Saturday, December 29, 2012

Snow Day

It's halfway through Christmas break, and we're enjoying a beautiful snow day here.  This is the perfect kind of day for a good Pandora station, a big pot of homemade Irish Potato soup (singlehandedly prepared by Little), and lounging around (or being photographed on the back porch) in karate pants.
 Last night, I had a good night of sparring, followed by an equally good night of pizza and conversation with my karate mentors.  I'm loving this phase of my training, when the academic part is beginning to mesh with the physical part in a more seamless way.  My body is strong, my endurance continuing to improve noticeably each week.  While the dojang has been operating on limited hours this week, I have spent more time at the gym, running and lifting.  Thanks to an intensive daily effort at stretching and strengthening, my hip flexors are finally feeling like they should.  I've been trying to squeeze some good yoga into my schedule, but haven't managed to be consistent with it. Planning to make another attempt at that soon. 
 In the meantime, I'm reading, reading, reading, and watching videos online to supplement what I'm reading.  My new interest is in bunkai, the process of breaking down forms (kata, or poomsae in Korean) and analyzing their purpose and practical applications.  Now that I have all of my color belt material committed to memory, I am beginning to work on moving beyond the "what" to the "why" of each action.  I've also been practicing them with more power these last few weeks, surprised at how exhausted I am after completing each series of about 20-60 actions.  I discussed this frustrating development with one of my mentors last night, and he pointed out that the stronger I become, the more power I will likely put into the form, leaving me feeling just as exhausted as I was before my endurance was as good.  Not a bad thing, just a natural part of training at this level. Feeling exhausted at the end of a form means you're doing it right.  It was reassuring to know that the younger and stronger men I train with have the same experience when they push hard.   
Tonight, I plan to build a fire and read, or perhaps watch a movie with Savageman and the boyz.  There's a lot that needs to be done around here, but tonight is for relaxing and enjoying the cozy house and the view of the pretty snow outside.
Grateful tonight for a warm home, good food, the time to study and practice, and for all who support and teach me.  
And for the beautiful snow!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

This is It

It's December 20, 2012, and according to a lot of superstitious people, the world is supposed to end tomorrow.

I don't happen to be one of them.  I already have weekend plans.

But that doesn't mean that the whole idea of the End being Near didn't capture my imagination a bit.

When I first heard about this prediction, about 3 years ago, it got me thinking, and asking myself, if I knew I only had a few years left, how would I spend them?

And then I went and did that.

Because, honestly, Mayans or not, none of us is immortal; none of us knows what life has in store for us.  And the worst thing I could imagine was finding myself at the end of my life and having Regrets. 

So even though deep down, I believe this Mayan prediction is nonsense, I have to give it some credit, since the idea of it has had enormous impact on my decision-making over these last years.

I have made bold decisions.  Taken risks.  Refused to be anything less than my authentic self.  I've let down my guard and opened myself up in new and courageous ways, resulting in the experiences of both incredible friendships and also of painful loss.  I've redefined my roles of wife and mother.  Redefined my relationship with my body.  Examined myself and made the changes I found myself needing. Fed myself with experiences for which I had been starving.  Dedicated myself to a rigorous course of mental and physical discipline.  Found ways to give back to my community.  Learned things I had previously thought I was too late in life to learn.

I've been a sponge, absorbing all of the experiences and challenges and connections and pure bliss I could manage to soak up.  "Sure, why not?" has been my mantra - and I've rarely regretted saying it.

Today was Thursday.  I got up, went into work to get set up to sub in the truly challenging classrooms - the emotional and behavioral support classes, the autistic and intellectually handicapped classes, the multiple disability classes.  After that, I took two exhilarating hours of karate, went out to lunch with Savageman and four of my favorite karate friends, spent some time with the kids, taught my childbirth class.  The Teen's team took second place in a basketball tournament.  Middle went to a concert at the High School and came home with friends.  Little helped us make a snack and we hung out until bedtime.  I'm writing now while Savageman cleans up and then we'll finish the movie we started last night.  One of us may even get a massage. 

If this were indeed to be my last day on Earth, I have no complaints or regrets.  This was a good day, spent with people I love, feeling challenged and fulfilled, doing things I love to do.

String together 365 days like this a year and you find yourself living the life you're meant to live.

Grateful for it all.  Every bit of it.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


We got our tree last night. 

I know what you're thinking, if you've been reading this for a while.  Christmas preparations in our house don't usually start until at least the 22nd.  Until that point, we are happily in denial, keeping the TV off, listening to CDs instead of the radio, avoiding the malls and big box stores, keeping our focus on Getting Through Today.

This year, of course, things are different.  All of the kids are in school.  Savageman is not at work, and I am, as often as I can be.  This week, I spent Wednesday playing School Librarian at a local middle school, and Friday doing a neuropsych evaluation. 

I was actually wrapping up said neuropsych evaluation, double-checking my scoring and preparing to fill in my report, when I happened to check the news.  Reading about the school shooting in CT completely knocked the wind out of me.  Glad for my private office, I cried my way through the rest of my scoring and headed home to Savageman and the two older boys, who held me while I sobbed for the victims and their families and friends. 

Little was due home about an hour later.  We decided not to tell him about it right away.  Information was still sketchy, and I wanted my own raw emotions to settle down a bit before discussing it.  This is, after all, his first semester in an elementary school building, and he's not the kind of kid who will acknowledge if he is worried about something. Best not to freak him out needlessly.

Besides, I was just so happy to see him and cuddle him and sniff his sweet head that I didn't want to spoil the moment when he got home.

That night, I did wind up keeping him up for an extra two hours, reading Harry Potter together and snuggling and talking and savoring this time that suddenly seemed so precious.  I pushed aside the twinge of guilt that occasionally bubbled up and asked me why I didn't spend this kind of time with him - with all of them - every night.  I was doing it now, and I would be mindful to do it more often. 

I also resolved not to wait until Christmas Eve to start thinking about Christmas this year.  Little is especially interested in doing family stuff together, and he had been asking for a few days when we could start shopping and decorating and making cookies.  Getting Through Today was going to have to begin to include some of these things. 

So Advent began here yesterday.  We got the wreath and the tree stand out of the attic, headed for Lowes to pick out an inexpensive tree, and stopped at the store to get ingredients for a treat.  We put a Christmas station on Pandora, set up the tree, made our treat, played Scrabble, and snuggled up to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas together.  Savageman and I celebrated the third day of our return to HappyMarriageLand and watched another movie together after the kids were in bed. 

All is currently well here in our little corner of the universe.  And while the school shooting in CT was, of course, mentioned in Mass this morning - thus prompting a discussion with Little afterward during soup and donut time - it turned out he had watched the news before we got up today and already knew all about it.  He didn't seem particularly concerned about his own safety, pointing out that his school is about 10 feet from the police station and that they regularly have intruder drills and already know what to do.  We talked a bit about the statistical improbability of something like that happening in his school, but the conversation was brief.  As for the plight of the families in CT, this is one of those times that I am thankful that he's not the world's deepest thinker. 

For those of us who do tend to think more deeply about these topics, we are trying to limit our musings to those things within our own sphere of influence. 

For now, just loving each other and cherishing our time together and this happy season is enough.

Monday, December 10, 2012

As Predicted...

I'm back to normal tonight.

Got up, made meat sauce in the crock pot, got the kids off to school, went to the gym, stretched, ran a mile, worked out on the machines (upper body, because I have to do this gawdaful pole-vaulting move at the end of longstick 3 that just hasn't been happening for me), did forms and burpees in the Other Room. 

Got the TB test I needed for one of the school districts.

Met up with an old friend from high school and had coffee with him and Savageman for a few hours.

Went to the dojang an hour early to train with Kickboxing Guy, then did my regular cardio hour, then class. In cardio, in addition to our usual kicking, punching, and core work, we got longsticks and worked extensively on the very move I'm struggling with.  We also ran around the room, leaping and bounding over obstacles.  Yes, is what I thought.  This is what I needed

In class, another red stripe and I each had the chance to lead the class for a short while.  Despite years of watching others do this with ease, it's quite a different situation when you're in front of the class yourself, calling out the commands and counting in Korean. Despite the small mistakes we all make at first, it's a great confidence builder. 

Tonight, my tummy is full of good spaghetti, a tasty Belgian White beer, and a peanut butter cup swiped from the secret stash.  Savageman cleaned our room, everyone's homework is done, a chapter of Harry Potter has been read (Little reads a page, I read a page), and I am ready for a hot shower and a good book. 

Happy me.

Sunday, December 09, 2012


Last night was the Christmas Banquet.  Nice video presentation of the demo team here:

Despite the night of festivities, surrounded with good food and good friends, I woke this morning feeling exhausted, drained, shut-down. 


Was it the rainy, cold weather?  The fact that I missed several cardio classes last week and also sparring on Friday?  I worked on Friday - my first day as a substitute - and went out to eat with relatives that night. It was the first weekday in recent memory I had no gym, no dojang, no exercise at all.  Was it the fact that I had overeaten on both Thursday and Friday, leaving me feeling bloated and sluggish?  Family stress and the cumulative effect 11 months of unemployment has had on our marriage?  The transition into my new role as Working Mother?

A combination of all of these?

Whatever it was, watching myself sinking deeper and deeper into depression is not a good feeling.  Like a fog settling down over me, it presses me down, sapping my energy and motivation.  It's been ages since I've felt this way.  Thankfully, it's a rare thing now.  I hate it.

Thankfully also - it never lasts long.  I have very little tolerance for Depressed Me.  I force myself to move, kicking and screaming, anywhere but down.  I know myself well enough to realize that getting some exercise, cleaning the house, throwing myself into a project, forcing myself into a social situation - always makes it better.  Movement, even in the wrong direction, is better than doing nothing at all and letting the depression tighten its grip on me.  It's a choice - to wallow, or to struggle free - and I'm too stubborn to go down without a fight. 

So tonight, I dragged my sullen ass to the computer and am now blogging myself this pep talk.  When I am done, I will go downstairs and kick the crap out of my kicking bag, do 50 burpees, work through my forms. Tomorrow, if I am not called in to work, I will go to the gym for more of the same, plus running, and tomorrow night I will go to cardio and class.  Back to normal.  Back to feeling fit and strong and healthy.

I can't stand myself like this.  Really. 

Pep talk over.  Time to start moving.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Testing Day

... on which I did not test. 

I'm not eligible to test again until at least June. 

So I went, I watched the black belt test at 8, then dressed and sat in the back for the color belt test at 10.  A few times, we were asked to get up and help, which was nice because sitting still for 4 hours is almost as torturous as testing.

In any case, the black belt test was small, only three people, two of whom were the guru and one of the Adopted Daughters testing for their Second Dan.  They were, of course, fantastic.  I definitely have a lot of work to do between now and June if I am to test then.  Like healing and strengthening my hips and legs. They did so much kicking... and kicking... and kicking... I think my legs would simply fall off if I had to do that much kicking in a two hour period.  Which would be embarrassing. 

I also need to work on grappling.  My favorite grappling partner is home from college this weekend, and we had a good match last night after sparring, but most of the time she made me feel like a squashed bug.  We're the same size, but she is wicked strong and I'm clearly out of practice.

Watching the black belt test was certainly inspiring.  My three friends, each with different stories, different strengths, different challenges, looked amazing.  I have a lot to live up to. 

Immediately afterward, we grabbed a quick lunch and headed to Harrisburg for a demo, in which the same Adopted Daughter, after her Second Dan test, and after assisting with the color belt test, performed with her usual energy and enthusiasm.  Absolutely amazing.

Feeeling particularly inspired tonight to get back to work training and preparing.  Maybe I'll head to the gym for a while.  I think the young ninja crowd is due back here to watch a movie and celebrate tonight.