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?!

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!


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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