UBBT - Week 30 - Ready to be home!

As I write this I am sitting at the airport, waiting for my flight, and reflecting on my time here. I am definitely missing my family, and I am ready to be home so that I can get started on all my goals.

My time in San Diego was a great opportunity to relax before my time in Portland. My friend Jon and I have known each other for so long (over 30 years) that its so easy to pick back up where we left off every time we see each other. Spending time with him always puts me in a good mood, and the chill vibe of S.D was just what I needed.

My time in Portland was just as beneficial, but it different ways. It was both a chance to connect with the UBBT team as well as reconnect with my Aunt and Uncle.

I had not seen my aunt Jean and uncle Claude in years and reconnecting with them was a joy. They let me stay at thier house and we talked about Portland, history, life, and family. In fact, now that I am writing about it, I realized that I just mended another relationship during my time with them.

My aunt is my mom’s sister, and ever since my mom passed my relationship with her side of the family slowly faded. We never had a bad relationship, but it was distant. Occasional connection through social media and that was it. My time with her was not just an opportunity to create a stronger relationship with her and my uncle, but it is also going to be the catalyst to reconnecting with all the other members of my mom’s side of the family.

In-between spending that time with my aunt was all the time I spent with the other members of the Ultimate Black Belt Test. Some I had met in person before, but most of them it was our first time. It was a great group of people. Kind, hard working, ambitious, and all the other things you want out of a team that is going to push you to be your best.

Our physical training was not extremely intense. It was more about building our knowledge base, talking about our successes and our struggles, and finding the inspiration to make the last half of the test spectacular. We did suicide prevention training, worked with a big group of black belt candidates at the school we were hosted at (Aim High Academy of Martial Arts) and spent time connecting as a team. Everyone was able to relate to one another. We found commonalities between our challenges and knowing we weren’t the only ones feeling a little burnt out actually helped us find renewed energy in our path.

This trip was a reminder of my purpose for starting the UBBT. Not for myself, another rank, or bragging rights (OK maybe a little), but for the people around me. Because I want to be the best version of myself for everyone else in my life.

I am ready to be home now. I miss my wife, my daughter, and my RMF family. I know the next 5 months have a lot in store, but I feel ready to take it all on.

UBBT Week 29 - Feeling a little stuck

Ill admit that I have been feeling like I am not sure where to concentrate my energy for the next half of the UBBT. After about 6 months I have been doing my daily routine and accomplished many of the large goals like Natick Soup, acts of kindness. I still have things to shoot for, but I am having trouble coming up with a plan to tackle them.

The UBBT team is meeting this coming week in Portland. Specifically at my friend’s (Danny Sikkens) school “Aim High Academy of Martial Arts”. A huge non-profit martial arts school in Beaverton. Many of the team members have never met each other. We have been keeping in contact, motivation each as much as we can while being spread out all over the country. But getting the time to work together and connect I think will be huge for team moral.

On top of this, I will spend some time in San Diego visiting my childhood friend, and my Aunt and Uncle lives in Portland. So seeing them during this trip will also help recharge the batteries. I

I am hoping to come back from this trip refreshed and re-inspired. There are going to be no shortages of challenges ahead and I am going to need something to keep me on the path.

UBBT - Week 28 - Feeling the grind

I never thought I would ever say this….but I am sick of push ups! Anyone who knows me know I usually love push ups. Its such a great exercise and it is so convenient. All you need is the ground! But after 29000 or so push ups (on top of other things) I am feeling the grind.

I will say, however, I think I understand the real purpose of doing them. It's not really about fitness, but about discipline. Sure, I got a little stronger when I started, but after about 2 months that really plateaued out. Not its just about doing it to reach the goal and push through the days I don’t want to do them (which are most days, by the way). I am not going to stop. As long as my body can do them I will get them done. Its part of the process. It's going to strengthen that discipline “muscle” so I can call on it when I really need it.

Our UBBT team mate Jeff Brinker, who has been doing 50,000 push ups a year for the last 10 years, does it as a daily accomplishment. He says he never has a “bad day” because no matter what is going on, if he can get his push ups done, he has accomplished something for the day.

I don’t know if I will continue to do as many push ups each day as I do now after the UBBT is over. But I do think there is value to having something in your routine that requires a daily dose of discipline. It keeps the sword sharp…so to speak.

UBBT - Week 27 - Not much to report 

I want to make every post something spectacular, but maybe that just isn’t realistic. This last week was just a week of doing my “dailies” connecting with friends, spending time with my wife and daughter, and taking a break from teaching while prepping for the RMF summer camp and another week.

We will see what next week holds, but right I just continue to push forward.

UBBT - Week 26 - The only way to lead is by example

It was an inspiring week followed by a great day today. One of our RMF adult students (Chris Barbin) is doing is own personal “UBBT” because he was inspired by what I have been taking on this year. Part of his journey is to climb all the highest peaks in New England and today me and a few other RMF family members joined him in conquering Mt. Greylock.

It was a hot and humid day, but the hike was filled with great conversation in between words of encouragement to keep pushing forward. After we were done, we went and grabbed lunch while enjoying each others company and soaking in the feeling of accomplishment

Chris isn’t the only one who mentioned to me this week about being inspired to strive for better because of my journey. Many students came up to me telling me of new workout routines, better eating habits, and setting challenging personal goals. All because I inspired them.

Its interesting, because as much as I understand my job is to mentor and inspire people, I have a hard time looking at myself as an inspirational person. I mean…I am just a guy striving to do the best I can in this life and set a good example. I am by no means perfect. Everyone else could do the same if they really wanted to.

But, maybe thats part of it. I try to be open about my struggles. In a world consumed by social media where people can always show only the best part of their lives, seeing and hearing about real struggles is rare. Maybe lack of perfection, combine with perseverance, is actually more inspiring than anything else.

At the end of the day, if my actions inspired others to find ways to better their lives, I am happy. And even if I fail this UBBT by the end, to know that the journey helped others makes it feel like I already won.

UBBT - Week 25 - Work Smarter, not Harder

I have a hard time asking for help. Especially when it comes to my school. I think its probably just better if I do it myself. That way I know I will either get the result I want, or if I don’t I can only blame myself. As the school has grown I have realized that I can’t keep doing that. Without a solid team we will never really be able to fully serve the families here.

This last week was a wake up call concerning this very issue. I was trying to do EVERYTHING. Part of it was necessity since I was between program directors, but another big part of it was just not delegating any other work.

This is why I am making it a personal goal of letting go. To train other people to do the jobs that I am not naturally good at, and allow myself to focus on the things that either I love to do (like teaching) or that only I can do (like curriculum development). I am realizing that this is going to be harder than I would like it to be, but I know it needs to happen. If were to keep going at the pace I did last week…something would surely give.

UBBT - Week 24 - Hitting the Lottery

No…I didn’t actually hit the lottery and become a millionaire. But as I sit here, on Father’s Day, taking it easy, reading my wife’s card and watching her play with our daughter, I feel a deep sense of gratitude for what I have in my life.

When I allow myself to step back and get out of my own way so I can take in everything around me, I really do feel like I hit the life lottery. I have a wonderful wife, a healthy daughter, and successful school with amazing students and wonderful community. When I was in my 20s I didn't think much about where I would be in my life in my mid 30s. But if someone told me that it would be where I am now, I would have never believed them.

For sure I have my share of day to day stresses, but I so my best to try to keep those into perspective. Most aren’t a big deal. They will get handled and I will probably forget about them in a few days.

It makes me think about how often we let our little stresses cloud how many things we have to be thankful for. We stress out because we are in traffic or have to go back to the store because we forgot something. We get frustrated at the person who cut us off or because our daughter was squirming while changing her loaded diaper and got poop everywhere…..deep breath

Anyway, my point is that we have to do our best to put those thing into perspective. They aren’t that big of a deal in the scheme of things and we will probably forget they even happened after some time has passed. Well…unless you and your spouse give it a name like “poop-gate 2018”. Then you will never forget! deep breath

How often do we wish/hope/pray or just plain old work for something that we think will make us happier, when if we just let ourselves really look at what we have we would find that happiness is right in front of us? How often do we let a little issue ruin our whole day when, in fact, most of our day had plenty to be thankful for? I am not saying its bad to strive for better, or that we aren’t allowed to be stressed out sometimes. We just can’t allow that to cloud the good that we have, or we may find that true happiness will always elude us.

By the way….If I ever do hit the actual lottery, all dojo memberships will be free!

UBBT - Week 23 - Through adversity we can become stronger

The last week was interesting. Some very unexpected personal challenges came up. I know that is really vague, but that’s all I want to really share about it. The point of the post today is not really about the challenges themselves anyway, its about all the good that came out of them.

We having this saying in the school “This challenge will make me stronger” and it was something I had to remind myself of while handling everything. In the moment, problems seem insurmountable and consequences seem dire. But being committed to facing them head on, and learning from the process is always the best way forward. I know this from experience, as I have been both resilient or weak (for lack of a better word) at various periods in my life and seen the effects of both.

At the end of it all, there was a lot of positivity that came out of it challenges this week. A positive way forward presented itself, and I embraced it. Something that I feel would have never happened had I chose to take an “easier” way out.

So just remember that every challenge is a chance to grow into a better version of yourself. When we can embrace that, I think we find life a lot more fulfilling.

UBBT Week 22 - Ready to get back to it!

Honestly, Not much to report on the last week since I spend it giving myself space from all the extra work that is the UBBT. I was more present with my family, more present at the school, and just rode the high of pulling off Natick Soup. I am sure there will be more in the next post, as I plan get back into everything I need to accomplish before this test is done.

I know, a little uninteresting. Not all weeks can be exciting I guess. :)

UBBT Week 21 - Allowing myself to rest

During this whole Ultimate Black Belt Test you have no doubt heard me talk about the concept of not quitting. One of the ways that I think we can do that is to allow ourselves to rest. 

Natick Soup was so much extra work on top of everything I was already doing that I felt totally burnt out by the time it was over. As much I would have liked it to mean that the rest of this UBBT will be smooth sailing, I know that is not the case. There are a little over 6 months more to go and much more to do.

It is because of this that I am allowing myself to rest. No crazy projects, no extra work outs, just get back to my normal, pre-UBBT, day to day. This won’t go on long. I am just giving myself permission to take it easy for about a week to just recharge.

Taking breaks is not something our culture necessarily encourages or values. We awe at the people that choose to only sleep 5-6 hours so they can spend more time “hustling”. We spout off things like “success never sleeps” or some phrase that praises a relentless work ethic. Sure…we don’t want to be lazy and I respect strong work ethic. But never allowing ourselves to rest means we are never operating at our best.

I believe it is important to know when we need to take a break, but also not allow ourselves so comfortable that we never start up again. By setting a pre-determined set of time I can allow myself f to fully rest while doing everything needed to make that rest valuable. Without setting a limit I find that I could potentially lose momentum by letting it go on too long, as well as never feel fully rested because the idea (see: stress) of starting again at some point is always in the back of my mind.

So with that said…I am going to rest now. :)