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Friday, July 27, 2012


I just realized I'm coming up on 6 months as a black belt. Feels like I just got it!

We had our school's tournament last weekend. I always enjoy tournaments... but there's something particularly special about our own. The camraderie is greater, and there's a sense of pride in not only hosting an event like that, but doing it really well. We had a blast.

For the second time in a row, I placed first in sparring, and this time it counts (I still sort of can't believe it!). Since I became a black belt and joined the instructor training program, I'm earning points toward a state championship title. So we've decided that I'm going to chase more points... by going to as many tournaments as possible. We have one each month from now through November. I'll be busy! But I'm excited at the real possbility of pulling a title. And since The Man will be joining me, I'm sure he'll get some more titles too.

Little Man did awesome. He is getting so much better so quickly. I love watching him compete. Pretty soon he'll be competing for real too... right now he's still in the "everyone gets a medal and everyone is a winner" division, but he can't stay there once he gets his black belt - which is only a few months away! He's grown so much, and I'm so proud of him.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Diet update

I'm not crazy about that word, "diet." I mean, in the broad sense it refers to whatever you put in your mouth. But our society has made it such an ugly word... so many connotations of deprivation, restriction, and obsessing over food. What I'm doing is anything but. I eat fewer times per day than I used to. I spend less time thinking about food and when I can eat next than I used to. My meals are more flavorful and satisfying. So I'm not on a diet. I changed my diet (broadest sense), meaning I simply got rid of problem foods and eat whatever and whenever I want otherwise, but that's not what most people think when you say the word "diet." And it's not short-term either. I fully intend to do this for the rest of my life.

So, update on my success with it. I went to the doctor yesterday, and since I don't have a scale at home I consider this an official weigh-in. I officially weigh the same now as I did ten years ago, at 21. And I have better muscle tone and more endurance.

My acne is still gone (mostly... May is a big birthday month, which means alot of birthday cake, so I had a couple breakouts). My hypoglycemia is still gone. I have clockwork regular, painless (!!), 28-day cycles for the first time in my life. I'm more alert and more energetic than I've been since I was a young child. I sleep more deeply, and have started having vivid dreams again. I'm not sure how long it's been since I've been sick, but it's at least several months. I feel like my seasonal allergies are diminishing too... I have fewer sinus headaches and stuffiness.

The best part is that I do not have to count, weigh, or measure anything. I eat whatever I want whenever I feel hungry. Any woman over 30 who has had any weight at all to lose understands how wonderful this is. I did the counting and measuring thing for several months trying to lose weight, and it did nothing but make me miserable and obsessive.

I will post about TKD some time soon. I need to gather my thoughts.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I'm still alive!

Since we started the business, I have been working downtown only two days a week. We figured out that with me working about 6 hours a day instead of 9 and staying in town instead of driving 2 hours those other 3 days a week, I would get about 15 hours of my life back each week. Well, I have no idea where those 15 hours went. But the business is going great... really picking up steam, and we are enjoying the work. It's nice to do work where I'm moving around and using my muscles instead of sitting behind a desk all day. It's really helping me get in better shape.

May is usually a bit crazy for us. End of the school year and all that. We were booked solid through the beginning of June before May even started. It's been fun though.

I have been teaching the beginner adult TKD class with The Man for about a month now. I feel overwhelmed and frustrated sometimes, but mostly it's fun. It gets me out of my comfort zone and pushes me to learn more and work on my confidence. And we get to spend that time together again, which we haven't since I graduated from that class a year and a half ago. Now we are gearing up for our school's tournament, and fundraisers are in full swing. That's part of what sucks up all of our time this time of year. I need to start getting ad sponsorships and selling raffle tickets and all that fun stuff.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I've been a Saints fan since I was old enough to know what football was... and believe me, they were not good back then. It was a pleasant surprise when they won a game. It's alot more fun to be a Saints fan the last few years... except for right this minute. I'm not going to go into my opinions about what's going on, except to say I don't like it.

What I will say is, Sean Payton is a class act. I loved listening to his press conference this morning.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What's next

Next on my list of things to do: open a business. The Man and I are going part-time at our jobs and opening a Home Services business (house cleaning, lawn care, minor home and landscaping maintenance). We have our license and tax ID and a handful of clients, and we're getting excited. It's terrifying but in a good, gutsy, challenging way. I know we can do well if we work hard, and I sure am ready to stop driving two hours a day. This weekend we need to get ourselves bonded and order business cards, and then we'll be set to go at the beginning of April.

I got my new uniform at class Tuesday night. It has my name on it! It's really real now, I'm really going to be an instructor. I still can't quite believe that I'm even a black belt. I've come so far in the last three years, I'm not sure I would have recognized myself back then. The next thing I really need to work on in TKD is calming my nerves, especially in competition. I always let them get the best of me, and I don't perform nearly as well in the ring as I do in practice, and it's intensely frustrating. I know I could be winning more often if I would just quit freaking out.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Two weeks

Well, almost. That's how long I've been a black belt. I'm not sure it has quite sunk in yet, but it sure feels good to tie it on and go to class. Pretty soon I'll be reaching for other goals and jumping into new adventures, but for now I'm basking in the glow of this one accomplishment.

I decided to give Little Man a break. The other night, when we started teaching him his new form, he burst into tears. That was when I realized, hey, he's probably feeling most of the same stresses I am. And by the way, he's been doing this for nearly three years too, but he has never taken a break. So this cycle - and next cycle too if he needs it - he's not going to class, not promoting, not doing any TKD if he doesn't want to. He gets to focus on school and being 5, because that's plenty all by itself. Right now he loves the sport as much as we do, and I don't want him to start to hate it because it's too much pressure. He stopped crying and actually skipped away when I told him he could have a break. I think it's just what he needed.

Mom is home from the hospital and doing reasonably well, considering. It's going to be a long and painful recovery, but she's one of the strongest people I know, so I know she'll get through it. But by all means, keep praying.

Monday, February 27, 2012

I did it!

I'm a black belt. It hasn't really sunk in yet. Promotion on Saturday went really well... I didn't forget anything, and I broke all the boards. I'm happy. When I get the videos edited and uploaded, I'll post them. Little Man promoted with me, and he was amazing. He got his red belt, so he's only 6 months away now. I'm so very proud of him.

And I finally joined leadership. So, I'm going to be a TKD instructor. That's something I NEVER thought I would say. Seriously. When I first walked in that school, a black belt wasn't even on my radar. Now there's so much more. So many goals - championship titles, teaching, greater fitness, another degree... I'm not stopping now. I feel like I'm just really getting started.

But today, I'm focused on my mother. She is having extensive surgery today... she's probably in the operating room right now. I'll be thinking about her and praying for her all day. Please say a prayer for her.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


This past Saturday was my last tournament in the color belt division. Next time I compete, it will be as a black belt. So I decided that I wanted to end on a high note. I made it my goal to achieve a personal best in this competition: first place in forms. I had won several second and third place medals, but I had never won first place in any event.

I always compete in forms and sparring, because when you sign up for one, the other is automatic. I don't love sparring, but they go together. Competing in other events involves additional fees and paperwork, and I'm not ready to commit to that unless and until I'm earning points for it (more on that later).

Going into this tournament, I was doing a form I've done before. I learned it early and practiced it often because I'm getting ready for black belt promotion. I spent several hours in the last week working on my technique and tweaking the areas I had problems with. I felt really good about this form.

Saturday morning, I practiced it several times just to work through my nerves, and I felt like I did it extremely well. Color belt adults compete toward the end of the tournament, and waiting around all day is rough on the nerves, but I did ok... I kept myself busy with my son, practiced when I could, and tried not to think about it.

We got into the ring, and there were 6 of us total. One of the women wasn't doing forms, so I was competing against 4 other women in that event, and I had the good fortune of being last. I watched all of them go first, and thought "oh, I can do this, no problem." I thought I had first place in the bag. If I had done the form like I had practiced it that morning, I would have. But I didn't. I got up to the center of the ring, and the judge told me to go. My peripheral vision went fuzzy. My hands started to tingle. My head felt lifted away from my body, and my joints felt like mush. Five moves in, I did a punch wrong. My balance was off. When I heard one of the competitors say "she's going to get sixes" (that's not a good score), it was all I could do to keep from dissolving into tears in the middle of the ring. In other words, I choked. And I knew it. I could tell from the way she looked at me the center judge could see it all over my face. I was furious. I went to sit down and gave up on getting any medals at all in this tournament, much less first place. My main goal at that point was just to not cry.

It doesn't matter how well I can do my form in class, if I never learn how to overcome the stage fright.

I watched the weapons event and slowly put on my sparring gear, dreading the added embarrassment. I have never liked sparring. I feel like I think and move too slowly. I feel clumsy and uncomfortable when we spar in class. I always spar in tournaments, but I always get my clock cleaned. In all the previous tournaments I have sparred in, I've scored a total of 1 point. Not 1 point per tournament, 1 point EVER.

By luck of the draw, I didn't spar the first match. One of the women from my school sparred a woman from a Texas school. I watched them and cringed. I don't know what's different about Texas schools, but they all seem to spar the same way - fast and loud, with lots of punches. It's like a swirling noise coming directly at you and if you aren't fast there's no escape. I think my last match against a Texas student lasted about 15 seconds.

I was in the second match, with another woman from my school. She usually beats me soundly in class, because she understands the concepts really well (especially considering she's a lower rank than me) and her reflexes are good. She had a splitting headache, which may have given me a slight advantage, but I fully expected her to win the match.

I don't know who scored the first point, but I remember when something changed. It was like something slid into place in my head, and I could see exactly where her weaknesses were. When she leaned in to punch, I scooted sideways and landed a punch directly in the center of her chest pad. Break. Point to me. We got tangled punching and I skipped backward and swung a kick up to connect with the side of her head. Break. Two points to me. I felt bad about that one, and mouthed "sorry" to her. She looked at me like I was nuts. Next round I noticed she was expecting me to fight at my height (she's shorter), so I dipped my shoulder to belt level and swung a punch around to connect with her pad under her arm. It kept going that way and suddenly the match was over, score 5-3. I had won my first match ever. I couldn't believe it. The center judge gave me one minute to catch my breath, and then I had to spar Texas girl who had beaten the stuffing out of my friend just a couple minutes ago. Oh boy. Well, at least I would get second place.

She called me to the ring and we squared up. My heart was still racing, but my head was clear. I was watching her to see what she would do. I knew she would be fast, but I had to find a weakness. I tested her with a fake front kick and she did exactly what I expected: came in yelling with a flurry of punches that knocked me out of the ring. Break. Point to her. I hadn't quite figured it out yet, and the second round I tried to counter her with her own weapon. No good, she was too fast with the punches. This time she knocked me to the ground. Break. Point to her. Now I was mad, but it wasn't blind fury (for maybe the first time ever). I was focused, and when we squared up again I suddenly realized what she was doing, and what I needed to do. I had a good 5 or 6 inches on her, and she could barely get her kicks up to belt level. She was relying entirely on speed and punches. So I did what I do all the time in class but hadn't figured out how to use well yet: I put my leg up and held it there, and waited. When she came in I planted a front kick directly in her middle. Break. Point to me. Second round, I swung several kicks in a row in her direction without putting my leg down. They didn't land, but I could tell the balance of power had shifted. She looked slightly bewildered, and she was backing away from me. I became acutely aware of the possibility that I could win this match. I scored three more points, which put me ahead. One more point and I would win the match. We squared up and I stared at her, waiting to see where she would go. I wasn't moving in, I wanted her to come to me. She stepped forward and dropped her guard to swing punches and I straightened my leg, planting a side kick in her chest pad near her hip. Break. Point. Match.

I was totally stunned. I had never won a single match, and here I was with a first place medal. I did achieve a personal best. I did meet my goal. It just wasn't at all what I expected.

I learned all over again the value of perseverance, and never giving up on myself. Fitting, since that was the theme of this particular tournament.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Moving forward, looking back

I will earn my black belt in a few weeks, and it has me thinking back over the last three years. What a wild ride it has been.

I moved back across the country from California into my parents' house four years ago. For a year, I just sort of floated along. I didn't know what was going to happen. I didn't want to get divorced, but I couldn't leave things the way they were. I didn't get a job because I thought I might move at any time. I just focused on my son, and survived one day at a time.

Then something happened that made me realize I would have to take care of us myself, and the work I was doing from home wasn't cutting it. I got a job, cried over putting my son in day care, did it anyway because I had to. I put him in TKD because my mom and sister loved the school and thought it would be good for him. Goodness knows he needed the extra discipline.

I gained some confidence from working to support myself, and bought my first car in my own name.

I finally got the courage to file for divorce when he proved to me that the marriage was truly over. Then I started dating again.

I lost a dear friend to cancer. Overwhelmed with grief, I considered moving away.

I welcomed my nephew (godson) into the world.

Lost the first job, freaked out, and then got a better job.

Mom was diagnosed with cancer.

I changed my mind about moving away.

I fell in love.

My son and I moved out of my parents' house.

I lost my last living grandparent.

The one constant through it all is that I kept going to TKD. Even when I felt unready and unworthy of belt promotion, Joshua and I both were there, every week. It has given us a sense of community, and when I was really hurting, it gave me something else to focus on (or something to hit and yell at when necessary). And ultimately, it made us part of a bigger family. It gave us new friends, and a support system. It gave me a partner. It gave my son a Dad. And for that I will always be grateful.

What started out as a way to get some more exercise has become a deeply personal journey for me, and getting this belt now is symbolic to me of not just surviving the hard parts of the past few years, but of coming out on the other side stronger, happier, and more confident than I have ever been.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


It's a new year! I'm excited about what it will bring. I usually don't make resolutions, because I usually have so many goals set by New Year's Eve I don't really feel the need. That goes for this year too... my goal-setting started before Saturday night, and I don't think it will take me a whole year to accomplish these and start setting new ones. But in the spirit of the season, here they are:

1. Black belt. I've been looking forward to this achievement for quite a while now.

2. Starting a new adventure. Yes there are more details to this one, but I'm not ready to share them yet. ;)

3. Bikini body. I may or may not actually wear one, but my goal is to be able to without shame by the summer. I'm pretty close to my goal weight, but I have alot of toning up to do.

4. Pay off at least one of my credit cards. This is a constant goal, but I think it's actually doable this year.

Going back to Christmas, I forgot to mention that I actually did get a new blender, and I love it!! It makes an amazing smoothie.