As you may already be aware I’ve taken up surfing. Usually down on the Oregon coast (Seaside, Cannon Beach) or out at Westport, WA. I’ll either borrow Kt’s sister’s surfboard or rent one from a local surf shop. I have my own full length wetsuit with a hood, gloves and boots. I’ve had a few surf lessons: my first two were in Costa Rica, and another with Kt in Australia. Other than that, I’ve just figured it out as I go. I just know how fun it is to catch a wave.
I’ve been fighting off a cold for the last two weeks or so. It’s prevented me from being able to train. I think without training I tend to lose my focus and drive. When I take time off work it makes me wonder what else I could be doing in my life (rather than a desk job). That inevitably leads to me feeling pretty unsettled, and sometimes frustrated that I can’t make immediate changes to the situation. There’s bills to pay: I can’t just surf and train every day. Not yet, anyway.
These last few days, I’ve been wondering what my passion really is. I’ve come around to the idea that it’s not what I’m doing right now. Working in an office isn’t my dream. I can’t waste years working on something that isn’t bringing happiness to my life. There are two financial roadblocks: paying off my car, and the credit card. Those two things need to be cleared before I can really seek out my dream: whatever it may be, and wherever it may take me. I have to be okay with my dream changing over time, but I won’t let go of it, and I have to chase it as if my life depended on it.
I’m thinking about film school. I’m thinking about Canada. I’m thinking about Hawaii. I’m thinking about Boston. I’m thinking about the kind of work I want to do, but more importantly the kind of life I want to live. All of this thinking is being blurred by the cold I’m fighting and the medicine that’s controlling symptoms.
This blog has always been about me, and a way for me to motivate myself. Now there’s another person in my life, and we have shared responsibilities and shared dreams together. She’s always encouraging me to ‘quit my job and do what I really love’. I’ve been stuck in a mindset, and this blog is evidence of it, that I have to figure out my life on my own. Kt is by my side, and she can get me out of my own way. She pointed out that I’ve been avoiding the obvious: I need to write. So here’s to the endless search for the perfect wave, and the relentless chase after the kind of life I want to live.
A lot of the things I’ve accomplished lately have been meticulously planned. Today I had two neat surprises:
- I earned my first ever white stripe in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class tonight
- My health insurance card arrived in the mail (medical benefits provided by my employer)
Two more dream goals ticked off today:
- I officially start full time work on Monday!
- I just had my first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class at a Mixed Martial Arts gym.
The class was tough and challenging, with good instructors, and a disciplined but friendly atmosphere. It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for, and exactly what I needed.
1. Move to the USA – Done
2. Get a job – Done
2.5 Get full time work – Offer accepted
3. Start training – Done
3.5 Start karate training
4. Get a car – Done
5. Travel around America
6. Beat the bad guy
7. Get the girl
I was never a very good runner. I could only sprint for short distances. 100m, maybe 200m. I always had trouble running, either because my technique was sloppy, or because I just didn’t feel motivated to run around. It seemed a little bit pointless. Running from A to B just for the sake of running? Boy, was I wrong.
Moving here to America is about change. I want to change some things about myself, and I didn’t feel like I could do that in Australia. I needed to strike out on my own in order to accomplish those goals. At least one of them is about my fitness.
I remember back in grade five of primary school, I played Australian Rules football. The teacher/coach saw me doing extra sit ups one day, and nicknamed me ‘Mister Fitness’. I want to try and live up to that name. I know I have at various times, and sometimes let myself down on that score. That’s one of the challenges I have set myself in moving here. I want to become Mister Fitness again.
In high school I played sport year round – cricket, tennis, badminton, and my favourite sport of soccer. I was always in a lower ranked soccer team. In year 7, our team went undefeated due to the excellence of our encouraging, supportive and strategically minded coach. The year after that, our super-coach was moved up to the higher ranked teams, and we barely won a game. For the rest of my time at high school, soccer was about having fun playing with mates. We rarely, if ever, one a match over the following five years. No coach after Michael showed nearly as much enthusiasm for our team. None of them had his passion for strategy and teamwork, and love of the game. I think my love of soccer was directly inspired by him, the first coach I ever had.
After high school I stopped playing soccer, but longed to be back on the field again. Five years later I had a chance to play indoor soccer, and took to the court again. It was exciting and I loved it. With any luck I’ll find a team to play either field or indoor with.
In addition to soccer and school sport, I studied a martial art. It gave me physical strength for my slight build. In the lead up to my adult first degree black belt grading, I worked harder than I ever have in my life. I know what that peak fitness feels like. I felt truly strong at that point. I’ve been trying to get back to that level again ever since.
I hurt my progress on a holiday to the United States, in August 2012. I was lazy, ate candy cereal, and put on weight. I still sometimes feel like I have some of it on me. Call it ghost weight. It’s not a problem or anything, I just treat it as motivation to stay in shape.
It wasn’t until a trip to Japan in June 2013 that I actually lost the three kilograms that I had gained the year before. I ate small meals while I was there and loved it. The amount of walking I did each day helped too. I came home closer to my proper weight, and spent the next few months bulking up in martial arts training, and running during indoor soccer. A few friends and I routinely hit the 1000 steps (they ran, I power walked). All of that effort culminated in my second degree black belt grading in November 2013.
I was already set on coming here to the US. I knew I had to avoid those candy cereals and huge hamburgers. After a month in Canada on holiday, I felt unfit. I’m now taking command of my health and fitness, because no one else will. I’m eating healthy food and drinking lots of water (even though it’s winter).
Today, for the first time in my life, I started running. On my own. Just for the sake of running. I mapped out a course of two miles and timed myself. Made it back in 23:00 minutes. Not bad, but I have work to do. I don’t honestly know what inspired me to start running. It might have been the HBO film about Ali that was playing in the barbershop the other week. He worked hard to prepare for fights. I’m modeling my own running on the road work boxers do. You alternate between long, light paced jogging and interval running (reps of fast sprinting and walking). I shadow box while I run. Probably looks stupid, but it helps. I’ve also started doing push-ups and sit-ups here at home. It’s something I never felt comfortable doing back in Australia (working out at home, and going running on my own).
I honestly don’t know why I felt embarrassed to run for the sake of running. Moving here to the US has forced me to confront that fear of judgement. I realised it’s entirely in my head. I hope you are starting to understand a little better why I left Australia: I had no motivation to change my life. I had no carrot to run for, no stick to run from. Now I have the freedom, and a damn good reason, to go running.
I’ve made big progress in the last few days. On Thursday I started martial arts training. New habits are forming, like drinking more water. It sounds like a simple thing but the truth is, training in the martial arts is incredibly important to my personal wellbeing. It gives me a sense of purpose and confidence. I need to remember that I’m strong, and that I’m here in America to become stronger.
On Friday I purchased a car! It’s straight, but needs some attention. With the invaluable help of my uncle we changed the oil and oil filter. It’s running better now. I like figuring things out for myself – on my own – the way I did in Japan. That said, sometimes jobs are better done with company, and working on cars in an example.
In those twenty-four hours, two huge things were ticked off the list. I’ve started to establish my lifestyle and independence here. Now, the pressure is on to find a job and earn income.
I can’t write this post without mentioning the fact that the Seattle Seahawks are going to play the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl in two weeks time. People were letting off fireworks in the neighbourhood, celebrating. I guess I’ve come at a time when this part of the country is caught up in the hype.
Today I had my first driving on the right experience. There’s a curious rule where you can turn right anytime as long as it is clear and safe to do so. Even at a red light. It feels wrong going through an intersection against a red light. I’m sure I’ll get used to it after a while! The more practice the better, before I jump on a motorcycle later this week.
Tonight I went to a local boxing gym and joined in a two hour circuit. It was tough, especially the cardio towards the end. Sprinting up and down with medicine balls was gruelling. It was just what I needed. I’ve been in a bit of a bad mood lately. The training session cheered me up immensely. Boxing does have a bit of an unnatural stance: both feet inline, at least a metre apart lengthways, and angled. It’s so you only present half a target. The trainers were good: pushing everyone to their limit, and beyond, making sure the energy was right up there. I’m on holidays right now, but all the more reason to do all three sessions that are on this week.