“You’re intense and intentional about learning,” my boss said the other day, complimenting me on my tenacity to learn the ins and outs of a field I’ve only been in for about three years. I still think of myself as a goofball whose ideal day is a Netflix marathon with a side order of Doritos, but apparently to the rest of the world I am professional, accomplished, and probably a little Type A.

I adopted the code word “chicken hawk” to signify when I am in busy mode, running errands, getting up early to go to the gym, checking things off the to-do list and getting sh*t done. It’s not running around like a headless chicken; it’s chicken HAWK-ing. There’s a method to my madness. I am of course referring to Henry the Chickenhawk, the scrappy little Looney Tunes loudmouth who was always trying to kill Foghorn Leghorn. When the organized chaos just goes to chaos I’m more like Henry Hill, a la Ray Liotta in “Goodfellas,” running around town trying to multi-task and just getting more and more stressed out. (minus being all coked up and followed by helicopters)

ImageAm I intense and intentional in the dojang? You bet I am intense. I am hungry for knowledge and a chance to practice what I’m being taught. My mind is open and my heart is ready. I push my body to the point of exhaustion. I ask questions (the Socratic style isn’t really appreciated but I do it anyway) and marvel aloud at the mechanics of the human body. The intentional part is something that will come in time as I mature in my martial art. The lack of it is especially evident in my sparring, which I hated and dreaded as a child but now enjoy it despite my primitive skills. My intention is pretty damn clear when all I have to kick is the air, but my intention and instinct and any hope of strategy goes out the window when there’s a wiggling human being trying really hard to kick me in the gut.

Am I intense and intentional in my relationship? Yes. Today I am celebrating one year with the man I love and am truly experiencing love’s capabilities for the first time. In the past I’ve been purely reactional, flailing blindly in hopes of hitting my target and hoping I don’t get hurt. This time it’s actually working. I’m listening to my partner, I’m watching his cues, I’m learning from my mistakes, and I’m always improving. It takes a concerted effort to manage a relationship just as it does a career and a fulfilling martial arts practice. But when you get the hang of it, when you quiet your mind and trust your heart, it’s the easiest thing in the world.

Are you “intense and intentional” in your life?

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