Back when I was an MMA Fighter

I grew up legally blind and was bullied on a daily basis. Being blind meant that I couldn’t even see the people before they’d hit me. But there I was, 8 years old, laying on the floor while 4 boys kicked and spit on me.

Ever hear the saying that life happens for you, not to you? These experiences shaped my way of thinking and being forever.

To this day, I make sure that my work is always focused on being the person I needed back then. The hardest thing to learn as a kid was that sometimes, people will hate you for reasons that have nothing to do with you. And sometimes they are reasons that you can’t control.

Think about it – what someone else thinks about you is in their head – not yours. But still we have to deal with their inability to manage their imaginary friend.

Back then, I was defenseless. That changed when I turned 14.

After I got older and with my vision corrected, I joined a karate school. They also taught kickboxing and MMA fighting. I was told only guys could learn this, but the owner if the school was so amused by my lack of fear that he let me into the program.

I didn’t realize until many years later that my lack of fear was because I couldn’t see – so I’d just jump in the ring and go for it. I could see shapes well enough to tell where a person was, but not more than that.

The first time I faced off against an opponent I was so gentle that I didn’t want to hit someone else. After receiving a few punches, also remembering all the beatings I endured growing up, I got over it and fought back. MMA was a safe space for my repressed anger and a community of men who began to respect me as one of their team.

When I moved away to college, I left fighting behind and pursued other interests, but had proven my point to myself. I can be my own rescuer even when others let me down.

I just discovered Cobra Kai and saw The Karate Kid for the first time. It reminded me so much of the mentality I trained under. Johnny Lawrence makes me miss my former teacher and gave me clarity on how much MMA helped me become who I am today.

MMA was not just about fighting – it was about self-esteem, positive energy, and community that transcends into learning how to fight so you don’t have to.

Know your worth and align with your positive energy, whatever shape it may take.

The Pros and Cons of Social Media

Social media is always the subject of debate. There are pros and cons.

A pro: Imagine trying to get through this pandemic without Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Zoom keeping us connected while forced to isolate.

One good thing about social media is how it confirms we’re never alone. There’s always someone out there. And we can also be there for someone else.

How we use social media is up to us, so choose positive over negative interaction.

It’s helpful to avoid conflicts and seek out new friends to unite with versus people who want to argue and divide us.

Rather than disliking somebody’s post, why not find things to like? The recipient of your positivity will appreciate it.

Social media is not a problem unless you choose to make it one. Just like in real life, don’t go looking for trouble.

Seeing Columbo

During the pandemic, many people found a new friend in Lt. Columbo. A new generation discovered his TV show thanks to streaming.

I’d make myself pancakes on Sundays and watch him solve mysteries. It was like having breakfast with the great man himself… without the cigar smoke.

Columbo feels like a very real person thanks to the brilliant actor who portrayed him, Peter Falk… but did you know he had disability?

When Peter Falk was three years old, he lost one of his eyes to cancer. He wore a glass eye most of his life.

After his first screen test, the head of a studio rudely told Peter Falk: “For the same price, I can get an actor with two eyes.”

Peter Falk was dogged, intrepid and not to be underestimated… just like Lt. Columbo.

After his failed screen test, Peter Falk worked harder, became a great actor, received two Oscar nominations and eventually achieved legendary status as TV’s most famous sleuth.

COLUMBO, Peter Falk, 1971-93

If you didn’t know Peter Falk had a disability, that’s because he wasn’t defined by it nor let it stop him… and proved a studio chief wrong by becoming a better actor than most performers with two eyes.