Bathroom Adventures

Earlier this semester, I dropped into uni to pick up some movie tickets I’d won at the guild reception. While I was waiting to be served, a woman came out of the female toilets and told the receptionist that someone had climbed into all the cubicles and locked them. The  receptionist called the maintenance staff, but the lady was pregnant and had a baby bouncing on her bladder so she was in quite the hurry. Seeing a chance to finally use my parkour skills in a practical way, I offered to unlock the doors for her. I walked into the toilet with her and she tried both cubicle doors again without success. So I set my bag down, went around the side and pulled myself up onto the top of the cubicle wall. The moment before I dropped into the first cubicle I glanced into the one further along. There a woman was sitting on the toilet seat (most probably with her pants around her legs- I didn’t spare time to check) staring determinedly at the ground. I dropped into the cubicle, unlocked it, accepted the lady’s thanks and bolted for the hills.
 
How’s that for an awkward meeting?

Waiting for peace

By Susan Corso, Ode Magazine

Acceptance is the key to change, and the key to peace.

“On the other side of acceptance is where peace exists, where the solutions are,” says Ariane de Bonvoisin, author of The First 30 Days: Your Guide to Making Any Change Easier, quoted in the August 2009 Guideposts.

In 27 years of counseling, I have found that what Ms. De Bonvoisin says is always true. Always. No exceptions.

Do you believe me?

The opposite of acceptance is resistance, and strangely, resistance is what magnetizes to us exactly what we don’t want. In facing whatever we don’t want, and accepting it as it is, we are then able to reach peace around whatever the ‘it’ is.

Try this scenario: You really dislike your current job. Really dislike it. You want to quit, but for various reasons, you can’t. Rather than continue to resist the job, begin to find things you can appreciate (and therefore accept) about it. I’ve seen it work over and over again. When acceptance comes, change can happen.

Think of the thing you most resist in your current life. It could be a relationship, a task, an assignment, anything. Notice your own resistance to it. Begin to switch your resistance to appreciation, and you will find yourself living into acceptance of what is. Once you accept what is, it’s pretty easy to change it.

One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is that we actually resist peace on this planet. We make peace a when/then possibility. When I lose 15 pounds, then I’ll be at peace. Why not be at peace with the 15 pounds, and let them melt away?

When there’s a Republican/Democrat in the White House, then I’ll be at peace. Why?

When I’m out of debt, then I’ll be at peace. Why? Why wait to be at peace? What do you get from waiting, from postponing peace? I don’t think we get any benefit from it.

Like the gift of the present moment, peace can only exist in this moment–now. And then the next now. Delaying it doesn’t help anyone.

Try acceptance if you want peace.

Merchanting

Holy smokes! JB Hi-Fi is having a massive sale. Fallout 3 and all five expansions for $65! Woooooooooooo!

Knowing me, I’ll not play it for years, but I got it at a greater than bargain price.
Ahh JB. Possibly my favourite store in the world.

I’m picking an awful lot of favourites lately…

In Sickness and in Health

You know? I believe Wendy Strgar is one of my favourite people.



Love is a choice you make from moment to moment. –Barbara De Angelis

If love is so healing why does it hurt so much? This is a good
question with difficult answers. Love the verb is a constant practice
of feeling compassion, giving the benefit of the doubt and struggling
to feed our goals and desires, as well as those of whom we love. This
aspiration is a juggle even in the most functional of relationships;
and the score rarely comes up 50-50.

Approaching our intimate relationships with the intent of an action
verb is realistic, if not a bit daunting. The romantic version of the
verb, the measure we use for our love relationships, reflects the
illusion of love as a vacation. We sit side by side in some beautiful
natural location and the only action required is offered by the love
that we feel, washing over us, filling us, just as easily as the nearby
waterfall washes over and fills the streambed. Physical intimacy
carries the potential to generate this experience; flush with
heightened hormones and released tension; lovemaking seems to encompass
all of what is love.

These peaks of love are profoundly healing and sustaining. However
it is unrealistic to expect that these experiences should encompass all
that is love. When we are unable to show up for those we love, the
feelings that we bear are the polar opposite of what we feel when we
succeed in these relationships. It doesn’t matter if the slight is
intended or a consequence of life’s competing demands. Generating the
love sometimes is our work alone. This past week, in the midst of my
own personal swine flu epidemic as one kid after the next fell to the
illness, my resources were spread extremely thin. Giving up lesser
priorities in the face of illness always seems so clear in retrospect,
but not always easy to discern in the moment.

More often than not, there is no malice intended in most of love’s
disappointments. Life frequently tests our ability to forgive the
intrusions to our peace of mind and to sustain the pain and longing of
someone we love and cannot show up for. We must be willing to balance
the hardships, bear the ache in our heart and in our relationships if
we expect to experience the vacation of love working for us. If we are
unwilling to sustain the work of love, all we ever get is a brief
glimpse of a paradise, fading fast enough that it is easy to dismiss.

Illness is as much a part of our human condition as is wellness.
Most of what we do in life can be traced back to the basic human drive
to be happy and well. The times that we feel most fragile are made more
bearable when held in love. Unfortunately, the courage and intention to
sustain each other during the daily annoyances is sadly often more than
we can bear. The number of people who report feelings of relief at the
end of their long-term relationships continues to amaze me. Loving each
other is the hardest work we do and what we do with that work defines
our life in health and illness. Although I feel bad about not being the
mother I want to be this weekend, I hope that I return to the work with
more resolve to stay with it.

Wendy Strgar is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making
Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the
importance of valuing the renewable resources of love and family. She
helps couples tackle the questions and concerns of intimacy and
relationships, providing honest answers and innovative advice. Wendy
lives in Eugene, Oregon with her husband, a psychiatrist, and their
four children ages 11-20. 

Round 2

“Imagine if you’d won- then you’d have nothing to perfect!” – Bert Giorgi, wiser than he lets on. After a good night’s sleep, I’ve had enough time to process my feelings about the tournament. Fundamentally, I’m disappointed I didn’t win. Not because I’m not as good as I thought I was, but because my opponent was better than I had anticipated. I find it hard to believe there are people (other than black belts) who are better at martial arts than I am.Something I didn’t factor into a fight is the aggression and pressure. I always thought I would be perfectly controlled  in a fight (though pumped full of adrenaline)– that I would not be affected by pressure because I would always be winning. But that was proven untrue yesterday. And when it’s all put on the line, two people fighting to win, it’s easy to use that aggression to try and overpower your opponent. You get angry, you want to dominate them, to win. But sometimes even that’s not enough. When I got flustered, I began to attack more recklessly, and I copped a few more hits because of it. It’s always important to maintain control (both of the self and the fight) to maintain the upper hand.

But ultimately? I think the reason I lost is because the other guy was better. He was more aggressive, had longer reach (I suspect the tables would have been turned if he was smaller than I was) and never gave me a chance to relax. And now that I’ve acknowledged that, I’ve freed myself to train for the right reasons: not out of vengeance or a quest to be undefeatable, but to gain greater mastery of myself so that if I’m faced with such a person again, I’ll be better equipped to try again.

Okay. That’s all the entries for the tournament, I promise. Thanks again to Bethwyn for all the photos she took!

Yoseikan Karate tournament: Round 1

So I had my first karate tournament today. I entered the "Men’s Novice Kumite", for over 18 persons ranked 10th kyu (white belt) to 5th kyu (halfway to black belt). There were 8 people in that division including myself, which meant I would need to win three consecutive fights to get first place, or two fights to come second or third. The basic way to win is by scoring. 1 point for punches, 2 points for a successful kick to the body, 3 points for a kick to the head (non-contact- this means you either ‘skin touch’ or stop just short of contact, but still be able to  follow through if you wanted to), or striking an opponent while they’re on the ground (either from falling or being thrown/swept). Whoever has the most points at the end of 2 minutes (or whoever gets either an 8 point lead, or totals 12 points) wins. Points are awarded to your opponent for foul play, stepping out of the ring, lack of control etc.

My total score? I was knocked out in the first round, score 1-0.

Sensei says that competition is a game. You have to play the game and follow its rules to win. I had thought it would be easy, particularly in the novice division. Three or four kicks to the head to succeed to the next round- no problem. But it was very different to how I pictured. I keep forgetting that people can block in karate, and that it’s easy to stop a kick. Although I landed a few hits, they didn’t score any points because there wasn’t enough power in them to be considered a "killing blow". I copped one in the eye, and while I didn’t like the pain, it made me angry. I wanted to just start  throwing attacks wildly (which would have probably connected), anything to score and put myself in front. Some of the other competitors turned red with fury, and it barely helped them. It was harder to kiai with a mouthguard in so it was harder to show the power of a strike. Competitions are also a lot messier, with technique sacrificed for speed, distance and the desire to just connect a hit in the hope it might score.

Overall I’m disappointed. It’s a sensation I’m feeling with unpleasant regularity. In my head, I’m undefeatable, untouchable, fast and strong enough to take on anyone. But the reality is apparently proving somewhat different. The difference between the real and the ideal is causing me to doubt myself, something I don’t do very often. Confidence makes a person better at what they’re doing, but even with all that self-assurance (I don’t think I’d call it arrogance), I’m still able to lose. It’s unthinkable, but it’s happening, and it’s not pleasant to process.

And worst of all, I don’t know why I’m losing. My reaction to the disappointment is to train harder- to iron out my flaws and become even stronger. But that is a blind path for poor reason. If I wish to improve, I know I need to return to my roots as a martial artist and work from ground up. But I do need to train, just for the right reasons. Rather than "to never lose again", I should aim "to correct my mistakes". Subtle difference, but an important one that makes all the difference. I am quite sore about my defeat today, but I’ll get back on the horse and try again. Meanwhile I need to acquire a punching bag, or preferrably one of those giant rubber dummies to practice on. I think I saw one at Rebel sport for like,  $200+ dollars. I think it’s kinda worth it. So that’s my next investment, right after a GPS system and presents for various events.

Thanks especially to Bethwyn for driving me there and taking lots of photos. Ja ne!

Mortality – it never ceases to trouble

We did an exercise in karate tonight where ten students formed a circle and the remaining one student stood in the middle. To start off with, each person around the circle would throw a jab at the student in the middle, and the student would block and counter. Everybody got a turn in the centre, and while not perfect, it was an enjoyable exercise. The next step was more challenging though. The students forming the circle were instructed to kiai (shout) and strike at the same time at random so the person in the middle would have to sense where the attack was coming from and try to face it in time. That was a lot harder. You only had enough time to turn and face the attack before it was upon you, forcing you to block by reaction. Only one of the black belts remained controlled throughout the exercise- as each person tried to catch her by surprise, she was ready enough to block and counter with ferocity I have never seen. Her strength awed me, and even though it was 10 on 1, I would not have wanted to attack her.

The short version of this story is that I didn’t do as well as I thought I would have. I messed up a few times and would have gotten a good beating. I’ve always believed that I am more or less invincible in a fight, because of my speed and now, power. I can anticipate moves or cut them off. I can kick faster than most people can punch. But in that circle, surrounded on all sides, I do not think I could have fought my way out. If they hadn’t been kiaiing, then they would have crippled me for sure. So that was disappointing. If it had been a street fight, I don’t think I could have beaten more than two of them before I was overwhelmed. That said, no one (other than PJ, the above mentioned) did particularly well, even with so simple an attack as a jab or stepping punch. Though I suspect sensei could have taken out everyone in the circle with one hand behind his back.

So no, I’m not as invincible as I’d like to think. It’s shaken me up a bit, but I still want to learn to overcome my weaknesses and see if I can improve. Most of all I wish to test myself in a real fight situation, not training or play fighting, so I can test myself without holding back. I guess the only time I can truly find out is if I get jumped some day, not that I want to pick fights. If anyone wants to help me train, I’d more than welcome your help.