Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Loss of a Warrior

A grieving widow and two small children take the long walk to the flag covered casket not 20 feet away. The tears stream down the faces of family members holding their hands to keep them from falling over. Overhead, a large black crow begins to squawk Her message to the onlookers. Badb has come to take the fallen warrior's soul safely home to his God. If one thing gives me peace, it's that knowledge.

I took a hard blow a few weeks back with the loss of a local peace officer and coworker. Despite having family ties and friends in the military I've never suffered this loss before. I couldn't even imagine the regular pain of such a loss for those who've had to experience it more than once. Though I had only known him in passing and through his voice, his death affected how I do my job and how I interact with those who couldn't understand such a situation.

My husband asked me if his death made me rethink this line of work. My answer is "no, it makes me want it more," but my body hasn't quite caught up to my mind. I know I've entered a depression of sorts. There could be any number of reasons for it, but I know that hearing his death over the phone is probably the biggest one. Thinking about it now I'm tearing up. I've even gotten to the point of gaining back 5 pounds.

I'm slowly working through it. It seems as if it isn't one thing it's another on this journey. I have no plans to give up, it's just been a long time since I've been able to say beyond the shadow of a doubt, "I'm depressed" and it's truly affecting my body. Luckily, weight gain tends to be a good motivator. If only running looked more appealing as the upper body stuff comes naturally to me. I will start running damnit!

This experience has also brought me to one conclusion I never contemplated. It can be a hinderance to the healing process being around non-pagans in times of grief. There was a lot of praying to the Christian God and while I'm a firm believer that in those times the beliefs of those who are dying take presidence it isn't always conducive to your personal healing. During that touching moment of Badb's appearance at the cemetary the women in front of me were making snide comments about doing harm to the Crow. If only they had known what was actually going on they could have shared in the sliver of a joyous moment in such a sad time. I can't imagine many realized what was going on, but in this time of grief I got my tiny bit of comfort and I couldn't be more thankful for it. This Warrior received a proper send off and I know he is where he should be now.

I try to hold on to that thought when the sadness takes over. It won't be something I will ever fully come to terms with as he was so young and his life was taken by a senseless act of evil by someone not too much younger than him. We know the job when we sign up for it, just as soldiers do, but there is nothing that can prepare you for the moment(s) that you hope never happen on your watch. It might be the choice we make when we choose to walk this path, but it doesn't make it hurt any less.

Rest in peace 36D. 10-7, good night sir.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

When The Morrigan Calls...

In an effort to touch on my pagan path I'll share a bit about my experience with my Patron Goddess to whom many seem to cringe upon hearing Her name - The Morrígan.

She has many functions, but they all tend to revolve around the act of war and as such She is most definitely considered a Goddess of war. For those who may not be familiar with Her, An Morrígan is a Goddess of the Tuatha Dé Danann whose exploits with An Dadga around Samhain (leading to the bloody end of the Tuatha Dé's enemy the Fomorians) and with the Ulster hero Cú Chulain (leading to his eventual death on the battlefield despite his victory) has definitely landed Her, rightfully, in the position of a deity one should not approach lightly. In this case, this is my story of how She (much to my honor) approached me.

This starts back when I first found paganism in 1999 and had just began studying Wicca (which was only the first 6 or so months of my journey), but within the first few months of my practicing She finally revealed Herself to me - long flowing black hair, clad with a sword in scabbard wearing all black clothing with black feathers (not unlike a mix of the two linked Jessica Galbreth pictures). She didn't speak, but She got me researching.

My favorite holiday growing up was Halloween and I have been a "warrior" ever since I was a little kid. I have loved to wrestle and always considered myself strong and ready to fight when needed. I always played hard and reveled in my bruises and cuts as if they were trophies of my physical accomplishments. I never let anyone, particularly men, tell me what I could and couldn't do (and even to this day tend to "wear the pants" in my relationships). I wanted to work in law enforcement all of my life and in high school I was very active in my JROTC unit being one of the first females and youngest (Air) Rifle Team Commanders, eventually working my way up to Commanding Officer of the unit. I was the protector of my friends and the girl you didn't "fuck with." It didn't really surprise me when I found out She was a warrior Goddess (that was capable of taking any man to his knees), but did find it interesting that She was associated with October 31st.

Many years later, after I had already determined that I would not have a need for a magical name, She disagreed. For 3 days straight back in 2002 there were blackbirds of all kinds that seemed to follow me. Not only that but songs would come on the radio or I'd notice songs on my CDs with the word blackbird somewhere in them. There would be tv shows or movies that would make reference to blackbirds and the final slap in the face was falling asleep to one movie on HBO and waking up to the part in I Am Sam where Sarah McLachlan's version of Blackbird plays (I had heard the Beatles version on the radio the day before as one of my encounters in that 3 days). I finally got the clue and SM's version has basically become my theme song. I have been Blackbird (or Lon dubh in Gaeilge) ever since.

Another affirmation of Her calling had to do with my birth name. While I won't reveal it here, my first name is sometimes equated with Cailleach which in Ireland is a term for witch and in American books my first name is associated with warriors, as in the Morrigan connection. My family's surname is also connected with Co Kerry in Munster which, according to Celtic Heritage by Rees/Rees observation of Irish legends, is the land of the dead/Otherworld (for those who aren't aware, the Morrigan is also associated with death, particularly in war, as well as one her of sisters, Badb, is responsible for bringing the souls of the dead warriors to the Otherworld). As if to bring this home Cailleach Bheara is associated with Munster, but particularly Co Kerry and there are times when Her associations and the Morrigan's have been confused for each other. The Cailleach's foster children are said to form the tribes associated with Kerry.

The Morrígan has continually reiterated Her presence in my life through my journey and I have dedicated myself to Her service and ritually re-dedicate myself to Her every Samhain.

Updated (3/14/12) - My family's crest has a stag on it and it's been pointed out to me that the stag in Celtic legend has connections to the Otherworld as well. Whether intentional or not in it's creation, it seems a bit too coincidental if you pile on everything else. There She continues with that "reiteration" I was talking about.

12/19/13 - "Cuchulain threw a spring at her chariot, and he saw not the horse, nor the woman, nor the chariot, nor the man, nor the cow. Then he saw that she had become a black bird upon a branch near to him." - The Cattle-Raid of Regamna

For your listening pleasure: Julie Fowlis - Blackbird.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Big News

So it's been a little bit since I have written here and I will tell you that this will be short. I have come to some realizations in my life recently that hopefully kick started something in me to pursue a dream I have long had.

1) The least important realization is I have to get off my butt and keep going with my dieting. I've gained 3 pounds back and I know this isn't the "water weight" type deal. I have been monitoring it for a few days and I know it's the real deal. I have also been slacking a lot lately on the eating right and exercising. I'm not obsessing about my weight by any means, but I am monitoring it and acknowledging my shortcomings. I had originally lost 20 pounds and I still had 25 to go (28 now).

2) With the coming revelation not yet mentioned I have decided to focus on getting myself in good physical condition and less on the weight aspect. I know that the more I train to get myself where I need to be physically the pounds will either come off or I'll become a mass of muscle. Either works just fine for me.

3) While I won't necessarily reveal the big decision I have made in specifics let's just say I have decided to attempt to accomplish a goal I have had since I was a child. This goal is very much part of my path as a Warrior and would switch my path from being an "amateur" warrior to a "professional" warrior. I have accomplished a lot in the last few years because I was determined to make things happen. I will do everything within my power to accomplish this goal, but I'm realistic in that outside forces do play a part in things. Such is a part of life, but I'll make damn sure that if I don't succeed, it won't be for lack of trying on my part. At least I will have given it a shot. Regardless of the outcome in the next few years (as it could take that long) I will forever walk the path of the Warrior to the best of my abilities.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Women & The Sweet Spots

Some of you may have heard the phrase sweet spot used to mean the spot on the jaw where hit would almost automatically knock out the person being hit. When I use the term sweet spot it has a similar context, but not specific to that area. When I state sweet spot it means any part of the body that is particularly vunerable to a quick and painful attack with minimal effort. While these points on the body can be utilized regardless of gender I specifically keep them in mind for females because they don't require a lot of strength to give results. This short list is of easily accesible sweet spots that can aid in your self defense.

The eyes are very sensitive as it is. Enough pressure to them and you are going to get someone to loosen up. They aren't always the easiest to get to, but if they are in range like this scenario here I highly suggest keeping them in mind. Women tend to have nails and even if you don't it only takes a little pressure to bring on massive pain.

In the same video you will also see the technique called "boxing the ears." I did this once to my husband playing around. Let's just say I thought his eyes were going to pop out of his head and he clearly lost focus since it hurt his head so much. It's an instant headache and all you are doing is using your palms as a striking force that end up working almost like a suction cup so it hurts just as much when your hands are coming off as when your hands make contact with the head.

Okay, we all know this one. As kids I'm sure we tested it out once or twice on our male friends or our brothers. A good square hit to the nutsack and the male hits the floor. This isn't always true and with how many men sag their pants today it can be a lot harder to get a good clean hit to the genitals, but used in conjunction with other techniques makes this a very good area to keep in mind.

I'll tell you this is what got me wanting to write this short section. I had never seen this until I found this video. What was the first thing I did when I got home? Tested it on my 300 pound husband. I love him. He has a cup
especially for me.

I will say that I don't believe everything in the video is completely accurate. When the woman puts her finger under his nose and it appears that he can't get past it, maybe I wasn't doing it right. While my husband may have had issues walking forward, he was not completely stopped from doing so. It only slowed him down.

The headlock demonstration, however was spot on. All I had to do was get my finger(s) under his nose and he couldn't fight his head tilting back that in turn loosened his grip. Once I got his head back his throat was wide open to a palm strike or right hook. If you have a partner to try this with, I highly recommend adding this to your ass kicking defense list.

This area is also a good place to aim. Imagine you are on the ground and your attacker is above you. Keep a leg up and keep kicking. In the provided demonstration she stays on one side kicking out with one foot. As long as you have that one foot out you are keeping a distance from your attacker. Aim for the leg, the knee and groin. If you get a good connect to the knee cap you could do some serious damage. I say aim for it, but never rely on one sweet spot. Always keep kicking and hitting where ever you can, but keep the sweet spots in mind.

You might type in neck strike (or any variation there of) in youtube and you'll get any number of videos on how to "properly" do it. Here is the great part of this area being used for defense, as long as you can get a good hit center of the throat (aim for the adam's apple area as best you can) you are going to hurt them. Hit it hard enough and you could potentially collapse their windpipe. Regardless, this doesn't require a lot of striking power to have stopping power.

As I have shown in previous blogs, I am a strong supporter of teaching the thumb pluck. Your size and strength levels are irrelevant. If you can get a hold of any man's thumbs as they are wrapped around your neck you can free yourself from a choke. Once free from the choke any of these vulnerable spots are potential targets.

If your attacker happens to be another female, a good hard knock to the uteral area can leave them completely out. While I knew as a kid this area was pretty much a fight ender it had been a very long time since I had actually been hit there. My son decided to remind me how painful it was by jumping on me landing his bony two year old butt right onto my uterus. I would imagine that it would be the closest equivalent for women to getting kicked in the groin. I couldn't move and I felt the pain through my entire body. Remember, don't aim for the stomach as you could end up getting resistance from a woman with tight abs. Aim for just above the pelvic bone.

Unfortunately I don't have any cool acronyms like Sandra Bullock teaches in Miss Congeniality, but I think these are all pretty easy places to remember. With the exception of the awesomeness that is the philtrum, these are all body parts that any female with very little self defense training should be familiar with. And as always, be loud, be mad and keep striking until you can get away. The goal in self defense is to fight until you don't have to anymore then run like hell.

185 pounds

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Body The Mind

So I have fallen off the wagon once more, but I'm sure it won't be the last time. It's a struggle to stay on my exercise schedule when lacking energy, but I'm working on it. I know that it isn't in regards to my hypothyroid condition, but it is related to my lacking sleep. One week without a babysitter has turned into four months without one and so the nights I work I am lucky to get four hours before I have to be up with the little man then, of course, returning to my work shift that night. It's a cycle that is now taking a toll on my body and mind that I'm currently working to resolve. The good news is I haven't gained any weight, but I haven't lost any either.

While my body will always be a work in progress I find myself on an endeavor to read as many books on the "warrior" path as I can find. One reason is obviously for my own focus and to keep me determined to stay on the path when my body doesn't always agree. The other is because I'm working with some friends on a project that I hope will help others on the same path as me, both Celtic Reconstructionist (CR) and Neopagan Warrior.

I've recently been reading On The Warrior's Path by Daniele Bolelli. Chapter one is The Body As a Temple and while the chapter can be extremely redundant he does make a good point that I really never took the time to think about. Our society has seemed to disconnect the mind from the body. We see it all the time, advertisements for the various gyms around the area. "Join now with no registration fee. Get that bikini body by summer." We get pounded with workout videos and fad diet ads. We get told that in order to have your body fit the social norm one must hit the gym three or four times a week utilizing their specialty machines to sculpt and trim our bodies to look the way all the models in sports bras look as they flex on the screen.

As Bolelli points out we have lost our connection to our bodies because we have lost our connection to nature. Our ancestors lived outside within nature. They worked within it on the fields for agriculture, hunting for meat or even simply hiking for entertainment. Now, don't get me wrong, I have plenty of friends who go hiking or mountain biking and I envy them. They find the true beauty in the outdoors, but they are sadly in the minority. Because of their connection to their environment their bodies naturally stay fit because they are naturally active. Their health is stable without any thought to it because they use their bodies for what they were meant to do. Be constantly active.

But the author isn't merely pointing out nature as in the outdoors, he is talking about our innate nature as humans. One could say the same about dancers or athletes. They are naturally up and active. They don't need to think about their calorie intakes or getting to the gym. We have lost that connection to being active because our jobs have become more and more sedentary. We sit behind desks for hours a day at work at the computer or at home watching TV. We treat going to the gym or going for a walk as a chore. We treat our bodies like an after thought. I'm absolutely just as guilty of this.

I may love to beat the crap out of my punching bag, but it still doesn't make it feel like less of a chore putting on the gloves and workout gear right before. Then I have a set timer that I have to push myself to reach the end instead of simply listening to my body. I love my martial arts classes, but it's the same thing - getting dressed, going in the car and driving there is a chore that I'm not a fan of. And wanting to hike or bike, that was fun when I was a kid, but now it's maybe a once a year "special occasion." Why is that mentality okay?

When we separate the mind from the body, as Bolelli points out, we do lose a piece of the puzzle that makes us happy. As my friend Kym Lambert has been known to point out, when we work out we get "awesome workout endorphins." I know I've experienced that feeling of bliss even though I'm sweaty, I smell and I'm out of breath. Those same endorphins come from just being up and active. Anyone whose ever gone for a hike at the local park, played softball, or been an active gardener has experienced those moments of pure bliss when your mind is at peace and you're just happy.

When we treat our bodies as the temple they are we get healthy without the fuss of a gym membership and machines. We don't have to rely on the timers and the irritation of "getting ready." As we use our bodies in the way they were meant to be used and exercise them naturally as we do our minds there is the opportunity for a sense of total peace. Our health isn't a chore it is simply part of living that we have forgotten about.

As kids we played outside and stayed fit without a care in the world. We kept active, we wrestled around, we ran around the neighborhood and we stayed healthy. It was just something we did without thought. We wanted to be the fastest, the strongest and the dirtiest. Riding a bike wasn't a chore and playing in the mud was fun. This is a place I need to get back to. The author is right, as a Warrior, or even simply as a human being, balance between the body and mind is bliss. I already treat my mind as a temple by filling it with as much information as I can find. It's now time I start treating my body as a temple and that means using it!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Do your words reflect you?

I promise not to get too preachy on this blog, but I felt this fit perfectly here since I have not mentioned my faith very much. Enjoy! -

My words reflect who I am and what I believe. I'm a Warrior who lives the philosophy of the Fianna - "Truth in our hearts, Strength in our arms and Fulfillment in our tongues." Truth is spirituality that is specific to the individual as revealed by communing with deity and study. Strength is being physically capable of living your truth through keeping the body healthy and ready for whatever comes (specifically battle) and fulfillment means living a life as far from fallacies and deception as possible through not only actions, but through my words. Perhaps a more general look at it could be - Knowing Truth, Living Truth and Speaking Truth.

I pull no punches and I speak bluntly. I can do so without being insulting, but some consider my lack of beating around the bush as being tactless. It is far from it. What I recommend reflects me. If I knowingly recommend any group or website or book to study that I'm telling others they should read to learn from (in the manner that what they learn is "truth") and I know it's main component is fallacies that is a direct reflection on me.

Others choose to go about things other ways and that is their right. I prefer to be myself and speak my mind. We pagans are a vast and very different group of people with many different paths and many different opinions. I personally think that which should draw us together should be the reality of our deities in a world where they are compatible with that which is natural. Not a world where our faith is based on lies.

If we can't take ourselves seriously how will outsiders?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Zombie Apocalypse

You've all pictured it. One day you're living your happy go lucky life then you end up in a car wreck, getting shot, or a plane crash. The next thing you know you wake up in a hospital gown, in a hospital bed, in a hospital room alone. You pull out the tubes from your arms (which apparently doesn't even cause you to flinch despite ripping 1 inch long imbedded needles out from under your skin). You stumble around a deserted hallway continuing the stumble out into an empty parking lot filled with abandoned vehicles, some of which look pretty banged up. You think to yourself, what the hell did I miss?

You hear someone approaching you from behind so you whip around to find a mangled human whose jaw seems to be missing as is half their hair. They're limping toward you reaching out for what you think is help. You move in closer to get a better look since you have some morbid fascination with this decomposing creature and you live to regret the slip in sense when the woman lunges at you. She spits blood and bile at you as she starts aiming her mouth for your neck. Then she starts aiming for your chest. Then your arm and you start thinking "This woman wants to eat me." You're able to toss her off of you and grab the nearest rock swinging at her head. You strike it once and it does nothing to dissuade her attempt at making you her breakfast. You hit her again and again and again until finally she stops moving, her head bashed in beyond recognition and the foul stench of death strewn all over your hospital gown. In comes the melancholy music of doom as the camera pans out conveying the loneliness and confusion you feel. The realization hits you. It's December 22nd, 2012 and the Mayans were right! It's the Zombie Apocalypse.

I know some of you are asking yourselves, what the hell does this have to do with anything? Well, stick with me. The first rule in Zombieland? Cardio. What's the first rule in Warrior training? Cardio. If you get winded in a fight you are almost guaranteed to lose. While the average street fight lasts seven seconds there are fights that go on for minutes. Watch the energy expelled during a muay thai or boxing match. There are times when at the end of the first round both are breathing heavily. Then they're taking hits to the face. How quickly can you think when you have just taken a beating and can't catch your breath? On top of utilizing the energy to fight back imagine having to run from your attacker. So, yes, cardio is extremely important to the Warrior.

Second rule in Zombieland? Double tap. I’m sure those reading my blog are aware of what double tap means, but for those who don’t it is when you shoot your enemy and assume they're dead. You place another shot in their head just to make sure they are actually dead because you never know when they will pop up and come grabbing for your ankles. While this isn’t necessarily a rule for Warrior training it does bring up two other subjects. Weapons and awareness.

We can learn a lot from Woody Harrelson’s character Tallahassee. The man made an art out of killing zombies with whatever was around. I bet you'll never look at a banjo in the same way again! In Resident Evil: Afterlife Milla Jovovich’s character Alice uses stacks of quarters in lieu of shotgun shells. Warriors should be aware of everything of use around them. Look around you right now. If you were attacked what could you use as a weapon? A pencil? Scissors? A shovel? Now, where could you hide? Where are the exits? If someone you cared about was with you how would you defend them? Everything is a potential weapon and everything can aide you in an escape - just think outside the box.

In Dawn of the Dead, the survivors got supplies from and took up shelter in a mall. In Resident Evil: Afterlife they got what they needed from a prison. Zombieland they took supplies from wherever they could find including what they thought were abandoned mansions. On a Warrior's mind should be some very simple questions - where would you go to get needed supplies like food, ammunition, and survival gear? What could you easily carry with you? Once those supplies run out can you survive on what the land has to offer? Do you know what plants are deadly and what could sustain you? Do you know how to hunt and prepare game meat? Do you know how to combat weather conditions and keep yourself warm or from becoming over heated?

In a Warrior's world, these questions are common place. Looking to ancient Warriors and even some modern soldiers their survival relies upon what they can find in nature to eat and the skills they pick up to keep themselves from having the elements cause their deaths. The Warrior mentality doesn't just include how well you can defend yourself, but how long you can survive with minimal supplies and your knowledge of the land. A war isn't generally hours long, it's days, weeks and years of grueling conditions, supply conservation and planning. This common scenario ring a bell with every Zombie movie you can recall?

So like the common trend goes I personally find myself utilizing the impending end of the world scenario to dictate some of my focus while training on my path. It’s partly as a joke, partly because my husband is obsessed with Zombies, and partly because it is actually good sense. With all the questions posed above we realize that movies like Zombieland, Dawn of the Dead, and the Resident Evil series make you ask yourself one very important question - could you survive? Are you Warrior enough? ;)

190 pounds

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Stop The Threat

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert in any style of martial arts so take this as personal experience. I have studied and practiced Krav Maga and some boxing. Because of recent circumstances I have been reviewing a lot of online self defense videos on youtube. I can say there are a lot of different techniques out there for self defense and a lot of classes.

From my experience some work and some probably don’t. When looking for good classes there is one sure way to tell which are worth it and which aren’t. By exploring videos that do what’s called “stopping the immediate threat” you can teach yourself what you are looking for when you get into your first self defense introduction class.

There are many videos on youtube to glance through and again, some have good techniques and others have techniques that seem to work in the little snippets of video or on paper, but fall short in a real world scenario. The videos that fall in the latter category show you a “potential” situation generally in slow motion. They are positioning the attacker’s hands in a specific way and the victim is also particularly positioned so that the maneuver looks good in theory. See the video at the link:

You see the man with a young girl pushed up against a wall, his hands seemingly tight around her throat. She places her hands up through his open arms and goes for his eyes. I have seen this technique taught in other self defenses classes and of course, in class it may go smoothly. In the video it looks flawless and easy. In reality, it’s not so simple.

When I train it is no holds barred. When I am practicing it is with as real a choke as possible (with safety measures in place, of course). It is so if I’m in a real situation I’m prepared for how little time I have and how tight those fingers can get fast. Because of this practice I can place myself in this young lady’s situation. The first thing I notice is she isn’t stopping the immediate threat. When someone is getting choked the immediate threat is the hand (or hands) around your throat.

The biggest hole in this scenario is if this girl is getting choked she will continue to get choked if she does what is being shown and the only thing her action is going to do is cause him to squeeze her throat tighter in order to brace himself for whatever she’s doing. She is making the situation worse!

Let’s examine addressing the immediate threat (jump to 1:04):

For all those who wanted to know this technique is called a “thumb pluck.” If you can’t breathe it is only a matter of seconds before you will collapse and the fight will be over with you losing. The thumb pluck stops the immediate threat by releasing the attacker’s thumb(s) from your throat.

Onto another scenario. When a gun is pointed at your face, the gun is your immediate threat. On instinct (or hopefully on instinct after training) you’re not going to grab for someone’s neck or kick them. You aren’t addressing what can kill you at that moment – the gun. In a proper scenario the first thing you are going to grab for is the gun:

My point in using these scenarios is not for you to attempt to learn them if you have no training. The point is knowing which self defense classes are worth your time and money and which aren’t. I don’t care what line of bull they sell you and I would be very leery of any Krav Maga classes that don’t teach the “thumb pluck” at all. If the self defense instructor doesn’t focus on the immediate threat, thank them for their time and go back on your search.

Again, I’m NOT AN EXPERT, but stopping the immediate threat is common sense and the first thing that matters. The simple fact is you can’t continue the fight if you’re dead. If your class is not teaching that, you need to move on to one that does.

Be Mad!

In Fight Like A Girl…and Win by Lori Hartman Gervasi she tells her female readers to “decide to – believe in your fight, devise a strategy, recognize the attack and initial threat, move and act on your instincts .” These are most definitely things to get a female into self defense training, but females are very emotion based. We are driven by any range of emotional reactions so I say add to that list decide to get mad and stay that way!

If you’re going to last in a fight from an unwanted attacker decide to be pissed off. This person is fucking with your life and if that doesn’t bother you then he is fucking with the lives of your family members. Whether or not you are alone when you get attacked your family will be affected. If your family is with you and specifically your kids Gods help the people that attack you. There is nothing like a momma bear protecting her cubs.

You and your family have every right to stay alive and that means not fighting fair. You think your attacker is going to fight fair? Screw that! Bite! Scratch! Kick! Grab something, ANYTHING and start swinging! Scream! Cuss! Draw attention to yourself! Yell! Yell for help or yell for the police! Yell “this fucker is trying to kill me!” Make your voice be heard because you’re mad and everyone needs to hear it! Fight back as if your life depends on it because it does!

Decide to be mad because you should be! There are no “ladies” on the battlefield so don’t be scared! Be mad!

Reference -

The Slump

As some may have noticed I haven’t written for a few weeks. I seem to have fallen into a thyroid slump. Starting about 3 weeks ago I slowly felt myself getting worn down, but just passed it off as a normal up and down. There were days I specifically skipped jumping rope and tried just to go for the heavy bag. My arms refused to work. I swung and they just wouldn’t cooperate.

It got to the point that I woke up and my whole body ached and since then it has been hard to motivate myself to do much of anything including eat correctly. At the beginning of this week I woke up in one of my cleaning moods and it took me four times of getting up and sitting down just to pick up my living room floor. I knew something was really wrong.

I have seen my doctor and after ruling out certain other possibilities hopefully it is just a matter of uping my dosage, but at this point who knows. I go for my blood tests on Tuesday (since Monday is memorial day). We’ll see what the doctor has to say when he gets the tests back.

The one good thing is I have at least been able to keep a mental note of my calorie intake and it hasn’t been so bad. A couple days I know I came in short, but such is life. I’m pushing myself to get back into the groove and really want to start back on the bag even if I can only go for 5 minutes at a time. I’ve even been looking at doorway pull-up bars at Walmart because the “Navy Seal Workout” book I just bought focuses on pull ups and it does feel good when you know you could be able to lift your own body weight if the need arose. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t do it right now if I tried (regardless of feeling horrible).

I’ve got the high hopes, let’s see if my body agrees.

198 pounds

Jumping Rope

Who would have thought that something we did so naturally as kids would come so hard as adults? Working with this new workout book that focuses on boxing, jumping rope is a standard warm up and broken down from level 1 to 10 with the intensity and speed of how you’re jumping. I’ve finished week three and they up the time on the jump rope from 6 minutes at week one to 12 minutes in week three and varying intensity through out that time from 4 to 8, the higher the intensity the shorter amount of time required.

Let me tell you plain and simple, jumping rope sucks. This would be the ultimate fail of my workout experience. I tried to up it to 12 minutes working on the different intensities, but I just don’t believe I’m coordinated enough to do this particular activity for such a long period of time not to mention the varying intensities. I came to the conclusion that I can safely do about 10 minutes of jumping rope with two speeds (and two speeds only) – slow and slightly faster.

When I say safely I mean without my knee swelling up to the size of a soccer ball and when I say 10 minutes I mean jumping for 15 to 20 seconds, walking a circle then starting the cycle again. Depending on the song my intensity varies. Particularly Nickelback’s Never Again is great for hyping up my speed, but it still is only in short bursts.

I’m not downplaying the importance of this part of my workout. It really is great as a warm up because you can start your intensity low and work your way up and I will probably keep it as part of my regular workout (I mean, I did spend the $6 on the rope). It is great for balance and agility, but damn if it doesn’t hurt. As a kid it was so simple. I didn’t think twice about picking one up and jumping and I could probably have done it for hours. What happened to those days?

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

“To be a warrior is not a simple matter of wishing to be one. It is rather an endless struggle that will go on to the very last moment of our lives. Nobody is born a warrior, in exactly the same way that nobody is born an average man. We make ourselves into one or the other.” -Carlos Castaneda

The title Warrior seems to have been watered down to be synonymous with “someone who stands up for a cause” or “someone who has a courageous moment.” Courage is indeed an attribute of one worthy of the title, but it is certainly not all that makes one a Warrior. Any person, given a dire circumstance of imminent pain or death (or that of a family member), can have a courageous moment but these moments define one thing about the person – whether in times of stress they will react with fight, flight or freeze. Those who fight could be considered courageous, but this is not something these people normally prepare for. In these situations it is merely an instinct to react in a specific way. In my view, the Warrior acts not reacts because they have trained for such a moment. While both would be courageous, only one works off of solely the instinct of self (or blood) preservation and that would be the “average man (non-Warrior).”

It is always interesting to me those that claim to relate to Warriors in some fashion or another and yet can’t stand the thought of weapons or war. What those people can’t seem to understand is the Warrior doesn’t need or care about the politics. Their job is to physically fight. Can they have an opinion? Absolutely. Can they choose to take up a fight or leave it? Absolutely. But the Warrior’s position in their society isn’t wrapped up in political nonsense. Their job is to fight for whatever their tribe or village needed them to fight be it protection of leaders, furthering land growth or simply defense of their people.

The talkers and speech givers are politicians. They are not Warriors no matter how “courageous” and ground breaking their words are. Standing a picket line or attending a sit in or giving a speech are not actions of a Warrior. We can’t take the war out of Warrior. Warriors may choose to participate in such activities, but despite them they are still willing to pick up the weapons and walk into a battle. The Warriors do the fighting and the dying. That is what they prepare for all their life. If actions speak louder than words consider a Warrior the exclamation point.

When I speak of war it can be literally or figuratively (to a point). I’m not by any means stating that all Warriors have to be soldiers fighting a literal war or even that all soldiers are Warriors. I use the term war as simply a term for a physical confrontation. Warriors train for the possibility of that moment not necessarily a want or need for it. I’m not speaking of some bar brawl where a few people get out of hand one night because of some need to boost their egos. Winning a fight like that hardly makes anyone a Warrior. In fact, that would be something a true Warrior would use their brain to attempt to get out of and use their fist as a last resort because something like that is petty and not worth their time.

When I refer to the training of a Warrior I mean a defining physical moment like being provoked on the street in a life or death situation. It could also mean literally a life or death battle between countries at war. To me, there has to be an element of life or death involved. Does the Warrior have to have this defining moment to have earned the title? As Richard Strozzi Heckler put it, “The path of the Warrior is lifelong, and mastery is often simply staying on the path.” With this statement in mind, I don’t believe they do. My personal belief is the Warrior spends their lives hoping it will never happen (i.e. “hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst”), but training in case it does.

Some may even choose to get involved in tournaments or competitions, but this is still a furtherance of training with the real life or death situation in mind. The Warrior’s philosophy should be – be prepared mentally and physically because without the mental, the physical is useless and without the physical one will never survive the fight. In the wise words of Tien T’ai, “Given enough time, any man may master the physical. With enough knowledge, any man may become wise. It is the true warrior who can master both….and surpass the result.” Mental and physical preparation for conflict and the actions if one arises define the Warrior, not words.

*Side note – since actions speak louder than words here is a Warrior moment for you –

The Library

So I’m slowly building up my library of Warrior path specific books. It is somewhat slow coming as I have been building my Celt library for a long time, but this entry I will probably continue to add to as long as this blog exists.

I won’t begin to speak about what books should and shouldn’t be in a Warriors library as that is personal choice that can be dictated by one’s focus of martial art, weapon of choice or general viewpoint. I can only speak about the types of books I will classify in such a manner for my own personal collection.

Here is my starting list:

Zen in the Martial Arts – Joe Hyams

Complete Krav Maga – Darren Levine & John Whitman

No Holds Barred Fighting: The Ultimate Guide to Conditioning – Mark Hatmaker

Training for Warriors: The Ultimate MMA Workbook – Martin Rooney

The Mixed Martial Arts Handbook – John Ritschel

The Navy Seal Workout – Mark De Lisle

The Gleason’s Gym Total Body Boxing Workout for Women – Hector Roca & Bruce Silverglade (good general boxing instruction & the workouts kick your butt)

Fight Like a Girl…and Win – Lori Hartman Gervasi *Highly recommended for female empowerment

Armed & Female – Paxton Quigley (wishlist)

The Art of War – Sun Tzu (special edition also includes Frederick the Great’s Instructions to His Generals and Machiavelli’s The Prince)

Celtic Warriors – Timothy Newark

Lords of Battle: The World of a Celtic Warrior – Stephen Allen

SAS Survival Guide – John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman

2 DVD Roms w/ manuals for-

Aikido, Boxing, U.S. Air Force Combat, Army Field, Marine Martial Arts, Martial Arts Philisophy, Army Physical Fitness, Air Force Security Forces, Self Defense for the Common Person, Marines Close Combat, Air Force Deployment Survival, Army Cold Weather Survival, Army Desert Survival, Army Engineers Field Fortification, Army “How To Avoid Getting Lost,” Marine Water Survival, Army General Survival, USMC Summer Survival, USMC Winter Survival.

What books are in your Warrior library?

Eat more Lose Weight?

So yesterday I told the tale of my naughty seduction by the left over cake from earlier in the day. Well, I want to say I won and in a way I did as I didn’t eat any cake, but I didn’t go without any sweets last night. I will say, I didn’t actually give in because despite what I did eat yesterday I still hadn’t met my “total daily energy expenditure” (TDEE) so I ended up eating a pack of mini-chocolate donuts to add to my lacking calorie intake.

This is what I knew my problem would be when I started and I’m trying to address it, but it is starting to aggrivate me. The exersize part is easy. I break out my handwraps and my boxing gloves and I pound on the bag. I break out my boxing workout book and do that day’s work out routine. I practice Krav Maga with my husband in the living room or I load a workout video on netflix. That is all a no brainer.

Since starting to monitor what I eat I was curious about the calorie count behind each carrot or piece of fruit. I know what’s good for me and what I’m supposed to eat, but I’m coming to find out that what I like to eat combined with what is good for me is slim and may not contain the calories I need to sustain myself through the day. I added up my calorie intake yesterday and before the donuts I had barely crossed over 1000 calories so far for that day. I couldn’t believe it with all I felt I had eaten for that day.

I wanted to get a better idea of what I should be eating just to get my body up to proper function and so I went to various websites that had neat little calculators to input all of your information to figure out what your TDEE caloric requirements are based on age, weight, and height. I found another website that even gave me a formula to find my Basal Metabolic Rate from that equation and what my ideal caloric intake should be to lose weight, but still properly function.

For a 30 year old female who weighs 200 pounds and is 5 ft 8 inches with light exercise (to be on the safe side) I should be eating around 2000 to 2100 calories to lose weight. Other calculators say even closer to 2500, but with this particular calculator it gave me the equation to do myself and not rely on someone else’s calculations so I’ll stick with that. I figure that on the days I am “resting” between workouts I only need between 1700 and 1800 calories for the day. Who would have thought that would actually be a hard task to accomplish? Let me illustrate why.

Today’s food intake thus far:

Crunchy Raisin Bran Cereal – 90

Milk – 122

Pink Lady Apple – 130

Half a salmon fillet – 367

Wheat Hot Dog Bun – 110

5 baby carrots – 150

Cup of raw mushrooms – 15

(6 mini chocolate donuts – 380)

TOTAL THUS FAR: 984 (1364)

I will admit that I ate the 6 mini chocolate donuts because I had already added up my calorie intake with the food I brought with me and it was on the low side. Regardless, at this point I still have a can of soup, 15 ritz crackers and another apple to eat.

Add in:

Soup 250

Crackers 80

Apple 130

TOTAL: 1824

So my goal is between 1700 and 1800 a day on days I haven’t exercised. Right now I still have another meal to eat and I don’t want to. I feel like I have been eating all day long. And I am supposed to eat more than this on my exercise days?Call this my little rant, but I don’t know how people do it. Regardless, I am about to force myself to eat an entire can of soup, crackers and apple because I need the calories. Talk about wanting to pull out my hair. The fat girl is forcing herself to eat! How backwards can this whole weight loss thing be?

Obviously it is completely psychological, but eating to lose weight just seems wrong to me. I am just going to have to force myself to eat because I need the calories, but I would just love to sit here right now and stare at this screen and not have to worry about it. I know I have to do this and so I will, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t make me feel worse about the whole thing. I just need to get past the stigma of eating. I guess that is something that society has ingrained in my head.


Everyone has their vice when it comes to food. For me, sugar addiction runs in my family. It’s a problem my mother has struggled with all of her life and it is something that plagues both my brothers and myself. In regards to my brothers though, both are very active and extremely well built. My older brother has a personal trainer and my younger brother wants to be a Navy Seal and is constantly working out so, though they love their sweets, it doesn’t quite do to them what ends up happening to me.

I have indulged in gummy worms, cake and potato bread since I was a kid. Of course, then we were generally outside all the time doing something to work it off. Now, I have to make the effort to get off my butt and get moving. While I think I have finally found a workout I enjoy with all the elements that keep me motivated I still have weight to lose and that requires dieting. Of course, no one told this to my co-workers.

Last week was a very important week for those in my line of work and as such a lot of food was brought in for us ranging from cookies and cakes to pizza and bread sticks. Sugar was running rampant last week and while I tried not to over-indulge by eating more salad and less bread I know I didn’t help my weight loss. Now, here I sit at my desk with a tray of cake no more than 20 feet away. Whenever I go in or out of the room it seduces me with it’s fragrant decadence. Sweet Satan, why do you tempt me?

Tonight will be a test of wills between me and the cake just as last night was a test of wills between me and the jelly donut that sat out all night, but I can’t deny it – the jelly donut didn’t win, but the mini-chocolate ones did. Tonight I have brought an assortment of veggies and fruit to help combat my nightly cravings. It will truly be a test of wills. Who will be victorious tonight? Any bets?

Twenty-One Feet

A Warrior is one who is prepared for physical confrontation at a moments notice, but does not necessarily walk into one hoping it will happen. They are the one who has the focus and courage should the need arise in such a situation. Hand to hand combat and weapons training can come from any martial arts form. Where and how one chooses the type of martial arts they study is up to them, but all are relevant. I most prefer the practical method of Krav Maga which is Mixed Martial Arts for the streets, but my brother prefers tournament MMA and has studied Muay Thai and Kickboxing. Any type of hand to hand is beneficial to start on this path. Knowing how to fight if the need arises should be the top focus of your path.

That focus can expand out to include fighting in tournaments or even fighting in war for those Warriors who choose to serve in the armed forces. Serving as a soldier is not a prerequisite, but honorable nonetheless. Now hand to hand is pretty much a standard practice, but weapons training throws a whole new aspect into the mix. What weapons one chooses to focus on can easily depend on the individuals needs, practicality, whether they plan on utilizing the weapon in tournaments, actual combat or on a city street. I’m not going to go into the philosophical discussions of weapons versus no weapons or self-defense over martial arts (or action versus non-action when facing a dangerous situation). I’m just focusing on the benefit of weapons training in general.

As an Irish Reconstructionist I have a fascination with Irish Stick fighting a.k.a. Bataireacht. Such a practice would have been more than useful at the time of it’s dominance. Even today the study crosses over into many different realms because the stick itself can easily translate into any long object within reach. One could pick up a cane, a tree branch or a baseball bat and utilize the same techniques. Because of this there are endless applications such training could provide and if there was a teacher around here I would absolutely sign up for it. For now, I’ll just have to stick with the internet and the Doyle Irish Stick Fighting videos online.

There are those that would argue a true Warrior’s weapon would be the sword, but even the Japanese haven’t carried them into battle since World War II. That by no means discounts the study and practice of sword fighting or fencing, it simply means that such studies are much more for personal preference or even tournament specific and much less for practical applications. Let’s face it, it’s pretty hard to hide a sword for everyday carry and if you were wearing one I would have no doubt the police would be stopping you quite often. That’s not to say that a decent amount of destruction couldn’t be the result of a sword, but it is much more of a medium range weapon and wouldn’t be very useful in a street fighting setting or in a war where your opponent is likely to have a gun of some sort.

Just because swords are impractical in a real world scenario doesn’t mean that all blades are. I have a lot of respect for knives and I carry one as a back up frequently. The simple fact is that someone trained in knife retention and fighting as well as human anatomy can do a lot of damage in a little amount of time. In the book Tools of Violence McNab and Keeter reference an exercise by local law enforcement putting to the test guns vs knives. Within 21 feet a knife wielding assailant being surrounded by 5 police officers was able to do significant damage to 4 out of 5 before being taken down. In the Tueller Drill this same 21 feet is found to be covered by an attacker within 1.5 seconds. In this scenario you would rather be the one with the knife, but if that doesn’t happen hand to hand is the natural fall back. Acting, regardless of how sometimes, is better than making yourself an easy target.

Also in the blade’s defense, despite what Hollywood would want you to believe, even if someone were to be shot they don’t just drop to the floor and die. Adrenaline keeps you going and if you know what you are doing you could hit major arteries causing the deaths of your victims within 5 minutes of the initial cut even after you have been shot numerous times. Even someone lucky with a blade could hit an artery and kill someone after being shot a few times. Close combat is more than likely what you are going to be dealing with a lot of times, especially in a street fight. If there is one thing that all this information taught me it was to respect the importance of a blade.

With that said, someone with no training isn’t always a threat with a knife. There is that stigma that anyone with a knife should be feared, but think about it. Knives are not long range weapons. If this person is standing significantly outside of the 20 feet mark you may have a shot at running, at using a longer counter weapon like a bat or stick or even tackling them if you get a grip on the arm holding the knife. Someone not trained in knife combat could be flailing anything. The only thing that gives them an advantage is the blade itself and it would have to be a pretty lucky strike to take someone down quickly. Even a combat trained Marine outside of the 20 feet range leaves themselves open to any number of counter attacks. As Indiana Jones proved, even a trained swordsman can be taken down with a bullet.

I’ve heard the argument that guns are not a Warrior’s weapon. I have never understood this mentality. Old techniques should be respected, but weapons have evolved for a reason. To not evolve with them is asinine to say the least. In modern warfare, anything that shoots a projectile is pretty standard. If I’m walking down the street I’m more likely to get robbed at gun point than anything else. There are still those who might attack with a knife, but that isn’t statistically as common unless you’re getting prison shanked.

In my humble opinion, guns are a necessary weapon to understand. To understand them means one understands the modern weapon mentality. A gun can be used by any idiot. A two year old can pull the trigger on any standard Glock despite all of the “safeties.” A gun is a simple yet complicated weapon that if one doesn’t take the time to understand will have no idea how to act when one is pulled on them and in this day and age, it is a lot more likely than some people want to admit.

As was already demonstrated they are a long distance weapon. They are meant to be used as a deterrent or to keep someone a comfortable distance away, but the simple fact is an attack is more than likely going to start a lot closer than you are going to have time to grab any weapon. That is why hand to hand should always be the first place to start with any understanding of the limitations of any possible weapons that could be used against you. If you understand your opponents limitations than you can use them to your advantage, open the space up and hopefully get the distance to utilize your own weapon. As I practice, if they are close, take on the fight hand to hand, do as much damage as you can and run like hell practicing un-holstering your weapon as you run. I also recommend knowing how to clear a jam as well because if you are able to disarm your attacker or your own weapon gets compromised in a fight, but you are able to get it back you should always know how to clear the chamber so you don’t risk a jam if you need it later.

The average fight lasts 7 seconds and can go down any number of ways. A Warrior needs to be versed in as many weapons as possible. Even a basic amount of knowledge is better than nothing. If you know how to load and unload a handgun, clear the chamber and rack a new bullet after a fight then you have a leg up on your attacker. If you have training in stress based scenarios against an attacker who has never had a day of training in their life than the odds are in your favor that you will be the one walking away. Same with blade fighting. Know where the sweet spots are, know how to disarm your attacker and don’t be afraid of the knife.

I will always be a practicality girl. Studying other weapons like swords, spears or crossbows are great for nostalgia or reverence of the ancients, but will rarely help in a modern fight. In modern warfare and street combat know what your enemy will more than likely be carrying and know how to combat it. We train to not only fight, but to hopefully stay alive. This should be the ideal of any Warrior.

*Side note – while doing some looking around on the net I found a website I think would be of great interest especially in regards to this article. Feel free to check it out –

Five More

It’s so easy to go “I can make this pain stop.” How you go about that speaks a lot about determination. In a workout there is always the ability to stop. Unless you are working with a personal trainer it is usually just you driving the workout. You can make the pain stop simply by stopping. Take your water, your sweat ridden body and get up. Turn on the TV, sit at the computer or get in your car and fool yourself into believing your work out was “good enough.”

Or you could say “five more.” I do five more and I can stop. Numbers sometimes seem arbitrary. Three sets of ten or five sets of three. I don’t know the science behind the numbers and I don’t really care. It is hitting that number that matters. That number is a tiny goal and the only one stopping you from reaching it is you. That is the only thing that stands in the way of you and a healthy body.

Little goals drive your workout. You can choose to set that arbitrary number and hit it or set that number and give up. It truly is that simple. Which one do you think will fulfill you more? You’re sitting down after your work out – are you basking in your little accomplishment or are you chiding yourself for not finishing that last set or that one last push up or sit up? Or worse – do you even care?

Five more may seem like a lifetime away when you can’t think straight, your body hurts and your sweat is pooling on the floor, but take away all those factors – how far does five more feel sitting behind your computer? Not so far away now, huh?

Food: The Afterthought

Many people who have never experienced obesity have the misconception that all obese people do is eat all day in large quantities. This has never been the case for me. Except for during my pregnancy food has always been an after thought. A meal was something I forced myself to eat because I had to not because I wanted to. Food is usually the last thing on my mind because I am generally preoccupied with all the other activities for the day, my next creative commentary, a discussion or debate I’m in the middle of or I’m simply focused on taking care of my son.

My problem with food is not the amount, but the type. We live in a fast food nation and I am not immune. McDonalds is my drug of choice when it comes to food. I refer to it as such because I know how bad it is for me, but it’s easy, quick and cheap. Working for a local Mickey Ds was my first job and that is where my addiction starts. We got free meals on our breaks and when I first worked there it was whatever meal we wanted. A few years later it would be reduced to specific meals for free and discounts for the others, but unlimited soda was always a constant.

Sometimes it was a challenge making the normal meals interesting. We would mix and match what we had on hand to make something new. I would take a normal quarter pounder and remove everything, add bar-be-que sauce and bacon. I used the bar-be-que sauce on my fries and there were some days I would just microwave some pickles as a snack. Along with our unusual creations (mine were actually pretty tame) there would always be the challenge of who could eat the most. When I was 16 I could pack away a double quarter pounder, large fry and large drink and not break a sweat. You would think I should have been over 200 pounds then, but I wasn’t.

I was active back then generally with Junior ROTC. I was involved in every team including the Athletic team so I was constantly burning off everything I ate. Even back then I had to consciously force myself to sit down and eat and while I could pack it away, that certainly wasn’t a daily activity. It was quite the opposite. There would be days where all I ate was soup crackers or Roman noodles. Sometimes team members or friends would have to remind me to eat something.

Now that I am older it really hasn’t changed. Even at the beginning of my pregnancy when I was where I needed to be weight wise my husband had to remind me to eat. It was when I was laid off then placed on bed rest for a short time where I had nothing to do and nowhere to go. I loved my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and bacon and fried eggs. “I’m pregnant, I can eat what I want.” Now I didn’t eat large quantities then but I ate high fat and high sugar and barely left the house. I know part of it was depression. I cried nightly with the fear of what we were going to do once I had my son since I had no job in a society that wasn’t hiring, especially not pregnant women.

Once I had my son, luckily the depression part went with it so I can clearly state that it was my hormones in that case, though I never would have admitted that when I was pregnant. A few months after he was born I began a hiring process with a local agency that required a significant background check, but I eventually got another job that I am very proud of and have been there for over a year now.

Since having my son I have gone back to the same eating habits that sustained me up until pregnancy. Eat a little and when I do, to put it bluntly, it’s crap; easy, convenient fast food crap. Except this time, it’s not helping. I’m not as active as I once was, but also, nothing I have done has helped me drop the weight. Eventually I saw a doctor about it who took all my symptoms and figured out I had hypothyroidism. For all those who don’t know what that is, basically my thyroid, which regulates metabolism, is underactive and therefore I don’t process calories the way I should so I can’t lose weight as easily. In some women after they give birth it can be temporary. Unfortunately, in some rare occassions, it is permanent. Well, there I go being part of that minority within a minority again.

Right now I’m working on getting a proper dosage of medicine to help me get my thyroid working properly, but it will be something that I will battle with the rest of my life. While that absolutely sucks, it doesn’t change anything in regards to my problem with eating. I work 12 hour shifts over night. I work, I sleep, I eat a partial meal, I go back to work where I eat one more meal and the cycle starts again. I don’t get to eat three complete and generally I don’t get to eat even two complete meals in a day.

This will be another part of my journey. I have to get myself on a real meal schedule. When I wake up I need to eat something to get my metabolism going. This will be the hardest part as I haven’t officially eaten “breakfast” since middle school. This already throws things off for me. Then I need to substitute the crap for a decent rounded meal focusing on fruits and veggies with meat and a small amount of grain. All of this is common sense, but just because I know what I should be doing doesn’t mean I have been doing it.

A friend of mine does weight watchers which I have been tempted to do, but you know what scares me the most? The amount of food they have to eat. I don’t mean a small amount. I mean, to do the diet properly, they have to eat all of their points every day (with some exceptions). The amount of points could be ridiculously high. I know this stuff works as I have seen her lose weight since she started and I know what my husband was expected to eat when he did Nutrisystem and lost 50 pounds. I don’t think I have EVER eaten that much food in one day ever in my life. The idea of eating all that food seems so contradictory and yet I know exactly why it works.

Your body needs food to fuel it. Not only does it need food it needs the right type and fat and sugar don’t do it. If it doesn’t get the calories it is supposed to then it starts slowing down and soon shutting down the ability to burn the small amount you do bring in and keep you moving. In regards to fast food it can be a large amount calories in one sitting with only a small amount of food that is high in fat so you don’t process it correctly anyway. The results – you become a flabby butt eating nothing and looking like you ate a house on your lunch break.

Don’t get me wrong, it really isn’t weight I’m interested in and never has been. I would be happy being 200 pounds if it was all muscle, but that isn’t going to happen and I don’t really want it to. I’m not looking for body builder scary, but I am looking for intimidating. I miss the days of my flat stomach and toned muscular arms. Some could say I looked manly and I won’t lie, I have some manly features, but I will consider my mission complete when I can wear my tank tops and I look like I could knock someone out. Not only look like I could, but know I could. I want to be that woman that people look at and think “I don’t want to fuck with her.” Once I get to that point, then I can consider my work a success!

Mismatched Legs

My short lived Army career was ultimately my doing. When I originally went to MEPS the doctor who examined me failed to inform me that I had flat feet. Whether he knew the cause or not remains to be seen as I haven’t found it noted in my records anywhere. I didn’t learn of this particular flaw until my first few days at reception. We had to stand on a box with a clear glass top, a light inside it and a mirror at the bottom. The Drill Sergent (DS) then examined it and told us whether we had high arches, regular arches or no arches. This would become handy to know when purchasing the correct running shoes for training.

I was originally informed I had one regular arch and one low, but upon arrival to the PX and putting on the running shoes I was in pain just walking around for 15 minutes in the store. Another DS put me back on the box and told me I had flat feet. Obviously, the science behind this particular test is subjective, but the second evaluation was true and I purchased the correct sneakers. If only those were all we wore I would have been home free. Unfortunately, the boots don’t have support and I wasn’t informed I needed any before I went in.

Through my time at basic we had many come and go for various indiscretions on their part and some with true medical reasons. We had one girl, I’ll call her Bee (as in Bumble), who had spent the last year in rehab due to stress fractures in her hip. This girl was an inspiration. She was gungho, loved her uniform and was about 5 foot 5 inches and maybe 110 pounds sopping wet. I could toss her like a rag doll, but that girl never gave up. She spent about 5 weeks with us when she started going back to the doctors because she started having pain in her hip again. She was pulled from training when they realized the stress fractures had returned. She was looking at possibly another year of rehab if they didn’t ultimately dismiss her from service.

My own story started about 2 weeks into actual basic training (reception was the first 8 days). My right knee began to swell up and so I had it checked out and was put on profile for the next few days. I was banned from doing the Victory Tower sealing my fate of going back to red phase if I was ever pulled from duty because of an injury. You can’t graduate basic without having completed the Victory Tower.

Well, as the weeks went on my swelling knee became a gigantic right calf. I didn’t even notice it until one of the girls pointed it out when we were in the shower. The look of disgust as she pointed to it was actually pretty amusing – “What the hell is wrong with your leg?” It had grown to almost the size of my thigh. I wish I had taken a picture for posterity.

This lead me back to the doctor and forced an overnight stay with the “sick” company so the DSs wouldn’t harp on me and I could focus on reducing the swelling by keeping ice on my leg. I was pretty much on crutches from that point on which screamed “pick on me.” Once I returned the next day and he prodded and poked my leg he determined that more than likely I had stress fractures at least in my right leg to which my eventual physical therapist would unofficially confirm was starting in my left as well so I had a choice to make. Get the problem officially diagnosed then treated but get pulled from training and go to rehab for the next 6 months to a year or go home now.

Keep in mind that you are still a piss ant while you are in training. Until you finish basic training you are unworthy and treated as such by everyone who has any sort of rank around you. Also, remember I stated my fate would have been sealed for returning once I was cleared to do so. Whatever phase you leave in would be the phase you return to and though I was pulled from training during white phase (they earned blue phase status literally the next day) because I hadn’t completed the Victory Tower my already 7 weeks of basic wouldn’t have mattered – I would have returned to day one. I had been officially serving in the Guard for almost a year by this point but, I had literally gotten married 4 months before I left for basic training and while none of these reasons are necessarily good excuses for leaving they are my justification for the choice I made. I wasn’t going to hope for the best during rehab having nothing but bi-weekly 5 minute phone calls and daily letters from my new husband to start over at day one of basic to once again get pulled at 7 weeks because the stress fractures had returned. I chose to walk away with the hopes of one day returning if I was found fit to do so.

It would be over a year later that I would have a different physical therapist inform me that I had minor scoliosis which resulted in my right leg being shorter than my left. This is what caused my knee and leg swelling and why combat boots are pretty much worthless to me. I will always have issues with my knees and legs because of it, but the one thing I regret is not getting my chance to serve. It was ultimately my choice and I take responsibility for it, but it is hard wondering what might have been. I’m not bitter. It is a part of life and having a name for the problem gives me some peace since I know now I probably wouldn’t have been able to continue much longer even in rehab.

Not being able to serve has pushed me in many endeavors. I’m happy to serve in other capacities that are more behind the scenes and I support our troops at every chance I get. Before my head DS dropped me off to my out processing company (the Rejects as we were so fondly nicknamed) he told me “I’m going to salute you one day.” While I may not be lucky enough to see that happen I can at least push myself to be worthy of those words without the rank and uniform.

Pumped For The Fight

I consider myself someone driven by sound. Silence denotes a calm that only ambient sounds of home life can compliment. If I just want to be at peace I need no other sound than my son scooting his blocks along the floor. Though not my choice of audio for meditation because the distraction of it can flinch you quickly to your feet and across the room when that sound turns from blocks on the floor to sobs or the even scarier no sound at all.

Meditation in the traditional sense is not something I generally take part in. For that all I need is a pen and paper and the creative juices flowing from them to truly put my mind in a state of ease. My preferred form of meditation involves gloves and a heavy bag – something I was lucky enough to receive as a recent birthday gift. As a friend of mine eloquently put it, my offering to the Gods is my blood, sweat and tears and my ultimate form of spiritual connection is partaking in the adrenaline rush of a “fight.” Lucky for me, it’s also good for cardio and muscle building.

Because I respond strongly to auditory stimuli music can truly ignite the fire to unleash that first blow. I would say I have a fairly eclectic taste in music, but the heart pumping type is pretty standard; heavy metal and hard rock. I have a play list that acts as a timer for my workout as well as guides me from warm up to full out hardcore to cool down. It contains various songs through out my life that got my blood boiling or helped me release that aggressive energy that would build up from whatever happened through out the day or simply because I woke up in a bad mood. I choose not to deny what some consider the negative emotions because, as humans, they are emotions we are intended to feel. Why deny them? As long as they don’t drive us to negative actions I say put them to some use!

Right now my playlist is just over 30 minutes long. I need to start slow and work my way up. Eventually I am hoping to work up to an hour adding more songs to the current playlist and creating others so I don’t get bored along the way. A lot of these songs were popular when I was in high school and since I only rarely listen to the radio these days, well, call it nostalgia or simply recognizing that high school was an emotional time. Whichever you prefer – it gets the heart rate up and the fist connecting.

At the current moment, I can put this song on repeat and it’s all I need to get me in the mood:


1) Youth of the Nation – POD 4:18

2) Whatever – Godsmack 3:28

3) Never Again – Nickelback 4:17

4) Bodies Hit The Floor – Drowning Pool 3:19

5) Monster – Skillet 3:07

6) One Step Closer – Linkin Park 2:35

7) You’re Going Down – Sick Puppies 3:07

8) Break Shit – Limp Bizkit 2:46

9) Last Resort – Papa Roach 3:33

10) Children of the Korn – Korn (featuring Ice Cube) 3:52

TOTAL: 33:52

Make The Decision

I find that my journey is no different from anyone who needs to lose weight. There is a moment in your life where you say “I need to change this.” I am overweight and it started with my pregnancy. I was laid off from a job where I was constantly active and on my feet then placed on bed rest for a portion of my pregnancy, and then it all went down hill from there. I would sit in bed not being very active at times and just eat whatever I felt like eating. Prior to my pregnancy and for the first few months of it I was exactly where I wanted to be weight wise and I had the nice flat stomach I absolutely loved. Here I am now, fifty pounds overweight and my son is almost two years old.

I have had friends that had children around the same time I did and within nine months had lost the weight just by no longer being pregnant. I attributed my inability to do so to genetics as my mother has had issues with her weight since giving birth to us and left it at that. It was when I began getting run down and having no energy to do anything and yet the will to want to that I knew there was something more going on so this took me to the doctor. He put together all my symptoms and we decided that taking a synthetic hormone could help my mood and it has, in some ways, though in others maybe I’m just not taking enough or what have you to alleviate everything. Some of my symptoms have gotten slightly better and others have not. There isn’t much of an exact science in this case and so figuring out the right dosage will have to be part of my journey as well.

My story isn’t unlike a lot of other women, but my path very much is. Since the birth of my son I have found a renewed strength in my faith. My religious beliefs are very alternative and are even alternative within the sub-sect that I practice within. As a Celtic Reconstructionist I practice a religious tradition that perhaps only a few hundred others do. While it fits into the larger scale of paganism my tradition is a minority within a minority. This has pushed me to “put my money where my mouth” is in regards to what I believe and practice. There is no one else to lead the way for my child so if I don’t set the example he will have no understanding of the tradition I put all of my heart and soul into.

In my tradition there are various different positions one can hold just as there were in the ancient times. Within the Celtic tradition one can be, amongst other things, a Bard, a Healer, a Druid or a Warrior. I am the later. Some could say it is by choice and in some ways it is, but for the most part, just like anything else in faith, my thriving to be a Warrior is a calling. As such it’s time to put my money where my mouth is and stop putting off the practice and training that I have always wanted or intended or sort of done before and I am hoping this public proclamation and documentation will keep me on that track. Sadly, I make this decision right at a time of celebration that usually involves lots of eating and drinking so while I am starting this blog now, the journey truly begins once everything calms down. To quote Lao-tzu, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” so here it goes.

205 pounds