Tuesday, July 22, 2014

July 22 2014

I'm up to page 105 of my book.
I stood on one foot for 8 seconds without toppling.
We're up to episode 8 on Season 2 of Orange is the New Black.
My nephew, his wife, and three sons arrive from Vermont tomorrow.
It's birthday season.

Another day, another blessed day.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

White Belt

Charyot     Kyong-ye

How many times have I 
heard those commands in Korean,  to come to attention and bow?
For almost three years I sat on the sidelines of Taekwondo mats watching, 
taking hundreds of pictures then editing them for hours, 
putting essential oils in palms and on injuries,
packing warrior snacks and sharing them with the kids at competitions,
enduring hours of Taekwondo competitions sitting on hard bleachers,
running across gym floors with my camera,
crying at belt tests, 
holding my breath at level tests,
praying and visualizing, 
caring about the athletes and their families, 
traveling across the state and down the coast, 
shelling out money whenever it was needed,
and supporting in ways I can't even enumerate. 
I always wondered if I could do it myself. Could I get off the sidelines and on to the mats?

I watched athletes young and old put their fists through wooden boards, sometimes in my own classroom, and wondered if I could do it.
I cringed as athletes got kicked and punched and wondered if I could take it or dish it out.
The forms are my favorite, so elegant. I watched and wondered if I could remember them.
I'll be 50 years old in a few weeks. It's time to stop wondering.

On July 3, 2014 I bowed onto the mats as a white belt. The moment I did, the skies opened up, lightning pierced the sky, thunder shook the earth, and the heaviest rain I've ever seen in NJ slammed the little town of Waldwick. It rained ferociously for the duration of my class. It rained so hard it almost took the leaves off the trees. If you think I'm exaggerating, I'm not. I have witnesses.

This was a milestone commitment. I've blogged about being bullied as a kid and lamented that my parents didn't take me to the local Karate school for self-defense lessons. 
I've written about my long-time love of Star Wars, Yoda and Luke's Jedi training, and martial arts philosphy.
I've regretted never developing at least a novice's level of athleticism. 
It would be easy and understandable if I lived the last half of my life as a cerebral teacher who did some Qi Gong or Yoga once a week, took some walks here and there, maybe took a self defense class, and was contented to do what I'm already good at. I already excel at certain things. I don't have to prove myself to anyone.

This isn't about proving myself to others (though I'll probably blog relentlessly about it). I need to do this for me. I need to know that I can push myself to be something that doesn't come easily. I want to be able to defend myself. I like being able to walk on my new knees but I want to be able to stand on one foot. I want to develop balance. I want to be able to pivot and do a roundhouse kick. I'd like to work with weapons. I've always wanted these things, but never thought I could do them. I was afraid to even try. I didn't believe I could persevere. I thought my self-defeating thoughts would win. I was afraid if I started, I would quit. 

I didn't think I could find a teacher who is knowledgeable, who could be patient with me, who is kind but firm, who explains things clearly, who is effusively encouraging, consistently positive, who has a passion for the art, and most importantly, who has my best interest at heart. A person could search their whole lives for that combination of traits and never find it, but I did. I think I finally got lucky. Who am I kidding? I don't believe in luck. We make our own luck. I deserve this...easy without struggle, in a safe and loving way, now as if by magic...I deserve this. My teacher came to me out of spiritual righteousness, as a blessed friend, in a divine way. This is as it should be.

I'm taking this one class at a time, one belt at a time. I practice every day. I have to rebuild certain areas of physical strength (like my ankles). I have to build up my cardio endurance so I don't feel like I'm going to pass out after a 5 minute warm up. Mostly, and my teacher tells me this almost every day, I need to get over my own doubts. My head is my biggest obstacle. I need to get out of my head.

Today was my 5th class as a white belt. In 3 more classes I'll have earned my camouflage belt, then on to my first color belt hopefully by the end of August. I'm scared out of my wits, but I'm less frightened every day. Ability builds confidence, day by day by day. 

Tang Soo!

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

fit in face

I don't fit in. I don't know if I ever fit in. Maybe I'm not supposed to fit in...anywhere.

Sometimes I feel like Hermie, Rudolph, and Yukon Cornelius when they went to the Island of Misfit Toys and King MoonRacer told them they couldn't live there because they weren't toys. Hermie said, "Even among misfits we're misfits!"

Yeah, like that.

So, I must be made for a different purpose. Maybe I'm supposed to be an example of some sort, maybe a leader, maybe I was designed to need more isolation than most.

Don't get me wrong. I have wonderful friends, but essentially I'm single. I come home to cats, not humans. I'm a writer, a thinker, a contemplator, and a napper. I keep an odd schedule. I like my solitude, and when I want company, I love my company.

I'm just content to work on my projects and not have someone involved in the rhythm of my day.

The social consequences of being a loner are starting to make themselves more apparent to me.  I'm noticing that look on people's faces in social situations. It's becoming more clear when that look is joyful acceptance and when that look is mild disgust.

I'm learning to waste less time on the place where I don't fit in. I'm able to walk away sooner. Problem is, there are less and less places where I get the joyful acceptance face. I'm taking this to mean I need to be around certain people less and working on my projects more, also spending time with the tried and true inner circle who I'm sure love and accept me.

I get on better as a leader and teacher than as a fitter inner.

Ah, such is the moon.

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candel rescuer

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

friend meme

Plenty have said it.
Few have proved it.

I hate auditioning a new one. You trust, and trust, and trust, and still have a 50/50 shot that they'll be a loyal, sincere, long-lasting friend. Sometimes it takes years for them to show their true colors. Some colors are beautiful, some are not.

Some people's friendship is tried and true. No hardship deters them. No mistakes on your part are unforgivable. They tend to be the ones who don't give the mushy, I'll-be-there-for-you cards. They don't make grand promises. They don't have to. Their actions speak. These are the most precious gems.

Some want to believe their own stories about themselves. They like to see their promises in writing. They think their words make a thing true. Those are the ones who have burned me the worst, the promise breakers.

Sometimes the promise-makers are indeed the promise-keepers. These are rare gems. It takes years to prove their worth, but they do. Their words and actions match.

It's all so very risky, but relationships are like that. I'd rather put my heart on my sleeve and get it broken than never to know the joy of having it lovingly cared for.

With great risk comes great reward...sometimes.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

do less

The angels have spoken.

Now I'm being told I need to do less. I'm being told I'm too busy.
I have two weeks to figure out how to get more rest and find peace. I have a deadline of August 1st to stop making so many commitments. If I don't, my schedule will be whittled down by force.

This is not good news.

I have no idea what to eliminate from my schedule. I have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing and what I'm supposed to be giving up.

How do I do less?

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

July 17 2014

I'll do what I can do until I can do more.
That's how I roll.
That's how I've always rolled.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

survivor self image

"Abandoned and neglected as a child, 
she learned to put up and shut up.
She became a survivor
 and proud of her ability
to tolerate, 
to endure, and to deal.
Her attention 
is on how well she survives difficulty. 
This has become her personal mark of courage.
She has defined herself as a tough survivor
and that is also her protection.
An abusive relationship gave her a reason
to be in survival mode and to keep her identity.
If she gets unstuck, 
her whole identity will have to shift.
In questioning all of this, 
Mary discovered how little she knows
how to receive.
The idea of allowing herself 
to be cherished, nurtured, and truly loved
is frightening. 
It means having to let go and having to trust,
things she couldn't do as a child." 
- Marina Maurino, M.A. 

The flower
 that blooms in adversity
 is the most rare
 and beautiful of all.
- the Emperor in Mulan

When our identity is tied up in surviving adversity we might not know who we are in peaceful times. If being strong against a current of stress, pain, and abuse is how we've formed our sense of self, then what happens when the waters are still?

I've always coped, tolerated, overcome, or hardcore avoided the pain that I feel in life, but the pain was constant. I wonder if I can imagine loving a pain-free life.

Maybe it's perfectly 'ok' to need hurdles to jump over and obstacles to overcome. Maybe the struggle against how our egos cope with pain is a struggle that's unnecessary. Maybe one less way to be in pain is to stop struggling against one's coping habits.

I like personal development, growth, improvement, expansion of knowledge and skill. I like the sense of strength I get from overcoming adversity.

I could be like that flower that blooms in adversity. Maybe without adversity I wouldn't bloom.

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