Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Family that Kicks Together, Sticks Together!

The other day, I told you all about how my 10 yo son, "Buddy" was returning to karate after a summer hiatus. I was worried he'd forget all his hard work leading up to this point, but we practiced a bit over the 2 months or so he was not actively taking classes. I also mentioned that my 18 yo daughter, "Sissy", was beginning classes this past Thursday for the first time. She's a newbie like I was at one time. She is young though and it is not as intimidating for her, so I wasn't worried about her.
Buddy's class started like always. And he remembered it all - including his kata. I was so proud of him. Sensei even had the other kids watch Buddy demonstrate a certain kick because he had executed it well. At the end of class, his regular teacher asked me if I had been working with him during his time off from class during the summer. I admitted, "Just a little...definitely not as much as I had hoped for." His teacher said, "It shows. Buddy did very well tonight." Yay for Buddy! I was so proud of him!!
Now as for my daughter, I am wondering if she will love martial arts as much as I do. I don't think she is obsessed the way I am, but I think she enjoyed it all the same. It was difficult to really see what and how she was doing as the beginners were taken to the other end of the dojo like always and I was just too engrossed in my own training to keep a close eye on her. I knew she was in good hands so I didn't make it a huge goal. She did reveal that she was sore the next day because she pulled a muscle she didn't know she had. Turned out the new class of beginners consisted of 7 teen to early 20's girls and one young mom. This is the first beginning class with those demographics since I've been a member of our school. And that is a good thing. After class, my daughter and I were guessing which of the 9 total will stick with it. I hate to be negative, but there are two who we don't think will continue. My daughter said from things she overheard them say, she thinks they joined to try to meet guys there. From the little bit I did see, they just didn't look all that "into it". But hey, you never know, they could fool us all and be the most dedicated students ever. And Although that was not my daughter's reason, I wonder how long she'll stick with it. I hope the bug catches her, but it's not looking good - as I was totally obsessed by that point in my journey. But then again, most people aren't like me - self proclaimed "Research Girl" who will throw herself into every little detail and read anything she can get her hands on. I guess only time will tell for all of the newbies...
As for my own class, only two people returned from last session's beginner's class (or at least only two showed Thursday night. Maybe some were on vacation or not able to attend for some other reason.) But that reinforces the typical beginner class - only two of twelve returning for the next session. I guess that just shows how we are all so different - Once I had finished my first session, I could not more have quit than voluntarily cut off my right arm!
Whene we finished our work out, Sensei wanted everyone to work on the kumites specific to what they needed for their next belt test, then to continue on with the highest kata they knew and needed work on. Here I was again - the only yellow belt amonst the class. Since we were an even number, but everyone else was matched up pretty closely with their own belt rank, one of our black belts said he'd work with me. I've never worked one-on-one with him before but he was an excellent teacher. He walked me through the kumites - first five - both sides - that's what I'll need for my orange belt test and then we did two katas - the first two Pal-Gwe katas. I felt I had a great first night back.
And now I have two people to practice with instead of just one...The family that kicks together, sticks together!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Good Intentions...

Due to school events at Buddy's school, my mother's poor health, and my own health, I missed the final 2 Thursday night karate classes of last session. Then we had a week off between the summer and falls sessions. Because of this, it has been almost three weeks since I attended a formal class and I have to tell you - I don't like the me that I've morphed into during that time. The obsession with karate is still there. But so is utter and total mental, emotional and physical exhaustion.

I planned on working out a lot during that time. Practicing a lot during that time. Studying the pranic breathing/healing book I told you about approximately a month ago. Planned on refreshing my son's memory of our Basic Kata # 1, the first five kumites and proper form and execution of the basics. My intentions were good. However strong the intentions, the flesh was WEAK, WEAK, WEAK!

I have just been so stressed over money, my parents' health, my kids, working, my messy house…do I really need to go on?...that my own health has been suffering because of it - both my mental health and my physical health. Most of the time, I can use the mental to get past the physical, but as the old joke says, in taking one day at a time, lately, several days have attacked me all at once. And I just couldn't pull my head out of my…well you know…and practice regularly no matter how bad I felt physically.

My life situation is not any better than it has been during the three weeks hiatus, but tomorrow night is the first class of our new fall session. And I am so excited because not only am I going back and getting back to a regular dose of martial arts, but my 18 year old daughter, Sissy, is going to start the beginning adult karate class. I am not holding my breath, but I am hoping she loves it as much as I do. Only thing is - our verbal sparring at home could take on a whole new life as physical sparring in the dojo! (I can just see the headlines in the National Examiner now, "Teen Opens Can of WhoopAss on Mom as Karate Class Watches"?)

Tonight I will go over Basic Kata #1 and kumites with Buddy again. As for myself, I will practice the other 3 katas I know myself and practice the first five kumites on both sides. I will practice some of the steps to pranic breathing and healing as well. I will clue my daughter in on protocol, but not on actual moves or techniques, as she should learn these from the senseis. I also need to prepare everything for class tomorrow. Make sure my gear bag is packed, my gi cleaned and pressed, my water bottle ready to fill.

Yep, it's been awhile. I can't wait!

Friday, August 22, 2008

If You Blog It...They Will Come...

Okay, I have a gripe. I've been blogging for about two months now and I try to post something new every 3 or 4 days (or so). I also try my best to at least have the main subject of my blog, no matter in how many tangents I go off, to be martial arts related.
It is getting tougher.
Since I am newer to martial arts, I don't have all these wise insights yet. (I know occasionally, something terribly profound comes out, but it's usually a fluke, but not always!)
Over at the Aikido & Judo blog, blogger Patrick Parker gives kudos to 3 other m.a. bloggers who have great blogs but haven't posted in awhile. I commented, telling him I thought that was a great idea. (Although these bloggers weren't major offenders like some I've seen on TopList. I actually believe some of them have decided to no longer blog for whatever reason.)
So, here's my gripe (and yes, also finally my point)...I joined TopList of Martial Arts Blogs when I started MAM in June. I was the last blog listed - number 96 at the time. Now I'm 101! And I blog regularly and I don't think the things I write are that boring or lame that I can't even beat out the bloggers who haven't posted since December of 2007!!!!
Hey, I'm not asking to be number one. Or even number twenty. I just want a respectable place amongst my blogging peers...peers that post more than once every 8 months! So, I emphatically beg you...RATE MY BLOG...PLEASE!!!!! (oh, yeah, and I hope you won't just rate it, but actually READ it sometimes as well!) Thanks!!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

MAM Stars in "Breaking Training"

I've mentioned how my school is based out of a local community center. In doing so, our format allows for 1 week breaks between sessions. This week is our current hiatus from formal training before the next session starts.

I unfortunately had to miss the last class of this session (last Thursday) due to illness. There was just no way to work through this one. I just felt awful, so technically, it will be a full two weeks between formal training for me. And I sure do miss the comraderie of my fellow students.

Just to give you a little background, long story short, I'm an only child and both my parents are in poor health. My mom, who is a dialysis patient to begin with, fell and broke her arm about 2 weeks ago and she is in a rehab center where they are helping to get her so she is able to get by with just one arm while the broken one heals. My dad helps me a lot by taking "Buddy" (my 10 yo son) to school for me since my hubby and I are at work. But he has a beater for a truck and can't afford something more reliable, and he has all kinds of serious health problems including a defibrillator implanted in his chest for his heart. That all worries me on his behalf. My hubby and I make decent money and we don't spend on any extras. We don't have expensive cars or a house, nothing like that, yet with gas prices and increased taxes, and health insurance costs, we are barely scraping by. Couple all this with the just normal stress of having a family, and it's no wonder I don't feel very good, huh?) But back to the subject at hand…

I have meant to practice the past few days since the last class I attended, but with all the stress I'm going through right now, I'm just not feeling all that great lately. The sick stomach feeling coupled with what I'm sure are stress headaches has really made it difficult to get myself moving without a formal class. I still do my practicing in the bathrooms at work and every so often I'll be walking down the hallway at home and launch into a jumping front snap kick. (But only with my right leg…still haven't gotten comfortable with the left yet.) But the substantial chunks of time spent sweating and really pushing myself have been pretty non-existent lately and I need to get back into that. Actually, I would probably end up feeling better if I did as it would release some of the stress and tension.

My other goal is to motivate my 10 year old son, who took a session long break this summer so he could go with my hubby to watch him play softball (hubby, not son). I want to work with him between now and when we go back on August 28th to remind him of where he was and refresh the kumites and kata in his mind. I think two girls passed by him and got their yellow belts this past session while he was out on his little break. I know it is not about the belt, but am still hoping that this might motivate him to apply himself a bit more this time around.

Just writing this post about it has made me want to get moving. I wish I was at home right now so I could act upon that surge of energy. So, tonight, by the light of the moon, I will be on the back patio doing my basics with my son. In refreshing his muscle memory, I will be doing the same for myself.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Aches and Pains and Bruises, Oh My!

I am superstitious. I am afraid to say the sentence I wanted to use as my opening sentence. But I'm going to try to be practical about it and just walk under the doggone ladder…

Nope, never mind…can't do it…too superstitious…can't bring myself to write it, so instead, I'll say "In life, pain is inevitable" (I don't know to whom I should credit that quote, but it was someone wise.)

Aches - ah yes. I've had my share of painful but non-threatening injuries in the short year I've been involved in martial arts. If you count shear pain from punishing muscles you didn’t' know existed in the warm-up/work out before class, then I could be called a veteran. One of our senseis is known for her killer ab exercises. We all cringe when she tells us she's all excited about a new ab video she received the week prior to class. (We actually considered trying to bribe her UPS man into not delivering any packages that look to be the size of a VHS tape or DVD.) And I still talk about the time, not that long ago, that we did 3 sets of ten deep knee bends. No big deal, right? That's what I thought too. On the last ten, we sprang up to jumping from the lowest knee position. OUCH! And the soreness I had right after those 30 deep knee bends was cake compared to how the thigh muscles directly above my knee felt for the next two days. It was excruciating. Truly painful. That was the day before July 4th. I know this because we went to our community center to watch fireworks and could not get a parking spot close to where we were going to sit with friends. So, we did the stairs. Heading back to the car, I dreaded going back up the steps, but figured if I held onto the hand rail and went up very slowly, one shaky leg at a time, I'd get to the top before my son had to be back at school in August. When I reached about the 3rd step from the top, I came face-to-face with two girls younger than me (trust me…it matters) carrying a cooler the size of a footlocker. As they stared me down, they shifted the weight of the cooler, waiting for me to move over. I glared right back. I wasn’t budging from that handrail. If life had a soundtrack, "High Plains Drifter" would have been the background music for that moment. I finally shot them a pitiful, pleading glare, looking for an ounce of sympathy for my situation. And it worked - either out of sheer pity or utter frustration on their part, the two girls relented. They moved over and lugged the big, heavy box down the middle of the stairs. Ah, victory. I finally made it to the top of the steps and then realized I had to walk another quarter of a mile to the car.

So, that was the aches. Now the pains from actual injuries. If you read the blog when I first started, I talked about "Walking the Gauntlet" in the post where I admitted that sparring intimidated me. I don’t think I mentioned that I was hit twice that night. Both were accidents, of course. The first, a roundhouse to one of my "girls". Dead center and hard. The person knew he had made contact, but had no idea as to where. He asked if I was okay. I said yes in the female equivalent of a guy's high pitched voice after being kicked in the groin. I turned away for a second and regained my composure. Like the deodorant ads always say, "Never let them see you sweat." (Well, they see me sweat a lot, but I was determined I was not going to let this get me down.) I have a pretty high pain threshold and I did okay. When it was my turn to walk the gauntlet, I was headed down the "aisle" of attackers on both sides, when all of a sudden, I saw a white light and some stars and a couple of those cute little canaries circling around my head. All joking aside, I saw a flash of white and realized that an overzealous teen student known for his impulsiveness had accidentally punched me in the nose. He apologized and then went on to anxiously lie-in-wait for his next victim. Nobody seemed to notice, and I brought no blood back on my hand when I checked my nostrils, so I just "shook it off" and "laughed it off". I was okay after being punched in the nose, hard, by a guy about a foot taller than me, or more (again, trust me - it matters).

Take it from me - If you own shin guards, wear them! If you do not own shin guards, GET THEM! I had not used shin guards for the first few times I sparred. Then when Sensei placed an order, I decided to get a pair upon the recommendation of, well, EVERYONE. I received them when the order came in, but we were not sparring that night so didn't need them. About 2 weeks later, we had a few minutes left over of class and it was decided we would do some "light sparring" for the last few minutes.

"Oh, I don't need my shin guards for that little bit of time."

Famous last words. We started sparring with one person. The first person kicked me in the right shin. No biggie. I mean, it was not pleasant, but it was not all that painful. I did make a mental note to wear my shin guards next time we sparred regardless. After a few minutes, we were to move on to another sparring partner. I moved on to "Rose". Rose proceeded to wail on me. Not really. Just kidding - because I know she reads my blog! LOL! But she did kick me in the exact same spot as the previous sparring partner had - right shin. Okay, after I got up off the floor from the impact, crying and…just kidding again…time was pretty much up for the evening. Thank goodness, huh? As a result, my shin was not bruised the next day or even the next few days. But about 4 days later, a dark purple spot started to form. Over the course of the next 7 days or so, it spread like red Kool-Aid on a quicker-picker-upper. Just the slightest touch made me painfully aware of its presence. I even temporarily stopped indulging in what I'm told is a bad habit - crossing my legs. There is still a strange little knot on my shinbone there. But at least it doesn’t hurt anymore.

As that painful purple stain faded to yellow and then faded away altogether, a new one was born on my upper arm almost to the shoulder. In our pressure point / joint locks class on Tuesday nights, a partner and I were practicing trying to get out of a chokehold from the ground. Well, we started experimenting out of curiosity, "Well, what would happen if we did this instead?" The other responded, "I don't know. Let's try it." And we did. And I went over and all was well. Then we were curious what the other teams had come up with. We watched as another team worked out different solutions to the same problem. We asked if what we had been experimenting with would work. We tried to describe the movements in words, but we just couldn't articulate the fine points which made our way different from what the other couple was doing. We said we'd just show them. Well, with the whole class watching, my partner and I went through all the motions except we didn't stop short of her throwing me. I went right on over and landed on my left upper arm. For a split second, I thought it was broken. Then the pain eased up and became a deep ache in my upper arm. On the drive home, it still hurt, but nothing like upon impact. A week later and two days later (today), it is about the greenish tint of "Old Greg" (search YouTube if you don't know who "Old Greg" is, and have a Bailey's on me) and it hurts to sleep on my left side. But it gets less and less painful each day.

But you want to know the funny thing? It's weird, but I kind of wear my bruises like badges of honor. (Probably more like a blotches of stupidity, but I prefer the honor thing, if it's all the same to you.)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Quest for Balance - Another Update...

Well, I have to be honest with you, things are so crazy in my life right now, I haven't been formally following the Four Corner Balance Drills as recommended by Coach Scott Sonnon. He recommended practicing these drills - the only balance drills you'll ever need - every day for 10-15 minutes for 1-3 months, then moving on to the next level. I started this quest for balance probably about a month ago or so. My balance seemed to improve almost immediately. Not drastically, mind you, but immediately. Even though I have not been following his recommendations to the letter, I have been trying to fit the drills into my life while just standing around in what would otherwise be wasted time.

Our sensei showed us another drill. Let me see if I can get this right - on one leg, first, knee to chest, then, knee bent behind you holding your ankle / foot, then straight out in front, straight out in back, straight out to side as if excecuting a side snap kick in full extension. I think that is it. If not, very close anyway. Anyway, at home, I can actually do this and hold each pose for a second or two but put me in the class, and there I go again - I can't balance for the life of me.

When it comes to my balance, I believe I need to shift my focus to my focus…

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Yellow Belt Test!

When I started this blog, my original intent was to start at the beginning and chronologically trace my journey in martial arts as it unfolded. And that is still my intent, but because I had a year under my belt (sorry, there I go again with the puns), I purposely kind of went into more of a "theme post" each time rather than using a timeline - mostly because with many of the events being over a year old, I don't remember exactly in which order things occurred. So, after laying the groundwork about my martial arts beginnings, I started picking a subject on which to post each time and recounted my beginner's perspective and my current perspective as well.

I have not posted the details of testing for my yellow belt yet. I wanted to wait a little while before I did that. Get a few more posts in first. And now that I've been blogging for a couple of months, I think it is time to relive one of my proudest moments, not just in a martial arts context, but in the context of my life.

Other than nerves, I felt ready to test for my yellow belt for about 2 months prior to when the senseis asked me if I was prepared to test the following Thursday. I was hoping someone from a class starting after mine would catch up to me so I'd have someone at the same rank with which to train / practice. That was not meant to be. Therefore, nobody else is "where I am" in my journey. (Remember this is not your typical dojo - it the oldest non-profit martial arts organization in St. Louis. Our classes take place in the gym of a community center and we only meet twice per week, but one of those days is exclusively for sparring or other specialized classes depending on the session.) In some ways, it is an advantage being the only person of your rank because you get more one-on-one training from the senseis on things the higher ranking students already know, but the white belts are not yet required to know. Other times, it would be nice to have someone at exactly the same place in their journey with which to practice / train. (Or as BBM said, "a partner in crime".)

During the six days between being asked to test and when I actually tested, I practiced more than usual. I was not that worried about my katas, but I practiced them fervently anyway. I also did many kicks - not my strongest area, but except for the inside-out crescent kick - not my worst either. (Did I mention that those inside-out crescent kicks are not my favorite kick? I'm sure I did - I think I used the words "bane of my existence" to be exact.) For six days, I did walking head blocks, walking leg blocks, walking chest blocks, walking punches, walking reverse punches and even walking and chewing gum at the same time. (No, Silly -not really!)

Thursday to Thursday flew by. My yellow belt test was all I could think about during that entire week. The day of the test, I was nervous. I really did not know what to expect. I felt good about katas Basic # 1 and Fukyugata Ichi. I knew Fukyugata Ni, but there is one tricky little part that had me a bit worried, although not overly so.

I felt I had the first five kumites down pretty well too. Testing for yellow belt only requires you to be able to demonstrate them on one side. (Orange belt test includes performing the first five kumites on both sides.)

I was confident in my walking executions as listed a few paragraphs back. I was hoping that maybe, just maybe, the inside-out crescent kick would not be one of the kicks tested. It was. Oh, boy, was it indeed! (More on that later in this post.)

We did our usual warm-up / workout. Then, the rest of the class went on to study kata I think it was. The two senseis and I went to the other end of the large gym we call our dojo. They had notebooks and clipboards and set up two chairs directly in front of where I was at a ready stance. I was bowed in and my first belt ranking test began. I had been worried about focusing on my test with the entire class behind me, but no offense to them, but they just faded away for the duration.

One sensei asked me to do a walking head block. I did three, turned around, did three more and turned one more time back to where I had begun, in ready stance. They alternated back and forth asking me to do various basics in this format, as well as a few basic stationary kicks that did NOT include the inside-out crescent kick. I thought to myself, "Hey, this isn't so nerve-wrecking. I have this under control."

Then the other shoe dropped. (Although I was barefoot.) They asked me to execute some familiar techniques in an unfamiliar format - moving during execution. For example, I think the first was a straight jab. In class, we had always practiced it standing in place, with the most movement being the occasional lifting of the heel on the opposite foot to get more distance on the punch. But this time, they wanted me to actually walk with it. So, I shot them a quizzical look. They said, "Just do what you think is right." So, I did it in the manner I figured was correct. I was apparently right because they shook their heads in approval. A walking head block, leg block, punch combo followed. I had done each of these separately, but never in combination. I hesitated as I tried this, but didn't fail too miserably. They threw all these combinations at me that I'd never done before. Turns out they just wanted to see how I'd handle it. And then it was upon me. The moment I had dreaded - only worse. Much worse. They wanted me to execute a MOVING inside-out crescent kick. HUH???? I swear my stomach dropped to about my knees. The panic set in. This time, I shot them a kind of "You've-Got-to-be-Kidding" look. I had no idea where to start with that one. I could barely do an inside-out crescent kick standing in place, let alone advancing while doing it! I know I had to look like Blue Collar Comedy's Ron White trying to get on a horse without dropping his shot glass. The class that had melted away…well they were back and I was fully aware of them again. I didn't hear them laugh, but I wouldn't have blamed them if they had. I seriously don't know how the two senseis kept a straight face. I was mortified. I really was. Still am.

We moved on to the kata portion of the test. And it was just in time, too, because I needed something to restore my dignity. I felt I did very well on that portion of the test.

I was asked to do the five kumites with one of the senseis acting as my uke. I had practiced them to the point that I knew them backward and forward. On the first and the last ones, Sensei asked me if I wanted to re-do them. I said yes and I thought I didn't make actual contact with her on the punch so I actually touched her on the second try.

I did well on the history of our dojo and the senseis. I explained that I had done research on our school via the internet and that the website was very old and outdated and that if someone would give me permission and feed me the information, I'd love to keep it updated. They looked pleased and said they'd mention it to the other sensei, who would be the person to make a decision such as this.

When they were satisfied that they had gotten a true representation of my knowledge and skills, they instructed me to relax until they discussed my test results. I watched the class as they worked on kata. The two senseis compared notes and quietly discussed my test. After what seemed like an eternity, they called me back and told me my basics were pretty good but that I should work on the "reach" of my kicks. I felt a little better when they told me they threw those combinations and formats I did not know to see how my thought process worked in that department. I also had completely forgotten the last punch in the first and last kumites…even after being given the chance to correct myself. It was one of those moments when you realize your nerves must have gotten the better of you because you do know it. I hate that feeling. Whatever the case, I guess I did more right than wrong because I did pass. My sensei told me that when you pass a test for a belt, you are given the belt and you earn it as you wear it. (Her words were much more eloquent, but my excitement prevented me from remembering the exact phrasing, but I understood her meaning very clearly.) I was sent back to class, where they were partnering up and I joined in with two other women because there was an uneven number of students that night. I got hugs from the girls and pats on the back from the guys and words of congratulations from both.

At the end of class, as we lined up to bow out, Sensei announced that I had passed my test and that I would be presented my yellow belt in two weeks when I returned from vacation. Everyone clapped and I felt great.

Two weeks later, I was back from my camping trip and I was actually nervous about my belt ceremony. But as soon as I arrived to class, the nervousness dissipated. We bowed in at the beginning of class. Our three senseis were standing at the front of the class. They announced my rank promotion and I approached them, untied and dropped my white belt, and tied the new yellow one around my waist. (And of course a karate belt is not the easiest thing to tie anyway, let alone with everyone's eyes on you, but Sensei kind of laughed about that to me so it lightened the moment.) I then shook each of the sensei's hands and bowed to them. Luckily, right before class, I was told that tradition is to walk backward back to your spot in line rather than turning your back to the senseis.) Normally, I am up in the front row, but I was all the way in back that night so had to make my way backward all that way, looking like a DVD in rewind mode.) Then, class went on as usual. Sometimes I look down and see that yellow belt and know that I have a long journey ahead of me, but I can't imagine feeling any more proud of myself than I did in passing my first belt test. Next goal: improve enough to feel justified in wearing that yellow belt and work toward my next one - orange.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Loyalty and Must See TV...

Webster's II New Revised Dictionary defines "Loyal" as: "Faithful to a person, ideal or cause."

I didn't need to look that definition up in the dictionary to know what "loyalty" means. Matter of fact, if someone - anyone who knows me - were asked to describe me in only a few words, I'm pretty sure the word "loyal" would be one of them. At least I hope it would be. Okay, let's be honest - if I were asked to describe myself in only a few words, "loyal" would probably be the first one I used.

My husband and I have been together since we were 14 and 15 years old. When we ran with our rotating crowd of friends as teenagers, a few of the guys told me, in confidence, that if my then boyfriend and I ever broke up, they'd like to go out with me. Well, flattering as it was, I was loyal to my then boyfriend/fiancé. And despite my sparkling personality (no, really) and modesty (seriously) and good looks (okay, I just blew my credibility with that one, didn't I?), I would bet one of the main attractions for them was my unfailing loyalty. I mean, who doesn't want a partner we absolutely know we can trust no matter what?

Well, this loyalty is a virtuous character trait to possess alright. It is even more advantageous for the recipient of that allegiance.

Case in point: My 10 yo son's school has just finished being renovated. Next Thursday (yes, Karate class night) at 6:30 pm (yes, Karate class time), there is an Open House celebrating the completion of the renovation. It's going to be a big deal - the mayor and the media will be on hand for the festivities. There will even be refreshments served! Parents will also get to meet the person who will shape their children's minds every day for the next 9 months or so (depending on snow days used). Yes, it's Meet the Teacher Night as well. Oh, did I forget to mention that I am a member of the board of my son's school's PTA? Well, I am. A LOYAL member at that. Despite the fact that I will do almost anything to avoid missing a night of karate, I, like all the other parents, PTA members, school staff, students, etc., have been anxiously awaiting the reopening of the newly renovated building. Not to mention, with this being the big deal that it is, we will need lots of helpers and you know how difficult it can be to recruit parents as volunteers. So, I really do WANT to be there and I really do NEED to be there, but I do have loyalties to others as well… You can see where this is going, can't you?

As I said, I try my level best not to miss a karate class. Not just because of my dedication to our martial arts school, but for my own sanity. Tuesday and Thursday Nights are MY night. The nights when I am LOYAL to myself. And in doing so, by extension, I am loyal to my martial arts school as well.

A few posts ago, I wrote about helping with the children's classes. And most of the time, I am not asked if I will help. I am the one doing the asking - asking if the instructor would allow me to help. But last night one of the teachers asked another woman and me if we'd help next week with the intermediate kids' class. I was so honored to be asked. I didn't even remember my commitment to my son's elementary school Open House. When I remembered after I got home last night, I was torn. I really want to help. If it were any other situation, I would have rescheduled my other event but in this case, I made the commitment months ago and can't very well cancel the Open House or have another chance to meet my son's teacher before the chaos of the school year begins. So I will be honoring my commitment to my son's school this time. And I'm sure the other woman will help and there will be someone else to help. But I wanted it to be me.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are my karate nights. My ladies' group meetings at church are on Tuesday nights. My PTA meetings are on Tuesday nights. American Idol is on Tuesday nights. A Qi Gong class I wanted to take was on Thursday nights. My son's school events always fall on Thursday nights for some reason. And then there's "MUST SEE TV" (yes, even though Friends went off the air years ago, "MUST SEE TV" still exists on Thursday nights.) It's not all on NBC though anymore. You got Big Brother, CSI, Grey's Anatomy, ER…all airing on Thursday nights! In venting to someone about this Tuesday / Thursday event phenomenon recently, the person cited a news program or newspaper article, stating that when trying to get people to attend events, having them on a Tuesday or Thursday improves your chances for higher attendance. No wonder I get so many conflicts on my calendar on Tuesdays and Thursdays! The system is working against me!

All I have to say is, "Gimme a break, world - I wouldn't have to divide my loyalties if you scheduled things on Mondays, Wednesdays, or Fridays…and besides, there's nothing good on TV on those nights!"