Karate. Family. Karate Family.

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Tying my black belt on for the first time.

I preface this entry with the commitment that I will be back training in November.  Due to my husband’s extremely hectic soccer coaching schedule and the multiple activities my children are currently involved in, as well as a house that is on the market, this Fall has challenged me more than ever.  It feels darn near impossible to get to the karate school at 7:30 in the evening, to be honest.

I decided to write today because I really wanted to go to class tonight, but had about four other places (both mentally and physically) that I needed to be for my family, which is just how life is right now — and that is okay.  I accept it.  I have continued with kickboxing, have managed to run about two to three times a week, and signed up for two 5Ks this Fall to hold myself accountable.

I earned my yellow belt in Combat Hapkido in July and started to learn a black belt Tae Kwon Do form, but have not been able progress beyond that.  I miss the ritual of karate training; I miss the consistent, scheduled exercise; but most of all I miss my karate family – especially my training partner, M____.  When M____ and I began training together, she was a high school student and I was a thirty-something mother of two with a full-time job.  What is incredible is that these labels did not have bearing on how M____ and I worked together, challenged each other, and eventually came to care for one another.  We have seen each other through multiple injuries, terrible days, amazing days, family struggles, frustration, joy, grief, and everything in between.  She has seen me exhausted having given every fiber of my being to a belt test and she has observed the euphoria on my face when I first held my black belt.  These are the ups and downs of the closest of human connections. The bond we have formed through years of practice and the twelve weeks of intensive training for our black belts is rock solid…and I miss her.  I want to continue on my karate journey with M____, but I also know that she has her whole bright young life ahead of her.  I need to make sure she knows that I will respect her decision to either keep going or take a break from martial arts, and that we will always be a part of each other’s lives, no matter where we go from here.

As the weeks go by and I struggle to find time for myself, it is easier and more convenient to take the afternoon kickboxing class while my son is in his karate class.  I use the time before and after the Saturday class that I teach to practice my karate forms and basics, and I am trying to stay limber.

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This summer I challenged myself to reach my potential with a high roundhouse kick and the above photo reminds me of that particular brand of self-respect.  You need to accept yourself, but not sell yourself short; be kind to yourself, but do not make excuses.  There is always time to work on bettering yourself in the moment, yet sometimes you have to be scrappy and piece it all together. It may not be pretty, but it is better than feeling incomplete.

As I sign-off and return to my children to sign permission slips, spellcheck homework, clean-up dinner dishes, fold laundry, and make sure everyone is scrubbed up and tucked in bed, my thoughts are drifting to the other working parents out there trying to keep their souls fed while giving the wellspring of their energies to others:

Let’s hold each other accountable to take care of ourselves, as well.

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