When Your Not So Skinny…

 

The other morning, I was laying on the couch with my niece, my nephew had just gone off to school and I was probably in an out of sleep probably more than a handful of times. When I awoke, my niece was still there beside me watching videos on her Ipad. Most of the videos were toy reviews on YouTube. But one thing that stood out to me was a cartoon we were watching.

I don’t remember the name, but a particular scene a small group of kids were in a science lab, observing two girls who drink a green concoction. Girl A, after drinking it became tone and slender like, and was able to run for a long time on a treadmill. The small group of kids then had eyes bigger than their own heads as they awed over how pretty Girl A looked.

Girl B drank the same green drink and she went from a skinny girl, to a large muscle pound person. The kids were disgusted by her appearance. I couldn’t help but feel sad after watching this. I realized that in this instance, our culture still puts so much esteem on the tone person. But has much less esteem for the bigger muscle bound person. In fact, some think it is down right ugly.

But I ask, what are we teaching the future generation? Is the standard of beauty and fitness still given to the slim and slender type? Though there is nothing wrong with it. The average women who does CrossFit today, that has a lot of muscle to her and a six pack on her is seen as manly looking. And in fact they are ridiculed and shamed by those who do not approve.

I gather that one might not find it attractive on a personal level, but to shame them and say ugly things about them is filled with stupidity. For unless you spent time with them daily, and you saw how hard they worked to get to that point, then you wouldn’t be able to say much. But you damn sure would stand in awe and applaud.

As for the fat shaming that our culture puts into practice, I say this: 1) they probably already know that they are not as healthy as they could be or want to be. So rather than ripping them down all the more, how about you try and spur them on with words of hope and encouragement? I bet much more good would be done in this way. Plus, the filth we have to say about others, is more often than not aimed out ourselves.

2) When you see a larger person in the gym, trying to better themselves. Don’t shame them or speak ill of them. They got out of bed, decided to get after it and make changes to be better and live better.

The culture at large is slowly being revamped, but we have a lot of work to yet be done. We can’t change everyone’s mind. But to those that we can, it’s a job well done.

 

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What Makes A Good Leader?

I read recently that “there are no bad teams, only bad leaders.” Which makes think Okay, I am a leader, where can I not only confess that I’ve failed but where can I improve? Because ever leader will fall, but the strongest admit where they have fell short and look to improve. They don’t make excuses and they damn sure don’t blame others for their failures. Everyone is a leader in some capacity, be it in a family, a job whatever it is. It’s time to lead the way, forgetting what lies behind and pressing on toward the goal. Strive for excellence, strive to be better than you were yesterday. Don’t look down on others (that only makes you prideful and arrogant) but instead, learn to help others to their feet, help make others better. Show others that they can be better, why? If nobody else will, then who? Step up and get after it. Out!

Adapt And Rise

Our excuses to not take care of ourselves are no more.

The reasons we have to not better ourselves, don’t stand up to what the modern day adaptive athlete can do.

Being born with Cerebral Palsy, I was told that there was a low chance of survival, and if I lived. I wouldn’t amount to much. If you heard this story before and feel like you’re reading the same blog over again, I’m sorry but this is my story. And I will gladly proclaim how God took a frail child and turned him into a warrior.

On this day, maybe you feel down and out, depressed, suicidal, feel alone and feel like you could never amount to much. I get it, I’ve been there, but I’m here today to tell you that you can rise above and conquer all of that. Maybe you have bad health, or hate the way your body looks. Okay, lets start making changes right this second.

Maybe you have no use of your legs, okay, you can have a strong upper body!

Maybe you have one leg or arm, that just means that you have to be willing to adapt to your circumstances. There are ways to adapt upper body lifts to those with only one arm. If you have a prosthetic leg, awesome  there’re so many ways you can adapt exercises and functional movements to fit your needs.

Have an autoimmune, still not the end of the world, take the journey of finding good coaches that can help you. Go slow, listen to your body. And go fourth in your journey.

Please understand that, in no way do I intend to sound un-compassionate. Nor am I implying that any of this will be easy. It is because of compassion and love, that I am imploring you  today to not sit in your excuses and settle for anything less then your best.

Do I have my bad days? Yes,  but warriors rise after they fall, they get up after a needed rest.  Greatness comes from darkness, use the pain, use the hurt to drive forward to a better tomorrow. I’ll say it again, there are no short cuts, no self help books or remedies that can make the journey any easier.

What will help is hope. faith. Love and community. These are real things with eternal significants. Whatever is holding you back today, whatever is keeping you from progress. Face it. Don’t give it authority a second longer. Your life matters. Make the most of it.

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Live In The Now!

 

 

What if I told you that you can do more than you think?

What if I told you that you were not a product of your environment?

What if I told you that you and I aren’t necessarily bound by age?

What if I told you that those negative thoughts in your head are lies?

What if I told you that you were better than the excuses you make?

What if you could live the most amazing life? Like right this moment, would you?

I know, that last line sounds like some well-paid motivational/prosperity preacher, who never had a rough day in his or her life. If you interpreted it that way, I can tell you that that was not my intention. In fact, the days that suck won’t go away anytime. They will sadly be like a gift that keeps on giving, be that as it may, it is not an indication of what the rest of our journeys will be like. If we are mentally, physically and spiritually determined to not let it be that way. I hear athletes and some parents talk about their glory days, how if they were younger they could have won that match, won that game or lifted that amount of weight. It’s all crap. It had to be said, if only the human mind and soul would be liberated from that one bold face lie. What good is life, if all we think about was yesterday? It only means that you’re not really living life, but are coasting through life and not really living it. Yesterday is gone, so what are you going to do, now, in this moment? Are you going to let your past define you? Or your current circumstances? It’s all a lie to keep you trapped in the darkness. Put everything behind you, learn from it, but put it behind you. Set new goals, work your way up to the weight you “could have” crushed. Better yet, aim for me.

Crush the person you once were, be better than that. Be better than that so that you can be better for your friends and family. Be better so that you can leave behind a legacy for those after you. You are so much more than your prime, or what doctors told you or the excuses we make for ourselves or others. You owe it to yourself, and others to do so. What matters most in life is not the amount of money that we had in our bank accounts, the cars we had, the house you had etc. What matters, is what we did with our time and what we did for others. In the words of Garth from the cult classic Waynes World LIVE IN THE NOOOOW!

 

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Company and Hope

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33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” – 1 Corinthians 15:33 (CSB)

 

Lately I’ve been taking Uber to get to CrossFit once a week, and it’s been really fun, I’ve had the opportunity of chatting with some awesome people along the way. Normally before each ride, I say a little prayer, for safety and that God might allow me to have the words to inspire hope in some way and even talk about my faith and love for Jesus. As cliche as it sounds, I mean that in the least cliche way possible.

Yesterday though, when my first ride came and got me I didn’t pray. I got in the car, locked in my seat belt and quickly noticed the cigarettes and lighter near me. As soon as we pulled out of the drive way, this man, (whom we will call- Sam) starts talking to me about how it’s been a long day of driving, and that it would be an even longer night of baking. As that is his second job when he is not driving people around.

I asked him “do you ever have a day off?” He chuckled a bit and said “No, I can’t really have a day off, I work hard to support my daughter… But, my daughter ran away from home again, she’s been gone almost 2 weeks. She took off with some really horrible people. She was doing so well.” At this point, all I could do was say that I was sorry for his pain and listen to what he had to say.

I’m angry he said “And I can feel the depression coming back…. She was doing so well, but she ran off again with those idiots man! What don’t they understand about not coming on my damn property?”

 

I know sir, I said,  “she hangs out with bad company and it corrupts her” it was at this point that I remembered the verse above and wondered if Sam knew he was paraphrasing the bible. Before we reached my stop, I said “sir, if I have learned anything in my short life and all my training in psychology, it’s that there is always hope. Even in the darkest of times.”

Sam looked at me and said “Did they teach you that in school?”

“No” I said in response, “that’s what I believe about life.” He looked at me and said “well, sometimes people need to know what it’s like to be down, down, down and have no hope first.”  I thought to myself “but I have.”  I  want you to take away a few things from this:

  1. It matters who we let into our lives, regardless of age. The more we are around a person or a group of people. The more they influence us, for better or for worse. That being said, be selective of who you let in (and out) of your life, know what your boundaries are and if people don’t respect them. Get rid of them. Lastly, listen to the wisdom of those you trust. If someone close to you says that they are not sure about someone or group of people, listen to that. It’ll save you from a lot of heart ache.

Remember that how dark things get in life, it can always get better.

-Brandon

 

 

 

Thoughts on Sports Anxiety

A few years ago I started competing in Brazilian Jiujitsu, even in spite of the challenges with having cerebral palsy. All of my competition has been abled-bodied, okay, not all I have competed against other adaptive grapplers. And I’m not sure which one fits me better.

Regardless,   the point of this entry, is to explain a revelation that has dawned on me. I have competition anxiety. Many, many athletes struggle in this way regardless of what sport they play. They might do well in practice, but they choke under the pressure of competition, they freeze and forget the training that has led to this moment.

Yep, that’s me.

I want to go out on the mats and win, I don’t know anyone that enjoys losing. But the reality is that I have far more losses than I do victories. And that often weighs me down, because when I see so many team mates winning and bringing home medals and then there’s me, the guy that keeps on loosing. Who’s to blame for that? Nobody else but me.

Though I do know another adaptive grappler that has lost  damn near ninety times, and only won one match. That we cripple most (yes, I used the C word) but for this guy, he just kept going out there and competing, loss after loss. Until finally, he scored a W for the win column. This has been my deepest motivation, this is allowing me to have further courage to face my fears.

Fear of defeat yet again, fear of not making my instructors and team mates down… Fear… Fear… Fear. But like I said, that’s why I keep facing this thing. That’s why I let my chest tighten and heart thumb like a dub step song. I know my mind won’t stop racing anytime soon, so why stop competing? God only knows what could happen any given moment. It’s my way of telling the fear and anxiety to @@@@ off, it doesn’t own my life.

Most people wouldn’t have the courage to go out there and loose over and over. I do, for the simple reason that my losses have taught me far more. Don’t get me wrong though, that taste of victory is so amazingly sweet.  But soon, everyone is brought back to the reality of being humbled to their knees. And for me, many lessons have come from there and I’m okay.

Embrace the paralyzing anxiety. Embrace the fear and looping thoughts in your head, they’ll always be there (though probably not as bad) compete anyway, fight anyway. You’ll be better because of it.

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Remember Hope is Greater Than Evil

Over the past month, maybe more, I’ve been working a night job at a non profit called Project Harmony. This particular non profit deals with helping guide children who have been abused (either by violence or sexual abuse). Project Harmony also aids in helping parents heal through the process as well. It’s a great place to work, our building has everything under one roof: Police, nurses, a nice unit to stay in should a child or family need a place to stay temporarily

To get the job I worked with another non profit called Vocational Rehab, they helped prepare for the job interview process and so on. It’s honestly amazing how God works for our good. Project Harmony is right across the street from Vocational Rehab. On a morning that I was scheduled for an appointment there, my Dad and I had gotten lost. As a result we pulled into the parking lot of Project Harmony and without thinking I said to my Dad “wouldn’t it be cool if I got a job here?”

Well, looked what happened? A few weeks later, after a few weeks later and a background check (and a job interview-can’t forget that!) I got the job! My job mainly consists of working after hours, buzzing in clients, making sure kids have snacks, water and are enjoying themselves before they go and meet with either the police or therapist. Simple right? It may look simple, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t leave work with a deep anger at the evil and injustice that these kids have had to endure. Emails that come in on different people just turn my stomach inside out.

And I honestly don’t see the full brunt of what the therapists and police have to deal with on a daily basis. To which I have a profound respect for every individual that has to see the much darker side of our work. Alas, in the midsts of see such darkness on the days that I do work. I LOVE my job. My prayer is that God works through me in the small things, brightening the child’s day, smiling at a parent and offering a small bit of encouragement where I can.  Trying to help the police and therapists where I can.

There has only been a struggle inside me, as it relates to the evil that is seen in any capacity where I work. And rightly so, if I wasn’t angry at this evil I would naturally wonder if there was something wrong or off in my soul. At least I hope. As I spend personal time in quiet reflection, I yet again come to the understand that hope and love are bigger than evil. And while evil to an extent calls for a bit of holy anger, it is vastly more important to remember hope.

Remember hope, dwell in hope, live in hope and be hope. Do not become blind or naive to the forces of evil in this world, for doing so creates a unhealthy delusion of granger. But as we have learned in mindfulness therapy, let us learn to be present to the hope that we have and give it as a candle gives light to a dark room.

-Brandon

 

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The Love of Christ-For you

Jesus. Loves. you. I know that some might dread or roll their eyes regarding the amount of Jesus posts today. Some might even have a good laugh, but I genuinely mean what I’m saying (or rather typing), I know some people might point and say that myself and other Christians in the world or delusional for believing as we do. But the love of Jesus Christ has truly changed me inside and out, it was the love that I have always wanted and needed. The love that I have found in Christ, has moved me away from the yoke of perfection and to embrace the mad love and acceptance that he has poured out upon me. In my estimation, there are not enough words to describe how my life continues to change because of the love of Christ. Your life can change too, as though you were a new creation.