Age is an Attitude – Not a Number

Do you ever have those moments where something just hits you? Perhaps you’ve ‘known’ it all along but you’ve never really thought about it. The kind of thing that just IS until you think about it and then it becomes this earth-shattering moment, where the universe opens up and a choir sings and sunshine streams down…or the light bulb goes on. It’s just enlightening. I guess that’s why we always associate it with light, something to consider in a different conversation I guess because right now this is about my moment of realization.

The aforementioned moment was triggered by a comment from my instructor. He was so nicely pointing out to me that I wasn’t 21 any more. (This moment was much nicer than when he warned me to pick my knee up while I was kicking so I didn’t look like I was kicking like an old lady, which I am NOT.) His point about my age was to make me think about my physical limitations, which we all have, and also because I train in classes with the kids and well, I am over 18…well, you get the gist of it. He also wanted me to train hard so that nobody looks at me and thinks about my age. I’m just an athlete, a black belt candidate who will deserve her belt when she passes her test. And I appreciated his input as well as the new way he presented it. I have to admit though I had some dazzling kicks after that old lady comment!

Oh, and in case you’re worried, my moment of enlightenment was not, “Gosh, you mean I’m not 21 any more?” The reality is that I still feel the same way that I did when I was 18, only smarter and more settled in my own skin, a feeling that I wouldn’t trade for anything, not even becoming 18 again. I really started to think about age in a whole new way. It started to matter less because I don’t feel my age. I feel pretty darn good about myself and love the challenges that martial arts present and especially the challenges that training along side the kids brings. I’ve got to love any day that I’m training and I can get my side thrust kick up higher than anyone else in the class and be comfortable as well. I’m not stretching it up there just to show off and then barely able to hobble off of the mat. I’m really having fun when I do it and love knowing that one day I’ll be some 80-year-old lady (nope, still not an ‘old lady’) out on the mat in the middle of the dojo rocking the side thrust kick, throwing the reverse punch and putting the round house kick right in on the target and having fun. How awesome will that be! Yeah, I’ll probably be smiling and saying, “Yeah, I’m 45”.

Age really is an attitude. My attitude is going to keep me 29 forever. I watch some of the moms in the dojo, sitting on the sidelines while their kids train and I just can’t understand why they don’t want to jump out on the mat and have some fun right along side me. I’m really amused when I see them with their six or seven year old kids and think to myself, “I have kids as old as you,” and I’m still out here. And there’s no place else I’d rather be.

My attitude is taking me on an amazing journey…I can’t wait to begin the next portion. It’s absolutely gonna rock!

It’s a Good Pain

It’s a good pain, that’s what I’m telling myself. The holidays had me less active than usual, so that accounts for some my muscles complaining today. Quite frankly, I’m sore and I hurt. That’s exactly why I’m telling myself its a good pain. Nothing good and important happens without a lot of blood and sweat and exercise. (No tears, I’m not sure a black belt should cry…)

What’s even more encouraging is that I’m sore today which means I should be really sore tomorrow. Bone aching, don’t want to move pain, which also means that’s twice as many reasons that I should be moving. “It’s only lactic acid,” I tell myself. “Move and it will be released which means you won’t be sore any more,” I add as a way of encouraging myself to jump up and down and get moving some more. The good news – that usually works.

I found myself wondering today why I’m working so hard and fixated on obtaining my black belt. Is it so that I can brag that I’m a black belt? I can honestly say no. It’s not about that. If it were about just getting the belt I wouldn’t be training in my dojo. I’d be training somewhere else where I could just put in my time and pay my test fees, progressing through the belts until I reached the top, taking my black belt and bragging rights out the door. Its not about that at all.

This really means something to me. It means that I’ve worked hard and pushed myself to new limits. It means I’ve given up something but gained something much bigger. It means I have an obligation to share what I’ve learned with the next crop of martial arts who come through the door, hopefully teaching them valuable lessons that will impact their lives and help to make them better people and safer all at the same time. It means that I’m not a quitter when things get tough, that I can hang in there and keep working even when the lessons are hard and someone yells at me to get it right. It means that I can focus and see the bigger picture. It means that I can be so picky that the smallest most details don’t escape my scrutiny. Not only do I see them but I want to fix them. It means I’m striving for perfection of character and strength not just of body but of spirit. It means all that and so much more.

I plan on wearing my black belt with humble pride. I know that there will always be people who are better than me, who are stronger than me and quicker than me. I will also know that I’m dedicated to sharing this knowledge and helping to train other students to be better and stronger and faster than me. And I know that whatever my age anything is possible.