Little Black Belt is Eight!

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You guys…for the first time in eight years I forgot to do my anniversary post!

My blog turned eight on April 15, 2022. Since I began my blog I have made new martial arts friends, shared both my triumphs and struggles, and have been able to promote my first book and many media appearances!

I also started writing for the online magazine Martial Journal–you can find links to all my featured articles here.

Thank you all for your support.

As is tradition, here are my ten favorite posts from the past year:

  1. First Post-Surgery Jump Kicks–scary AND exciting!
  2. What’s More Motivating: a Trigger or a Goal?–in the midst of a stressful year, I was beginning to figure out what drove me.
  3. How to Talk to Your Boss About Your Mental Health–this was a big step for me personally, professionally, and in my role as a mental health advocate.
  4. My Post-Pandemic Body is Different. And That’s Okay–it’s still okay.
  5. Letting Go of What No Longer Serves You: Marie Kondo, My Knee, and Me–some wise words from my sister-in-law help me make a choice to move forward.
  6. How to Feel Unstuck When There’s No End in Sight–burnout, depression, boredom were all the bane of my existence. In the midst of the frustration, I learned a lesson.
  7. My Top Ten Pieces of Advice for New Authors–boy, is there a lot to learn when you publish a book.
  8. The Way Forward is Through: a Meditation on Depression–did I mention that 2021 was a stressful year? I had a long-lasting mental health crisis, but unlike my earlier struggles, I had lessons and tools to get me through it. I got through it.
  9. Finding a Happy Medium After a Two-Year Emotional Roller Coaster–2020 was the ignition for collective and individual crises, challenges, and trauma. After two years of struggle (and a lot of therapy), I’m coming out on the other side feeling better.
  10. Developing Mental Agility as a Martial Artist–you can’t keep an old black belt down. I’m still learning, growing, and succeeding.

Developing Mental Agility as a Martial Artist

An orange sticky note has been sitting on my desk for the past few weeks. It reads: “Agility is best learned through challenging experiences.”

This quote was said in passing by a vendor with whom my day job team has been working on a leadership program for up-and-coming executives.

I wrote it down to share with the people I was coaching, but I also wrote it down for myself.
Continue reading “Developing Mental Agility as a Martial Artist”

My Guest Post: The Weirdness and Joy of Returning to Training After an Injury

I may have mentioned a time or two that I’ve had a devastating knee injury and two surgeries (and am still not counting out a third). 🙂

An injury like that changed not only my physical focus, but my mental one as well. I realized how much I had both lost and gained when I started taekwondo training again in January of this year. A dormant part of my brain re-awakened, and it was both strange and wonderful. Whether you’re a martial artist or not, the takeaway is that if you’re in a rut, you may benefit from going back to something you enjoyed earlier in your life or learning something new that stimulates and challenges you.

My story of the weirdness and joy of re-awakening my black belt brain is in this month’s Martial Journal. Click here to read.

My Guest Post: Being a Good Partner in Life and in Martial Arts

Being a martial artist can often feel like a solo endeavor, but for many of us, working with partners is crucial to our development. There are some parallels between being a good martial arts partner and being a good partner in life. In honor of Valentine’s Day (no matter your relationship status), let’s show some appreciation to the other martial arts students who make our learning productive and fun.

Check out my article at Martial Journal: Being a Good Partner in Life and in Martial Arts.

My Guest Post: How to Train Leaders Before They Become Black Belts

I’ve worked in leadership development for ten years, but I’ve learned just as much or even more about leadership “on the mat” in my martial arts training. In martial arts, we don’t wait until someone is in the job of a leader (i.e., a black belt) to help them build their leadership skills.

In this month’s Martial Journal article, “How to Train Leaders Before They Become Black Belts,” my former taekwondo master (Sabumnim) and I share tips on developing leaders before they even get close to testing for black belt.

This post is a nice story about one of my last training sessions with my Sabumnim.

Bonus Book Chapter: Black Belt Training Begins

Dear Reader: For the remainder of 2021, to continue celebrating the release of my first book Kicking and Screaming: a Memoir of Madness and Martial Arts, I will be posting a monthly bonus chapter. While these stories didn’t make the final cut, they were still important moments in my life and in my black belt journey. Enjoy!

[Note: This would have occurred between chapters 28 “Black Belt Candidate” and 29 “Sucker Punched”]

“Up-downs,” Chief Instructor Alex said calmly, widening his blue eyes and smiling wickedly. It was the first Monday in April, the first class day after my bo dan test, and our Sabumnim must have decided he was going to whip us into shape, black belt style. We had two new bo dans (myself and a younger female student), a teenage bo dan who recently tested for black belt and would likely be awarded his new belt in a few days, and Eric, a teenage black belt who would be testing for second degree in the fall. You would think a class of only high-ranking students would be deadly-serious, mature, and determined. I had apparently forgotten what it’s like to be a teenager.

Continue reading “Bonus Book Chapter: Black Belt Training Begins”

First Post-Surgery Jump Kicks

Just over eight months into recovery from ACL reconstruction surgery, I did jumping front snap kicks.

You may be wondering how I ended up in this predicament in the first place. Take a look at this post (“POP! Goes My ACL”) for the detailed story of how I injured myself and what followed in the immediate aftermath.

The short version is I tore my ACL doing a jump kick, and not even a good one at that.

Continue reading “First Post-Surgery Jump Kicks”

Guest Writer: Your Guide to Creating Martial Arts Studio at Home

Photo via Pexels.com

During the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, we’ve all had to adapt how we practice martial arts. Whether you are attending online classes or training on your own, you’ll benefit from a space that has what you need to practice, perform, and most of all, enjoy your chosen marital art. Setting up the right studio at home is something you can benefit from for years to come.

Guest writer Emma Grace Brown shares some great resources for setting up your optimal home martial arts studio. Emma writes about life, work, health, and beauty on her site emmagracebrown.com. Check out her site for tips to improve both your physical and emotional health.

Continue reading “Guest Writer: Your Guide to Creating Martial Arts Studio at Home”

The Surprisingly Therapeutic Aspect of Watching the “Cobra Kai” Series

cobra kai

[Note: this post contains some vague-as-I-could-make-them spoilers]

Like many other martial arts enthusiasts and children of the 1980s, I was very excited to spend the final weekend of August bingeing both seasons of the breakout hit series “Cobra Kai” on Netflix. A friend, who is also a fellow taekwondo black belt, and I had watched the first season together when it debuted on YouTube Red in 2018. We loved it and marveled at how clever and heartfelt it was. 

Much has changed in two years, both on a national and global scale, and also for me personally. I knew I’d be entertained by watching the series, but I didn’t realize how deeply therapeutic it would be. 

Continue reading “The Surprisingly Therapeutic Aspect of Watching the “Cobra Kai” Series”