War With Ourselves

I got my body mass index measured at the gym on Monday, which I’d never done before.  It came in at a more than respectable rate for an overactive, middle-aged, female martial artist.  Unfortunately, the BMI was displayed on a print out full of additional information about my body, and one line of that little piece of paper keeps coming back to me in flashes – the line telling me my weight.

I’m disappointed in myself that though martial arts has returned me to wearing the same size I wore when I graduated high school, I still care about what the damned number on the scale says.  Never mind that the number reflects muscle mass more than anything else!

The brainwashing of American women has been thorough.  These Barbie Doll, size zero images that have ruled since the days of Twiggy in the late 1960s, have been ingrained as the body image to shoot for.  Weighing more than a buck and a quarter is incompatible with acquiring the ideal – even when the body looks great.   It’s ridiculous, but for so many women like me, it’s true – women who’ve been overweight and have gone to war with ourselves to keep from becoming so again.

I’m very happy to have dropped almost thirty pounds from the days of my depressive overeating after my mother’s death through the beginning of black sash testing.  I’ve only regained five pounds or so in the fifteen months since testing ended, and I appeared to have dropped them again while training for tournaments.  But I will never forget feeling too tall and too fat from about five-years-old until thirteen.  And after shedding the pounds and the laughter of schoolmates and family members alike, I spent the latter part of the teen years as a bulimic, fearful of ever going back.  It isn’t just societal ideals that warp the mind; one’s own experiences can do further damage.

It’s up to me to remember that those days are over.  I will never be shamed again for my weight.  Even if another life tragedy produces a depression that’s soothed with food, I’m capable of returning to a body that makes me happy.  I’ve proven that more than once.

The scale is irrelevant.  It’s up to me to remember that.

Hope and Headaches

It finally happened – the slam that broke the staff. A small section near the top of the narrow end splintered, leaving the length of the staff in tact with a chunk missing from one side. The damage isn’t even in a section that interferes with sliding my hands around; so I’m not at risk for splinters. Still, I’m going to have to replace it before I can use it in another tournament – an expense I was putting off as long as possible. That’s the bad news from the weekend.

The good news is that I learned a bit of how to spin the staff while also spinning my body around. It’s a move I’ve been most fearful of, since it always looked likely to come with a few knocks of the staff against my head. Sure enough, it does. The edges of my frontal plate, where forehead turns into temple, are both feeling pretty tender. I’m just glad there aren’t two symmetrical knots at the top of my face.

Even better news: I met with my future supervisor today at the gym and was also introduced to head of operations. They tell me that the soonest they’ll get the class started is the middle of May, but they’re toying with the idea of just waiting for the summer. When school’s out, I’m virtually guaranteed to have parents beside themselves looking for things for their children to do that don’t involve sitting in front of a screen. I still hope I can get back at it sooner rather than later.

Not much else happening in my kung fu world that hasn’t been written about incessantly. I’m just filled these days with hope and headaches and grateful for such a high class of problems.

Kung Fu Infusion

My gym is closed this Easter Sunday, which left me with far too much time on my hands after cooking and baking for the family.  So what did I do?  I fed my need for a kung fu infusion by revisiting my daughter’s tournament performance last weekend and my own.  I got a touch creative with the video while I was at it.

Enjoy the minute of long staff and the rest of the day.  Happy Easter to those who are celebrating it!


Fun and Family

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“It was nice working with you today. Or nice playing with you, really,” Siheng Perry said with a big smile. Today was the first time in a long time that he was in class with us, and he didn’t disappoint. Siheng Perry can be counted on for both wry humor and corny jokes, and with Sifu out of town judging a tournament, he practically gave us a nightclub act.

Coupled with the warm, easy, enthusiastic instruction of Siheng Steve, my compatriot in kung fu pain and passion (see “Facing the Door,” 4/5/14) it was a truly fun Saturday in the guan. That fun was sorely needed after approaching the school door this morning with a chip on my shoulder I hadn’t been able to shake.

My son attended Friday night class, a class that Sifu has yet to welcome me back into, though we’ve allegedly turned over a new leaf. When my boy began talking about happenings in the class, I felt nostalgic for the camaraderie of the select group I used to be part of, becoming angry about my punishment for the first time in a while. That anger then morphed into renewed disappointment in my son (see “A Small Moment, 3/31/14), who seems completely unbothered by my continued exclusion, though it should have been over the moment Sifu said, “I want us to start over from right now; forget everything I said before today.”


I’m used to a young man known to show righteous indignation over unfair treatment. Perhaps he thinks empathizing with his mother would require boycotting Friday class. I’d settle for a simple, “It really sucks that you can’t come too, Mom,” on his way out the door. But that doesn’t appear to be forthcoming anytime soon – and I still have to feed him. :-)

Yeah, I definitely needed a fun day in the guan. Gotta love it when the universe gives you what you need.

Not Enough

A meeting is set for next week to finalize plans for the children’s kung fu class at the gym.  My excitement grows as the days pass.  But joy is a bit muted today on this Good Friday, because I miss my mother.

Mom was raised a Fundamentalist Baptist, but by the time she died, she’d probably attended a service of every Christian denomination in North America.   Though she wasn’t loyal to the Fundamentalists (I can’t help but be a bit grateful for that), she was a church-going woman who consciously strove to be a good Christian until the day they wheeled her into the hospice center for the final day of her life.  So, from as far back as I can remember, Easter was a big deal in our household.  And though I’m not a church-going woman, it’s still a big deal to me today.

Ironically, the part of the holiday that makes me wistful for my mother’s presence is the pagan ritual.  Easter egg hunts in her yard are some of the fondest memories I have of the extended family.  And her final Easter, three months before her death, was the last time my children saw her still looking like herself, still acting like Nana.

I wish I could personally thank her for the many wonderful Easter weekends of my life – before and after my children came along.  I did so while she was living, but not nearly enough.


The Missing Question

Do what you love, and the money will follow.  If you love what you do, you’ll never really work a day in your life.  These adages keep bouncing around between the ears, as I recall the series of questions I was asked to answer yesterday for the new gig at the gym.  Each question made me happier than the last, in that they offered me a measure of control I hadn’t previously had as a teacher.

“Do I require a minimum number of students?  Do I have a maximum?  What kind of room set-up will I need?  Do I need the gym to acquire equipment for my class?  What days and times work best for me to teach?”

The last question presented the greatest challenge, because I really wanted to answer: “Whenever you want me to.”  That would not have been wise.   Most notable was the question that wasn’t on the list.  There was nothing at all about expectation of pay – and I was unbothered by the absence.

In the almost two months I’ve spent trying to get this kung fu class off the ground at their facility, the only thought I’ve ever given to compensation is: maybe they’ll give me the gym membership for free in exchange.  Depending upon how successful the program is and how often I find myself teaching, free membership might turn out to be a drop in the bucket for what the class is worth to the gym.  After all, the gym folks are phrasing this as “branching into a new market.”  Common sense says not to sell myself short, and yet I find myself thinking…whatever.

It appears I’ve actually been underestimating how much I love teaching kung fu, if that’s possible.  For I truly just want to do what I love and let the money follow.  That’s a first for this career woman and mother of two, with one child a year away from college.  It’s a great feeling!

Class, line up!

Letting Go & Logos – Part 2!

Email from the gym today on me teaching kung fu: “…I think it would be awesome to try it out here if you are still interested.”

There is most definitely something to be said for letting go!

Letting Go and Logos

I took a break last night from kung fu, aided by nasty weather and aggravated arthritis.  I spent the evening instead working on a logo for a baking venture that’s starting to feel inevitable, if only for a little extra money to spend on kung fu!  I came to logo creation after putting in yet another phone call to the director of children’s programs at the gym to see if they’ll let me teach a kung fu class.  They told me she was in a meeting.  So I thought it best to turn my attentions to another potential income venture that makes me happier than my job currently does.

I can probably count on one hand the number of times in my life I’ve consciously told myself to let something go, following it with the thought that if something is supposed to happen it will.  That’s because my natural tendency is to be a doer and a fixer.  If I want something to happen, I try to make it happen – often to the consternation of others involved in the happening.

I really want to teach kung fu again.  So I’ve done the best I can to press without being scary.  That, in and of itself, is a big deal for me – the whole attempt not to be scary.   Ten years ago, it was practically my motto to let the chips fall where they may.  But last night, I told myelf not to send this woman another email after she failed to take my call and return it, and I didn’t.

Not being scary has gotten me six weeks of “we’ll get back to you.”  It’s also now gotten me a logo for a baking venture.

First of Many

My daughter always calls me on the way home from Sunday visits with her father. These days, I’m often still cleaning up from training at the gym or just starting the evening’s dinner when she calls. In that event, she leaves a voicemail telling me that she had a good day; she’s tired; she’s only a little bit hungry; she loves me; and she hopes I like her message. That’s almost verbatim. Her Sunday call is a perfect example of the tendency toward repetition and habit that people on the spectrum are known for. But this Sunday’s call was different.

In this call she told me how her father’s decision to play Dungeons & Dragons with his younger son and our eldest (who joins in by Skype before leaving for work) prevents her from really spending time with him. It was obvious information that I was previously aware of, but I’d never heard her express it with the terms and tone she chose that day. She spoke with analysis, instead of complaint, and sadness, instead of irritation. She sounded as if she’d turned the first of many corners onto a higher level of maturity. She sounded so markedly older, I saved the message.

I thought about us girls being together in Pittsburgh just one day earlier, how young she’d seemed waiting impatiently for her event to be called, and how proud and confident she was after scoring so well. It seems a stretch that the one and a half minute it took to perform long staff in public for the first time would add some maturity to her. But who knows? Earning a black sash definitely changed my brain chemistry. Maybe her kung fu milestones are changing hers.

Doing the Math

I practiced four different forms in an amazing training session at the gym Sunday. The result was an endorphin high and a new outlook.

Before I knew it, not only were the requested vanilla cupcakes with lemon icing and the last smidgen of my “oatmeal brittle” disappearing before my eyes, but I’d compiled a rather unexpected and long-overdue tally.


It turns out it costs me approximately twenty-six cents per cupcake when I bake. It would cost forty-three cents per to package them for sale. Now that’s what I call food for thought….



Girls’ Day in PA

At the Steele City Tournament today, I received a higher score winning silver than I did winning gold in Florida.  That says it all about the quality of my competition.  I was edged out by a tenth of a point to a well-executed spear form that I’d never seen before.  I thought as I watched the nimble thirty-something-year-old (no bitterness here, really…) that I was going to have to knock it out of the park to score higher than her.  I was quite proud of my performance, but a homerun it obviously wasn’t.

Oh, well.  Can’t win ‘em all.  And if I could, first place wouldn’t be worth much.

Now, the really cool news of the day: my girl and I received the same score for the same form – only she came home with her first gold!


For the next tournament, we’ll finally get my better half on the floor!  After operating the camera for two tournaments and waiting out a healing meniscus, she’s more than ready to add her own medal to the family stash!


Practice Space

The first time I booked a room in a hotel recommended by tournament organizers, I knew I would never do it again. On this trip, I’ve been well rewarded for ignoring advice that probably comes with a kickback. The room we three girls are sharing – for a notably lower price than where the tournament folks are staying – is so big, I brought the staff inside to practice. Last time, I just left it in the car until the next day’s competition.


Now, did my girl take advantage of the practice space? Of course not. She took a soak in the tub. We’ll know soon enough how that choice plays out, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it works out well for her.


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