Fun things I’ve done in Dec/Jan:

  • Visit 2 jiu jitsu schools
  • Have Korean BBQ
  • Binge purchase cute stickers
  • Have specialty ice cream
  • Go shopping for new outfits
  • Play my new favorite Steam game, Littlewood

Things I want to start doing in Jan:

  • Show up to work in person more often
  • Take time for recovery in jiu jitsu
  • Have more of an open schedule to handle priorities, like house-hunting
  • Taking walks outside

Things I want to stop doing in Jan:

  • Spending time feeling resentful
  • Engaging in unproductive negative thinking about things I can’t control


Do you play in your daily life? What says “playtime” to you?

Playtime for me always happens during jiu jitsu, but lately I’ve been seeing how I can incorporate tinges of play in other areas of my life. Play is done without a specific prpose yet it has a lot of diffrent benefits, like reminding yourself not to take things too seriously and to discover new things without a rigid structure.

Play is not considered a waste of time. It can be a way to immerse yourself in a different world without needing to change much objectively. For this, I’m thinking of video games, especially those that have involved storylines and ecosystems. When you play these games, you become the characters in these games, almost like you’re writing the novel as you’re reading it. That type of possibility is only present in play.

I think that as I consider more and more what play will evolve and look like in future years, it will probably be very different from what it is now. The more that I engage in play, the less I’ll be needing to step back and think to myself, “Gee, I’m playing!” I suspect that having fun will be less effortful and more natural. Whatever the form of play looks like on the outside, though, on the inside, I hope that it will bring me a greater sense of awareness and presence of mind.

Play is a privilege, and one that I don’t take lightly. Not everyone gets the chance to play, and not everyone is shown what appropriate play is. So, the fact that I do have interests that are fun, and that I’m naturally drawn to, shows me that I am in a fortunate position to play.

Biggest Challenges

What are your biggest challenges?

  • Learning to let go
  • Being okay when people’s opinions differ from mine
  • Dealing with disappointed expectations

Learning to Let Go

I’ve had a few things in my life – okay, more than a few things go wrong that I wish I could undo. However, I know that it isn’t possible to do that. Ironically, the second best choice – letting go – is probably a lot easier than what I would have needed to do in order to prevent the situation from happening in the first place.

Letting go also takes a lot of time, and I’m not a patient person usually if I want something. I feel that if I practice letting go I might be able to do it more easily over time, but it probably will still depend a large part on what I am trying to let go. Letting go of big things might be scary because it means that I’m going to feel very different, at least in the immediate term. Navigating that change is the second step to letting go, and I wonder if that step is what keeps me from making a leap in the first place.

Being Okay When People’s Opinions Differ from Mine

This one is tough because I think that sometimes I need to convince people to see my point of view, especially if I think it is morally wrong, or if it harms me in some way. However, there are also a lot of opinions that I think are pretty superficial, but I’m scared to deal with this difference because it feels like a confrontation. I’m learning to see that if someone is different from you in how they see the world, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I need to feel threatened by it. I don’t need to run and try to convince them to think differently. I can be secure in my own emotions.

I ultimately think that the best way to be okay is to have a healthy sense of trust in yourself. It’s important to know and think about what is right for you. There might be some doubts and uncomfortable feelings, but those feelings do not have to be addressed by stuffing down your own views of the situation. Especially when there is a power dynamic involved, it’s important to stay close to your own truth.

Dealing with Disappointed Expectations

I think this one is tough for me because I’m a perfectionist. I have a very idealistic version of how the future is going to be and how I’m going to be the one to help me get there. However, it’s not always the case that everything I do is within my control.

Where I am now is that expectations are just another indicator of how I’m feeling about a situation. If I have low expectations about the chances of a positive result, maybe a more productive way is to reflect on why I think this is the case. That way I can be more focused on how I can influence the process instead of letting one conclusion at one point in the time stick with me.

Feeling disappointment is also something that I’m learning to deal with, too. It’s a little painful at first, but these feelings have faded over time. I think it’s an indicator that I still have some stake in the game with regards to my future and am being conscious of whether or not I like a certain situation. Having this awareness will hopefully translate to bringing about better change, which will shift my energy from disappointment to excitement.


What makes you feel nostalgic?

Music brings back nostalgia for me. There are certain songs that I associate with certain times in my life. For instance, Semi-Charmed Life really defined my sophomore year of college. Limon Y Sal defined my first year at my new jiu jitsu school. I definitely have had songs that I’ve listened to on repeat but then have gotten tired of.

Nostalgia is a weird thing. It’s an indulgent emotion. I don’t like nostalgia sometimes because it makes me sad. Either because I know that I can’t go back to the way that things were, or because thinking about the good sometimes also brings up the bad. Wishing how things used to be doesn’t seem that productive, and besides, it is a product of warped memories, anyways.

Still, there are times in which I do wish I could capture and bottle up certain moments in time. For instance, the trails at Amherst College during the fall was nothing like I had experienced up to that point, because I had lived in Texas almost all my life before heading up to the Northeast. The way that the crisp autumn air would rustle the leaves is the scenery that I choose every time a guided meditation asks me to visualize a peaceful place. Taking long walks and runs on that trail was a healing experience for me; in nature, I was able to be with myself and learn about who I was as a person.

I think that nostalgia in some ways is like a way to cope with the temporary nature of life. If we had no way of looking back on something and feeling good about it, it would be very hard indeed to convince ourselves of why we would continue with present experience, which is often mundane. Nostalgia is our mind’s scrapbook; a collection of ticket stubs, souvenirs, faded photographs that we have chosen to keep for safekeeping, but also for sharing, with family members and friends when the conversation strays in that direction. It reminds us that although we won’t last forever, we can still hold fast to our own great moments, at least for a little while more.

The First

This year, I want to try to blog almost every single day, in an attempt to download more of my thoughts on “paper” instead of in my head. It’s going to be an ambitious project, but I hope that with this reflection, I’ll be able to discover (or re-discover) some truths that I haven’t seen before (or have forgotten).

I spent much of New Year’s Eve looking at social media, much to the detriment of my mental health. For some reason, even though I know that Instagram represents the best of what people’s lives are, I still cannot stop myself from comparing myself to them. Although, what is different now, I suppose, is that I’m a little bit more mature and compassionate, so that I can remind myself that even though someone has something, it doesn’t mean that I need to also have it. Abundance mindset, and all that, I suppose.

One of the things that I’m really hoping to happen this year for jiu jitsu is more simplicity and compassion for myself. I watched a video today that talked about the pitfalls of trying for “vertical” progress, which meant essentially attempting to fulfill a streak. What happens is that this sets us up for pressure in increasing magnitudes, because breaking a streak at day 10 feels a lot different than breaking a streak at day 100. Instead, we are to strive for “horizontal” progress. This is progress that is a lot like building a new road to reach the same destination, except this road might be built more efficiently and less painfully. So, it appears that finally there is a perspective that can be both about the journey and the destination, which appeals to my achiever mindset.

In terms of simplicity, I’m hoping that bringing down all of my obligations outside of jiu jitsu basically to zero is going to help with that in my life. I was juggling so many things on my calendar that it became hard to schedule or experience any of those things reasonably. I was constantly trying to calculate the most optimal times for anything. Since quitting personal training and winding down on my massage appointments/life coaching, there’s just been a lot less mental weight. I’ve been fortunate enough to have those experiences in the first place, but now, what I need is space. Lots and lots of space.

I’ve always wanted to know what it was like to have a day without an agenda. A few days in 2022, I was able to have those. I accomplished almost nothing but experienced life fully. It did not make me feel guilty at all, though I felt weird about the new-ness of it all. This year, I would hope for more days without an agenda.