The experience of being me is challenging sometimes.
Me, after my Aikido instructor complimented me on a specific technique: “I get that I got that, I just don’t know if I can do it like that again.”
Him: “Hopefully, you never will, because every attack and every partner will be different. Even if any of us [gestures around the room] attack at another point, it could be totally different, and you’d need to react differently.”
So, sure, there’s repetition and technique.
And there’s also knowing that, in this case (and perhaps many others), it’s not about being exact. It’s mainly about knowing how to respond appropriately — and recognizing that that may never look the same.
I wrote this a few weeks ago. It’s still relevant to my process, and a great reminder.
My Tai Chi and Aikido instructor said this to one of my classmates recently (paraphrased): “I’m kind of envious of the beginner space you’re in. I love being new at something. When I realized, at age 50, that I was basically good at everything I had been striving for, I decided to learn an instrument. I chose bagpipes. After four years, I still suck at it. And I still love it.”
Perhaps there is – or can be – a certain joy in beginning, in being new at something. Yes, it’s raw and vulnerable and full of mistakes. It’s also, for someone who loves learning, a chance to gain new knowledge, experiment, do something in a new way. My instructor practically beams when someone asks him about an inconsistency in his own form; it becomes a learning moment for him and also helps him be a better teacher.
As a recovering perfectionist, there is still part of me that wants to “get it right” in my recent pursuits, from Nia to Tai Chi and Aikido to proofreading legal transcripts. But perhaps the way to get there is through not getting it right, through stumbling, correcting, modifying. Maybe someday my form and movements will be more precise and closer to the original. But the only way to get there is to be new, to practice, to feel how repetition makes my muscles remember. To throw out concepts of good or bad, and learn so I can improve. And most of all, to enjoy how it feels when I begin to feel more at ease, and take that into my practice.
It’s mine. And I’m still in the process of telling it.
We categorize and decide what is and should be
these broad sweeping labels cross borders and state lines
dividing this from that, us from them,
and we find ourselves pointing our fingers at each other
I’m not like that, I’m not like them,
It’s you who is pointing the finger, not me
someone to applaud, someone to blame
less than life-size.
our cells are divided and our selves are
each other even
when we literally stand
I don’t know
if i can tell you that
it’s always best to turn to each other
when we’ve got our boxing gloves on
I want to say:
Put the gloves down first, then listen.
What if we aren’t really fighting each other
but a system
that keeps us separate, apart
the words unify and compromise
don’t go very deep
when they’re used to
We are a nation of many communities,
whether freedom opens doors for free thought
or guarantees security
and safety from what?
the world outside our neighborhoods
an existential threat
a real life danger
the story changes with each teller
my idealism, but it’s hard to live the
everyday reality where rights are
peeled away, day by day.
I tell myself to breathe,
take small steps.
I am ready and willing to fight.
One of the biggest myths I have is that I’m not doing enough.
It’s also very untrue. While I don’t have a typical 9-to-5 work schedule, I keep myself busy. There are many things I’m working on and towards, and I’m rarely bored.
So, as part of my routine of unwinding and getting ready for bed, I’ve started doing a “what I did today” list. It helps me see what I’ve done and accomplished throughout the day. I also sometimes write notes to track my anxiety levels, sensory triggers, and moods so I can look back and see if there’s a pattern.
I suppose I could call this a form of a bullet journal (more information on bullet journals here ), which is like a combination of a planner and a journal/diary. Overall, it’s a method of writing things down, whether it’s goals or thoughts, in short, bullet-point form. Before starting this practice, I didn’t spend much time researching bullet-journaling, but it is a something that I’ve heard that many people enjoy. .
Here’s an example from my journal from a few weeks ago (I made slight edits to put it more into context):
- Took L (husband) to work
- Brief call with Mom
- Got mail and some sunshine
- Took short nap/reset
- ~ 3 hours proofreading practice
- ~ 1 hour workbook punctuation practice
- Made dinner
- Picked L up
- Did Dishes
- Took one online survey
- Nia song review (listened and watched, then tried)
- Did rhythmic movement and reflex exercises
It’s sort of like writing a to-do list after the fact. It gives me perspective. It helps me think of other things I might need to focus on in the days ahead. It helps me value the small, day-to-day activities more, such as making a meal or having a conversation with my love.
At the end of the day, when I ask myself, “Did I do enough?”, seeing this list helps me feel more assured that the answer is, without question, “Yes.”
I love that there are going to be women’s marches all over the country (and world!) this Saturday, January 21. I definitely believe in the issues they are be marching for. I stand in solidarity with them.
And…I’m also choosing not to go to the one in my city. This isn’t a political decision, it’s a personal one. The probable sensory and energetic cost of going to an event like this is higher than the rewards of going. These kinds of events tend to highly-stimulating: There are many people going, it may be challenging to leave, there may be unexpected situations, noises, etc.
There is part of me that is wistful: I would like to go.
There is part of me that says I should go, should be doing more in terms of activism in general. However, a lot of this”more” includes things that may stress out my nervous system and throw me out of whack for an unknown amount of time. Yes, I am being cautious and discerning. I am also trying to be realistic and compassionate with myself.
I’m brainstorming other ways that I can help: donate a small amount to an organization I support, look for a volunteer opportunities, keep my eyes out for activities that may be more supportive. While I sign online petitions on a regular basis, I don’t know how much impact that has; I also acknowledge that it is something.
For those of you out there who are marching this Saturday, I am marching with you in spirit.