Friday, February 13, 2009

Love Dare, Day 1 and 2 AND Tae Kwon Do

I'm just your one stop topic source today. Will I get a chance to write about everything I want to write about? Probably not. But maybe. A big plus in my favor is that I'm finished with both the Angel and the Buffy DVDs so no distractions there. And I can't quite get into my fiction book, Rebel Angels, which is the sequel to Great and Terrible Beauty. So a long blog might happen. Might.

Anyway, I'm taking The Love Dare. Why? Because I loved the movie Fireproof and was instantly intrigued by the journal Caleb's dad gave to him. So, they had these books for sale in our church's bookstore. I didn't walk in with the intention of getting one of them, but I did walk out with one.

Yesterday was day one. (I also joined the "Fireproof your Marriage" group that meets on Wednesday night at church. Yesterday was day one for everyone in the group.) Being me, I opened the book on Wednesday enough to know what the title and dare for day one was, but didn't actually read the devotion that went along with day one until day two. Which was this morning of course.

Normally, I get a book and I'm all about highlighting in it and marking it up and scribbling little notes in the margins. This particular book even has built in journal pages for each day, but I'm reluctant to mark it up. I justified buying it with the notion that I could loan it out to someone else later, so I don't want to mark in it. Cause then, you know, someone else would be able to read my personal thoughts. So instead, I'm posting my private thoughts all over the internet. See, that makes much more sense.

Yesterday's scriptures were:
"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." --Eph 4:2

but the one that's going on my mirror--
"See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another. " --1 Thes 5:15

I had to balance the kitchen phone on the pages of my book to hold it open, but the paragraph and pieces from the reading I would have underlined are:
"No one likes to be around an impatient person....The irony of anger toward a wrotngul action is that it spawns new wrongs of its own. Anger almost never makes things better. In fact, it usually generates additional problems. But patience stops problems in their tracks. More than biting your lip, more than clapping a hand over your mouth, patience is a deep brath. It clears the air. It stops foolishness from whipping its scorpian tail all over the room. It is a choice to control your emotions rather than allowing your emotions to control you, and shows discretion rather than returning evil for evil.
....Patience halps you give your spouse permission to be human. It undersatnds that everyone fails. When a mistake is made, it chooses to give them more time than they deserve to correct it. It gives you the abilit to hold on during the tough times in your relationship rahter than bailing out under the pressure."

The dare is:
"The first part of this dare is fairly simple. Although love is communicated in a number of ways, our words often reflect the condition of our heart. For the next day, resolve to demonstrate patience and to say nothing negative to your spouse at all. If the tempation arises, choose not to say anything. It's better to hold your tongue than to say something you'll regret."

And the journaling question, which was the original point of this blog, is--
"Did anything happen today (which for me was yesterday) to cause anger toward your mate? were you tempted to think disapproving thoughts and to let them come out in words?"

My first gut reaction is no. This is how my day went. I got up early, because it was a co-op day, and we had to be completely packed and out the door by a little after nine. For us, that's just the crack of dawn. In fact, you could almost put a colorful adjective of your choice in front of the word crack. Now, the kids and I do pack our backpacks and what we can of our lunch boxes the night before. Otherwise, I know from experience that I will be putting many colorful adjectives into my thoughts as were trying to get ready in the morning. So, I was up, but completely preoccupied with a mental checklist of what still needed done and what might have been forgotten from the packing the night before. The Jedi was also up, and I'm pretty sure he kissed me and was very sweet and tender towards me, and I'm pretty sure I was pretty self-absorbed. So we co-existed in the morning cause I was in co-op mode.

Went to co-op. Sorted coupons the first period, cause there were only two kindergarteners, so Ty gave me the morning off. Taught 5th grade composition and let the 5th graders have their Valentine's exchange the second period. Had pizza and salad and fruit and yummy yummy fudge covered brownies for lunch. Sat with Toa of Boy and Jenny and Jenni. Toa of Boy showed me some of his valentines, others were in his backpack. Toa of Boy also came to the lunch room covered in white dust with white clay cacked to his hands. He looked like he had been digging through the rubble of an earthquake. Toa of Boy has art right before lunch, and apparantly they were experimenting with making texture. So lunch also involved a trip to the restroom to clean up. After lunch, I begged out of 5th grade history to stay and help clean up the lunchroom. Then I went upstairs and watched the 5th graders read their skit of the Boston Massacre. Fourth period I substituted for the 4th grade comp teacher. We did poetry :)

After co-op, we went to Meijers, were I went over this week's grocery budget by twenty dollars. But, its a short month, so I think I can make that up later in the month. We came home and had co-op stuff to unload and bags and bags of groceries. The Jedi was already home, so he immdiately dropped what he was doing and came out and did the bulk of the grocery unloading. He told me how much he appreciated how diligent I was about making sure we had everything we needed for groceries. I don't think I thanked him or told him how appreciative I was that he always jumped in to help without me saying a word. I think I just smiled.

And then three things needed to happen at once. First groceries needed put away, second, dinner needed to be on the table, and third, Sweetling needed to get ready for Tae Kwon Do. I put away groceries. Dinner became whatever leftovers each person could find and grap and heat up for themselves, and the the Jedi made sure Sweetling was ready to go out the door in time. I didn't ask the Jedi anything about his day, but I certainly had time to tell him about our day at co-op.

Now, the Jedi and Sweetling are gone. Toa of Boy needs a bath, dinner dishes need cleaned up, and I need to get my do buk on for class. Toa of Boy got a bath, some of dinner got cleaned up, and I sat down with Rebel Angels. Toa of Boy drained the bath and gathered his duckies and called me for help to get out of the tub. Mama and the Jedi and Sweetling all came home while I was getting Toa out of the tub, dried, lotioned, and jammied. I still wasn't in my do buk. I came out of the bathroom, with a clean little boy in his Mario jammies, and asked the Jedi to please put away the pizza leftover from co-op, because I had forgotten about it. Then I went downstairs to put on my do buk. I got ready, got my hair in a bun at the nape of my neck, grabbed my waterbottle, borrowed some of Sweetling's sparring gear, and was ready to go to class. On the way there the Jedi tells me how Sweetling did in her class. The three high blues demonstrated forms and the instructors scored them, part of prepping for the in-school tournament. Sweetling did the highest form and won the mini-competition for the second time.

We got to class, and I surveyed the room. In prep for the tournament, many black belts and junior black belts from the advanced class on Mon/Wed have decided to also take the adult class on Tue/Thurs for the extra practice. The room had five black belts, plus the Master, four junior black belts, a high green (the Jedi), a green belt, a MMA student there for extra practice, and poor little me. I looked at one of the many black belts and told her that I thought I might be in the wrong class. She laughed. I wasn't wrong.

The first third or more of class is calisthenics and stretching. This was set to provide the black belts with a nice, off-day work out. Which means for me it was challenging, but doable. (Not the forty push-ups, those aren't doable. Nor the twenty-five double punch sit ups at the pace the black belts set, but I manage along at my own pace during these two things and do what I can). Then we padded up for endurance training through sparring. Joy. I sat out the first round, for lack of a partner I was willing to walk in the ring with. Then I talked Brooke into sparring for the second round. Now, I've sparred with sweet little black-belt, tournament champion Brooke before. She usually uses me to practice her height on her crescent kicks by throwing many of them over my head. And gives me pointers. And doesn't actually kick me. Usually. Now, she had just gotten finished sparring with Foxx and had lost a toe nail. So, all in all, I thought I was safe. I wasn't. Brooke landed several solid kicks on me, kicked me in the head once (only by accident, I think she was doing her usual overhead stretching sweep, and I cleverly ducked into her downswing.) And I of course, couldn't tag Brook at all.

Round three of endurance sparring somehow landed me with junior black belt Foxx, also tournament champion. I've sparred Foxx only once before, and came away from that prior match proud that I hadn't burst into tears. Foxx kicks hard. In fact, Foxx is holding back, and only doing what he does for an easy practice round, but it's still enough to make my head spin when he lands a head kick (which happened two or three times last time I had to face him.) This time, I literally got knocked backward several feet out of the ring. Now, the positives were a) I didn't fall on my butt; b) I, once again, managed to not cry; c) I was brave or stupid enough to walk back into the ring with a smile; d) Master noticed and warned Foxx to rein in a little more; e) I landed a solid punch on the side of his helmet (which I then had to apologize for cause its not a legal move. Apparantly you can kick someone in the head hard enough to knock them out, but you can't land a baby jab with your fist. I told Foxx the truth, I didn't expect it to connect. I assumed he'd block. He didn't block cause it was illegal, so he wasn't even expecting a blow like that.) And I asked him what I should do in response to an incoming cresent kick to the head, cause my tactic of duck and cower wasn't working for me. He grinned and helped with with some useful advice..."Just block." Yes, thank you.

But in all, during the match with Foxx, I held up really well. I don't remember who I sparred after that. But I got through the water break without crying and held it together to spar a last time. And then it was pads off and we did endurance kicking drills with big padded sheilds, which I managed pretty well for a little orange belt. And in a rare spell of mercy, Master Watson let us bow out of class nine minutes early. Just before he did that, we had ended the kicking drills and glanced at the clock, uncertain how I was going to survive another ten minutes. But then we bowed out and I was granted a reprive.

I got my socks and shoes on and gathered up my equipment in silence, still shaken from sparring. And we got to the car, and the Jedi had sparred with THE WALL. Now, I had run from the Wall, straight into Foxx's ring. Cause I didn't want to face the Wall. The Jedi had faced the Wall and landed a kick. This is an amazing thing. I congratulated the Jedi, but was still feeling sorry for myself. We went downstairs, and I hung up my coat and dropped my equipment in the vicinity of the closet, and the Jedi says that I looked really wiped out. I just leaned on the Jedi. He said, "are you ok?" I shook my head no and started crying. And I was quick to tell him I wasn't hurt, I was just shaken. Now, here's the thing. I've gotten bruised and beat up in sparring before. I've worn big ugly bruises handed down from black belts like marks of honor. I've gone home and put ice packs on my ankle and been happy. I've limped around on toes that wont bend and felt proud of myself. So, I don't know what it is about sparring with Foxx. And I couldn't put it into words. I wasn't crying because I had gotten hurt, cause I hadn't. And I wasn't crying cause i couldn't land a hit, that isn't anything new. And I wasn't crying because I was so outclassed, I always am. But the Jedi just held me till I felt comforted and better, and then we went upstairs and got Toa of Boy tucked into bed and watched Mythbusters with Sweetling, and all was well.

Later that night I realized how sparring with Foxx was different than sparring with anyone else.

I've only been on a horse once in my life. My friend took riding lessons at a small, family owned little stable. It had a few horses, a riding track, a field for jumping, and some trails nearby. It was out in the country in north-east ohio, and it wasn't anything fancy. One summer day, I had spent the night and she needed to go out and just get some time in on the horse. She had called the woman who owned the stable (who was a friend of her mother) ahead of time and asked if she could bring a friend. And she asked if her friend could ride one of the other horses around the track a few times. The woman said yes, I could ride one of her horses, but for one reason or another, she didn't have a saddle available, would I be ok with riding bareback? And full of romance stories and fantasy novels, I readily agreed to this idea.

So, we drove out to the country and my friend got her own horse all brushed and saddled and ready and I realized, horses are big animals. And she led this other horse out of the stall and put a briddle on him (or her, I really don't know). And she threw a blanket over his back, and she led both horses out to the track. The track was maybe the size of a football field and it was just a wide dirt path that went around the edges of a oblong field. And my friend offered to help me up onto my horse, cause you know, no stirrups. Bareback. Wasn't this a fine idea. And I'm still thinking that up close, horses are really big, really big animals. They even *breathe* loud. The two adult women who should have known better were inside sharing cups of coffee and some rare, kid free moments at the kitchen table. So, up I went.

And my friend says, ok, just walk him around the track, I'm just going to practice some of my paces while you ride. And now I'm thinking, horses are really big animals, and its a long way to the ground from up here. My fantasy of being some long lost elven princess who would take to riding bareback naturally because it was part of my fey inheritance was quickly melting away under the hot summer sun. And I look at my friend. And some light dawns in her cause she gives this exasperated sigh and offers to lead my horse around the track until I get used to riding. So we did that. And I think I found my voice enough to squeak that she needed to walk really really slowly.

And eventually I felt comfortable enough that I held my own reins and my friend saddled her horse and kept to a snails pace beside me. And as long as her horse walked next to mine, mine stayed right next to hers and behaved. And then I felt comfortable enough that she let her horse walk at a more normal horse pace and left me behind. And then my horse decide to go find some dandelions growing beside the path to munch on. So my friend comes back and tells me I shouldn't let my horse do that. And I gave her another look. Just what, pray tell, did she expect me to do about the situation? And so she gave me a quick lesson on contolling my horse, even though it was clearly a big big beast. And she repeated the lesson often. And she really didn't get any real practice in on her horse, but she probably learned a lot trying to teach me what she had learned to do when she was a little girl and had been doing for years. (Which is probably why the instructor turned us loose on our own with the horses.)

And I was sweating, and the path was just dust and dirt. And it was a lot harder than it looked, this riding thing. But I was getting it. It took a lot of effort and sweat and concentration and I had to keep trying when I just wanted to give up and let the horse wander, but eventually I was riding the horse, and was the rider, not just an inconvenient weight. And my friend called instructions across the field to me and taught me how to slow the horse, speed the horse, turn the horse, trot the horse. And I was getting it. I had gone from frightened and small to a rider in control of a horse. And it felt good. It felt so good.

There was a gravel country road next to one end of the riding track. I hadn't paid any attention to the road, cause all my attention was on this horse and what we were doing. And I didn't realize the effect things on the road could have on my horse. A truck went down the road. Big deal, right? Only the truck hit a pot hole or backfired or something right next to my horse. It made this horrible BANG. I jumped. My horse spooked. My horse *flew* down the long end of the riding path. I panicked and did the most sensible, natural thing. I clung to the horse for dear life. I don't know if I still had ahold of the reins or not. I do know I had a generous fist full of mane in both hands. I think my friend was yelling instructions to me. The whole thing took less than a couple of seconds. My horse reached the end of the field and of the little riding track and rounded the corner at a full gallop. To do this, he leaned his head down into the turn. I, with my hands entangled in his mane, was pulled forward at an angle. I lost my balance and slid off the horse, hit the dirt and rolled.

Moms had apparnetly been watching from kitchen window, cause they were on the scene as soon as I had my bearings back enough to sit up. As was my friend of course. And I wasn't hurt, aside from a few scuffs from hitting the dirt. But I was so so so rattled. Rattled enough that I just felt dazed. And I wanted to cry. Not out of pain or out of frustration but just because the world had litteraly flown away from under me. Out of the sense of fear and helplessness of being totally out of control on the back of a beast that is stronger and bigger and faster than you. And you know, before I got on that horse, I thought I knew how much bigger and stronger and faster he was than me. But I was wrong. I had no idea the speed and the strenght and the power he was really capapble of. But I got a brief glimpse of it, and I was helpless before it, and that's what had me crying.

And yet, I quickly found myself back on the horse, despite the fact that I was crying that I wanted to go home. The riding instructor might have just picked me up and put me on the horse anyway, but I don't think so. I do remember her telling me that I had to get back on the horse. I remember her explaining to me that I had to get back on the horse right now, or that I would be afraid to for the rest of my life. (Which, at the time, suited me just fine. I didn't need to ever, ever, ever be on a horse again.) And yet, in my dazed state, I nodded because I was supposed to, and I got hoisted back up on the horse.

And someone walked the horse for me till I calmed down. And then they handed the reins back to me. Neither the horse nor I wanted to go near the end of the track by the road, but we both did. And I stayed on the horse and road for a while more until I started feeling good about riding again. And I think as soon as I was smiling again and chatting with my friend, the moms, who were hanging out on the fence now, called it a day. And my friend and I brushed both horses down and took care of them and got them ready to go back to their stalls. And she showed me how to check their hooves for rocks, and under supervision, I got the horse that had thrown me to raise his hooves so I could clean and check them. And I took good care of the horse. And after the horses were put back in their stalls, and we used an outdoor sink to wash and bandage my scratches and were drinking lemonades, the instructor told me that I had done a really good job holding on to the horse as long as I had bareback. She said my instinctual form looked really good. So, you know, maybe some fey blood after all. (For the record, leaning forward and grabbing on to a spooked horse is the opposite of getting the horse to calm down. I went into a racing crouch, which told the horse that we needed to flee, flee, flee from danger...which the horse did beautifully).

And now Sweetling has come back to read over my shoulder again. She had read some of my earlier post, and then went away to in theory, do school. Now she's back and wants to know what the horse story has to do with Tae Kwon Do. Sparring Foxx is like riding a run away horse. Sparring is like riding a horse anyway. Its something I'm a little afraid of. It's something that I'm intimidated by. I know going into it how much smaller I am or how much less skilled. But I put aside these misgivings and I do it anyway. And its hard work. And it takes all my courage and all my concentration, but I do it. And then I spar Foxx. And I feel just like I did when the horse took off on me. Small, helpless, powerless. And it makes me want to cry.

But I also decided that, the first chance I get, I need to be the first one in Foxx's ring. Not to prove that I've gotten better. Not to prove that I can stand toe to toe against Foxx (or foot to head, as is the more accurate description.) But just because if I don't, I'm always going to be afraid.

And, getting back to the very first topic of the post (its like little Russian nesting dolls, isn't it?)... My day went by without me being dare-challenged. So, Day Two, cause I haven't read the devotion, but just skipped to the dare, is:
"In addition to saying nothing negative to your spouse today, do at least one unexpected gesture of as an act of kindness."

I think I'll gather and take out all the trash. I'd also like to declutter some, but I'll do the trash first, because its obtainable and completeable.

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