Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Blue Belt Motivation

It's been about 1 year since our family got involved in tae kwon do. We had thought we'd found a sport for Zach but it ended up being Teagan who took the plunge. We had met this TKD school at our local Farmer's Market on a day geared towards what the community has to offer kids. Zach broke a board and seemed really excited about it so we signed up both kids for a private lesson.

I was out of town, Jeff took them. They still both loved it. He didn't sign anything that day since I was out of town. When I got back home, I called to find out about pricing and was invited to an open house happening in just a couple of days. We went... and that's when Zach backed out. He realized that other people would be in class, other people would see him and that was just too far outside his comfort zone. But Teagan was still all in!

So for the next 2 months, we all went to class and fell in love with the school, the Masters, and everything Teagan was learning. In early November, I signed up for a free 4 weeks of classes.

And 4 weeks after that, the entire family became full on TKD students with a goal of becoming black belts.

It's really hard to quantify everything that I've learned in this past year - about myself, about my husband, about our family culture, about my kids, about TKD, about Korea.

And now we have finished the lower belt program. We are all "high belts" now and that carries additional responsibility.

And work.

It's been made clear that now that the family class is divided into low and high belt times (meaning you won't have low belts and high belts in class at the same time), the high belt family class will be harder. Because the expectation is higher. We have the foundation and now we have to work harder to learn higher level skills.

But here's the thing.

While I've certainly made the commitment to regular exercise - we attend class 3-4 times per week for a 50 minute workout that includes stretching and a lot of sweating and cardio activity - I haven't made any dietary changes.

I've lost a couple of pounds but not because I'm trying.

My flexibility has improved. I am seeing that I am stronger and more flexible because of the consistent exercise.

But I'm still fat and old and out of shape.

If I really want to excel as I continue to proceed through the belts, I have to find the motivation to start making some serious changes to my healthy living. I need to be active on my days off from TKD - walking a couple miles, finding a yoga class. I need to make smarter food choices. I need more fruits and veggies and less fast food drive thrus. I need to drink my morning coffee and then stick to water or unsweetened iced tea.

I know the change I need to make. I've done it before. I have a reason to do it - so I can become better at my sport.

But my willpower is still weak.

How to you carve out motivation???

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Finding My Place

I've been struggling with words lately. Which is really weird for somone who enjoys writing and sharing ideas and experiences. But I've been processing lots of "stuff" and sometimes writing helps with that. And sometimes writing is too daunting and I just have to keep experiencing before I can capture any of it with words.

Now don't get your hopes up. I haven't had some huge life altering event happen. Not in the way you might be thinking, anyway.

As you may know, several months ago, we left our church of 11 years. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I never imagined we would be "those people" who left a church family and I certainly never imagined it would be under the circumstances that it all played out under.

I still strongly believe in God's purpose in all of it.

Faith is a journey. I know that my purpose is foundationally the same. I've known my purpose for a long time - LOVE. The interesting thing is that how my purpose plays out is constantly changing.

In my very early years, I had some spiritual experiences that confirmed for me that God is real.

I was raised in a traditional and conservative faith (Missouri Synod Lutheran). I was taught the beliefs and I didn't ever have doubts. Until high school when I began to meet and know people outside of my faith base and I discovered that they were just... people. It didn't jive with what I believed, what I'd been taught. So I began to question things a bit.

I still knew God was real. But I didn't know much else. I went off to college and stopped going to church completely. I prayed. But not regularly. I wouldn't say it was a crisis of faith but it was my first time realizing that there was a huge and giant world out there that was colorful and diverse and that it somehow was all created by Him. My little 20 year old brain and heart didn't know how to handle that.

Then I became an "adult." It was time to really take charge of my own life and I began to feel a call to go back to church. I had several friends that attended a church in my area so I went a few times and liked it well enough. But life changed and it hadn't ever really felt like "home." So I stopped going.

I met Jeff. We got married. We didn't go to church. It wasn't a thing we even really talked about.

And then we had a miscarriage. And I needed church. I needed a place to be close to God in a formal way, in a way that I would find comforting. And God provided that place. And we stayed there and grew there and started a family in this place.

In some ways, I really value the people who start in one church or in one tradition and continue on with it. But I also know my heart has always been very broad. I thrive on experiencing culture and food and music and faith from other people and places. I find ways of doing that - through food and festivals and other experiences.

It's an interesting thing to have left the church I called home for 11 years. I have had to do some really intense healing. There was damage and hurt - on all sides. But there is also just the weirdness of not being around the people you've seen every week for the past many years. People you've become familiar with, that you've called friends, that you've dined with week after week. I knew that some people would fade away. I knew I'd have to work harder to maintain some relationships.

Stepping into a new church and considering new relationships, building a brand new family, finding a new place in the culture... there are Sundays that I wake up and just don't want to face it. It's hard. And maybe that was a small component of why I needed to leave where I'd been - I was becoming complacent and too comfortable. God needs us to be uncomfortable in order to grow. I never dreamed He'd ask me to become uncomfortable in this way but He's made it clear this is His plan.

We have found a place that is starting to feel more and more comfortable. A place where my kids are eager to attend and I feel confident that they will be guided in faith education in a way that I fully support. A place where I am getting completely filled with my desire for artistic and hippy-dippy lovey stuff. A place where Jeff can ask questions, lots of questions, and express doubts and he's finding that he's not alone, others have questions, and there are people who have even bigger questions than him - and that questions and doubts, especially among the youth/teens - isn't just encouraged but actually embraced.

My heart feels like it's gone from being broken to being mended and now it's cracking OPEN. I feel like I'm starting to find pieces of myself that I'd forgotten about. It's funny to see these sides of myself - it's strange to me to feel a lack of confidence, to feel uncertain, to feel afraid. But what an amazing and important reminder... what a gift to have to be so vulnerable!

I'm not entirely sure the point of this blog post, to be honest.

Except maybe to just say - I'm still here. Life is good. I'm still journeying. My heart is being redefined. I'm learning to see beauty in new places.


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Saturday, August 8, 2015

Opening Day @IndyStateFair

The kids and I spent most of the entire day at the Indiana State Fair yesterday. And it was a nearly perfect day. We had the crankies at home and the kids were dragging their feet about going. I had originally planned on that day being just for ME - no kids. But plans changed.

I had a root canal on Weds and I'd had a lot of mouth pain ever since. I wasn't sure going out in the sun and heat was a good idea and I wasn't sure how much fair food I'd really be able to enjoy anyway.

So the day wasn't starting off with much hope of a great time.

Thankfully, I still believe in the magic of the Indiana State Fair!

We got there later than planned which meant we ended up parking on the north side of the infield instead of the south side. This meant starting our day by the Pioneer Village instead of the Dairy Bar. Which was odd because in the past few years, I always always always start my day at the Dairy Bar! But the change seemed to set us off on a good path!

Here's the "secret" to really enjoying the State Fair - just go with it. Start somewhere, interact with people, ask questions, let loose, and just see where the day takes you.

Here are a couple of highlights from the day.

And if you want to see more of our Opening Day at the Indiana State Fair, check out the album on my Facebook fan page.

But the best way to enjoy these adventures is to go and find your own fun at the Fair!!

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Realizing My Sexism

In the past few weeks, I've noticed a troubling trend. Words coming out of my mouth that I never paid a lot of attention to before. But that when said to a specific audience take on stronger meaning...

The audience is my daughter and my son.

The words?

"Run like a girl" or "hit like a girl" or "kick like a girl" or "doing it all girlie"

Well, crud.

It's come up because we, as a family, are tae kwon do students. It's very empowering. We're strong, we work hard.

And when we talk about improving, when we practice at home, we share ways that we can improve.

And I've caught myself saying things like...

When you go into kicking stance, don't stand there all girlie.

*hanging head in shame*

Like, the words fall out of my mouth before I even realize what I'm saying.

And it's usually Teagan who corrects me. Not in a corrective way. But more like that video where they ask adult women to do something like a girl and they act all stupid about it and then they ask girls to do something like a girl - and the kids just flat out do the activity.

*hanging head in shame again*

It's a phrase I don't like and it has just come tumbling out of my mouth without any forethought.

I'm a strong woman. And I do things like a girl because I am a girl. OK, a woman. But you get my meaning.

In tae kwon do class, my kids see me working hard, making my best efforts, wanting to kick higher and stronger than I did before. When they see me spar with a classmate or when I spar with my kids, I don't want them to see me being afraid to sweat or get points or be aggressive in getting what I want (the win).

I don't believe in the idea of feminine being weak.

So I need to change my words. To match what I believe.

When you go to kicking stance, make your arms strong, keep your knees bent, keep your head up. Be strong and confident.

Strong and confident.

Like a girl.

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Friday, July 31, 2015

I Am Pro-Life

I know it might surprise you.  I'm pretty loudly and proudly liberal, right? So why on earth would I ever identify as Pro-Life?

First of all, I hate that there are divisive labels that force you into one side vs the other. And the divisions are seriously hardcore and extreme, it seems.

I've long identified as Pro-Choice. With a broad definition of what choice means. Contrary to one-sided belief, it doesn't mean I love to kill unborn babies. It doesn't mean I'm ignorant or unfaithful about when life begins. It doesn't mean I'm running around telling women to get knocked up so they can have an abortion. Pro-Choice doesn't mean Pro-Abortion.

I believe that Pro-Choice means there needs to be a focus on CHOICES.

But I'm getting off track. You're clicking over to find out why I'm stating that I'm Pro-Life.

In the past days, weeks, months... my news sources have been overwhelmed and over flowing with stories that show me just how much this country doesn't value life.

Bunches of people can show up at an abortion clinic or in Washington D.C. to rally and protest in behalf of unborn babies... but not so many of those same folks are standing up and saying they are truly Pro-Life.

Because being Pro-Life, to me, means that I value life. All life. All aspects of life.

And my heart breaks and mourns when life is trashed. Whether it's a black woman at a traffic stop, a black man at a traffic stop, or the life of a lion.

Lives matter. Black lives, Asian lives, White lives, Phillipino lives. This country is so very very very broken when it comes to race and how we see each other. I'll admit that I've ridden the wave - the one that once said we shouldn't see color but now says we should validate our differences.

When it comes to Cecil the lion... I value the lives of animals but I'm also realistic about animals and the lives they lead. What concerns me, as someone who is Pro-Life, is that someone was so unappreciative of the beauty of living that he violently and haphazardly took the life of another living creature.

When I see people trolling the internet, leaving mean and hateful comments... when people post their opinions on Facebook without realizing the hurt they may be causing... it makes me realize how many people who use the label "Pro-Life" maybe aren't as "pro" about the lives of others as they claim to be.

So I'm claiming "Pro-Life." Not because I want to jump into the abortion debate. I'm still firmly pro-choice (and anti-abortion) an that one. But I am trying to live my life as someone who is pro-life in bigger and more ways.

Wanting equality in rights for all people.

Wanting children to be free from poverty.

Wanting everyone to have access to affordable and quality healthcare.

Wanting a justice system that is actually just.

Wanting a prison system that actually provides rehabilitation.

Wanting animals to be respected, treated with kindness.

Wanting senior citizens to have safe, happy lives in their final years.

Wanting women to live lives of equality in all ways.

Wanting all lives in the world to have access to clean water, ample food, safe and comfortable dwellings.

Wanting all people to be free from abuse.

Wanting all people to have hearts free from whatever drives them to be abusive or hateful or violent.

Life should be valued and protected and held dear in all aspects. That's what I strive for. And sometimes, it's the only way I find any hope amidst all of the murder and violence and fear and anxiety in the world.

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

@IndyStateFair - Planning My Days

I'm carefully studying the Indiana State Fair program online and figuring out the best days to go this year and the things to do while I'm there! I have learned that having a plan is best - even if I end up not following it. Ha!

When I look at the program, I have to figure out the days that work for taking a day off of work, if there are specific things I want to see (specific entertainment, for example, or specials going on that day), whether or not I'm taking the kids, what discounts are available on tickets.

Opening Day, Aug 7

This year, I'd really like to go Opening Day. Without my kids. I want to be at the fairgrounds by 6 so I can be there for the hot air balloon launch. I want to see the Calgary Stampede Show Band (free in the Grandstand). But the biggest draw for me on this date is seeing the Indigo Girls on the Free Stage at 7:30!

Family Day, Aug 10

I love going on Family Day for one reason - it's the best Midway deal of the summer. Teagan started enjoying rides a couple of years ago. Zach hasn't found a love of rides. But with the Midway wristband deal on Family Day, I can get them each a wristband at a price I feel good about and Teagan can ride as much as she wants and Zach can ride a couple things if he wants and it all works out in the end. Wristbands on Family Day are $15.

I'm also excited to take my kids to the rodeo! It's free and runs at 7:30 but there is a "fan interaction" event at 1:30. The Peking Acrobats are back this year and I'm very eager to see them again. And I'm always a fan of the dog trick/stunt shows - and my animal loving daughter will love it, too.

$2 Tuesdays, Aug 11 and Aug 18

I love $2 Tuesdays! Vendors all over the fairgrounds offer foods for $2. It might be a drink or corn dog - or it might be a smaller portion of a funnel cake or something unique. Midway rides are $2 per ride and this is the day we ride the ferris wheel.

Farmers' Day, Weds Aug 19

Farmers' Day used to always be the day that Christy and I would take off work together to enjoy a day at the Fair. You start out early by enjoying the fundraiser Pancake Breakfast that benefits the FFA, I think. Everyone is friendly and you get a great start to the day with a yummy breakfast. Then a ride on the tractor pulled shuttle all the way around the Fairgrounds - I love that early morning wake up time as vendors open up and start to prepare for the day.

$5 Foodie Friday, Aug 21

It's another great day to enjoy the FOOD at the Fair!! If you think the Indiana State Fair is only about corn dogs and deep fried anything, you're wrong! There are some really yummy and unique foods offered at the Fair each year. One of my faves are Ya-Ya's Tomato Balls. These are near the Home & Family Arts building. It's like a hush puppy with a greek twist. I'm a huge fan of supporting the Indiana producers - Pork, Beef, Dairy. Few things are better than a pork burger or steak sandwich and nothing beats the chocolate milk at the Dairy Bar.


For me, any day is really a GREAT day to go to the Indiana State Fair. I can always find something new, interesting, entertaining, educational. Even to just sit and people watch is fun! What days are you planning to visit?

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

It's A Love/Hate Thing

Last night, I actually felt proud and satisfied of myself as a parent.

Teagan was having major anxiety about an opportunity for an overnight camp at our tae kwon do school. Teagan doesn't do overnights. And everything has stacked against her for this one - none of her TKD friends will be there, it's at a different school than ours, her teachers will be there but not any of the staff she knows from our location.

But she still wanted to go.

So we worked through it in various ways last night. We made a pro/con list. We communicated with the school owner about what she was nervous about. And when it was finally bedtime, Teagan thanked me. For supporting her and understanding.

It was a very lovely moment.


This morning, she wanted to ride her bike to the library by herself. She has a special tutoring session there for 90 minutes. Then ride home by herself. I said no. She's only 10. She doesn't have a cell phone so wouldn't be able to contact me if she got in trouble, got hurt, needed help.

I didn't agree to her plan. So she turned on me. She wanted dad to be home. He's nice, I'm awful. She hates me. I'm not the boss of her. She was sent to her room, she was defiant, she packed a bag to run away.

It's like the rubber band of the bond between us from last night had been let go and snapped back and launched in the opposite direction.


Parenting is hard. It's hard in ways that can't be described with words. Last night, I was winning. This morning, I'm totally failing.

I have cried this morning. But can't fully let it out because Zach still needs me to be his mom. He doesn't need to pick up the pieces that his sister broke off.

And what terrifies me is hearing from so many that it will only get worse.

I'm a hopeful person and it isn't a hopeful thing to think about the drama and angst of adolescence. To see the spark of rebellion and angst and even hate in her eyes already and to know and be affirmed by others that it will get worse.

Maybe we all need to change our language.

Instead of downgrading a mom's experience and putting the fear of the future in her, maybe we need to just say - "I've been there. You're not alone!"

For this morning, I will keep working through the knots in my stomach. I'll keep trying to figure out how to heal and correct the hurts from this morning. I'll plow ahead and get through this day.

And I know I'm not alone. I know other moms, other parents, have kids in their lives who cause pain with words and attitude. Other moms doubt themselves, question their choices, fear the future.

I've been there. You're not alone.

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