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There are no snowy lanes where I live. Icicles don't dangle sparkling from steep rooflines. No red cardinals perch in evergreens. Holly doesn't grow here.
Pines and firs are trucked a thousand miles away to act as Christmas trees. Cranberry sauce is a cylindrical gel. Snow on windowpanes comes from spray cans.
Electric stars adorn hilltops. Plastic wise men, young families, and farm animals gaze eternally at plastic mangers. Joy.
Here we are again at that wonderful time of the year, The Holidays. Several weeks of non-stop bullshit and pretense.
Chestnuts roasting, Jack Frost nipping, roaring fires - all figments of some imaginary frozen land back east. Kids don't play in piles of fallen leaves because our trees (none of which are native) don't lose their leaves. Sleigh bells don't ring-a-aling because there are no sleighs. None of it is real for me. The stuff of children's picture books. Fiction.
I've lived my whole life in the San Diego area. It's warm and sunny today. Things are starting to green up after last week's rain. Sometimes the Santa Ana winds bring dry air from the desert, it gets blazing hot. We've had huge wildfires as late as New Year's Day. Sandcastles, perhaps. Snowmen? Not so much.
Most of the season's festivities come from someone else's distant memories. They celebrate a time and place that holds no relevance for me. I don't worship any deities. I don't eat turkey, ham, and prime rib, nor stuffing, rolls, and pie. I've never hung my sock
For over a year I've been working (off and on) on a new website for the dojo where I train, Aikido of San Diego. I did all the photography, design, and development - hand-coded in HTML/CSS. It's the biggest web project I've taken on, and the most important (to me). We have a tradition of giving something to the dojo or making some lasting improvement to the facility when we test at dan ranks. This is my (early) shodan gift:
This site is responsive (works on desktops, tablets, and phones), and includes more content, all new photos, and more videos than our previous site (which was pretty darned good already). We even have Member Spotlight features, where you can read about how people got started, and what Aikido means to them.
For the techies out there, I started with the Zurb Foundation framework, and then did all the layout and design through HTML and CSS. (It's not a CMS or templated site). It's highly optimized for SEO, so people can find us easily.
There is a lot of information on the site. We will be refining and expanding over time, too. Our dojo handbook is available only as a PDF now (from the Membership and Resources pages). We will be creating an HTML version of the manual too, for easier online reading. We will also be adding pages to address specific concerns or demographics, too, so that people searching for that information can discover us more readily. We'll be continuously improving and k
I meant to hit the road early last Friday, August 9th. It happened to be my 51st birthday, and I was heading a few hours north to a weekend seminar on aiki, or internal power, in martial arts. It was to be held at Orange County Aiki Kai (http://www.ocaikido.com/), a few miles east of Disneyland. I didn't have a lot of details - not even a confirmation of my registration - but I thought I was supposed to be at the dojo at 6:30 on Friday evening.
I had been looking forward to this seminar both on its own merits, and as a little weekend escape. I was hoping to get to the hotel by 3:00 to have time to check in, chill out, and enjoy a quick swim in the pool before the seminar began. Alas, getting ready for trips always takes me longer than I think it will. By mid-day I realized I was going to roll in at the last minute, so I put my swimsuit and cover-up back in the closet and stuck with the essentials - 3 days worth of gi and light sweats, because I didn't know which we would be training in. All morning I was hustling to do laundry, clean up loose ends around the house, and pack.
It was already after noon when I chucked my bags in the car and headed out. My hotel didn't offer breakfast, but had a microwave and a refrigerator, so I picked up some fruit and snacks at a shiny new Mediterranean foods market near home while my car got a long-overdue oil change down the street. Then after a quick stop for fuel and a trip through the local car wash - my car was dangerously dirty
I'm setting off for the Aiki Summer Retreat 2013 this morning! I will mostly be posting photos via my phone, with a few comments, straight to www.GrabMyWrist.com. (Seems a bit spammy for here, plus I won't have time to cross-post.) So, check them out there through the end of the month, and then I'll be back to posting normally, in both places. Off to catch a plane!
This is quick, because I have a lot to do today. I'm going to the Aiki Summer Retreat 2013 - the one formerly held at Menlo College - at Feather River College in Quincy, California. This will be my second time going. Some people have been going for decades!
I had a great time talking with Frank Bloksberg Sensei, one of the organizers, a few weeks ago. We chatted about what it's like to go to the Retreat, especially as a first-timer and lower-ranked student. It was a lot of fun. You can watch our 40-minute webinar here, if you like: http://www.joinaikido.com/aiki-summe...-linda-eskin/#
I'll be blogging throughout the week. Here's the big picture:
Today I'm packing and setting my bags by the door, and then tonight I'm going with some friends to train in Mexico. My teacher, Dave Goldberg Sensei will be leading a workshop at Aikido Tijuana, as he does every few months.
Saturday morning I'll hop on a plane to Sacramento (only after taking Sudafed, drinking plenty of water, and chewing gum, all to ward off vertigo - I hope) . There I'll get to visit with Michael's parents, who are lovely people. I'm planning to show them how to make my favorite kind of gluten-free bread. On Sunday morning they will drive me the 2-1/2 hours to Quincy and drop me off at the campus.
Sunday afternoon through the following Saturday morning will be Aikido, Aikido, Aikido, plus some food, a little sleep, lots of friends, and the
So much to say, and so little time! I have been training tons, and loving every minute of it. I've been writing a lot, but mostly in my training journal and content for a book or two. A hundred insights and aha moments to share, and a few frustrations. I went to one camp already, and am signed up for 4 seminars/camps already, with a few more on the horizon.
On Friday I'm going to Tijuana with some friend for a class with Sensei, and then on Saturday I'll be leaving for the Aiki Summer Retreat. I plan to be blogging from camp, and a little before I leave, too, if I can find the time.
As I was in the middle of writing this short post I remembered that I had to wash the gi I need for today's kids' class, and I need to leave in an hour! Ran to the washer and got that started. Typical of how my week has been going. LOL
If in our daily life we can smile,
if we can be peaceful and happy,
not only we, but everyone will profit from it.
This is the most basic kind of peace work.
- Thich Nhat Hanh
On my way home after a delightful three and a half hours of training yesterday - the kind you float away from - I stopped by WalMart to pick up some cat food. One of the greeters (actually working the exit), a guy in about his 70s, who seems to always be there, called out to a woman leaving as I was walking in, "Are you happy?" "Do you know it?" "Well then, clap your hands!" So, great… Now I had that song stuck in my head. LOL But it was great to be able to answer for myself, "Yeah, I really am!" As I was shopping, I smiled at people, and they smiled, too. :-) I asked a taller clerk to get something down for me, and then later I helped a shorter woman who was struggling to reach cereal at the back of the highest shelf, and she went away smiling. Everyone seemed to be in a good mood. On a Monday. At 10 p.m. Shopping at WalMart.
When I first started training I lamented that it would take generations, if it could ever happen at all, to get a large percentage of people participating in Aikido, or something like it - something that can change one's experience of the world, and the world itself, for the better. Sensei told me something about it only taking a few people - not everyone… I don't remember how he put it. But last night an image came to mind: mixing dye into a big container of water. It
This is not specifically about Aikido, but I hope you'll enjoy it just the same.
We are fortunate to have the largest state park in California, Anza Borrego Desert State Park, right here in San Diego County. It's a great place to camp and hike, and an easy day trip by car. I spent many family vacations there, decades ago, scrambling up rocky trails in flip-flops, watching the wildlife, and playing card games. Kids at the campground would swim in the small hot spring-fed pool, where at dusk, bats would swoop down to drink, eliciting panicked shrieks from some of the children. The ranger at the campground check-in kiosk always had a tarantula on his sleeve. My sister and I would walk to the small campground store to get a soda or some chips. At night in the desert the sky is pitch black, sprinkled with a million brilliant stars. There is something special about the air — the wind howls, and gusts threaten to blow you over — even sound travels in a different way. There's a kind of stillness and quiet that's unique to the desert.
Every spring people visit the park's 600,000 acres to see the wildflowers. Depending on the rains, some years are better than others. Like with weather or surf, there are websites where you can check to see how the flowers are doing, and find the best places to view them. It's not something you can schedule by the calendar, because their blooming varies with the recent rainfall.
In a good year, if your timing is right, you might see a few hills
If you aren't already in the habit of reading the columns here on AikiWeb, be sure to head over there and check out my column about my experience of our recent open mat / exam prep sessions. I write as part of a group of women calling ourselves The Mirror. This month was my turn to write, and we all collaborate on editing and revisions. :-)
It's been about a year - actually a year and two months, since my 2nd kyu exam. My 1st kyu exam will be this morning. I think of each exam like New Year's Day - a time to look back, and to look ahead.
This year has been one of transitions. Bringing things into alignment. Getting behind center. Grounding. Being clear.
I changed the way I work. With my employer's and husband's support, I cut back on my hours, and now work exclusively from home. This has meant a huge reduction in stress and a better physical workspace for me. It allows more time and flexibility for my Aikido training, and lets me focus on writing as my primary activity.
Over the past few months I have upgraded my office, with a new computer and printer, and all new software tools for writing and design work. There have been a few steep learning curves, but now I'm off and running.
I established my own publishing company, Shugyo Press. I wrote and published my first book, "A Bowl of Love - How to Make a Big Green Dojo Potluck Salad." On Monday morning I will be moving directly into my next two books, one of which is to be my "Black Belt Project," something we each take on at our dojo, before our shodan exam. (The other is a secret, for now.)
There have been a lot of little things, too. A long-delayed household improvement is finally on track. My blog on AikiWeb just went over 200,000 views. I turned 50.
I've happily spent over 250 training days on the mat. I have helped out in the kids' classes