New Merchandise Available

Beginning September 2013, we will have access to the full line of merchandise in our physical retail store in Alexandria, Minnesota from several new suppliers. This is a great step for us.  It increases our available lines and brings you some crazy awesome gear!

Meister MMAThe first new supplier is Meister MMA.  This is a local Minnesota company that specializes in MMA gear for fighters and martial arts athletes.  They have awesome stuff!  We have been using their hand wraps for several months and recently began using their 16oz boxing gloves.  We have been extremely happy with their merchandise and are excited to offer a wider selection to our physical retail customers.

The other company we are excited to begin offering gear to is Fuji Sports. Fuji Logo We have been able to obtain their merchandise through the other branch of our business Empower Boxing Alexandria and are excited to offer the complete line of Fuji products to our retail store customers.  Fuji is the official provider of gear for the World Series of Fighting and the Martial Arts World Championships!  This will be a fantastic new line to offer here in Alexandria!

Stay posted on our site and our Facebook page for updates on new gear and news.  Plus, check out Empower Boxing Alexandria for your chance to enter a contest to earn $100 in wholesale merchandise from any company we use to buy merchandise.  This is not just a discount, it is the price we pay for the gear and we are giving it to you.  Check out the above page for details.

Fitness or Martial Arts

Recently, my wife and I decided to begin a new program at our martial arts school.  This program is called Empower Boxing and we will officially launch it May 1, 2013 but in the meantime we have a number of events planned to get us rolling.  It is going to be a new avenue to our business but the question is; does this count as a martial art or as a fitness class?

I will say that I have thought long and hard about this topic and have come to the conclusion that it is a martial art class with a large fitness component.  Our current Taekwondo classes are about teaching traditional basic material like one step defenses, kicking combinations, and forms.  We get fitness through the training but also spend a great deal of time with the fitness component in the beginning of our classes.  It is a martial art and I love it, I will never stop teaching it.  The focus for this class has been children and adult men, it almost always has.  The new program we are going to start is different in some ways but not in all.  First, it is still teaching martial arts skills, they are learning about the basic kicking and punching actions with knee and elbow strikes.  There are self-defense skills to teach in class as we will take about much of the information I teach in my regular Taekwondo classes.  In addition, they will be learning how to hit an actual target with power and control.  They won’t be hitting just a kick paddle or focus mitts but an actual heavy bag.  If you have ever spent time hitting one of these bags you know how much of a workout it can be while also being the best thing to teach you about hitting correctly.

The target for this class is adult women.  We have never had a large number of women in our programs because traditional martial arts do not appeal to them.  I know it would be fantastic for them but they have not come to the program.  Many women from my experience do not want to wear the uniform and have all the rituals involved in a traditional martial arts class.  Empower Boxing is different in that it is teaching many of the same foundational skills without the rituals.  They get to come when they want to, whenever there is a class and socialize with the same people and have a lot of fun while learning how to stop someone from hurting them if they get into a physical self-defense situation.  All the kicking is low kicks and front kick, this is what I teach in my self-defense classes and the hand strikes are all simple and effective boxing techniques.  It’s not complicated knife-hand blocks or cat-stance, just a guarding stance and effective striking.  It is going to be amazing for a group of people that really need self-defense and martial arts training but are intimidated by the culture of martial arts!

If you want to get more information, navigate to  Have a tremendous day!

3 Reasons to Record Your Training

Recently, I purchased a cheap digital camcorder, a tripod, a case, and a memory card with the intention of using it to record videos of training material for students at my Taekwondo school.  I have started to record some of that material and also decided to use it to record my Silvertails Competition Team competing at tournaments.  While doing some preliminary recordings of patterns and kicking techniques, I came across some interesting lessons that I had not had the privilege of enjoying previously.

1.       The camera makes you nervous

In the last fifteen years, I have practiced some techniques thousands of times, yet as soon as I turned on the digital camcorder, I became very nervous and had to think very hard about my material.  This has a side benefit that had not originally occurred to me – simulated test anxiety.  In my school, we have students complete a promotion test about every three months so they can progress to the next belt in the system.  This is a formalized promotion with some ceremony and lots of visitors to the school.  This can be a very nerve-racking time for the students.  Having the students record themselves doing their promotion material can help simulate the test anxiety many feel.

2.       Get an objective view of your practice

Nothing will show you all of your glaring mistakes like video.   There is no sugar coating or politeness, if you did a wrong, the video will show you in bright dynamic color.  As an instructor, I usually focus on one area of improvement for each student.  This means that sometimes a student is doing several things incorrectly but I will only focus on one area to improve.  I ignore the other areas so we can make that one part better.  A video will not be as focused, it will just show you what you are doing wrong.  This can be a very good thing for most of us. We sometimes think we are doing better than we actually are and a video can show us where we are weak.  For instance, I think I have a pretty good front stance, but…after watching myself on video, I see a number of areas I can improve, primarily in regard to my balance and back leg.  I hope I continue to see areas I can improve.

3.       See your progress over time

We all want to know we are improving with practice but it is hard to know for sure if we are actually getting better.  A video of your earlier performance can be the best way to know for sure.  My own experience is one of seeing the desired improvement but also witnessing another area that has lagged in progress.  This is then a net zero benefit, improvement came at the detriment of something else, that is not where I ever want to be.  I would not have been able to make this observation had I not recorded my practice on video.

Overall, I have found the use of video to be amazingly helpful in my martial arts practice, I guess this should not have been a surprise considering athletes and performers of all kinds have been using it for years.  I have not had the benefit of experiencing it first-hand like this and find the experience thrilling.  For me, it is a little bit like the experience of doing a wheelie on my bike for the first time when I was young, now I want to do it all the time.

A month of Whole Food

One Month In

I guess it hasn’t quite been a month but my wife and I have been really enjoying the new whole food lifestyle we have chosen with the recommendation of our doctor.  Although it is not exactly the same, the closest comparison is the Paleo Lifestyle as discussed on Everyday Paleo in their website and on their podcast.  In the words of our doctor, it is making a choice to eat food versus products; things made by God and not by man.  This can be a lot harder than at first thought.

Gluten Free?

The biggest shift for us has been the removal of wheat and other similar commercial grains from our diet.  Now, I don’t know all the science behind this but it essentially is this; the human digestive system was not created to digest wheat and grains.  When the human digestive system ingests wheat, there are many negative side effects that can range from lactose intolerance to blood sugar imbalances like diabetes.  For us, this has been quite difficult but here is what we have learned.

Really, no Bread?

First, there are lots of great things to eat once you get over the lack of bread and pasta.  I haven’t had bread or pasta in almost a month and frankly don’t miss it at all.  We eat a lot of the same dishes we have in the past but have made many substitutions.  For instance, the other night we had spaghetti with meatballs.  The meatballs were made with beef, mushrooms, carrots, eggs, and almond flour.  Now, you might say, “I thought you don’t eat pasta? What about the spaghetti?”  Indeed, what about the spaghetti?  Have you ever heard of spaghetti squash?  It is quite wonderful!  It is a large yellow squash and once cooked thoroughly the meat becomes long thin pale yellow threads just like spaghetti.  We had the pleasure of enjoying spaghetti and meatballs without the wheat and added the vitamin benefits of squash.  It was awesome!

Fantastic Paleo inspired dish made by my spectacular wife!

Fantastic Paleo inspired spaghetti and meatballs created by my spectacular wife!

What do you eat?

Other enjoyments have found their way onto our plates too!  Instead of the nutritionally devoid white potato, my family has begun enjoying sweet potatoes a lot, even my four year old.  He normally does not like potatoes but devours  sweet potatoes.  These wonderful orange vegetables are great at breakfast time, but maybe not how you think.  We make Sweet Potato Hash, which is shredded sweet potato, pork sausage, and lots of cinnamon.  Fry the ground sausage in a pan, add sweet potatoes, add a liberal amount of cinnamon, cook through.  Enjoy just like that or with honey like my boy.  It rocks!

Now, for eating out.

Second, eating out has also been a challenge but this is what we have learned.  Restaurant chefs love a challenge and have seemed to enjoy trying to adapt their recipes to fit our needs, we just have to ask.   We were in Duluth, Minnesota a few weeks ago and met with my two sisters-in-law and their husband and boyfriend.  We ate at the Green Mill, which if you have heard of this restaurant, you know they are famous for their pizza, burgers, and pasta.  Well, I had a burger but, as the bun is only a carrier to get the beef to my mouth, I had them wrap the burger in lettuce, which they happily did.  Then enjoyed some fresh fruit.  It was wonderful.

Benefits of New Foods

Overall, it has been a great month of trying new things and learning about new eating habits.  You may be asking what we have noticed health wise as that is the reason we have started this journey.  For starters, my wife’s dyshidrotic eczema has almost completely vanished.  This is a condition where the skin of the hands and feet becomes really dry, blisters, breaks open and bleeds, making holding pencils difficult.  This has made her very happy.  I have lost a few pounds, started to slim down some, and even completely stopped my Diet Dr. Pepper addiction.  I have tried to stop drinking pop before, (soda for the rest of you non-Minnesotans) but always get caffeine headaches…not this time!  Gone. Done. Finished.  After a few months of this, we hope the real reason we started this process will happen, baby #2.  Once we get many of the other health conditions under control we hope to end this two and a half year drama.  If not, we will continue to enjoy a much better lifestyle of clean and nutritious food.

Have a tremendous week everybody! Jump over to and try a recipe, you will be very happy you did.  See you next week.

Tournament Thoughts

A student of Schutz Martial Arts starting the black belt pattern "Koryo."

A student of Schutz Martial Arts starting the black belt pattern “Koryo.”

As a martial arts instructor, I get to go to tournaments and be a coach for some of my students.  I had the distinct pleasure of coaching several members of my team in the Northwoods Conquest Taekwondo tournament in Cumberland, Wisconsin on Saturday.   This winter we started a competition team that focuses on tournament competition and this was our first tournament as a team.  It was quite eye-opening for me and my team.

For several of my team, this was the first time they got the opportunity to competed with students who have a focus on tournaments.  Many of them have gone to tournament before but not with the quality of competition they had on Saturday.  This was the first time I really had a chance to watch other schools from a coaching perspective and I was impressed.  At most tournaments I attend, I am a judge or center referee and have a lot more to focus on then the performance of the athletes.  I am watching matches but I am not watching from a coaching perspective, I am watching from a rules perspective.  It is much different.  Below are some of my lessons from the tournament.

First, I learned that I do not train my athletes hard enough on their endurance.  By the end of the first two-minute round, my athletes were tired.  They became very slow and started to kick with a lot less focus.  In several instances, they just started to kick at nearly anything they could see.  They were so tired that they just kicked for the sake of kicking, in a vain hope that something would hit the target.   As a coach, I know that I can push their endurance harder but I am still looking for ways to improve their kicking focus even when they are tired.  If you are a coach, what have you done to increase this skill with your athletes?

Second, we have to work on trading some power for accuracy.  Most of my fighters can kick really hard.  I saw some of the other athletes wince when my players hit them.  That makes a part of me smile in self-satisfaction!  I like kicking hard and think that one powerful kick landed in a self-defense situation will end the confrontation.  That is not what my competition team needs to work on, they need to tone down the power and increase their accuracy.  How do you as a coach or athlete work on increasing accuracy in your sparring techniques?

Overall, I think it was a successful tournament.  One of my athletes had a rough day and took a few shots to the head but I think he will learn to be a better fighter as a result.  No one got seriously injured.  Everyone had a good time, well, almost everyone and I think we all learned valuable lessons that will make our next tournament a much better success.

What are some lessons you have learned in your tournament competition?

2013 Goals

Halfway through the opening month of the new year and I have just finished writing my goals for the year; this year it was much easier than last year.  Why?  For one, I realized I had set, not too large of goals but too many of them.  Last year, I had five to seven goals in each of five areas of my life.  There was a lot of them, too many actually for me to focus on and stay driven to accomplish them all.

Don’t think that I completely wasted my time last year, I did not.  I succeeded at several of my 2012 goals but not as many as I would have liked.  I increased my business income some but only 5 – 10%, my goal was to increase it by 20% so I have some work to do.  I maintained my weight loss for the most part but have in the last three months, put a bunch of that weight back on.  My wife and I have also succeeded in paying off some more student loan debt.  We still have a lot to go but we are gradually making progress.  These were success.

This year though, I decided to keep it more simple.  This really stuck out when I listened to Michael Hyatt’s episode entitled “How to Develop More Discipline” on his This is Your Life podcast.  I love podcasts and listen all the time.  Michael Hyatt’s podcast is one that I look forward to every week.  In his episode, he discusses how we need to keep our goals to a short enough list that we can keep them in our focus all year-long.

This year then, I have only seven goals total.  A few of them I am going to keep private but I will list and go through several of the steps outlined in the podcast episode.

1.  Complete my Fourth Degree Black Belt exam by February 28, 2013.

I have been training for several months for this exam but have had two setbacks and I am finally getting healthy.  This is a major step in the continuing evolution of my martial arts training and the development of my school.  With a fourth degree rank, I can schedule and test my own students.  This will free up some scheduling problems that have arisen over the years.  It will make it easier for my students to progress in rank and yet at the same time I will be able to challenge them more because I am with them training every week.  This will be better for my students all around.

Obstacles to achieving this goal are few; primarily, it is injury.  I have severely sprained my ankle and dislocated my finger in the last three months.  Both of these injuries have hampered my training some.  Another obstacle is the lack of black belts in my school who have the expertise to be my training partners.  We have a small school with few adults and only two adults who are black belts.  These two individuals are two amazing people, who I am very fortunate to have in the school with me.  I would not be able to do as much as I do now without their assistance.  They are new black belts though and have been training for some time with me privately but it is a lot of material for them to be ready to do at my speed.

Some new behaviors I have to adopt would be to not attempt stupid things, like sledding headfirst down a hill chasing my son (dislocated finger).  In addition, I need to set up regular training times with my black belts to get the work in that we all need for this exam.

2.  Lose 20 pounds by May 31, 2013.  I know that last week I said I am not going to focus on being merely “not fat,” that is still true.  I want to be healthy and this twenty pounds will get me back to where I felt great.  I was not ripped and skinny but I was healthy and had few aches and pains.  I am starting to feel some of those old aches return and I do not like it.  My back hurts more as to my knees and shoulders.

There is only one obstacle to this goal; lethargy.  I must get over myself and get off my chair and work.  My wife and I have cut almost all wheat out of our diet and I am already feeling a difference.  Now, the only other effort is to get back into the gym and workout.  Adding strength training to my routine will help me shed pounds faster than solely cardio work.  I have a slow metabolism and as such I have to work much harder than others.  This will be good for me.

3.  Enrolled 80 active students in my traditional Taekwondo school by December 31, 2013.  For some schools that does not seem like a big numbers but for us, this number is much larger than we can currently handle.  Why this number?  Because it will get me one step closer to being a full-time martial arts instructor.  I am a teacher, I have been my entire life; every fiber of my being wants to help people learn and grow into better people.

The major obstacle to achieving this goal is the lack of enough scheduled class time.  We currently do not have enough space or instructors available to teach this many students.  We are going to have to adapt our schedule a little bit and change the way we think about teaching the students in order to keep them in the school and keep the school growing.  I know we can do it but it is going to be a hard process.

The biggest behavior that we are going to have to change at our school is to give the students what they want and not necessarily what the instructors want.  I have struggled with this for a long time, if fact it is my biggest business struggle.  It is my job to give the students the best experience and the best training that I possibly can.  That means doing more of what the students want.

Well, those are some of my goals or 2013.  I know they are big, they are for me, at least.  But they will be a challenge to attain but I do not think they are beyond my ability.  I will keep them in the front of my mind and hopefully be able to adapt and expand them as I see the need.  Maybe they will not be as big as I thought are.  What do you think?

Simply “not fat” is not good enough?

Writing down your goals is the best way to ensure you achieve them.

Welcome to 2013! May your year be full of successes and massive accomplishments. I plan to make this my best year in a number of ways. But that is just the thing, it is not a hope, or a resolution; it is a plan and a goal. I will be honest and say that I have not yet completed my goal setting for 2013. I know, terrible, huh? When I do complete my goals sheet though, I will use the same principles as outlined in many places. My goals will be S.M.A.R.T. My goals for 2013 will be Specific, Measurable, Attainable by me, Realistic for my situation, and Time sensitive.

The key here is to actually write them down, yes, you heard me…write. Do you remember how to do that anymore? I mean more than the signature line on the credit card slip the server at the restaurant gave you. Actually write in complete sentences! Most of us, myself included, have a thought that if I type it out it will easier to read and therefore easier to review and follow. This is not the case. I won’t bore you with the details, just write it out. Please?! This is in your best interest.  Then, after you have finished writing them down, share them with someone you trust.  When you share them, you suddenly are accountable to that person for the goals and it changes how you view them.

Now, how does goal setting have to do with the title of this post? Good question. Over the last three years, I have lost about 90 pounds going from a high of 307 to about 215 and I was very healthy. In the last several months however, I have lost my focus and put a few pounds back on. Since, getting on the scale last month and seeing the 230 mark again, I have been constantly thinking about getting “thin” again. In other words, I have been focused on being “not fat.” This is a bad place mentally to be. I listened to a great podcast episode at that talked about this subject briefly.  To be truthful, I probably stole the title of the post from them.  Thanks Jason!  We don’t need to be super thin with ripped, six-pack abs to be healthy.  In some ways, the models we see on magazines and in the movies are not healthy, they have merely achieved those results for the short-term so they look good for the movie or photo shoot.  They are not the epitome of health, they are the epitome of what is wrong with our culture and its obsession with being “not fat.”  I want to be healthy not just “not fat.” There is a big difference between the two of these and my goal for 2013 is to be healthy.  I haven’t determined quite yet what that is going to be but I will get there.

One of those goals will be to become completely Paleo in the way my wife and I prepare the food in our house.  We have some health concerns in our family on a few levels and the doctor we are seeing has recommended we take this nutrition approach to getting healthy.  The idea is to eat the way our paleolithic ancestors did; without the grains, sugars, and refined foods we find in our current American diet.  Paleo eating has been known to have many positive health benefits so we are going to go at it full speed.  If you want to know more about the Paleo diet, I would recommend clicking over to and reading some of their material.  They have great material and have been extremely helpful in teaching my wife and I about ways to cook Paleo that is still incredibly healthy and extremely tasty.  Also, they have some tremendous recipes!

I will get my 2013 Goals posted next week and share with you what goals I accomplished in 2012.  What did you accomplish in 2012 and what are your 2013 goals?

Dragon Circle Drill

At my martial arts school, we just concluded belt promotion testing. I am very proud of the accomplishments of all of my students. They work very hard and do a great job at testing, even if they do not complete the test right away. Following every test, we spend a week or so doing some new drills and games to give everyone a little change of pace and make things a lot of fun before we dive back into serious martial arts training.

During our previous adult’s class, I introduced a drill that they had not done in a long time and many of them had never done before. Its called Dragon Circle. It is a fun drill for helping students learn how to identify an attack and defend it quickly and intelligently. All the student form a big circle wearing gloves and any other protective gear you deem appropriate. Each student is given a number and one student is placed in the center of the circle. The instructor then calls out a number. That student then attacks the middle with one technique or a series of techniques. It is the job of the middle to defend intelligently and get ready for the next attack because it may come quickly. This repeats until all students have had a turn in the middle.

I received many positive comments about this martial arts drill but one in particular sticks with me. The student asked for us to do more of that type of drill. This student has been a victim of violence earlier in life and wants to learn how to avoid it. The student is a black belt now but even with five plus years of training, the emotions of the past boiled up inside and the student found it difficult to control them during the drill. I believe this is a good thing. Now, as a class we can focus on this aspect of training more and help all the students, not just one. This training will help all of us learn to control our emotions, fears, and past traumas and become smarter, more capable martial artists.

Have you done this drill before or one like it? How did it work for you and what did you learn from it?

Martial Arts Heroes

We all have martial arts heroes, right?  For many their hero is Bruce Lee, the iconic figure of a martial artist.  The man who is credited with making martial arts BIG in America.  When most people think of a martial artist, they intuitively think of Bruce Lee.  His charisma and demeanor, the chiseled body and super-human power are what many kids got into martial arts to obtain.  Even the distinctive sound he made in each movie for each and every strike gets emulated today by everyone trying to mock a martial artist or those who think that is what it means to be a martial artist.

For others, today’s hero is Jackie Chan.  This stunt crazy Chinese acrobatic martial artist is a symbol for what the human body can do when you train hard and are willing to expand possibilities.  Jackie Chan’s athletic ability is amazing to witness.  The ingenuity of the moves he performs is incredible.  When you watch one of his movies, you get the sense that he can do nearly anything he wants to do.  I think this is the reason he is so popular today.  You see this diminutive figure performing feats of martial arts excellence you believe are impossible and think, “If he can do it, I bet I could do it too!”  I remember seeing him seemingly run up the side of a wall and thought to myself, “Yeah, I can do that.”  I bet you have too.

My hero has always been Chuck Norris.  I have been a Chuck Norris fan before it was popular to be a Chuck Norris fan.  I don’t know why but I loved him long before the current trend of “Chuck Norris” facts.  Don’t get me wrong, I think these facts are awesome and have even heard that Chuck himself loves them.  I was even a fan of Chuck Norris before his television show, Walker, Texas Ranger.  I was so excited when I saw he had a show as a kid that I had to watch it all the time.  I even watched it when it went to syndication.

Why are we attracted to our martial arts heroes?  For my part, I think I was attracted to Chuck Norris because he does not seem like a typical martial artists.  He just seemed like a normal guy and he has some elements of his look that help in that; he has a crooked beard.  It is not even on both sides.  I have said that since I was young but I think that helps in making him seem normal.  He doesn’t look like a chiseled Bruce Lee or that he has the crazy athleticism of Jackie Chan.  As an overweight and somewhat athletically challenged youth, I was drawn to Norris’ mere mortal appearance.

My interest in Chuck Norris increased when I learned, he was not just a good martial artist but a great one: Tae Kwon Do Grand Master, six-time US Karate National Champion, Korean National Champion, and the founder of his own martial art Chun Kuk Do which means Universal Way.  You can read Wikipedia’s Chuck Norris biography on their website.  His focus on fitness and health is an inspiration to me and I can only hope that when I am in my seventies, I will be as healthy, active, and vibrant as Chuck Norris.  My respect has only increased with time with the amount I learn about his philanthropic contribution, Christian faith, and determination to help at-risk kids of all ages.

Above all, Chuck Norris is my martial arts hero because he embodies personal excellence and determination to improve the world through martial arts.  That is my mission in life, to improve the world through martial arts.  I may not be able to reach as many people as Chuck Norris but that does not change my goal.

Who is your martial arts hero and why?

Keys to Mastery

Recently, I began reading a wonderful book entitled Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment by George Leonard.  In it he describes the journey he took as a 47 year old beginner in the martial art of Aikido. This is a wonderful book, one that every martial artist should read.

We live in a culture that stresses immediate gratification and instant perfection.     Yet, the pursuit of martial arts is a long process, a journey that will wind its way slowly through one’s life. There is no immediacy. As we travel this long slow journey, we will often encounter plateaus. Yes, the dreaded “P” Word. No one likes to hear it and we enjoy them less when experienced. This is the place however, we will spend most of our life as a martial artist. So, we have to ask as Leonard proposes in his book, “Where in our upbringing, our schooling, our career are we explicitly taught to value, to enjoy, even to love the plateau, the long stretch of diligent effort with no seeming progress?”

Many keys to mastery exist and Leonard explains them in detail but the first is to recognize the type of person you are; Dabbler, Obsessive, or Hacker. The Dabbler tries many things but is never satisfied with any of them, none of them “fit” her style. The Obsessive goes all out, 110% into the pursuit and exceeds everyone’s expectations for a short time, then comes against a wall and flails about for some time until he completely stops trying and moves on to the next obsession. The Hacker enjoys the activity and progresses to a medium level of competency but does not get any better, he is satisfied with mediocrity. None of these profiles will give you feelings of satisfaction or accomplishment.

If you recognize yourself in any of these profiles, do not fear there is a fourth type: Master. The Master realizes there will be a slow climb to the top and they will hit many plateaus along the way. You will eventually break through those plateaus with prolonged practice and determination but will also perceive a decline in abilities. Yes, it will feel like your skills have gone down for a time. If we were to graph the Master’s Journey, it would look like the picture below. This should not be discouraging as you will see that you are still progressing upward. It is slow and methodical, and yes, sometimes boring but you are making progress.

This is the journey to Mastery in anything we participate in, especially martial arts because of the intrinsic nature of the arts. The Black Belt Attitude and a spirit of perseverance will help immensely along the way by providing focus and discipline. David Campbell said, “Discipline is remembering what you want.” Have the discipline to know that the Master’s Journey is rewarding and the end result will be far greater than anything you can currently perceive.

Good luck, train hard, and remember that we all get discouraged along the journey but it is how we choose to overcome those setbacks that define who we are.