Archive for March, 2013

Hard Work Paying Off

by on Thursday, March 28th, 2013

It’s funny, the things I regret in life. I don’t wonder that each of us has a life path, whether planned, or fate that leads to their destiny. For me I always had a plan. I hope that a good portion of fate and follow through have been a part of that plan. And hard work.

I’ve been working two jobs this year, well and every year since I started teaching piano. For a long time my first and primary job was to love nurture and guide my children on their paths toward adulthood. To be there for them every step of the way and to help them over come obstacles. They are officially planted in the adult/real world now and like seeds planted in the ground, all I can do now is watch them grow and learn on their own now. With a little watering, and food when necessary, I hope they have the foundation to grow into giant redwoods. Tall, strong and able to make an impact on their environment. My job is pretty much done.

My second job or vocation has been teaching piano, which many of you know if you have been reading this blog. It has been a job of necessity, for income, and a job of convenience. Working from home is a dream for many I know, but it comes with curses, as any job does. The first problem I encounter (on a daily basis) is that I can’t get away from work very easily. It is always there. And of course, as with any job people make the difference. Many people you work with are wonderful. Others, maybe only a select few, can bring your whole week down: make you hate your job. This is the job I can’t quit though, and it won’t run without me. It is this career path that I’m trying to change.

Enter my second job, since Dylan moved away; writing. I write, and write. I sit at my computer daily and type words into documents for hours and hours a week. I counted 20 documents in Word that I have related to my book. It has become my second job and I’m trying to make it a career. I’ll be going to a Writer’s Conference this spring to pitch my first book. (The first of many I hope) and I am so excited to tell you that I have had some really good feedback on it already!  My pitching coach has given some really great feedback on the synopsis and story line, now I am ready to send to agents.  I’ll keep you updated as to  whether I get a contract!

Were you wondering what the plan was? For me, it was me and my family first. I had some obstacles to overcome as I became an adult, and baggage to unload. But after that was done, it was always family first. Then community. Affect community in a positive way. Begin to grow and spread joy and light. The following step may surprise you. It surprises me when I say it out loud; affect the world community. Grow and spread light, joy, (or dark and scary stories) to the world. That is one big scary step! I am ready for this step now. And it’s a big scary story!

Real world, here I come!

Day 3 of Week 1

by on Thursday, March 28th, 2013

It’s spring break this week and I decided to take advantage of my very light schedule and start training. I’ve been to 3 two hour classes this week and have one more to go. Sore doesn’t even begin to describe what’s happening this morning. Advil has become my constant companion beginning about 24 hours after each session, (that second day soreness thing) I have enough lactic acid build up in my body to fill a truck. Today, it’s morning after soreness that’s getting me…I’m not looking forward to tomorrow. At least I have two days to recover this time before the next class.

I’ve been meeting some really great people at Bujinkan. My trainer is a nice guy, he and his wife are expecting a baby in May. I met one other woman who is pretty new to Bujinkan  (So far I am the weakest link, lowest ranked and untrained. I really appreciate them putting up with me.) Almost everyone else at this Dojo is a green or black belt. They are all my teachers. Each of them have a different and valuable way to explain things too.

The first session left me a little sore in my inner thighs from the wide squat kamae we use before any attack or receive. And I pulled a muscle trying sideways rolls for the first time. Those are hard for me. We do a lot of rolling in class and so far I’ve been complimented of how well I can roll forward and backward several times. They said it is a skill that usually takes 2-3 months to learn to do well. Sideways, not so much. They want you to focus on a point on the wall all the way through the roll which is difficult for me. Advil.

The second session this week left me sore in different places. My right arm was tired from throwing punches and my quads were tight. Strangely, the front of my neck was sore from leaning backwards. We do all the attacks in slow motion, or stop motion as we are learning what part of the body to grab, pull off balance, or block. In receiving an attack from the front, we were required to hold a slight backwards bend while the attacking person grappled with you. My back wasn’t hurt, even though we would end up doing a prat fall (is that the right word?) on our shoulder blades. The front of my neck was extremely sore after 24 hours though. Advil.

This morning, after session three I woke late and rolling over in bed was difficult. After moving around a bit, it’s not so bad. I’ll stretch and loosen up today which will help. Our training last night included about 15 different attacks. Some were very confusing for me. I’m having a hard time coordinating my feet and hands. If I get the upper body figured out, I forget to move my feet and vice versa. When I figure out my feet, I can’t remember what to do with my hands. I will need a lot more training to begin to coordinate all the movements. And more Advil.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, a little demon is saying “You should quit. When can we quit?” I keep telling the demon to go back to Hell where it belongs. I’m in this for the long haul. I’m having a lot of fun with it. Mike is thinking of buying me a mat to practice on and we are even talking of going to Japan, eventually. That would be an important step in my research too, book three of my trilogy will be placed almost entirely in Japan.



Training Begins (and bruises too)

by on Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

I did it. Despite my fears: 1. They’ll think I’m old. 2. I’ll be ridiculous. 3. It will hurt and I’ll be sore afterwards. 4. They’ll think I’m old. Despite my fears  (because I almost stayed home, something I know I would have regretted) I went to class and had a blast!

Okay, let me qualify my fears for you. Because in the end they turned out to be nothing of consequence. Fears usually are.

1. They’ll think I’m old : I am old, so what?

2. I’ll be ridiculous: I am actually able to laugh at myself. And I was ridiculous. I laughed a lot during that first class! The instructors thought I was pretty funny too, but they were nice and shared that they had some difficult times when they started out too.

3. It will hurt and I’ll be sore afterwards: I wasn’t as sore as I thought I’d be, even though the floor hit me really hard a couple times. I got scared after doing some sideways rolls because I pulled a muscle between my shoulder blades, but I didn’t cry, or complain about it like a girl. I did look forward to taking two advil when I got in the car after class though! The warm after burn that lets your body know you’ve done something physically challenging, was a welcome feeling the next day. It has been too long!

4. They’ll think I’m old: I’m not that old. I’m in great physical shape and I can do this. And I will. My fears stemmed from the fact that the majority of the guys in this particular class appear to be in their twenties. And they are super cute. What me flirting? No, not really, they are closer in age to my children for Pete’s sake. Do they think I’m old? Probably. Do I care? No. Did I tell you that I am not going quietly into those dark woods? Watch me. I will fight it every step of the way.

It feels great though. I’m learning Ukeme, and the stances, which I don’t know the names for yet. I’m learning how to take an attacker down (albeit slowly for now). They are interesting lesson in intention and receiving. They are lessons in redirecting energy and going with the flow. They are lessons for life in acceptance and redirection. All good. It’s all good. and for now I’m enjoying the warm feeling that my muscles have done something different that usual. And a few bruises from the floor.


by on Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

It began one day in February. My elliptical died. I called around and even visited a used work out equipment store. A used, or as they say, pre-owned elliptical machine goes for around $1200.00 for starters. If I wanted to I could spend as much as $4000.00. Ouch. So I made some calls to find someone who could repair my broken one. “One hundred to visit your home, and what kind of machine do you have? Oh. We actually don’t repair those any more. No one does.” My 1000 pound elliptical machine is now no more than a fancy laundry drying rack taking up way too much space in my basement living room.

And so began my mission to find a way to get more exercise for Mike and me both. A couple friends invited me to go to Hot Yoga with them. I thought about it…and thought, “I can stretch at home…and frequently do.” I don’t want to pay $20/class to sit in a steamy room with a bunch of fat middle aged women doing the lying down sleeping dog, or whatever. Not my thing, not to mention it’s too expensive.

I began reading about Martial Arts training on line. A character in my book knows Jujitsu sword fighting…it will come in handy when he is fighting off the 2 dozen bad guys at the end of book two in my trilogy. Then while I was visiting my local library a few weeks ago, I saw it. And the vision came to me in an all out electric kundalini shiver up and down my spine. A Martial arts Dojo that teaches weapons training right in my home town.

That…THAT! is what I want to do. I want to learn the art of fighting, the art of receiving an attack. I want to learn the art of the sword, jujitsu, ninjitsu, taijitsu. Bring it baby.

So, I did my research of course. The beautiful thing about the internet (which I can respect because I didn’t grow up with it on my smart phone…Oh, I still don’t have a smart phone) is that you can read about things and learn what it’s about before jumping in with both feet. I dragged unsuspecting  Mike with me on a Thursday night to check out this Dojo next to the library. He seemed to have a pretty good program of calisthenics and stretching before getting on to the half hour of real training. And an army of little minions who seemed to love calling the 45 year old white owner of the Dojo, Sensei. “Yes Sensei. Of course Sensei. As you wish Sensei.” Can you say, “Power tripping?”

Research continued. There weren’t many Dojo’s in the Madison area. One, an Aikido Dojo on the far East side, a real hike for me, and another downtown with a name that I couldn’t pronounce. The unpronounceable able one was only a few blocks from my daughter’s new apartment. Time to give that a go.

We discovered a group of people who meet three times a week and practice Jujitsu together; when they aren’t in Japan training with a real Sensei. On our first visit we watched three black belts and two green belted guys perform slow motion attacks and deflecting battles with each other, beginning with somersaults on the floor that made me dizzy just to watch. I later learned that the somersaults are called ukeme (sp?), to deflect an attack from the ground.

And so it began. Mike has predictably opted out. Too much moving around and somersaulting for him. But me? I’m in! I’m all in.


Beating Myself with a Stick

by on Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Mental note, be careful when criticizing students. Tell them how great their accomplishment is before talking about that mistake on page 2. Tell them that they have been working hard. Because they have.

These are the words I continually hope for. I continually strive for, and yet they are unattainable to me. No one important to me (ie. no one who’s opinion matters to me)  is able to tell me I’ve done well.

Why do I keep going back for more?? Is it because I know nothing else? My experience is so limited that I’ve never had someone compliment me for my work?

Well, I have been appreciated as a piano teacher. Today I’ve been debating taking more Saturday students and raising my rates again. It’s a teaching career and I can only punch through the ceiling of  limited income by charging more at this point. I can’t add hours to the day. It’s something I’m good at, people have told me so. I can make $30,000 for the rest of my life if I want to. I am established. I have a following. People recommend me. I put out a good product when my students do the work. I don’t ask too much. People like that.

Out of 45 students I have probably ten who don’t do the work and they make it miserable for me. On top of that, I have about ten new students; beginners. Teaching beginners is so boring for me unless they have a really fun personality, and ok, a few of my new students are engaging. So why am I doing all this evaluation today?

Because I want to do things. I want to be able to afford things. I am stuck in a situation where I have piqued at my job and can’t make any more without taking students on weekends again. And raising my rates, which I’ll be doing in the fall now anyway; I heard that my rates are “really really reasonable”, which tells me it is time for them to go up again. I’m stuck in a situation where I am waiting for rich relatives to pass on, I know that sounds horrible. But I’m almost 50 years old and I’m also waiting for my husband to turn around the debt that fell on us during the economic crash 5 years ago. We have nothing left  so all I have left is hope.

Hope that I can do something meaningful in my lifetime. Hope that I can eventually afford to fix the bathroom in the basement. Hope that I can move to a position where I enjoy every minute of every day. I know those kids who frustrate me are there for a reason. I don’t blame them for who they are. They are there to push me to the next level and put that desire in me to move on, to move forward, to dream.

And I do have a dream. I dream of being a writer. In fact, I do more that that. I spend as much time writing these days as I do at the piano teaching students. I have a learning curve to overcome. I have created twenty…20 files in my computer that have to do with my book. I have now written close to a million words, I imagine, maybe more. And that,  just in the last 8 months. I have a story to tell. I’ve been learning about the industry and have a plan. Why do I keep going back for more punishment then? Why do I keep asking Mike for help on my project when all he has to say is how bad it is?

Am I able to accept criticism? I don’t even know. I do know I need to believe that  what I’m doing is good. I need to believe that the work I’ve put into it is making a difference. I need to believe that  I can and will get better. I need to believe it because I need hope. I need it like I need air, and water. I need to know that there’s light at the end of the tunnel and I can make it there.

So why do I keep going back for more criticism from the man who hasn’t liked any of my writing (oh but he likes the idea, I can give him credit for that.) I keep going back because I keep hoping that he will like it. I have hope that perhaps someday he will tell me how brilliant the words on the page are. I have hope that  if he likes it someone else will, and then I can be free of this stuck existence of waiting for the next check to deposit so that I can pay the bills. I have to hope. I have to keep trying though the light at the end of the tunnel got further away today. Unreachable. Unattainable.