A Dream Is…

It was about this time last year that my son and I had earned our high brown belts. High brown was the last belt before testing in to the dreaded “prep cycle.” Prep cycle is the term we use for the three months a person has to prepare for their black belt test. Three months of exhaustion. insane workouts. mental and physical strain. hell. I had heard the stories of the experiences of black belts past. I didn’t care. I had no doubt in my mind that earning my black belt in tae kwon do was my dream.

It felt as if I had said that no less than one thousand times. So often that the word had begun to lose meaning for me. So, as the ever-curious person would do, I looked it up in the dictionary (.com).

I read the first definition of “dream,”

a cherished aspiration, ambition, or ideal.

and I was comforted because that was exactly how I viewed earning my black belt. An ambition. An ideal. Cherished. But then, I continued to read and discovered it also meant,

an unrealistic or self-deluding fantasy.

Crap. That wasn’t what I meant when I said the word “dream”! I meant in the best possible way! Something I would do! Accomplish! All of the amazing things the the first definition inferred. I was indignant, as if the dictionary (.com) people had written that definition directed just TO ME! I would prove them wrong, they would see!

As I sat there, I told myself I knew exactly how I would prove them wrong. I would… I would… ummmm… wait, how exactly would I prove the dictionary (.com) people wrong?

That is when I realized in order to achieve my dream, I needed to stop thinking of it as a dream. If I continued to use the word “dream,” I would have allowed the smallest percent of my thoughts to wonder if earning my black belt as unrealistic. I had to switch my mindset from “earning my black belt is my dream” to “earning my black belt will be a reality.” Without the switch, I was leaving the achievement of earning my black belt to chance. With the switch, it would then be a goal and I would need a plan to achieve it.She turned her can'ts into cans, and her dreams into plans

So, I sat there. I wrote down my plans, which turned into a practice schedule. I knew the test into “prep cycle” was 4 months away and that I knew I had to know my curriculum at a minimum of 90% proficiency. I knew I needed to build my stamina, endurance and mental fortitude. I knew I needed to practice it all. My written practice schedule worked on all of it.

Before I knew it, four months passed and I had worked hard so I could prove it to myself that I felt confident in my knowledge of the curriculum, and of my desire pass the prep cycle test. Was I nervous. Uh, hell, YES. Was I prepared? Did I pass? That is for next time…

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This evening, I am focused on the black belt characteristic of courtesy, because lately I have seen incredible displays of it and also a complete lack of it. Courtesy is one of those beautiful qualities that I think is the hardest to learn and maintain daily, but when it is done consistently, it is beautiful. Here is to its beauty…

courtesy

An (Unintentional) Taste for Irony…

1, 241 days. Otherwise known as 3 years, 4 months and 22 days.

Or, how long it has been since I started this blogging adventure.

When I started blogging, I never knew it would be this difficult. When I started this blog, I felt like I always had something to say. However, to ensure I had plenty to speak of and about, I decided to be “smart” and not only blog about my karate experience, but also parenting and life. Hence, the “…and Beyond” added to the end of “To Black Belt…” in the title. I am also a huge fan of the Toy Story movies. I thought I was being “cute” in addition to “smart.”

In all actuality, I was naive on how difficult blogging is. Yes, simply spouting off an opinion is easy. That wasn’t why I wanted to blog. I wanted to tell a story that might just connect with someone. A story that resounds with someone. A story that says, “If you want to do something, you can. I know it because I did. It sucked and hurt, but it was so worth it.”

Because I did and it was. It still is. That is an adventure I have every intention of telling, because it is a good story. It may take me a bit to tell it in ingestible chucks, but I promise I will.

First, let’s rewind a bit further back. To 1,241 days ago. The day I named this blog, and thought I was being “smart” and “cute” by adding the “…and Beyond” to the title. Come to find out, dear audience, I was unknowingly being ironic. Dramatically ironic, because I never knew where the “…and Beyond” would lead me.

Irony is Easyphoto credit: Irony via photo pin (license)

I am on the path to finding out. I promise to share that too, and in the meantime, I beg you humor me with a bit of patience while I wind my way there, and expand my understanding of what my “…and Beyond” will become.

Until then, I leave you with a the black belt characteristic of indomitable spirit, because it is my favorite. It is also the black belt characteristic that I hope I can maintain the most in all that I encounter.

indomitable spirit

XO to you all. ~Jess

 

And I am BACK!

Hello Friends,

My apologies for my absence… I have been a bit busy with life, etc…

And rather than type for days about what has happened, I thought I would just do this instead:

It’s a slide show video of my progress from white belt to now. Check it out!

Also I am pleased to say that not only will I be blogging LOTS more about the next part of my journey to black belt and beyond, but guess who else started tae kwon do? Yep, Big Ben and Chloe! Don’t worry, there are pics to come (I promise)!

Thanks all for hanging tight and begin patient with me… I really appreciate it!

XO,

Jess

From Pastime to Passion…

Perfect practice make perfect...

Perfect practice make perfect…

photo credit: Iguanasan via photopin cc

We started because it seemed like it would be a fun activity. And it was.

We continued because we realized we really enjoyed learning how to execute different kinds of punches and kicks. We continued because we liked learning how to put all the punches and kicks together in a form. We continued because we met amazing people who showed us that pushing ourselves farther than we thought we could would result in the ability to say, “I have a black belt.”

We continued through adversity, knock-downs, injuries, the message of the month (ugh), testing nerves, and epic fails. We continued even though we watched friends (sadly) drop away. We continued even when we were warned that most people quit during the brown belt sequence, because it gets considerably “less fun.” We continued because we could not imagine that it could ever get “less fun” when you were so close to the goal.

Well, here we are. In the brown belt sequence. So close to the goal.

Guess what? It’s decidedly, “less fun.”

Does that mean we are quitting? The answer is a resounding, “no.” Here is the reason: for us, tae kwon do has grown from a pastime that we enjoyed doing a few times a week, to a passion. A passion that we cannot imagine our lives without. A passion that will require serious bodily damage before the word, “quit” will enter our vernacular. And only because a doctor tells us we have to.

Okay, that sounds crazy. Let me say this… “Yes, it is crazy.” One hundred percent. Unfortunately, our pastime became our passion when we weren’t looking. And when a pastime becomes a passion, the “crazy” becomes “whatever it takes to reach our goal.”

What will it take for us to reach our goal? Attending at least two curriculum classes a week. And at least one sparring class. And one leadership class. Oh, and now that we are brown-red belts, we also are expected to help our instructors two classes a week. All, in addition, to the voluntary review class we have every Sunday morning for two hours.

That also doesn’t include the practice at home.

Our at home practice schedule for the best month...

Our at home practice schedule for the next month…

That also is the tip of the iceberg. In six months, we test to get into prep cycle. Prep cycle is the three months prior to earning your black belt, and it is all the things listed above in addition to meeting every Friday night and Saturday day. All day.

You are thinking we are crazy.

We are.

Crazy in love this damn sport.

So friends and loved ones, please be patient with us while we are “absent.” I promise we will be back… stronger, happier, and with our goal proudly displayed around our waists…

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Today’s black belt characteristic I would like to display is perseverance because today, we got to watch so many students earn their next belts at the 5280 Karate Academy belt graduation. I saw students who got lost in a form, but keep on going, anyway. I saw students push themselves and do more push-ups than they have ever done before. I saw students support each other by cheering their fellow students on with, “You can do this.” And they did. It was a good day…

perseverance

Oh, My Bad-For-Me, Hallucination-Inducing Friend… I Miss You…

This isn’t a really lucid post. It is a drug induced post.

Yes, I live in Colorado. No, I am not currently smoking pot. My drug of choice for the evening? NyQuil.

But it definitely wasn’t my first choice. (For my close friends out there, just for your information, pot wasn’t either. Smartasses.)

The reason for the meds? I have been hit with a bout of bronchitis. It has been at least nine years since my last bout – which happened to coincide with my departure from working the bar scene. I truly thought with the dry Colorado climate and my absence from the smoke-filled working environment, I would be exempt from the illness that would consistently hit me every year.

Last night, my old friend bronchitis showed up to inform me that I was wrong. Thanks.

So this morning, I woke up groggy, sick and exhausted realizing that I am in the midst of my son’s holiday break and I was still expected to keep two children from killing each other or destroying my house. Mama was going to need a little help.

I remembered back to my bartending days and immediately began searching for my old standby when it came to relieving the symptoms of bronchitis. The was ridiculously strong (so much so that one pill would eliminate my symptoms for 48 hours AND it would give me a rush better than ephedra ever could have), It had ridiculously scary side effects (a chance of stroke, in women? Nah, I am not scared… bring on the meds, Baby), the box was black and yellow (like damned Caution tape, seriously), and it helped me get through my shifts as a bartender where I would deal with people crying and/or screaming, throwing up, throwing beverages, and individuals being truly horrible human beings (you know, just like being a mom of two kids home during a school break). My old standby would be perfect to get me through the day.

See, I told you... like freakin'  CAUTION tape...

See, I told you… like freakin’ CAUTION tape…

I did a quick Google search and immediately found multiple results for my beloved Triaminicin. I clicked on the first link, and I was quickly alerted to the fact that my old, trusty, made-me-cracked-out-of-my-head, delusion inducing friend was….. DISCONTINUED!

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

I was bereft with grief. I had to take a moment to mourn my beautiful, dangerous, bad-influencing, old friend. A moment of silence was had. That is, until my kids started threatening to break each other’s favorite toys in fits of rage and maliciousness.

I had to deal with it all without falling into fits of laughter because my old friend Triaminicin was not there to make my heart race or throw me into hallucinatory fits when the purple crayon come to life and write on the walls, all by themselves.

Alright NyQuil, you have big shoes to fill. Give it your best shot…

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Today’s black belt characteristic that I would like to discuss is indomitable spirit. I had a reason why, but I seriously cannot remember it. Ummmm, if you figure it out, let me know…

indomitable spirit

The Year In Review? Yeah, I Don’t Think So…

Every December 31st, it feels like every single television and radio station airs some sort of montage celebrating the past year’s happenings, gossip, music and/or celebrity deaths.

I hate them.

Seriously.

I hate them because I am always shown the horrible, catastrophic, and life-altering events of the previous year via images of those affected by those events. There are tears, shock, and desolation of the faces of innocent people. Basically, it is a three minute montage of human suffering that always results in the realization that my life is pretty damn sweet, and that my face is covered in tears like I had just chopped two bushels of onions.

It’s ridiculous. I hate looking back. Moving forward is my specialty.

That is why I am NOT going to do a year-in-review post here. Nope. No way. Uh-huh. (The lack of year-in-review post might also be due to the fact that I am quite positive I cannot remember the majority of 2013. It went by much too fast. Honestly, it was such an insanely busy year that it feels like the last 365 days were lumped together like a recently discovered species of amoeba – the It-Went-By-Much-Too-Fast-and-Furious species. Maybe.)

Rather than trying to re-hash fuzzy details, I would much rather move forward and talk about 2014.

Ahhhh, the promise of the new year. The new possibilities, friendships, accomplishments and discoveries are endless. I am sickeningly optimistic about the new year, and here is why…

1522084_735561466454834_1287282936_n

Precisely.

I have decided 2014 is the year of living dangerously. This is the year that I am going to push myself farther than I ever dreamed. To live without fear and with my goals in my crosshairs.

First item in my crosshairs? I am participating in the Ultimate Blogging Challenge where I have to post 31 blog posts in the 31 days of January. This is going to seriously flex my writing “muscle,” since the majority of 2013 was spent away from this space. I love it here, and I miss it desperately. I miss reading, commenting and participating in the blogging community. I am truly hoping this blog challenge will help me find more bloggers to add to my community; bloggers to learn from, read about, and share with.

Second item in my crosshairs? With any luck (and ALOT of perseverance), 2014 will be the year that Ben and I earn our black belts. The road is going to be long, arduous, and exhausting. We will have to give every ounce of strength (mentally and physically) to get to that goal. We will do it. I cannot wait – to both document the path and to celebrate the accomplishment.

The third item in my crosshairs? Life, in general. I am going to laugh more, dedicate more quality time to my friends and family that I love, and just enjoy more moments, as they occur. Less stress. More fun.

Bring it on, Life, here I come…

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Today, I am dedicating this post to the black belt characteristic of perseverance, because in 2014, I am going to need it. A lot of it. Wish me luck…

perseverance