Hard and Fast

Writing 101 challenge day 1 – Just write. 20 minutes…go! Sadly, when I write a stream of consciousness, it always ends as a rant. But maybe it will help expel my brick breaking demons. Because even as I reread the post – I still want to try again.

 grey brick

He asks me what I want to practice and I never say. “The brick.” It is a block worse than any pause in my writing. It’s a nightmarish, try/fail, try/fail, try/fail with hundreds of witnesses. All of whom afterwards want to give you friendly helpful advice. Can you imagine – while icing your now swelling hand, listening to the successful saying you should just twist more, or come down straight or you need to jump. At least when something I write doesn’t go over – not so many people will see. I can delete it or wad it up and throw it in the trash. Make a paper air plane and fly it out the window. I’ve witnessed others break. Looks easy enough. I listen to the instructions. I try to practice the motions. But now, when I think about it – it’s something I no longer believe. And worse yet, I don’t think my instructors believe any more either. The “You’ll break it someday.” has morphed into “It’s not required.You don’t need to worry about it.”  But deep down I still want it. So I breathe and visualize. Approach the grey offending slab. Camera flashes blinding. Tablet screens up, recording the event so I can suffer the humiliation over again “but if you watch it you can see where you made the mistake.” Echos of “You can do it” I go through the mandatory practice reaches and drops. Even in my mind, I can’t get enough air. Kiap is weak.Too slow, my arm shoots down off center. And my hand stops as always, on top of the unbroken brick. They say if you do it correctly, it doesn’t hurt. When you do it wrong, the pain reverberates on so many different levels.

Stats and Sentiment

WIN_20131230_101008

I’ve been reflecting on my first day at our Martial Arts academy, mostly because I celebrated the anniversary this past week. To everyone else, it is merely an interesting statistic. My instructors have been practicing their whole lives and my children were young enough when we started to feel like this is something we’ve always done. For me, it was a renaissance. I didn’t start classes for another five months, but that was the first day I heard the message, “I can do it!” The simple mantra (combined with abundant encouragement from teachers and fellow students) helped me make some much needed changes and discover a positive new direction for my life.
A church camp I attended as a child, introduced me to the colorful glory of parachutes. From a small nondescript bag, there emerged something wonderful.  I have played with them countless times since then as a student, counselor and teacher but still experience that same shot of happiness every time it is stretched across the floor. There will hopefully be many more milestones to celebrate on my journey, but I like to imagine and remember that first day as the parachute opening for the first time.

Failing

We have a color belt promotion testing this week.  Many parents will inquire as to their child’s readiness because, in their words, they don’t WIN_20140131_130933 (2)want their son or daughter to FAIL.

We reassure and explain.  We would not invite them if they were unprepared. Testing is not merely about perfecting curriculum. It’s about building our character.  We persevere with a positive attitude even when it’s hard. And if we don’t succeed the first time, we try again.

What saddens me is when a few of those same parents, despite their own feelings, will allow their child to quit in a few months because “he doesn’t want to.”

Quitting is the only true fail.  Everything else is experience, preparing you for what is to come.

A Mental Exercise

ImageI count out loud but say the moves in my head.

18 Low X block
19 Knee strike
20 …
20 …
20 …
It’s gone. So I start over. Again, stall at 19. Take it once more from the beginning but the remaining 32 moves at are inaccessible, lost somewhere in the recesses of my brain. The more frustrated I become, the less I can remember, despite patient reminders from the instructors. I head home from class disappointed, finding little consolation that I made it through the 486 combined moves of all my previous forms.

It would be easy to take the night off.  Go to bed.  Try again some other time. But that’s not what a black belt does. It’s not the example I wish to set for my students. Practice and perseverance set us apart.

So once everyone else is sleeping.  I take out my cards.  Breathe. Read and walk through it over and over until the light bulb blazes into being over my head. That joyful a-ha moment endorphin rush encourages a dozen more repetitions. And I wake up early, so I can do it again.

I love Martial Arts because it provides both physical and mental challenges.  We need both to be our best selves.

In Defense of Fairy Tales (on censorship)

I sometimes have concerns about sharing my blog due to content. How much do you let friends or acquaintances or co-workers or your mother see?  I self censor myself rather harshly but even the hint of someone else telling me what I can or cannot share through my writing has me up in arms.  It made me remember this original poem – written as a response to a censorship discussion. (It might appear in this blog previously but a search didn’t pull it up.  It can be found in my book!)

In Defense of Fairy Tales
Distressing damsels vainly wait
in unreachable dark towers,
while poker playing princes
yawn at the late hour.
Wolves walk right past Grandma’s house;
the dwarves stay underground;
sirens see from fathoms deep,
but do not make a sound.
Giants hide in mountaintops,
where dragons breathing smoke,
watch the wizards magic fail,
and jesters tire of jokes.
Witches spells remain uncast,
no one wins or loses,
quests kept unaccomplished
by vanquishing the muses.
Children safely under wraps,
looking through the glass,
the forest is so harshly lit,
all can lamely pass.
Fairies fret and sadly wonder
why we must be burned,
and fail to see within their tales
lessons to be learned.

Kicks to the Head

I still don’t take criticism well.

It’s one of those things that we learn to deal with as a Martial Artist through competition and testings, but as a writer, it all seems terribly subjective – more of a personal attack than sparring. I would rather be kicked in the head (and I know from experience it’s not pleasant).

I was drawn to Tae Kwon Do because of the community. It is the same for blogging, although I find it harder to put myself out there.  Today’s Zero to Hero challenge addressed that hesitancy.  Our assignment was to find some topics and blogs to follow, understanding that’s an invitation for others to look at your work.

I created a blog list.  Some, I’ve been following forever.  Some, I started today.  I look forward to reading and will welcome your comments (while keeping my high block up). Take a look at the list.  They might inspire you as well.