What I learned about myself watching my first fight night

The other night I attended my very first live fight…

Anyone who knows me would think that was out of character – I’m not your average blood sport kinda gal. But I was there to support a couple of (unrelated) mates who were part of a reality type internet show called Wimp2Warrior.  You know the type, where they take your average Joe from off the street, train them in MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) for 6 months or so, and then set them out to fight against each other. And from hundreds of applicants from all around Australia, I happen to know two! How could I not go?

I can honestly say I was a bit apprehensive. I had seen a few snippets of fights on TV (as my bro is your average blood sport enthusiast) and it was a bit gory for my liking. The sound of a punch hitting skin is not really one of my favourite sounds, and these nutcases are so determined not to “tap out” that quite often broken and dislocated limbs are the only things that stop the fights. And having to watch two people you actually know stepping into the cage… That’s just a different story. Luckily for me they weren’t fighting against each other, despite being in the same weight division.

So imagine my surprise when I found myself hoarse after the first round from yelling –
“Go Adz!”
“Kick him!”
“Elbows!”

Adz in the ring

Adz (blue) in the ring

Granted I’d had a beverage or two, but there I was bellowing at the top of my lungs, telling a friend to hurt someone else! And it didn’t end there. I screamed my support right up until the point he tapped out (guillotine move apparently), then picked 2 strangers to go for before cheering my little heart out for my other friend, Vaughan (who also lost in a split decision by a single point). It was thrilling, it was stressful but I was having a grand old time.

vaughno

Vaughn (left) waiting to hear the points decision

After we left the event my hubby and I were discussing how weird it was that I had gotten so into it. Maybe it was the personal connection? No, that wasn’t it because it took me no time at all to find some strangers to support. Maybe I’m just a sports supporter – I love watching a bit of rugby, a bit of tennis, and I’ve been known to yell a few words of support. But “kick him”?! Or maybe I was a blood sport kinda gal…

I started thinking about the ancient Roman gladiators. I always thought it was disgusting that people would go and watch people fight to the death. Sometimes they had the power to affect whether the gladiators got to live or die, and it was not uncommon for them to vote for a death. Would I have been one of those people, one who would get so caught up in the atmosphere that I’d vote for an execution? I can be so self-righteous sometimes, and I like to think my values and ethics are first class. I had really caught myself out.

I still can’t explain the inner blood nut that I seemed to awaken the other night, but I guess I knew that they’d never let anyone get really hurt – if anyone looked like they were in serious trouble the trainers would throw in the towel. Despite the production value of the Wimp 2 Warrior finale, and the fact that I personally knew two of the competitors, being there live actually felt more disconnected than watching it on TV. You’re further away, you can’t hear any of the noises going on in the ring, and you have a cage between you and the fighters. Well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

So for now I’ll take comfort in the fact that I still get grossed out by watching MMA fights on TV. Surely that means that the ancient Roman Cat didn’t get caught up in the hysteria and send gladiators to their death!

NB: I’d like to give a special shout out to Vaughan and Adz. I cannot imagine how hard you boys trained for those 6 months (although I’m about to see on the show!) and how much courage it would have taken for you to step out in that ring knowing that no matter what you’re going to be hurting the next day. Well done – absolutely incredible stuff.

Making the tough decisions

Fotolia_Yes-or-No-decision-making-e1330349370287One of the ironies of modern life is that the very freedom that we consider a basic human right can be the source of so much stress. First world problems, right? But around me I’m seeing so many people hung up on the decisions that they need to make. They fret. Because as per economic theory, there is an opportunity cost for each path they choose. Because sometimes the decision is not straight forward – sometimes there is a need to choose between the lesser of two evils, or two equally bad or equally good ones. Or because the decision is life changing.

  • Consider the lady who’s at a point in her life where she has to decide whether to change jobs to progress her career, or whether she should stay (unsatisfied) in a job so that she will be able to take advantage of the maternity leave benefits.
  • Or the point where a young couple has to decide whether to stretch their budget and step into their first mortgage, or use their savings and go on a round the world trip of a lifetime.
  • Or the expat Aussie, living it up in London/Hong Kong/New York/Singapore with a great career, earning great money, living in a great little flat and partying with great friends. But they dearly miss their family and friends back home, and of course the Aussie beaches and weather. To stay or to go back home?

At a glance each decision comes with consequences that are somewhat equally weighted. Life is full of them. So what would you do?

At the end of the day decisions like these seem to come down to a combination of life stage, your values and your ethics – family, financial, rational, emotional, duty, live for today, plan for tomorrow. Sharing your thought processes with a confindant (friend, family, colleague, or a few thousand fellow bloggers) can help with clarity as we tend to associate with people who share our values and ethics.

However you make your life decisions, try not to let the process and the “what ifs” overwhelm you. Trust that you have the capability to make the right decision for you and then put 100% into making it work. Never look back, even if it doesn’t quite work out the way you thought it would. There might just be another opportunity waiting for you right around the corner. Or perhaps it’s right in front of you.

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one that has opened for us.”
Alexander Graham Bell

Tip #2: Absence makes the heart grow fonder

Secrets to a Long Love Story

I bet you’re thinking cliché right? I know, I know, but the saying must have come from somewhere. Hubby and I have been together for 15 (plus) years and I sometimes wonder whether we’d still be together if we didn’t manage a few breaks from each other. I’m not necessarily talking months and months apart across continents (although we did that too), but more so short stints – a long weekend here, a couple of weeks there.

Fortunately or unfortunately my hubby is a hobby fiend – fishing, hunting, dirt bikes – you name it and he’s probably been into it at some point. And again fortunately or unfortunately, all of these hobbies seemed to be best executed on boys’ trips away (and require he spend a bomb on accessories). Sometimes I’d be the one to go away – girls’ trip, family trip back to Thailand, work trip.

Time-Alone-QuoteThese breaks were great, as I love a bit of ‘me’ time – a little space every so often to re-evaluate, relax and reorganise my home and my mind. Self-examination is much easier to do without someone else there, and generally you need more than one or two days to do it. I’d also put in some extra family time, to be a good sister to my brother and a good daughter to my mother. Or sometimes I’d use the time to catch up with friends – I’d go out for a large one, come home completely drunk, take ages to get in the front door making as much noise as possible, then cook myself some 2 minute noodles and pass out on the couch (noodles uneaten), all without getting into any trouble for waking hubby up!

Whatever happened during our time apart, the little break would allow us time to miss the other and all those lovely things that come with them -the skin contact, the conversation, that other person to share some laughs with. It helps you forget (just a little) about those annoying habits your partner has too, so serves to extend those gaps between one tiff and the next. It gives you an opportunity to experience things without them, build some stories to tell, and best of all it allows you to reunite with them and have all those great emotions flood back.

But there is an unexpected bonus of a mini-break: it helps you remember how to be you, an individual, rather than one half of a couple. And that the world doesn’t fall apart if you’re by yourself.

I think the great poet Kahlil Gibran sums it all up beautifully in his passages from “The Prophet

But let there be space in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from the same cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be Joyous, but let each one of you be alone.
Even as the strings of the lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
 
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

Rude or acceptable? Depends what lens you’re looking through

I’ve been toying for a few days now about what topic I should write about next. I have a list of topics that I’d like to write about, but I want to be sure that my first few topics cover a range that reflects who I am. I was flicking through some blogs and found this post Talk about the weather, not my weight about an Aussie girl following her Italian beau and struggling with some of the culture clashes – Bingo! It became the genesis of this post.

The saying goes that if you can understand the humour of another language then you become pretty much native. Being fluent in both Thai and English I can assure you that there are a few other hurdles to watch out for. Norms and taboos are particularly interesting obstacles, where a misunderstanding can result in hilarity, awkwardness or even hurt either party’s feelings.

fat cartoonA casing point is the weight commentary, as per With Italian Love’s experiences. In Thailand (and apparently in Italy), it is perfectly acceptable to say hello and then comment on your weight – “Gee, you’ve put on a bit of weight. You must be living it up!” or “You’ve lost some weight haven’t you? You’re looking good”. Obviously the latter is preferable to the former, but people serve it up to you either way, and may even throw in a few pointers to assist you in achieving what they would consider their optimum weight for you.

I recall when I was a fragile teenager I was outraged that my mum’s friends felt that it was their place to comment to point out the muffin tops protruding from my jeans, or when they thought it was fine to announce to the whole market in Bangkok that I’d never fit into medium sized pants and they better get the large ones out. You never would have categorised me as fat, but it’s easy to feel large when you tower over everyone and they’re all size 6.

Strangers, even customers, aren’t immune. When Hubby and I were shopping for shorts in a Phuket market, he was met with a shop keeper who told him that he was “very big” and he would need “elephant size” shorts! He is 6 ft 5″ and about 120kgs so the description wasn’t inaccurate, but you’d only never venture down that road in Australia. Lucky for us the shop keeper stocked elephant size so we managed to get some shorts out of the encounter.

Eventually I started to find the regular weight updates quite funny, and the honesty almost refreshing. ALMOST. I recognised that no malice was meant, and it was more like an observation a la “How’s this rain at the moment?”

The social filters and taboos in the Thai culture are there, just as they are in Italian culture. They just are in different places! What is acceptable and what is rude is determined by your frame of reference. Being exposed to two cultures means that I’m lucky enough to have more than one lens to process the world. If there is one thing that I can pass on from my (not so) unique position, it would be tolerance. Just because you believe something is right or wrong doesn’t mean it is so everywhere.