The Universe Has a Sense of Humor – And is an Omnivore

Champagne

Merry Christmas from the universe.

Today I’m taking a break from my usual taekwondo posts to share my other passion–the law of attraction. I’ve been a believer for a long time and have had too many instances of proof to be a skeptic. Without trying very hard I experienced the power of visualization. Some of you may think it’s a coincidence, but I fall more on the side of manifesting my own reality.

So today my department was at a nearby hotel having our Christmas celebration. I was bored and hungry, so I tuned out the talking at the beginning (hey, I was bored and HUNGRY) and fantasized about a meal that I knew wouldn’t be served there but I wanted to enjoy anyway: a fat juicy cheeseburger with a crisp slice of red onion, topped with cold tangy ketchup on a whole wheat bun….salty spicy waffle fries from Dickey’s BBQ….cheesecake with a swirl of raspberry flavoring…and topped off with a glass of Jack on the rocks. I savored every bite and felt the warmth of the whiskey running down my throat.

Then lunch was FINALLY served. We had steak (Steak!!!! I was expecting chicken!), cheesecake for dessert (plain but still…cheesefreakingcake…I was expecting the typical hotel meal chocolate or buttercream cake) and to my utter surprise…a champagne toast….during working hours! Meat, sweets, and alcohol, BOOM! AHHHHH!!!!!

Thanks, Universe.

It’s Hard to Be Depressed When You’re Doing Duckwalks…

a-duck-walks-into-a-bar-plasterer1

This is what I want to do after duck walks.

…or fighting two 6’3″ guys at once…or coaching a tired, frustrated second grader…or cramming five forms into ten minutes.

Last week I didn’t go to taekwondo class at all. There was a major upheaval in my life that I saw coming, but the aftershocks are still rumbling through my quiet home and uneasy heart.  All the meditation and law-of-attraction reading and mental pep talks helped, but they didn’t stop me from sinking into a micro-depression and spening most of the weekend curled up on the couch watching Netflix. I know it’s leading to something good for everyone, but the cards haven’t been fully played yet. Who knew the best remedy would be a good healthy distraction?

I was a little worried about going back to class on Monday, or as we call it, “cardio night.” Could my weakened body handle it? I haven’t exercised much lately nor have I eaten much, so I’m whittling down to the haggard weight I was when I started taekwondo as a very troubled soul with a drinking problem and a rattled sense of self. But…I’m slowly getting my groove back. Saturday I went to an invigorating yoga class with my favorite teacher. Sunday I swam laps and my muscles sang with joy.  I haven’t cried in three days, which is  a welcome change. My mind wants to shut down and hide, but my body knows it’s time to get back in the game.

Monday was great! We had a large class, which meant lots of fast-paced drills and WAY too many giggles for a martial arts class. I needed those laughs though. I was asked to lead the warmups, and at first I hesitated since my mind and heart were still twisting and turning around recent events, but it helped me refocus. My specialty is yoga and Pilates, so I took the opportunity to take my victims–I mean, my students!–through some of my favorite poses and exercises. I came back for a double tonight–sparring and advanced red and black belt class. Surprisingly my lungs, heart, and legs (although still sore from Monday’s duck walks) kept up. I felt relaxed and at ease for the first time in a few weeks.

The dojang is the only place where I am truly and utterly present. It is such a perfect yoking of mind and body that it rivals yoga. “It’s moving meditation,” I said to my classmates in a singsongy voice when the instructor asked if we wanted to run through a few forms and they groaned in response. And it is. I didn’t realize how much I need taekwondo or my classmates and instructors until tonight.

Grandmaster cornered me before class and encouraged me not to give up. He must have noticed my absence over the past month or two, but I haven’t told him why. He noted that many people quit around red belt since they don’t see rapid progress. “Be patient,” he said, “It’s not like this,” shooting his arm straight up into the air. “It’s more like this.” He wiggled his hand to indicate tiny stair steps. One step at a time, one day at a time, one class at a time it will all work out.

Chop Wood, Carry Water (Even better if you chop with a knife-hand strike)

Axe on chopping block

Today my life changed in a significant way and leaves me to make significant choices. I have cried, fretted, raged, and analyzed more in the past two months than I have in the past year, and I am mentally exhausted. About a week ago I finally relaxed, stopped resisting, and felt amazingly light and “at rest” in my emotions. For those of you playing the Law of Attraction home game, I significantly (dare I say quantum leaped) up the emotional/vibrational ladder.
The only thing I need to do right now is stay healthy, strong, and fabulous and make it one moment at a time. A very significant person in my life shared a Zen proverb with me a few months ago:
“Before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.
After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.”

Life continues moment by moment, and if I can remind myself that I don’t have to “live” in my future (i.e., agonize over it) or ruminate over the past (i.e., you know the drill) then I can make it. That takes a load off my shoulder. Chop wood, carry water. Okay, I’ve got this.

What the old me would want to do is crumble. Old Me would want to lie motionless on my couch for three days straight and watch Netflix. Old Me would want to become addicted to my sleeping medication again and bonus points for washing it down with whiskey (Which is why I started taekwondo in the first place.)  Old Me would want to alternate between dulling my brain with gooey sweets and gleefully hearing my starving stomach rumble day after day. Old Me would want to flirt with dark thoughts that will thankfully never see the light of day.
Old Me would want to control the only things I have left. Old Me want to punish myself for my supposed mistakes.

You can guess by now that I am not Old Me anymore although once in a while she tries to stage a comeback tour. So far I’ve been screening her calls.

I know I’ll go on a clutter purge of my home and go on my summer detox diet, Christmas cocktails and a few goodies notwithstanding. I might have a few couch/Netflix hibernations, but I was no stranger to those already. Those dark thoughts will flirt with me but will dissolve just was quickly as they appeared. What was once so intimately familiar now seems so strange and foreign. I will have moments of loneliness and maybe even a little resentment of my current situation. I will most definitely want more than anything to escape the pain that may surge up unexpectedly. I’ve been given the advice to “sit with the discomfort” many times, but this will be the test to see if I can actually do it.

I will be challenged to actually be (and rest) in those seemingly mundane moments of metaphorically chopping wood and carrying water. I will be lost and then I will find myself again. Guided by the indomitable taekwondo spirit I will get up yet another time.

[Note: if I have completely gotten the meaning of the Zen quote wrong and you are just itching to point out what an idiot I am—save it. It means what it means to me and I will Kick. Your. Ass. Just save it.]

So what will I do? This situation has kept me out of the dojang more days than I have liked in the past month. This week I haven’t been able to go at all. It’s time to go home. I will return to taekwondo class and enjoy the camaraderie, the energy, the focus, and the love and support of that environment. And if I’m lucky I’ll tear my right rotator cuff so I have a matching set, hooray!

I will also to be listening to a LOT of Biggie and Dr. Dre for a while. That’s my power music!
Chop wood, carry water, b*tches!

Oh YEAH? Here’s to the jerks who told us “You can’t”

polar bear

PPPHHHTTTT!!!! Mess with me again and I SWEAR I will eat you.


 A few weeks ago a friend posted on Facebook how grateful she was for a mentor that believed in her and gave her encouraging words. I’d like to remember someone who didn’t believe in me, because he set the trajectory for other major events in my life over the past 10+ years.

In a November post I mentioned my previous career as a medical librarian. About halfway through my master’s degree in library science I discovered medical libraries and knew without a doubt that I wanted to go into that sub-field. By pure luck a class I had enrolled in was cancelled, and I had the opportunity to take a medical informatics course. We met virtually part of the time, and then every few weeks we had a live session at a large medical research facility’s library. The moment I walked in I knew I was home.

“You can’t work in [medical or corporate libraries] because you don’t have a bachelor’s degree in science or business,” smirked an administrator in my graduate library science program. Before I got the words out of my mouth he shot me down and leaned back in his chair with a Cheshire cat grin on his face and his hands perched on his Humpty Dumpty belly. He was more interested in his own accolades and political glad-handing than the needs of the students. I walked out of his office and never spoke to him again. His rudeness and absolute dismissal of my dream only fueled the fire. I took as many medical library courses as I could, aggressively pursued internships, and thanks to my internship contacts I snatched up a hospital library job that helped shape my life’s path, accomplishments, and even a few derailments for the last decade. If I want to take the high road I could remind myself of the quote “every person is a blessing or a lesson.” In my darker moments I think, “F*ck that guy!”

I once had a horrible abusive boyfriend who told me regularly that I was ugly, fat, a bad person, and would never make a man happy. I was so emotionally beaten down that I started to believe him until one day I couldn’t take anymore. I dumped him on the spot, took a road trip to Austin, and felt so free and alive for having exorcised that demon from my life. I slowly began to remember that I am beautiful, a good person, and deserving of love, and I regret that I had to learn it the hard way. The only contact I would be willing to have with him now is my hard fist smashing into his mushy, no bone-structure-having face, “taekwondo spirit” be damned. I’m taking the low road this time. I am not thankful for whatever purpose he had in my life. F*ck that guy.

Luckily (or maybe not) I haven’t run into any naysayers in taekwondo. They’re certainly not plying me with patronizing compliments to soothe my fragile little ego; I get LOTS of constructive criticism. The biggest naysayer I’ve had to overcome in tkd is myself. I’ve questioned my athletic abilities, my mental capabilities, why the hell I was doing it in the first place, and my drive to stay in it for the long haul. I’m still a work in progress. A black belt’s journey is never truly finished. If someone had the gall say to me, “You’ll never be a black belt,” my response would be, “Watch me.”

Listen to your naysayers. They may actually encourage you to keep striving. Or take the low road and punch them in the face. Y’know, whatever feels good.