Mom – My Biggest Advocate

A lot of people say “I wouldn’t be where I am without my mom,” or “I owe my mom everything.” I think a lot of us agree with that sentiment, but I really, what does it mean?

There are too many examples of this sentiment for me to list. I can think of several of the most important, risk-filled, half-brained moments in my life where I had the choice between an un-fullfilling, easy, steady path and something I was passionate about but scared to hell of doing.

To name just a few…

Embracing my love for writing
Going to Saint John’s
Deciding to go to college
Leaving UMass Dartmouth and moving to Boston
Learning how to treat a woman and be vulnerable
Moving to Madison to work for a startup
Moving to Colorado for love
Moving back to MA to start over and finally live my truth, wherever it takes me and in whatever form

God knows, I’m a stubborn son of a gun and have done whatever I wanted a lot of times, but as much confidence and bravado I might show in the face of uncertainty, much of it has to do with knowing that I have the support of my mom. Even if she doesn’t agree with what I’m doing or it makes her nervous (a lot of the times, this is the case), she has always put my personal, professional and health growth ahead of what is safe, easy and comfortable.

Life has been one hell of an adventure so far and I imagine it’s only getting started at this point. I have grown more from just the Worcester boy I knew myself to be than I could have ever imagined. As all-over-the-place as I may seem, the love and support my mom has always shown me throughout my life has shaped my world view and grounded me more than every new piece of art, every book I read, every new place I travel to and every new person I meet does.

Thanks for everything, mom!

The Groundedness Of Maine

If you’re lucky, you have a place that you can go to, whether physical or internal, that is consistently grounding. These are the kinds of places that you go when you need a sort of silence or honesty that eludes you in your day to day life. The kinds of places that remind you who you really are, what you’re really doing on this free-floating rock in space and what really matters. I am so incredibly grateful to have my grandparents and their home in Maine as my place of real groundedness.

Happy Holidays From Worcester

Nothing like getting in touch with your hometown, your family and childhood friends. Despite catching a nasty cold that kept me at home for a few days, it’s been really great to be home.

The lady and I have decided to take a last-minute trip to Maine to stay with my grandparents. She’s never been to Maine and I need to re-connect with my heart-force, which is strongly linked to the ocean.

We’ll be back in MA for New Years Eve, just before we head back to Colorado.

A whirlwind trip, but all worth it.

Hope everyone is having a good holiday season.

Mama I’m Coming Home

I’ll be flying home for Christmas this year, opposed to driving, as I originally planned. I wanted to drive home with my dog in tow and spend a couple weeks in Massachusetts with my family, as I feel I haven’t got to spend as much time with them this year as I’d like. With not having a ton of time-off from work, I try to arrange balanced situations where I work remotely and travel at the same time. However, my current work situation doesn’t allow for that.

Making the most of the situation, I reached out to a few Brazilian jiu jitsu schools in my home-city – Worcester. Interestingly, when I lived back home, I never tried to do BJJ. I did train a little in Boston (and in Madison, WI), but never while in Worcester, so I had very little idea of what the “scene” was like, or if there even was one.

I found two gyms and sent each an email, saying where I tried and my belt rank. I heard back from one, almost immediately. The owner of the academy said he knew my professor and would love to have me as a guest. It was a really cool feeling to know that my network, because of BJJ extends so far. I can’t really even say that with my alumni network from college for high school!

In all, I’ll be spending about 8 days at home with 2 days traveling. It seems like a lot, but when you live far away, it’s never really enough. I’m hoping I get to see everyone and get some quality time all-around.

 

BJJ Practice 7/13/2012*

Today’s BJJ practice was more of the same top mount position attacking drills that we’ve worked all week. We drilled the Ezekiel Choke and Front Choke and tried a new type of Ezekiel/Bow and Arrow Choke shown to use by Coach Shane. I really like attacks from technical mount right now because I’m so bad at finishing from mount.

Drills:

  • Ezekiel from mount. I learned from my awesome training partner that I need to re-position after I get my grip and hand across the neck to make it more of a blood choke rather than a pain move.
  • Front choke from mount. I’m still struggling, but again, my awesome partner showed me to how to be more balanced from my elbow and knee positioning so I don’t fall off, get swept and lose my grip. I’ll get better at this.
  • Bow and arrow/Ezekiel hybrid choke from mount where opponent rolls onto their side. This is pretty technical with a lot of steps, but for some reason I really feel most comfortable with this.

*I wasn’t sure if I should bury this note in the bottom of a BJJ class post, but I’m going to anyways.

I am extremely fucking sad right now. A close friend has been battling Stage 4 Lymphoma for 3 weeks and the prognosis isn’t good. Last night, my girlfriend’s best friend’s Fiance passed away in a tragic swimming accident. My girlfriend left for home to be with her friend and won’t be back for a while. I feel like I’m really having to sit with these feelings all alone and it’s hard to deal with. To have one friend fighting for his life and another friend pass away, about to marry my girlfriend’s best friend, AND he has two children. I’m just really heartbroken for these people in my life who are experiencing so much loss and hardship. I don’t feel like I can do anything right now either except keep living and loving my life as hard as I can to honor them.

I have nothing eloquent to say or feel right now. I just wanted to be honest and say that I’m really sad. I’m glad I have jiu jitsu to work at at least to take my mind off this all for an hour at a time.

Meet Černá Jones Moreau

Last weekend my girlfriend and I were driving around after having a brunch in Denver when I asked her if she wanted to take a quick look at some dogs at the Humane Society in Boulder. We didn’t have any solid plans, so she agreed. I wasn’t particularly planning on coming home with a dog, seeing as the last time I went, the dog I wanted was said to have health problems when I inquired to the Vet Tech about taking her home.

We walked casually around the shelter, looking in cages, listening to the barks, spying  for wagging tails and friendly eyes. I didn’t quite see anything that struck my interest, so once we got towards the end of the kennel, I started to turn around to head back out. But then Grace said “oh, come here! Look at him! Can we take him out?”

It was a black lab looking puppy named “Jones.” I wasn’t really looking to adopt a puppy because frankly, I didn’t want to be the one to have to train them, housebreak them, etc. But, he looked up at us with his big eyes, tail wagging and a calm demeanor for him considering he’s only 3 months old. We called the vet tech over and she let us take him out in the spare play space. He cuddled with my girlfriend and I, chased the ball we threw, sat pretty well when we asked him to and had a great personality overall. I said to Grace, “I think we’re going to take him home.” We did.

As the vet tech took down my info and adoption paperwork, all I could think about was naming him. I really didn’t like “Jones” as a first name for him. I had always wanted to name a pet a Czech name because i love the language so much. So, when I was picking out a collar and leash for him in the pet store as they processed my information, I decided because he was all black, I’d just call him “black” in Czech. I named him Černá.

He’s such a good boy. A typical, high energy puppy, but so affectionate. The submissive, goofy nature of a Black Labrador Retriever and the musculature stance and build of a Pitbull Terrier. He loves everybody, loves to be around people constantly and doesn’t cry at night when I crate him. I’ll be taking him to lessons next week for propper manners, but otherwise, I couldn’t be happier with him.

I’m a happy guy 🙂


Christmas Wrap Up and Looking Forward

So, this Christmas trip home was a solid one. Probably the best I’ve had in years for so many reasons, baring I didn’t get to travel with my girlfriend who visited her family in a different part of the country (the challenges of moving away from home and dating a Midwesterner ;-p). But I’ll get to spend New Years with her back in Boulder and in Breckenridge, so it’s all good really.

My sister got engaged.

I found out I’m going to be an uncle.

My grandmother has made a HUGE bounce back from all of her health problems and orchestrated an amazing meal and Christmas Eve experience for my entire family.

My mother continued amaze me with her kindness and generosity towards others. I’ve really learned how to care about others through her and can continue to learn. The night before Christmas Eve my mom went to the hospital where she works to spend a few hours with a young, single mother who my mom trained on a computer system and subsequently befriended. After spending an entire day at my family’s house cooking and preparing Christmas Eve dinner, then cleaning up until 1AM, my mom ventured the cold to head to work on her night off to spend time with her young friend, give her some gifts for her baby as well as some re-assurance that hard-times pass and life is always getting better. I wonder if someone did the same thing for my mom when she was young and in that position. After all that, she came home, slept a few hours and then gathered me, my sister, her fiance and a friend up to go volunteer at Saint Paul’s Cathedral in Worcester to serve Christmas Dinner to the homeless in the city. My mom rocks.

While there were some sad aspects to this Christmas including a death and sickness, we still managed to come together and show gratitude and happiness for the simple sake of being a family.

In 2010 I felt a strong shift. An upward one. I hit bumps, but I felt more re-enforced and solid in my convictions and confidence than ever before. I believe this will continue. I hope I can help others as much as I’ve been helped this past year too. That’s very important to me.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Wonderful New Year to you all!

A Choice To Fill My Cart and Fill My Heart

Tonight I spent a little time going to my old hangouts in Worcester. I grabbed a cup of coffee at a couple coffee shops where I began my freelance career back in 2008. I grabbed a glass of wine at a bar that I spent many hours with old friends in talking about the past, the future, our dreams and fears. Then I went to a branch of a local grocery store where I worked my first real job as a grocery bagger and shopping carriage pusher.

I was going in to get some basic staples for the next week and a half that I know my mom doesn’t keep in the house – fresh eggs, bread, almond butter, spinach and mustard… don’t ask, it’s a weird open faced sandwich I like to make…

I pushed my noisy, broken carriage through the isles which looked exactly the same way they did as I walked through them 16 years ago. Same lighting, same noises and probably the same 80’s music. I actually saw someone stocking shelves who I was convinced I had worked with many years ago. I don’t recall us being acquainted, so I kept walking.

I grabbed my supplies, along with two cases of my favorite Worcester original, Polar Seltzer (cranberry lime and pomegranate) and made my way to the cash register.

Before I got to the cash register, I noticed a table of marked down goods. The typical fold-out table of discounted Barbie dolls, coloring books, Crayola markers and toy-cars. Nothing on the table particularly caught my eye, but what caught my eye was a middle-aged hispanic woman, who looked very familiar, who had picked up one of the Barbie doll boxes and held it in her hands as she looked contemplatively at it. She stared at it and looked at it with the look of a woman who wanted very badly to buy a toy for a child she loved. Instead of taking the Barbie, she placed it down, glanced over the rest of the goods on the table and walked on down the isle.

This saddened me. All I could picture was someone like my own mother having to make a choice between buying food or essentials and getting a gift for a child who would love it unconditionally, regardless if it was on the discounted rack or not. The choice between food or gifts – sometimes we make so many choices we forget about the basic ones. I know I do. I wanted so badly to run down the isle with the Barbie in my hand and tell the woman I would buy it for whomever she was looking to get a gift for. That I’d purchase whatever she wanted from the table for her kids, if she had any, or maybe someone else’s children she knew who were in need and just wanted a special Christmas.

Instead, I continued my walk to the checkout line. I didn’t make the heroic, presumptive gesture. I just pushed my achingly noisy, broken cart down to the only late-night cash register that was open and began to place my goods on the conveyor belt.

As I was emptying my cart, I looked over to another fold out table, but instead of marked-down goods on it, it had about 9 brown paper bags stapled shut, with lists of about 5 things that were in them. Peanut butter, tuna fish, canned corn, pickled beats, etc. Basic, non-perishable food stuffs. I saw a small, printed sign that said “buy one of these bags for 5 dollars to help stock the shelves of the local food bank.” Suddenly memories of the Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings when my mother, sister and I would go downtown to Saint Paul’s Cathedral and help prepare and serve meals to the homeless when volunteers were needed most. It reminded me of when I was young and my mother was teaching me how to be grateful for everything I had, no matter what it was and how giving was so much more important than receiving in life.

So I decided that I’d buy one of those brown paper bags and contribute a little bit to Worcester’s local food bank. In tandem, I also decided that I’d be spending Christmas morning (again) at Saint Paul’s Cathedral helping prepare and serve meals to those in need. As I waited for my cashier to finish checking me out and placing the bag of food in a pile with other donations (the same cashier who had worked nights since I was 15) I took a minute to feel grateful. I’m grateful for so much that I have, but I’m also grateful for what I’m able to give of myself and that I have the moral compass and point of reference (familiarity) to when I felt most alive in life to remind me of what it is to feel good about Christmas and every other day of your life.

I hope all of you have an amazing Holiday with family and friends.

Home For The Holidays – How Good Have I Been?

I head home for the holidays this coming Saturday. I am super excited. This year has flown by and I’ve only been back in MA a few times. I guess I’m lucky to have been back at all, as some people I know never go home!

I wonder how good I’ve been at keeping in touch this year? I’ve fallen out of touch with some people and made many (MANY) new friends and have an amazing new relationship in my life. But, how good was I at keeping in touch?

This is something I’m going to ponder while I’m at home smothering my family and friends with the love and attention they’ve missed out on this past year. I can’t wait!

Fresh Findings Friday – Sweepstakes For Awesome Stuff

Can I let you in on a little secret? I like HGTV. When I lived back in MA, I’d chill at my mom’s place and watch all sorts of home improvement and house hunter shows with her. We used to geek out together at the Dream Home giveaways too. The locations and house designs were always way over the top and we’d enter to win every single one. The giveaways last weeks and you can enter every day. Believe me, my mom did enter every day and reminded eachother to do the same.

I got an email from mommy dearest a couple weeks ago saying there was another giveaway coming. A condo in Manhattan was up for grabs this time. I never win anything, but for some reason, I can’t resist entering this every freaking day. It’s kind of funny.

Anyways, check out this giveaway. Make fun of me. Whatevs 🙂

http://www.hgtv.com/urban-oasis/index.html?nl=HGIdeas_v408_H1_UrbanO

http://www.frontdoor.com/Buy/Urban-Oasis-Sweepstakes/55939/?nl=HGIdeas_v408_H1_UrbanO-FD