Kempo Love



Earlier this year I knew I needed to make a change.
My self-care habits were basically in the toilet... not eating well, limited physical activity, exhausted all the time, just feeling blah.

I wanted to do something different. Something that would challenge me. Something that I wasn't doing alone.

I saw an ad on the back of parish bulletin one random day in late February about a karate class (Kempo). I went to the ol' Google and checked it out. The website was full of smiley, seemingly happy people, stories of students' journeys, and an emphasis on the fact that you didn't have to have any experience, be in any shape and be any age to try it out.

My interest was piqued.

I filled out the online inquiry. Then, over the next MONTH I went back and forth with the instructors (soon, I learned they are referred to as Sensei), asking when I would like to schedule my free class. Meet with them. Etc. Etc.

Finally, I realized I was uber self-conscious. I didn't want to try something and make a FOOL of myself. Prove that I couldn't actually do it.

No. I would just do it. Come on, Jen! Try one class. Just one.

After arriving at a different dojo (gym/studio) than the one I was supposed to and feeling embarrassed about that, I made it to the right one. Sensei was very apologetic and welcoming.

We chatted... and he invited me to stay for the group class that evening.
It was tough.
But, SO FUN!

Each and every one of the other students were so incredibly welcoming. Everyone said hello. Shook my hand. Welcomed me.

And I was hooked. I signed up right then and there.
And have been committed every week (multiple times per week!) since that March evening.

Kempo is a blend of different martial arts styles. Each class we learn new drills and punches and kicks and blocks and strikes and all the things. It is mixed in with endurance/conditioning exercises to increase your heart rate and there is an all-cardio (death class, as it's affectionately called) once a week that I also attend.

It is hard. It is sweaty. It is intense. It is (sometimes) painful.

It is one of the most FUN and AMAZING things that I have done.

I was not expecting to love it as much as I have. Isn't it funny how the things we least expect can be some of the best things for us?!

I WAS SO HAPPY!
Kempo has pushed me. Challenged my perfectionist tendencies. Made me stronger, both physically and mentally. The Lord has worked through Kempo and the people and the sweat to remind me that I am strong. That I am good enough. That I am awesome... just by being me.

I tested up to get my yellow belt. I will probably remember this test for the rest of my life. I didn't go into this Kempo thing to earn a black belt. I hardly even knew what that even meant before I started. But, to keeping growing and learning and challenging myself, you test up to the next belt.

I was so nervous.
But, I did it. It was intense. It was sweaty. But, it wasn't as bad as I made it seem in my head.
My dojo BFF, Claudia!!
Great metaphor for how I do life, sometimes. My own feelings and doubts get in the way of allowing myself to see what is really going on. And believing that I can do it.

Pushing through them and doing it anyway... that's what counts. That's how you grow. That's how you challenge yourself to be better.

One palm strike and front thrust punch at a time.





Beating up on Sensei!

#PKselfie

Oh! I have never seen that ad in the bulletin again.
Good job, Holy Spirit, good job.

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Vacation and Reset!

Wait... is this a blog post?
Is that what I am supposed to do here? Write things?

Dang... it's been a while. Does anyone even stop by this little piece of the interwebs anymore? (Hi Aunt Susan!!)

I just got home from the Jersey Shore, where my mom and I have gone for many, many years meeting up with my Aunt and Uncle. It was the perfect vacation. Beautiful weather. Beach. Family. Yummy food. I started composing an IG post with some reflections... then, I decided to write them out. On my blog. Where I can do that. Let's be honest, though... I'll still post something to the good ol' IG, too.

When we arrived, it was a bit chilly and cloudy. But it was the ONLY day like that.

Traditions are the best.
So is yummy breakfast.

Let's go back.

Love my momma.

Sunrise prayer time.


Also practiced my Kempo.
What's that, you ask? I will be sure to do a whole post on that SOON!






Love these peeps.



I am feeling good, guys.
Like, genuinely good.
It feels so GOOD to say that!! ha.

This vacation was exactly what I needed. Obviously... when are vacations rarely not what we needed, right? But, this was the most perfect timing. To strip away everything. To be away from real life for 7 days. To breath in the fresh, sea salt air. To read. To pray. To dream. To laugh. To hang out with my family. To just... be.

It's exactly what I needed.

The stripping away of all that was affecting my ability to believe the truths about myself and about my life.

We all know that I struggle with depression, and continue to talk with my therapist... or maybe you didn't. Now you know! :) I have mentioned it here (and here and here) a few times before, if you want more of my thoughts. I will continue to speak with him... as it's one of the only consistent ways that I have been able to care for myself, that remind me of these truths:
  • I am loved.
  • I am worthy.
  • I am good enough.
  • Pretty much, I am awesome. :)
But this vacation. Man, this vacation. It's like I have been reset. My energy. My thoughts. I can see these truths through a clear glass. These past few months have been... rough. I have not taken care of myself. I have been incredibly stressed with work. I still don't have a great community here. I was just down. Drowning myself with anything that had nothing to do with building me up (namely the internet and random shows. Nothing too scandalous!). 

I began Kempo (more on that soon, promise!). And working out more consistently. This has been simply amazing for me.

I was beginning to feel really burned out. With work. With life. With all the things.

Then vacation. Thank God for vacation.
I am holding onto to these truths. I am indeed loved. I am indeed worthy. I am indeed enough.

I am loving that I can say those things confidently. I need to be better about making those voices LOUD, instead of the untruths that I typically hear. The devil uses the untruths to pull me away... from myself, from the Lord, from a peaceful and joyous life.

I am sick of it.

So, here is my plan to make those voices louder:
  1. Literally say them out loud to myself every morning.
  2. Journal every morning (even for 10 minutes).
  3. Go to bed on time... 9:30. That is my bedtime. (self care, people. Self care)
That's where I am starting.
Maybe I will use my blogging to keep myself accountable.
What do you guys do to remind yourself of these truths?

Have a blessed Sunday!!


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See the World Around You


Yesterday, I was walking to my car. I had to walk down a street, that on the weekends is pretty nonexistent of people (it's a large business park, so more hustle during the week). There was a couple walking their dog just a few steps behind me. And then an old man in ratty clothes a few steps ahead, standing to the side.

As I approached him, he reached out his hand and mumbled something.

Immediately I said, "I'm sorry, I don't have anything" and continued to look down at my phone and walk by.

The couple behind me slowed and engaged this man.
Listening to what he had to say, and providing him the directions that he was asking for.

Oh. Um.
He was looking for directions.
Not a hand out.
Yikes.

I missed it. I completely missed the mark.

I was judging this man by what he looks like.
By what he was wearing.
For the simple fact that I couldn't understand him.
He was, indeed, reaching out.
For help. But not the usual help.

What a humbling and sobering moment.

I don't know that man's story. I don't even really know if his clothes were that ratty.

But, in that moment, I saw what I wanted to see. I chose to not engage and missed the truth.

How so very sad.
And how quick we are to do that with... anyone. Or any situation.
We choose to see what we want to see, and are blinded by ourselves.
Blinded by our own mess.
Blinded by our phones.
Blinded by the rush to the next activity.
Blinded by pain.
Blinded by misconceptions.
Blinded by hatred.
Blinded by the busyness of life.

This blindness prevents us from seeing reality. From seeing truth.

If we can take the blinders off and look past what we think we know and understand and are cool with, what do you think we will see?

More beauty?
The human heart?
The raw pain?
The simplicity of a man asking for directions?
More love?
Pure joy?

I challenge you to look up from your phone, look people in the eye, remove your blinders and see.

See the the world around you.
It may surprise you.


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We wait...


It is quiet.
It is still.
Not many cars on the road.
The sun is behind the clouds.


We wait.
In the quiet of Holy Saturday.
Jesus is in the tomb.

I don't know about you guys, but my Triduum has been a bit rough. The last couple of days were just... crappy, to say the least. Not the whole of each day. There was some good, too, of course.

But, I can't help but think that the devil loves these few days, ya know? He comes in FULL force to remind us of all the lies and sin that we have worked SO hard to change and improve and rid ourselves of in the 40 days of Lent.

Jesus has died because of our sins.

And all of those sins and His death are locked in the tomb.
It's the perfect time for the devil to get us all riled up about how we haven't actually changed at all. That all the work and time and prayers we put into becoming new, were for nothing.

See, He is still in the tomb. He is dead because of you. There is no point in changing.

Thankfully... we are living 2000 years later.
We know that Easter comes.
We know that Jesus defies death.
We know that he rises, walks the Earth again, and meets up with God in Heaven.

This is the Truth.
Thank God for that!

He rises despite the fact that we are yet to be perfect.
He rises despite the fact that we still need to work on some things.
He rises despite the fact that we still struggle.

He died on the cross out of love for us.
And rises to remind us of His love for us.
That there is Hope.
There is Light.
It will come.
Always.

I pray that as you wait on this Holy Saturday, knowing that Jesus has died because of your sins-- you still have so much to change and work on and make new... you will remember that Hope does come. The tomb will be empty.
Jesus will rise.
And you have another chance to make yourself new.

I needed this reminder today. Maybe one of you did, too.

Have a Blessed and Happy Easter!

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Lent + Self-Care

I went for a walk this morning.

And it was wonderful.

I told myself when I went to bed last night that I would get up and walk. It's supposed to get cloudy and rainy, then be back to normal February weather tomorrow. I had to enjoy this "Spring in February" while it was still here. Be outside. Get some precious vitamin D.

And now I am enjoying my balcony. Letting the sun hit my face, as I sit here squinting and writing; listening to some 90s jams.
62* and sunny... glorious!!


And it all feels so good.

I think there may be a misconception that single people are so good at taking care of themselves because they have so much extra time to do so. Or there is some sort of expectation to do so.

And, yet.  I really suck at it.

The reality is... I work full time. I sit in almost 2 hours of traffic on any given day. I get to work early to *try* to get out at a decent time, but, how do we think that works out? I am exhausted when I get home. And when I am inside my cozy, little place... it takes A LOT for me to leave again. My weekends are usually filled with trying to sleep in, run errands, do laundry, etc. So much of that is just spent sitting, vegging, catching up on a show.

So much of my time when I am not at work is spent thinking about work and what is going on. What I need to do. What did I forget. How can I be better. When I move on from work, it's what I need to do around my house, laundry, do I have something to eat, when will I visit my grandparents, how am I going to schedule doctor appointments even though I work, what family haven't I caught up with lately, which friend do I need to reach out to, etc.

These days, it's more of just getting by and surviving. Ya know? All of these things are important and needed and good for me. I mean, adulting, right?

But, then the weather perks up and I go for a walk and feel the sun, I am reminded that doing something for myself- for me, for my health, for my sanity- is so very lacking in my life.

Just as you busy moms learn to take advantage of your 30 minutes while the kids are resting, I need to do the same thing. I have to learn how to use the time that I have and make it work for me.

It's really just the same thing.

Maximizing our time and making ourselves a priority. Taking care of ourselves, a little bit each day, will allow us to be better in our jobs, for our kids, for our families.

So, Lent is coming. Have you heard?! ;)

I had some plans... but I think that Lord is nudging me to make this a priority. To do something each day that is for myself.

That doesn't include the computer.
My phone.
TV.

I still think I need to ponder what that will look like for me. It could be a daily walk, making my way back up to running? Time in adoration? Take a class? Going to bed on time?

I sometimes get caught up in how I need to do all of these BIG and AMAZING things to take care of myself. There doesn't need to be a "wow" factor.
This is for me.
The simple, the better.

If you were going to focus on self-care for Lent, what things would you choose? What would that look like for you??

I hope and pray that this Lent is beautiful and fruitful for you!
Blessings and prayers,

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