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I am an inpatient patient person. Are you familiar with the saying “Do as I say, not as I do”? For years, I lived each day as a hypocrite showing patience to others, but never extending the same courtesy to myself. I was an over achiever addicted to the feeling of accomplishment. When I didn’t get it fast enough I become my own bully and pushed myself harder. Injuries did not seem to stop me. For example, in college while playing water polo for USC I pulled a groin muscle while treading water and holding a 5 gallon jug of water over my head. Rather than rest I still trained compensating by overusing my upper body which resulted in tearing a muscle in my upper back. I didn’t stop there. I was very driven, but also stubborn leading to my own demise. I kept training and competing using pain killers to get me through the season; just barely. Unfortunately, my lack of patience and unwillingness to give myself time to heal set me up for failure in the long run leaving me hardly anything left to use at Olympic tryouts. That was back when I was a young 22 year old.

You are supposed to grow wiser as you get older and learn from your mistakes. However, it wasn’t until I took a major blow to the head at the age of 33 that I really started paying attention. I approached the head injury the same way by trying to push through it. I didn’t just fail! I collapsed and stumbled into a deep metaphorical chasm. Once I finally realized that I was repeating the same lesson I saw that I needed to make a change. At that time I came across the author Dan Millman and read several of his books including Way of the Peaceful Warrior. In one of his books he wrote “Our teachers appear in many forms. Master teachers are found not only on lonely mountaintops or in ashrams of the East. Our teachers may take the form of friends and adversaries, of clouds, animals, wind, and water. Moment to moment, our teachers reveal all we need to know. The question is, are we paying attention? When the student is ready, the teacher appears everywhere.” Boy, was he right! It was this paragraph that sparked my life changing revelation. All the people around me (family, friends, Si Jei Tanaka, Sifu Anton, Sifu Dennis, doctors, practitioners, therapists, and even strangers) all seemed to say the same thing, but in different contexts. I was too far to one side of the pendulum. I needed to find balance and in doing so needed to learn to be kinder to myself. I am sure people have been saying this all along, but I simply was not listening.

These last few weeks the universe has thrown reminders in my direction. I feel great in comparison to where I was a little over a year ago. I have gained muscle weight back and cognitively, am doing much better. A couple weeks ago I was determined and excited to go surfing despite the fact that I had not been cleared to surf by my doctors. At 3am the morning I had planned to hit the water with my brother, I woke up with a nasty bout of conjunctivitis. I haven’t had pink eye in over a decade. When that eye cleared up I wound up accidentally stabbing myself in my other eye attempting to break free from a double wrist grab resulting in pink eye again. Yes, I found that funny as well. Interestingly, I had a follow up appointment with my doctor two days ago and expected to be released back to lifeguarding as well as all the activities I enjoy. I was disappointed to find that that was not the case. I have permission to do some things including sparring as long as I don’t take strikes to the head/neck region. However, I am not allowed to surf or lifeguard. I was so confused. I’m allowed to climb, spar, and ski (with restrictions), but not play in the ocean. I was sure to find everyone else confused as I vented my disappointment, but that didn’t happen either. Everyone seemed to be saying the same thing. “Take one thing at a time. There is no need to go crazy and jump back into too many things at once”.

The last couple days I have been thinking about my Plan of Attack for my Iron Palm Level 1 and 3 star goal. This morning I had decided that I was going to postpone 3 star until after testing in a couple weeks because I was finding it a bit stressful to find time to add the 3 star procedure on top of Iron Palm, training, and incorporating my tutoring/home school business. All three take a good deal of time since I do not like to do things with mediocre effort. I, also, just got engaged and am trying to figure out the whole wedding thing. I still felt guilty and found that bully inside starting to speak up making me question myself; “Am I just coming up with excuses to explain why I can’t?” I despise the phrase, “I can’t”. Then I heard it again. “Take one thing at a time. There is no need to go crazy and jump back into too many things at once”. When I brought up my thoughts today during training, Sifu Dennis responded “why stress yourself out. You don’t have to do 3 star during Iron Palm. Why not just start afterwards?”

Last week I wrote in my blog that it is not the goal itself that usually needs adjusting, but rather the plan of attack. My main two weaknesses I find as threats to my successful completion of Iron Palm is the difficulty in finding the proper balance between pushing too hard and not pushing hard enough and being too self-critical. I often push too hard and negatively criticize myself affecting my head game. However, there is a difference this time. I am making a point of paying attention! Thus, I have decided to change my plan of attack to maintain balance by exercising patience and postpone 3 star until mid-February so I can achieve both my iron palm and professional goals.