I would like to try answering those 4 questions as well:
2. I was at the end of a messy two years trying to get a divorce. I wanted to be more certain that what I thought was right was right -- hard to explain, but anyone who has left an abusive mate knows what that means, that kind of relationship takes away one's certainty in oneself. I wanted it back.
1. I was sceptical Aikido would help, but an Iwama-style teacher I know (he's the stereotypical Iwama sandan, arms like a gorilla and about as much time spent discussing philosophy of Aikido as a gorrilla would spend
) told me I needed to do Aikido, that it would give me what I needed. I believed him only because he seemed to have what I wanted, and he said he was not the same man before Aikido, that if I did Aikido, I would find what I wanted.
3. Still a work in progress, but I can say what I think without worrying it will upset someone. I refuse to take responsibility that is not mine. For instance, I disagree with some of the views of some of my instructors. I am OK with not seeing it their way, but at one time would have continually beat myself up over not agreeing with them, and been afraid they would find out and it would hurt their feelings, etc. Now, I assume they are adults who can handle disagreement (they seem to be able to), and the fact that they want me to think differently doesn't mean I have to be unhappy that I don't. On the other hand, I mostly attend classes taught by instructors that are not radically different in viewpoint; still, I do sometimes attend the other's classes, and take what I can and give what I can in them. I think my personal life has made similar progress, but won't bore you with the details
4. How I interact with different teachers and partners and their personalities. Letting others take responsibility for their actions (atemi, amazingly has done this the most): my current aiki-idol really stresses the use of it, and I can see why he wants it where he does, it seems what he shows me is more 'space preserving' (or that's how it seems to me), keeps uke off of me (certainly important, especially since I'm small and folks tend to crowd me). In the beginning, I resisted doing this, as uke always seemed to run into my hand. After a while, I found I no longer cared, it was their decision to run their face into my hand, everyone knows I put my arm out to keep them off of me, I let them make their decision and I made mine.