but not everything can be a priority all the time. So what are you committing to? What are you admitting to being only interested in? Drop me a line in the comments below, on social media (yes I have multiple channels, don’t judge me), or by email-I want to know!
It happened. You quit. The diet didn’t start. The healthy lifestyle met a booze and sugar fueled weekend. Right when you should have given it a strong shot, you backed off and tucked yourself back in your comfort zone. That habit streak you were so proud of just didn’t seem so important for a few days and now you’re back at square one. Yes, my Portuguese streak on Duolingo is still at zero and my “guitar everyday” declaration is….yeah. (Sh)it happens.
So now what? Descend into a shame spiral, eat your feelings and beat yourself up. You want to, but please don’t. I expected more out of myself, too. But therein lies the problem: expectations. For most of my life, and even now, I thought if I just expected more from myself and tried harder, dammit, everything would fall into place and I would magically stop quitting. Everything would be perfect. Sound familiar?
We’ve all been so hard on ourselves for so long. Only 100% will do. Nothing less than perfection. And all it gets us is sad. What if, just for this week, we aimed for just a little bit? Just start the thing, the lifestyle change, the habit, the whatever. Do it once this week. Hold yourself to it, expect it of yourself. And then, when the thing is done, celebrate. Tell yourself (bonus points if you do it out loud) that you’re proud of yourself.
Wait. I want you to celebrate doing something just once? Yes! When you celebrate and feel proud of yourself for doing something, your brain will want to do it again. And again. For example: This week I want to do breath work and stretch every day. Pretty lofty goal and, knowing myself, unlikely to happen. Instead, after each breath work and/or stretch session that actually gets done, I will celebrate by telling myself how good I feel afterwards and that I am proud of myself for taking even a small step towards my goals. Sounds a lot more fun than a shame spiral, yes? Something is always better than nothing.
Doing something, your thing, even just once is a great start. A great start is a building block for things to come. Maybe you’ll do it twice. Maybe you’ll decide you actually don’t enjoy it (we’ll talk more about that next week). But a start and a celebration is going to make you feel good. For everyone following along at home, here’s what we’re gonna do this week:
-Decide on the thing you want to do. Yes I know (because I am the same) there are likely eleventeen things you want to do. Pick one. Uno. The one you most want to do.
-Do it. Just one time. DO NOT let yourself off the hook. One time.
-Celebrate. Tell your reflection you are proud of you. Tell your friends. Buy the expensive wine. Order the strippers (kidding! Unless that’s your jam…then by all means…). Post on social media if you’re so inclined (tag #truthandgrit and I will cheer for you!
That’s it, easy peasey. If you feel so good that you want to add a second time of Doing The Thing, by all means go ahead but remember it’s strictly bonus. Did this work for you? Did you feel good and avoid frustration and disappointment? Let me know in the comments below, or by email or even a good ol’ fashioned DM. Cheers!
So many times in my life, I have quit. On a hundred different days, in a hundred different ways, I’ve hesitated and held back, or said I would start tomorrow or just plain ol’ not started at all. There have been times where I haven’t given my best. I’m not all that proud of this fact. And I’m willing to bet that, if you’re anything like me, you’ve quit or hesitated or not started too. We all start out with the best of intentions. We all believe we’ll do the things we promise ourselves. So often it’s not even anything big or important, or even noticeable.
You know how it goes. Get excited, have a plan and envision the end goal. Of course you’re going to be a success. Maybe it’s a new habit like waking up early, new lifestyle (more vegetables?), or improving a skill or building a streak. My latest Big Goal was to log a 100 day streak of Portuguese practice on Duolingo. I’m still at zero days (sigh). Whatever it is, it gets off to a great start (assuming it gets started at all). We feel good and we know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this time it’s gonna stick. Because this time is different. This is the ONE. Until it isn’t. We broke that promise we made with ourselves because we are so used to doing it and now we’re back where we started. It’s almost automatic. The good news is that we can change. We CAN keep those promises to ourselves. How? Start small, very small:
-Make and keep the tiniest little promises to yourself. I’m talking ridiculously tiny. For example, if you are going to have a shower, say to yourself “I am going to have a shower” right before you hop in. Or if you’re about to put some laundry in the wash, say “I am going to do some laundry right now”. Do this for all the mundane things you do in a day. It teaches your brain that when a message is received, the action will follow. This makes a big difference!
-As humans we tend to overestimate we tend to over-estimate what we can do in a day. Instead of trying to tackle three or four tasks in a day (as I have been known to do), focus on just one and make it The One Thing That Gets Done that day. Warning: Your ego won’t like this and will try to convince you to do all the things because the ego believes all the things must be done in a certain way in a certain time frame (usually today). Lies. Do the One Thing, take your time and enjoy it.
-Self-compassion. We’re all so used to society’s current pace of push and grind. Just try harder and you’ll be successful, right? Well, if you’re like me, you’ve been hard on yourself for a long time. But what if you tried doing the opposite and accepted that each day, you had tried your best and that is was enough? A little counterintuitive, but at worst you’ll be in the same place you are now. Best case scenario means you drop shame and frustration and replace it with a bit of self-satisfaction and confidence.
Yes we all quit, in one form or another, frequently. It costs more than we know and holds us back. I’m determined to train the quit out of myself and conquer all the mountains. Lord knows I’ve gathered up enough strategies over the years and it’s time they get put to use. I’ll be sharing as many as I can think of in my upcoming posts. It’s my hope these strategies help you as well but if not,I hope I make you think about what is possible in your life. Comment below or email me and tell me what you think, I want to know. Here’s to Team No Quit and our collective potential!
My latest post for Girls in Gis has been published! I wonder if I’ll ever get tired of the thrill that comes with the email that tells me the post is live? Hope not.
I wrote this article for all you ladies/girls/womxn out there who love to roll but are nervous about joining in with the boys. My hope is that it encourages you try stepping outside of your comfort zone, whatever it is you love to do, while staying true to yourself
Read the article here and let me know your thoughts, I want to hear from you. Remember to sign up for emails so you can get articles straight to your inbox and share on social media if you feel so inclined (thank you to everyone who has shared my posts, I super-appreciate you!)
Tonight was one of those nights. One of those nights where I didn’t really want to go to jiu jitsu, where I could feel more ache and fatigue than motivation. My shoulder was especially cranky. I just wanted to stay home with the blahs.
But I went. Through the warm up, all I could feel was heaviness in my legs and exhaustion everywhere else. During drills, I mostly got it wrong. And when we rolled (sparred)? All I could see was what I was doing wrong. I just to go home and cry in the shower.
But I didn’t. It’s so easy to give in to our dark side, our smallest selves. Even writing this now, I feel like staying in my pity party. I’m learning, though. Learning that not every thought is true and that it’s never as bad as you think. For everything I thought I did wrong, there were probably 5 really good things.
I’m learning too that failure is not only the beginning of success, it’s 100% the most important part. Anything that went wrong tonight is tomorrow’s opportunity to improve. Like Churchill said, “Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” It’s in the willingness to keep showing up.
It may not have been my best night, not even close. Some nights are like that, no matter what sport, hobby or lifestyle. I already can’t wait for class tomorrow.