Holding a breath of fresh air

When in doubt, Jocko checks out.

Since I broke up with him, it’s been tough. Amicable, but tough. Maybe I’m too kind, maybe I’m a fool (maybe it’s the fact that I adore his son and don’t want him to experience the struggles I did) but whatever it is, I’ve let him stay and find a place as soon as he can, but he must be out in 6 weeks time.

Now, to say that it’s been a breeze would be a half-truth.

I am not a fan of conflict. I might be a fighter/warrior, always one to put myself forward in the line of fire to protect those who can’t protect themselves….but all I strive for is a fun happy life. Especially at home.

For many of us, home is our safe space. Our cave of wonder, our reset station, our place of solace and reflection. But I ask you this. What do you do when that space is invaded by someone else? Someone you had no choice but to trust when they moved in. Someone you loved and that love blinded you to the hundreds of red flags you observed before they moved in, and turned a blind eye to as they lived with you?

You go further into yourself, that’s what.

Or at least that’s what happened to me in the later months of our relationship and even more so now that I decided enough was enough and broke up with him.

Due to things going woefully south 6 months before the inevitable, breaking up with him was easy. Even with his psychedelic healing adventures, his core entitled personality is in check.

If reading/studying behavioural psychology and having highly educated and experienced friends/mentors and tutors in the spectrum of psychology, philosophy and science has taught me anything, it’s that our core running (life tapes) are so hard wired into our being, even with plant medicines and therapy we must want to change our core programming from WITHIN and be willing to work on that for the rest of our lives if needs be.

As a stickler for patterns and an avid observer of human behaviour – with a nicely tinted ADHD brain – over our 17-month relationship I have watched him take up new ideas and habits, only to drop them anywhere from 10 days to 3 months later. When asked why he stopped? A shrug and a laugh that it wasn’t really that important.

That kinda stings, when that habit or action was in relation to our relationship and one seemingly simple request to help out be reduced to a shrug.

But I digress.

Over the last two weeks, he’s been complaining at regular intervals that he no longer has access to the “warm and loving” version of me. I remind him repeatedly that I am no longer his girlfriend and his privileges to that part of me have been revoked. His behaviour whilst I was (and still) grieving my mother’s suicide was beyond reprehensible. My heart has only ever been wounded as deeply once before, putting it back into a safer place to heal was tough. All I want is to want someone who wants me back. So to lose that wasn’t pleasant. But necessary.

Still, we are now housemates. Admittedly intimate ones in that we share a bed in my flat, still eat meals together on occasion and have idle chit-chat. But he’s not happy with how I no longer hug him or kiss him or tell him I love him.

Again, I’m not your girlfriend.

I also find it odd that he claims I should be a friend according to what he deems acceptable. But I have never seen him hug and kiss his guy or girl-friends and say “I love you”. He doesn’t understand this – and I’m OK with that. It never was and never will be my duty to get him to understand that which he doesn’t care for.

And that’s what brings us to Jocko’s video I watched this morning.

One thing that gently hit me in the gut was:

Jocko: Listen, she wasn’t! That is a lie. That person that you put together in your head; that you’ve assembled in your mind? That person doesn’t exist! They don’t exist! The person you dealt with was a liar. Was unfaithful. Was a cheater. That’s the person. That person wasn’t this person you’re putting forth in your mind. THAT PERSON DOESN’T EXIST. So stop!

Echo: “-B-but you don’t understand the good times…”

Bar, maybe one relationship in my entire backlog of relationships, I’ve looked at each person who actually was interested in me and pieced together a version of them I was interested in. Only to grow tired of this futile optimism around 6 months later when reality strikes hot.

Why this time it took 16-months? The dynamics were different. There was evidence of change, the charm offensive was strong and the progress was promising but ultimately my Disney-filter faltered once again.

I hope this isn’t reading as a hugely vilifying piece, nor projecting some kind of “woe is me” vibe.

The relationship was enjoyable. I learned a lot about myself, and I’m sure he learned a lot about himself too. We both have a LOT of work to do, but it’s evident our character-sets were doomed from the get go. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned and found I know more about what and who I want to be with, and what I will not tolerate as a result. And that’s a good thing.

I feel like another chapter is about to start…maybe this is the juicy bit after a bit of a lull from my somewhat heady 20’s.

Who knows?

But I’m here for it.

What’s in a lifestyle?

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is still an ongoing occurrence in my life happening anywhere from twice to 6 times a week. I’m on session 143 now and a four-stripe white belt. I can assure you I do not feel remotely near what I’ve been recognised as. Things don’t really flow and I haven’t sparred with anyone to the point of applying an effective submission of any kind.

I’m not a fan of arm-bars as my first injury in my first class of BJJ almost 4 years ago now was an arm-bar by an equally wide-eyed beginner who didn’t understand the concept of tapping out. Things can go from ok to not at all ok very quickly!

And yet – here I am. Broken away from the initial 100 sessions and now looking into doing some competitions. The nervous feeling I get when I head into the competition class is both stressful and exhilarating at the same time. Some days I can stomach it and just get my butt to class:

I have this mini goal that I must do even when I really don’t want to go. Just touch the door handle. That’s it – then you can go home. Thankfully, I have never gone to the door and not open it.

That said, some days I do find the mind gremlins get over excited at the thought of failure and “having my ass handed to me” to the point that I opt just not to go. And that’s perfectly OK. This isn’t a quick-fix scenario: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a consistent part of your life, whether you go once a week or five times a week.

In my last session, Professor Lagarto imparted some words about how involved you should be with BJJ.

The term “lifestyle” gets brandied so much in a lot of marketing hype across various industries in a bid to make you part with money for an ideology that often is misaligned with who and what you stand for. Once they’ve got your money, it’s up to you to figure out the lifestyle bit.

Good luck with that skinny tea diet/lifestyle.

A good question to ask yourself in that scenario is: “Can I see myself still doing this in 2 years time? 5 years? 10 years?”

If the answer is no – it’s not a lifestyle. It’s a quick endorphine hit.

So, back to Professor Lagarto. I won’t try to repeat what he said as I have the most shocking memory known to mankind, instead the parts that really resonated with me come around the concept of how we live day to day. The lessons and mindset from BJJ set us up for a far more calmer outlook with the rest of our lives. If you keep on showing up, whether you feel like you are or not, you’re learning.

Over 100 sessions later, I still feel like a complete novice, but when paired with someone who’s just started or even a few stripes up, it’s amazing that there are movements I’ve done so many times that they’re set in somewhere subconsciously and can be shown almost instinctively. Nothing complicated, mind! But being able to help someone else in that scenario leads onto always wanting the best for yourself and others.

Next, the very physicality of BJJ causes you to rethink your social life. Going out and drinking to excess the night before a class is probably the worst thing you could do.

If the increased heart rate and utilisation of all your body muscles doesn’t cause you to puke, getting knee on belly, stacked when trying to pull a triangle submission, shoulder pressure as your opponent is trying to do a move from side control, or just the very nature of any movements required may well do. At the very least your performance will suffer considerably.

Whilst it’s true, I am a DJ and a complete and utter nightowl, I’m one of those weirdos who enjoys a good night out on unlimited lemonade/sprite. I can have a drink or two but if it’s any more it’ll usually be due to social anxiety and trying to shut up the butterflies and mind gremlins. BJJ means when I’m out, the very idea of missing a class the next day (if I can get home before 2am) is ludicrous.

What he basically alludes to is, if you have found and cherish the importance of BJJ so far as your mental, physical and spiritual challenges and clarity you get when on the mats, it’s the very best foundation you can have when it comes to living a fulfilled life.

London’s a pretty stressful city at the best of times and recreational drug use in some circles is as casual as a pint of beer. Having worked in the events industry for over 15 years, I’ve seen the entire spectrum from brief encounters through to recreational users all the way to people needing rehab and any faction of that really has no place being associated with BJJ.

A safer form of escapism comes in the form of trying to out manoeuvre and choke or submit your friend on the mats. Emphasis on your friend. We’re not trying to kill each other – obviously.

With all that said (there was more, but I feel this covers most of it) the idea of being able to come to class anywhere from once to 6+ times a week, I’ve already been doing for a year and 5 months. There’s no view to stop. This isn’t some falsified “quick fix”, as there’s no problem to start with!

Now, it doesn’t necessarily need to be BJJ. There are loads of different martial arts out there and other disciplined activities that would suit just about anybody. The idea of it being a regular occurrence in your life, so much so that not doing it feels as wrong as having not brushed your teeth that day, is what’s important.

That’s what makes it a lifestyle and could quite literally save your life.

BJJ Mat Confessions


Let it be known, going to a BJJ class fully fasted, with only coffee for sustiance, and shark week deciding to start earlier that day AND deciding to do open mat after class for a glorious 90 mins of rolling/drills…….

.. Is not so bloody glorious (Ha!… Ew)

When I was wee, I used to have bronchitis… Which was later rediagnosed as exercise-induced asthma. Literally, allergic to exercise. Thankfully it only got triggered with longer distances of running.

No cross-country running for this Kenyan! Yaaaaa!!!!

But I digress. Class was great, developing more options and doing some wonderful flow-styled drills utilising getting out of side control from the bottom with a view to sweep and getting into side control with a view to pass.

If that was about as readable as a Hebrew ingredient list for Japanese moon cake, then just take it as: training was fun.

A new discovery made itself known in the 35-mins of open mat though.

I was rolling with a new female blue belt. She’s pretty feisty and all over the place which disoriented me initially, but I got my hands where they should be and tried to keep my legs out of any sweeps.

It was all fun and games until I started feeling my chest tighten up – no biggie. She’s on mount (on top of me) and I frame up and wiggle to the side to pause/breathe. Still getting tight. Big breaths in through the nose, hard out through the mouth to bring my heart and breath rate down??

Still nothing.

She’s going up into high mount (basically sitting on my chest/collar bone) and fishing for an Americana (kinda gross arm lock submission) I know the drill and start escaping but I can’t breathe. Having no way out to control my breathing caused panic – and you know what a panic moment needs? Air!

Bitch we ain’t got none! We gon die!

So I tap out.

She thinks she did an arm submission, I explain she didn’t and that I think my asthma is coming back.

Whatever, we roll again. And again about 2/2.5 minutes of a good roll go by and again, a slow vice around my lungs creeps in until I have to tap out again. A few seconds and I go in one more time before I admit defeat on this occasion.

Then! The light headedness hits me and I’m like.

“Oh…. It’s gone 2pm and I haven’t eaten since yesterday”

“you haven’t had anything to drink the whole of class either” she says. She’s right.

⌚Schedule a time to eat because your ADHD having ass is not reliable.
🦈Pain killers before class – always, when shark week is involved.
🦐Also go get an inhaler just incase, because we ain’t stopping now. There’s competitions to be had!

The Art of Tenacity: One

Tenacious D Greatest song in the world jack black

Tenacious D Tribute

Tenacity (Noun)

  1. The quality or fact of being able to grip something firmly; grip
    1. The quality or fact of being very determined; determination.
    2. The quality or fact of continuing to exist; persistence.


“Tenacity is the quality of being determined to do something in spite of difficulties and hurdles. If you are determined to achieve something in spite of the difficulties and risks involved in it, you have tenacity. Holding on to something in spite of difficulties and dangers is tenacity.”

When you start – nothing is intrinsically easy. It’s not meant to be. Life isn’t designed to roll over and give you everything you want.

Sure, we can say we’ve hit the jackpot by being born. By being human. By being in the Western world. That’s wonderful, but relative to your existence, you’re going to face some adverse situations.

Mine started pretty much from day zero.

Born to Kenyan parents, they weren’t married and their relationship broke down. So I was raised by my mum and my grandmother in the coastal region for some time. My life was already experiencing a tenacious air of existence. Two very strong women were making sure they instilled strength in me too.

Time moves on – it always does – and eventually my mum met my step-dad. A World War 2 veteran who’s managed to create his lot in life through a tough work ethic and, yes, tenacity. But the sense of urgency wasn’t really part of his lexicon at home (my god was it terrifying if something or someone was late in the office!) the Jewish-Dutch outlook served him well.


This could go on into a timeline of my life, but that’s not what this is for just yet. Fact is, the adults who chose to raise me were both tenacious in nature. Difficulties struck all of us at certain times, ranging from my mother losing her father, my father losing his brother, and me almost losing an eye on a ski piste in Saint Moritz at the age of 6.


So what’s the point of this?


We start at 0, and our experiences are just that: our own.


Sure, we can compare our experiences to others – a lot of us will downplay our experiences when we compare the adversity someone else has had. The only similarity there is it may have or be happening at the same time. Beyond that, we can only imagine how they feel or remember how we felt in a similar situation. It will never be an exact replica.


So when something happens that attempts to knock us off our feet, veer us off our chosen path, or lure us down a rabbit hole so vile even Alice would think twice. We always seek to rebalance and take one step forward.


That’s what you do.


You take one.