I’m a student again, and not just of life.

Shame on y’all and y’alls dads for that joke. I officially started the fall semester on August 27; student ID, Apple Music discount and all! I’m doing the University of Wisconsin – Stout’s Instructional Design program online for the next 9 months. I am gestating a graduate certificate.

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“What’s instructional design?” will probably be the 2nd-most asked question I get this year after “How do you pronounce Krav Maga?” (Rhyme it with “Ahv” as in avocado and “McGraw” as in Faith Hill’s husband)

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Instructional design is formally “the art and science of creating instruction for learners in a systematic manner that leads to maximum knowledge transfer.” AKA how to create effective learning and training programs. I love facilitating and training; if the house that iFruit built had a permanent internal training role you bet I never would have left that sweet discount (and wonderful, ever patient coworkers).

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Most of the “Trainer” and “Facilitator” and “Learning and Development” roles I’ve been interested in (and interviewed for) over the last year and a half are interested in two things: can you teach? (CHECK THE BOX, MARTY) and can you create content? (Yes, but it’s been a minute since Korea). I’ve been turned down for 3 different roles in this capacity and was looking for some credibility around the making of content.

Enter Instructional Design and UW – Stout’s program. Bona fides, y’all. A program with a great reputation, solid support network post-program and one of my favorite people, Casey (we taught in Korea together), also taking it. I legit have my own mole? Sandra Oh? study buddy? to pass notes to and ask questions and get called on the carpet.

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However, I’m pretty out of practice with the rhythm of student-ing. I finally have a steady hours job, a big ol’ paper Passion Planner and yet I turned in my first assignment at 11:23pm last Sunday. It was due in 36 minutes. THIRTY SIX MINUTES. Here it’s Saturday and I still haven’t done my reading, much less drawn a t-chart (I cannot believe that is still a tool BUT IT IS AND WORKS) comparing 2 different ID models.

But as I sit here on my couch telling you this, I recognize that this is progress. Taking this program is progress. It is investing in myself. And I can be proud of that. I strongly believe that training and facilitating and finding that mix of improv and creativity and tying down principles about work and life is where you’ll find me in 5 years. And if I needed to get some content credibility to be taken seriously in interviews, well, I’m doing it. I’m stepping on that invisible bridge with you, Harrison Ford.

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I’m not the best (yet) with time managing it and my improv shows and work and eating better and working out and staying connected with important people and teaching at Titan Gym, but it’s progress. And I’m getting better. I will continue to get better. Heck, I might even have my assignment in before 10pm tomorrow.

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So if you see me with a large navy notebook with a dog sticker on it flipping pages and turning down things to figure out that I need to watch some Peter Kavinsky and gain sanity over these next few months, please buy me a Diet Coke and give me a consensual hug. It’s not an excuse to be a hermit (I am good at those), but I’m working on me and I need your help to do it. Please invite me to taco nights and shows and rooftop fireworks watching and please understand if I say I can’t.

I love y’all (even if you’re a stranger); feel free to send along tips on post-29-year-old college/life balance and let me pet all of your dogs and sip Old Fashioneds with you and sit in comfortable silence. Also, now that I’m thinking about it, who’s having a taco night soon?

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Edit 9/9/2018: homework submitted at 10:57pm. PROGRESS.

Edit 9/16/2018: homework submitted at 10:32pm. PROGRESSSSSS.

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Accidental Wins

There was something on my work shirt this morning. Chocolate? Drool? I don’t know what it was. I tried to wipe it off but it was reluctant to leave. 

I was already at work and didn’t have an extra shirt of my own.

In the storage closet of extra shirts there were Smalls, 6XLs, 2XLS, Mediums and XLs. 

I wear a Large. A unisex Large. Since July 2010 when I first started at this company, I’ve always worn a Large. Not sized up, not down.  Until very recently I’ve always had to stretch my shirts out before putting them on and never ever ever did I put them in the dryer. 

Recently, I haven’t had to stretch new shirts. Recently, they’ve started to fit directly out of the dryer. That’s been a nice thing. A lovely surprise. 

Today, 5 minutes before starting work I frantically looked at the XL and I looked at the Medium and thought “well, I think if I stretch it out, the Medium will maybe work. Enough to get through the day at least.”

I tugged the shirt over my head and pulled it down. I rotated my shoulders. I smoothed my hand over my belly, the part of me I always try to hide. I looked down, surprised. 

No stretching needed. The shirt fit. A MEDIUM SHIRT FIT. I was so shocked. I walked/ran to the bathroom and made sure there wasn’t some weird gas in the storage closet that threw off my mental acoustics and staged whispered to myself “we are NOT going to cry in this work bathroom.”

Seven years of Large work shirts. Seven years of stretching shirts and hanging them up to dry. Seven years of diets and workouts and body concerns and Large shirts. 

Today feels really damn good. 

Krav Maga: Not Gaga’s Alter Ego

When I tell people I do Krav Maga, there’s mostly confusion.

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To be fair, Krav (rhymes with mauve) Maga (reaaaal southern “mah gawd” minus the ‘d’) isn’t super obvious at first. Its not a martial art, but it’s got a lot of martial arts in it and was clearly influenced by them. In Hebrew it translates to “close combat.” It’s a self-defense system developed by Imi Litchfield and the Israeli Defense Force into a program often taught to law enforcement professionals and really, really ridiculously good looking 5’8″ women from the northwest corner of Washington State.

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There’s no rules save this: “Get home safe.” If you need to bite, scratch, scream, use a weapon–all of it’s allowed–there’s no limits since it’s not a martial art. It isn’t bound by a ring or titles or belts but accessible to everyone despite your experience and physical fitness level.

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A coworker asked me this week after learning that I practice Krav, “Do you really think you’ll be able to remember those moves under stress, in a fight?” I sat for a second in thought. A fight doesn’t subscribe to rules. An attacker doesn’t respect any combination practiced. But the one thing that I know for sure that Krav has given me is the knowledge that I can and will fight beyond when my body wants to give up; despite tears, pain, blood, sore muscles and less-than-idea-conditions I’m growing a fighting spirit.

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While living in Daegu, I did some boxing and found that I really liked the workout as well as the community vibe of sweat dripping off one’s nose with friends.

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And now, I do the same thing, except with kicking. And elbows. Possibly teeth on the street. Definitely with the knees.

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In February 2016 I started a 6-month weight loss survey with Northwestern University that needed me to track minutes of working out. Only problem? I didn’t have a gym. I started doing recon in the area and I knew that my job would give me $300/year as a gym reimbursement. There was a free women’s self-defense seminar at this place about 15 minutes by bus south of my house and in-between work and home. So….I tried it.200-6

Holy hell. These women were tough. And strong. And scary. And confident. I needed to be one of that tribe. So…I joined the gym. I passed my Level 1 certification. I went camping with them. I drank with them. I got hit and hit people. I went to their Halloween party as the BEST character and *some* people got it.

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I liked this tribe. In the end of December the owners asked if I’d consider being an instructor. WHAT.

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I don’t understand. I am still over 200 pounds. I’m still working on getting fully into 14s and making my thigh-holes in my 16s be less noticeable when on stage. THESE PEOPLE ARE ASKING ME TO CREDIBLY LEAD OTHER ADULTS IN FITNESSING.

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It was a lot to think about and take on. But ultimately I decided that I wanted to turn 30 at the end of this year knowing I was a certified (or about to be certified, depending on the testing date) Krav Maga instructor. It’s a lot of work: memorizing techniques, teaching style, class management, mats to clean, bathrooms to sanitize and that’s on top of getting my own workout in.

I want to be a Ripley. A Tulip. A Sarah Connor. A Zoe Washburne. A Ronda. A Furiousa. And I really, really want my arms to look like Emily Blunt’s in “Edge of Tomorrow.”

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But most of all, I love the idea of being a strong, fit, powerful, confident woman and sharing that knowledge with others. Krav is a tool that is helping me build a community while empowering me on and off the mat as a student, a teacher and as a woman.

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I’m strong and I’m standing, y’all.

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Now I get to pay it forward with other women too, showing them you don’t have to be a Lululemon-wearing #fitspo junkie to protect yourself and feel good in a gym (although if you are one of those people, you’re welcome too!).

Krav is for those of us with extra rolls in our groin kick. It’s for those with heart wrenching personal experiences of violence and those who thought elbowing people seemed like a cool way to mix up a workout. We’re all there for different reasons and I for one, love seeing the below photo of 30+ women giving up an hour on a Saturday morning to invest in their own safety and taking control of the narrative.

I love this thing. I love this gym. I’m loving where I’m at, where I’m going and I’m proud to be part of the Titan Family.

Fight on, y’all.

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Photo Courtesy of Titan Gym; Monthly Free Women’s Self-Defense Seminar April 2017

Hey.


I keep meaning to write and not writing. I must have 7-8 interesting stories and updates rolling around in my head but for some reason I never sit down to write them. I feel like they all must come out at once or not at all and that’s silly. 

Here’s to more short updates, good books, rich, dark cups of coffee and sunrise burritos on the river in 2017. 

B.

Paper Anniversary: Chicago

One. Whole. Year. In Chicago.

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What happened?

  • Got rehired at a great job; free transit, great co-workers and tolerable dad jokes.
  • Started classes at Xavier’s School For Clowns Who Think They Funny
  • Found legit big apartment with 2 roommates who were equally legit and has affordable rent in a safe and cute neighborhood.
  • Discovered 7-Eleven’s rewards program where they give me a free soda after I buy 7 and 7 is God’s number…so…7-Eleven is now the church of Diet Coke.
  • Began attending a Krav Maga gym full of loony characters and lovable idiots. I even voluntarily went camping with them in June.
  • Joined a survey through Northwestern University to kick my own butt about being healthier: it’s just tracking food and tracking activity. That’s it (30lbs down)!
  • Got new roommate that has a BEER FRIDGE and seriously, if that’s not enough she’s the only person who asked me about my life in the interview. #numbah1draftpick
  • Graduated from Second City’s A-E Improv Program after a first-day-of-class fire happened.
  • Ran in the Color Run for the 2nd time, got 2x as much powder and was a magical unicorn.
  • Saw so many ridiculously good sketch shows and improv sets and women being bold as all hell in their comedy. Inspiring and challenging.
  • Took a Korean class and surprisingly, got an award for being the top student in our class. Also won a pound of coffee for making a shoddy keynote, but caffeine addicts such as myself refuse to recheck the numbers.
  • Helped write a Second City Student Revue with 6 of my favorite classmates of the aforementioned Xavier’s School FCWTTF.
    • Shows will be August 26, September 2, 9, 16 and 23rd (more info to follow)
  • Went home to Washington State and was invited to perform at the Upfront Theatre in Bellingham. My family and friends (all 15 of you!) got to see what I’ve chosen to move halfway around the world for…and I got to perform with their incredibly welcoming MainStage team, including the OG himself, Ryan Stiles.
  • Eaten 4 deep dish pizzas, 2 Chicago hot dogs (sans ketchup, natch), 1 Italian beef (dipped) and 1 Old Style Beer.
  • Created a 90s-themed improv show “And A Bag Of Chips” with my babes from Coached Ensemble and we SOLD OUT THE THEATER.
  • Purchased 1 Cubs hat and 0 Bulls, Bears or Blackhawks gear; attended 0 professional sports games.
  • Complained about “Lolla” approximately 4x this weekend and took a picture of 2 17-year olds sitting shirtless on the floor of my Brown line train. Fools! *shakes grandma fist*

It’s been a great year, y’all. It’s not all sunshine and Sears Tower ledges and Aidy Bryant sightings and there’s sometimes more loneliness and tears than I’d like to admit, but overall this still feels like the right place for right now. I’m learning and growing. Plus, most of the people I’ve met are pretty darn great. I’m proud of doing this so far.

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To us, Chicago. Get me a good gift. Preferably one with cheese on it.

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