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Risks and resolutions.

I’ve spent the first few days of 2014 stumbling between my bedroom and my living room, wrapped in a foggy cloud of  steam from my ginger tea and NyQuil-induced hallucinations.  While many people take the new year as the impetus to revitalize their lives, I’ve been fused to my couch, watching episode after episode of Breaking Bad. As I watched Walter White grow increasingly greedy, bullying, desperate, and manipulative, I increasingly felt empty and purposeless. How did I end up locked in the fetal position, entrenched in the fictional existence of morally-grey individuals? This is not how I should start 2014. I should be having some sort of celebratory brunch with friends, or getting in some good judo and jiu jitsu training. Or writing. Or cooking. Walking. Running. Something. Anything.

While fighting through my NyQuil hangover yesterday, I got a notice from Twitter. It said my judo/bjj coach mentioned me in a tweet, which read, “Finally the overall winner for attendance in December @LoriLatimer1 with a new student record of 37 classes in one month. #champ.”  I felt a flutter of accomplishment. Then it hit me. The reason why I was starting 2014 face down on my couch is because I worked my ass off in 2013.

I’m not going to lie; I wanted to get the most classes at my club in December. We have a friendly attendance competition and at the end of the year, the winners get prizes. I wanted the prize for overall attendance. It’s totally silly and trivial to so badly want the attendance award at your judo and jiu jitsu club, but I’ve wanted that award since we started doing the contest three years ago.  Grad school, illness, injuries, finances, and all that other junk got in the way of me being a real contender. This year, however, I couldn’t see anything blocking me from making as many classes as I could. For me, as scheduled and regimented as training can be, it is also freeing. It says that I chose to spend my time exactly as  I want. It says that each day, I have something meaningful to get excited for. In  2013, I actually did win the overall attendance award. Of course, I was a ridiculous trash-talker the last few months and took the whole thing a little too seriously, but winning affirmed that I got to do exactly what I wanted all year long, which is to train a lot.  Judo and jiu jitsu can cause me stress and misery, but overall, they keep me sane and joyful.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. This is because historically, I never kept any resolution I made on January 1. Instead, I make commitments to change as I recognize them. I didn’t like where I was last winter. I was about 20 pounds heavier than I ever have been, barely training, barely seeing friends, barely doing anything except ordering take-out. I was simply existing. That’s not me though and I couldn’t stand my own lethargy. So in the spring, I decided to re-engage in my life. I amped up my training and conditioning.  I went to all the doctor appointments I needed to go. I started looking around for therapists. Once I felt pretty steady taking care of myself, I decided I wanted to take chances. I wanted to scare myself a little bit. So in the last two thirds of 2013, I did a bunch of stuff I thought I’d never do. I went to the shooting range with my dad and shot a gun for the first time. I went surfing for the first time. I also completed in my first jiu jitsu tournament. In fact, I ended up competing in three BJJ tournaments between May and October despite telling myself when I first starting jiu jitsu that I would never compete in that sport. I participated in a Tough Mudder, facing my doubts about running and jumping. In each instance the fun and camaraderie outweighed my fear and insecurity. Although I continued to have my own internal battles about work and aspects of my personal life, I had a sense that there is always something to look forward to. There will always be an opportunity ahead, whether it’s a post-training drink with a potential new friend or a chance to travel to a place you’ve never been.

Who knows what little risks await me in 2014? I do know that I will foolishly gun for the 2014 overall attendance award winner, even if it means spending the first few days of 2015 on the couch. It’s a small consequence for spending the year doing what I love.




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