If I had learned my lesson from those countless “a year of” memoirs I would have started blogging from when I showed up to the dojang on April 1, 2013, wearing my stiff white deeply creased dobok. A little over a year later isn’t such a bad thing. I had no idea I’d be where I am now–comfortable in a new and challenging role at work, in the most loving relationship I’ve ever had, and a little higher up on the dojang food chain.
Blog names I considered:
Sealed With a Kick
Black Belt Beauty
Does This Dobok Make Me Look Fat?
Yoga On Speed
The TKD diaries
Kick in the Pants
There’s No Crying in TaeKwonDo!
The Taekwondo Tenet: “Fall down seven times, get up eight.”
My journey began 23 years ago when my brother and I enrolled in the taekwondo school in our small town. I was excited and terrified, and I loved it. I was a serious little kid, so I was militant about showing respect and paying attention. I meditated before P.E. class at school. I smirked internally when a little friend who had lambasted me before I started my lessons (“Why are you doing that?? They’ll punch and hit you! Don’t come crying to me when you have a broken leg! My mom says that’s a waste of time and money!”) started saying to other kids: “I can kick higher than your head.” Jealous much?? For some reason I always seemed to attract domineering female friends whom I eventually abandoned due to their increased bullying and clinginess. I mean seriously, they were worse than smothering boyfriends. Luckily that phenomenon and many other toxic forces in my life are gone.
Getting back into the dojang falls somewhere between chick lit and existentialism.
At first I just needed a familiar distraction. It turned into a passion, a driver, a sense of community. Getting a black belt was an afterthought; I just wanted to be there. It is the only moment in my busy life that I am completely focused in the present. Take that, Eckhart Tolle.
I fell down seven times. My life changed when I decided to get up again.
Shove chronic loneliness, a string of failed short-lived relationships and the inevitable ego bruising, career ambiguity, poisonous regret, and a crumbling sense of self into a cheap second-hand blender, dilute with whiskey and tears, and watch the mess begin. It doesn’t help that I tend to isolate myself and can easily fall into the trap of the fractured tunnel vision reality the mind likes to create. I had had a big showdown with my mind and ego about a year prior to that and came out scratched but victorious on the other end. Apparently they came back for one more round. I thought I was getting my act together but was still seduced by magical thinking. I was clinging to everything I could except what I really needed. I showed a brave face to the outer world while reaching my, ahem, breaking point.
In a weird way though I was happy to have that freedom again. I had tended to attract relationships that left me pretty much single anyway–i.e., not spending much time with the other person, which broke my heart but seemed to be just fine with them. I was in the habit of doing my own thing–cooking, shopping, exercising, pursuing my hobbies. I dared myself to either join a swim club or get back into taekwondo. Now I had no excuse. My first web search pulled up the school of the grandmaster who was over my small town schools’ instructors. Texans would call it a “God thing.” Some attribute it to the power of the universe. Either way I knew my search could end right there.
The one “plus” from that dark time was that I was the thinnest I’ve ever been–so much so that to my annoyance more than one person at work tried to have the concerned talk with me. (Of course I lied and said nothing was wrong) Apparently I’m at the age where a super thin face no longer highlights my Eastern European cheekbones; I just look haggard. Now that I’m doing well at work, am a part of one of those couples I used to hate, and am happy and progressing in the dojang…I’m 10 pounds heavier. What the hell?! Granted I do have that cool V-cut to my lower abs now from all the kicking…but that’s about it. (I still wear a petite size 4. The tomatoes are going to be thrown right…about…now)
As my fate would have it I have to be miserable to be svelte. I used to count on some kind of stressful event every six months or so to push me beyond the edge of minor stress eating to weird chest pains and zero appetite. Damn my healthy happy ife.
I started my MBA for the wrong reasons (bored, lonely, isolated tunnel vision) and it’s one of the best decisions I ever made. I’m not proud of what pushed me into TKD, but it was what I needed at that time. One of the black belts said, “Wow, LBB, just think if you’d stayed in taekwondo for all those years. You might be a 5th degree black belt by now.” That doens’t really bother me. Every step, misstep, setback, and victory has been perfectly aligned to get me where I needed to be. I had to fall, I had to learn hard lessons (sometimes repeatedly), I had to realize that learning from my mistakes and owning my choices would lead to happiness—no one else could do that for me. I had to learn to trust that God & the universe would take care of things in better ways than I could imagine if I’d just back the hell off and stop crying about it.
TKD came back into my life at the exact time I needed. It wouldn’t have worked at any other time. I wasn’t ready. I wouldn’t have grown emotionally and spiritually as much as I have. I would have missed the point entirely.