On a New Year (or winter break in Yuba City)

After leaving the warmth of a Florida winter, with a quick layover in Minneapolis, we arrived in Northern California on the 28th. Yuba City, which is north of Sacramento (or ‘Sac’ as the natives say), is less a city and more a collection of orchards and rice paddies with some low buildings sprinkled in. My partner’s family lives in a small ranch home nestled between rows and rows of pruned trees waiting out the cold. Here, we enjoyed the second half of winter break with deliciously cold showers, slow wifi, and lots of comfort food.

During this time, life slowed down as I played with the family dogs and met humans important to my partner. This relaxation of priorities allowed me to plan ahead for the coming year and imagine what will come: cold showers, a competition, and some yoga.

I don’t really set resolutions. I like chunking my life into reasonably portioned experiments; working a few months at a time, I’ll fold in a new habit or routine and see how the effects add up over time. A resolution is a year-long commitment to an idea that may have false assumptions tied to it. An experiment allows me to fail without becoming a failure.

I’d like to continue my practice of cold showers. The immunophysiologic benefits alone are worth the cost of admission for a brisk five minute rinse. In Yuba City, the water initially took my breath away. Compared to Tampa, where the tap never really dips below room temperature, the NorCal winter water felt like a blizzard from a faucet. After a week of only brisk rinses and no warm water, I built up to 6-8min of sustained giggles and wiggles in the shower.

Back in Florida, I’ll continue this practice despite the lessened temperature effect. The cold reminds me of home, of New Hampshire winters and waiting for the car to heat up. I know that when we move up to Pennsylvania in a few months, I’ll again have access to the cold and I would like to hit the ground running.

I will continue attending Jiu-Jitsu classes twice a week. I am registered for a competition in Atlanta, four short weeks from now. The past bit of winter break, away from my academy and regular rolls, has been wonderful for my upper back and neck health. In retrospect, my meat-suit has been quietly requesting a deload to rest and recover; after all, that’s what the winter season is for.

Resuming attendance this week, I’ll continue my pace of two classes a week through the competition, and then perhaps bump up to three if I’m feeling zesty afterwards. The extra class doesn’t sound like much, but over the course of a year the additional time on the mat adds up, as well as the neck and joint strain. I’ll have to be particularly mindful about recovery and appropriate rest if I attend that additional class.

And finally, I will resume my yoga practice. I have slowly tapered off of this mat, especially during my transition from CrossFit to BJJ. I know the benefits to both body and mind, but I’ve put a low priority to the asana practice. Over the past few months, I have returned to CrossFit in order to condition for grappling. Now, it’s time that I return to yoga in order to relax and stretch for grappling. A few online classes under my belt and I’m already wondering why I spent so long away from the practice.

I look forward to this coming year, with many milestones and markers to light the path. Course Seven and the wrap-up of lectures. Step Prep and the grind. The move away from Tampa and toward Pennsylvania. A small marriage ceremony. The start of third year and the madness of clinic. My partner’s first true winter.

One year, fifty-two weeks, 52 reflections, it will all pass at last and too soon. For now, I’ll focus on Course Seven starting up tomorrow morning.

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