Rant 47: June 2008 On the good ship Karmapop

Wow. Just wow. I cannot come up with a better word to describe what’s happened since I took my job and shoved it. My karma ship came in like a luxury cruise liner full of buffet tables and inebriated hotties stumbling upon a desert island castaway.

OMGBFF A and I used to watch episodes of The Ultimate Fighter and talk about how jealous we were that the guys got to spend six weeks just eating, sleeping and training. We sighed with envy watching Christian Bale get the snot kicked out of him at Bad Guy Mountaintop Training Academy and Finishing School in Batman Begins. And then it dawned on us: how hard would it be to do it? It would be the price of a plane ticket, a mediocre motel, a gym membership for a week, and a regular nosh at Whole Foods. As Tim Ferriss notes in his bestseller The 4-Hour Workweek, fabulous vacations are often rather reasonable.

Sod it! We’re going to Ninja Camp!

In April, OMGBFF A cobbled together a bunch of frequent flier miles and we spent a week in California training with one of the best female fighters in the world, Felicia Oh, at Big John McCarthy’s Ultimate Training Academy. (I got to meet Big John! He is big. But not super big. So I guess “big” is an appropriate adjective, rather than, say, “ginormous”.) We also made a quick stop at Legends in North Hollywood for a training stint with Eddie Bravo, and Results Fitness to have my butt kicked by Alwyn Cosgrove. I’ve posted some training porn to Facebook. Look at all those hot sexy kettlebells! Hooyeah!

(By the way, I googled “Ninja Camp” and apparently they really exist. Good times.)

Anyway, for an academic accustomed to the glamorous lifestyle of being hunched over a computer eating egg whites from a plastic container, the experience of living like an athlete was glorious. For that one week, my universe shrank to 16,000 square feet of padded ground, to sweat and stiff muscles and the smell of Tiger Balm. My time was not fifteen-minute increments of panicked preparation for the next meeting or pointless task, marched along by the fascist drum of Outlook Express. Rather, my time expanded and contracted to life’s organic rhythms. It was Exhausted Sleep Time and the repetitive, hypnotic drills of Armbar Time and the long, slow, shuffling, creaking minutes of Crossfit Time.

Since then I have noticed a different relationship with time. I know now that time is often a more precious commodity than money. I am punctual but not panicked. I arrive at engagements relaxed and prepared, rather than anxious and already thinking about the next obligation. I plan meetings in three hour increments, not because some workaholic has stuffed the agenda full of interminable discussion about administrivia, but just because the conversation among friends and colleagues might be good, and the lattes warm and inviting. Instead of watching the clock I watch the sun slide through the garden. I don’t have hours much any more; I have mornings, as in “I spent the morning doing X”. If you asked me right now what time it was, the best I could tell you without checking is that it’s getting dark.

Most interestingly, I’m present now in a way that I have not been since I was a child. I’m not worrying about next week’s project or last week’s screwup, or my five-year plan. I’m here, now, mindfully, aware.

And yet, oddly, I’m more careful with my time now than I have ever been. Time with family and friends is pushed to the top of the list, right behind time for myself. I have probably never been this productive.

Within literally minutes of posting my April rant, I had offers. HOW SOON CAN YOU START?!!! read the breathless email from my friend Phil, of our shared Healthy Food Bank project. I could almost hear him squealing like a preteen girl at a sleepover just about to crank call the cute boy in class. (Update February 2009: We’ve managed to publish three, almost four issues of a magazine that helps the HFB — check it out!)

Are you taking on clients? read another from a young woman. And then another. And another. Not one but two incredibly generous readers donated money as a thanks for all the free information they’d enjoyed over the years. Readers shared their own stories of breaking free and never looking back. (Apparently lots of gym owners out there used to be slaves to The Man.) Opportunities and excitement and shared joy poured out of my computer.

The best part is that the things I’m pursuing involve the whole me, not just a part of me while I shamefully tuck the other parts into the proverbial closet. It’s no longer important that I’m not a good enough sociologist, or my field of expertise isn’t exactly what someone’s looking for, or I’m too much/not enough of a this that or the other. The people I’m working with love that I have 1000 weird hobbies and skills and interests, and can somehow combine them into a bizarre yet functional Rube Goldberg-esque contraption of existence. They don’t sniff with disdain because I’m a smart grrl with lots of pairs of running shoes, or because I’m a gym rat who loves the smell of libraries. And I’ve just now realized that THIS is a dimension of living well as much as anything else.

Health and wellness are about living as whole people, flesh, blood, hearts, thoughts, ideas, and spirits. There is no mind-body duality, folks. There’s a brain in your guts and it’s using a lot of neurotransmitters. (Don’t believe me? Look up “enteric nervous system”. Pretty cool huh?)

Dear clients, web site readers, people who engage and inspire me: You’re awesome. I am humbled by you.

Dear soul-crushing ex-jobs, ego-shredding experiences, and energy vampires of all sorts: Thank you. You gave me the ovaries to take the leap, because you sucked so bad. You are not a blessing in disguise. You are Rodney Dangerfield in a fugly Hawaiian shirt, drunk and screaming and falling into the pool, wearing a name tag that reads HELLO MY NAME IS A BLESSING.

So, what’s next for me and Stumptuous.com?

First up is a website redesign. The old girl is functional but she’s got lots of holes and could use a fresh coat of paint. There are a lot of holes to patch.

I’ve started to see a few training clients. Anyone in the Toronto area who’s interested in the Stumptuous style approach, drop me a line and we’ll see if we can do bidness. Anyone not in the Toronto area, I’m exploring some ideas for virtual training, so if you’re interested, we can also have a conversation.

Things will probably be quiet for the summer as I incubate and tinker. But the protein shake is brewing, folks.