Planning to Swim

So I have been talking about taking out the sinking option in our lives but what does it really mean to learn how to swim figuratively in life? I am not saying that you jump into a lake without prior swimming knowledge and just expect to survive.  There are steps that one should remember.

Step 1. Research and Plan

You can’t just one day decide to be an Olympic power lifter and compete. You need proper training and good coaches and a great team. Before you attempt anything, research and plan. Know the waters you’re jumping into. Understand what you need to take, what level of proficiency you’re gonna need to swim. If you’re starting that business, have a business plan and talk to experts. The amount of preparation that goes into these things are important.

Step 2.Have a fantastic team

I have my mom and dad, Alex & my sons, friends who would encourage me and hold me accountable to my progress and make sure that I was still working towards my goals so I don’t get sidetracked. Their support is invaluable and will help you stick to your vision. When someone crosses the English channel there’s always a boat right next making the journey with them. It always helps to have a life raft of people around  you.

Step 3 Focus

Once you get in you have to focus. Focus on where you’re going. If you look around too much, you get distracted and its harder to keep yourself afloat. It takes more work pushing forward. When I teach kids in Martial Arts, I aways tell them that when you ride a bicycle and you keep looking around, most likely you’re gonna crash. You have to keep your eyes on the track or you won’t succeed.

Step 4 Have Confidence

About 15 years ago I took a Lifeguarding course with my coworker who was a six foot 2 fellow and I had to mock save him . While other kids had hundred pound partners, I was lugging across a man who was 75 pounds heavier than me. When I thought about how much he weighed he really got heavier and made it hard for me. But when I had confidence that I had the skills to save him,I was able to succeed. You see, you don’t always get to save hundred pound kids, sometimes you have to lug around a man twice your size. Just like our problems, sometimes they are more than we think we can handle but if you have the confidence to face them and you know that you have the skills then its winning half the race.

Some Diamonds Go On Rings, Some Dimonds Dominate Them. Will You Join Me in Dominating the Rings of Live? A. img_0102

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.

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  

#liveitloveit #blackbeltlifestyle

TIps on how to be the best mom..like me.

Me with my sons on Mother's Day
Me with my sons on Mother’s Day

Being a Mom or Dad isn’t easy. It seems like it gets even more challenging with things like facebook, instagram, pintrest where now you get to see how amazing all the other mom’s are and all the areas you are not. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel down on yourself when you see how outstanding other mothers are.

Here are 4 mom’s that I just “idolize” in how amazing they are.

Sue.

Sue has 2 jobs and still finds time to do it all. She never misses a teachers birthday or special Holiday. She makes sure her kids have amazing lunches, snacks and meals planned. All healthy, I can’t walk into her house to pick up my son without something simmering on the stove. She makes a priority to be at as many of her kids games as possible. All the people who are part of her boys life she shows appreciation too and brings in special treats for special days – even St Patricks Day. It amazes me how she has time for all these thoughtful things. My son always talks about how much he loves his #2 mom and her great food and of course the pool!

Monique

Monique and I have been friends for years before children. I recall she became my hero they day she found out  she was having twins. Monique is another one who seems to do it ALL. She homeschools her 3 while owning her own business. She is an artist and always has the most creative projects. She has so much detail to everything she does. Her children do Karate, girl scouts, cheerleading, football, youth group, homeschool co op and more. Most of which Monique still finds time to volunteer and help in the success of.

Francine

Francine has 4 children. Whom she also Homeschools. She always has great detailed lesson plans. Plus her children have many allergies so she makes so many things from scratch, including her own laundry soap. I am always blown away by how much she does and how clear it is her husband and children are her # 1 priority.

Bethany

Bethany's beautiful family.
Bethany’s beautiful family.

Bethany has 3 amazing children also. One of her sweet children has a as she refers a special brain.Brogan Jack was born on August 3, 2011, it wasn’t long before we found out about his special brain!
Brogan has been diagnosed with Microcephaly, Polymicrogyria, a malformed cerebellum and a gene deletion. He had a large brain tumor removed in January.” 

Bethany has spent weeks at a time in a hospital with her sweet boy. But has always had the most positive posts. She makes sure to prioritize her time so she spends time with all of her children. She is one of those people no matter what always looks amazing in pictures. Her sweet children always look like they stepped out of a catalog their clothing is always so perfect! Her courage and determination inspire and humble me.

 

So my point is – as a parent – I have often compared myself to these amazing mom’s and gotten down for not being as amazing as they are. I am sure many mothers and fathers have felt the same way at times.

Letter written by my son for Mother's Day
Letter written by my son for Mother’s Day

But the point is being the best parent YOU can be for your children. Using your skill sets to help your children. I am not going to be making amazing crafts with my boys – it’s not what I am gifted in.. but I will take my boys out 4 wheeling or create workouts with them to prepare them for their said sports. I will teach them how to run a business and make the healthiest meal choices.

I can though be inspired by these amazing mom’s every day. Seeing the focus they have the determination and applying it myself. Asking myself everyday – what have I done today to invest into my children.

That’s really how to be the “perfect” parent. Invest. Time, resources, love. Be their biggest fan. Every day – ask yourself – how have I invested into them today – how have I let them know I am their biggest fan.

So who is to decide what a perfect mom or dad is? All I know is I can be the most perfect mother for my children possible.

Family Day walking tour in Providence
Family Day walking tour in Providence

*To be on “Team Brogan”  and find out more about Bethany and her family visit www.TeamBrogan.us Find out more about Brogan and ways you can donate to help the family afford items that will improve Brogan’s therapy and quality of life.

You can Also follow them here on Facebook

When a friend breaks your heart.

Me with one of my lifetime friends after getting my fourth degree
Me with one of my lifetime friends after getting my fourth degree.

So, I was just scrolling through my Facebook. I happened to see a post from someone I used to be incredibly close to. Then another from someone else who I had once considered a very close friend.

Right away the pain, the feeling of rejection, insecurity, like I must be broken or not good enough hit. Why don’t they like me – why don’t they want to be my friend?

I was once what I thought very close to both these woman. Then one day it just stopped. Communications ended, they were always “busy” or they “didn’t” get the text. They had moved on, had new friends, a new life.

I recall they pain. Crying, hurt, broken, confused. Wondering – was I to needy? Pushy? Overbearing? Maybe I just wasn’t cool.

Have you ever felt that way?

Those of you who know me would be shocked to hear I am incredibly insecure and awkward in social situations – well social situations that are not martial arts/business orientated or something I am personally hosting. I have a hard time connecting with new people, I fear opening up and yet again finding myself “rejected”.

But here’s the thing about other people’s rejection – it usually is more in my mind the in theirs. It is usually a fabrication of our own insecurities.

An example, I was bullied horribly all through my school years. I recall a girl in 5th grade I thought was super cool but I KNEW hated me. I remember her making fun of me after a science fair and being heart broken because of it. As an adult I reconnected with her and was joking about our school years and how she didn’t like me. She had NO IDEA what I was talking about. She recalled us being good friends and spending most of our time together.

See my insecurities created a false reality. My fears created a paradigm in which I assumed her reactions.

The woman who “rejected” me as an adult…Could it be that their lives have just taken a different direction? Their schedules be opposite of mine making it difficult to follow up? Maybe our interest are just not the same any more, maybe we just have changed and that’s ok.

How many times have I sat feeling left out? Wondering why I wasn’t “invited” or “thought of”. What about you? have you ever felt left out, unloved, forgotten? If someone didn’t acknowledge your birthday or special event have you felt betrayed?

It also makes me wonder if I have ever inadvertently made someone else feel that way? I have an incredibly busy schedule between my husband, children,business, schools, homeschooling, working out, training, etc. before I know it days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months, months turn into years. Maybe as my life has changed I have also lost contact?

Its important to realize…it’s not all about you. When you lose contact with someone or it seems like they never have time or always “already had plans”. It probably is just that, they are pursuing their goals, dreams, hobbies and families just like you pursue yours. Heck, even the popular show Friends had to end as they went different directions.

Don’t allow yourself to decide your worth, value and relationships based on a false paradigm. Live your life with focus and passion. Make new friends more friends with similar interest and goals.

#alifeworthliving

#liveitloveit #blackbeltlifestyle

4 Ways to make your interactions more powerful

Worcester SharksThis weekend my Rock star staff and I had the amazing opportunity to perform on the Ice for the Worcester Sharks. 125 of our members came – had an amazing time ABD style.

 

Sometimes one person tells you to...
Sometimes one person tells you to…

When we finished performing – waiting by our table was a young man and his mother. He was so excited to see me he ran over and gave me a huge hug. He then began quickly speaking about how good it was to see me again, how much he had missed me, and how excited he had been when he realized it was me on the ice.

He shared how he would soon be 18, how time flies. He shared how the last few years had been incredibly challenging for him. He had gotten himself into some bad situations, but he was turning his life around. He shared how much I had inspired him. He even commented how close we had been. How excited he was to be back, and get back to our relationship.

 

The thing is, I hadn’t seen him in at least 6 years, so I didn’t recognize him (12 & 18 a lot of growing happens). I have known him for about 15 years, since he was 3, But I only saw him a handful of times between the ages 3 & 4. Then again years later when I visited his school for the ABC of success seminars I do for school children.  He then took martial arts classes from us for a while.

 

What amazed me is in that 15 years the few times we interacted had such a powerful influence on him. It got me thinking, you never know how powerful your impact is on people. You don’t realize how giving positive encouragement that 1 time could drastically affect the influence how people see things. As I thought on this I recalled being in 5th grade and a science teacher who’s 2 minute chat and 5 second praise changed how I saw my potential as a student. See the teacher I had the previous year always noticed everything I did wrong, every mistake, every short coming. Entering 5th grade I fully believed I was a “bad” student and not very smart. We had just had our first science test of the year, the class did not do well. The teacher discussed the importance of studying – how it makes all the difference, then said only one student in all of the 5th grade classes got a 100 on the test. She then pointed me out and comment that I clearly was a smart student and was going to have a very successful school year because of my work ethic. I did, I had my best school year ever…because she took a moment to praise my success.

 

I promise, that teacher probably does not remember me, or that day, but I do. I remember and it had such an impact on me here I am sharing it now. Just like the young man I saw this weekend the positive energy she fed into me had a massive effect.

 

So how can you change someones outlook?

1. Point out the positive, in everyone you come in contact with. 

 

Yes, even your coffee barista should hear how much you appreciate their energy and passion.

 

2. Don’t harp on the negative.

 

My teacher the year before only cared about everything I did wrong.. I don’t ever recall her saying anything positive about me.

 

3. Make the praise public.

When ever public “brag” on those around you.. children, friends, spouse, coworkers, employees. Don’t keep their victories a secret. Just like my teacher that day – she highlighted me to all my peers.. boosting my confidence and helping to bring the best me to the surface.

 

4. Never Assume it doesn’t matter.

I never would have thought my interactions with this young man would have been so intense, the was clearly a major influence and after many years he still saw me as someone he could trust and rely on. It does not seem like this young man had very many positive people in his life who poured into and cared about him. My few interactions showed him a life worth living.

 

So every day, be a positive encouraging force..its not always easy, BUT ITS ALWAYS WORTH IT. 

 

btw you can check out the video of the instructors performing last saturday at the Worcester Sharks here,

 

ABD Team at Sharks game

#liveitloveit #alifeworthliving

Perspective on the Recession

IMG_2987

I met a fellow martial arts school owner at a friends house the other night. The friend mentioned to me earlier in the evening that his guest owned 4 other schools on the south shore. I made introductions and we chatted a bit about his school. He was incredibly respectful, but he also had tunnel vision. I have met many school and business owners like that over the years. They just “know” what does and does not work.

We first started discussing the styles we taught, he told me about his school and how great his style was. He wasn’t arrogant about it, just confident and specific. He asked how my school was doing. I told him great.IMG_2966 The topic came up, kid students adults etc. He then told me “the economy sucks, so adults don’t want to take class now” When I shared we have over 250 adults training in Spencer, he explained his schools where in high end areas so the recession has caused more problems with wive’s having to get jobs now.

I mentioned how we also offer ilovekickboxing..started to ask if he had heard of it. He told me how he did kickboxing in the 90’s “When it was hot” but “NO ONE” does kickboxing anymore..nobody is going to join that program.

“If there is a recession, I refuse to participate.” Master Paul Garcia

We opened our school right as the recession started. I heard the news and media every day talking about how bad it was. I started feeling afraid, and doubting our decision to open a school. These where the worst conditions, in a small farming community. I heard the locals talking about getting laid off, I saw house foreclosures on every corner. My own home was behind now.  I had been running a school for the 8 years prior in the same community in a great economy, how on earth could we succeed in a failing economy.

Then one day I sat in Master Garcia’s training and he said the quote above, “If there is a recession, I refuse to participate”. I realized I had allowed the mindset of what was in the media etc. affect my own behaviors. I realized then I had a choice on how I was going to respond to the things happening in our community, I Could jump into the doom and gloom boat, or I could paddle against the stream.IMG_3105

We doubled the size of our school that year. We have continued to grow every year, in every program. We surrounded ourselves with like minded individuals and stopped spending time around those negative nellies. I have watched all of the America’s Best Defense Schools (even those in well to do communities grow like crazy year after year).

Please understand, I am in no way down playing or sweeping under the rug the fact that there have been some very had times in our country for families. I am rather encouraging to choose how you work with the cards you are dealt.

Did you know that the game Monopoly was born due to the Great Depression? Charles Darrow found himself out of work after the crash of ’29, he then spent years perfecting the game and became the first millionare by creating a board game.

Check out these 5 stories from the great depression,

Monopolyhttp://mentalfloss.com/article/20837/5-great-depression-success-stories

Then of course, you can check out why so many adults choose our schools at http://www.abdspencer.com or http://www.abdshrewsbury.com

I Fired My Doctor

donald trump fired

In Fitness for Life, I shared that people in my life’s attitude about aging and what you can and should do influenced how I thought my years would be. One of the major influencers during that negative time in my life was my Doctors and his team.

To give a little back story, I struggled with post par tum depression after the birth of my second son. I ended up needing a prescription to manage it. After a while my doctor successfully weaned me off of the prescription.perscription But, 6 months later I was again in a very bad place, and although I didn’t see it at the time, I was in an emotionally abusive relationship. Let me clarify, It wasn’t my husband. See my next blog, I was in an Abusive relationship. My doctor prescribed a new script for what we thought was depression(this was a new doctor due to an insurance change).

That medication caused me to gain 20pds in just 6 weeks. I was very frustrated, and made an appointment with my doctor right away. I sat down with the on call doctor who was a woman, and explained what was going on. I told her my activity level and diet had not changed. It was then she added to the mantra I had heard many times. “honey, woman our age” (mind you I was 25). bathroom scaleShe basically told me to be happy with what I had but try weight watchers if I was really worried, but in her opinion I was still in a “healthy” weight range (this still horrifies me)

My primary care doctor was constantly putting on weight. It was hard for me to trust my health to someone who clearly didn’t value his own.

I only saw him when I had no choice.

A couple year later a severely sprained my ankle and was on crutches for 3 months. When I shared my activities, which now included Krav Maga, grappling and running 5-6miles, and asked how soon I could get back to that.. my doctor said I shouldn’t plan on it.  Plus at “my age” I was at higher risk for injury. I got a second opinion and she gave me exercise to strengthen to prevent those injuries.

The final straw came 9 months later. I had totally changed my lifestyle. Eating healthier, working out more and my ankle was doing great. I had ended the destructive relationship a couple years prior and was emotionally healthy. I had gone 30 days with no caffeine or an processed food and I felt amazing. Then I started having these bizarre heart flutters. They lasted less then 20 seconds and happened every 1-2 hours.dont get sidetracked I continued with my normal activities including exercise as it did not seem to be affected either way. But after 3 days it was still happening. I called my doctor assuming, being heart related he would have me come in and get it checked. NOPE. First he told me stop consuming caffeine, when I explained it had been a month he said oh, good keep doing that. Then he said stop exercising. That I must just exercise to much.That there was no need for me to be exercising. Just like that, over the phone.

Your doctor is part of your support team to a healthy lifestyle. If your doctor is not living a healthy lifestyle, how can he direct you?  Zig Ziglar said “If you have a fat doctor fire him” ….the same apply’s to a poor accountant… My doctor did not have any interest in helping me be in the best shape of my life. He had no concerns at my sudden weight gain, because I was still under the national average.

I fired my doctor, and interviewed and found one that I knew would put my health and fitness as his priority. I got references from people who trained like I did. I want to know if I go to see my doctor for a concern, he will take me seriously, as an individual, not a statistic.IMG_3855

What about your doctor? Would you consider him part of your health and fitness “support team”, or just a necessary evil? Have you had an ailment or injury that hasn’t improved and your doctor hasn’t made it a priority? Your health is with you for life, just like in any professions, you will have doctors who are passionate about their career choice, health, and their patients. You will also have doctors who are just going through the motions, meeting their statistics and making the insurance companies happy. Don’t put your health and lifestyle in someone life thats hands. You deserve to live life to the fullest and have each day count, and be better then the day before. Don’t let anyone hold you back, especially the Doctor who should be moving you forward! If you don’t have a doctor that will put you first, find one who will!

A Life Worth Living

Reaching new heights daily
Reaching new heights daily

I have spent the last couple weeks thinking about all that I have accomplished in 2013, all the awesome memories I made, the new friends and relationships, how much more time I had with my family, and all the places we had been.

Visiting my Niece and Nephew in Long Island
Visiting my Niece and Nephew in Long Island

I started getting excited about what I was going to set out to accomplish in 2014, I am giddy with excitement as I see how much more I have accomplished then I dreamed just a year ago. Its amazing really.

It then hit me that until 2010, that was not how I saw the new year. First, I made resolutions… just like most Americans. Then I got sick of the resolution failure statistic and refused to set any resolutions. Instead, most new years were spent wallowing in everything I had failed in, all the things I STILL had not done.   Time I hoped the next year would be better, threw around some things that I would like to happen, but with no plan to see them through….until the next year where I faced yet another year of disappointments.

Its so different now, I look back at even my set backs as victories and opportunities. Its not that 2013 was easy. It wasn’t that i didn’t deal with some major challenges. The difference is how I view those challenges. I am floored at how much more I accomplish then what I set out for.

Spent my birthday in Miami
Spent my birthday in Miami

This is why A Life Worth Living was born. Until a few years ago, I was part of the “rat race” full of stress, drama, disappointments and let downs.

Then my mindset changed. My inputs changed, my Circle of influence changed. My life changed. I share a lot of my inspiration via facebook and have gotten emails on a weekly basis on how it has inspired someone to make a change.

Circle of Influence
Circle of Influence

My blog will allow me to be more long winded, as I share how God has taken my life in a totally new direction when I started following his leadership influences. I am excited to share a more personal side of myself and hope it will influence and inspire many of my readers to find there own life worth living.