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.

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

#liveitiloveit #blackbeltlifestyle

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