Posts Tagged ‘learning’

Haikuesday 09.06.16

September 6, 2016 Leave a comment

Sometimes I forget

that judo is best with friends.

It’s how learning sticks.


I’m living it.

April 23, 2016 Leave a comment

I think my life started at 28 years old. That was when things started to change. That’s when I started to see what was possible. It’s not that I didn’t have good experiences before I was 28. I got to travel to other countries. I lived in different states. I got to go away to the college of my choice and study exactly what I wanted. I had good friends. It was nice. However, some things seemed fuzzy. Like my entire future. I didn’t have a sense of what I wanted for myself. I knew I didn’t want to be a nomad. Adventure grew less important. I still wanted challenge and risk, but with that I wanted purpose and stability. I wanted my brain to work hard and my bank account to reflect what my brain could do.

When I was 28, I was not happy. I was not even content. I was uncomfortable and antsy. I felt like a wolf with nothing to hunt. I had all this skill, all this potential, all this drive, but nothing to do with it. Then I made the decision to pursue my Master’s degree in social work. Then I found judo again. Then I ended my seven year relationship.

Those three acts made me feel new. All were terrifying and difficult and brought a sense of uncertainty, but they were necessary. At 28, I had the unshakeable feeling that this leg of my journey had to be done with me alone, ready to take my turn on the high dive. I wanted to be self-propelled.

Although I ended that relationship, I was never alone. I don’t think you can live a good life alone. I know that I need my family. I need my friends for fun, comfort, and sanity. I need the people in my life to inspire and motivate me. I like having my local heroes.

I’m 34 now. I’ll be 35 in November. I have some feelings about 35 which I didn’t expect to have, but I like where I’m at. The past six years have been rocket-fueled. I’ve had a series of intense, non-stop changes since July of 2014. With every good thing that’s happened, every new opportunity, every new personal connection, there has been something equally stressful and discouraging to keep me in check. I feel uncomfortable sometimes and I still get antsy, but I have focus now. No blurry vision about the future. No drifting. I know what I want to do. I know who I want by my side. This isn’t the life that happened to me. It’s the life that I chose. I’m glad I’m living it.

Up and down.

March 26, 2016 Leave a comment

It only took about 24 seconds for me to feel unstoppable. Just 24 seconds of me in the loud, grimy gym near my house on a Monday morning for me to see what a ferocious little monster I can be. A little encouragement, a lot of focus. That was it.

Leading up to those 24 seconds, I was not feeling invincible. I was feeling empty. My recent promotion at work was freaking me out. Each day in my new role, I was seized around the throat by that feeling that I was in way over my head. I was up all night reviewing all the ways I thought I screwed up and possible new ways for me to screw up in the future. I questioned my judgement. I questioned my assertiveness. I cried. I shut down. I ate three bowls of Coco Puffs in a row.

I told myself that I was going to be OK. I told myself I was just going to take this opportunity to learn and grown. I’m not going to grind away my sanity and well-being. “Be gentle to yourself,” is what I kept repeating in my head. I made sure I didn’t skip morning work outs and made it to judo practice. My non-work time was filled with nice things and nice people. I was going to be OK. I was going to do this. No drowning.

At the end of last week, I told myself I was relaxed and in control. That was a fib though. Deep down, I was still freaking out. Monday came, and I was so relieved that a few months ago, I scheduled the day off. My boyfriend, Frank, was with me and we had plans to go deadlift. I am novice level at deadlifting. I started lifting once a week in January and made my way up slowly from 115# to 145#. Frank trains in jiu jitsu and also took a period where he focused on power lifting. He’s smart and wants to do things to right way, not the bro way, so he’s a good gym buddy and training partner.

Frank was insistent that I could deadlift way more than 145#. I did not believe him. He said I could pull 200#. I did not believe him. I just started. I’m not that diesel. We put 135# on the bar and Frank studied me doing five reps. He told me, “I’m going to fix, like, two things and your deadlifts are going to go up 100# pounds today.” I raised an eyebrow. He showed me the adjustments. Then we kept adding weight gradually. We got up to 175#. I was in happy disbelief. How about 190#? Sure, why not. Then Frank asked, “Think you could try 200?” Sure. I got my breathing together. I gripped up. I pulled. I got the bar maybe and inch or two off the ground and then put it back down. I got scared. “It’s too heavy. It’s a lot of weight,” I said with furrowed brow. “Yeah, it is a lot of wait,” Frank acknowledged, empathetically.  I paused. I breathed. I said goodbye to my fear. I could do it. “I want to try again. I think I can do it.” I got my mind ready. I approached the bar again. Frank stood a few feet away, coaching and cheering me through. I did it. I pulled 200#.

I know 200# is not that amazing for serious powerlifters, but it’s amazing to me. I really didn’t think I could do it. At least not yet. I didn’t let myself see that I had that in me. But I do. It’s awesome.

When I got to work on Tuesday,  I was amped. I didn’t care about any crises, any drama, any tension. None of that scared me. I just deadlifted 200#. I know it sounds dumb, but that’s how I felt. Anything that came up, I was just, like, so what? This hard, but it’s not that hard. It all can get done. I felt calm even when a situation came up where I didn’t know the immediate solution. I was sure of myself. I was excited. I mean, I can pull 200#.

Twenty four seconds was all it took.




Love, hate, and ambition.

March 5, 2016 1 comment

I have been watching a boatload of Grey’s Anatomy. I even kept watching the series after Cristina Yang’s character left, which I never imagined I’d do. However, it’s too late now. I’m stuck watching it until the very end. Since last week, I’ve watched at least two episodes when I get home at night.

I don’t even, like, love Grey’s Anatomy. Medical dramas are fine, but they are not my favorite. On Tuesday, I got out of bed at 4:55 AM to go lift at the gym so I could arrive at work by 7:40 AM. I worked until about 5:30 PM and then rode my bike from West Philly to South Philly to observe a support group for caregivers of loved ones with dementia. This is a part of the process so I can obtain facilitator certification to help out with my agency’s own support group. Then I went to judo until 8:30 PM. I got home around 9:00 PM. After showering and preparing some food, I pulled up Netflix in my internet browser and settled into Grey’s Anatomy. It was probably around 9:30 PM then and I knew I had to be up at 5:00 AM again the next day. This is when I asked myself why the heck I was watching this show when I should be winding down instead.

The reason I developed a nightly Grey’s Anatomy habit is not complex. After about 15 seconds, I realized I was watching this series is because it reminds me of my own work in the social work field. The portrayal of surgeons at a teaching hospital on Grey’s Anatomy shows individuals propelled by ambition, intellectual curiosity, and often great empathy and compassion for humanity. The work cultivates an intangible sense of reward while making each of the characters miserable and suffocated by stress. But they’re happy. But they’re miserable. But they love what they do. But their work is destroying them. But their work is what keeps them going. But their work is killing their relationships. But their work is unique and incredible.

This is what I go through. I hate talking about my job. Please don’t ask me about work after work. Please. Don’t. But I love my job. I love being a social worker. For the past year and a half, I’ve been a social worker for a community-based geriatric health program. Just recently, I was promoted to department supervisor. We are housed by a university nursing program, so education and research is highly emphasized. My knowledge of geriatrics, dementia, family systems, the health care system, and social welfare has grown so much. I’ve accessed valuable professional development opportunities. I’ve been of part of  selfless teamwork. My co-workers and I have pulled together, exhausted all resources and problem-solving skills as the clock was ticking in order to makes things safe and good for our clients–before, during, and after working hours. I’ve had meaningful relationships with my clients and their families that I will hold close to my heart for the rest of my life. We’ve exchanged hugs and warm smiles as we passed each other in the halls. We’ve held each other’s hand. It’s been indescribable.

However, I’ve also felt so drowned by pressure to resolve multiple urgent issues that I’ve broke down and cried in dark, locked bathroom, choking to breathe. I’ve stopped 100 feet before the entrance to our building and wondered if I could make it through the day. Alternately, after spending several hours extinguishing emergent crises, I’ve wondered what would happen if I walked out the door and didn’t come back. I’ve had nights where my stomach is churning, my heart is racing, my eyes are wide open, and I don’t know how I’ll fix the mistake I made the day before. What is the answer? What is the answer? What do I have to do to fix this? 

I’m not happy. But I’m happy. I’m scared. But I’m unstoppable. I can’t do this. I can do anything. I should find something less stressful. But I would be so bored. It’s too hard. So what if it’s hard? I will be excellent. This is what I love. This is what I hate. I’m not this job. But I’m better because of this work.

Most of the characters on Grey’s Anatomy end their medical careers because Shonda Rhimes kills them off. So what would happen for me to leave social work? What would compel me to leave the stress and adrenaline behind? Only death? I don’t know. I do know that I love my work. I know that I’ll figure out. It’s OK that’s it’s hard. It’s a part of who I am. Like Grey’s Anatomy, I’ll probably see social work through to until the end.


Haikuesday 03.01.16

Learning with your friends

makes hard lessons seem like fun.

Then the knowledge sticks.


Haikuesday 02.23.16

February 23, 2016 Leave a comment

This will be my year,

as I release fear and doubt

to be my best self.

Haikuesday 07.21.15

second little blue belt stripe

second little blue belt stripe

I got a new rung

on my jiu jitsu ladder,

so I’ll keep climbing.