Last Wednesday I found out that I did not place in a book contest I’d entered my memoir in. This came on the heels of a disappointing (and expensive) marketing campaign and seeing a smarmy swath of authors from my publishing cohort bragging (rightfully so, to be fair) on social media about sales, interviews, awards, or other book-selling wins. Their books are good…but g-ddamnit, so is mine. It’s really good.
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 the final chapter in this series!
[Note: This would have occurred after the Epilogue]
In early 2016, I had a follow-up appointment with my orthopedic doctor to check on my hip and hamstring. As I waited in the brightly lit and comfortable waiting room I grew more and more excited to tell him about how well I was doing in therapy. By that point, unless I pushed extra hard in taekwondo or had an unusually long commute, my aching right hamstring stayed fairly quiet. My physical therapist added more advanced exercises like stepping up on a box to jump with one leg or squats on an upended Bosu ball, so I’d gotten a lot stronger over the past month. My hip and sometimes the back part at the top of the hamstring still popped and clicked, but there’s something oddly satisfying about that feeling.
I’m pleased to share that fellow martial artist and author Les Bubka invited me as a guest on his podcast “Accidental Podcast…or Something Like That” which you can listen to by clicking here, or watch our interview on YouTube. We talk about martial arts, mental health, relationships, working with kids, and why he calls me a “Russian bride.” We had lots of fun recording, and I think you’ll have fun listening to and watching us.
Les has been practicing karate for over twenty years. He is the founder of the Karate for Mental Health Program and the author of a number of books about karate. For more information about Les’s work, click here.
My martial arts friends in person and online have really come through for me as my first book was released into the world. Their support doesn’t surprise me, though, because martial arts people look out for their own. We like to help each other spread the positivity of what we love so much.
To Listen: Click here to listen to my interview with Andrea on The Martial Arts Woman podcast.
Click here to listen to my interview with Jeremy on Whistlekick Martial Arts Radio.
You’ll learn about my first career, my favorite martial arts action stars, how I got into martial arts, and the powerful healing qualities martial arts has given me for my mental health. You’ll also hear my “light Texas drawl” that I mention in Chapter 29 of my memoir.
Spoiler alert: my upcoming memoir is about mental illness as much as it is about training for my black belt.
I mean, you probably got the gist from the title, but I thought I’d go ahead and spell it out.
This is the most difficult post I’ve ever written, and I know once it’s published and shared I will be questioning my choice. I’ve tried several times to write this under different themes and different titles for the last several years, and until now I’ve never had the courage to click the “publish” button.
I’m a second degree black belt. I could have tested for third degree black belt at the end of this year.
I had to relearn how to walk after my July knee surgery. When you can’t walk very well or even stand up in the shower, all that fighting, jumping, and sprinting nonsense goes out the window for a while. It’s hard to feel like the athlete you were before your injury. It’s depressing to feel out of shape. It’s frustrating to go through so much pain as you heal and gain strength.
Recovering from a major injury when you used to do a high-level sport can feel overwhelming and a bit daunting.
I come from a family of creators who enjoy challenging hobbies. My dad is a painter who is especially skilled in oils and portraiture, and he was a competitive swimmer in high school and college. My mom likes doing difficult and complex knitting patterns. My brother is a professional musician.
I hit stuff.
Kidding aside, any martial artist knows they have to put in hours and years to hone their craft. It’s not a matter of mindlessly parroting or mimicking motions their Sensei or Sabumnim does. You have to develop both the mental and physical intelligence required to perform and improve upon your martial art. You have to understand why you do certain things.
“Playing to my strengths,” as we say in the corporate world, may very well have cost me my ACL. Let me explain…
I work in healthcare leadership development, so we arbiters of euphemisms rarely use the word “weakness.” We dance around “opportunities for development” or “areas of growth.” I involuntarily shivered when a client said she wanted her team to use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) so they could “learn about their strengths and weaknesses.” My goodness, I positively had the vapors. Technically, as I gently hold her, the MBTI looks at preferences rather than true strengths and weaknesses, but…something about the word “weakness” was just too real for me.
Turns out, working on your weaknesses can save you a lot of trouble in the long run.
[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.