Sunday, October 27, 2013

Jiu Jitsu Therapy


Recently I rolled with one of my favorite training partners (FTP). I love rolling with him because whenever we finish, he compliments me and then points out part of my game that I could work on. Usually he gives a small piece of constructive criticism that might change my game completely. He is a natural teacher, and he rolls with people with an eye to improve their game. How nice of him!

We had a great session and it was only the ticking of the clock and the fear of  Husband's "Where the hell were you, you were supposed to be home a half hour ago," that pulled me off the mat. When we finished, FTP made one of those observations that, well, seem more like therapy than jiu jitsu.

I don't know if anyone else experiences this. But sometimes where I need to go to improve my jiu jitsu game isn't about jiu jitsu at all, but more about my own mental state. Its more about those bad habits that I have to change. More about the comfortable places I retreat to no matter how much I know they aren't working for me. It's about letting go of things that feel so right but are actually not in my favor. It's like therapy.

Sometimes critique isn't like that at all. Sometimes critique is more, "Holy cow! I never saw that before! That's a total game changer. How do I incorporate that into my repertoire?"

But the real, deep observations make me feel like I am talking to a mental health professional. "Yes, I know I shouldn't do that, " I say. "But I can't help myself. I don't know how to stop."
Sometimes when I explore the critique, I realize it is rooted not only in bad jiu jitsu habits, but also in some personal tendency that I have in real life. For example, why do I always stay in guard and not try to escape? Is it because I would rather react to someone in real life than take charge and lead? Because I am more of an introvert? Because I feel that to successfully defend a challenge is better than to make a challenge and have it defeated?

This when jiu jitsu for me becomes very personal, a spiritual journey if you will. One that is best taken with kind, generous, and gentle training partners who are willing to talk, not just about moves and youtube videos, but also about intent and motivation, growth and challenge, success and failure, and all those other things that make jiu jitsu more than just exercise or a sport. Or, we could just smash our way through our day-to-day drills and open mats. But then we miss the real power of jiu jitsu, the one that bring us face to face with who we really are and asks us to decide whether we want to be the same, or whether we want to change, with the help and support of all our FTPs.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Kick-Ass Pumpkin Pie


Tree Frog is celebrating Thanksgiving early, and has requested a pumpkin pie recipe to knock his relatives’ collective socks off. Actually, he demanded it from me in exchange for some very unorthodox advice. You can see that in the comments here.
     And, since I’m kind of in a lull right now, I thought I’d humor him. So here goes.

There is no better pumpkin pie than the one my Zia makes every November. We have an Italian Thanksgiving, which means we start with pasta. But we end with the traditional pumpkin pie. My Zia is the best baker . . . ever. I don’t know what she does, but I can never quite replicate the awesomeness of her confections. She gave me her recipe for pumpkin pie several years ago when I was faced with Thanksgiving at my in-laws, which meant <gasp!> no pasta, and certainly not my Zia’s pumpkin pie.

First of all, don’t even bother making a pumpkin pie from that mash they sell in a can at the supermarket. It’s usually not even pumpkin—it’s some other kind of orange squash. “Would you like some pumpkin pie?” sounds so much more festive than, “Would you like some orange squash pie? I dumped the can out myself.”
Sorry, One Pie. Maybe you are really pumpkin, But I like the look of your label.

I know it’s a pain in the ass to cook pumpkin. I’m not even going to give you hints on how to do it. Search the Internet yourself, because that’s what I did. But you need to get a real sugar pumpkin, split it, maybe even with a chain saw or your bedside machete, and cook it up. Don’t get a carving pumpkin from your local farm stand. GET A REAL SUGAR PUMPKIN!!!!! I can’t say this enough. They are small and cute, and can be hard to find if you are not fast.
Regular pumpkin on the left. Sugar pumpkin on the right.
They appear only in grocery stores right around Thanksgiving, and when they are gone, the store does not order replacements. One year Husband had to go to call every store and stand in town to find the last sugar pumpkin, so buy yours early.

Here’s the recipe.

 Ingredients
1 ½ c. cooked, mashed pumpkin
¾ c. sugar
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
½ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground cloves
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 ¼ c. milk
1-6oz. can evaporated milk
1-9” unbaked pastry shell (Zia makes her own, but I’m too lazy. Pillsbury for me!!)

Preheat oven to 400°. Combine pumpkin, sugar, salt, and spices. Blend in eggs, milk, and evaporated milk. Pour into unbaked pastry shell (crimp up edges high; you will have more filling than you need. You may be able to make another smaller pie!) Bake for 50 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Your pie will come out a lovely yellowish-orangish color never before seen by Mrs. Paul’s. Now, I know Tree Frog hates whipped cream, but we serve this one up completely covered in homemade cream whipped without too much sugar. Perfect with an espresso!

I will post my pictures after I make mine this year. (I’m eating at the in-laws again! I wouldn’t ever dare to compete with my Zia’s pie.) If you make this, post your pictures for us here on the site.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Blah . . .


Not much to say here.

Training has been kind of blah.

Gym’s been a little blah.

My favorite training partners are coming less frequently.

Sigh.

I need something new.