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2013 was a year of beginnings. Changing directions and laying foundations. It has been an exciting time. I started a lot of things, but I got stopped a lot, too.
I switched to working (very) part time for my employer, and launched my own publishing company. I wrote and published my first book. I meant to get a lot further with the next book I have planned, but writing got delayed by a few projects coming in from the day job, and then I lost momentum.
I started to put in a large vegetable garden area with raised beds. That was going well until two local cats chose to unexpectedly grace me with their litters of kittens within days of each other. For a few months entirely too much of my time (and money) was taken up with caring for them and trying to find them homes. Besides, I could not get the tractor out of the garage because we had one litter trapped in there while we tried to socialize them. By the time that adventure was over the ground was dry and hard, and hot summer weather had arrived. I accomplished nothing further on the garden, and it has been overtaken by weeds.
In the late summer I aggravated an existing problem with my left knee. Getting it back in good working order required minor surgery and a couple of months' rest and rehab at the end of the year. So there were several weeks of discomfort, icing, physical therapy, and of course sitting out and watching classes.
It's easy to look back on the past year and feel like I didn't really get much done —
Thank goodness that's over. I was barely inconvenienced or annoyed by The Holidays. I enjoyed a nice, low-key visit with family, and that was it. But man, the things I saw some of my friends going through. Living up to family expectations, suffering from loneliness, going mad trying to decorate and cook… Feeling bad about not sending cards, for heaven's sake. And some of these friends are sick or healing from injuries, dealing with fresh grief, or just Not Wanting To Bother… All of this against a background of endlessly cheery music and TV shows and signs and greetings telling us how lovely it's all supposed to be. Feh.
So now we can put it behind us for another year.
Time for the New Year. *whew* For me the end of the year is a time for reflection. Did I do what I meant to do in the past year? Was it time well-spent? Am I moving in the right direction? I'll be doing a lot of thinking about those questions over the next week.
One thing I've gotten somewhat better at in recent years, due in combination to age, experience, and my Aikido practice, is noticing where my actions are out of alignment with my intentions. Sometimes I'm able to correct, sometimes not. It's said in budo - the martial arts - "true victory is self victory." I take this to mean making conscious, non-habitual decisions - moving forward with intention. it's not easy. I have a lot of work to do in this area.
It's a subject worth examining in all areas, at any time. I just got to thinking about it
I was recently chatting with my one of my Aikido buddies on the other side of the country, Mark Harrington. We've been checking in from time to time as we both progress through our respective ranks in different organizations. Mark is a bit ahead of me. Anyway, we got to talking about holiday gift giving (or not). If I recall correctly, I promised him a solstice haiku. So here it is, on the first day of Winter. Enjoy.
"Hey! How's it going?"
We call across the distance.
Friends on the same path.
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 went into the office for a few hours yesterday - something I hadn't done yet this whole year, as I work off site now. It was a crisp, sunny fall afternoon, and was excited about seeing my friends there. A quick visit, checking out a new tool I'd be using on the cool project I'm working on, catching up with a few colleagues, and then I'd be heading to the dojo to assist in the kids' class and train in the two evening classes. The makings of a pretty awesome day.
I parked in the usual garage, on the 5th level, and headed for the stairs down to the street. When I saw them I was struck by something I hadn't thought about in years. I stopped and stood there so long, just looking, that the security guard came over to see if everything was OK.
It's funny the things that you forget.
When I first started training I could not climb these stairs, not up or down. My knees couldn't take it. Every day I had to detour and take the elevator. I could do a few steps. But whole flights of stairs, no. The pain behind my kneecaps just wouldn't let me. It's been so long ago, so much has changed, I'd forgotten it completely.
There was so much wrong, back then. I had the knee pain, of course, and shoulder problems that had required surgery and ongoing PT. Plantar fasciaitis meant I had to wear heavy hiking shoes with orthotics, and even with them I couldn't walk far. Every morning I woke
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
This is kind of random, but it's actually really important to my training. A couple of dojo mates asked about this recently, so I thought I'd share my thoughts here, too.
But first… I'm not a doctor. This is all just my own understanding, and my personal experience. And no, Gatorade didn't give me any free product or anything.
Gatorade was created to help football players stay hydrated and keep their energy up. Players perform better late in the game when they drink Gatorade compared to just water. It's not an "energy drink" with caffeine or anything to make you hyper/awake. It works better than water alone because it contains sugar, sodium, and potassium.
I always have at least a decent snack (like raw nuts and a banana) before I go to class, and drink lots of water before, during, and after training. Staying well hydrated helps me avoid vertigo (BPPV) and orthostatic hypotension (y'know, when you stand up suddenly and start to white out - time to sit back down). In addition to eating something and drinking water, I've been pretty consistently drinking Gatorade between classes. If I don't, I run out of steam and get stupid and slow halfway through the second class, which is often more vigorous training. Low blood sugar. By the way, I've tested my blood sugar before, during, and after training, and drinking Gatorade does not cause it to spike.
I like the little packets of powder (they each make a quart) because I can keep it in my dojo bag and add it to my water
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