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Updated: Oct 11, 2022

It's Mental Health Day and I want to speak to you about Resilience.


I know it's a buzz word now but I'm not a fan.

Resilience, when looked up is defined as coming back to its original form.

My question is why?

Why would I want to come back from something not learning anything?


I would rather adapt. Use the lessons learned and be stronger in the next round.


The Olympic Games

I’ve been to 2 : competed at the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, USA and then was on Team 2008- the information Task Force for the Toronto 2008 bid who went to the Sydney 2000 Games.


1996 could’ve gone better.... I went into the Games injured with a dislocating shoulder (tore my labrum clean off in the semi finals of the trials). I was tired from qualifying, and they made me change my judogi just before going on.

So qualifying was a brand new thing in ‘96 and for women of the Pan-Am union there were only 2 spots per category after the top 8 world ranked were selected. Actually, it worked in my favour as the American had an automatic berth and the Cuban was in the top 8 being World Champion. Through the year, the Cuban-born Venezuelan snatched the first berth right under everyone’s noses and left the second spot between myself and the Brazilian. We were tied in points. So it was proposed a fight off to happen in Puerto Rico, I think it was, best 2 out of 3 in the December.


It then got postponed.

Keep in mind this was just to qualify. I still needed to win nationals.

It was postponed to February.

Then it was postponed to March, then again to the end of April.

Each time, I was tailoring my training to peek at this event.

I get a call from Captain, my national coach saying, “Niki, about the fight off...” He couldn’t finish with all the ‘niceties’. I was throwing down the phone.

“Wait! Wait! It’s ok, they’ve cancelled it. They’ve picked you!”

A true phenomenon occurred. Niki Jenkins was stunned silent.

But good news!

Right?!


So I had to win Nationals which I did, however, landing on my shoulder (I do apologise to the girl who’s nose I crunched 😞) and tore my labrum. Thank goodness for adrenaline which took me through the final.


It’s kind of synchronicity that I write this on Mental Awareness Day as my next portion of my story is at the actual Games.


When I finally got to the on-deck area, after the judogi fiasco, I asked for a minute alone in the curtained off area they provided.


This might sound a bit crazy to some but I experienced what can only be described as an out of body experience.


I started sobbing, like ugly ugly crying.


I openned my eyes and was literally beside myself. My ghostly form shook me and sternly said, ‘Get it together Woman!! We haven’t come this far, to get this far!’

So I did.

Dried my face on my Plan B gi, and walked out into the lights, the noise, the crowd and the French opponent. I nearly armlocked her but nearly, against a wazari, doesn’t cut it.

I was done.

Ooooooh so done!

It was a while before I wanted to see a judo mat again.



2000 Sydney was an opportunity of a lifetime! Our team led a VIP service to athletes, supporters, stakeholders and influencers. As it happens, CBC asked me to commentate as Nico Gill, was favoured to do well. My first live commentary ever and it was the finals of the Olympics Games.

Baptism by fire.

I then met the Love of my Life, Neil and life then spun a very different direction from there.

These are the elements that create us, I have no regrets, only some not-so-great experiences, which I dub The Dark Ages. They were really dark and fodder for a future blog. But I have learned from them, tried to use them to shape a good person with a great attitude towards life.

I’m happy to share more privately with and when anyone who needs to hear it and to let them know it can get better, there is ALWAYS someone who cares for you.

Don’t be afraid to ask.

I have been there.

I know I’ll always #asktwice


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Today is my birthday.


Well thank you. That's very kind.


I will tell you my age as it's important to the blog. Today I am the big 4-9.


I think with all birthdays we tend to reflect and set goals, and why not? We most likely have not carried on any New Year's resolutions we promised, so birthdays can be sort of a Plan B. Although, I don't set resolutions, nor normally wait for significant dates to make any changes. But, as this is the year coming up to 50, I'm thinking it's time to have a good hard look at what's going on in the House of Niki.




I'm also recovering from Covid, which surprisingly completely took me off my feet and left me with a chest infection and a husky cough that makes everyone who is around more than slightly uncomfortable. It's not the general feeling of malaise or even the exceptional tiredness that took me by surprise but, for me, it was not being able to breathe. That was not on at all, and really took me to those dark places that really, we choose to avoid.


I often have a recurring dream that I'm under water or the air has been snuffed out and I can't breathe. I wake up finding that I am holding my breath and it's terrifying. It's usually around times when I feel overwhelmed or not in control of things, despites all my efforts (Ha! There it is again!)


These past couple of weeks have put things into perspective and as Neil was away while I sat 7 hours in the A&E for a chest x-ray, I was alone with my thoughts.

Do I have a plan for the next 50 years, knock on wood.


Working for myself, as the saying goes, I'll be working until lunchtime on the day of my funeral. But the past few weeks and especially the last couple of days, I've had to check to see if I've been the best type of mom, wife, friend I could be. As I've said in earlier musings, I've never been a girlie girl and shudder at the notion of being thought of as a 'Pick Me' girl as my daughters have educated me on the latest social term - someone who downplays themselves to gain favour or access to an otherwise inaccessible group by way of a sympathy vote. So I tend not to sit around hoping to be invited to this, that or the other. I rather feel that people will contact me when they need me or want me to be at their social event, therefore I won't necessarily contact them, without good reason. I truly believe a true friendship is where, even though you haven't spoken for a long time, you just pick up from where you left off. But isn't just calling to connect a good reason, I have to ask myself?


And that is how I have come to this next year's mantra....not goal....as that's work and I don't want it to be work. This part of my life shouldn't be work, it should flow within mindful parameters, guided by my interests and by those who are interested in me.


I have boiled it down to one word: effort


People who know me, know me to be a pretty full on busy bee with a lot of irons in the fire at any given time and might have a difficult time wondering why I've chosen effort, as it might look like I am always putting as much energy into life that I can.


This is different.

I'm thinking that another way of putting it is 'prioritised conscious application of will'.

(I just made that up, but I think it sounds pretty swish)


I will make the effort to to do things in the present that benefits me that could be put off for another day.

I will make the effort to keep in contact with people unless it becomes one-sided, in which I will no longer.

I will make the effort to walk everyday or do a physical activity that is for my pure personal pleasure and not for work.

I will make the effort in my appearance each and every day - a ritual that somehow gets left behind once you have kids. And it's true that people treat you differently if it is perceived that you have made an effort, as cynical as that might be, it seems, to me, to be the unspoken law of the jungle.


The proof of this working well for me was when I did my first yoga class yesterday, with a friend who has been asking me on and off for a few weeks, and today I made the effort.

Could I have laid in bed a little longer? Sure.

Could I have given the excuse of too much work? Absolutely.

And the result was wonderful.

In this class I had one thing to do and only one thing and that was to listen to my body, listen to it's story as it went through basic poses and opened up.

Nothing else.

I haven't focused on myself like that since...well forever.


So finally, I have decided that this year will be about effort that fulfills me, makes me better to be around, makes people want to connect on a vibration that is positive and possibly effortless as the effort has already been done.


So no memories to write about today. More about looking forward, however, I did learn something recently that resonates deeply with me and I guess is along the lines of effort:

the difference between being Effective and Efficient that will weave it's way through my efforts this year and hopefully beyond:

To be efficient is to get prescribed things done in a prescribed time, faster and with less input.

To be effective is to take things forward and progress making it better and learning the whole way.


Effort: It doesn't take much, only the courage to say Let's Do This.




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I just hit my head.

I hit my head hard, which actually isn’t a very difficult thing to do in my Tudor-aged house. I came through a doorway and came up too quickly and I’m actually seeing stars.

F**king door!

I’m only try to put my clothes away in my "wardrobes" that should be in my actual bedroom, which can’t fit wardrobes cuz the stupid barn isn’t done, but can’t do that until the bloody mortgage comes through, and probably can’t afford the stinking renovations because judo people don’t want to learn online, albeit from the best in the business, and the damn craft shop has closed so need to find another shop to stock Uniqi products, and I have to get my shit together to get the girls to school as Brooke’s car has decided it doesn’t want a f**king clutch anymore….. sigh…the vortex of negativity is real, folks.


As my dad used to say, ‘just want to move a little gravel!’ born from ‘Gravelgate’.

Exasperated in an attempt to move a pile of gravel, the truck Dad wanted use to load the gravel wouldn’t start, so he needed the tracker to boost it, but then he would need to fix the flat tyre in order to move the tractor to the proximity of the truck and, incidentally out from behind said pile of gravel. It’s now a family saying as most of Tom’s phrases have become.

I’m going to say right off the bat here, this is not a pity post. I haven’t written in a while, as again, I have let life get in the way and seemed to have lost my mojo in that mix. But I digress.....


So here I am, stars circling my head à la Wylie E Coyote. I stumbled to my bed edge to gain composure, cuz I feel them coming. The stinging, hot, salty droplets of weakness pushing at the floodgates.

No! I say to myself, Don’t give in!

Knowing once I go, I don’t know if can stop. I can feel the pent up frustrations of the last two years dangerously close to the overflow lip just waiting for that one extra drop to send it all spilling over the edge.


I see it before I feel it. The blurry, wet vision to say, ‘Here I Come!’ Then the single, hot rivulet, tickling down my cheek plopping with an almighty thud from my chin onto my jean-clad thigh.


Then there’s the gulps for air, thinking that somehow air elementally trumps water, but it’s no use. The brain has engaged, craving the release that a good, ugly cry gives.


I’m now cursing that I can’t even let loose and give it a good ol’ howl as my two daughters are home from school and in the next room. Motherly protection kicks in; I don’t want to worry them. I don’t have the energy to talk about it.


I don’t really want to say it out loud, as really I probably couldn’t, not really knowing what IT is, specifically. It’s all just a haze of grey. And I have friends who are going through some really tough shit, I mean really tough, and I can’t rationalise my frustrations against theirs.


Mine are business-based, theirs are family and health troubles, not that The Adams & Jenkins haven’t had their share of family drama in the last few weeks, both great and not-so-great, so thankfully my mess is a bit more in my control or at least my reaction to it is. As you can note from above, not reacting so well at the mo, though.


Being in business for yourself is a freeing, frustrating, pride-building, ego-dashing, rewarding, and soul sucking rollercoaster.

The pandemic again was an oxymoron for us. It finally demystified online learning and showcased our teaching website to wary judokas. However, we found a new formidable opponent in the explosion of free YouTube judokas. How do you combat free content when it’s their hobby and it’s our business?

You sell bands. You sell judo bands like they will save the world, and in some truth they did, our world.


And you innovate. We took an idea that Neil had floating in his head for some time and ran with it. To be honest, I enjoyed the process and now our Skimmers are gaining traction, or should I say, sailing out the door.

Also, our mortgage came to term which we have been painstakingly planning for 5 yrs to satisfy, when in a blink of an eye, events were stopped, dojos were closed, contracts were cut, therefore our earnings, and if you’re self employed, you know what a picnic getting a mortgage is!


Thud!

Another hot, salty one of frustration, bordering on anger, finds its way from my cheek.


My instant thought is how do we cover that loss of earnings? I really thought we were passed this point in our business.

I really take umbrage to being put back into this position as I had finally settled into the thought process of ‘enough’.


From all my life of trying to be the top, or at least ahead, to finally sitting down, looking around saying- we have it good here, we have enough - to then suddenly being whipped-lashed back into ‘chasing the money’, I’m suddenly really tired.

And I don’t like it.


It’s the knife edge of a slippery slope to resignment, which is nowhere near the feeling of ‘enough’.

I wrack my vault of memories for lessons from my past, as I do, and the first vision that pops up is qualifying for the Olympics in the years of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-five and ninety-six.

I remember sitting there on the edge of my bed, as I am now, in my one room flat in Mount Royal, Montreal feeling exactly this way. My bed was a mattress on the floor there and here I am on a super king bed frame, so I’ve done something right, I suppose.

In my mind’s eye, I can see my judo bag open in front of me, judogi folded but not yet put in. My black belt thrown in but hanging out, reflecting my indecision.

Why? I remember asking myself. Why am I doing this? Who am I doing this for? Is anyone going to thank me for doing this, if I succeed? What is success? The qualifying or The Games, itself? Rue Rachel, Mont Royal, Montreal, Canada

I was, then, in the middle of trying to qualify for my place on the Canadian Olympic Team and the Gods were making me work hard for it. There were only 2 spots available in the whole of the Pan-American Union. Upon a disastrous Pan-Am Games, I was in spot 2, however, I was tied with the Brazilian candidate for that last coveted ranking.

I had just heard, for the third time in that last 8 months, that our fight-off had been postponed. The Games were in July and here I was, knocking on May.


I was tired.


My body was tired from training for three fight-offs.

My mind was tired of the singular focus needed to pack that damn bag every day.


My soul was tired of being used as a political bean bag and feeling alone in my quest.

Everyone else had either already qualified or knew they hadn’t and were embarking on new life adventures.


I was in limbo. And it was lonely.

I’m trying to remember what I did next. I must have heaved myself up from that mattress on the floor, pushed my judo belt back into the bag, slung the bag strap over my shoulder, and went through my apartment door for the walk to the metro which would snake me to Shidokan dojo.

My residual feeling from that memory is what has now become my favourite saying:

You haven’t come this far, to come this far’’


My goal was to go to the Olympics. Hopefully medal. And I see now, being with Neil, just how your focus can create your reality. My focus was to get to The Games, hoping to win, something. Neil’s was to win it, end of. My Olympic mat time was a total of 4mins 44secs.

4 years to say that I was on an Olympic mat for 4:44 minutes.


If you’re into numerology, according to the internet, the number 4 is said to mean,

‘Encouragement is being given for you to use your own inner power and abilities to reach your goals. If you don’t take action now, you’ll never be able to achieve the life you want to lead. It is a sign that your efforts have been answered, and you are finally able to actualize and achieve your dreams.’

It, the internet, carries on to say, that ‘it’s critical to have self-confidence and tenacity. Everything is achievable if you believe in yourself. Only those who are willing to take a risk will be rewarded.’


This, slows my crown of circling stars by a tad.


The impact of that win/lose result forms and hardens a part in you that you lug around, that you either use as a limiting, pegged ball & chain or as a hammer throw to let loose.


You haven’t come this far to come this far….


The goal I share with Neil is to be the best teaching resource and technical institution of our sport. Not to just show up but to lead.


I know this isn’t the best money-making model, we would’ve picked another market, if, in all honesty, that was the goal. Maybe that’s it though…just showing up and hopefully making a living from it, is the wrong focus. Maybe it’s about creating a living and hoping people get something from it.

I feel my focus shifting slightly. Stars are slowing.

My daughter has come in asking if I’m ok.

‘Yeah, I think so. Just hit my head on the door frame’.

I wave her off.

‘Honestly, I’ll be just fine. I just need a minute to calm down’.

I wipe my face; tears of pent-up, convoluted frustration disguised as simple pain.

I stand up from my bed, draw in a deep breath. I take stock of my bedroom - the one attached to the not-yet renovated barn and the doorway between.




Here, in this bedroom I have enough, but looking through the doorway, I can see the possibilities and so much more to tackle to bring it all to it’s true potential. The Universe isn’t ready for me to sit back and relax.

I’ve not come this far, to come this far….


As I start to focus, I realise, those circling stars are now starting to align.

*********

(Thanks, all, for this chat. I needed it. I hope I can always do the same for you whenever you need it x )


Follow me on my

Instagram pages: @nikijadams @uniqi_wellness @adamsfamilyuk @uniqiproductions

Facebook pages: @uniqi_wellness @adamsfamilyuk @uniqiproductions


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