The Healing Journey Project

Renewal and Transformation Through Kung Fu

Progress Journal

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Surgery

Posted by Robert Bibeau on January 13, 2011 at 1:01 PM Comments comments (1)
going into surgery now everyone

Faith and Balance

Posted by Robert Bibeau on January 11, 2011 at 3:23 PM Comments comments (0)

Several months ago, I was preparing a blog post on how Kung Fu has becoming something of a Religion to me now. I capitalize the word to demonstrate the elevated status of a Religion as opposed to something that is simply done or practiced “religiously.” I had originally intended to title that post Faith and Fervor. The idea was simple enough. I had been practicing my Kung Fu with all the fervor of a religious zealot and – or so it seemed at the time – and I began to experience far more than just the simple joy of doing something I loved. I began to feel a peace that I don’t think I have known in a very long time, if ever. The Healing Journey Project had indeed transformed me, not only my physical capabilities and attributes in the vain aspects of raw endurance and power or physique, but also in terms of my self confidence – professionally and personally – my mental faculty, and my ability to cope with outside stressors.

 

As this transformation was at its initial apex, I was feeling fantastic. Soon, I began to slip away from some of the things that were making the Project so successful. One key attribute in that regard was the blog. For those who have followed – and those who haven’t can always peruse the blog to see – there were some very late nights attempting to maintain the blog. Initially I began to feel that a good night’s rest would aid me in getting up on time the following morning to really set the tone. This was in fact a good decision on occasion. It however became an easy way out of remaining disciplined about my very own project. More than that, it was the beginning of a very slippery slope into not maintaining the website.

 

The feeling was something akin to having an important paper due near the end of the semester. You know it won’t really take that long to read a few books, put your thoughts together, draft your paper, make a few corrections and turn it in early and get a great grade. But you’d rather “hang out with your friends” and tell yourself “ehh, I’ve got time.” Before you know it, the due date has passed and you’ve run out of leniency on not being docked points for it being late. Now it’s the end of the semester and you need to buy some cliff’s notes, find a few good points that you hope won’t be recognized as Wikipedia garbage, and buy a pound of coffee just to get yourself through an all nighter. Turns out, it is expensive being lazy. Ultimately I knew the website was beginning to slip.

 

As the recognition that if the site truly failed, the project would fail too grew, I made several attempts to bolster my efforts relative to the site. In truth the recognition only occurred because I realized that I had begun fasting less frequently on Monday’s. The next step was a gradual reduction in my morning and daily workouts. Then I even would be late to class or even miss it altogether. Now none of these efforts were occurring because I simply didn’t care or because I just decided I didn’t want to do them. On the contrary, it was because, at the time it seemed, that there were outside influences intruding on my time for those activities. I will get into what I feel is the truth in that regard momentarily. For now, suffice it to say that due to my own perception of shortcomings (call it Catholic guilt) I felt great misgiving’s on the hypocrisy of writing a post entitled “Faith and Fervor.”

 

There was a flaw with my perception that outside influences were preventing my ability to engage in the positive behaviors that had yielded such success. That flaw is simple, the model I had built this on had several integral components fall out of place. I stated in the intro as I discuss the Recovery Triad that at anytime my recovery, my health and my life are “a delicate house of cards.” my whole life was falling apart, I was getting to work later, I was getting to bed later, it was becoming more difficult to manage my own personal affairs than it had been since I began the Project. But it wasn’t because the Recovery Triad failed; it was that I had failed to keep it functioning. In fact, if anything this at least for me, proves that my model works quite well. During the move out of my old house, into the home that we bought, I was able to work out relatively little. I felt that the heavy work of moving would carry me through until the move was over. In truth, the work I had put into my Kung Fu before buying the house carried me through the whole move.

 

When I was finally able to return to class I found that while my skills and strength had atrophied, they had not done so quite as drastically as I had anticipated. This renewed my faith in what I had set out to do. Not in respect that I had “lost my faith” in the Project but in the respect that it rejuvenated my spirit to get back to those positive habits that had yielded such great fruits.

 

I realized that when Sifu and I started the Healing Journey Projected, I had enjoyed some very powerful spirit bolstering events, and that I was in a place where I had a relative degree of organization in my life conditions had been right to start the Project. I knew that it was going to take a lot of work to get the project picked back up too and that conditions would be right. I felt that if I simply started blogging again, without the appropriate conditions, I would essentially be writing to no one and selfishly, I had come to enjoy the thought that people were talking inspiration from my words.

 

I became determined to resurrect this project. I began to train hard on my own and at class when available. I was finding that indeed the house of cards had fallen, but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. The foundation was still there and I could rebuild. I became determined to rebuild this project and make it stronger than before. I wanted to time it appropriately, It was also important to me that I be able to demonstrate measureable progress. The ability to do that via the metrics may have been shot (which I am analyzing that data anyways for what I have) but I wanted a way to demonstrate “this is what Kung Fu has done for me!” Around the time I began mulling these things over Sifu mentioned to me that I was ready to test for my Orange Sash and that we needed to set a date. It took awhile to lock down an appropriate date but once we did I thought “this is it, this is the event to demonstrate what I have accomplished.”

 

I wanted there to be some real thought put into this revived Project. I wanted thought put into creating some tools and controls that will help me maintain the site more easily. One of the things that Sifu Mario said when we began this project is that “it must be sustainable.” Some of those tools come in the form of easier methods to update the calendar and thus stay better organized, some come in the form of tech gear like my new iPhone which allows me to update from virtually anywhere in the country. Some of it comes in the form of support from friends and family, the two in the fore are my Wife and my Sifu. (For anyone who thinks my Sifu should come first in that pecking order… No disrespect to Sifu Mario but my Wife bought me a Lungchuan broad sword for Christmas!)

 

Although the Project faltered a bit, it never failed. Even during the period of time in which I was really struggling, I never got to the low that I suffered just before beginning the Project. Even after all the holiday food and extremely high caloric count of any New Mexican dish served while I was home during the holidays I really didn’t put on much weight. I am at 182 pounds right now, a mere 7 pounds heavier than when I began my move to my new home in October. In recent years I am upwards of 195 and nearing 200 pounds at the end of the holidays, so I am a far sight better than I was at this time last year. (A period in which I do have date indicating that I was 206 pounds being as I had begun to dabble with P-90x)

 

Ultimately, thanks to some very hard work this past year has been one of the best of my life. I have had something to strive for and I accomplished some things quite well. My personal relationships are better and I feel that this endeavor is doing wonders for me personally and professionally. Nothing compares though to the feeling I get when I practice my Kung Fu outside and I see my son standing with his arms outstretched, bracing his unsure 13 month old body against the sliding glass door watching as I practice or to see him carrying around bare wrapping paper tubes pretending they are his own long staff.

 

It is true. Faith can always bring you back.

Test Post

Posted by Robert Bibeau on January 11, 2011 at 12:46 AM Comments comments (0)
There are some major changes coming to the healing journey this year. This post is a test of one of those changes. I'm posting it from my new iPhone. That's right... the healing journey is now mobile!

Phenol Red and Phenomenal Day

Posted by Robert Bibeau on November 9, 2010 at 1:53 AM Comments comments (0)

Ever have one fo those days that shouldn't have been good at all and it turns out it was amazing?

That was my day today.  I had a few bombs dropped on me at work, the type of things that would normally ruin the rest of your plans for the day and destroy your productivity.  I managed though to get past the frustrations of those few things and really get a lot done today.  I am still trying to get moved out of my old house, but like I said yesterday, one load at a time is how to get that job done.  I was actually able to get a lot stuff moved today on my own and that will alleviate some stress as Tiff and I finish things up over there at that house.


I think the productivity today came from a good nights rest last night and a pretty good workout this morning.  I was able to get in a pretty good workout, really focusing on a few of the things that are going to be on the test for my Orange Sash which will be coming soon.  it wasnt a particularly long workout but it was a good sweat none-the-less.  I really feel like it set the tone for the rest of the day.  I was really intensely focused and I was able to focus on more than just simple "choreography" of movements and really focus on the intention of each movement.  That kind of fierce, direct focus is what I think carried the day for me.


By far the best part of the day, (in spite of the fact that I bumped into multiple old friends) was that I did finally get the chemistry right on my pool.  Hence the "Phenol Red" portion of the title which by the way is the substance used to determine Ph in pool water.  As a result of getting the pool chemistry right, I was able to get the sauna going and to celbrate I brought home a bottle of decent champagne which Tiff and I ended up sharing ourselves.


We are pretty tired now and I am really looking forward to tomorrow mornings workout schedule

Chemistry and Surgery

Posted by Robert Bibeau on November 8, 2010 at 2:44 AM Comments comments (0)

Friday was a pretty frustrating day.  I have recently had a severe resurgence of the nueropathy symptoms in my hands and it has been especially painful and severe on the right side.  About a month ago, I went in to have it investigated.  Of course it takes time to get tests done and so forth, but I found out on friday that the nerve damage in my arms, according to my neurologist is severe enough that I need to have surgery in each arm to alleviate it and prevent the damage from getting worse.  This was obviously pretty hard to hear as anything like that makes me worry that I may lose the ability to practice Kung Fu.  Fortunately that is only one opinion and I still need to see the surgeon and the orthopedics people and I will ask about more benign treatments and see if there are any available.


On another note.  The move is coming along.  I would love to say it is going well, but that wouldnt be at all true.  I had hoped to be able to take a few days of leave to try and get moved out of my old house, but that just doesn't seem to be something that is going to happen.  Thus far I have had to use my evening and weekends only to try and get moved and that is going very slowly indeed.  But it is getting done and that counts for something.  One box at a time I guess is the way to do it.  


As a part of the move, I have been trying to get the pool chemistry just right on the pool in my backyard.  I had run a pool as a lifeguard in college and I thought that it would all come flooding back to me.  It has... sort of.  I am actually picking it back up very quickly but I am finding that all those chemicals that I dispensed with in such care free fashion back in college are actually VERY expensive.  But really I am thinking it is the upfront costs of having to buy ALL of this maintenance stuff together at the same time.  I almost have the chemistry to levels that it would be safe to swim in the pool and I am really looking forward to jumping on in and taking a good morning swim or getting the hot tub going after class one of these nights and just relaxing a bit.


In the morning I will have to be up especially early due to the fact that I need to dump some chemicals into the pool.  The good things is that I am really looking forward to it because I cant wait to get my workout in.


I bought a new scale ( my son Jaxon would pick up and drop my old one as he had just learned to crawl and was exploring the house) and I found something very inspiring.  Although I have not eaten an even remotely healthy meal over the past two weeks, my weight has still not gone back over 180 pounds.  I am quite happy about that being as it is proof that the work that I did with the Healing Journey Project was effective.  This makes me even more excited for the routine I am working on now.

Values and Efficiency

Posted by Robert Bibeau on November 4, 2010 at 1:56 AM Comments comments (0)

Last night I discussed a need to return to the "things I was doing that had me feeling so well just a short time ago."  In better terms I think this means a return to a strict adherence to the values of the Recovery Triad.


I really feel that those six values are the key to recovery from any injury or illness.  Obviously one could simply replace "Kung Fu" with just about any physical exercise regimen but I doubt that it would be as successful.  The six Imperatives of the Recovery Triad model however are effective.  I, as I mentioned last night have been experiencing more pain as of late.  Today was a significantly better day, while I was unable to get up at the time I wanted (being as we are still in the middle of the move, I was having to use the alarm function on my phone rather than a real alarm clock, the phone didnt plug in all the way and died in the middle of the night so I woke to the rooster that lives next door rather than the more pleasing sound of the "Marimba" chime on my iPhone)  In spite of the let down of getting up an hour late, I was still able to get all of my morning domestic requirements accomplished.  Although as I let the dogs out I found that one of the sprinkler heads is broken.  I found out the best of all possible ways too, a forty foot stream of water snaking its way straight into the air.


Jaxon was pretty sick yesterday though and was not permitted to go to day care today so I took him with me to work with the intention of taking him back to his physician to be seen.  As luck would have it, I never was able to break away from the office, but I got to spend the entire day with Jaxon so it is sort of an even trade.  It's interesting though that I got more done today than I have since beginning of the moving process.


After a long day, Jaxon and I stopped of at a local pool supply store and bought some supplies and chemicals for the new pool, we also stopped of at Lowes and got a new sprinkler head.  Once we were home we replaced the sprinkler head, of course getting soaked in the process being as the timer turned the system on just while we were installing the device.


Real productive day, with much less pain and ultimately a significantly higher degree of productivity.  I am really looking forward to tomorrow morning and especially getting my workout in prior to leaving the house... To that end I had better draw this to a close so I can get some sleep. 

Moving and Cleaning Out the Cob Webs

Posted by Robert Bibeau on November 3, 2010 at 3:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Obviously, it has been awhile... alright a long while since my last post.  During the interim between the last post and this there have been a pretty significant number of things occurring.  For starters, Tiff and I were able to close on our house.  As the home buying process came to a close, the moving process began.  Not surprisingly this has ushered in various unexpected headaches.  In many respects those headaches are as real as they are metaphorical.  I will admit however that one welcome surprise during this process was how well I have endured the physical aspects of the move.  I was able to get a friend of the family, who subsequently is becoming a close personal friend, to help with the move.  I rented a truck on Saturday and we spent the day trying to get all the heavy lifting done.  Having spent the entire day working I felt like I had really earned a good nights rest when I laid down to sleep at 2 in the morning.


Tiff and I have spent the days sense trying to get the remainder of our belongings out of the house and get the new house in living order.  Everything from cleaning to getting cable and utilities set up.  We are already finding things around the new house that we are going to need to spend money on.  Something entirely new as far as housing goes being as we have always been renters.  Not an entirely unwelcome experience however.  It is pretty cool to be able to make something your own.


As for my Kung Fu, although I have not been posting I have been continuing with my workouts as best I can.  I feel like that is why I was able to do so well from an endurance perspective relative to getting the move done.  However over the past 5 days or so I dont think I've really gotten much done at all in the way of workouts.  And while I was able to keep the severity of symptom manifestations from my injury at bay for much longer than at times in the past, I am enduring a lot more pain than what has now become usual.


That is why tonight was so important.  Before bed I decided it was time to dive back into the things that I was doing that had me feeling so well just a short time ago.  I figured that since as of late, I have had a tough time getting up in the mornings, I would get a workout in tonight.  With luck I'll sleep a bit better than I have been and be able to get up with enough time to get that workout in before making the drive to work.


I will say also that I really am enjoying the drive in the mornings.  It is peaceful and somewhat cathartic.



Early Mornings and Good Days

Posted by Robert Bibeau on October 6, 2010 at 12:13 AM Comments comments (0)

The past two days have been great as far as the Healing Journey is concerned.  Yesterday morning I was able to get up a little earlier than I have been lately.  While it wasn't early enough to get in a workout, it was early enough to get through the domestic duties of the morning and get to work with relatively little hassle.  The day was one that felt organized and deliberate which was stress relieving.  In the evening class had been canceled so I got a really good workout in all on my own.  I slept really well as a result and when I woke up this morning I was able to get up easily and at the right time for the first time in what feels like ages.  I was able to get in a great workout and really enjoyed the peace offered by a quite morning and a sunrise.  


Based on the success I have had over the past couple of days and wanting to maintain that momentum I am keeping the post short tonight so that I can get up early again.

Long Aways and Happy Returns

Posted by Robert Bibeau on October 4, 2010 at 2:24 AM Comments comments (0)

WHERE HAS THE HEALING JOURNEY BEEN???


Short answer: Buying a house.


Long answer:  Well, you deserve better than trite contrivances such as long and short, so it's lucky I have an entire blog I can post an explanation in.


The Healing Journey was conceived as a method to help me demonstrate how Kung Fu has literally given me my life back.  It was intended to track those intangible aspects of recovery that in some ways simply can't be measured other than to simply say "I feel better."


I wouldn't even be able to identify those intangible issues were it not for Kung Fu though.  I wouldn't be able to know that today I feel better than the day I did before, at least not the way I know it now.  I wouldn't be able to clearly delineate between the anger I felt in my heart or the pain I felt in my body.


Kung Fu, has brought me a sense of calm.  Of course, at this point I am learning some pretty impressive things and Kung Fu has brought me an ability to do all sorts of really impressive things that I couldn't do before I got injured.  But despite the impressive acrobatic agility, bone crushing power, and uncanny speed (which seriously isn't that impressive when seen against everyone else at my school - side note, its awesome being the guy at the bottom EVERYONE is your teacher!) I truly feel that the greatest thing my Kung Fu has brought me is calm.  I have thought to myself many times, "If I could do nothing but Kung Fu all day, I would do nothing but Kung Fu all day."


I hear of people going on retreats for all manner of things.  Marriage retreats, diet retreats, professional development retreats, job hunting retreats, educational retreats, family retreats, weight loss retreats... that list goes on and on.  The one retreat I would love to go to, one where you do nothing but Kung Fu, eat well, sleep well, get up early and do more Kung Fu.  Imagine how centered you could be at the end of two weeks like that.


Sadly that retreat at some picturesque alpine forest, lakeside camp ground is ages away.  Fortunately, when I am actually able to get up, I have about two hours every morning that can be just as fulfilling.  It will shortly become more fulfilling as Tiff and I are buying a wonderful house, with plenty of room in the backyard for me to practice.  Also while there isn't a lake, there is a pool... So I'll take what I can get I guess.


The home buying experience has been an occasional obstacle towards being able to focus on the healing journey.  Anyone who has ever bought a home before can tell you that it is a major hassle.  While I don't feel it is anywhere close to being a "stressful" experience, it is stress inducing.  That may be a hard distinction, but just understand it as this:  All of the "stressful" problems that have arisen are the kinds of things that make me want to pull my hair out while forcefully feeding a home appraiser an escrow contract, but no one is getting shot at.  Some therapists might say that I have lost an ability to feel or express a normal range of emotions.  In many respects I think I just recognize that some of the "normal" things people get worked up over, are frivolous.


That being said, another reason the Healing Journey has been away for awhile is that I have high points and I have low points.  I have said many times that my ability to function is like a delicate house of cards.  Build it well enough, and it can be unbelievable strong.  Build it right and every card is supported by the whole and the whole depends on every one card.  But if one of those cards should slip out of place, or if the house isn't symmetrical, the slightest disturbance will come crashing down.


This particular "crash" wasn't nearly as severe as some I've had in the past.  I was able to still hold it together at work, I was able to get to class, I was able to keep my home life intact.  I was even able, on occasion to get in a workout in the morning and I was able to get many of my mid-day workouts as well.  Two things I wasn't able to get right, the ability to get up and stay up in the mornings and the ability to get to bed early enough to hit the blog.


I have made a few changes that ought to correct that.  I have a few big plans coming up for the Healing Journey and as a teaser here's one of the ideas:  Pictures and video's detailing specifically what some of the exercises are, this way you can get an idea of what it is to do 100 repetitions of Poon Kiu, Sau, Kwa, Chop, or 100 repetitions of Double Block.

Greatest Fears and Greatest Contentments

Posted by Robert Bibeau on September 10, 2010 at 1:16 AM Comments comments (0)

Sunday, was a particularly traumatic day, for my son.  Which in turn caused serious pain for my wife and I.  Jaxon had woken up from a nap and I was making some lunch for Tiff and I.  Tiff tried to feed Jaxon some baby food or other and he was not at all interested.  Since he didn't seem hungry Tiff and I decided to eat our lunch in the living room while watching some TV and thought we'd let Jaxon play and crawl around a bit.


I have recently discovered that if Jaxon's toys are all picked up, he will go to them and make a mess of them by dumping his toys all over the place before he will destroy the rest of the living room.  Being as I desired a peaceful, uneventful lunch, I was cleaning up his toys so that they could invariably be scattered about within minutes.  As I did so, Tiff asked me if Jaxon seemed all right.  He was "fussy" and acting abnormally in that he appeared to be angry or frustrated and holding his breath to demonstrate his displeasure.  In-spite of this apparent temper tantrum my gut told me that something may be wrong and I told Tiff to go change so that she could be ready if we needed to take him to the ER.  In the meantime, I took Jaxon for a brief walk around the front yard, still feeling like he was just being fussy and hoping to distract him from whatever had agitated him.


When we went back inside about a minute or two later I was becoming a bit more concerned and when it became clear that Jaxon was struggling to get air and was in fact not trying to hold his breath we decided to take him down to the ER.  The decision was virtually spontaneous, its not as though one seriously deliberates the possibilities in such a situation, of course the right answer becomes apparent and you just do it.


We live less than a half mile away from the hospital and being as Jaxon had not breathed in the moments since the decision was made I decided that rather than waste precious time strapping him into his car seat I would just hold him as Tiff drove.  This proved to be a good decision because as we drove the 800 or so meters to the hospital I began to notice a bluish color begin to shade the temporal region of my sons head.  He looked afraid and confused but seemingly was cognizant of his own fear.  I had initially hoped that what ever was going on, if it was an obstructed airway he would be able to clear.  But he was not.  I turned my son over so that he lay across my left arm face down with his body titled downward and with my right hand I struck his back hard, between and slightly below the shoulder blades.  I had practiced the maneuver hundreds of times while I was a lifeguard in college but had actually used it only twice.  Attempting to clear the airway of my own son was significantly different.  I was extraordinarily glad when I heard him begin to cry after I hit his back like that and the only other time I've been actually glad to hear that cry was when he was born.


Seconds later I walked him into the ER through same entrance that ambulances will use.  I announced "I've got a baby here who's not breathing."  The staff, in the initial second in which they took in this intrusive scene almost didn't know what to make of it.  I then said, "no seriously, he's not breathing."  The staff jumped into action and began to take vitals and try to help him out.  In fairness, he was technically breathing at that point, but he was still having serious trouble.  I don't feel like they were really able to do anything for him, as the situation seemed to resolve on it's own within minutes.  Frankly, I'm just glad there were doctors and nurses there who were able to see him while he was still in such distress.  I feel like that probably improved the quality of care that my son got.


As he began breathing normally again, he was obviously physically and emotionally spent.  It's amazing how apparent the non-verbal communication cues become when you are gleaning the condition of someone who can't talk simply from their appearance.  Soon the doctors let us know that the Pediatrics clinic at the hospital was full right now and that they wanted for Jaxon to be monitored for awhile so they were going to have to transfer him to Balboa Naval Hospital.  In the end, Tiff and Jaxon got an ambulance ride and I got the long worrisome drive alone.


We ended up staying the night at Balboa and most of the next day.  When my son was finally released we had no answer for what ahd caused the "episode" as the doctors and nurses were now calling it.  We had a litany of possible explanations but nothing concrete.  We were ready to go home though and accepted the situation for what it was.


Tuesday, Tiff had to go back to work but I had the day off.  I dropped Jaxon off at daycare, ran a few errands and then met Tiff for lunch.  For weeks I had been looking forward to the prospects of a day off and to myself.  I had hoped to find my way into a bookstore to wander around for awhile before going to a movie theater and catching a matinee.  Instead, after lunch with Tiffany, I decided I missed Jaxon too much and thought I would just go pick him up.  Since he'd had such a rough weekend I assumed he'd be happy to take the afternoon off too.


We got home and enjoyed some snacks together, watched a movie while playing with lego's on the floor, and had a wrestling match, we shared some apple juice and then turned on "Drunken Master" which I had recorded on my DVR a few nights previous.  As we watched the exploits of a young Jackie Chan, we moved up to the couch and got a bit more comfortable and within minutes my infant son lay sleeping on my chest.


Amazing, that on one afternoon my greatest fear seemed as though it were about to be realized and the agonizing days that followed brought rumors of possible life long ailments and great stress and then only a few days later, all that stress simply vanished as it was replaced with the most contented feeling of knowing that in that moment, he was okay.


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