Will You Swim?

In life you either sink or you swim.  But Im not a sinking kind of person so I have my own version of this famous quote. In my life, its either I swim or I learn to swim. There is no sinking option.

A while back we were looking for potential employees to add to our team who were very eager to join us because it was their dream or their passion. And so we trained them and  I was very excited when the time came to offer the job because it was a great oIMG_8099opportunity for them and looking back when I was starting at this, I would have been thrilled to be in the position that they are now, following their dreams and their passion.When the opportunity came however,  they were hesitant because they thought they were
comfortable at where they are now. One of the concerns was failing and not wanting to take the risk.

And this made me think, you can’t just give up something that doesn’t work. You have to work with it and have a plan. On the other hand I have another team member, Ms Sarah who absolutely rocked the opportunities given to her. She started at the elementary end of it where it wasn’t as glamorous and went through all the hard work to get to where she is. Im proud listening to her speak with passion about her job and embracing all the challenges and difficulties to get to where she is now.

There are times though when you have to step back. You have to recognize that getting on the boat is not sinking. Its recognizing that maybe now is not the time or that this isn’t the course you thought you wanted. When I was a teenager, I spent my high school years committed to the fact that  I was gonna be a professional musician but I kinda got into a different ocean. IMG_8097 I still have the music element in my life but I recognize that’s not where my best gift is. Being able to run my martial arts schools and communicating with you in the community and helping other martial arts school owners to succeed, thats my strongest gift. Its when you allow the challenges and the adversities around you to drown you. That’s sinking. That’s giving up.

When you allow everything else to have control of your decisions, that’s sinking.

So when you look at the road ahead, please remember that quitting is not an option. You always go into the challenge with full force ahead, learn it, embrace it, improve yourself. If I thought of failures even before I started my business then I wouldn’t be where I am today. I would be sinking before I had even learned to swim. So, revise the quote in your heads. There is no sinking option in life. Swim, or Learn to Swim.

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1 Tip To Help You Crush Goals Like Never Before

bees kneesHave you ever heard that Bumblebees can’t fly? According to the laws of aerodynamic the bee’s body weight and shape in relation to its wing spread makes flying impossible. Now a few years ago they finally found the reason why they could fly. Bumblebees just flap their wings harder! 

They use brute force to overcome their own physical shortcomings in order for them to be able to fly. Now nobody told the bee they can’t so they just did it.

Its admirable how they have become a  great role model and have also come to symbolize what I’m all about. If you notice I have been using a play on words with the hashtag buzzellup and the bumblebee icon.

When you start your 2016 and you’re making your goals you have to have the mentality of the bee. Just go for it. There are things around you that may discourage you or hold you back but if you believe in what you can do and just keep pushing then you will reach your goal. The world is full of unnecessary noise that may distract you, society can be tough, and even you can be tough on your own self sometimes, but if you have that determination and you keep flapping your wings harder then you will always succeed.

Bees don’t hang around by the water cooler talking about what this other bee did.They are so well known for their amazing work ethic that they have been used in complimentary terms like “ Busy as a bee” which means that you’re working hard and “ bees knees” which refers to something or someone as the best or of the highest quality. Its very important that you also have that mindset. If it takes brute force to get your work done then put it in. Identify your objectives and work towards it. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.

One thing that’s also admirable about the bumblebee is they have a balanced goal structure.When its time to work, its time to work. And when its time to do something else, its time to do something else.

So the next time you see a bumblebee flying, remember what it had to overcome and remember that like them, you too can overcome challenges, have amazing work ethic and most importantly, believe that you can fly.

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My Top Insecurities

It is the start of a new year and we find ourselves thinking about what we would like to accomplish or  things that we would like to improve about ourselves. It is almost like a ritual with every unfolding of the year that we begin to list our resolutions as well. I was  just listening to a leadership training by John Maxwell and one thing that caught my attention was this, “ You cannot change until you have fully accepted who you are.”  This is a very powerful concept especially at a time when we are all trying to make our new year’s resolution.

If we analyze this statement, to achieve acceptance of something we must first be knowledgeable about it. Before we accept, we should first know ourselves. It sounds almost easy.  When faced with a questionnaire about our favorite color, or our favorite book or movie, it is easy to answer right? But for some, aside from the basic questions, we find ourselves stumped for answers.What are our strengths and weaknesses, What are our dreams, goals, passions, What makes us happy or sad. Even those that are difficult to admit like the bad parts of us, we have to acknowledge them as part of us. For example, I know that I’m bad when it comes to focus. I have ADHD-like tendencies so its hard for me to sit still. Tasks that involve those or things of that nature will always be a challenge for me. I also get loud and inappropriate at all the wrong times and I don’t have the best social graces. These are the parts that I know and acknowledge about myself.

But instead of taking this knowledge as an advantage, I would use it to compare myself to others. I always wished I was a little bit more graceful or dignified and meek. I used to look at those people and wished I could be more like them. I felt that I was a bad version of even myself. Many of us today struggle with this hate. We are so quick to criticize and see the worst in ourselves. We are so quick to compare. I was constantly running through a wall and beating myself up. I was running into frustrations after frustrations because  the reality is we are never gonna be that other person. It’s like wanting an apple when what you’ve got is an orange. The sooner we accept this , the sooner we can move on from this wall that hinders us.

My ADHD mentality is what makes me creative and be the best at my field. I know that now. I know that I have to be conscious  not to be loud at inappropriate times but I know that this is my personality and there are times where its okay for me to own it. Even when making my videos. There was a time when I didn’t want to take a video of myself or pictures of myself. I was self conscious of the sound of my own voice or the awkward facial expressions or if my hair  isn’t perfect that day.

There’s so many areas about myself that like others I am insecure about. But I know I have to push past them and allow myself to develop. The goal of the change is to help us be the best version and not to change into someone we’re completely not. But before we can do this, we have to first, know ourselves and then accept ourselves. The best piece of advice you will ever receive is to love yourself. We are not the model in the magazine or the actor on tv or that athlete in the news. They are also facing their own challenges and working towards it.

Take the time to really know yourself and accept it, love it.Embrace it. Your are awesome in your own way. If you make changes, make changes to be the best version of YOU. When we have freedom to be ourselves, that’s when we all fit together as a whole.

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Let It Go..

 

Over the weekend, my niece had her 8th birthday at our house and the theme was Frozen. If you don’t know this movie then you’ve been living under a rock as it took over the entire world. Every kid would sing to the soundtrack and little girls would be begging to be Elsa or Anna for their Halloween costumes. I have a huge level of respect for my  parent friends of little girls who have been watching and listening to the soundtrack over and over again. IMG_7297

One of the songs, Let it go, got me thinking about some of the things that have happened in my life. I really related to the scenario in the movie where Elsa had to keep her real self hidden from the world. I, too was in the same position growing up. In my late teens and early twenties, I somehow felt that I had to keep to my natural personality from the world as it was something that other people wouldn’t approve of. I tried to be, as the song says “the good girl I was meant to be.” Back then, I was already drawn to Martial Arts and Jiu Jitsu. Athleticism for girls, in my circles, was something that wasn’t encouraged back in the day. I encountered a lot of negativity for my choices, even for my parenting choices and my family choices.

I had such a huge wall to overcome and I’m glad that I separated myself from all that. I also want to challenge everyone to be introspective. Learn about your own self, learn what you like, what are your passions, dreams, your dislikes, your fears and own them. Do not be afraid to wear your own personality. You are not what others think of you. Do not allow other people’s opinions of you be your basis for your own self worth. Don’t let the hold you back from what you want to be. We are all different and we all have different ways of coping with our life. Be proud of your individualism. I’m glad that I was able to break away because the person I am now, I absolutely love. I get do my passion everyday. I get to live the life I secretly dreamed about because I went for it. Do something about your passion, do something about your interests, whether you want to learn a new hobby, you want to change your career, or you want to embark on a weight loss journey. Live life on your own standards. Remember that the only person who’s gonna be there for you is yourself so start investing on YOU!

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It’s All About Me

 

Me. Often times, its the most used word in our vocabulary. How about me? Is that for me? What’s in it for me? Admittedly its easier to think about ourselves than other people. We humans can be selfish and self serving. After all, that’s how we survived more than thousands  of years. By thinking of ourselves. 

Just last week, ME was feeling under appreciated. I was struggling with how people people don’t understand ME. They don’t appreciate ME or the things I do to reach our goals. ME.

But then I realized, are my actions really about other people’s appreciation? It feels so good when you are recognized for the value that you have contributed. It feels good for our efforts to be rewarded as they say. You feel energized and ready to take on anything. But what if that appreciation doesn’t come? 

Take for example you see a little girl crossing the street about to run into oncoming traffic and you save her.Her parents don’t even say a thank you. Yes you may feel bad. But would you do it again if you knew there’s nothing in it for you? Of course! Because it is right thing to do. 

Your actions matter. It may not have been vocalized but it is there. The things we do no matter how small always leave an impact on other people. 

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My son Seth serving in Guatemala 

When you submit excellent work for your boss and get no recognition, appreciate yourself because you have just helped your company and indirectly your co workers. You made things happen. When you comfort a friend in times of problem and you don’t receive a thank you, appreciate yourself because you  have helped her get through tough times. Let’s look at the results we produce by our actions instead of the words someone else produces for us. 

Let’s keep giving and pouring to into the people we come in contact with whether they are friends or strangers. Stop for a moment and don’t think about you. Remember that a little bit of  good goes a long way. 

My black belts serving the other students on dojo clean up day. 

 

 

Beat The Monday’s

The dread of a Monday morning starts well into Sunday night when you can feel it looming. This most hated day of the week has spawned  funMonday Memeny memes and they’re quite accurate. Students distress over  passing
that book report for first period, professionals feel the strain of that long and tedious first
meeting of the week, Fitness enthusiasts uncertain on their first workout.

I find myself out on a run one Monday morning along the stream when I noticed the water. How peaceful and calm on this Monday morning when everyone is on a panic facing their first hurdles of the week. And I thought to myself, Look at the water, it does not let anything stop it- a rock, a fallen branch or leaves. It just keeps flowing. I think that’s the secret to its calmness. Whatever obstructs its path, it just goes under, over or through it not letting anything hold it back. If it stopped flowing, then our soils wouldn’t be as healthy, or our plants as green, our our fish as plenty.

My challenge to you is too look at Monday as the start of the week of opportunities. Claim it.

Look at the challenges and the hurdles  and plan how to tackle it. Make a Plan A, Make a Plan B! Look forward to it like you look forward to the weekend- with much enthusiasm and excitement.  Arm yourself if you have to. Bring your favorite notebook to school, or your favorite pen to work, or wear your new workout clothes. The point is, don’t let anything hold you back. Don’t give up at the start of the week. Be like water, just keep calm and push through with your goals. Its never gonna be easy but that’s why you have 366 days this year to make it count. Your attitude will determine everything. Don’t give up before you’ve even started.

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Emotions Can Hold You Back

Emotions hold you back

When you’re facing adversity, you need to remove emotion.

After that incident where I stood there on the side of the road with my two sons and the groceries I got from the Church’s food pantry, I didn’t even know how I ever would get out of there. I didn’t see an end in sight. I didn’t know how I’m going to move forward. I actually felt paralyzed by fear, like if I don’t get through this, everything could go wrong and there are people I might let down.

If you step back from the emotional connection (the part of you of why it matters), and just look at it as black and white facts, you’ll be able to have a lot more clarity in the direction you should take and help create an action plan to overcome it.

Overcoming Adversity

“Every great success story starts with this kind of failure and you’ve had your failure. All you can do from here is persevere.”

Failure and adversity

My husband and I were 17 and 18 when we got married. I was pregnant with our first child and at that time, everyone we knew told us our marriage was going to fail, though some friends where positive that we can do it. There was so much negativity that people came up to me saying, “Oh I’m so sorry, I heard your husband left you.” And I was like, “I didn’t” Our marriage was great, but they were so convinced we were failing and we couldn’t succeed. It seemed like they have already decided our fate. We were basically teenagers at that time and we had a lot of financial struggles and challenges in our early years of marriage. We had to learn quite a bit, so we had to come up with different IMG_4226resources in ways to succeed.

I had my second child four years later. A month after the day my second child was born, my husband who was working three jobs that time, while at work…broke his back. It was our only main source of income, but he had to be on bed rest for six months. It was pretty overwhelming in my part because we were then working for a martial arts school, until I had a new born baby, plus a husband on bed rest. It took a lot to get through that time, but thankfully I was blessed in the company I’ve worked for. They allowed me to actually take on both responsibilities instead of giving my husband’s job to somebody else. We are able to maintain that source of income, but now I had twice as much work.

There was a certain point in our lives when we literally had nothing. It was one of the most embarrassing and challenging moments having to ask from the Church’s food pantry. Fortunately, they had allowed me to come in and took two bags of groceries. As I was on my ride way home, I got pulled over. This officer told me that my plates were expired and they were going to have to tow my vehicle. Now I was left standing on the side of the road, more embarrassed because I had just gone ‘shopping’ in our Church’s food pantry, holding my almost  three month old baby in his carrier in one hand, and my four year old in the other. I then have to call someone to pick me up and bring me home, and find friends to help claim my car back on the road.IMG_0010

Fast forward to a few years, we made a lot of improvements. We decided we want to open our own business. It takes a lot of work and I’m so glad we did it, but we learned a lot thru this process. We went from having two solid incomes working somewhere else with benefits, to, I got a job outside of the business our first year and just the school. We had nothing, when we opened our school. We didn’t have financial backing to help us pay for the first few months of bills. It was literally week to week and a lot of times the pay check I was getting from my other job went to both pay the bills for the business, and to pay the bills for the house. Obviously you could only go so far when you go down to basically a third of your income. Just a few months after that, I broke my arm so now I’m out of work. It did allow me time to work on some of the back end parts of our business, but that’s not something I would have seen return for a few years.

We eventually lost our home and I remember a friend of mine (who actually is now one of my top employees) came up to me upon losing our home and said, “Every great success story, starts with this kind of failure and you’ve had your failure. All you can do from here is persevere.” And it hit with such intensity that this is my story that I’m writing and I’m starting off with this foreclosure, the thing nobody wants to happen. Nobody wants to lose their home. I was raised to believe that one of the biggest accomplishments I could have was owning a home (it was actually our second home because we sold our first and bought our second).  Momentarily we have been ahead of the game and now we lost it. Everyone was going to know we opened the business and lost our house, and they will look at us at this failure and she turned it around and said, “No, this is like your foundation for your story. aren’t you ready and so excited?”

Life’s always going to have challenges and we all want them gone, And if you’re not changing, then you’re not growing and developing. Challenges are like a sign that you’re alive and living it. As for dealing with my own challenges, I had to rely on my previous experiences and my own confidence to remind myself that I can overcome this and it’s not going to hold me back.

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5 Things My Parents Taught Me About Money and Children

 

With my dad a couple years ago.
With my dad a couple years ago.

 

Today I took my son and niece with me to B.J.’s. Those  of you who have followed me know I am big on prepping my meals ahead of time. With a schedule as busy as ours, if we don’t we quickly find ourselves off track.

After, loading up the jeep with all of the food we got. The kids were talking about their favorite “samples”. It reminded me of when I was a kid. I recall shortly after B.J.’s opened my parents got a membership. The trip to B.J’s was an exciting highlight. My Dad would say something like “who wants to go out to lunch?”. Then we would all pack up and head to B.J.’s  our out to “lunch” was all the samples. We all loved and looked forward to this trip. Now as I shared this story my son and niece thought I was making it up. I had to call my brother to confirm. We talked about how much we enjoyed the trips, I recall as I got older and started babysitting or if I was away and had to miss the trip I would be so disappointed.

With my niece
With my niece

It got me thinking of what an amazing job my parents did creating a culture of excitement for the “little” things.  – NOW before you focus on the wrong end of this story, no we were not “those kids” that had 5 of each sample. We really only had one each (except maybe my brother who is much younger and was always good at using his blue eyes to his advantage) and most weeks my parents would buy at least one of the items sampled. – My parents took a simple task, grocery shopping and made it an exciting moment. Money was tight during those years, this really was one of the few ways they could “take us out to eat”. I never recall being annoyed or rolling my eyes.

During those years all of our clothing was hand me downs, yet every time someone gave us a bag it was like Christmas. We were all so excited to pick through and see what we could find. I recall when I was about 15 I LOVED everything hockey. I wanted my own skates, roller blades and stick so bad. That Christmas that was all there plus some team apparel. The skates, roller blades, and stick were all second-hand, probably from the local Salvation Army… but I never noticed.. I was so excited to have them I didn’t care about brand or where they came from.

Aunty day
Aunty day

Times were not always tough in our household. In the early years my Dad had a great job, plenty of real estate income also, my mom was a model – We had plenty of material things – 2 Lincoln town cars, 5 Harley Davidson’s, a Mercedes Benz, I had all the latest and greatest toys, we took weekend vacations almost every weekend, we went out to eat often, hit up many amusement parks and other outings of that nature.

Things changed, my dad lost his job, had to have a surgery, my mom had to take care of him etc. A few years later they found themselves struggling to make ends meet. Often having to get in line at the food pantry for help.

My point is, as a child, I didn’t notice a difference between my 2 lifestyles. It wasn’t until as an adult I saw things had changed. That was because of my parents. They never discussed the hardships, they taught us to be grateful in all we had. That is why – years later I was excited by second-hand gifts, even after having years of first hand. We never discussed the difference.

So I came with 5 lessons I learned from my parents from this time.

1. NEVER discuss money hardships in front of your child.

During our years of hardship my parents still found a way for me to be involved in modeling lessons and music lessons. I am sure that was not easy for them to find the funds for, but they never discussed in front of me. I see often now as I teach martial arts when parents talk about finances kids will internalize, blame themselves and feel the need to quit the activity to save the parents pain.

2. DO discuss a budget.

Although my parents did not discuss hardships, I was aware that my family had a budget to stick to. That we had to be responsible with our resources. As soon as we got an allowance my father had us practice dividing it into categories (savings, spending etc.)

3. Teach and attitude of gratitude.

Our responsibility is to teach our children to grateful for the things they have. That comes with both practicing responsibility and not feeding the “entitlement mentality”. My parents did that by having me write Thank you cards to those who had helped us.

4. DON”T make a big deal about “keeping up with the Joneses”

Sure I noticed that my peers seemed to have “more than” I did. But looking back I have no idea what “more” was. We didn’t focus on it. If I complained (I’m sure I did) about not taking the vacations others did etc. My parents didn’t feed the thought, they redirected away from it and had me focus on what I did have. As parents we always want to give our children the best. I am sure my parents struggled with not having the things they used to, but they didn’t pass that on to me. They didn’t ever let me know there was a difference.

5. MAKE the little things count

A trip to B.J.s, A walk with my mom, visiting my nana up the street for sleepover, a trip to the library, sharing  a soda with my siblings, even waiting in line at the food pantry for the butter, cheese, and peanut butter. These things were exciting. They were our family time. How we bounded. My parents chose the attitude of gratitude and it influenced how I saw the situation. They very easily could have discussed how upsetting it was to have no money and need to wait in line for staple food items… or that the only way they could afford to take us “out” was if we ate the free samples. Then those moments would have been embarrassing and stressful. Instead they made the best of every one of our moments. Don’t get so caught up in the buzz of the world, gadgets, clothing, trips that you teach your children to focus on the material or the glamour. Make a big deal about the little, yet most important moments. Have friends over for dinner, visit the Library, go for a walk, fishing. Bond as a family.

Day of hiking
Day of hiking

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3 Things I Learned from Being Sexually Assualted

Scared Child

 

I was between the ages of 2 & 3 ….probably closer to 2 years old. It is one of my first memories. I can recall the layout of the apartment to the detail. My dad had left me with a family friend/babysitter – a teenager. Someone I knew well and had watched me before. I trusted him completely. It was probably early afternoon.

I sat on the couch with him as we read a magazine together. He was “cuddled” next to me the way someone reading a child a story would be. As we looked through the magazine we came across a picture of a naked man with a briefcase. He pointed out to me that the man was naked. I distinctly recall going from a place of safety, trust, and comfort to fear, guarded and confused. He then asked me if I had ever seen “one” before and if I wanted to see his. I told him no. He proceeded to pull down his pants around his knees, exposing his penis and tried to convince me it was ok. I don’t know how, but at that very young age I KNEW it wasn’t ok. I created space between us by going over to the other sofa and putting the coffee table in between us.

He then began to ask me to kiss it – telling me it was ok to do so. Again, I don’t know how I knew it wasn’t, I was too young for anyone to have explained that yet, but I knew. I told him no and began creating more distance. He started following me around pleading with me to kiss it. I was scared. I had to use the bathroom and thought i would get some privacy/escape. But, he followed me in, standing in the doorway. He sat on the floor in the doorway with his pants still down. Telling me it was ok. He then told me he would kiss mine if I kissed his. I still told him no. I was scared and knew I couldn’t let him see “mine” so I used 2/3 year old logic and sat backwards on the toilet. When I was done he continued to follow me, asking me to PLEEEAAASE kiss it. I did what any 2/3 year old would do to escape – I went to the bedroom to take a nap. He didn’t follow me and left me alone. At some point during his following he begged me not to tell our parents, that they would be upset.

I don’t know how much time passed before we saw them again, a day..weeks? Its only snapshot memories – like a movie in my head. I think that day may have been the day I told my parents. I recall being scared and clinging to my dad. I recall the friends etc that were there asking why I was so quite and not as talkative as usual. I don’t recall ever seeing them again after that day.

All through my childhood I had nightmares about this day. Reliving it over and over in my sleep waking up screaming, crying and scared but never recalling the dream. My parents had no idea – and with the exception of these dreams I did not remember what had happened. When I was in 5th grade they had a session on molestation etc. I started having the dreams every night for a couple weeks. I remembered them now – finally I said to my mom, I keep having these weird dreams every night and I told her about the dream. She said, you remember that. I realized the nightmares and dreams I had been having were my memories replaying over and over.

As a young teen I was hanging out with some friends who always stopped in and visited this old man who would always have candy for the neighborhood kids. We had visited a couple times and it was always weird and uncomfortable. My instincts said bad place – but my friends went there all the time – so I ignored it. When we were there the last time, he reached out and grabbed my breast, hard, and wouldn’t let go. I froze – completely shut down in shock – my friend grabbed my arm and dragged me out of the house. I told our parents and they called the police.

Why do I share this? Because I never want to feel that again. The fear, trauma, nightmares. I for years couldn’t have an older man standing near me. I would get tense and stressed. I never want that feeling back.

Self defense training specifically like Krav Maga gives you the tools to protect yourself, but more then that… the confidence in which you carry yourself reduces your likeliness of being a victim. Now of course there is no self defense I could have learned for when I was so young..but understanding the feelings help me understand why it is so important.

So what can be learned form my experiences?

1. Listen to your instincts. 

Listening to my instincts at that young age saved what could have become an even more traumatizing event. If I didn’t listen and did as he asked, “kissed it”, what would have come next…. not listening got me into “trouble” as a teenager.

2. Train – the more the better.

I froze.. I FROZE!!!!!! Sure I didn’t have any practical self defense training at that point..but I considered myself a confident don’t take nothing from anyone kinda girl… but my shock froze me in place. My goodness, I responded better at 2 years old keeping distance and furniture between us then I did when I was older. This is more common then you realize, do some research on how people respond in an attack situation. Taking a self defense seminar or two is great. But to know how to respond, to keep your skills sharpened train weekly, daily. Training in a good program like Krav Maga also puts you through stress drills..allowing you to push through the stress..and the “freeze” moment to protect yourself.

3. Tell

If something does happen make sure you tell some right away. Get help and support. Report them right away, you may protect someone else.

So get the training. Learn the facts. Be aware.

Feel free to check out one of my facilities.

www.abdspencer.com or www.abdshrewsbury.com

Or for a Krav Maga school near you visit

www.kravmagaalliance.com  

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