Our Best Selves

“I’ve been lately thinking about my life’s time”; from John Denver’s Poems Prayers and Promises is one of, if not my favorite line from a song. It seems I’ve been doing a lot of that lately and today even more so as I’m supposed to be writing a few words for a youth black belt graduation.

Much has happened, in these past weeks, in my life and at my school. Which is probably why I’ve been erratic with my posts. Personally I’ve been preparing for a half marathon, and traveling west to visit family and to attend my nephew’s wedding. There’s also been a lot at the school; belt testing, including youth black belt, preparing the school for my absence, and the usual day-to-day activities of a martial art school. However the greatest impact has been the loss of too many people I’ve known either personally or through my school.

I realize that we are closing in on the end of a decade and typically these are transitional periods. Which makes me reflect deeper, not just about the lives we’ve lost, but what am I supposed to be learning? Is it just to appreciate more (stop and smell the roses) or does it go deeper? Am I supposed to be contributing more? Leading an exemplary life?

I take teaching others seriously–Martial arts instruction is more than physical. I’m hoping to relay that tonight in my words to the people attending the graduation, but more than that, I need to help people to realize that the most important thing we can do or teach is to be our best selves…

“The days they pass so quickly now.” Hopefully we can find the time to talk of “Poems, Prayers and Promises”OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor my old classmate Tricia, for the EBMA parent Michael, and for my friend Ron, til we meet again.

Run on,

Gin

Flexibility…

Each week at my martial art studio we have a physical focus and a mental focus. This week’s lessons happened to be the same thing; flexibility…

Being flexible in all areas of our lives is important. Physically it will allow us to move with more ease, and lessen our chances of injury. In martial arts, especially arts like Tae Kwon Do that focus on kicking, it is important to stretch regularly to improve and maintain flexible hips and legs.

With that said we all need to spend more time warming up before workouts and having a good cool down stretch post work out. I know as a runner (sloggers need to stretch) I’m often pressed for time before and after my run and don’t always stretch the way I should. However this particular post has more to do with the mental aspect of flexibility. If you have a question about stretching, feel free to ask and I will direct you to resources.

On to the point; being more flexible in a me first have it now society is becoming more and more difficult — No one wants to bend or give way to someone else or different idea. Me, Mine, Me… Is today’s mantra — My Way used to be a song by Sinatra it is now an anthem for today’s society.

So when things or people push don’t resist, let it flow past you, like water… Bruce Lee said,”Be like water my friend.” He was right. Not resisting doesn’t make us weak, it keeps us sane. Water is very powerful, check out the Grand Canyon. Also know that everyone is not following the same agenda — We’re all in the middle of something. So the next time your appointment has been rescheduled or your flight has been delayed. Take a breath and do some light stretching and take time to be more flexible, you’ll be happier and healthier for it…

Run on,

G

In The Gap…

On one of my more recent runs before I went on a weekend running getaway – I thought about the importance of being in or creating Gaps. First let me explain especially if you’re a new follower or don’t know that I’m a martial art school owner and master teacher. Gap in the martial arts is the space between you and a sparring partner or more importantly a potential assailant. That space or distance gives you time to; getaway, create leverage, power, get the upper hand.

Gaps are useful in all aspects of our lives, for instance; in music (rests) create space for melody – In meditation the small gap between the in and out breaths is where we find peace. Gaps in our schedule allow for rest and this is what I’d like to discuss further.

I find it extremely beneficial not only to take time off but take time away and alone. We need to create a distance from our everyday lives where we can strip away our labels (daughter, boss, instructor, neighbor, cat mom, association member, sister) where we can be our genuine selves. People spend time at retreats, spas, ashram, hiking the Appalachian Trail seeking inner peace. I love just going away for a couple of days on my own to the mountains or the ocean. Where I can just be my genuine self — No expectations, no history just me.

It’s been way too long since I’ve done this August of 2016, was the last time. I don’t count vacations with family because there is only physical distance between home base, not from home. So this past weekend I ventured to Falmouth, for space, and a race. It was wonderful just to be a fly on the wall, to people watch and have no attachment to anything or anyone. To be me on my own, reading in lovely surroundings walking a beach – Finally able to listen to myself think without the interruptions of my roles’ responsibilities.

Then their was a 5 mile race where I was able to meet fellow sloggers, and experience running without knowing a route, enjoying the process, people, the views and experience. Where my only thought was enjoy, breathe and smile.

After the race on my drive home I thought about the G A P as an acronym; Gaining Another Perspective… 

What’s your Gap?

Run on G

Sharing The Path…

Sometimes I feel like Rip Van-Winkle and I just woke up and realized how much time has passed! I’ve had two such realizations in the past two days; The first was during a kickboxing workout with my staff – I realized my age 56 was the sum of their ages 33 and 23! That was daunting just for a moment because I was rocking the 23 year old holding pads with a left hook… The second and more significant came today when I celebrated a birthday lunch with my karate daughter Jess who first came into my life at age 8. Jess has been a student and now the parent of two students at my school for twenty-one years! Through that time she has grown from a shy unsure student of the martial arts, to a black belt, a valued staff member, a college graduate, mother, and wife. I’ve been blessed to have been a small part of this young woman’s incredible journey. It amazes me how quickly time has passed and the twists and turns that have occurred on this path called life, more importantly I’m glad I woke up to the realization to the special people who are sharing my path…

Oh What a Week it Was…

This past week was “Spring Break” for my martial arts school. Which isn’t really a vacation but a time to catch up with things and people you don’t otherwise have time or opportunity for, those of you who own a business understand what I mean.

Nothing about this break was typical. Normally there would be friends to lunch with, errands to run, paper work and cleaning to get done.  Instead it started with the funeral of a long time friend who passed too young. It was in the church waiting for the funeral mass when I had my first reflection. My eyes just welled up with tears as I took my mother’s hand and squeezed it, life is so precious and brief. We are lulled into thinking we have more time than we really do. That lesson hit us all just two days later.

The next day was a much happier occasion, but no less reflective as a student of mine competed in a national martial art tournament. I stood there watching young martial artists take the ring to compete and recalled all the times I competed and all the students I trained to compete. The endless tournaments often two in one weekend, and how and why I fell in love with martial arts and teaching. It looked the same but it wasn’t, the innocents was gone. What was once a format to test skill, in my view had become political and a little tainted.

Monday was to be a day of connecting with an old friend and enjoying time together, instead it was a brutal reminder of the times in which we live.  I was alerted of the bombings through the all too familiar ESPN notification sound from my i phone. I mistakenly thought it was the Sox score. My friend and I discussed how life can turn on a dime and without notice. That the most terrorizing thing is never really knowing when or how – Yet that’s the most comforting thing, because I don’t want to know when or how it will all change.

Tuesday  was a little closer to “normal” but there was still time for reflection and a bit of fear knowing there were fugitives on the loose.

Wednesday, was all about the bike, and riding a bicycle . Reminding me, there are still ways we can reach back to our inner child and reclaim our innocents.

Thursday I was able to workout my angst by cleaning my martial art school. It always gives me a sense of comfort to take care of things and people. I don’t feel as helpless and lost when I’m doing something to benefit something or someone. It’s also a great way to reflect, ask any monk…

Friday was all about old friends, flowers, and looking through a camera lens. Photography was a gift from a mentor who passed last year. Shirley made me believe I could be creative and introduced me to the work of Adams and Stieglitz. Like the bike, the camera allows me to return to another time. A time when I learned to focus not only on the beauty in my view finder but the beauty inside of me.  Then the crazy insanity of the day’s events were shown through the view of different cameras, as we watched with the world the hopeful conclusion to the week of terror…

Today was shared with sisters from Nursing School. Thirty – Five years have passed since we all donned the blue uniforms and white caps of student nurses.  There are more grays and a few more pounds and laugh lines, but the bond is still there. Can thirty – five years be only a moment ago? When we get together it seems that way conversations seamlessly take on the same rhythms and animation. Hugs are just as warm and giggles are just as melodic.

So full circle, friends lost, friends found, security lost, terror found, lives lost, lives saved, the ebb and flow of life was never so evident as it was this week – Oh What A Week It Was…

Ironically I didn’t run…

Peace be with us all,

Ginnie

Life Without SAI…

It’s pouring rain, it seems the heavens are crying right along with me…

I went to the mailbox to retrieve my mail (something I often forget to do) among the AARP notices, and grocery flyers was a small white envelope with familiar or what I thought was familiar handwriting. The return address on the envelope was from a friend’s daughter in San Diego Ca. My first thought was, why is Shirley writing me from Jill’s? Eager to see what was going on with my friend, I opened the note a small card fell to the ground. I picked it up quickly and pulled out the note that was enclosed and read it – I froze reading the few simple lines over and over again but not being able to grasp what I was reading. Dear Ginny, So sorry to inform you of Shirley’s death. Our hearts are heavy. Jill

I don’t recall how long I stood in the parking lot feeling detached from the universe – I walked back to my condo numb, opened the door and cried. I cried the tears that only loss can bring the never-ending well of tears… Not only did Sai die, she died a month ago, her service was on July 5th! Where was I?  What was I doing? How could I be so oblivious? Why didn’t anyone inform me? Questions always follow loss, I wonder why? My next thought  was this would be a good breakfast discussion with Sai, only there aren’t going to be anymore breakfasts…

To write about our relationship would be akin to Tuesdays with Maury … Shirley and I met in 1978. I was a snot nosed new nursing grad working nights in a nursing home, for the summer. I decided to stay in RI and not move to New Orleans so I was working at the nursing home until I got a position at a hospital. It was a tumultuous time for me, I was twenty-one and unsure of everything…  Shirley took me under her wing she gave me the confidence to be the nurse I never thought I could become.

Shirley also taught me to love myself. She told me not be afraid to try things, to be an explorer. She gave me the gift of wonder-lust. I craved adventures and  I travelled and sought out new experiences.

When I started taking pictures with a small insta-matic, she encouraged me to pursue photography.  I bought my first 35mm Minolta and took thousands of slides. Then she introduced me to Stieglitz, Adams, artists like Wyeth and O’Keeffe. Shirley awakened my creative soul.

Sai loved I was in martial arts, she was one of the few people who championed my decision to leave nursing to open my own school. “Follow your heart love.”

Thirty four years of friendship – It was more than that. I recall her laughing when our paths crossed at a high school fashion show, because I introduced her to another friend of mine as my mentor. “Well, no one has ever called me that before!”  Not only was Sai my mentor she was a confidant, a kindred soul, an agony aunt, a friend… She got me through the first steps of real adulthood and took me to the precipice of middle age. Hugging, laughing, sharing books, adventures, solving the world’s problems over breakfasts… So how do I get from middle age to the golden years without her? I don’t know, but I think she’s passed  me some sort of torch. I need to be the kind of friend to my friends that Sai was to me…

Our last breakfast ended the way they always did, hugs at her car with goodbye and I love you…

So goodbye, my friend, I love you.

Ginnie

Getting To Know You…

We spend so much time building relationships, yet we rarely take the time to get to know ourselves. I don’t mean knowing the image you created; A martial artist, teacher, former nurse, armature photographer, runner, Aries… The list of descriptions of what we do and have, are not who we ARE!

I’m talking about the soul of the 55-year-old martial art master. Who is she?  Who are you? Each of us needs to spend time with ourselves listening to our hopes and dreams. Finding ways to nurture and love our soul-selves. Pushing that soul to its fullest potential! Seeking new ways to learn and to serve…

The only way I’ve been able to do this is through meditation. The spirit speaks softly and requires our full attention, and a quiet mind. Have you ever seen your reflection on a still pond? How about a rough sea?  Sit quietly and breathe, be patient and be committed. You may just meet your next best friend, You…

Ginnie