The Healing Journey Project

Renewal and Transformation Through Kung Fu

Progress Journal

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Dry Meat and Tired Feet

Posted by Robert Bibeau on September 3, 2010 at 12:32 AM Comments comments (2)

Today was a a pleasantly mediocre day, at least from a personal perspective.  If you were to look at the qualitative metrics you would see that it was a pretty tame day.  That being said there were things that occurred that ought to have made it a phenomenal day.  Among those things, I made HUGE progress on a "pet" project that I have been developing at work for months, I was able to be present for the promotion to Lieutenant Colonel of a personal mentor of mine, and I was "offered a job" to take a position on a team that is deploying to Afghanistan.  All of these things are great things, I would love to go to Afghanistan and I am really honored to know that somebody thinks that my war fighting skill set is sharp enough to ask me to join them.  The problem is, I am not sure that I am physically ready to deploy again yet and that is an incredibly frustrating feeling.

This dilemma occupied my thoughts heavily as I was cooking dinner tonight.  I really enjoy grilling, and I recently repaired some damages to my grill that occurred during my most recent military move.  As such I was excited to be grilling tonight as it's one of the first chances I've had in a long, long time.  However I found my thoughts traveling to the prospect of filling a void left by leaving Iraq "early" after I got injured, and to the prospect of "redeeming" myself at a chance to deploy to Afghanistan.  These thoughts were contrasted by the terrible thought of leaving my boy behind and missing so much of his development as he would grow so much during a 7 month deployment.  Additionally, the thought of putting my study of Kung Fu on hold for such a duration is a terrible thought as well for me.  Kung Fu has quite literally given me my life back.  I recognize that I am at a dangerous phase in my training right now.  If I put it on hold, much of what I have learned will severely atrophy and I will be that much farther behind in my hopes to truly develop this knowledge.

As my steaks were grilling, I decided I needed to gain control of my wandering mind.  I decided that what I needed right now was focus.  began working through various aspects of my Kung Fu.  I began by working slowly through my Wing Foon Siu Sup Ji and then found myself working through the Ng Ga Siu Sup Ji.  I spent time turning steaks between each iteration of the form.  Soon I was working through San Sau's that I have recently learned and eventually I was attempting to refine the tornado kicks and tiger form San Sau's that we worked on at my class last night.

I realized that my steaks were going to taste like beef jerky when I noticed that I was sweating buckets despite the cool night air.

I pulled the steaks of the grill, served them and sat down to dinner.  I wasn't really interested in eating the entire steak anymore though based on the texture of the meat and the mental high I was enjoying from the impromptu workout.  I did discover though, that my feet were really hurting once I sat down to eat though.  I actually somewhat welcomed that pain however because it is an indication that I just might sleep really well.

Iraq and Afghanistan

Posted by Robert Bibeau on August 31, 2010 at 11:35 PM Comments comments (0)

I heard from my brother today.  He is flying the incredibly powerful AH-1W Cobra Gunship in Afghanistan.  Of course its tomorrow there already and at about 12:10 AM on September 1st, 2010 he was promoted to the rank of Captain.  It was great to hear from him and we told a few war stories back and forth and talked about plans for the days following his return.  The discussion though reminded me of my own time overseas, specifically it reminded me of the day I got promoted in Iraq to the rank of First Lieutenant.  It was nice to have such powerful memories of Iraq that were so good.  It was interesting to me though that it was the experiences of my brother that triggered the memories.  

Thats of course not to say that I'm by proxy experiencing his war or anything retarded like that, it just means that his experience and relation of that experience triggered a few memories.  But good ones all the same.

I also heard from an old boss of mine, someone that I really respect and admire.  It was pretty surprising to hear from him as the Marine Corps took us our separate ways in late 2007.  But it was just after I had been talking to my brother and enjoying some "happy thoughts" from Iraq that I heard from this mentor.  It was particularly cool because he was an integral part of the memory of my promotion as well as a great many other things that I miss about Iraq.

Fortified and Doughy

Posted by Robert Bibeau on August 31, 2010 at 1:08 AM Comments comments (0)

Before I begin in earnest tonight, I want to admit I think tonights title is AWESOME.  Secondly, I am dedicating tonights post to my little sister Cassie.  Your recent hard work has been an inspiration to me, I'm proud of you so keep it up!

Recently, Sifu told me that he wanted me to begin "fortifying" my fist.  My days are now spent punching my packiwarra (A palm sized hard leather disk... Have no idea if I spelled it right) while wandering around the halls of my work or while at my computer.  Mindlessly, endlessly striking at this thing like a kid throws a baseball repeatedly into his own baseball glove.  This helps to strengthen and condition my fist, an integral part of Kung Fu.  I often look for ways to further condition my hands and while doing pushups for my morning routine I am dabbling with doing them on fingertips, or the backs of my hands, while in a split I will attempt a "claw" up on the very tips of my fingers vice the pads of my fingertips.

I will admit, that I got the idea to find these extra moments to condition from, of all people Matthew McConaughey.  In, of all places Mens Health Magazine.  In an interview a few years ago he told Mens Health that he will sneak in a few push-ups throughout his day (I'm paraphrasing).  Not that I think Matthew McConaughey is a" no talent hack," I actually think he's hilarious, I don't care that some people think he plays the same character in every movie, I think he's a good actor.  I just think his Kung Fu probably sucks.  Similarly, it's not that I think Men's Health is a "rag," I really like the recipes they put out each month and I love the Abs Diet that they publish it's relatively easy to follow for a dumb Grunt like me.  I just think their Kung Fu probably sucks.

So why "Doughy?"  It's because, one of Tiffany's favorite things to watch on TV is the Travel Channel.  I hate it.  It's not that I don't like the programming, (and I have no clue what their Kung Fu is like) its that when they are showing things like Man V. Food... I get HUNGRY.  Oh, and it's not just a "wow I could go for a philly cheese steak" hunger, its a "sweet heart... pack your things we're going to Philadelphia" hunger.

Saturday, Tiff was watching one of these programs.  I think it was Battle of the Pizza's, New York V. Chicago.  Which of course the answer as everyone knows is New York.  But every once in a while, a deep dish pizza is exactly what you need and I needed to satisfy a deep dish hunger.

Since I really don't like flying anymore (when I get up to altitude the pressure difference's play hell on my head due to my TBI) and because flying to Chicago for a pizza just isn't realistic (stupid economy) I decided I would make a deep dish pizza of my own.  After all, I saw it done on TV... How hard could it be?

Turns out, not that hard.  Except making the dough.  Thats really hard.  I have never made dough before, of any kind other than cookie dough (Obviously being as I used to be fat).  So while I was grocery shopping yesterday, I had to look up a recipe for the dough on my iPhone.  Thats a bad way to figure out how to make pizza dough.  I bought all the ingredients, got home, and immediately began making my pizza and whistling the Super Mario Bros. theme song (It was the most Italian thing I could think of) I was having so much fun, that I didn't read the part about adding only half the flour, mixing in mixer for ten minutes and adding the rest of the flour.  So I just dumped everything in and switched my KithenAid mixer to BEAT THAT DOUGH SILLY speed.  It basically bogged down immediately.

Not to fear, I saw an excellent opportunity to "Fortify" my fist and I beat the hell out of that dough after that!  I pulled it all out of the mixing bowl, laid it out on the counter (don't worry I cleaned it!) and I kneaded the dough, and I folded the dough, and I punched the daylights out of it.

After that it was pretty smooth sailing and about forty minutes later I had an amazing meal to eat.  Except that the punch drunk dough was terrible.  but the fixin's were delicious.

Today, of course, was a fast day.  Only I would go into a fast on a diet of punchy pizza.  So this morning when I woke up, I was starving!  But I was determined to get through my fast.  Well, when I came home from work for lunch to let the dogs out, I absent mindedly opened the refrigerator and I just starred into it.  For no reason I can think of, I just gazed into that fridge hypnotized by that damned pizza, it looked so good.  I really wanted to just dive right on in and eat all remaining morsels of the best kind of Chicago Politics.  But, I held out.  I won that starring contest and as a result, when I closed out the day I weighed in at a svelte 175.8 pounds.  Not bad.

Rough Days and Feeling Good

Posted by Robert Bibeau on August 25, 2010 at 1:24 AM Comments comments (0)

Today was an interesting day.  If you take a look at the qualitative metrics it will show that across the board I had a pretty good day.  What it doesn't indicate at all is what the day was like from a purely professional standpoint.  In that respect, it was one of those days where things just don't go right at all.  That's okay.  Six months ago, prior to my Kung Fu really beginning to develop, prior to the development of the Healing Journey Project, I would have had a really tough time dealing with today's set backs. 


I seriously had one thing after another today piling up to such an extent that I felt I could barely get any breathing room.  In addition I was juggling medical appointments as well as meetings and all of the mundane things that can pop up in a days work.  In spite of that, I was able to handle those tasks without it affecting my overall well-being or outlook on the day or life in general.  I feel like this is an absolutely positive step in the road to recovery and I am actually glad that I was able to be tested in this regard.


I will say that one person in particular helped me to cope with the days struggles though and that is my wife.  Tiffany was awesome today, through various text messages she was able to help keep me going mentally and that was awesome.  I am standing duty today and it is a 24 hour post, so I am here at work even now.  Earlier this evening she surprised me here at work with some dinner.  Now granted, I did just come off a fast yesterday and I did brake through the 180 pound plane, and the dinner she brought me might make some people cringe.  None-the-less, I loved it.  (It was In-N-Out by the way!) I thought it was awesome that she thought to bring me something being as I can't leave to go and get dinner.  Often times I'll end up ordering a pizza, and while the Double Double with Animal Style Fries is fattening, an entire pizza, order of breadsticks and a 2-liter bottle of soda is significantly more fattening.  (Garaunteed, I'd have eaten the enitre pizza!)  Just to be thought of was great though.


Additionally, as bad as the day could have been it was made better by the fact that one of my former Marines asked if I'd mind if he named his son after me.  I am so truly humbled by that, it's hard to describe how it made me feel.  I guess that for any faults that I may have as a man, a Marine, or a leader I must have done something right.  Even if my name is not the name chosen by the parents-to-be, just to be considered for such an honor is an incredible feeling.


I do feel that even had these wonderful occurances not have occured today, I would still have had an amazing day.  This was one of those rare days when even though things just don't go your way, you just can't miss.  I couldn't have performed like this today, without the issues getting to me even a few months ago.  I owe that transformation to Kung Fu.

196.6 and 178.4

Posted by Robert Bibeau on August 24, 2010 at 1:27 AM Comments comments (0)

I did it!  Today I finally broke the 180 pound mark and weighed in this evening at 178.4 pounds.  As those of you who have been following the Project know, Mondays are a fasting day for me.  I have no idea how much I was weighing when I got up this morning but after work, when I was the most tempted to eat I was 180.0.  I went to class just hoping that a good workout would help to alleviate the ferocity of my hunger, it didn't.  The reward though came when I got home and was getting ready for bed.  After helping Tiff get our son Jaxon put to bed, I was getting ready myself and as part of my routine reluctantly climbed onto the scale.  I was thinking that this might be the day, but as I was waiting for the digital readout to register, I began to think about how at times my weight has been rather erratic and I was bracing to see 183 dr even 184 displayed.  I nearly jumped through the roof when I saw the 178.4 mark clearly and proudly displayed. 

Granted, my weight will probably go back above 180 tomorrow when I come off the fast, but this is a major milestone none-the-less.  As such, I have recorded the date and time in the Calendar page of the website.

I think the next major milestone, weight wise is 176.6.  That will be twenty full pounds lost since the conception of this project.  I'm not sure how light I will actually be able to get being as my body fat percentages are reaching relatively healthy levels again.  Plus I'm not sure I really care too much about the whole weight issue anymore anyway, but as a means of actually measuring effectiveness of the Project its good to see.  Finally, I might have to rethink this whole thing, it could get expensive fast, as all my pants are starting slip dangerously low and I'll have to buy some new smaller ones fast.

New Techniques and Developing Skills

Posted by Robert Bibeau on August 20, 2010 at 1:44 AM Comments comments (0)

Last night I was really concerned about whether or not I would be able to wake up on time.  Well, I established a new technique.  I set an alarm in an entirely different room.  This forces me not only to walk across a big piece of the house, but more importantly forces me to begin taking care of my dogs.  Obviously I want to reach a point where I am not dependent on "gimmicks" like that, but for now, while I establish this as routine I think it will work.

The beauty of forcing myself to walk past my dogs in the morning is that it requires me to begin taking care of someone else.  It is easy to make excuses to yourself but its entirely another thing to make excuses to a hungry Bull Mastiff.  Thus, I am required to begin my morning domestic routine.  Let the dogs out, make the coffee, feed the dogs.  Once that process is started, I am able to make a conscious decision of whether or not I need more sleep.  No more wondering why I am waking up at 6:00 when I thought I was getting up at 5:00 and then finding out from my wife that I have been hitting snooze at one minute intervals for an hour with no memory of it.  Of course, as I have already learned during the course of this project, it can be dangerous to make premature determinations.  So ultimately I guess I wont know whether or not this new technique is working until I find my life being disrupted by irregular sleep patterns again.

One benefit of having been able to get up this morning is that I was able to put some genuine work into my staff set.  I have learned enough of the set now that just a few times through the set and I'll have worked up a pretty good sweat.  Although I cleaned up after my workout, I was still sweating when I got to work.  I am having some trouble with a technique that my Sifu says is called "casting the net" named for the similarity of the move to the technique of casting  a fishing net ages ago in China.  I know that with time I'll figure this thing out and it will be an easy maneuver but for now it seems to be a real bear.

I'm also noticing some real improvement in my ability to apply my Kung Fu.  At least relative to some light sparring.  I love the intensity of the work associated with sparring, but I especially love seeing how well the Kung Fu actually works.  Best of all though is that I am finding that I am now actually able to employ at least some basic principles, not just movements, of my Kung Fu and no longer rely on my boxing skill set to get me through a two minute bout with some of the (much) more advanced students. 

Admin Note

Posted by Robert Bibeau on August 18, 2010 at 8:32 PM Comments comments (2)

Today I will be focusing on getting to bed plenty early this evening after I get home from class.  The past two days have been reasonably good sleep but I am having some trouble waking up so I want to get back ahead of the power curve on that.  Also being as tomorrow is a day of staff work in the morning, and I will certainly not have time at lunch or in the afternoon to workout, I need to be certain to provide ample time for a workout in the early morning.

So... sadly no real wit or wisdom tonight.

Meetings and Lessons

Posted by Robert Bibeau on August 18, 2010 at 1:23 AM Comments comments (0)

Today was the type of day that is full, of all the things you would rather it not be full of.  Bad news, long meetings, doctors appointments, congested traffic, miscommunication and office politics.  Fortunately, as I was trudging through each of these dilemma's I had two things to look forward to.  The first was that my Sifu and I arranged last week to have a private lesson today so that I could either develop old material or learn something new.  The second was that Tuesdays are my days to pick up my son Jaxon from his daycare.  

After the beleaguering effects of three hours worth of meetings this morning I knew that I was burnt out and that my productivity for the rest of the day was going to be absolutely shot.  I momentarily contemplated calling my Sifu to cancel but fortunately that fleeting thought was replaced with reason as I realized that moping was not going to make me a more productive contributor to society today so I grabbed my gear and hit the road.

My workout with Sifu was pretty intense and we covered a lot of new ground.  I had a few personal bests today too.  For instance I was able to achieve a full five back of the hand push-ups with the furthest and closest to full extension yet.    I also noticed that I am getting to a point were my kicks are able to reach much higher and much faster and I felt an incredible amount of endurance throughout the workout.  As I said we covered a lot of new ground and I was introduced to a new form today Ng Ga: Hop Ying Kuen.  Sifu mentioned at the end of class that we would be focusing more now on my Orange Sash material and at the end of the workout had me hand over my Yellow Sash, presumably that means I've earned my Black Fringe for the Yellow Sash.  We closed out discussing the need to begin fortifying my fists by use of conditioning implements.  I ended up buying a wall bag (just the single pouch wall bag) and this weekend I'll be building a wall to put it on off my back porch (I'll be sure to get a picture up so that it becomes clear what I mean).

After my class with Sifu I had to get back to work for a few minutes and then it was straight away to the doctor.  I had to go in for a chiropractic appointment.  Some people don't care for them, but along with my Kung Fu and some accupuncture I've been able to have done, I am feeling light years better.  Of course there is some "physical therapy light" material that occurs prior to having my spine twisted eagerly back into position.  Most often I end up hooked up to the Electrical Stimulation machine with a hot pad on my back.  Today though, instead of heat we used ice for about fifteen minutes and then the heat for about five.  I know the ice felt amazing, after that I don't know because I'm pretty sure I slipped into a mini coma because I woke up what seemed like seconds later to the therapist telling me I needed to stop drooling on her pillows and that the doctor would be seeing me next.  Drool or no, it was an awesome nap.

After a variety of alarming but pain relieving sounds emanating from my neck and spine it was back to work.  I was able to get some pretty important things done and I was out the door on my way to get Jaxon by 4:15.  I was able to pick him up right at 5:00.  I had plans to take him  to do some shopping for his moms birthday which is coming up this weekend.  I thought I might have to change those plans though because he hasnt been eating well at all recently.  We presumed it was an issue of teething but were becoming more alarmed.  When I picked him up his teacher told me that he had only had one bottle today and had refused all other foods and liquids.  She had only minutes before warmed a bottle for him though as it was about the normal time for him to eat.  When Jaxon and I got to my truck I thought I would try to give him the bottle.  Though I was skeptical he would actually take it, I remembered his mom having told me something about that she normally tries to feed him when she drops him off and when necessary when she picks him up.  While I lack the proper anatomy to feed on demand I did have a warm bottle and figured it was worth a shot.

Since I have taken so much time setting this up, you probably have guessed that he took the bottle... So I'm not a suspense writer.  None-the-less I was pretty excited that all these "experts" on kids like "mom's" and "teacher's" couldn't get him to eat and I did.

Maybe it's not fair to take credit for being the first to see his appetite come back and it's probably really not fair to rub it in. But it was cool to be the one to have it happen.

Jaxon and I went shopping and found nothing but we had a great time together and at least got some ideas on what we want to get his mom for her birthday.  Pretty good day all things considered. 

Investments and Returns

Posted by Robert Bibeau on August 17, 2010 at 1:30 AM Comments comments (1)

In a recent post I declared with certainty that I had plateau'd.  I am now declaring with certainty that was a pretty short sited thing to say.  First of all to make a snap judgement on a micro-chasm of information and assuming the information is representative of a larger population is just bad statistics.  In fairness, I had to take college statistics two or three times before I even received a passing grade (I had to ask my wife how many times it was, I just remember that it was more than one).  So obviously I didn't really learn the lessons that some German Teachers Assistant tried for multiple semesters to cram down my throat but I do remember a phrase from statistics: "random sample."  Turns out that an assertion based on one occasionally repeating number on a cheap scale bought at Sports Authority because it was on sale, doesn't reflect an appropriate random sampling.

The reason this pertains, I want to retract the statement about a Plateau.  Ultimately I need to look at a much broader picture than just my weight.  I am not basing my Kung Fu or this project on the vanity of my weight.  More importantly is that other data that is reflected doesn't support the conclusion of a  "plateau" at all.  I am more limber, I am stronger, I am faster, I have way more endurance.  Bottom line, I am really advancing in a lot of ways that aren't reflected on that scale but are reflected on those other metrics, and more significantly, my own sense of feeling well and quality of life.

Today was a good example of the returns I am getting on all the time I have invested in myself via this project.  Thus it is also a good representation of why the thought I had plateau'd doesn't make a lot of sense.  While I did have a tough time waking up this morning, probably because it was the first full nights sleep I've had in about two weeks, I did manage to get in a full work day with a full day of workouts at their appropriate times.  So ultimately it was a great first day back to the project, I had little pain, I was in a great mood, I felt clear headed, and I was thriving off the results of a restful nights sleep (I got quality and quantity, I'll deal with the difficulty waking up after sleep like that) and I had some great workouts today.

Anniversaries and Birthdays

Posted by Robert Bibeau on August 16, 2010 at 12:52 AM Comments comments (1)

Today, Jaxon turned 9 months old.  Tomorrow will be the three year anniversary of the day that I took nine Marines, and one Corpsman out to live with Company A, 2d Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division at a terrible little place called Expeditionary Patrol Base Hassa where we were supposed to live for two weeks.  We ended up there for 8 weeks and as miserable as they were, they might have been the best of my life.

EPB Hassa was named for the fishing village of Hassa nearby.  On any map the name of the village will show up as "A Shirwaniya" but the locals don't call it that and would laugh when asked about it declaring that Shirwaniya was the daughter of a man who had lived in the village nearly a hundred years ago and that she had raised children there but that the village had never been called Shirwaniya.  Of course I have no way of knowing whether or not that is true, but it was cool to hear the old men and Sheiks in the village talk about it.

The nine Marines I took with me to EPB Hassa prided themselves as being the type that no-body else wanted.  They soon became known as the "Merry Band of Miscreants" and the "Misfits" I am not exactly sure where the moniker's originated but the boys loved it and they made it their own. By the time we left Hassa those Marines were as good a team as any and while we went out there looking like the Bad News Bears when our 8 weeks there were up, they were some legitimate bad-asses. 

The time I spent with my Platoon after my first deployment was priceless. (First deployment is when I was the Intel Officer until I went to Hassa, Second deployment is when I was a Platoon Commander and when I got injured)  I loved being a Platoon Commander and it was the best job I ever had, however, the time I spent in Hassa was the most important work I've ever done.  It was my shining hour.  Me, nine Marines, one Corpsman and a whole lot of Jundi (Iraqi Soldiers) living together, working together, surviving together.  It takes a lot of courage to live as 11 men amongst a group of anywhere between 40 - 160 Jundi at any given time (Iraqi Army strength depended on Mujas. Mujas is "leave" and their personnel strength was in a constant state of flux).  When you are living amongst that many people as an essentially occupying military force in their land, an hour and a half away from any sort of help, it takes courage and my Marines displayed it every minute of every day. We were prepared to have the name Hassa spoken with the same reverence as the name Alamo.  I have said before that some people's glory days were spent on a football field in high school.  Mine were spent leading Marines as we chased enemies of this nation across the Al Anbar desert.  While I may never have those days back, I at least had them.

It is interesting to me how a date of such little significance as having gone somewhere can be of equal import to me as the date of my son turning 9 months old.  Now granted on August 15, 2027, I am not going to care one bit that it is the day Jaxon is turning 17 years and 9 months old.  New parents, at least me and Tiffany marvel at each new stride our son takes even if it is simply that the size on clothing tags has changed from 6 month to 9 month.  None-the-less, despite that sense of marvel now, in 17 years this day will pass without note for me in all likelihood, but August 16th, 2027 will still be the twenty year anniversary of having initiated my glory days with the ten most courageous young men I have ever known.