Karate and Confidence

Yes, this American Karate class is the right place for me the be. Sure, I felt like I nearly pulled a major muscle when I switched to kicks with my left side, and had to acknowledge that I am definitely older than before. However, even with that acknowledgement, I still felt perfect where I was.

I had actually been messaging with someone just before class tonight, discussing how odd the little things have all been regarding getting older. The awesome workout yesterday at the gym – 100 burpees, 50 cal assault bike, and 70 can ski, combined with EMOMs of box jumps and Russian kettle bell swings – left my knee really sore today, limiting what I could do in today’s workout. I have to rest more intentionally, and purposefully rub out certain muscles now, if I want not to fall apart. However, by doing those things intentionally, taking the necessary better care of my body, I have put myself in a position of being in better physical shape and function than I have ever been in life.

I’m not sure if that is ironic or not… avoid falling apart by taking better care, which results in better fitness than ever…

Whatever the case, in the karate class tonight, things were easy to do. They were easy in a way they had not been fifteen and twenty years ago, when last I was doing karate, doing these same movements. Sure, certain movements require additional stretching now, but I am better at them from the get-go. My efforts tonight for these kicks and leg strength practice were calm and easy for me. I knew I could use more stretching next time, so as to reach my true current abilities. And yet, even without that extra stretching, I was doing better than fifteen years ago, as a youth.

I am strong. Physically and mentally, I am very strong now, and in so many ways more than I was back then.

Even on the mental front, I used to be afraid of sparring. I still am now, but I can see it differently than I did back then. I was timid and afraid and ashamed when sparring as a child. I was not comfortable being assertive or aggressive in sparring. And so I almost always lost. And it was very jarring for me with every physical blow I received – they scared me, somehow, and it was more than just a physical blow each time. My cheeks would end up flaming hot with shame and embarrassment as they pulled the gear off my hands and head, and turned me from the square, so the next two kids could enter. I had known that I was better and could have won, but I had also known that my fear stopped me almost every time. And, for that, I was embarrassed.

Tonight, when the instructor mentioned that we would begin sparring next week, while I felt fear and nerves rise immediately within me, I also felt a challenge… a good challenge. Could I – who I am now – take this on with confidence? I understand that I am not aiming to hurt anyone now. No one is aiming to hurt me. It truly is a challenge, purely to see what I can make happen, what I can do when sparring. How much have I prepared myself for the unexpected moves and responses and style of the person facing me?

In dance, I will compete without a second thought in the category called “Jack and Jill”. It means that I will be given a random partner and song, and we will dance together, possibly for the first time ever, and usually in front of a whole ballroom full of people. When I did this in Korea a few years ago, I had only danced very briefly with the person I was assigned. I did not know the song that came on. We were the only couple dancing, with all the other couples seated in chairs behind us, the the ballroom packed with dancers in the front and on the sides, watching us and us alone. I merely looked into his eye, smiled, and had an amazing dance with him. I was scared of messing up, of disappointing everyone looking for a good dance and show, of looking stupid, of tripping, and of dozens of other things. But none of them held me back. My love for dancing guided me forward to put my best, confident, comfortable self forward. And the results were wonderful. We delivered. And we both had a blast doing it.

I am wondering now, if I can bring that same feeling forward into sparring. I am confident and comfortable in my self now. And also in my strength, both mentally and physically. I am in this class, because it fills me with joy and fulfillment, without my even having to ask anything of it. I like doing American karate. Period. I feels right right now. So, let’s bring forth those feelings to the sparring, and just see what I can do. Like the workout at the gym yesterday, I know I could have done more than I did, but I judged for safety and still gave it my best within those bounds. (My knees need care!) But I look forward to doing that same workout again in the future, so that my efforts between now and then can show me improvements that next time. Sparring can be exactly that for me: a benchmark workout. Go in with no idea how I’ll do. Develop baseline expectations after doing it a bit. Work outside of it to prepare for further bouts. Go into the next sparring opportunity with specific goals for improvement from the last time.

Yeah.

I can do this.

And I think I really will enjoy it, and very much.

Post-a-day 2021

Thank you for saying no

I think I all too often believe that saying, “No,” to something offered me is a bad thing. But that mostly feels to be so from cultural training, so to speak, and not from my own heart, not from within. When I am in touch with myself, with all that is deep inside, that makes me, it is easy to say, “No,” with comfort, ease, and confidence, whenever it is something that does not serve me. It is easy to decline certain foods that are not medicine for my body. It is easy to decline the offers of alcohol, of participation in debauchery, lechery, unkindness, and drama.

And it has become, in recent months and years, much easier to decline even the nice things, the coveted things. They do not serve me, despite their wonder and charm and how much they might serve another. And, if I were to accept them, they would weigh on me negatively, I likely would not enjoy them much, if at all, and a part of me likely would experience some amount of distaste toward myself and disdain toward the giver, whenever I saw the given article going forward in life.

However, if I say, “No,” to the beautiful article that I know will not serve me, it is then possible for that article to move on to find its true home, a place where it will be fully loved and appreciated and used. It can bring joy in the right home. And, if I accept the item, I rob the item of that opportunity to bring someone else joy.

Two nights ago, my mom offered me a spectacular lunar-Gregorian calendar and accompanying journal. They were wonderful, truly.

And I loved seeing that they existed.

And I could tell, after enjoying them for that time of discovery, that they were not destined to be valuable or beloved parts of my daily life.

And, so I asked for whom they could be. Whom did I know who might love and treasure them?

It came to me almost instantly. I asked my mom her thoughts, and she immediately lit up, knowing how beautiful the match was.

I offered the calendar and journal to that person yesterday. She nearly cried at the beauty of how much they aligned with something she has been working on this year and lately especially, and then again when the calendar’s page for now had a photo that aligned with the entire workshop she had just been teaching.

Yes, they had found their home with her.

“Thank you for saying, ‘No’,” she said to me, after I had initially explained the path of the items.

And I knew that it was because I was in touch with myself enough to acknowledge, to accept, and to speak up about how they did not feel to be for me that they did and could find their true home.

And I’m wondering now how much more often I can do that in life… with anything… and with everything…

Post-a-day 2021

Oh, dear

It is far too late for me to be awake right now. Especially considering that, not only do I have to get up at my regular time tomorrow, but I then have things back-to-back until 8:30 PM. Remember that my morning wake-up time is 4:20 AM, and my regular bedtime is 8:30 PM. It is currently 12:38 AM.

But I saw the nutritionist and chiropractor tonight, and it just happened to be a terrible week to have that happen. Today was already rather booked, from rising to 7:00 PM. But add onto that the sitting around and waiting in the office, until I finally have and finish my appointment just before midnight – I could have gone home after work, slept three hours, and then gone to the office, really. This is just a tad absurd.

Man.

Okay, deep breaths. Tomorrow will be beautiful. And I will sleep fantastically tomorrow night, for sure. Perhaps this is why I never signed up for be volunteering at the park for Wednesday morning – the Universe knew that I might need the rest then. Depending on how tomorrow goes, I might see about still signing up tomorrow night for Wednesday morning. But we shall see. Fingers crossed, and goddesses bless!! 😉

Post-a-day 2021

Brunch

I had brunch with a girl from my high school today. We weren’t friends in high school, but I had wanted to be. I told her today how she had mostly just seemed so angry in high school, and like she needed (or wanted) space, so I had mostly just let her be. She laughed and smiled a lot at that, but agreed with me, for the most part – she had been frustrated and angry quite a lot back then.

Being with her today, though, I saw clearly what I had glimpsed and guessed at back in school together: fear. I think she might be afraid of her own self, somehow, the same as we all seem to be, at least at some point in life. It just affects us all in different ways, some more different than others. Being with her today, I felt a pull to make it clear to her that she is loved and wanted; she, exactly who and how she is.

I had a wonderful time with her today. As we were leaving – four hours after we’d first arrived – I commented that our combined conversations throughout the four years of high school didn’t amount to as much as we had just talked with one anther. She laughed and agreed fully. They probably didn’t even amount to half the time of today’s brunch conversation.

But we weren’t meant to be friends back then. Perhaps it was merely a means to set a foundation upon which to build a true friendship later in life, now.

I do hope so.

Certainly, we shall see. 🙂

Post-a-day 2021

Timing

I was considering tonight how, even if I had worn my retainers to work, no one would have even known. And that isn’t because they are from Smile Direct Club, and so they are clear solid plastic, and, therefore, practically invisible when on my teeth, but because we wear masks, and so no one even sees my mouth, let alone my teeth at work. At the gym, sure I smile all the time during the tough workouts, but any other time people are nearby, masks are covering our mouths.

Which had it occur to me that this past year would have been the perfect time for people to get braces, both teenagers/pre-teens and adults alike! Think about it. Most people have either been going in to work or school with everyone in masks – teeth not seen – or have done video conferencing in which the video quality is not high enough for people to notice something so small on their screens, especially in group meetings, where even faces are quite small on the screen. 99% of one’s interactions would end without anyone being the wiser regarding the braces.

How cool is that? Same deal with having a baby, I suppose. Work from home, get pregnant, produce a baby, and wait until seeing people in person after it all, and suddenly start showing off this baby that you never mentioned to anyone outside the family. Totally bizarre, sure, but also hilariously reminiscent of high end people formerly sent away on extended visits to aunts or the likes in order to conceal pregnancy. But with a super happy ending instead, of course. Mom keeps baby.

As a note, my cousin actually kind of did that. I, of course, was in favor of her saying nothing about her pregnancy; just announcing the baby itself via a fun-themed party that no one would have guessed was about a baby (especially considering that no one would have known that she was pregnant in the first place). However, she did not do that. Naturally… haha.

Anyway, so, those are my thoughts this evening. Fix teeth. Have a baby. Get super fit! Re-enter society like nothing is new. What a fun way to spend a year of shut-downs…

Post-a-day 2021

Intentionally Picky

I do not claim not to be picky. Indeed, on the important things, I will not settle – I accept only exactly what is perfect, and what is perfect happens also to be exactly what I want.

For example, when I want an apple, there is an image in my mind, on my taste buds, on my teeth of exactly what I want. If it is a deep pink, small apple, with hints of yellow and near-red, then I simply will deny any other apple available to me. It is not snobbery. It is merely being aware of what it is I want – and why I want it, specifically – and being conscious enough to acknowledge that anything else is superfluous. For whatever reason, my body wants that apple. Not a green one; not a red one; not an underripe pink one… that one. Consider the idea of needing a bunch of protein, and someone offers a handful of grass to eat. It just doesn’t make sense to consider the grass as an answer to the need for protein. Whatever is in that apple is only in that apple and in the right amounts.

Now, that might be a somewhat terrible comparison, but it was meant well. ;P

Today, I spent some… time… on Bumble, the dating application. Recall my pickiness with apples and just about anything else in life – I’ve gone years in search of the right shirt and skirt combination, never settling (though, I did recently find the skirt!). Men are no different. What I am seeing in a partner, in a mate in life follows the same guidelines and criteria of either being exactly what I seek or superfluous.

And I think I broke Bumble.

It just kind of… ran out. Of options, I mean. When I had swiped “no” after the who-knows-how-many-hundreth person, the application seemed just to give up, saying, ‘Nope. We don’t have anyone for you right now. Check back again soon.’

Note the following screen:

Yeah. So, that happened. And, even when I closed the application and relaunched it, the screen happened again… and again and again and again.

And so, i accepted Bumble’s quiet yet oh-so-loud message, and closed it up, not even the least bit of concern in my mind. When it is time, it is time. And right now is the time not to bother with the online dating application. Perhaps it never will be again. And perhaps it will be one day. For now, however, my message was clear: Be here, in person, and life will meet me where I follow my heart.

I guess I am signing up for that volunteering next week after all. 🙂

Post-a-day 2021

^Had to think about it again… and I was doing so well! Haha

A day of rest

My weighted vest arrived yesterday. I went to bed last night, considering that I actually might not be going to the workout this morning, but still leaning more towards going. When I awoke this morning, around two hours before my alarm, I was almost certain I would not be going to the workout. I felt terrible, utterly exhausted. When my alarm later sounded, it was confirmed: I was going back to bed, because I needed some serious rest. I slept an extra three and a half hours before waking for real. I didn’t actually get up until another half hour later, listening to an audiobook as I lay curled on my side under the comforter, eyes closed.

I eventually got up and made breakfast, though. After eating, I went and unpacked the vest with delight. I was super excited. As soon as I unpacked it, I put it on and wore it around the house for a while. It was certainly heavy, and would take some major adjusting, if ever I were intending to run two miles with this thing. I’m still not sure that I’ll ever do it, but I’m not giving up the idea so easily. Slow and steady, were my thoughts. We still have time.

By 10:00, I was barely staying awake, however, and so I lay down comfortably on the floor… and passed out… hard. I woke only once, and fell right back asleep, adding yet another additional three hours to my sleep tank for the day. I really was wiped, I thought. I had needed this day of rest, for more than just resting my muscles – so much of me was tired. Last week and the weekend and start of this week had been, well, a lot. And being behind on sleep with all of that only made things harder, both then and now.

And so I truly rested today, swapping between a new book on the kindle – got the notification this morning that it was now available from the library! – and the audiobook on my phone (also from the library, of course), and even spent close to an hour just stretching while reading, and half an hour swinging on the front porch, despite the heat and humidity (once the mosquitos arrived, however, I was done sitting out there).

Around 5:00pm, I was unsure as to what to do. I had rested much today, but didn’t want to rest too much. I also didn’t want to exert myself when I actually just needed rest. But I could feel it within myself that I needed to move. Not intensely or hard, but truly to move. So, I donned the weighted vest, though only with 10lbs now, instead fo 20, and went on a long walk. Two and a half miles in the heat, I walked at a mostly brisk pace, experiencing moving with the vest on me. It was simultaneously rough and easy.

Now, it is 9:00pm, and I can hardly stand up, I am so sleepy and tired. Therefore, I bid you all a wonderful night. 😉

P.S. Tomorrow is my anniversary of first beginning as a member at the gym. I had reached 55 workouts so far this calendar year yesterday, and so was comfortable not going today. Last year, at this point, I had done only 51 workouts. I still considered going at noon or in the afternoon today, just to round out the year’s total, but my body went into sleep mode for the noon class, and was too exhausted to fathom doing such work by late afternoon.

Post-a-day 2021

Gym

Remember how I mentioned that Katy Perry song last night, “Teenage Dream”? Well, guess what song played at the gym this morning! It was so fun to have that happen, especially considering how that song does not usually play at the gym – nothing of its genre, even. So, that was a delightful start to the day for me.

However, speaking of the gym, I totally cried during the workout today. We were doing these deltoid press-downs with stretchy bands looped over the pull-up bars. I had attempted my left arm first. I always ask which muscles are managing movements (if I am not already sure), so that I can do the movement correctly and at all. (I’ve definitely been unable to do something simply because I was using, say, my arm muscles, when it should have been shoulder and back muscles, and then it totally worked when I got the right muscle group going.)

But something just didn’t click for me this morning – I couldn’t make the band go down. As soon as I hit the point of the band’s genuine resistance, I just could not make it go any farther. And yet, that was hardly half the distance to my body. I looked around, and saw everyone else doing it with somewhat ease. I took a step closer to the bar, to lessen the tension on the band. And then another. And I still couldn’t get my arm all the way down to my body, as we were supposed to be doing – as everyone else was doing. I was bordering on tears… from embarrassment, perhaps? I was also quite low on my sleep from the past couple nights – nightmares had plagued Sunday night, giving me minimal rest then, and last night hadn’t been much more restful, though the nightmares had mostly all gone.

The coach saw me and told me to move away from the bar. I moved a bit, and he said with more emphasis and volume for me to move, suggesting that I needed to take a huge step away. And I did, but I was beginning to panic. It is not a comfortable feeling when the body does not do as we wish it to do for something that it, by all means, ought to be able to do. Nor is it comfortable to feel oneself beginning to cry over such a simple little movement in a gym workout.

But I reminded myself that I was behind on sleep, which always seems to affect my ability to remain calm and not crying in situations. And so, I struggled and mostly failed, and then switched to the right arm, just to see if it would be any different. The band went right down. It was easy like how I had seen everyone else doing it… So something is wrong with my left side, I thought. Even more stress.

I moved on to the other activity for that round, and aimed to take a mental breather from the fact that I was supposed to do that four more rounds, and yet I hadn’t even been able to do it one time out of the 20 repetitions with my left side.

When I returned for the start of my second round, I tried again, aiming truly to figure out if there were a way that I could do it, despite my body’s not being able to do it fully as intended. A modification would be fine, if I could find one. The coach saw me again, standing too close to the bar as I attempting the modification. The earlier process had repeated, and the taunting tears from before no longer taunted, but fell forth. He was immediately in front of me, standing very close, talking calmly and gently to me, asking me what was going on, what was happening in that moment. I told him that – after a solid ten seconds of being unable to speak, for my tears – I was frustrated because I couldn’t do it. He evaluated, looking to the bar where I was, and the bar I had used the first round. This one was higher, which increased the tension, he pointed out. And I said I hadn’t been able to do it before either. The bands, too, were new, and so were harder to use than the ones we had had until recently. I told him that it was just my left side that I just couldn’t seem to make do the movement. He aligned everything for me, adjusting exactly the angle of my arm and elbow, and altering my handhold to decrease resistance.

And then I did it. I was still crying and, even, shaking, somewhat, but now there was relief in my tears, not merely stress and embarrassment. And I did it again. And I kept going. I nodded, making it clear that I was okay to continue on my own now. Before he walked away, he said to me, “You don’t need to be frustrated. You’re doing f***ing pull-ups,” and it made me laugh through my tears. He was right, after all. I was crying from stress at a tiny movement that I hadn’t been able to do, thinking I was too weak – I could do it, now that he had helped me figure it out, so it hadn’t been that I was too weak at all. And yet, after the workout today, I did three pull-ups, and attempted a fourth five or so times (making it about 90-95% of the way up each time on that fourth), wanting to get in one more than I had done after yesterday’s workout. I most certainly was not too weak.

I took one deep breathe, let it go, and I was breathing fully and easily again. I’m sure my face and eyes were still rather cry-looking for a while after that, but everyone was busy working, so I doubt anyone else even noticed. By the time I started the next round, which I was able to do with ease – relative ease, that it, as it was still hard work, but I could do that hard work now – I was fully calm and focused. While doing my left side, the coach caught my eye from across the room and gave me a visual clapping with his hands (because it was meant to be seen and not heard – there was loud music playing, after all).

I smiled sheepishly, but with immense gratitude. He is always there to encourage us to push ourselves beyond mental barriers (But he is extremely careful to keep us always safe, especially regarding physical abilities. Once, he told me, after I had cried at some back squats, never to do something that actually scared me or made me uncomfortable, where I didn’t feel safe doing it. He wants us safe, but not lazy cowards. That’s why he pushes us.), but, if ever his push of encouragement does not land as intended, he is at our side to help us how specifically we need in that moment. There was no hesitation when I started crying this morning – he saw that something was not okay for me, and his full focus was on helping me clear up whatever it was. And he did exactly that. And today was just one of the many reasons that I love this gym and its owner (today’s coach). Both because of the ridiculous song choices for the morning and for his clear love and care for me when I hit a roadblock.

Post-a-day 2021