A Passion Project for Families: Stronghold Kids Club

To all my fellow parents: Have you ever found yourself in the following situations: Wanting to work out, attend a workshop, conference, networking event, etc, but couldn’t attend due to not being able to acquire reliable or affordable childcare for your little ones?

It’s been an honor to own The Stronghold alongside my family in Point Loma for the past 10 years. We are looking forward to celebrating our 11th year in business this coming October. We strive to provide high-quality Jiu Jitsu instruction in a family-friendly environment. I am a mom of 4 kids: 9, 7, 5 and 2. All 4 kids were “born and raised” in our studio, and have trained Jiu Jitsu since the day they could walk. For the past decade, it’s been great being able to work alongside my children and to also witness other families become a part of our Stronghold Community.

To date, we have expanded our offerings, which now include a Community Event Space in our renovated front area (originally where our CrossFit program operated) and an Enrichment Academy for kids Ages 5-17. It has been a great honor to co-host events with other amazing businesses and non-profit organizations in San Diego, and are looking to host more this year. Our Enrichment Academy has held the following classes for the 2017-2018 school year: Art, Sewing, Chess, Gameschooling, Engineering, and Spanish. We are also planning to offer a 3-Day Independent Study program for the 2018-2019 school year to families who would like to homeschool.

I am hoping to collaborate with other families, businesses, organizations and brands to help renovate a new space we will be taking over to house our Stronghold Kids Club, which will include the Enrichment Academy and also a safe, dedicated area for younger infants and toddlers (0-4). With sponsorships and donations, our goal is to have the following by July 2018:

1. Renovated space for Stronghold Kids Club (Enrichment Academy and Infant/Toddler Room)
2. Renovated Stronghold Cafe/Family Lounge
3. Dedicated Stronghold Kids Club Hours with sitters for infants and toddlers (Ages 0-4)
4. Expanded schedule for concurrent Adults and Kids classes (so families can work out/train at the same time)
5. Available time slots for workshops, conferences and other events for parents with a dedicated, in-house Stronghold Kids Club for children.

If you may be interested in supporting or sponsoring, we would love to connect! I can be reached at 858.722.0942 or raquel@strongholdkids.org. Thanks again to Ben Maiava of Passion Planner for one of my new favorite photos!

Posted in About Me

Cusi Family Competition Team

The other week I had the idea of finally compiling the family’s competition records. To be honest, a lot of these titles mean little. The medals, also little. If you asked me where any of these medals are, I would tell you that I can probably find less than 25% at this moment. These wins and losses also don’t tell you how many opponents were in each division (sometimes default wins can be good or bad), it also doesn’t tell you how many poor ref decisions were made, etc. What I’m hoping this list does tell you: my kids and I love competing. I admire my children because they are natural competitors. They enjoy being able to test their skills on the mat, and the medal is just a bonus. We’ve made a lot of great friends from different teams because of competition. The honest truth this year (2018): I didn’t have a chance to sign them up for IBJJF Pan Kids because of how much it was to sign all 3 up. I very well could have signed up just one, but I didn’t feel that would be fair to all of them. By the time I thought I had a chance to register, they closed due to max capacity. In the past, it was because of many supporters, sponsors and tournament organizers’ generosity that the kids and I were able to compete so much. So long story short, my hope is to do a few more tournaments this year alongside my munchkins. I’m willing to work hard to be able to get back into tournament shape and to save money in order to register. That being said, if anyone is interested in private lessons (Fitness, Jiu Jitsu, Self-Defense), need someone crafty to help you with projects or *insert Raquel’s Jill of all Trades, Master of None skills* assistance, please contact me! Also looking to get back into blogging as well to connect with some brands who might want to sponsor the family. For those who have supported, encouraged us, I am forever grateful to you and will continue to pay it forward as much as I can!

Running List of Cusi Family Competition Team (Stronghold BJJ)

Jacob Michael Cusi (Age 9, Yellow Belt)
FIVE Grappling Bronze Medalist (August 2014)
Dream BJJ Silver Medalist (August 2014)
Gi Exchange Champion (January 2015)
Grappling X Champion (February 2015)
Coastal Champion (March 8, 2015)
Dream BJJ Bronze Medalist (March 29, 2015)
GrapplingX Champion (April 12, 2015)
Copa Pacifica Silver Medalist (May 2015)
SubCon Champion (June 7, 2015)
2014 Dream Jiu Jitsu Silver Medalist
2015 NABJJF LA International Open Silver Medalist (June 28, 2015)
2015 IBJJF American Nationals Champion (July 13, 2015)
2015 Kids World No-Gi Champion (July 25, 2015)
2015 Kids World Bronze Medalist (July 25, 2015)
2015 SubCon Champion (August 29, 2015)
2015 Dream Jiu Jitsu Silver Medalist (September 15, 2015)
2015 Jiu Jitsu World League Bronze Medalist (October 19, 2015)
2016 Tap Cancer Out Bronze Medalist (January 16, 2016)
2016 SubCon Champion (January 31, 2016)
2016 Grappling X Champion (February 21, 2016)
2016 Jiu Jitsu World League Champion (February 28, 2016)
2016 Dream Jiu Jitsu Champion (March 26, 2016)
2016 Coastal Jiu Jitsu Champion (April 23, 2016)
2016 Grappling X Champion (May 1, 2016)
2016 Jiu Jitsu in the Park Exhibition Match Champion (May 22, 2016)
2016 Jiu Jitsu World League 2x Silver Medalist (February 28, 2016; May 14, 2016)
2016 Dream Jiu Jitsu Champion (June 12, 2016)
2016 IBJJF American Nationals Silver Medalist (July 9, 2016)
2016 Kids World Champion (August 20, 2016)
2016 Dream Jiu Jitsu Bronze Medalist (October 8, 2016)
2017 Tap Cancer Out Silver Medalist (January 21, 2017)
2017 IBJJF Pan Kids Champion (February 19, 2017)
2016 Jiu Jitsu World League Champion (March 5, 2017)
2017 Grappling X Champion (March 26, 2017)
2017 Dream Jiu Jitsu Champion (April 15, 2017)
2017 Jiu Jitsu World League Champion (July 30, 2017)
2017 SubCon Kids Pro Series Champion (August 19, 2017)
2017 Dream Jiu Jitsu Silver Medalist (November 19, 2017)
2018 Tap Cancer Out Champion (January 13, 2017)

Michaela Raquel Cusi (Age 7, Gray/Black Belt)
2016 Grappling X Bronze Medalist (February 21, 2016)
2016 Coastal Jiu Jitsu Silver Medalist (April 23, 2016)
2016 Dream Jiu Jitsu 3x Champion (March 26, 2016, June 12, 2016, October 8, 2016)
2017 Tap Cancer Out Bronze Medalist (January 21, 2017)
2017 IBJJF Pan Kids Champion (February 19, 2017)
2017 IBJJF American Nationals Champion (July 8, 2017)
2017 IBJJF Long Beach Open Champion (November 5, 2017)
2017 Dream Jiu Jitsu Champion (November 19, 2017)
2018 Tap Cancer Out Bronze Medalist (January 13, 2017)

Nichola Ray Cusi (Age 5, Gray/White Belt)
2016 Dream Jiu Jitsu Bronze Medalist
2016 Dream Jiu Jitsu Bronze Medalist (October 8, 2016)
2017 Tap Cancer Out Silver Medalist (January 21, 2017)
2017 Dream Jiu Jitsu Champion (November 19, 2017)
2018 Tap Cancer Out Bronze Medalist (January 13, 2017)

Raquel Cusi (Age 33, Blue Belt)
2016 Tap Cancer Out Silver Medalist (January 16, 2016)
2016 Coastal Jiu Jitsu Champion (April 23, 2016)
2016 IBJJF World Masters Champion (August 27, 2016)
2017 Grappling X Champion (March 26, 2017)
2018 Tap Cancer Out Silver Medalist (January 13, 2017)

Also participated at following tournaments:
2016 IBJJF Pan Ams (March 18, 2016)
2016 Jiu Jitsu World League (May 14, 2016)
2016 IBJJF World Championship (June 3, 2016)
2016 IBJJF American Nationals (July 9, 2016)
2017 Tap Cancer Out (January 21, 2017)
2017 IBJJF San Diego Open (May 13, 2017)

Posted in About Me

Discovering Peachjar – A Parent and Business Owner’s Perspective!

A couple years ago I was first introduced to Peachjar, an online communication platform for small businesses and organizations to spread the word about their offerings to parents of school children. As a parent, I remember my initial fascination of finally being able to see extracurricular activities online, as I am one of those people that appreciate a paper flyer but will shortly have it buried somewhere in the abyss of my minivan. As a business owner, I also was very impressed with this new platform but considering that most of our best marketing has come from word-of-mouth, I hesitated a bit to post our own flyers.

I finally had the opportunity to be able to post our gym’s flyers on the Peachjar website and I definitely have to say, it was worth the investment! We posted 2 flyers total, between the months of November and February and to a total of 9 schools. At first it was a bit of trial and error making sure I had all the correct specs in order to post, but Peachjar’s requirements are pretty simple and definitely worth the work.

As a parent, one thing to remember is pictures are great! I always want to be able to get a preview of what type of activity will be provided during classes. Clip-art may suffice but action shots or still photos of kids participating in the activity is always best. I also believe less is more, as some information may be an overload to a parent that is used to skimming over a variety of different flyers.

Below are a preview of the flyers we posted! I’d love to hear some feedback on what you think about them, in hopes to help other small businesses and myself to learn what may be best for future postings!

Posted in About Me

Speed Networking Meetup (San Diego Family-Friendly Edition)

San Diego entrepreneurs, founders, bloggers, Marketing, PR professionals, family group leaders and more, you are invited to a Speed Networking event to connect with individuals that share the same service market: FAMILIES! Fostering relationships is key, and strategic alliances are valuable in our industry especially with the Holiday season upon us. Join us for this event and we hope to grow this to be held monthly. Tickets are $20 per person, supervised activities will be provided for kids Ages 3-12 with our Stronghold Kids Club instructors so you are able to focus and network with other professionals! First child is free, $5 each for additional siblings. Spread the word, and invite a friend! Coffee, Tea and Light Snacks will also be provided. See you there!

What to Bring:
1) 50-100 business cards or flyers of current promotions
2) A prospective plan to collaborate with another brand
3) A smile!
Purchase your tickets today at the link below.

Ticket Options
Ages of Children Attending

Posted in About Me

An Inspiring Faith

I was prompted to study Hebrews 11 this morning, and it amazes me that the more I study the Bible and think I know some Scripture, I read full chapters and realize, “Whoa, I can’t believe I never read that before.” Most people know Hebrews 11 as the “Faith Chapter.” It describes what faith is in its first verse:

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. – Hebrews 11:1

What I failed to study deeper (and perhaps I’m not alone in this), is the countless stories of people of inspiring faith that are scattered throughout the Bible’s pages. Men like Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses and women like Sarah and Rahab. There are accounts of many others, but the same is true: these people had faith, and they accomplished some pretty wild things with God because of their faith. We are called to have trust in God, a very difficult feat especially when chaos is around us and we have family and friends who have good intentions giving us different advice, and I’m sure the most notable people of faith above had the same issues. We are to abandon doubt. There are definitely a lot of times where I find it easy to have faith. Life is “good” when the bills are paid, I’m getting sleep, my children are behaving, and the days are productive. I find it the most difficult to trust God when I’m worrying about what meal I’m going to feed my family, when I’m running on 4 hours of sleep, my kids are fighting and there’s just chaos hitting me from all directions. I also have found it hard to have faith in many difficult seasons of my life, including my parent’s divorce, my bout with postpartum depression, dealing with Alopecia/Topical Steroid Withdrawal and a variety of incidents of broken relationships and limbs. I found myself arguing with God quite often, but have learned that He really is faithful. He always shows up when I need him to, not necessarily when I want him to. It took a lot of pruning on my character when I just want to doubt God and his love for me, and He always replaced it with a new found wisdom and discernment on my life’s situations.

Life is precious, and tomorrow is never promised (thank you James for the reminder). If something unfortunate may happen to me in the near future, the legacy I’d like to leave to my children and to family and friends was that I was a woman of faith. Not to say my faith in God is perfect, because it is definitely far from that, but that I strived to live a life that relied on God. When I look over all the names that Hebrews 11 mentioned, I am indeed inspired by their faith. I’m inspired that they probably had their doubts. I’m inspired that despite their doubts, they probably found a way to muster up their faith daily to act in obedience to what God called them to do, and because of that, God blessed them. Perhaps the blessing was isn’t initially what they expected, but it may have been way more than they even imagined.

As I write this post, there have been many unsaid things I have been struggling to have faith with. I want to give up daily. I have family and friends who get on my case that I should give up, and then I have family and friends who continue to pray and encourage me. It’s a daily battle of figuring out what I need to do to focus on what I feel God has called me to do. When all is said and done, no matter what the outcome, my hope is that before God and those who know me, I was inspiring faith to someone who may need encouragement to keep moving forward and get through another day. To me in this season of my life, that is really all that matters.

Posted in In Christ, Kids, Marriage