Upon returning to the NYC area from Fayetteville NC, I set out to right ship and put the proper emphasis on life (rather than work-work-work).
My desire to get more involved amplified by being limited in what I could do while away in Mississippi and North Carolina. By the time I returned home early in July, I jumped fully in.
I volunteered at a scout camp in the swamps of Jersey, a volleyball camp north of Toronto, spent just about every weekend with family or friends, and got very involved in the Estonian community.
Toward the end of summer I joined an Estonian fraternity (EÜS) and an Estonian folk dance group (Saare Vikat). These two commitments would prove to be very fruitful over the course of the next couple years, as would the decision to double down on community, time with family and friends, and time pursuing interests.
Those summer, fall, into early winter months had quite a number of fun events. We had regular folk dance practices which would last a few hours and then pour into fun nights of drinking, dancing, and laughing. We had a small fall event (fESTOval), a New Year’s event in Toronto, and a fraternity volleyball event in Toronto.
It was a highly active social period that was incredibly fulfilling to be a part of after feeling “disconnected” for the past eight months.
It was also during this period that I decided to make good on moving out. Upon returning, our next project was supposed to kick off toward the middle of the fall, so I held off on moving out for sake of simplicity, but once this project date slid from the fall until January and then March, I pulled the trigger. I signed on for a short term, month to month lease in the town that I was working in (Boonton, NJ) and moved in at the start of 2018.
I signed on for a place where, in exchange for occasional help with home projects (drywall, cleaning, shoveling snow, etc.), I would get reduced rent. While it wasn’t a flashy, new apartment, it was nice, cozy and my own space. I think it’s worth being creative about living situations to sidestep “full rent”, save money, and leave future possibilities open.
During this same period of great social revival and big boy moves, I got more into my body. Not as much in a vain way as in a tapping into the capabilities of what this body could do. I had fallen away from hard training during my “hippie years”, dabbled with lifting again while in Montana and upon returning to New Jersey (to no avail). I let it slide for a while, eased back into it while experimenting in Mississippi, and really hit stride again while training at Gold’s Gym in North Carolina.
This is what kept me sane during this period where I’d been away for eight months, working long days, and managing a construction site with all its random stressors and personalities.
The training kept me mentally and physically in check, and while I was getting more into it, I started exploring new forms of training. From heavy lifts, plyometrics and HIIT, I got more into using the body (and fewer outside tools) as a means of challenging itself. This led me to yoga and then to jiu jitsu.
This is when I began to learn the value and power of group training. Jiu jitsu was (and remains) the best form of therapy that I’ve ever come across. I’d begun training at a new school in Jersey (Otimo) and the camaraderie and difficulty of the training reeled me in.
You’ve got to set your ego aside and be in the moment to submit someone, avoid getting submitted, and know when it’s time to tap. I loved that in order to do well on the mats, you had to show up day in and day out, put in the training, and develop yourself and your mindset as a person. The people that outstrode me earned it and I respected that.
It was the environment of doing this hard form of training that led me onward and has remained a part of my identity: hard training in groups.
To compliment jiu jitsu, I also took this time to introduce my body to movement training, on top of the compound lifts and plyometrics that I’d been introducing to my routine. I worked on some basic animal flow movements and tried my hand at cartwheels and handstands during this time. Needless to say, it was great for getting back into gear, into body, and into a grateful and easy-going place that I’d barely sat before.
This time is when I came to realize how movement-based I am as a person. The type that has a tougher time “relaxing” and sitting still for long periods, and can only feel at ease and within themselves, upon reaching a certain threshold of output/ moving (in a day, a week, etc.).
This training focus carried from the physical into the mental: FE exam prep, a customer visit in Arizona, a site visit to North Carolina, meeting with prospective customers in New Jersey, and reading about Mike Tyson, Conor McGregor, Georges St. Pierre, John D. Rockefeller, and other influential figures.
I took from their stories and mindsets in an effort to improve my own. To not only read it but apply it and see what of theirs might work for me.
In addition to the folk dance and fraternity (mentioned earlier), I started meeting with a folk song group and chatting with a Canadian Estonian girl. My having not given much time, effort, or value to relationships upto this point led to my really turning my eye to it during these ~6 months where I was back in the NYC area.
That feeling of burn out, upon returning from North Carolina, eventually turned into a deep appreciation, connected-ness and drive to continue giving and growing. To continue building stronger ties and building toward a better, stronger me.
“TPTY III: Big Boy Moves, Relationships, and Renewal” covers July 2017 - February 2018.
“TPTY IV: Living, Breaking Up, and Succeeding in Charlotte“ will come out next Tuesday [October 15th]!
Stay tuned and feel free to comment, question, or otherwise drop a line.