Sunday, September 26, 2010

On knowing my own strength...

Know your own strength.

That's the line from my gym, Gold's, and it is everywhere in their advertising and the motivation posters throughout the actual gym itself. I've even saved and printed a few for my desk at work.

Looking around, I decided to list a few things that remind me of my own strength and why...some more positive than others, but all are there and all have shaped who I've become and who I will be.

1) My gym membership keychain. The first major step I took to healing after a three-year long relationship ended. I was joined by a friend who was in a similar spot and one who had been there. To this day, that gym is my space. My ex worked out there for a while, but didn't feel right. That's because it really is my space. Now I have a trainer there who pushes me to the brink, and I'm finding out I'm stronger than I ever thought before.

2) My green sash. A year and a half ago, I never thought I'd take up a martial art, much less progress as I have. My sash is proof; everything I've learned is mine. I own it and it cannot ever be taken away.

3) My yoga mat. My sanctuary. It is here that I started finding inner peace through physical measures, and those lessons have only been expanded upon. No matter what else I do, I always return to my yoga; it relaxes, nutures and re-invigorates me.

4) My playlists. I have a few for the gym and one for each race I've run so far...I'm working on one for my next race as well. They all reflect what was going on in my life when they were made and are frozen in time; reminders of my motivation and what makes me tick.

5) My Missoula half-marathon medal and photo set. My first 13.1 mile run, my pain, my glory, my insecurity, my triumph. Nobody will ever be able to take away what I did that day and nobody will ever be able to claim ownership of those 13.1 miles I ran.

6) The memory of those six faint lines on my left upper arm. Memories of an action I'm not very proud of; the time I hurt myself because of someone else. It wasn't anything more deep than a cat's scratch, but they were self-inflicted. A reminder of when I was weak and didn't know better and a warning never to sink that low again.

7) My dog tags. I've had a pair since I was in 9th grade and recently had a replica of that set made to wear daily (I don't want to lose my originals). They remind me of the years I spent in turmoil because of where I was, who I was and who I was attracted to. They remind me of the physical and mental gains I had in those four years of AFJROTC and my transformation into the leader that I am today. Others saw in me what I did not see in myself and they threw me into positions I didn't know I could handle, but I did and that was when I first discovered my strength.

I am a renegade athlete; I train for myself and generally by myself. Yes, I dabble in team sports. The training I do most, my running and martial arts, are individual, and many people cannot fathom that. They can't understand training on your own or having to push yourself to the extreme. They cannot ever know what makes an athlete like me tick because we function on a different level than they do. They enjoy the camaraderie of their sport, knowing their place and playing it well, then celebrating victory with their teammates. I never have that and will not by choice. My victories are entirely my own, my ranking up in martial arts is mine and mine alone. The path I choose is almost spiritual in nature; it really is only me out there when I'm running. The world ceases to exist and I am in my own space, dealing with my own problems and forcing the pain into the back of my mind as I keep going along the path. It isn't weird to me to go for a run at midnight or any other 'strange' time because it is how I deal with things. I don't ever expect that anybody will understand how I tick, and I am okay with that. Still, I offer this fleeting glance into the workings of my mind...when I have next to nothing in my bank account, when I have to borrow from an ex because of problems, when I have nothing else left going for me, I still have my strength and every day I find out how strong I really am.

Monday, September 6, 2010

My identity as a capoeirista part II

Over the past year I've grown in my game and become comfortable with it. My ginga now has its own style which suits me, and there are both Angola and Regional versions as I become better acquainted with both styles.

My kicks are taking on my personality as well as my facial expressions and when/how I time movements now.

Beyond that, I've taken a shining to leading songs while playing the gunga or pandeiro (depending on which I bring to class) or even simply while clapping. My game has taken on a unique flow that only I can create...and I love it!

A few weeks ago, my instructor put me in charge of the class permanently. That's right...I'm now teaching the foundations of capoeira to people from all walks of life, and it has been quite the journey to say the least.

Before he left, my apelido was changed to signify my longer Tourinho (the little bull), I am now Touro (the bull). I am strong, I am smart, I am fast, I am agile and I am creative...these mark my game, my teaching style and what I hope to inspire in others.

For the non-capoeira portion of my life: I am now working with a personal trainer to help bust my plateau and inspire me to greatness! I may have my own drive, but sometimes a push from others is the key.

Interestingly enough, recently in my martial arts training, I reached a level where after my third hour training, rather than being tired, I was absolutely focused and my body performed exactly as I needed it to. It is insane becuase I'd never really hit 'the zone' before, so it was amazing! Knowing that my body is truly capable of that had inspired me to train that much harder to see how far and hard I can push myself...and it is still paying off.

I'm also starting a flag football team for the local league as well as a volleyball team (I am the running back and right/front respectively) and am in the middle of getting my personal trainer certification.

It is a challenging path, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

One interesting thing somebody close to me brought up is that people think I am trying to prove something to everyone else...while that may be partially true (I really do enjoy breaking gay stereotypes), I am mostly proving things to myself. Few may understand this, but that is how it is. Competition drives me to greater self-understanding. Such is the life of an athlete.