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My own shell…

Last night, after we saw “Ghost in the Shell”, I made an off handed comment about how I would pay ALL my money to have an ass like Scarlett Johansson, and I didn’t think any more about it.
This morning I woke up, got my coffee, stepped into the shower and started washing my hair first thing. I do this usually with quite a bit of pain in my hand, and during the hot shower, I press my fingers against the hot tile wall and pop my fingers to gain some relief after they have been submersed in hot water for a few minutes, so as to help with the flexibility. Its my normal morning routine.
Today, like every other day, I did this routine, only to find that my pain was not there. I popped my joints and nothing. I realized then that when I got my coffee, again, no pain in opening the reuseable K-cup or the coffee canister.
No.Pain.Whatsoever…
Its been well over a year since I could say that. In all honesty, I don’t know how long its actually been since my left index finger didn’t throb in pain constantly.  Its just become part of the aches and pains that are my life.
The photo at the top shows how much I could bend my index finger before the shot, what the finger looked like after the shot with the X-ray and then finally, this morning, making a fist.
Today, I realized that I will endure more cortisone shots in my other two problem fingers when I need it, and not think twice.  Its crazy how you can forget chronic pain, even when you are in the midst of it, because it just becomes your norm.
Just like always wishing I had someone else’s body.
We’ve all done it, I would love to have Angelina’s lips, Scarlett’s ass, someone else’s hair, tits and whatever else…yet when I stood in that hot shower, water cascading over me, shampoo sliding down my back, I was so happy.  I kept making a fist because I could.  That was something I couldn’t do yesterday and today I can, thanks to modern medicine and great insurance coverage.
In that moment I realized I honestly don’t want anyone else’s anything.  I have worked so hard on the body that I have, wishing for something else doesn’t really pay due homage to my efforts.  I work my ass off, literally, almost every day to achieve what I have right now.  Is it perfect?  No.  And honestly, I could work out every minute of every day and I would still NOT look like Scarlett.  Or Angelina, or anyone else but me.  Even when I weighed 450+ pounds, I was still simply Amy.  Good, bad, ugly or beautiful…its still just Me.
So the next time I see a perfect set of tits, or quads I would die for, I can absolutely appreciate them, and believe me, I do…but I also will give myself credit for what I have achieved…and that is perfectly OK.
Too many people think you’re conceited or vain when you post a selfie, or show off your muscles….or even post a workout.  Its not any of that, its proving to yourself that your worth the effort, that the work you have put in is making a difference.
When I post comparison shots, it doesn’t matter who likes them and who doesn’t, because its for Me.  So that I can see the difference, because believe me there were so many years I was too ashamed to even have my photo taken, that I wish I had now.  Just the other day I was talking about the only cruise Greg and I have taken together…there’s one, maybe two photos of the entire trip.  Period.  Because we were too fat to enjoy our trip, or go on excursions or even wander the ports we visited, because we were so exhausted just moving our bodies.  How horrible is it that we didn’t even want to take photos of the trip!
So never again will I wish I had someone else’s body, I put in enough work on mine as it is and for 50 years old, its pretty damn good, regardless of its little quirks.  And I still have goals to reach.  So until I can put little micro nano beasts inside me that fix everything that’s wrong, I think I will stay with the tried and true method of hard work, exercise and trying to be as healthy as I can be…
With the occasional sugar cookie…
Just remember, no matter how you look, how you feel or how life is treating you…there’s ALWAYS someone who would do anything to be in your shoes.  Focus on how to make you a better you…and don’t worry so much about wishing you had someone else’s ass 😛
The Bad Ass Valkyrie
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Chaos Reigns…

I realize its been awhile since my last update here.  I will try to update you with everything I can but just know that basically my life is Chaotic at best right now and life can sometimes hand you a curve ball…

In February, my office went through a big change.  We hired a new Executive Director and while he is great, he has changed a lot about the way our office works.  We also had a couple of key folks leave, thus creating a shortage in workforce, so a complete restructure had to happen.  In that, I actually came out very well, my job as Events Manager stayed pretty much the same, just a much more intensified schedule.  Where I would have had some downtime, I now have other duties, so work is pretty packed.

On top of that, I am also the Captain of the USA Womens Team for Battle of the Nations 2017 and that, combined with my personal training schedule and work is consuming most of my day.  What little free time I have I spend trying to clean my house, get my gear ready, spend time with my husband & fur kids and yes even play a little World of Warcraft.

While I do tend to thrive on Chaos…I do prefer to have ups and downs in that craziness.  It keeps me a bit more grounded and usually its only the last month before Worlds that I get a bit lost…this year, it happened a few months early.  So I do apologize for not getting an update out there sooner.  Just know everything is running much smoother than I could have imagined at first and after a minor breakdown or two, I am back on track.  Mostly.  I still have 6 weeks before Worlds, so who knows what will happen lol.

I did manage to add a few things to my “50 Firsts before my 51st” list and I did an updated video on my drive home from the Sonora Celtic Faire Tournament this past weekend.  So I can at least update you with that!

My 50 Firsts before my 51st Updated List!

  1. Climbed the Teotihuacan Pyramids, Mexico City
  2. Ate Crickets & Ant Larva, Mexico City
  3. Fought professional MMA Fighter, Josh Tyler
  4. Did my first Facebook Live Feed, in conjunction with Readyman.com
  5. Started Crossfit @Brickwall Crossfit
  6. Did my first official Crossfit WoD Competiton
  7. Drove thru Donner Pass
  8. Camped out in my new car
  9. A 17 Year promise finally fulfilled

So the list is growing and I am sure over the next 9 months it will grow exponentially and I am looking forward to sharing those moments with you when I can.  As I said, there will be some firsts that are a little too personal to share but I will at least denote them in some way 😛

Otherwise, I am currently deep into my training for the World Championships in Barcelona, Spain.  The competition runs from April 29 to May 1, but I will be doing some traveling before that and many of my firsts will come into play then.

On a side note, I did manage to read (listen) to Neil Gaiman’s new book “Norse Mythology” and I must say, it is extremely well done.  If you have ever had interest in the Sagas or the Poetic Eddas you should give this great book a chance.  I have gone through it twice now and I love it.  It’s very well written, it follows the most logical paths to the stories that I have heard and he bases his versions partially on Snorri Sturluson’s writings, which I have enjoyed.

Hopefully sometime within this year I can break away from my chaotic schedule and get to Iceland, it is on my list of places to see and right now tickets to Reykjavik have never been cheaper.  So, here’s hoping.

The USA Broad Swords are doing great, the USA Team as a whole will be announced soon and we are all preparing for our jaunt overseas.  After that I have DragonCon and ITOC to look forward to as well as a few other tournaments, in country and out.  So while the World Championships are first and foremost on my mind right now, there’s a lot of things coming up after that as well.

Hopefully you enjoy my little video as I am driving through the beautiful Donner Pass on my way home yesterday.  It was a glorious day and I couldn’t help but be filled with happiness and joy simply for being alive.

I think the full moon the night before set everything right again…

Here’s hoping…

The Bad Ass Valkyrie

 

 

 

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2017…Balance and Gratitude

2017 is finally here.  I have been embracing it for a full 5 days now, pondering where my focus might be this year.  Balance.  Along with gratitude, satisfaction and appreciation. These are what I plan to focus on.

  • Gratitude: the quality of being thankful; rediness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
  • Satisfaction: fulfillment of one’s wishes, expectations or needs, or the pleasure derived from this.
  • Appreciation: the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something.

I am a woman who loves extremes.  Extreme sports, extreme lust, adrenaline, fear…anything that gives me that rush that drives me. My highs are pretty high but my lows can get pretty low.  When you find something that drives you, there comes a point where you exhaust your input and you seek more.  I will be the first person to tell you that “I want what I want when I want it”.  Period.  End of story.  When I don’t get what I want, or things don’t go the way I think they should go, I get pissy.  I know this about myself and I try very hard to NOT be this way, but, again, I am a balls to the wall kind of girl.

I won the husband lottery when I met Greg.  He understands the way I am, he navigates it VERY well and is pretty much the one person who can tell me NO and I listen.  Mostly.  And he knows this about me, and we have yet to have an actual fight.  Some of you more alpha males out there might think that he doesn’t have “control” in our relationship…and you would be wrong.  We have balance.  In my own life, I may be wild and chaotic, at best, but in my relationship with Greg, we actually have a very balanced lifestyle and it works very well for us.

A lot of folks who meet me first, or hell, have known me for years, and finally actually MEET Greg face to face are quite surprised at how we are together, as a couple.  I am very much the person I am when I am on my own, but I am also a wife and a lover and a partner when I am with him.  Thus our dynamic is very different, for each of us, when we are out together.  He has never felt the need to “control” me, nor does he need to.  When we are together we are balanced.  That actually happened very early on in our relationship and I think its one of the many reasons he and I clicked so well, because we just fit. We knew it from the moment we sat next to each other in his tiny little apartment and talked about getting married the night we met; and we know it now, 21 years later.

Greg is someone I am grateful for. Some one I appreciate and someone I am satisfied with. There is not another person on this planet that I can say that about.  He is my anchor in this crazy world and he is always my happy place.  Its funny, when I call him my anchor, he always thinks of it as a big weight that gets tossed overboard from a boat.  When I say it, I mean that he is what holds me in place and lets me bounce back to my home, my life and my happiness when I am stretched too far beyond my limits.

Which brings me back to BALANCE.

I have spent the last few years going to extremes and last year I entered 2016 with 2 major injuries, my ripped IT band and a tendon release on my left wrist.  I had a rough time recovering from both of those and I am very thankful I entered 2017 injury free.  But with the injuries I learned a very important lesson, one my body has been trying to tell me since I started training for this sport in 2013, I am NOT young any more lol.  I am 50 years old and I can’t train like a 25 year old and expect the same results.  My body is physically and metabolically different.  I don’t perform the same, I don’t recover the same, and finally I have realized I can not train the same as a 25 year old.

Thus balance is key.

Now, before we all start getting crazy ideas that I am hanging up my kit and walking away from fighting, remember…I am still that balls to the wall girl who THINKS she can do it all.  So, what I have come to realize is that in order for me to still be able to do this craziness, I have to find my balance, in my eating, in my training, in my running, in basically everything.  Even gaming!

After my big 50th Birthday celebration I needed down time.  And in typical Amy fashion, I went to the extreme and pretty much just gave in to everything.  I drank Coke, I ate sugar cookies, I played WoW all day long, and I sat on my ass.  It was the holidays…and the end of the year…and I needed to reset.  So I sort of just sat in my study, played video games and snuggled my furbabies all day long.

Did I need it?  Yes.  Did it feel good?  Yes.  Did I throw out most of my good habits for two and a half weeks?  Yes.

I don’t regret doing it…but I do wish I’d had a little more balance (and so does my scale).  But I do feel more clear about facing the new year and working on my 2017 goals.  I don’t really do resolutions as they are firm decisions to do or not to do something and the only place I like rigidity is in men and weapons, thus I prefer goals.

I had my first test of balance today actually.

I went into my running app to get my 2016 numbers. I was not a happy girl (injuries be damned).  So I did what any self respecting data tracker does (yes, I might be a little OCD when it comes to my body stats), I pulled ALL the numbers, all the way back to Jan 2013.  I started this sport in June, 2013 so this is even before then!

Instinctively, I started freaking out.  Running is the one place I have hard, solid numbers. Numbers don’t lie.  Numbers are how we win.  Winning is important…right?

(insert rabbit hole here)

I immediately wanted to top whatever the highest number was, because I had to be better than myself this time last year and I failed.  Then I started comparing this year’s numbers to last year’s numbers, then I broke it down by month. Then I went a little more crazy and went back 2 years.  Then 3 years.  How am I supposed to WIN when I can’t prove it with numbers…write down ALL the numbers…figure it out…make it work!!!

and that’s when I finally stopped myself.

What I ended up with, finally, was a way to “balance” my insanity…because not even getting HALF as many miles this year as I did last year was wigging me the fuck out.

I wrote down my monthly miles for the past 4 years.  I averaged them by month and decided to make a goal of the highest monthly average, which is 33.85 miles/month, which will put my mileage for the year at 406.20.  My highest monthly mileage was in August,2015 and I ran 90.13 miles that month(wtf was I thinking).  My knee jerk reaction was to run 91 miles every month…and I realized I was going way too extreme and reigned myself in.  So instead, I set a stretch goal of 41.66 miles/month which will put my mileage at 500+ miles at the end of the year if I meet it.

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Yes, there’s a little part of me that says “round up the numbers it’ll be better” but again, I am trying to find balance, even in my ocd-edness.

After actually typing all this out, I wondered what my actual average mileage was, overall. Its 23.18 miles/month.  I went back and looked at my stats. I met it once in 2016.  4 times in 2015, once in 2014 and 4 times in 2013.

I kind of see a pattern.

Go to an extreme, body forces rest.  Go to an extreme, body forces rest.

Balance.  I need it.  Numbers prove it.  Time to do it.

So folks…there’s a little peak into what my brain goes through in setting goals.  Yes, I know it STILL sounds a little insane, but that part is just Me.  I have other fitness goals for the year that I will not bore you with, but I am also going to focus more on gratitude and being grateful.  Satisfaction, even when I don’t meet my goal for a month or I miss something that could have been added to my “50 firsts by my 51st” list.  I am still so much more satisfied with my life, than I have ever been and that gives me an appreciation for this beautiful world that we live in and the people I choose to have in my life.

I am typically a positive person, I look at the world through the eyes of an optimist.  I prefer seeing the good in all things, and I want us to all be happy. Yet I know things will be hard, especially for us as a nation, over the next 4 years.  But I hope we all try and look at the world around us and figure out how to make it better, and how to find balance, even when most think we are surrounded by chaos.

Chaos isn’t a bad thing…you just have to be brave enough to face it and work through it. That’s it.  What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.  So find your strength, find your happiness…

Find Balance and be Grateful

Here’s to a great 2017 – skål

Amy Graham – The Bad Ass Valkyrie

 

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Climbing Pyramids & Surviving Volcanos…

On Thanksgiving Day I boarded a plane to Mexico City, Mexico for a tournament.  I had no idea how that singular act would change my life.

I knew I was going to be seeing friends & chosen family from far away places like Austria and Australia, as well as the new friends I had made in Mexico at ITOC II.  Friends I love, friends who have cared for me, fought with me and I hoped loved me back.  But what was so unexpected was the love I received from complete strangers.  People I had barely met and in some cases, never met, yet I was cared for like I was one of their own family.

I landed in Mexico City after a full day of travel on Thanksgiving.  Its the first Thanksgiving that I have had to miss since I started dating my husband Greg over 20 years ago, and this holiday was the first we’d ever spent together and now it would be the first we’d spend apart.  So it is very hard to be away from him during this specific holiday, even though he’s not really a holiday kind of guy.

I meet up with Skye, who from the beginning of my steel fighting career, has been my inspiration and Tim, one of the closest male friends I have on the planet.  We have a chaotic time trying to figure out our hotel situation after meeting up with Tim’s girlfriend Kristen and end up going to three…yes THREE different hotels before we finally get to settle in for the night.  But finally we are all snug in a wonderful room, fed, wined and ready for sleep after catching up.

The next morning, Black Friday here in the states, we hop on a bus and head to the Pyramids of Teotihuacan, which is just outside of Mexico City.  When we arrive we finally are greeted by many of the Mexican fighters as well as the beautiful Julia and her father Franz, from Austria.  Both wonderful people who make my trip one of the most entertaining and magical adventures ever.

Now, let me just say here, neither I nor Skye had the foresight to pull peso’s out of the ATM at the airport.  Thus, walking through the market prior to climbing the Pyramids was woeful, but alas a wonderful soul named Stephiee took pity on me and bought me the GLORIOUS hat you see in the photo above.  I did manage to find one vendor that accepted credit cards and was able to pick up a couple of t-shirts before we headed out to the stone ruins.  But that would be the last time I was able to peruse souvenirs until I left the country via Mexico City Airport.

We climbed stairs…and stairs…and Stairs…and STAIRS and then we found the Temple of the Feathered Serpent.  It was magnificent and the stone carvings were so beautiful.  The path that connects all the pyramids at Teotihuacan is called the Avenue of the Dead.  Which I find interesting, because usually, I am feeling the past in my soul by now.  But I never felt anything negative at all at the Teotihuacan Pyramids.  In fact, it was just the opposite for me.  It filled me with energy, with life and with love.  Something I never expected from ruins.

Skye, Eric (another Aussie who had been in country for about a week already) and I wandered with various fighters along the path, walking through the ruins, crawling through portals and chasing lizards.  It was amazing…and surprisingly easy given the altitude (which is about a mile and a half above sea level).  I really never lost my breath until the Pyramid of the Sun, but I think it was mostly panic at that point because my crazy brain thought it would be a great idea to leave my bag at the base with Stephiee, which also had my inhaler and my water in it.  Yea, sometimes I’m an idiot.

Anyway, we finally get to the Pyramid of the Sun.  Its the largest pyramid at Teotihuacan and it was the one I felt most akin to.  I am Native American and my tribe is the Euchee, also known as the Children of the Sun and as soon as I knew we were going to be seeing the Pyramids I was drawn to this one.  Our friends were giving us wonderful information on each pyramid but when I saw it up close, I knew it was where I was meant to be.  Why I was meant to be there and my plans were to record my very first Vlog from the top, which I did.

This trip started out simply as me getting to see Tim and getting a chance to fight with the Aussies as an early birthday present to myself.  It kind of morphed into various things before I actually got on the plane.  But by the time I arrived I knew it was the beginning of a new phase of my life. One I still wasn’t sure of yet, but a phase I knew was going to come, regardless.  How I got from the original version to the version it became was a crazy, painful, wild ride but I wouldn’t have changed it, even if I could have.

From the moment I stepped up onto the first landing of the Pyramid of the Sun, I knew everything I had gone through was getting me to that point.  With every step I climbed, it got a little more emotional and yet excited too.  I was scared, I was energized I was terrified and I was happy, all at the same time.  And when I finally post the short little vlog you will see and hear the pure emotion in my voice.  I tried to control it but every moment on the top of that pyramid was filling me up with energy and it was hard to contain.

Right after I taped my vlog, Julia gave me one of her hand blown glass Goddesses.  As she is describing the intricate details she put into it, my ears were ringing, my heart was pounding and as soon as I touched it, I knew she had put immense power into it.  She’d asked me what attributes I’d wanted for it.  I told her Strength, Beauty, Love and Power.  They were all there, and so much more.  As I lifted the glass beauty to the Sun I could feel so much energy surround me.  And even if you don’t believe in such things, that’s ok.  I know that this small vessel of blown glass holds a power within it…and that is perfect for me.

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After the glorious experience atop the Sun Pyramid, we made our way to the Moon Pyramid.  My inner geek let out a scream as I suddenly realized this was the pyramid used in Alien vs. Predator.  I think it was quite a good thing that I was unable to get peso’s out because had I had them in my pocket, I would have squandered them all away trying to buy the huge Predator statue one of the vendors had at the base of this pyramid.  Not the best use of what little return luggage space I had to get back home with.

After the pyramids, the entire group of fighters and support went to dinner at La Gruta. This is a restaurant located behind the Pyramid of the Sun and is built inside a natural cave.  Even the kitchen is part of the cave.  Its beyond words how beautiful it is and the food is amazing.  Even the Crickets.  Yes.  I actually voluntarily ate a CRICKET!!!  I also had ant larva but they were more like puffed, buttered rice.  The cricket was crunchy and the texture is something I hope I never have in my mouth again.  While I now know I could survive by eating crickets, I hope I never have to.  I kept freaking out thinking I had cricket legs sticking in my teeth.  Its the thing of nightmares for me….I hate crunchy bugs in general, but having to put one in my mouth was crazy.  But hey, it was a day of firsts for me!

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After dinner we head to the villas we are staying at.  They are lovely.  I was thankful for the accommodations and they suited our needs very well.  Although more hot water would be a bonus next time =)

Saturday’s fighting was amazing.  I fought as part of Black Swan, an HMBUSA Club out of Springfield, IL.  Brad and Rudy were there to fight together and we had Craig, Jeff and I as well. We all fought well together and I am beyond blessed to have such wonderful men to call brothers.  They never once hesitated to put me on their team and gave me every option I could have asked for, should I have ended up being needed on a different team.  The team did well and we made it to the finals which were to be fought the next day.  I ended the night taking a shortened version of Igor Parfentev’s bohurt workshop and it was well worth the time, even in the dark!

Sunday.  Wow.  Sunday was…crazy.

Sunday we finally go find an ATM and a pharmacy.  We also find breakfast and realize the tournament will be running later than expected.  By the time we get to the event site I have roughly half an hour to warm up, armor up and prepare for the Women’s 3vs3 fights.  I can tell you on a NORMAL tournament day, I prefer to start prepping an hour and a half before.  I calm my body, my mind and my soul to fight.  When I am rushed, it is never good.  But it sometimes happens and on this day, I had no choice.  I get a little bit of a warm-up run in and don’t really feel any issues rising, so I get armored up.

We start the Women’s fights.  Its the Night Witches against Skye, myself and Gina, a Mexican duelist from a different club.  We start fighting and I can tell my breathing is off.  Marie, the tall Quebec female who is in Mexico City for school and training with the Night Witches takes me on.  We grapple and everything seems to be going well until I start feeling my helmet liner choking me.  I can’t pull it down and the helm keeps pulling it tighter and tighter during the clinch.  I can’t breathe and I can’t get a deep breath at all.  At this point I start having an asthma attack.  My lungs start to seal off and I can barely get out STOP FIGHT before I literally try to thrust my body through the rails.  Marie doesn’t have any idea what’s going on and clinches me tighter, which in turn makes me panic.  I’m quite sure I was going limp in her arms but she realizes something is wrong and we get me off the list.

I hadn’t worried too much about my inhaler the 2nd day because I had absolutely NO issues on Saturday, or even Friday climbing pyramids all day long.  So I had no reason to believe I would have issues on Sunday, so I did not search out a Marshal to hand off my epi pen or inhaler.  A lesson learned.  I should ALWAYS do it, regardless of my condition, because my asthma can affect me at a moment’s notice.  I had gotten a little lax about it because it had been many months since even a minor attack.  Little did I know that this was going to be the worst attack I’d have to date.

I get a puff into my lungs finally.  I feel jittery and anxious but I know if I don’t go back in the women won’t get another fight.  So, I put my helmet back on and we start the 2nd round.  Another lesson learned.  After a few grapples and hard clinches, I couldn’t keep any oxygen in my lungs.  They were burning and I was shutting down.  Literally.  I make it out of the list on my own and don’t have the wherewithal to get my gauntlets off.  I start slinging my hands because they won’t come off.  Then I can’t make my brain tell my body to take my helmet off.  It won’t connect the dots and that’s where all hell begins to break loose in my body.

Its quite an internal catastrophe when your brain doesn’t work right.  I can see whats happening around me, and I can feel myself begin to pass out.  Next thing I see is I am on the ground, and Igor is taking off my armor.  Somehow I can feel Julia’s hands on me, taking energy out of me and calming my body down.  In this state, I have to have someone to focus on otherwise I can’t make anything work.  She is that person.  Then there were many.  I could feel ribbons of excess energy being pulled out of me, in several directions.  Igor gets me up and we move over to the bleachers.

Then something amazing happens.

Vero’s mother comes up to me and tells me she is a Reiki master.  She asks in broken english if she can help me and at this point I have no real control over my body.  She sits next to me and lays my wet head (Igor poured cold water over my head because I was overheating) on her chest and starts healing me.  I have no idea how long we sat there, but at the point I started to feel normal she was literally glowing.

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She doesn’t speak english but she managed to ask me if the list is where I let go of all my bad feelings.  I tell her yes.  Then she touches certain areas of my body and tells me that I am blocked and I am not letting go of what needs to be let go.  And to this very minute,  I have no idea how she knew exactly what to tell me in that moment.  She says that Mexico is being renewed (I had no idea about the volcano eruption at this point in the day) and that it is time for me to be renewed as well.  It was why I was sent here, and I need to let go of everything so that I can be filled with the love and positive energy that is waiting to fill me.  And with that, I basically lose it.

She holds me again and some how pulls out everything that I needed to get rid of.  I could feel the adrenaline and negative energy leaving my body and I could feel myself being empty if that makes any sense.  In those moments when I was trying to calm my body down I realized I had so much anger and fear built up inside me and I was trying to hold on to everything because I couldn’t let something go without letting it all go.  I was trying to hard to keep everything in…until it almost hurt me physically.  The asthma/panic attack was just the conduit to get it out.  For that I have altitude, pollution and volcanic ash to thank.  Yes, on Friday evening Popocatepetl erupted and no one had an easy time breathing.

Everything came to a head in a perfect storm…and it ended in an amazing way.

After I finally was able to calm down completely I gather my things and walk over to my team.  I climb the stairs and the level of fear is horrid inside of me.  I look at their faces and I am quite sure they don’t want anything to do with me and don’t want me to fight with them in the finals.  LOL little did I know their fear was that I wouldn’t be up to fighting with them in the finals and they would be a man down.  Needless to say relief was felt by all of us!  Truly, I could not have fought with a better group of guys.

I have never felt so much love and respect as when I walked back out on that field in harness.  When they announced I was coming back to fight in the finals, the cheers from the crowd and from the fighters literally made me cry.  I was happy I had my helmet on so no one could tell.  But in that moment I knew I wasn’t just a token girl being allowed to fight with the big guys.  I knew I was a strong, powerful woman taking the field with her teammates, who just happened to be men.

Sadly, we didn’t end up taking the gold, only silver, but the Slavs had to fight hard for their win.  We didn’t go out without an enormously amazing fight.  Jeffery Galli is a beast and while I was ready to go in to replace him after a cut to the back of his knee and a ghastly hit to the neck, he wouldn’t let me.  He still had something left for the field.  Wolfric tempted him and while Jeff went for him, it was quite possibly the most beautiful fake I’ve ever seen.  It was one for the record books.

The fighting ended, the medals were handed out and during it all, I was surrounded with so much love and kindness I was overwhelmed at times.  So many people coming up to me and telling me that they have followed my progress and were so excited to meet me.  I had a little girl come up to me with her mother.  She told me she had air sickness (asthma) too and she never thought she could be a Knight until she saw me using my inhaler.  That little girl almost brought me to my knees.

Throughout the evening, my soul was filled with so much love and positive energy.  Then we all met for a big dinner and it was amazing.  I was surrounded by my tribe and so much love.  I truly understood what Vero’s Mother meant by me renewing my soul’s energy.  It was happening before I even knew it.

I truly came back to the states a different woman.  A better woman.  I know I am the woman I was meant to be.  I found happiness, forgiveness, fortitude and strength…things I never knew I was missing.  Things I never thought I would find at the top of a pyramid, in the eyes of a little girl or at the center of an asthma attack.  The Fates are wise, chaotic and sometimes a little crazy, but I have always believed that destiny leads me on my path.  At times I try a bit too hard to hold on to things I need to let go of, so that they can grow into something better.

Life is a journey and an adventure.  If you are too afraid of what you will find, you will never start down your true path.  Sometimes you have to let go, even when you are afraid of falling, because that’s when the winds of Fate pick you up and carry you to someplace more beautiful than you could ever imagine.

Mexico will always be a magical place for me.  Not simply because of the pyramids or the people there, but because of my experiences that changed the course of my life. I have no idea what the future has in store for me, my fate was woven long ago.  But I no longer fear it…or worry about what will happen.

I am centered and where I am supposed to be.

I am happy with who I have become.

I am the woman I was meant to be.

And she is Mighty!

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Armored Combat, bariathlete, bariatric surgery, Battle of the Nations, BotN, Full Contact Medieval Combat, IMCF, Medieval Fighting, Mixed Medieval Martial Arts, SCA Fighting, Sword Fighter, Uncategorized, weightloss success, WMFC

Getting through your reflections…

I get a lot of people asking me about weight loss surgery and/or training and how it has affected my life.  Would I do it all over again, is it all worth it, what kind of impact does it have on a person’s life, do I regret it.  Inevitably its usually the same questions over and over again, yet it never bothers me to answer them, because it always keeps my perspective in check.

There are times in our life that we can find ourselves in a rut or stuck in a situation that’s just become stagnant or even unhealthy and we don’t really think about it that way but when you reflect and take a step back, you can see it more clearly than when you are in the middle of it.  Most of the time when this happens to me, its because I have been sidelined by injury or illness.

When I don’t feel good or am having to put training off due to an injury it makes me grumpy.  Emotions go a little catawompas and I get far too restless for my own good.  When that happens I either force myself to do something I shouldn’t or my old habits of complacency kick in and I get to a point I don’t want to do anything productive.

These past three weeks since ITOC 2016, I have been sick with bronchitis/pneumonia. I would come home from work (when I actually made it in) and lay on the couch, not able to do anything.  The few times I did try and push myself to train it put me back down even harder.  I watched a lot of Netflix and snuggled my furbabies while doing absolutely nothing productive.   It was a bad bug.

That being said, I could have probably been sewing or working on my aventail but at the time, I had zero energy and felt helpless.  All the while that little voice in my head was reminding me that I had put on 3 pounds and really what did it matter, I was sick, so I could eat and drink whatever I wanted, as long as it made me feel better. I could work it off later.  I convinced myself I needed comfort…and that’s where problems for addicts kick in.

I am wholeheartedly, 100% a food addict.  I want bread, cookies, cake, Coke, and donuts when I am sick.  On the upside I also want all the good things I should eat too…but you are laying there, watching TV and you are bored to death because you aren’t out training, running, working out or fighting.  Thus, you turn to old habits…and that’s when the little voice gets to you.  It tells you that you can be in control, that it will be alright and once you feel better you will work it all off…Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!

But it usually never happens that way.

When I am nursing an injury, the pain keeps me in check usually.  I don’t necessarily fall back into the old habits, I try and work other parts of my body that I can and keep my body moving.  When I am sick…its a whole different story.  We all joke that men turn into babies when they’re sick…well, I turn into my 450 pound self and ignore my good habits in lue of comfort.

Today, I feel like myself again.  I went to the doctor yesterday after my full Z-pack of antibiotics and my lungs are clear.  I am running at about 60% energy level and my body is regaining strength again.  I did my first lifting workout since I got really sick and this morning when I woke up sore…it was from lifting, not from being sick.  That felt good.

I woke up in a great mood and felt a little sassier than usual so when I threw on my star spangled scarf, I added a little Wonder Woman (literally) bling into the mix, just to ward off any lingering blues.

When I got into the office today I clicked on the looking back feature in Facebook.  I like it because it always gives me perspective and lets me see how far I have come and it also lets me track if I have been sick or had allergy issues in certain months…(that’s actually been a great help for my allergist).

Today as I was browsing back through the years one of my favorite photos popped up.  It was 10/26/2009 and I had spikey hair, great nails, and I remember the day vividly, I had finally fit into this adorable wool kilt that I’d had hanging in my closet for ages.  I took a picture because I had just had my hair done the night before and I felt really good.

As I was remembering this day 7 years ago, I decided to do a comparison shot, just for me. I did it with the pretense that it would be a good reminder not to backslide like I had done the past 3 weeks and a way to kick my ass into gear.  When I sat down to put them side by side, hehe I was quite surprised that I actually liked today’s shot much MUCH more.  I honestly thought I would hate it but I didn’t.  They’re pretty similar and in 7 years I feel like I’ve only gotten better.

Coming off being sick, not training for 2 weeks and being happy with the results I saw in that photo instead of being annoyed with what I saw in the reflection was very telling.  I knew I was looking with old eyes and I’d fallen into another bad habit…not seeing whats really there.  Even though I felt good this morning, and was digging the Sassy Girl, I honestly thought the comparison was going to be bad, even as I was taking the photo. And until I looked at the two together, I just KNEW it was going to be bad and I would just use it as a reminder…

But that didn’t happen.

When I am talking to people about WLS, one of the primary things I tell them is to take photos.  Even if you hate it, you will find they help, sometimes in strange ways.  So when someone gives you shit about taking a selfie, remember too, that they can also be therapeutic.

They are snapshots in time that give you a little more perspective on what your world was like at that given moment and sometimes, they give you a little more perspective on what your world is today…

Maybe all my super hero bling worked and warded off the negative image I had conjured up because of complacency…or maybe…just maybe…it just helped me see through it.

Either way…I am happy it worked!

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Armored Combat, bariathlete, bariatric surgery, Battle of the Nations, Full Contact Medieval Combat, gastric bypass, HMB, HMBIA, IMCF, Medieval Fighting, Mixed Medieval Martial Arts, Running Streak, SCA Fighting, Sword Fighter, Uncategorized, weightloss success, WMFC

Imperfection…

Not the worst Monday morning I have ever had but I can certainly tell you waking up for a consultation to see if I am a candidate for a Panniculectomy/Abdominoplasty was certainly up there on moments I could have lived without.

Normally I am not really too self conscious about my body these days.  I have no problem getting in and out of my armor in front of whomever is around.  However, with that being said, standing in a room in front of not one, not even two…but THREE complete strangers and being completely naked was indeed not fun.  Now, for the record, all 3 of those folks (2 men, 1 woman) were all doctors and probably had no interest other than medical necessity to see this 49 year old woman’s naked body.  But for the past 72 hours I have been dreading that moment. When they took my blood pressure and it was 148/95 that definitely told me that I was much more stressed than I had really admitted to myself.  That is much higher than I am normally…ever!

I have been torn between being ‘body positive’ about myself and worried about what the doctors might have to say about my body.  In the end, I sat in a very large chair, one I probably would have been thankful to have at my original body weight, and waited to meet the judges aka doctors.

Prior to this appointment, I had no other real interaction with plastic surgeons other than those involved with my initial gastric bypass and them discussing future options once I lost my weight.  Things were drastically different 9 years later.

First and foremost, we have to see if my insurance will cover the Panniculectomy.  We already know that they will NOT cover a Abdominoplasty and I can live with that.  If they will cover the panniculus removal, I will move forward and will see if I will need other surgeries down the road.  This is the bare minimum that will get done once approved.  Depending on what happens when the surgeon gets inside, will be up to him, but he is limited to certain things within the confines of coverage.  With a panniculectomy my down time of NO exercise whatsoever will be 2-3 weeks.  After that I should have no restrictions, other than any unforeseen complications.

My maximum time of recovery may be as long as 6 weeks, depending on how the surgery goes.  Typically its not that long unless there’s something inside that they need to deal with that they don’t know about.  So all in all, my recovery time is much less than originally described to me.  But its also a much less invasive surgery than what I was described too.  Originally I was told I would need a full body lift and that would require a much more in depth recovery time.  I don’t need that.

There is some worry as to how the rest of my tummy, above the incision line, will look if they only do a pannus removal.  They will not go in and remove any excess fat storage from below my breastbone to my belly button, so I may end up with something that looks like a muffin top with the way my body is right at this moment.

I do not think that would be too much of an issue moving forward and if it does bother me more than I think it will, there is always liposuction that can be done down the road.  My main concern is my pannus aka the ‘pontoons’.  I need them removed.  Plain and simple.

I was lucky enough to have Greg with me all morning and he has been a rock for me.  When I forgot to mention certain things to the doctors, he stepped in and gave them more info than I could have remembered on my own.  He kept me calm and seemed surprisingly appreciative of his nude wife in front of complete strangers.  That made me feel awesome.

He knew I was worried and he took it in stride.  He never fully gets all the ins and outs of my chaotic brain but he definitely gets it more than most.  He was just there, supporting me and loving me the whole time.  Even when I was nervously playing with all the breast implants and talking wildly about which ones would feel better when he would hold them lol.  He probably would have drawn the line at me juggling them, but then I am a horrible juggler…and would be an even worse jubbly juggler I am sure 🙂

In the end, its a waiting game and I am sure my blood pressure isn’t going to go down anytime soon until I know whether or not my particular insurance policy will cover it.  I was very surprised at the cut and dry of it all though.  There won’t be any submitting photos or proving past medical problems.  If my insurance covers the panniculectomy that is what I will have.  If the answer comes back No, then we figure out what it would take to pay for a abdominoplasty ourselves and start from there.

Either way, today wasn’t as bad as I had thought, but it wasn’t as easy as I had hoped.  I did have to get naked infront of strangers, but I wasn’t subjected to every single flaw of my body being pointed out.  I guess that’s what an ex is for lol.  So all in all it wasn’t horrible.

Do I still feel conflicted about being happy with one’s body and wanting to make improvements when possible?  Yes.  Absolutely.  But Greg’s words to me on the drive home keep ringing true.  He just kept telling me to do what makes ME happy.  That’s all he cares about, is that I am happy.  It doesn’t matter what my body looks like, he loves me.  And he is what matters most to me in this world.

I do want to remove the excess skin & weight that I don’t need.  I do want to look better, and be that girl I see under the weight.  In truth, I want it all.  But if absolutely NOTHING changed about my body, I would be happy.  I would still be married to the most amazing person on the planet.  I would still wake up every morning and smile at the person in the mirror.  I would still have lovers who cared about me for who I am, not what my body looks like.

But yea, I want to remove what still remains of all the hard work and pain my body has gone through.  There is nothing more nature can do.  My body has bounced back as much as it can.  I gave it 9.5 years and have worked my ass off the last 3 to push myself as far as I can.  Its time to see what else can be done.

The paper work is being submitted and all I have to do is wait.  Its just another step in this whole adventure that is my life.  There will be good and there will be bad with both options, but taking this step was the hardest part…

Let the Fates be kind…

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Armored Combat, bariathlete, bariatric surgery, Battle of the Nations, BotN, Dragon Con, Full Contact Medieval Combat, gastric bypass, HMB, HMBIA, IMCF, Medieval Fighting, Mixed Medieval Martial Arts, Running Streak, SCA Fighting, Sword Fighter, Uncategorized, weightloss success, WMFC

Extensions of Me…

Along my path I have been asked about various things that I do when I fight, when I make my weapons and what prepares me to do what I do.  Last night I finished up my new axe and was painfully reminded of why I don’t skip steps.

Years ago at Melee Madness, an awesome SCA event that gets held at the closest thing we have to a castle here in Utah, I was awarded a prize, a beautiful axe, and proclaimed the “Meanest mother” for that event.  Not in a Motherly sense…in a bad motherfracker sense just so you know.  That axe was awesome but using it in steel practice had cracked the haft that came with it (hard woods don’t last long in this sport) and thus sat on my work table needing to be fixed for several months.

I decided to re-haft it with rattan and put my own energy into it so that I could use it in competitions when I wanted to use a punch shield & single handed weapon instead of my halberd.  I also wanted to be sure Hannah had something to fight with at ITOC in a week, so I got to work on Sunday.

Everything went smoothly once I got the old haft out. I shaved down my rattan, formed it to fit the head almost perfectly and then got it all stained.  I let it cure in the heat of my garage for a full 24 hours and last night I was ready to put my finishing touches on it, knowing I wanted Hannah to have some time with it to get used to the feel.  Only I had to work late.  So, once I made it home I got to work.

I had everything I needed, I’d done the rune transcription and all I had to do was put it all together!  Easy!  Or so I thought.  Since Hannah was going to be using this weapon I decided not to follow my regular hafting rituals.  Normally I rune my own inscription into my weapons as an extension of me, putting part of my energy into it, as I have taken away some of the earth’s energy that it had.

However, I knew this weapon would be used by others, so I inscribed its name instead, therefore letting it carry its own energy to the user. I usually also add a few droplets of blood to the weapon, its a personal thing for me and something I learned from someone who has much more magic inside them than I ever hope to.  But because again, I felt that it might interfere with the energy of another user I decided not to.  In that very instant that I made the decision not to, my lovely furchild Heimdall, the BattleCat pushes my leather shears off the table and some how manages to carve a nice gash into the tip of my big toe.  Then he jumps down, and promptly lays on it, rolling around in it like a wee devil of a beast.  For those of you that know me personally, you know I tend to follow the Norse Gods, and I found it quite fitting that the message I got, was in the form of a cat.

Thus, I did end up adding several drops of blood to the weapon (some not by choice), whether it was a message or not, and decided then and there I would never forego a step in my own ritual again.  Feline message received, loud and clear.  Raven’s Beak feels great in my hands and I can only hope that the energy that went into it, will flow freely for anyone else that wields it.  I will also take care when and if that weapon gets used against me, for a weapon will always transfer energy back into its owner…one way or another lol.

I talk a lot about energy.  I truly believe in good and bad energy, and that you can transfer that energy from one thing to another.  A tradition I learned many years ago from a man I admire greatly taught me that everything in this world gives something up to become another thing.  Camric and his crew that were visiting us from Gleann Ahbann burned their shields at the end of an event, returning the energy to the earth. The shields had protected them and given their energy to the bearer and thus that energy was returned.  At my squiring ceremony a year later, Camric, who is also known as Green Shield, sent me part of his ducal shield, that had won him two crown tournaments.  It was to be burned so that the energy released would protect me, as it protected him.  At the time it was the most touching thing a fighter had ever done for me, and I didn’t want to let it go!  But when it came time to put that relic in the fire, along with bits of my fighting history and other relics from fighters I knew and cherished, I knew my first personal ritual had been born.

Now, when I retire a shield or a haft is broken, its burned. When I haft a new weapon, bits of it are saved and I burn them at various points when I want to put a little bit of me into the earth.  I took shavings from my halberd to Prague this year and burned them in the campfire at our encampment, to add my own bit of magic in a far away land.

I rune my weapons, I engrave my swords.  I carry Valkyrie wings into battle, so that I can pass them on to people who have inspired me.  I have small bottles of earth, rocks and other natural tokens from my battlefields because I was given a small container of earth from the first battlefield the United States team ever walked on to…and that meant the world to me, so I have carried on that tradition.

Simple things and simple actions, with sentiment behind them mean a lot to me.  The tokens I have received from fighters these past few years aren’t expensive or laden with gold, they simply mean something to the giver and to me.  That type of tradition, that type of ritual…that type of energy, is what I feel when I talk about magic.  They all invoke a spirit of togetherness, of inspiration and of a moment in time that can never be taken away.

So when I create a weapon, or hand sew a garment, or give away a token, its all an extension of me.  There is thought, inspiration and yes, even a little bit of magic in everything I do.  Its a part of me, a part of who I am…of who I’ve become, because of all those that came before me, of those that inspired me to do more.  Who gave a little bit of their magic to make mine stronger and to help me confront the negative we all inevitably have to face in one form or another.

Put good into the world.

Return positive energy to the Earth when you can.

Live a life worthy of inspiring.

Pass on your own magic.

Believe…

 

 

 

 

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