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In looking back at 2014 I see it involved a lot of completions - clearing out the old, and making room for new things - and beginnings - laying the foundations for future work. Time to head into 2015 and take advantage of all that groundwork.
Thankfully, Michael and I, and our immediate families, all stayed mostly healthy, happy, and sound all year. *whew* Plus we celebrated out 25th anniversary.
Most of the first half of the year was consumed with managing a whole-house renovation. There are still bits and pieces to be completed, but for the most part we now have a home that is much more pleasant and functional, and supports us better in our respective activities.
Throughout that time I was dealing with our donkey Eeyore's worsening arthritis. I tried to keep him comfortable, and he had his good days, but was trending in a bad direction. Eventually, in July, we elected to give him the easy way out. Now Clementine is on her own. She was doing well, but now seems to be having trouble with tendinitis or something in her front legs. Having the vet out, again, tomorrow, to see if there's anything we can do to help her heal and get off pain meds. Right now she's not very happy, and I'm hoping she doesn't follow the same trajectory as Eeyore did.
Because of other priorities and limited finances (career transitions can be hard on one's bank account, after all) I didn't get to as many seminars as I would have liked. But I did participate, as usual, in the Bridge Semina
Taking a quick break from getting my brain, body, and environment ready for Saturday to look beyond my coming sho-dan exam. There are things I've been wanting to do, but I'm kind of living in risk-avoidance mode lately. The idea of pulling a muscle or spraining a joint doesn't stop me most of the time, but right now it would be really inconvenient. After Saturday, though... Here are some things I'm looking forward to trying in the coming months:
Learning to surf, with my friend Karen (whose brilliant idea is was). How did I grow up in Pacific Beach and not learn to surf?
Trail running. I am not a runner, by nature, but for some reason that's been calling to me for a while now.
Snowboarding, maybe. No specific plans to go, but I've always wanted to try it.
Strength training. Yeah, I've been doing my PT exercises and swinging a kettlebell a little, but I want to get a little more serious about it.
Going to the local trampoline place - wall-to-wall trampolines - and playing. Who's in?
Working more on suwari-waza and hanmi-handachi-waza (techniques from a kneeling position). I've been enjoying training in those, but don't dare overdo it.
And nothing to do with risk - I've just been busy with other things:
Gardening. The yard is starting to green up with recent rain, and more on the way. Perfect time to tidy up, and get the raised-bed veggie garden ready for planting.
Finish some house projects. OK, not really looking forward to doing those, just looking forw
A week from Saturday, on December 13, 2014, my friend David and I are scheduled to test for shodan ("beginning rank"). Tonight is the final (yikes, that word, final...) run-through.
On the one hand, it's just a test. Afterward I will show up and train just the same as before. But it's also Kind of a Big Deal. I've been training for a bit over five years, and for the past year working diligently with David and our sempai to refine and polish our techniques. I'm sure I have improved, but it's the kind of improvement where you finally catch one thing, and see two others you need to work on. It's easy to feel overwhelmed and incompetent.
As with any big deadline in life - a trip, graduation, marriage - there are a lot of little things to coordinate as it approaches.
I paid my exam fee months ago, just so I wouldn't have to have it on my mind, but still have my association fee to take care of. Shodan is the rank at which the international association starts to care that you exist, so there's a registration fee for that. Up to this point I've only been an anonymous student at my dojo, as far as the outside world is concerned.
I actually bought two hakama - those black flowing skirt-like pants-chaps things - several years ago, at 4th kyu. I knew I would get here eventually, and my favorite gi supplier was going out of business, so I snapped them up. I finally took them out of the package and tried them on a couple of weeks ago. One fits (the other needs to be tailored),
I want to write a blog post, about days flying by, and how I spend my time, and about goals and desires, and about milestones and planning. About the final stretch of preparing for my shodan exam. But first I have to clean out the run-in shed so Clementine, our donkey, will have a dry place to hang out during the predicted rain. But before that I need to check my voice mail, because I know someone called two days ago. Oh, but first I need to start my laundry or I won't have a clean gi to wear to the open mat session this afternoon. And I have to get all the critters fed, of course. Yeah, right, I have to post some content on my business site so it's not dead for the whole weekend. I can't go out to work in the yard in my PJs, so I'd best get dressed. Did I eat any breakfast? I should eat something. And now the laundry really need to be put into the dryer. And I have to tend to her sore foot - that's really most urgent. And there's still that voice mail. Only 2 hours before I have to get cleaned up and leave for the dojo. I should go clean out the run-in shed. Maybe I'll get to that blog post this evening.
For many years I've only minimally celebrated the "holiday season." I do not believe in any deities, but do find the return of longer days worth noting on the solstice, even if it's just a private passing thought on that evening. Luckily, my husband, Michael, and our extended families are also not attached to the decorating, cooking, and shopping madness that seems to hold many in some kind of collective trance for two months. This year my family went even further afield and skipped Thanksgiving altogether, in favor of celebrating my dad's 80th birthday the evening before. Then on Thanksgiving day, Michael and I headed to the desert and took a hike. It was warm and clear, and absolutely beautiful.
It's not that I have anything against tradition. I enjoy getting together with family. I like candlelight and fires, but am mostly too engaged in other things to bother with actually lighting or enjoying them. I love eggnog, and indulge in one quart each year, which I mostly put in my coffee, and sometimes swig out of the carton (which is mine exclusively). And on Thanksgiving morning I made fresh cranberry sauce to have with our breakfast of fried bananas and raw nuts, just because I like cranberry sauce. But you will find no lighted mechanical deer or color-changing plastic icicles at our house, and certainly not any plug-in artificial-scent-spreading gizmos. Gross.
Today we did some chores and errands. In the afternoon I went to the dojo to train with a few friends, and M
[Written Nov. 26, but I forgot to post it until now.]
I haven't posted since late September, and even that was pretty lame. But it's not for lack of anything to say. About every 15 minutes I trip over another "I really should write about this" kind of experience. But then I remember I have a dozen things to do. Maybe later… Maybe tomorrow… I don't like that. For me not writing is like not speaking to a good friend for too long. I need to make it a higher priority, along with meditation, which I've also not been doing nearly enough.
Meanwhile, I passed my ACE exam to become a certified Group Fitness Instructor. Afterward I immediately got to work setting up my company, Reconnecting Ourselves (www.ReconnectingOurselves.com). Among other things, I am planning short-term programs, like boot camps, but for total beginners - the kind of folks who "will join a gym after I get in better shape." A first step to get people on the path to being more active, and more connected with their own bodies, with nature, and with others. I hope to be offering them soon after the start of the year.
Along with that whirlwind of website work, content creation, and marketing mayhem I have been continuing to train in earnest for my shodan (first black belt) exam, just over two weeks away now, on December 13th.
Training for shodan, for me, has been pushing me in every way I can be pushed. And I suppose that's part of the idea. I'm enjoying the process, and learning so much every time I step on the mat. But the more I see, the further I s
If my brain had a warning like my iPhone does it would be telling me that it's overheating and needs to shut down for a while.
Today I got my "Your Group Fitness Instructor exam is one month from now" email from ACE, the American Council on Exercise. Yikes. I need to be totally prepared for this. Failing isn't an option (although it's certainly a possibility.) It's going to take some serious effort over the next few weeks, but I have to nail it.
At the same time, I'm training diligently for my shodan (first black belt) test in Aikido. While the test isn't until mid-December (thank goodness), there's a run-through coming up in just two weeks. Lots more training to be done between now and then - and after, of course. I'm refining my focus, and really working on polishing the things I will need to demonstrate.
On the home front, the weather is cooling off a little, so it should be possible to finish more projects remaining from this year's spring's house renovation project. Something about the temperatures being in the 90s and 100s just saps one's enthusiasm for that sort of thing.
I've gotten away from meditation, and "keep meaning to get back to it." That starts now. I really need it. I need that settling down. With so many important things drawing me in conflicting directions it's easy to feel scattered and overwhelmed, not knowing which to handle first. I need to find that centered, calm place from which to act effectively.
I have just returned from George Ledyard Sensei's 4-Day Randori Intensive at Aikido Eastside in Bellevue, Washington, near Seattle.
For my non-Aikido friends, randori is a multiple attacker scenario, usually one of you, three of them. It can be intimidating and exhausting training (and a lot of fun). Four days of it… Whoa.
I first heard of this seminar shortly after I started training in Aikido. At the time it had been offered for 20 years! It sounded amazing. Four full days of weapons and randori work. One of the intended audiences for the seminar is people preparing for dan (black belt) exams. The word "Intensive" isn't just in the title to sound cool on the flyer.
Wouldn't it be amazing to be able to go? A learning experience and rite of passage rolled into one. I always thought it would be fun to take the train up, too! 1,500 miles. See a whole lot of the country on the way.
For the first few years I didn't have the required rank (or skill, obviously) to go. When I first met Ledyard Sensei in person I mentioned that to him - that I was looking forward to the time I would be able to participate in this seminar.
Then last year, when I did qualify to go, budget and timing interfered. Also, knowing more about weapons I became concerned about that aspect. My training is based on Saito Sensei's weapons, and theirs comes from Saotome Sensei. I don't know their forms at all - not even some of the terminology. I thought I would be lost and in the way. Under
I'm just ridiculously excited about it! I've been wanting to do both this seminar, and a long train trip, for years. Now I get to do both. Plus I get to meet and hang out with another of my fellow writers on The Mirror team, Katherine Derbyshire, plus a bunch of other folks. Woohoo!
I will be posting to the other version of this blog a lot for the next week or so. Here it would just be spammy - lots of photos, random observations, etc.. So if you want to follow along, please stop by http://www.GrabMyWrist.com
I really enjoyed today's seminar with Richard Moon Sensei and Dave Goldberg Sensei at Aikido of San Diego. The subject was "Aikido is Medicine for a Sick World." We may not have solved all the world's woes, but generated some good insights, and maybe made a few connections and shifts within ourselves. Afterward, at lunch, we decided it was a good training for mind, body, and spirit.
In related news, I've been feeling really overwhelmed and under a lot of pressure with everything I need to get done before leaving for Seattle at oh-dark-hundred on Tuesday morning. I'm determined to have all my preparations done by Monday afternoon before class. Months ago I had a long, complicated nightmare about missing the train, in spite of last-minute scrambling to throw everything together. I'm determined not to live it out in real life. LOL I've been feeling pretty stressed about it, actually - sure I'll forget something critical, or run into some problem that will screw up my trip. Now, after an intense 4 hours of working on dealing with pressure, blending with multiple attackers, and moving into the open spaces, I'm feeling a lot calmer and more capable of seeing and managing the big picture instead of staring in panic at ever little detail (attack). I can see the whole system, and it's something I can handle just fine. It's not world peace (yet), but it's my peace, and it's a start.