Inferior? I think not

I have an inferiority complex.  Those that know me would never guess that I second guess myself, think others are better than me, or think that I should be better than I am.  I have this positive outlook on life and am a fantastic listener, though I don’t often take my own advice, I just spend A LOT of time comparing my faults to the awesomeness of those around me.  “I could have said this.” “Why did I say that?” “Why can’t I be better at ____, like _____?”  Yet Wednesday I had an eye opening moment that has changed this outlook (hopefully on a more permanent basis).

My husband and I own a karate school.  Both of us have trained for about 20 years (he started 3 years before me, so I think it is him=21, me=18).  I am testing for my Master’s belt at the end of this month.  Tons of pressure I am putting on myself to do better, be better, etc.  With him having a few extra years of experience, I often times look to him as more of an expert, even though we are equals.

Wednesday, one of our students, made a comment, a completely innocent comment that has changed the course of my thinking and how I view myself.  This dad is about 6’4″ and built like a linebacker.  When you look at him, you think “scary dude.”  He was a bouncer and a wrestler when he was younger.  When you get to know him, he is a big teddy bear, wrestling with the kids, telling jokes, and laughing.  But he intimidates me.  He intimidates me because he challenges me, he asks me questions that forces me to be better, and I am only 5’2″.  But his comment made me feel worthy and respected.  I was on my way to a meeting for a local committee I am on.  Black Belt Prep class was about to begin (my husband was teaching, and this dad was training).  He looks at me and asks if I was teaching tonight.  I told him no.  He asked if I would be teaching Thursday morning.  I responded with “yes, why?” “I like to get different perspectives on what we are doing, and you explain things better.  I don’t want to learn from just 1 person.”

Light bulb moment!  I thought my only value was teaching kids.  They call me the kid whisperer for a reason (that’s another post).  Now I know I have value with adults.  I just have to let go of my own self-doubt and inferiority complex to embrace the fact that I can teach grown-ups.  After all, they are just big kids.


Um yang

Opposing and complimentary forces. This could also be called a yin yang. But this is my husband and I.

We work together, owning our own business. He had big, bold, broad ideas, and leaves it to me to figure out the details and how to make it work. I have single ideas of how to enhance what we do, and leave it to him to expand and make it bigger.

We live together. He cooks, I clean. He makes a mess, I pick up behind him. He grocery shops, I do laundry. We have our roles and they are not gender specific.

We train together. We tease and push the other to do better, to get stronger. We see if we can out do the other one.

No matter what we are doing, he is my opposite. And yet he “gets” me when no one else does. He understands how I think, how I view the world, what my goals are. Every time I think about this concept, I think of him, because of how we compliment each other, while being opposites.

It happened

Every year I vow to not miss a day.  I will write every day, come rain or shine, snow or sleet, kids or husbands.  And yet, every year I miss a day, or two, or three.  That was yesterday.

My life these days runs on first and second shift.  First shift: get the kids ready and on their way to school, hit the gym, and take care of paperwork for our business.  Plan lessons, train, and enhance our own curriculum.  Second shift: pick kids up from school, run our after school program, teach karate all night to at least 4 or 5 different classes of varying ages and abilities, come home and eat dinner at 9:30pm.  Most days I skip dinner and fall asleep to the tv.  That was yesterday. That was why I skipped (ok missed) a day.  I know I should write earlier, but I have no ideas coming to mind until I think back on my day or read other’s posts and am struck with ideas and similarities.

When I was a classroom teacher, I would write in the morning before students arrived.  Or I would write when they were slicing.  Or I would write before going home.  Writing just occurred more naturally.  Now that I teach kicking, punching, self-control, respect, responsibility, and other character traits, writing doesn’t have such a large place in my life.  I find the beginning of this month to be a wonderfully frustrating moment of dusting off old skills and seeing if I “still got it.”

So I missed a day.  I am a work in progress, one that grows and learns and tries new things and discovers old ideas.  I will continue my vow to not miss a day, but, let’s be honest, it will happen again.  Because that is how things are these days.

Movies 2

Today I introduced my kids to an old favorite, West Side Story. My 13 y.o. loved it. But she likes musicals and musical theater. My 10 y.o. found it boring. He wanted action. He wanted adventure. He wanted star wars or lord of the rings. So I also introduced him to The Mummy. Not Tom Cruise, but instead Brendan Fraser. I told him it would be funny because that is how I saw the movie. He didn’t find it funny. He liked it, but also found it scary. Once we were cuddled on the couch though he was fine and enjoyed the movie. I hooked with him through the “scary” parts and told him the ending so he would know the heroes. In the end, I appreciate and love the cuddles more than watching the movie….. as it should be.


I loved movies as a kid. I love movies as a grown up. The chance to check out with mindless entertainment and enter a different world gives me the chance to relax and spend time with my family. Special joy comes when I can introduce my kids to some of my favorites from when I was a kid. Goonies, Princess Bride, Labyrinth to name a few.

Tonight it was Turner and Hooch. I convinced them they would love it because of the dog. And they did. They laughed at Hooch’s antics and compared him to our own to puppies. The only problem is that I forgot how the movie ended. If you haven’t seen it, spoiler alert, the dog dies. My kids were not happy. Not even when they got to see Hooch’s off-spring doing exactly what he did. No dog should ever die in a movie they told me. They also could no longer understand why I liked the movie.

Tomorrow it is West Side Story. Hopefully they like this one better. 🙂

March 1st

I see you. I see your posts come through my email. I see your excitement, your openness, your journey about to begin. I read what you write and wonder if I write just as well, with great description, with a thoughtful choice of words.

I no longer join you every day in a classroom, but for this month, I will join you once again. We will catch up. We will share our lives once more. I will hear how children have grown and lives have changed. Because this is March for me. The chance to glance back and step into old shoes, to try to them on and see how or if they still fit. To dust off my writing abilities, sharpen my pencil, and open my mind. And I am so looking forward to it.

What would you tell a future teacher?

Earlier in the week I wrote about being on a journey.  At the end of the month I will be testing for a Master’s Rank in Martial Arts.  One aspect of this test is that our Grandmaster did not want to produce empty headed warriors.  At Black Belt students are required to write 1,000 word essay and answer a 100 question test on history, terminology, etc.  Within our studio, we have taken this requirement and broken it down into smaller steps so that all of our students have been working towards this goal (ie 50 words, then 75, then 100, etc for the essay and smaller tests in the beginning, gradually getting longer and more in-depth)  But I have digressed from my point.

This essay that is required at black belt is also required at Master’s Rank.  Only at Master’s Rank it is a 20,000 word essay.  After much contemplation I have decided to write mine on an instructor’s box of tricks, a toolbox if you will.  What does every good instructor need to know or be able to do in order to lead a class?  What do we as teachers do really well to make sure that information is passed to our students?  How do we go about teaching the next generation of leaders so that they may be better than us?  Here are just a few of my thoughts:

  1. Know each child by name
  2. Always find the positive before you offer a correction
  3. Greet everyone with a smile, a hello at the door, etc.
  4. Body language is important
  5. Be kind on purpose
  6. Know your audience
  7. Have a plan B, and C, and D, and E
  8. Offer different ways to teach the same skill
  9. Have 3 reasons why you are teaching in a certain manner
  10. Use focus anchors to bring everyone back
  11. Have clear expectations
  12. Practice zero downtime.  Even downtime has a purpose.
  13. Always look for professional development

I would love to hear your thoughts.  My goal with this list is to then design skills and drills to enhance my students understanding of what each of these mean.  They are our future leaders but they need to know how to be leaders. Too often we put people in positions of leadership who don’t understand how to lead, how to communicate, or how to pass on knowledge or ideas.  My goal is to change this, one person at a time.



nounplural journeys.
1. a traveling from one place to another, usually taking a rather long time; trip:

a six-day journey across the desert.
2. a distance, course, or area traveled or suitable for traveling:

a desert journey.
3. a period of travel:

a week’s journey.
4. passage or progress from one stage to another:

the journey to success.
I have been thinking about this word a lot lately.  Though I never typically think of it in terms of a long trip.  My husband and I love to travel.  We took 2 weeks in Alaska seeing the sights, 3 weeks out west seeing national parks, and cities, and have seen all but 6 states (New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Georgia, and Hawaii) together. When my husband and I travel, we typically call it going on an adventure, or getting away, or going to relax, or taking a vacation.  We never refer to this as a journey.
I have instead been thinking about “journey” in the 4th definition.  A passage or progress from one stage to another.  Being a former classroom teacher I often saw my students journey through elementary school and into junior high.  Their journey would take them into maturity, puberty, and all the other crazy emotions that this growth entails.  Being a business owner/karate instructor, I now see students journey through different ranks, growing and maturing along the way.  But this journey is different.  This is now my journey.
My journey has led me to practice martial arts for 18 years.  My journey has led me to test for my black belt while pregnant with my 2nd child.  My journey has led me to test for my 3rd degree black belt 2 months after we opened our studio 6 years ago.  And now my journey has led me to be invited to test for a master’s rank.  Not everyone is invited and no one is sure when/if their invitation will come.  In fact my invite is a story that I will share another day.  But I am on this journey and whether I feel ready or not, I have the honor of attending camp and testing.  And so I give myself pep talks every day.  I tell myself the same things I tell all  my students.  “You got this.” “Go out and do your best.” “This is the total of all the practice you already put in.” “I believe in you.”
And yet I am on this journey, and I don’t know what the final destination will be. It is scary, and exciting, and fabulous, and nail-biting, and so entirely welcome.  And even after the test is done, this journey, for me, will continue.

Go away!!

Do you ever have one of those moments?  The “GO AWAY!” and leave me alone moments.  I was laying here in bed, listening to the dryer ding that it was done, watching the spinning wheel of death on my tv because comcast wasn’t working, thinking about what to write about.  I had begun to generate a now forgotten list in my head when my husband sits down next to me.

Him: “So is the tv still out?”

Me: “Yes.”

Him: “Do you want to watch a show downstairs?”

Me: “No.”

Him: “What are you doing?”

Me: “My blog.”

Him: “I’m thinking of watching SNL, or do you want me to save it for you?”

Me: “No, I’ll watch it later.”

Him: “When is later, because if this thing keeps acting up, we may need a new one.  Should I save it for you? Never mind, I’ll watch something else.  I’m going to feed my fish, are you joining me downstairs?”

Me: Look of death with a blank screen.  Then I type the title.  Go Away.

Him: “So that is what you will write about today.”  He leaves the room.  Does something in the hall, and comes back to peer over my shoulder as I have begun to type.

Him: “I think I will watch you type and comment as you do it.”

We both start laughing, and, thankfully, he leaves.  If not, I may have thrown the remote at his head.  Now I have to generate the since forgotten list of ideas and moments I could reflect on, and/or write on.  But this moment will be remembered, laundry is calling my name again, and he has gone into the laundry room.  That can only mean one thing.  He is going to be coming back.  🙂

My girl


I am here in the dark thinking about my day while my 2 kiddos are asleep in the hotel bed next to mine.

Today was no ordinary day. Today my daughter pre-tested for her black belt. This is a day she had been hiding from due to fear and uncertainty. This is a day she had been worrying about because of who her parents are and to quote her “I don’t want to let anyone down.” This is a day that came despite her attempts to avoid it. Does this surprise me? No. We often avoid tasks we deem difficult, scary, unlikable, disgusting, or anything else negative that we wish to avoid.

But today was no ordinary day. Today my daughter pre-tested for her black belt. Despite her fears, she gave it her all. Despite her uncertainty, she showed her skill. Despite her worry, she held nothing back. And at the end of the day, when she left that room smiling and excited, I asked her if she was proud of herself. Her response was YES!

Today was no ordinary day. Today my daughter pre-tested for her black belt. Her dad and I couldn’t be there. We weren’t allowed to watch. This was behind closed doors. She had to do this on her own. We knew she was ready. This was her time to shine. She had put in the work, practiced her skills, but did she know she was ready?

It’s 1am and as I reflect on the smile my girl gave and the hug I received when I saw her after the pre-test, I would think that she did. She knew she was ready even if only for a brief moment.