Melanie black belt meditating

I’m writing this at my desk on a quiet, pretty Sunday afternoon while I sip ginger kombucha to ease my perpetually irritated stomach, try not to feel overwhelmed about some assignments my managerial editor has given me for my book, and hope I wake up in time to jump on an 8 AM conference call.

I’ve done laundry, made meals for the week, and even made myself do a few minutes of practice on my guitar. I’m dreading going to work although as I do every Monday, I feel just fine when I get busy into meetings and tasks.  I’m even dreading writing this blog post because I’ve felt so disconnected from it. I did get to play pool with my friend for an hour and look forward to polishing off a bottle of Apothic Red, so the day hasn’t been all about chores.

I’m a forty-year-old woman with a simultaneously boring and busy life, and amidst all that, I feel like I’ve lost a bit of my grounding grasp on taekwondo.

I’m very happy at my not-so-new dojang, and feel like I’ve improved in kicking, sparring, and poomsae. I always get a great workout, and as usual, taekwondo makes me feel present, fulfilled, and relaxed just like it always had. Even though I’m not teaching any more I still get to work one-on-one with students occasionally and enjoy coaching them.

Despite all its feel-good tendencies, it’s been easy for me to forget how good taekwondo is for me between keeping up at an increasingly demanding corporate job and maintaining a personal life and a brand new career as an author. How contrived and cultivated my personality is in the workplace. How immersed I get with deadlines and to-do lists…and on the homefront, I really, really like watching movies and TV shows. Like, a lot. Like, more than doing other things I should be doing. Plus, it’s getting dark earlier, and it’s cold, and it would be so eeeeasy to put on my robe and slippers and hibernate for a week or month or year or two. And I need to clean the carpet and paint the bathroom cabinets and….

You get the picture.

…this is why I need taekwondo more than ever. It’s almost jarring how good I feel and how happy I am when I’m in class. After six years of fairly intense training I am still surprised by how much I need it. Taekwondo is who I am, not the diplomas on my wall or accomplishments on my resume or how tidy my house is.

I am my real self when I’m training. I’m the best version of myself when I’m focusing on nothing other than the kicking pad or sparring partner or empty mat in front of me. Ironically, on the mat is where I let my proverbial guard down.

All that being said, I want to make a concerted effort to get to class every week, even if all the false versions of myself are lulling me away with trances and habits. I want to get back to the core of who I am. I started training for a reason, and that reason has kept me kicking ever since.

It seems fitting that I’m writing this on the second anniversary of my second Dan test. That was a very special day and just a stop along what I hope is a lifelong journey.

In the coming year I’ll have a broader platform as an author and can use said platform to blog about some of the topics I cover here like learning, leadership, self-development, etc. Little Black Belt won’t be going away. In fact, that means I can write more specifically about…well…actual taekwondo, not just the abstract aftermath when the endorphins have settled into my brain. I can actually talk about…well…sparring and kicking and drills and breaking and poomsae and stuff. I can come back to my core and talk about what I do that makes me feel so good.

I am many things, but most of all, at the heart of it all, I am a taekwondo black belt.


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Stay tuned for my upcoming book – “Kicking and Screaming: a Memoir of Madness and Martial Arts” published by She Writes Press. Coming to a bookseller near you April 20, 2021!

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