Howard v. Corso III and New Management

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Better late than never, right? Let’s get up to speed…

On October 11th I fought a very skilled opponent for a third time, and for a third time I came out on top. Katie Howard and I were the Main Event for Prime Fighting IV— a killer promotion that was stacked with fast-paced professional and amateur MMA fights.

There's nothing in life that feels quite like getting your hand raised...

Highlights: I submitted Katie via RNC at 2:02 min into the 2nd round. (In our two previous fights, I beat her with an armbar and an RNC). We also took Fight of the Night (sponsored by Metro Equipment Exchange) and had the honor of being Prime Fighting’s first ever female Main Event. Additionally, I came away with a ridiculously large title belt and the privilege to call myself Prime Fighting’s Female Flyweight Champion.

I haven’t had a fight in or even close to Portland for over a year, so I was overjoyed to get to have friends, teammates, sponsors, and fans in the audience to cheer me on this time. Trying to beat up a stranger, while locked into an oddly-shaped cage, is even more fulfilling when friends are present to support you.

Sometimes I have to ask myself, how did life get this good?

Putting the RNC on Katie Howard again.

Putting the RNC on Katie Howard again.

I am very grateful to Prime Fighting for setting me up with that match– as well as to my friends, teammates, and sponsors who supported me leading up to and during the fight.

In November, I was thrilled to add another excellent person to my team when I signed Bryson Davis of Meyer Davis PLLC as my manager. He is a fellow Reed College graduate and MMA aficionado who has already helped me dig into some great opportunities.

Speaking of opportunities, stay tuned for a BIG announcement coming VERY SOON!

Want to know why I'm so excited? Just signed a fight contract, guess who with...

In my next post you’ll find out why I’m so excited about this piece of paper…

Updates and Gratitude Practices

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Last week things were going pretty damn good.

Cage Sports 31 Griffith 7.19.14

Going toe to toe with Hadley Griffith.

It started out when I beat “Relentless” Hadley Griffith at CageSport 31 last Saturday. Coach called while I was on vacation in early and talked me into fighting a 5’11” seasoned pro on July 19th– meaning I would jump straight into the hardest part of our fight camp as soon as I got back to Portland.

The time flew by, and before I knew it Coach was wrapping my hands, then I was walking down the ramp at the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, WA to climb into the cage again. That went by quickly too when I secured a win via rear naked choke at 1:52 minutes into the first round.

And my streak continued on Monday when I passed my road test and finally got licensed to drive in the state of Oregon. (More about my experience of learning to drive again is here.) Then I came in to Gracie Barra Portland for jiu jitsu practice the next day and was very surprised when Professor Fabiano Scherner promoted me to purple belt at the end of class. Almost eight years of training brought me to that point on a random Tuesday night.

Cars know to share the road when I'm on my way to practice.

Cars know to share the road now when I’m on my way to practice.

Then the Willamette Week came out with it’s Best of Portland list on Wednesday and I was featured in the “Best Moves” category for Best Beatdown. (You can read it the full text of that here.) On Thursday, I took my first steps towards becoming a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist by joining the NSCA and purchasing study materials for the CSCS certification exam. I’d hemmed and hawed about getting certified for a long time and I’m thrilled to finally be able to the plunge.

So, on the one hand, it feels like everything has been coming up roses lately. I’m excited to see how long I can make that last.

On the other hand, last week was not particularly different from many others in my life over the last few years. Actually, I’ve been feeling like I’m on a roll for quite some time since I found my bliss.

One of my day-of-competition rituals is to spend some time writing about and meditating on the things in my life that I’m thankful for. I don’t only do this before fights, but it does have particular value for me at that time. It always renews my passion for what I’m doing, puts me in a positive mindset, and makes me feel confident and supported from within. On fight night, it helps me tap into the circumstances of previous successes in such a way that future success feels imminent.

Whenever I need a little boost– and often, too, when I’m already feeling upbeat about how things are going– I put some of my gratitude for down in writing. This can take narrative form like a journal entry, or it could be a list or even a diagram if that’s how I want to organize my thoughts on that day. It can be specific or general, narrow or encyclopedic.

You don’t necessarily even need to write your thankfulness down, though studies show this is actually more effective. I find it nice to be able to refer back to later on, too.

Sometimes I write about everything that is going right in just one part of my life, such as my training:

  • how much my lifting is improving
  • how good it feels to be strong
  • how awesome my coaches are
  • how tip-top I feel about the last sparring session or fight
  • how a new technique is finally clicking
  • how helpful my teammates are
  • how easy my cardio plyos feel
  • how glad I am not to be injured

On other days I try surveying all of the areas where I am seeing success and/ or improvement using broad categories like:

  • friendships
  • health
  • physical fitness
  • finances
  • learning
  • “work”
  • opportunities for leisure
  • relationships
  • competition
  • personal development
  • creative projects

Another way to access the bliss of gratitude is to send a thank you note explaining to someone who has been positive in your life what they’ve done for you and how it makes you feel. If snail mail isn’t your jam, saying thank you in person, on the phone, or publicly via social media can have similar cognitive benefits– with the added perk that it can help strengthen your preexisting network of friends.

Thanks, gno thanks

I suppose gnomes write thank you “gnotes”…

However you choose to do it, honing in on the great things you might otherwise take for granted will help you draw on confidence and strength during moments of stress. Moreover, many people find that taking time for this process on a regular basis boosts their overall mood and brings more positivity into their lives even when they’re not consciously focusing on being thankful.

When I reviewed my own gratitude list from last weekend it was immediately obvious to me that I was already on a roll before that awesome week even started.

Take a moment today to write down some of the things you are thankful for. Then let me know: is it possible that you have also been on a roll without noticing it?

photo credit: Ernie Sapiro

photo credit: elycefeliz via photopin cc

My First Pro Fight

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Let me start with the good news first: This month I signed a contract for my first pro fight!

This is very exciting, as I’ve been trying to find a fight for several months. The Intense Cage Fighting’s (ICF) May 16th card is comprised of all female fighters, with both professional and amateur bouts. I will have at least one match that night (possibly two) as part of a four woman pro flyweight tournament to find the ICF’s first female champion. Of course, I am now in hard training mode to prepare for this stellar opportunity.

But it actually gets even better.

I had to take my 4oz gloves off to hold the pen...

I had to take my 4oz gloves off to hold the pen…

I found out that I’d been offered a spot on this card the day after I quit my day job. (Yes, I did exactly the thing that one, proverbially, should never do.) And I didn’t leave my job with the idea in mind to immerse myself in an intense fight camp– at the time, I had no idea how long it would be until I could fight again. Rather, I quit so that I could invest more of my time in doing the things that bring me the most joy: fighting and writing. I made up my mind to quit and thought, well, here’s to hoping that if I shift my efforts towards the things that really matter the money will follow.

…That part still remains to be seen.

But a number of other great and completely unrelated things happened in quick succession when I quit my job. I was offered a part-time bartending gig out of nowhere. I received another stripe in jiu jtsu. Someone I greatly admire invited me to contribute to their blog. I lost several pounds and hit a new low for body fat percentage. I had the honor to roll with a female jits black belt who is almost exactly my size while she was visiting my gym. I made an Impossible List. There has even been more than a week of sun in Portland-freaking-Oregon!

(Also, lest I seem to be bragging, please take a moment to go back and read my previous post if you have not done so already– it’s practically a laundry list of my failures.)

So this is what I do now. Paleo plantain pancakes for breakfast on my first day of (partial) unemployment? Don't mind if I do!

So this is what I do now. Paleo plantain pancakes for breakfast on my first day of (partial) unemployment? Don’t mind if I do!

I don’t mention any of this to boast, but instead to point out that several of these are undertakings I couldn’t have even entertained if I had not left my primary employment.

Now, I don’t mean to get all hippy-dippy “manifesting positivity” on you. I can’t just manifest submissions in an MMA match, and I didn’t make most of these things happen either. Rather, just like in a fight, I’ve been making an effort to recognize openings and jump on them as they appear.

This is the skill that black belts in jiu jitsu, business, politics, and every field have that sets them apart: the ability to identify and capitalize on a moment of opportunity.

Honing that skill is just one of many things I plan to spend my new-found freedom (and pro fight camp) working on.