How to Render Your Arms Useless

1.  Demonstrate push up progress in front of entire TKD academy.  Crank out 47 of those bad boys, beating your previous record of 40 set mere days ago.

2.  Follow with a punching drill.  Punch standing bag for 1 minute, rest 15 seconds, punch bag for 2 minutes, rest 30 seconds, punch bag for 3 minutes.

3.  Test for your next level belt.

Oof I’m going to be sore tomorrow.  I passed easily and even broke my board with a jump spin kick (ddwieu dwit dollyeo chagi) on the first try.  Also received NO negative critique about my performance.  Every one else was told something they needed to work on and improve, I was told my performance was excellent.  Being in that zone where everything goes right is such an awesome feeling.  I had two totally different experiences this past week with my performance and wasn’t sure how today was going to go.  In Tuesday’s class, I got the normal level of hot and sweaty, but right before sparring it changed into that clammy icky feeling.  I sat out the rest of class so I wouldn’t have to be peeled off the mat that evening.  Thursday’s class went better, and today before the test when Grandmaster was checking my kick, I nailed every single one with ease.  Even a few black belts said that it looked really good.  I have to admit, it felt damn good as well!  Even better, my sparring has improved.  I still have a long way to go, but for the first time I didn’t dread it, and I didn’t feel as though I did poorly.

I wish my kids had my same enthusiasm, but alas, it is not to be.  My 10 year old has decided, with Grandmaster, to take a month off from TKD.  She is currently a purple belt, and apparently it is common at this level for the kids to suffer a bit of burnout.  She has been throwing tantrums about going to class that puts her 8 year old sister to shame.  She still is coming with me, but will not be participating for a while.  Hopefully it will help.  I think she got a bit overwhelmed with the overlap her swim schedule had on class.  Her swim season ended last week, and with it our horrific schedule of not being home every day Monday through Friday.  She did end her swim season well, she had 4 time drops and she won one of her heats.

My 8 year old has surprised me this week by actually practicing her guitar and making excellent progress there, and I got to see her ice skate for the first time since she started lessons at the beginning of the year.  I never imagined that watching her skate in circles around the rink could be so captivating.  She seems to be a natural, and I can’t wait to see how she progresses.  It’s so rewarding as a parent to see the kids choose activities they love and then see them do so well at them.  Now that swimming is over, we need to keep the 10 year old active, lest she become a couch potato.  Unfortunately, that was one tendency she inherited from me that I would like to eliminate.

I also submitted my next project for TKD.  I’m going to start a meditation/visualization routine.  I’m planning on setting my alarm about 15 minutes earlier so I can find a quiet space where I won’t be disturbed, and I will focus on my breathing and getting a good start to the day.  Every evening before bed, I will visualize for a minimum of 5 minutes.  I will work on going through all my TKD requirements in my head, as well as reviewing and reflecting on the day and focusing on my goals.  Other students who have done this in the past have seen amazing improvements in their attitude and focus.

For my last project I’m picking a photography project.   In a flash of inspiration today I knew exactly what to do for it.  I decided that I will document all facets of my life.  As a mother, as a wife, as a woman, as a martial artist, etc.  I will take pictures of what I do, where I go, people I interact with.  Not only should it be a lot of fun, but there are a lot of opportunities for creativity.  I’m already itching to figure out how to light and capture the awesomeness that is Grandmaster’s hands.  He has these gnarly looking hands that are endlessly fascinating to look at.  Ideally, I would like to have the pictures bound in a hardbound book.  The more I think about the project, the more excited I get about it.

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Grandmaster=Dumbledore

Grandmaster went all Dumbledore on me again today.  He really is an insightful person, and am grateful that someone like that is in my life.  Midway through my lesson today he sat me down and asked me what is going on in my head.  I’ve been very distracted the past few weeks and he picked up on that.  Part of it is that my old habits are doing their damndest to get in my way.  I’ve been having the opposite of a Stuart Smalley moment.  Lately I’ve been thinking that I’m not good enough, I’m not strong enough to see this through.  Granted, a huge part of that is the awful evening schedule we’ve been dealing with ever since my 10 yo joined the swim team.  Thankfully that ends in a few weeks.  All of us are sick of not being home M-F.  And if it’s tough on me, I can’t imagine how the kids are managing to deal with school being a large portion of their day.

My second leadership project, starting in March, is going to be a meditation project.  I’m going to set my alarm early and actually get up when it goes off.  I want to give myself a minimum of 10 alert minutes where I can center myself and reflect on the day in front of me.  On top of being distracted lately, I’ve been a bit keyed up, and I think that putting myself in the right frame of mind first thing in the morning can only improve that situation.  If Grandmaster accepts it, I’m also going to add on to that by giving myself 15 minutes every night for visualization.  I used to visualize every night as I was laying in bed, going through poomsaes, applications & kick combos.  I’ve gotten out of the habit and while I wouldn’t say that my performance has suffered because of it, I feel as though I’m not progressing as smoothly as I could.  Plus my confidence in my abilities has taken a dip.

Now for some good news.  Remember how I started that pushup program?  Well, I was supposed to do it 3 times a week, but I’ve only managed about twice a week since I started.  Still, I did pushups (on my knees) until exhaustion today (or until I couldn’t do them properly.  Ok, same thing) and I managed to pump out 31!  I nearly doubled how many I could do in a few short weeks.  Part of my reasoning for not going full tilt into the program is that I just didn’t want to deal with being sore all the time.  While Tae Kwon Do is heavy on the kicks, there is a lot of arm work when you factor in punching and blocking.  Plus, we usually end class by doing situps and pushups, so I guess that counts as well.  I did notice that last class I didn’t struggle at all with the pushups, even at the impossible speed that particular instructor likes to perform them.

Just Another Day at the Office

One family member was lucky enough to earn a few x-rays yesterday, and the biggest shock is that it wasn’t me!  My 8 year old had a mishap on the playground yesterday at school.  Apparently she inherited my gracefulness.  I’m told that she was playing and slipped, and managed to slam the back of her shoulder into the metal playground equipment.  I didn’t find all this out until I picked her up from school, because the substitute that was outside with them allegedly said that she couldn’t go to the nurses office.

When my darling girl got home, she struggled to get out of her coat without wincing and had a bit of difficulty lifting her arm above shoulder height.  She nearly requested that we see the doctor, which meant that it really had to bother her.

The doctor felt around her shoulder and noted where the tenderness was and wanted to get a few x-rays to rule out fracture.  Good news is that there is no fracture, bad news is she suspects a shoulder sprain.  So for two weeks the little girlie gets excused from physical activity (no skating or TKD) and she is in an immobilizer, mostly for her comfort.  I need to make an appointment with the pediatric orthopedist for a follow up to make sure everything heals ok.

So yesterday afternoon was spent at the doctor’s office and in the car and dinner was fast food because there was no time for anything else.

And?  My oldest daughter (10 yo) didn’t go to a meet this past weekend because she has been struggling a bit with her asthma.  She had been coughing so much she strained her rib cage and was quite sore.

Sounds like we are falling apart over here.

Fear of Failure, or Fear of Success?

The snow is melting.  For the first time in weeks, the ground is visible through the snow.  Walking outside doesn’t make me shiver.  Sunshine warms my face.

All this makes me deliriously happy, because it means that gardening can begin soon and we can enjoy our time outside, instead of cursing the weather and wishing we wore one more layer of clothing.  To me, the return of mild weather is the true beginning of the year.  Within a few weeks, the trees will start to bud, and the perennials will start pushing through the cold soil.

For whatever reason, I’m in a bit of a reflective mood today, looking at myself and assessing where I am and what I’ve done.  With some things, I wonder where the passion went.  I was all about photography last year (or was it the year before), and I’ve been a frustrated hobbyist lately.  More and more I seem to be blaming my equipment (or the lack of) and I’m wondering how much is just whining and how much is valid limitations.  Usually I subscribe to the saying that a true master never blames his tools, but I usually have a keen sense of when my tools are limiting my ability to grow and enjoy my interests.  Way back in high school, I played clarinet.  By my junior year I felt stuck and was convinced it was because I was still playing on a cheap student instrument.  I convinced my parents to shell out major money to get me a new clarinet.  Low and behold, I improved and was much happier.  At that time I realized that my ability had outgrown my current equipment.

With my photography, I’m starting to feel the same way.  I’m also my own worst critic (arent’ we all?).  I have had numerous people tell me that I have a gift, an eye for photography, if you will.  Yet I don’t look at it as anything more than luck.  Why do I do that?  Why do I discount my ability and chalk it up to chance or coincidence?  My perfectionist tendencies also get in the way.  I have a hard time accepting “good enough” when I know it can be better.

Grandmaster always says that the way you do Tae Kwon Do (or any martial art for that matter) is the way you do life.  Things become very clear in the dojang.  Clearly, I compare myself to others, and usually not favorably, despite evidence to the contrary.  Yet, I’m always looking for ways to improve and perfect.  Whether it be in technique or attitude.

One of the reasons it is so important for me to achieve a black belt is because I have a tendency….nay, a habit of not completing things I start.  It’s the perfectionist thing, it’s either all or nothing, perfect or forget it.  Learning that good enough is, in fact, good enough and accepting that fact is a slow process.  I will start a project with full blown enthusiasm and dare I say obsession.  But then for whatever reason that positive energy burns out.  Either from neglect or frustration.

Hopefully this all doesn’t sound to scattered.  I recently had a birthday and it made me make some assessments.  For the most part, I am in a better place than I was last year, but call it part of getting older (which has never bothered me before), but I have one real fear that is starting to take hold.

It’s the fear of not realizing my potential and/or purpose.

I’ve been feeling rather adrift lately.  I’m not sure what direction my life should take.  Circumstances are such that I have some freedom, if not the funds, to redefine who I am and what my purpose in this world is.  But much like college, I can’t choose a path.  I have a psychology degree, mostly by default.  I took a smattering of classes early on and found that psychology both interested me and was easy for me.  However, I never really looked on to the future and what I would want to do.  I never looked beyond that undergraduate degree.   Part of my reasoning for that was that there are just so many things that interest me, it’s near impossible to choose just one.  I’m starting to wonder though if it’s a deep rooted fear of failure.  I’m terrified of thowing myself into something completely, and with abandon, only to discover that I’m mediocre at best and just fooling myself.  Because then where would I be?  While writing this I also have that fear of making a wrong choice.  I hate that these fears paralyze me.  I hate that I allow so much room in my head for negative thought.

The flip side to this, or one of them at least, is there might also be a real fear of success.  Of what it would mean, and what it would change.  I’m a walking contradiction most of the time.  I tend to act as though I blend in with everyone else while I hold a deep desire to be noticed.

My children are finally at an age where I need to start thinking again about what I want to do with my life.  I can’t be a stay at home mom forever, and I don’t think I would want to be.  I’m also not alone in this family.  My husband is working at a career that he is falling out of love with.  Not that he ever really loved it in the first place.  It seems cruel to be in a position where I can go whichever direction I choose, when he doesn’t have that freedom because he is the sole breadwinner.  Sometimes I wonder if one day we will finally hit our limit and decide to make a radical change in our life and lifestyle.  I also wonder if it will be by choice or circumstance.

Have any of you stood on a threshold and have no clue what to do or where to start?