Start Up!


TKD Tenet inspired! Also published on my poetry blog!



Lackluster defined 1

Thus was my performance in a recent class described. And although affronted, I couldn’t argue as it was accurate for the portion witnessed. When working on my own stuff, my attitude is poor. It’s not limited to class. My writing time is put off (my first entry in a month). My morning meditation skipped. Poetry abandoned. Practice minimal.

The second half of that same class, I taught someone the next 12 movements of their new form.  When assisting others, I focus on the present task.  I am happy to help, necessary and validated. I am positive and encouraging even when they make a mistake.

So the trick will be to become a teacher to myself.  Stop letting perceived inadequacies limit growth.  Reclaim time for what’s important to my own success.

This weekend, I renewed my commitment to meditation. Poetry is a still surprising and welcome by-product.

It’s hard to be sad in the morning,
when all around nature wakes to
uncompromising joy,
knowing only today.

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.

Spiritual Core Strength (Sabonim Says Revisited)

Today’s Zero to Hero assignment from the Word Press inspiration bank was to write a post about what were your thoughts when you started blogging.  The post below was published in 2010. When I started this blog, I was thinking about how, while practicing my writing, I could: (1) make connections; (2) inspire others to explore martial arts; and primarily (3) rephrase my challenges and setbacks in a positive way. (Which is what has become bursts of fiction and poetry.)  
Occasionally someone will tell me that a post has nothing to do with martial arts. But of course, it does.  My Sabonim says that we are not just martial artists in the dojang, but everywhere.  It’s the new year and we’ve been emphasizing our physical core in class.  I like to think of writing as an exercise improving my spiritual core.

Sabonim Says
sabonima Korean term and title signifying a master level martial arts teacher/instructor

We play this game with our grade school students, a modified Simon Says, to encourage focus, concentration and listening skills.  I wonder sometimes how long the adult students (myself included) would last.

They are all abilities, that as adults, we are expected to have acquired.

Yet my mind wanders.

“There is always room for improvement.” my Sabonim says.

I hate that.  Would prefer to be better than good enough right now.

But part of what we learn is that we are always and at the same time good enough and getting better.

Breathing Out

“Too late now.” I told myself. “Way to start off the challenge – no post.” But I found I couldn’t sleep. “What difference does it make – tonight or tomorrow? You’re tired, get some rest, get up early.” But that’s precisely why I’m taking part in the Word Press Zero to Hero challenge – too much putting off til tomorrow… 

My Sabonim often begins and ends class with a similar mantra: Breathe in the positive. Breathe out the negative.

Don’t get in your own way.

An un-shoveled walk
A pilgrimage through training
Poetry surrounds

Glance Back but Keep Looking Forward II.

Happy New Year!

This is primarily a re-post from my early days of blogging, which I usually frown upon, but again, it is interesting to look back. I haven’t viewed this list for over a year and am surprised to see what was important, what has changed and what remains to be done. I’m working towards my third degree now. Joyful about the poetry. Still frustrated by the bricks.  Spent my early summer mornings with the birds. Checked off Shakespeare (adding Tolstoy). Put two new coasters on my rode that list. Finally bought the juggling clubs as a birthday present to myself last year – slowly getting the hang of it!  

The lights came down.  Decorations boxed up.  Newly acquired items found a place to belong. And we are at the same time happy to return to a somewhat normal routine and sad that the time flew by so quickly.

“I can’t believe it’s already 2011.” Someone said to me over the weekend.  “Time is like that.”  I replied. “It can sneak up on you.”

At the beginning of the new year, we send out to our students goal sheets to help them reflect and focus not only their training but other important aspects of their lives.  We are encouraged as martial artists to be continually resolute in the practice of goal setting but that is not always as easy as we would like.  Life, distracting and unpredictable, intervenes.

Two years ago, as a high green belt, I wrote the following list as a partial answer to my Sabonim who was requesting goals which I was adverse to setting.  (It’s not really the setting of goals with which I have issues, it’s more putting something in writing that I’m not 100% sure I can accomplish.)

Some things on the list, I may not include were I to write it today but it is interesting to peek back at where I was and what was important to me then and what is still important now and what I can check off.

In 2010, I earned my first degree black belt.  I’ll need to modify that to the next degree.

All Encompassing List of 100 Things to Do
(in no particular order)
Earn my black belt
Throw Mr. Hein.
Reread Crime and Punishment
Finish writing a novel
Audition for a local musical
Break a brick
Entertain- dinner parties, party parties on a small and large scale
Try a new roller coaster every summer
Learn to sail
Write a U.S. Supreme Court Brief
Surf  the beaches of California
Back pack around Crater Lake
Visit a TKD school in Korea
Write at a cafe in Paris
Tour a castle in London
View the artistry of Rome
Purchase some mouse ears at Disney World
Explore the ruins of Athens
Look out the window of a Tokyo skyscraper
Spend an endless night in Alaska
See the northern lights
Watch a space shuttle launch in person
Return to all those places again with my children
Become a better swimmer
Write the screenplay for “Claudia and Carol”
Ballroom Dance…
and then teach Joe, Sam and Dominic
Read more poetry and then
Try writing poetry
Take a back road trip across the U.S. and
keep a “Blue Highway” journal.
Read Gone With the Wind
Role play all the best parts from 9 ½ Weeks
Win a grand champion trophy at tournament
Have a drink or dinner with: Ray Bradbury
Stephen Donaldson
Robert Pirsig
Stephen Colbert & Jon Stewart
Carrie Fisher
Al Gore
Sophia Coppala
Bob Ueker and Bob Costas
Christopher Phillips
David Copperfield
Mo Williams
David McCullough
George Lucas
Breaking Benjamin’s
Jet Li
Take flying lessons
(in re #29) Write some of my own scenes and act those out as well
Get my motorcycle permit
Go white water rafting
Create a scholarship foundation so everyone can experience the benefits of martial arts
Take a cooking class
Learn a foreign language (Italian?, Korean?, French?, Latin?)
Go horseback riding
Finish reading the complete works of William Shakespeare
Go to the opera
See a play I wrote performed
Take Sami to a fashion show
and have a dress designed just for her
Fix J.K. Lee’s web-site
Go on my dream vacation (a partner and myself on a comfortable boat, surrounded by water with no destination, empty notebooks, good supply of pencils, inspiring things to read to self, fun things to read out loud together, guitar songs by starlight and waking early to watch the sun rise over the water’s edge)
Take my children on a historical tour of the United States
and then take them some places they actually want to go
Explore passion…
study the Kama Sutra
and drive someone to distraction (in a good way).
Try new foods and encourage the kids to try as well
Make sure all the area public schools have access to coats, hats, gloves and boots for children who are without
Take the kids camping in a way so they actually enjoy it
Teach Max to roll over
Organize a protest/demonstration for something important
Draft a piece of legislation that is sensible and promotes positive change
Learn to play the piano
Send Sami to space camp
Juggle clubs
Make someone’s day (can be done repeatedly)
Reunite every year with my parents and siblings
Stay overnight at the White House
Give a speech at the United Nations
Spend a day with no restrictions at the Library of Congress
See the Olympics (with children, in person)
Negotiate a peaceful settlement to a conflict
Grow my own vegetables and flowers
Go rock climbing
Sing the National Anthem at a Major League Baseball Game
Help a friend with out them knowing
Give something personal back to everyone who has ever helped me
Write a crossword puzzle
Invent a board/card game (that is truly fun)
Encourage someone on the verge of giving up
Provide Joey with equipment and space for a band to practice
Bird watch
Learn the names of all the Wisconsin trees
Go hang gliding
Sing/record/play something in a real recording studio
Create an original dessert recipe
Practice my forms on a beach, on a mountainside, on a wide open field – at the breaking of day and under a clear starlit sky