Ha! Made Ya Flinch!

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It’s become a running joke that I flinch when a kick is thrown at my head during free sparring. In situations outside of a taekwondo school one might think that this is a perfectly normal reaction. Something startles us, we flinch. It’s human nature.
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Battered, Bruised…and Better

pretty boxer
You should see the other guy.

Sometimes when things are going too well for too long my wily mind likes to try and find things to be sad about. “Hey, remember that mistake you made five years ago?” it will chirp sadistically into my ear as it slings its heavy arm around my shoulder. “Let’s dwell on THAT.” My mind is crafty. If there’s any empty space it will fill it with an image or words that tug at my sensitive heart. If I fall for its tricks the descent picks up speed:
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How Giving Up Drinking Saved My Skin

elephant wine

The last time I drank alcohol was exactly three months ago after a lonely Sunday spent on the couch with a bottle of Malbec and a dark mood. I had been toying with the idea of giving it up after I got bo dan rank in April and would “officially” begin black belt training, but circumstances demanded that I give it up sooner.
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Choose Your Priorities, Don’t Let Them Choose You

priorities

Tonight a teenage black belt who should be testing for second dan in October was throwing up one argument after another as to why he couldn’t stay for the extra classes we have on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Finally he said that his priorities have shifted for the summer.

“And what’s your priority this summer?” my instructor asked with a sigh.
“Video games.” The student turned on his heel and stalked out of the training room.
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“Everything That Irritates Us About Others Can Lead Us to an Understanding of Ourselves”–Carl Jung

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The other day right as taekwondo class ended I let a seven-year-old get under my skin. We were collecting our shoes and water bottles after a hard cardio workout when she remarked with wonder, “Wow, we didn’t take a break at all.”
“I know,” I said, “But we can handle it. We’re tough. We’re bo dans after all.”
She paused for a moment and said, “Bo dahns” matter-of-factly and trotted off to meet her mother.
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Commit, Even if You Look Stupid (I’m Good, I’ll Just Watch From Back Here)

committed sign

“What’s the next part of this form?” my instructor asked, swiveling his head around and looking straight at me.  We had just passed what I call the “jazz hands” portion of Palgwe Sam-jang, the green belt form that we were reviewing that night.

“Ki-yahp and punch!” I shouted back. “No, wait! It’s THIS!!” I crowed triumphantly, whirled around to land in a deep front stance, and slammed down a low block with a sharp satisfied exhale.
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I Can Do This With My Eyes Closed

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“Uh-oh, I know what we’re going to do,” said a teenage black belt in a half-groan/half-giggle. It was red and black belt class, our late night class after sparring. My fellow red belts and bo dans abandoned me after sparring, so all that was left were me, the teenager who never comes to sparring (ahem!), and an older man who got his black belt last year.

My instructor’s face lit up as he steepled his fingers together and positioned us in a wide diagonal line across the floor. “I want you to do Koryo One again,” he said after we had just completed the form as a warm-up. “But this time I want you to do it with your eyes closed.”
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Turn Your World Upside Down

upsidedown-world1
Duuuuuuuuuuuuuude….

Tonight in yoga class I did a headstand for the first time since I was in my mid-twenties….sort of. About halfway through class our teacher did a mini-workshop on the pose, which he had promised us after a request in last week’s class. He walked us through the process, emphasizing that no matter how good you get, you should always follow the steps to ensure safety.
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Don’t Be So Defensive…Unless Someone Is Trying to Punch You in the Face

I want to step away from my typical blog posts today and share with you a TED Talk video my boss showed during this morning’s team meeting. It starts out as a discussion about collaboration, but the body of it focuses on that pesky human habit of becoming defensive in difficult situations.
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Eat, Practice, Love

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I spent the final week of May indulging in home-cooked Italian food and fine dark chocolate and to no surprise gained a few pounds.

In my defense I was nearing the end of a very sad, painful, drawn-out situation in my personal life. Usually I stop eating when things get really bad, but this time I seemed to stress eat, albeit good quality food rather than chips and cheap candy bars, as if that makes any difference. Then whenever I start to feel better I “happy eat,” so I can’t freaking win.
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