A pre-Christmas poem

‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house,

Susan was crabby and acting like a louse.

She should have been happy, filled with spirit and joy,

But she felt tired and sniffly with feelings of oy!

She decided to stop! and take stock of her days,

Only to realize with wonder the err of her ways.

After all…

Band concerts were finished and cards in the mail,

No letter included? So sorry, oh, well.

Baking kits delivered to 20 deserving families –

Now, that’s the kind of giving that makes Susan’s heart happy.

Tomorrow, a family birthday dinner; Friday night, shopping.

Tonight, a taekwondo test –

Watch out, stupid shoppers! Susan knows knife-hand chopping!

Actually, things are pretty good at this busy time of year

When you keep it in perspective and remember those we hold dear.

The End (…of this poem and my career as a poet.)

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3 Lessons from Taekwondo

I took my first taekwondo belt test last night. I’m happy to say I passed, graduating to the rank of Orange Belt! That’s still pretty low on the list, but I’m no longer the newbie. Here are three things I’ve learned in the last 6 weeks:

1. Learning martial arts is both empowering and highly entertaining. One second, I’m focused and balancing all Zen-like on one foot before completing a controlled, snappy side kick in perfect form. The next, I’m kicking and throwing my arms around in such a spastastically wild manner Elaine Benes would be in awe. To sum it upkeep at it and keep your sense of humor.

2.  Testing and practice are two different things. I was confident going into my test last night. I had my forms down and felt that the support of my instructors and classmates would carry me through. Besides, I wasn’t saving lives, so, really, how hard could it be?

Like many of my classmates, I experienced the one thing you don’t get in practice:  the pressure of performing in front of 30+ people who have nothing better to do at that moment than to watch you. I ended up rushing through my form, focusing on things I usually don’t consider (“Hey, let me impress that five-year-old in the front row with an amazing jump front kick! See, kid, I’m awesome!”), and then came out of said kick only to realize I had no idea where I was in the routine. I’m sure my pause lasted for only a second or two, but it was disorienting. Then there were the issues of bonking myself in the head during the weapons test and flubbing my way through line sparring.

All of that aside, if there’s a positive about being in your 40’s you know “the show must go on”. (And empty your bladder before jumping, kicking or, generally, anything.) In other words: It may not be your best ever, but it’s your best at that moment.

3. Everyone is your teacher. My testing partner is a 62-year old woman who started taekwondo because her granddaughters take classes. To look at her, you think “sweet and petite”, but this former Navy engineer is tough as nails and throws a mean punch (thankfully, the no contact kind). My other classmates include two 13-year old boys who are your typical self-conscious, goofy, mostly uncoordinated teens. But, god love ’em, they accepted practicing with someone their mom’s age without a word, right from the start. My buddy, Jesse, even gave me a big smile and high five after we earned our new belts. Consider this: You can learn something from everyone you meet…regardless of how old — or young — they are.

 

Bonus Lessons:

Yes, your supporters will help carry you through.

It’s ok. You’re not saving lives.

You’re not Elaine Benes.