12 - Struggle

All practices reach highs and plateaus. Movement practices, creative practices, and relationships, too. We sometimes refer to the ups and downs like economic phenomenon — the stock market. There are catch phrases that communicate succinctly: growth, boom, mania, honeymooon… then, writer’s block, slump, and dump.

I have been low energy. The rain, the rain, the rain and gnats, gnats, gnats of the warmer months dragged me down down down. The coming of the colder months means that the bottom falls out on my day to day. No plants. Nothing to tinker with, nor load in, nor pot up, nor lug around. My list of physical tasks drops out.

And, as I recently told Jared, my husband, “I’ve been working since I was 15, bringing in money, and that’s one important way I value myself — supporting the family.” No mommy wars, please. I do lots of household tasks, childcare, etc. Yes, I value those tasks. Yes, I know you do, too. Priceless and unpaid.

However, we’re a lean, wife-husband, owned and operated business. We’re a two income family, and every bit that comes in the door goes to use. Quickly.

In the midst of rain and insects, grey skies and dampness, and now cold and withered plants, I felt that I must get my movement practice off its plateau.

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When I got sick in my 20s, I felt fragile and worried. I handled that with reason and logic, denial, sadness, and periods of excessive behavior. Once I felt better, I began lifting light weights. My roommate lifted. I also biked. It was practical. I liked that.

Biking to work and shopping remained practical while living in New Brunswick and then Philadelphia. By then, I had met Jared. We had unreliable vehicles and little extra income for Philly’s Septa transit. After moving to Queens, biking was not feasible.

In my 30s, I continued as an person might, with ups and downs, and I added a regular movement practice to my life. My husband had practiced martial arts for many years. That was my access. I knew nothing of pilates and yoga. Nobody in my life practiced them. My brother lifted and went to the gym. I remembered gym class, being on the track team, and weights. The gym didn’t fit into my life.

By the time we moved back to New Jersey, we had more cash. We attended classes with Jared’s Sifu. I must say, it was amazing. Sifu Lim blew my doors off.

On my first day of class, Sifu taught Jared, Jack (also his first day), and me a long and highly athletic form. Its name translated to Long Fist Three. Day one and Long Fist Three.

Jared was a returning student. He knew Sifu and was familiar with some of the movements. I think he did fine. Jack fared reasonably well. He was flexible and had done Tae Kwon Do. I was destroyed for days after (and certainly Jared and Jack were sore, too). I wanted more of this absolutely new and powerful movement practice. Any remnants of fragility were gone.

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And, here as I get older that feeling returns. Fragility. Uncertainty. Plateau. That wheelbarrow feels so heavy. These grocery bags. This 40 plus year old skeleton.

Go for it, girl, I think. Last night, I put on my kung fu pants, shoes and a t-shirt. Our house is so tiny, I practice in our bedroom.

My mind wandered as I practiced. I thought about this year and the year before. I thought about what I might write about this year when I reflect in January.

I remembered my goal from late winter of this year: tornado kick by my birthday. I am six months past my birthday. No tornado kick. Maybe the years are going by and this is it. Maybe I’ll write in January about not meeting that goal.

I thought of all the people I know who practice martial arts, and other movement practices. I thought of Jared, Mike, B, Jeff C, Thomas R, Phil L, and my teachers.

You what? I did a tornado kick. Ugly and clumsy with thunderingly loud landings. Yet, I did it. Many times. I did not get dizzy like I had in the past and like I feared I would.

I did it. And now that I can, I hope you will encourage me. Right on! Get that leg out there, get the body around, land it softly. Toss that fragility out. Right on!