Committed

I have come a really long way, and I’m incredibly proud of that.  But I also know I have much to learn. . .and that’s okay. The journey is a lifetime.

Each day is a new opportunity to be a better person – a better human being to myself, and those around me. We all deserve a happy and fulfilled life, but that very much begins with US.

My competition, much as they say, is myself yesterday.  It isn’t a friend, neighbor or celebrity. It’s me, myself and I.

I am committed to choosing the high road.  To standing up for what I believe in, and loving life fiercely.  

I am committed to holding myself accountable, and to the standards to which I hold others…at a level just above that.

I am committed to being kinder to myself, because I’m a goddamn powerhouse with a heart the size of the globe.

I am committed to seeing the good and the beauty in all things, and to always make “the best of it” – worse isn’t a long shot for many, and I guarantee hundreds of thousands of people want what you have! 

I am committed to being a better and better version of myself, to bring hope and joy to those around me, to give back as much as I’m able, and beyond…but also without losing myself in the process.

I have a list of goals and dreams miles long…and I believe they are all achievable.

It starts TODAY.  Ten minutes ago.  Life beats to time, and time is a drum that doesn’t stop.

The only control we have rests with us – LEARN. Live. Be kind to others, especially those who are there along the journey with you.  

There’s room for all of us to succeed in our pursuits – Let’s be better together.

Be Kinder

Kindness needs to start with YOU.  

Being kind to others is nigh impossible if you have nothing positive to give yourself. . .

When you do find self-love, compassion, and appreciation. . .then you are like an inextinguishable candle that can light the world without losing in the process.

It’s okay if you aren’t there yet.  I get reminders often that I’m being too tough on me.  And I appreciate that, because it’s true.  I’m so thankful and blessed, and I love to give…but I need to remember that the fuller I am, the more I have to offer.

The world needs more of it anyway – positivity is contagious, just like laughter.  And who doesn’t want that?!

Radical Honesty

The other day a friend said something to the effect of the below, and it is a tenet I really believe in – each and every part of it.

Honesty is one of my top “must-haves” – not only do I need it, but I hold myself to it also.  No matter the nature of the relationship (familial, personal, simply interpersonal), it won’t be a healthy or lasting one without honesty. 

That said, it is vital we learn to say what we need to without being mean about it.  Criticism is hard to take, but when it is constructive, it’s important for us to hear.  

There is a way – and a tone – in which we can deliver criticisms, however – we need to remember that delivery directly affects receptivity.  Further, if we think about how we’d like such commentary delivered to US, we might take a moment before speaking.

Our conduct matters – it not only is a reflection of us, but it affects us, and those around us. We all need to be able to say what we feel – learning and growing is an integral part of life, together with our loved ones, and on our own.  But we do have a choice about how we proceed, how we speak to one another, and whether or not we are upstanding and honest with our word at all times. 

Taking a Moment With Mindfulness

Many years – moons ago, it seems –  I was introduced to the concept of “mindfulness.”  I’d been practicing mindfulness most of my life without realizing it…and I hadn’t realized, because I’d not always *quite* had the hang of it. Still, I was vastly more spiritual than I had words to explain, and my ever-wandering mind, and proclivity for all thing magical, led me – both knowingly and not – down the path.

After at least a decade and a half of Alexander Technique, Craniosacral and Somatic work, EMDR, Brainspotting, Martial Arts, and countless spiritual endeavors, I fumble a little bit less. . .  But I’m still learning, and have leagues yet to go – lifetime pursuit, as so many things are.

But it isn’t required that we are necessarily graceful with it.  Fluidity comes with consistency, and mindfulness is very much a way of life.  It is therefore a quotidian ritual of sorts that we evolve with, and as a result of –  to expect mastery instantly is almost an injustice, as the (sometimes clumsy!) journey is what facilitates learning at the deepest levels.  It’s not unlike meditation – widely known to be a challenge at first – as it becomes smoother with time.

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Life these days feels intensely hectic – I want to say more so than ever but I’ve only know this Earth, and time, for 38 years!  The influx (and imposition – *cough* *cough* social media!) of technology has created a reality in which “connectivity” is at the ultimate high. 24/7, to be exact.  There are many blessings born of such advances, but there are also massive changes afoot – ones which I daresay are reprogramming human beings at the most fundamental level.

We are all born with a magical capacityALL of us.  We all have the ability to tap into the same natural resources that have allowed us to survive as a species from the beginning of time.  But it feels frighteningly apparent that even children – generally more adept at awareness than overly-conditioned adults – are also losing the ability.  

It isn’t just about looking down at a phone while crossing the street – awareness out the window and then some!  It’s also in losing the ability to “read” others – the read the non-verbal cues, to FEEL, to SENSE… Children drown nearly as much in the virtual world these days, to the degree that even THEY don’t see the full picture anymore… 

Scary thought…

The good news?  That extra-sensory ability never truly goes away.  What’s happening is more that we are – byproduct of a civilized, modern society – conditioned OUT of our natural abilities.  Our senses become duller because who needs to be aware of danger when getting dinner involves takeout, or benign shopping aisles?!  

Oh, and that “6th” one?  It gets completely shrouded by all the noise.  Sadly, modern man somehow thinks a 6th sense is actually supernatural.  Ever notice that animals have it?  Right…well. . . *reminder* : we ARE animals.  We have it too.  Just —> noise, noise, noise! 

Enter mindfulness.  

The practice of mindfulness brings back the precise moment in time in which we find ourselves.  For me, it is seeing each letter as I type my words, hearing myself speak them as they form, seeing the pause of my fingertips, hearing the  music that is playing in the background…

Human beings have always projected ahead, and reflected on the past – for instance, planning a hunt to gather food, and drawing the hunt on the walls of a cave after the fact.  But nowadays, that practice is so multi-fold that stress tends to weasel its way in to the process, leaving us frazzled and forgetful of the moment we are actually IN.

When we DO take a deep breath…and take the moment in…our heart rate actually slows down with us.  Our very life force, how about that?

Mindfulness is the place in which perspective is purest, in which our emotions no longer control us (this is a wonderful practice for anger and the anxiety-prone), in which our innate magical abilities awaken.

It can have other great effects too – we might actually enjoy our food, eat less instead of devouring (I’m guilty of that!) It gives stress a swift kick for a time too (something we all need!) Mindfulness can catch us in the act of judging, or just before an argument that we needn’t have… It helps us to become better all around.

Mindfulness is like the free gift of wizardry!  We have the power to create, to subdue, to awaken, to affect, to manifest, and to see.  Our feelings are deeper, our heart unfolds, and suddenly. . ?  It’s like we are truly alive.

At a time of the year when life is particularly stressful – and focused on the superficial in many ways – take a moment (or, better…SEVERAL) and relax into your breath. 

Feel.  

Sense.  

BE.

The magic will do the rest.

Blessed be,

❤ 

Martial Arts Humor – Injuries And The White Belt

It’s funny…but not.  Especially because it isn’t so much the white belt who ends up hurt, but the training partner.

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(C) Cartoonstock Jcen624

We all start somewhere, no question about it – accidents ARE going to happen, it’s Martial Arts, for crying out loud.  BUT…

But…

It’s absolutely vital that newer students are not only encouraged to slow down, but ASKED to.  The first nose fracture I sustained a few months ago wasn’t from a white belt – it was a tough technique, a few parts went awry between us…it happens.

But this time it was more the result of over-excitedness, and lack of body control – common to newer students.

I went slowly.  I made a point to say “because this is designed to break the arm and damage the joints, it’s really important to go slowly.  It’s easy to go too far before your partner has a chance to tap…”  

The message has to come from all of us, though – it has to be engrained from the get-go, because many of our techniques (self defense-based, as much as offensively-based) are designed to injure.  Even when a technique is meant only to control, there is room for an accident mindfulness makes a HUGE difference in lessening the potential for injury on the mat.  

After I took a heel to the face, re-fracturing my nose, a fellow student took the time to say (to my distressed training partner) “you really need to go slower.  You have a high energy – that’s great -but in here, we really have to go slow…and slower still.  We go slow for a LONG time.”

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I think there’s a misconception that going slowly is a bad thing – it ISN’T.  As the saying goes, slow is fast, fast is slow… Being deliberate in the movements builds – first of all – the proper muscle memory. Bad habits are a NIGHTMARE to fix – you want to be drilling the correct mechanics of the technique so, when it matters, that’s how you respond.  

The other part of that is…you actually CAN hurt the person you are working with.  It isn’t a stretch because that is precisely what you are learning to do.  If you are more senior, you don’t have to be overbearing – but it is partially your responsibility to guide others when you notice they aren’t as in control as they need to be.  Sometimes even then…accidents occur.  So back up your peers if you need to – my friend stepping in was appreciated because while my partner won’t forget she fractured my nose…she was given extra reinforcement from the messages given to her afterwards.

Martial Arts – Progression

I’m super thankful that I have been able not only to do five different Martial Arts thus far in Life – having, mind you, only started in my 30’s (I’m currently 38) – but also to have achieved some ranks in each one.  Mastery in the Arts is a lifetime pursuit – belt color doesn’t mean much when you look at the larger picture!  But taking tests – and passing – is a really awesome feeling.  I always like to be as prepared as possible, and feel blessed to have the opportunities to demonstrate my knowledge every so often.

I’ve been doing Ninjutsu for just over 8 months – I set a lofty and ambitious goal (from the get go!) of making every single testing cycle no matter what.  There are days where that’s not easy to do – I’m either physically not around to be IN class, or I’m flat-out exhausted.  That said, I keep in mind – always – that I have these opportunities NOW.  I may not always.  I want to take advantage of the learning, and progression while I can.

I most recently took my 6th Kyu test, and with that came a second “initiation test.”  The initiation essentially boiled down to one hour of my classmates testing my knowledge of all the techniques from the tests I have done up until this point, and doing it in a less structured, “real life” way – I have to say, it was maybe the most fun I’ve had in any Martial Arts test yet!  

The honor of receiving my Genbukan patch – one aspect of passing my initiation before 6th Kyu – was a big one. I come from a background in Korean Arts, so re-learning, adapting, and working within an Ancient Japanese structure has been a challenge, to say the least (maybe not AS severe as my Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, but difficult all the same!) 

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While I have a LONG way to go – and yes, I have goals in place to pass my 5th and 4th Kyu by the end of the year! – I appreciate the steps along the way.  

Earning ranks, and the responsibility that goes with them, is an honor in my book, and a blessing.  I work hard for it, no question, but I also feel grateful because not everyone can.  Some simply are physically unable.  Others, less able to apply this level of discipline to an activity that’s “extracurricular” and supposed to be fun!  For me, though, learning IS fun – I enjoy the challenge and putting myself in places where I am not at all comfortable.  It’s in that zone where the good stuff happens. 🙂 

More Martial Arts fun!

Martial Arts Humor – New Techniques

I don’t know about you, but when my 76 year-old Grandmaster does a technique flat-out, or shows us a new one…this is pretty much right on (thanks, The Hangover! 😉 )   

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I might ALSO mutter “beautiful….just beautiful! because, to me, Martial Arts is much like dance.  A deadly dance, absolutely…but dance all the same, pairing fluidity and grace with devastating coordination and control.

There’s something incredibly special about watching someone “fluent” in the language – so well versed that countless techniques present themselves with one move of the opponent.  Phenomenal. ❤